Raul Malo

“Let me just start this by saying that these amps by far are the most beautiful sounding amps I have ever heard. I have played vintage Fender Twins , and or Super Reverbs all my life…They have tried to get me to switch to very expensive “boutique” amps to no avail.  I never thought that anything made in the modern age would even come close to make me reconsider. So I had pretty much surrendered to the idea that I was set as far as amps go. Then here comes Rick with his “Vintage Sound” Amps. Well, I must admit that I was at least curious.

So, I spoke with Rick on the phone and set up a meeting in Nashville. Rick is very passionate about what he does and that came through in our conversation. The fact that you can actually get “the” guy that actually makes these things on the phone, was a big selling point for me. Well the big day came around and we set up in a room at the rehearsal place called “Soundcheck”. Jan, from “Soundcheck” was kind enough to let us use a room for a couple of hours to try these babies out. Now, I must say, that right from the start you fall in love. These amps are beautiful to look at. The VS “Classic” with the cherry wood cabinet truly looks like something from another era. Meanwhile, the “blond” VS-410 is simply gorgeous. Now, as good as they looked, I still had not plugged in. I had no idea what they were going to sound like. I was just hoping that they would sound as good as they looked.

Mind you, this whole time Eddie Perez, my buddy who is now out with Dwight Yoakam was with me. I wanted to bring him along to have a second opinion. After all, it couldn’t hurt to have someone there with the skill and the experience that Eddie has. Besides, musicians are always looking for the next great piece of gear, whether it be an amp, or a pedal, or whatever. We are always in search for good tone. And since old amps are getting harder and harder to come by, and becoming more expensive to work on, these amps may be at the very least, part of the solution. Or as it turns out for me, “the” solution.

Well, the moment of truth had arrived. It was time to plug in and really find out what these things are all about. I pulled out my beautiful 1965 Fender Jaguar (it has become my favorite guitar ever!) and plugged straight into the “blond” VS-410. Now, I have to tell you that in the past whenever I have plugged my guitar into a “new” amp, sometimes it has provoked a violent reaction leading to costly repair bills and my continued disgust and contempt for all things made in the modern age. (In my humble opinion, most new things, with the exception of the ipod…suck!) I did, however, have a feeling that this was going to be different. And boy was I right. I turned the volume up and hit the fattest, warmest, most delicious sounding “Em” chord I have ever heard! This was it!! This was my amp!! At last my faith had been restored even if for a moment!!

I like my amps to be clean and clean these things are. Not only do they have plenty of “head” room, but the tones are in the right place. The “low” end is never lost or mushy or too much for that matter. And the highs are never brittle. The “Weber” speakers that Rick has carefully chosen for his amps give you plenty of definition and attack, all the while giving you this warmth that until this day I thought was unattainable. His mid-range mod of 25k is a very useful tone. His tremolo and reverb would make Leo Fender proud. However, as good as this amp sounded in this perfectly controlled environment, the true test comes with a concert situation. That was still to come.

As I fell in love with this amp, I asked Rick to make me another one as I like to play in “stereo”.  I don’t use any pedals. But I do run both amps through my “Fulltone” Tube-Tape Echo in “stereo” mode #2…WOW! What a sound. I’m not much of a guitar player really. I pretty much play two licks all night long, but I’ll be damned if they are not going to sound good. Luckily, Rick was able to finish the second one in time for my Texas run.

My first date with my new amps was at the oldest dance hall in Texas- Gruene Hall. This  is a great sounding room with wood all around and no walls to make the sound bounce around in. And we were doing two nights so I would really get to hear these babies. Well, right at “sound check” in the afternoon, my tour manager/ sound engineer, Ozzie, was in love with the sound of my amps. He described them as “beautiful” sounding. Now trust me when I say, he doesn’t describe anything as such. It’s just not in his nature. So for him to comment like that, I knew I had made the right choice in amplifiers. As soon as the show started and I hit my opening chords I knew I was going to have a good night. The tone that I had been searching for all my life was here…right behind me! The next night was more of the same blissful relationship with my amps.

The band also noticed a big difference and we seemed to “jam” a little bit more than usual. I actually started to take some solos in places that I never did before. I have never had an amp that has made me want to play as much as these do. Think about it…to have in your possession a piece of gear that inspires you to play and play is priceless. And to have somebody like Rick, with loving support from his wife, Jeannie, take the time to make these things so that we(musicians) can go out there and do what we do, to me is something I thought was lost and gone forever. It’s nice to know that days gone by, are still here. We may have to search high and low, and we may have to pay, but it is money well-spent…guaranteed!

As the old saying goes…” you get what you pay for”. I think here the correct saying is “you get more than what you pay for”. Certainly, the quality of these amps alone is worth every penny, dime, and nickel. Not that I think they’re expensive… I don’t. There are many “boutique” amps with “boutique” prices that don’t even come close to displaying the quality and craftsmanship that ooze out of these amps. Then you get to deal with Rick, who is knowledgeable and passionate about his product, and a heck of a nice guy and realize that everything is going to be alright…You have great tone!!”

Thanks so much,
Raul Malo

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