Rhett and Zach kick off the episode with a chat about which video games they’re loving and Rhett’s cross-country adventures with his wife before Eli Lester, owner of Two-Rock Amplification, joins them for an in-depth exploration of his amp-building philosophies.
Lester walks Rhett and Zach through his origins in amp-building, repairing instruments and amps in the back room of the shop where he gave guitar lessons. He played in rockabilly bands and had an affinity for old ’50s and ’60s Cadillacs that needed work, but he couldn’t afford to pay someone to fix them up, so he had to learn to do it himself. In his freshman year of college, he’d buy old amps and rent books from the library to figure out how to repair and mod them. Eventually, his voracious fandom of Two-Rock amplifiers helped him connect with the brand’s founder, Bill Krinard.
On Two-Rock’s building philosophy now, Lester says his approach is more about feel more than sound. “We build them for the artist, not the audience,” he says. Two-Rock’s obsession with delivering high-fidelity sound goes into every piece of the amp; Lester says each part is manufactured to spec in California, and part of the brand’s high price tags is thanks to how well they treat their employees. “We’re all tinkerers and geeks,” Lester grins.
Thanks to Sweetwater for sponsoring this episode! Head to sweetwater.com for your musical gear needs.
Later, Lester explains how they design high-wattage amps that don’t blow your eardrums, and how Two-Rock is “tipping their hat” to Dumble-style amps. Building amps for a job is indeed hard work, but Lester wouldn’t have it any other way: “I just get to build my dream guitar rig, that’s all I do.”