About Blumentritt Amps

I've been playing guitar, and electric guitar, since 1971. My brother (who plays bass) and I were in a band together, but we didn't have much money for amps. We found an old used Bogen 50 watt PA tube amp and an old Hi-Fi speaker cabinet, and went from there, eventually building a couple of speaker cabinets to go with our amp. As years went by, and I played in a variety of bands, I went through numerous tube and solid state amps, trying to find one that had everything I wanted in the way of both features and tone.

Blumentritt Custom Amps came about because I wanted a guitar amp that captured that Tweed amp vibe without resorting to finding a good 50-year-old amp, or building a pre-packaged kit. In the 1980s, I had played a Fender Stratocaster through a 1958 Fender Champ Amp, and loved the tone I got on stage when I miked the amp while playing with a singer-songwriter. In the 2000s I was playing through a Crate Palomino V16 that had great tone for what I was doing, but it wasn't that elusive "tweed" tone, that creamy, compressed distortion, that touch sensitivity, that the 5E3 Deluxe and 5F6a Bassman were known for. Many consider those two amps to be the ideal amps for the Fender Telecaster and Stratocaster, respectively.

A friend had an AA764 Champ-style kit that someone had built and it didn't work, so he gave it to me, just the raw chassis without a cabinet or speaker. After looking at the schematic, the build instructions, and the amp itself, I was able to determine several mechanical and electrical issues, and so I repaired it, and now it sounds the way a silver-faced Champ should sound. My appetite was whet.

After studying various schematics and circuits, I drew up what was to become the Texas Tone 12. It has some of the essence of tweed style amps, although it's not a copy of any historic or actual amp. For those of you who study amps, it has high and low gain inputs, two gain stages separated by a gain control, a split-load phase inverter, a post phase inverter volume control, a low frequency oscillator for a tremolo circuit, and two cathode-biased 6V6 power tubes in a class AB push-pull operation.

Not being an existing design, sourcing parts was a small issue along with creating a chassis layout and build order from scratch. There are reasons that people purchase kits, and not having to look for parts and invent a layout and build instructions are decent reasons. Also, with a kit, you know what the end result should look and sound like.

When it was all put together, tested, and played for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised. It not only sounded great, but it had that dynamic touch sensitivity that guitarists long for in a tube amp. It has a very nice "sweet spot". However, I may be not be unbiased in my assessment of my own amp, so I called a better guitarist than me, who gigs regularly and has played through several different boutique, production, and modified production amps. His assessment may be found on the comments page.

I call it the Texas Tone for a couple of reasons. It has that Texas blues kind of tone that only seems to come from a good tweed style amp, and it has tremolo, an essential ingredient for certain blues, Gospel, twang, and swamp sounds. That tremolo circuit took quite a bit of tweaking, but the result is worth it. One builder calls it a hypnotic slam effect, and that's a pretty good description.

That's how I got started building amps. My effects pedal and pedal board building came about first, because I wanted to build my own stuff, having been disappointed with expensive mass-produced pedals and boards that seemed more about marketing than substance. My first pedal was the Swamp Box tremolo pedal, and I gigged with that for several years before building the Texas Tone 12.

The line is expanding. Current models include the Kick Box clean boost, the Armadillo Tone tube preamp/boost, three sizes of wooden pedal boards, and the Texas Tone 12. Up next, the Texas 2:10 Special (previously known as the Bid D), another take on tweed tone with a cathode follower and two 10" speakers, and the Texas 2-Step, a modern take on the venerable 5E3 Deluxe combined with a 5F1 tweed Champ, all in one cabinet with a 12" speaker and several extra features. It's not that I have anything against copies or kits, it's just that there are so many out there, and it's kind of a 'been there, done that' kind of thing... what, another 5E3?