Rift Amplification, UK
My first experience of fixing an amplifier was when I was 16 and a friends Marshall TSL60 wouldn't turn on at a band practice one night, I was the only other guitarist in the room and offered to take it home and have a look for anything obvious, I had no idea what I was doing but REALLY wanted to have a go at fixing it!
I remembered from my electronics classes in school to always check the mains fuse first, the electricity won't make it any further into an appliance if the fuse is bust......so I pulled out the HT fuse and it had this smokey glass and was definitely broken. In went a new fuse and I tried switching it on, it worked!
5 minutes later it stopped working again.......tried another fuse and it worked, then died. This process continued a few more times before I started to panic that I couldn't fix his amp and I was useless.
Back in those days a quick Yahoo search for 'TSL60 blowing fuses' (yes.....this was before Google was the main search engine) revealed lots of technical jargon that I didn't understand......bias, plate voltage, push-pull, matching valves and transconductance. Nothing however, that helped me.
Completely frustrated by it all and the lack of a simple 'valve amplifier fixing 101' website, I knew I had to ring Marshall for help.
"Sounds like the power valves are failing" said the man
"Replace them and bias to 80mA and you should be good to go"
So I ordered some replacements from Marshall, he also sent me a step-by-step guide to the biasing procedure, he obviously took pity on this young 16yr old who was trying to fix a valve amp for the first time.
Valves replaced, bias set with my dad's multimeter (fortunately this model has a 3-pin Molex connector to read voltages so I didn't need to remove the chassis from the cab) and it was fixed!
My friend was pleased that his amp fixed and I knew that I wanted to do this again.
I have built, serviced and maintained guitar and bass amplifiers for local musicians ever since, albeit on a part-time basis and only when I wanted to.
It was in March 2013 that I decided to make it the main focus of my life, so I started Rift Amplification and have been growing very quickly since.
As a working musician and guitar teacher myself, I know that guitarists are never satisfied with their tone and end up wasting a lot of money buying gear thinking that it will give them that 'sound'. I have spend a small fortune over the years on pedals, leads, speakers, amps, valves, strings and pickups and after all that, I found out that I just needed a Strat, a delay pedal and a Tweed Deluxe. If only I knew from the start! Maybe that's part of the learning curve though?!
I decided to offer a range of classic all-valve, handwired amplifiers that are closely based on the popular Marshall and Fender amps from the 50's, 60's and 70's. These to me are the amps that people love the sound of and will always be amazed by the raw tone that they can produce.
I also offer a few of my own designs, again based on classic designs, usually with a twist.
I build all of my amplifiers by hand, in my workshop here in Brackley, Northamptonshire. I try to buy my components from UK suppliers, even if that means paying slightly more. My cabinets are built by hand here in the UK by a great cabinet maker, he can do custom stuff so if you want something slightly different, please ask!
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