WHY A NEW AMP COMPANY?

Devilcat Amplifiers is a rocking' division of Pladd Dot Music (the coolest music distributor around). You may have heard of some of our other brands: CMG Guitars (Chris Mitchell Guitars), Bouncin' Betty Strings, and Frog Dog Pickups. In case you haven't, they totally rock!

Anyway, back to the amps! Devilcat was born out of a simple idea (the same idea where CMG guitars comes from)…. Make a high quality product in the UNITED STATES and make it affordable. It's that simple.

But why make amplifiers you ask? Good question–and it's one that deserves an answer!

Here's the story:

I started out my musical career at the age of about 12. Although I was very attracted to music at an earlier age, I wasn't really pursuing it outside of singing and listening to my older brother's band play in the garage and at clubs. One spring I performed in a lip sync competition at my middle school and I won first place. I did a rehash of an act I saw on the 80's Lip Sync show "Puttin' On The Hits" (yes… we actually watched people lip sync on television–and KNEW it!). Anyway, I had two monkey puppets strapped to my arm and I worked both of them while I sang "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". It was actually a pretty nice feat of coordination. The judges thought so too–I won first place. When I heard the scream and cheering of the audience after my performance I was hooked.

That summer I took piano lessons. I stopped after Christmas. I loved the Christmas music but I hated practicing those lame starter songs.

The next year at the lip sync competition I performed "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night and won first place again. It was pretty awesome. I wore a long wig complete with bandana. I had custom bell bottoms made for me by a local seamstress, a sweet silk shirt with the ace of spades on it, John Lennon Sunglasses, and strapped over my shoulder was my brother's '54 telecaster. I felt like a ROCK GOD!

The Beginning

The following year was 8th grade and I started fiddling around with my brother's guitar. He had this little gorilla amp that he let me borrow for a week. It sounded pretty good for a practice amp. It had OVERDRIVE!!! Once I heard that, I did what any other red blooded kid with the rock bug would do… I saved up my money to buy a guitar and I played my brother's old hand me down SEARS B350 bass amp. Okay…. don't judge me… it's all I had…. and if you cranked it up loud enough, it performed a pretty good rendition of "Cocaine". What can I say? It was the only overdrive this thing got!

Then Christmas rolled around and my parents realized that I wouldn't shut up about this "I need a new amp" thing… That morning I saw a Marshall Lead 12 under the tree. It was a one and a half trick pony. It would break up pretty nice when you cranked the gain but it all had to be done by hand. There was no footswitch option. There was also no reverb. Kinda tough for a budding guitarist to have that full tone without the 'verb! Still, I had an amp that was almost loud enough to play with a band. So I started one.

Of course, it didn't take long to blow the hell out of the speaker….

I started paying close attention to my brother's band so that I could figure out what tone I wanted. My brother always played a Fender Princeton and I always dug the clean tone. The overdrive breakup was nice but it wasn't that "over the edge" tone that I was going after. While my brother was pretty much playing classic rock, I wanted an amp that could play classic rock, blues, and hard chunky riffs. I was listening to Hendrix, Clapton, and digging this new band called Guns N' Roses. I wanted to get THAT tone too!

After combing the music stores endlessly, my best friend, Brian, and I both got Fender Super 60 amps. It was my first "real" amp. My dad, "Jimmy", took me to go get it. I think I borrowed some money from him and plotted out the endless hours of grass cutting it would take to pay it off. It was tubed, had two channels, and awesome reverb! My cousin Joe had a Realistic 2x12 "PA" speaker and sooner or later I discovered that if I ran the line out through the Realistic 2x12, I got a crunchier tone. The amp was breaking up better. I felt embarrassed adding the low end speaker to my amp but I couldn't deny the tone that I liked. I was in the 11th grade now I remember reading this article in Guitar Player with this upcoming band called Nirvana. Kurt Cobain said he did the same thing.

After that, I invested a whopping $35 in an Ibanez Classic Metal pedal. I liked the crunchier tone it gave the amp. I was able to stack the overdrive from the amp with the pedal and I could finally get some nasty tones. At this point, the volume level wasn't keeping up with our drummer and I was abusing the little fender quite a bit. I felt like they never really worked out all of the bugs in the amps so I went back to the drawing board.

The Dark Years

Digital effects were in their infancy in the early 90's and I got on board with a Digitech RP-1. I programmed the damn thing until I got about 7 tones that were halfway decent. I remembered that one of my personal settings was called "Stevie in Heaven". Now that I look back, I hope he doesn't have that tone….

I bought a Peavey Classic Chorus 2x12 during my freshman year of college. I recorded my first album entitled Wonderllamasoup with the Peavey / Digitech combo and I realized that I had no dynamics on the album. The gain I was playing with was so hot that the noise gate and compression totally took away my dynamics. The amp itself was fine but it didn't take me long to realize that all of the digital effects of the RP-1 were choking my tone.

During the next year of college, I went looking for another amp.

When my student loan check came in that fall, I rushed to the local music store. I tried amps for seven hours. I told the guy, "I'm about to spend a bunch of money and I'm going to make sure I can pay this back". The amp I settled on was a Marshall Valvestate 100H. It was a hybrid in that it had one 12AX7 tube in the preamp that just added a little color to the tone. Still, it met my requirements. It had three channels. I knew that I could survive with three channels because I was sick and tired of lugging an effects processor. It was my first Half Stack. During the first gig I could tell the difference right away. I broke into "The Sky is Cryin'" and it was the best tone I had to date. I was happy.

For a while.

The Age of Enlightenment

Then one night I was sitting in with a band at a frat gig. The rhythm player walked up with this little 2x12 Peavey Classic Chorus Amp from the 70's and was setting up beside me. I look at his little amp sitting beside my 100 watt Marshall half stack and said, "You think you'll be able to hear that amp over mine?". He just gave me a little grin and said "She'll be loud enough". After we started playing, I turned my amp up. A few songs later, I turned my amp up again. By the end of the night, my amp was on 8. I asked him "What's your amp's volume?". He said "2". I said "How many watts is that thing?" He said 50. I said "Your amp is killing mine. How's that possible?". He said. It's a tube amp.

I was floored. All this time I was trying to find my tone and I realized that I didn't really know anything about amps.

I recorded my second album, Evandrool, with the Marshall and I hated the tone on the recording. I was never happy with the british "bright" sound. It was good for some things, just not the low rich tones that I was after. After college, I bought another all tube amp. It was a Peavey Delta Blues. It was a great little amp. It had a nice enough clean sound and the distortion was just like it's name suggests–a blues overdrive. As a result, it wasn't my "go to" amp. My band was doing all kinds of styles so I never really played that many gigs with it.

I recognized the natural compression and response of tubes, I just didn't know where I was going to go from there. I threw an Ibanez Tube Screamer in my collection and that got me through the next couple of years.

Then I opened a music store, taught lessons, and still wasn't completely happy with my tone. I was still looking for that three channel amp that I could buy for myself and carry in the shop. I just couldn't find it.

I played a lot of great amps over the next five years. I took many of them from the shop out the door to my gigs. They all had something great about them but not everything was "exactly" like I wanted. I knew I loved the warmth that 6L6's had. I knew I also needed a high gain, a dirty channel, and a pristine clean channel–all in the same amp.

I couldn't find it, by the way.

The Epiphany

Then one day I was eating at a restaurant and I was wearing my name tag from the shop. The guy behind the counter asked if we did amp repair. I was thinking that he wanted us to repair his amp. I said "No. I wish we could find a guy". He said "That's what I do". I've heard that story before because EVERYBODY thinks that they can. So I said "Okay, we've got this bass amp that needs repair. If you can fix it, I've got work for you". He came in the next day, popped open the chassis, and told me the parts I needed. After the parts came in, he had the amp working in 15 minutes. As it turns out, he had worked for some pretty major players in the field of professional audio. I asked him, "If you can fix them, can you build them?". He said "I don't see why not."

"Good. I've got a project for you".

That was in 2011. Since then, Lane White and I have been working on the "Jimmy", a "four channel" 50 watt all tube 6L6 based American Made amplifier. The Jimmy is everything I'm looking for in an amp. It's got two dedicated channels and a "dirt" stackable gain stage before the clean and overdrive preamp. The dirt stacks with both channels and this allows the amp to have four distinct sounds.

Lane is an electronics genius. I'm not. He's forgotten more about the flow of electrons than I will ever know. I'm the musician, he's the mad scientist.

What happens when a musician and mad scientist come together…. Great things!

I've finally got the vintage American warm tone I want with the American high gain. This amp sounds great with jazz, blues, rock, and metal. It's loud enough to play with any band. It's clean enough to make the women swoon when you play "Wonderful Tonight". It's dirty enough to play "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit". It'll even get fuzzy for the heavy Hendrix riffs. I've tested it on the road for the last 8 months and we're finishing the third prototype now.

We've changed what I didn't like. We've improved on good design and made it better. We've removed the expensive We've made it logical, beautiful, and affordable.

We've made the "Jimmy" - a working musician's dream amp.

I couldn't be happier.

-Chris Mitchell