Amp Show a Go Go

Ace sideman and gear demo producer Pete Thorn stopped by and made my pedals sound really good. :)

Ace sideman and gear demo producer Pete Thorn stopped by and made my pedals sound really good — though a killer Magnatone helped.

I spent the weekend hyping my stompboxes at the long-running LA Amp Show. It was my first visit, and it was a blast in every regard.

It’s a surreal scene. It’s not held at a convention center, but at a generic airport hotel. Exhibitors set up in plain old hotel rooms on three floors. And unlike NAMM, there are no noise restrictions — pity the poor hotel guests who weren’t amp freaks! It was wild, walking down a long hotel corridor, with some high-end amp and guitar blasting through each doorway. But within each room, there was an odd sense of intimacy. It could even be sexy, assuming your erotic ideal is the Line 6 Helix.

Gear highlights? I don’t know! I was on my own, glued to my pedalboard for two days. (Though I got to take a closer look at the Milkman amps crafted by my San Francisco neighbor Tim Marcus.)

But I did get to share Vintage King’s suite with several cool brands: Moog, whose Minifooger pedals I reviewed for Premier Guitar (and loved). Also there: Magnatone. I was plugged into a magnificent Super Fifty-Nine (which I also reviewed and loved). New to me, though, were two killer models from Jackson Ampworks.


It was great to see my onetime boss, Jim Crockett — the man who invented the guitar magazine

But I can tell you two non-gear highlights: For the first time since the late ’80s, I got to hang out with Jim Crockett, who founded Guitar Player in 1967, inventing the guitar mag.

Jim ran the show when the mag hired me in 1988. It was my first real job — till then, I’d only worked as a guitar teacher. Jim was so cool, going out of his way to welcome the nervous new guy, and providing many pats on the back.

The magazine got sold not long after I started, and has changed corporate hand many times since. So while I only worked with Jim for a few months, I’ve spent the last several decades listening to everyone moan, “Man, it was so much more fun when Jim was here.”

Thanks Jim — I’ll never forget your kindness.

Also unforgettable: the mad yo-yo skills of Vintage King’s Dan Serper. Clearly, raging 7-string pro-metal guitar-playing isn’t his only talent! (The background noise is amps blasting from adjacent rooms.)

2 comments to Amp Show a Go Go

  • Oinkus

    Looks like you had a great time ! Probably been 40 years since I slung a yo yo around. Doesn’t it always make pedals sound better with a great guitar and amp or is that vice versa ? Still way behind with getting a Duh and you add more pedals I can’t afford , on the list of things I require.

  • el reclusa

    Can’t wait to eventually get my hands on some Gore pedals…

    Those Milkman amps are soooooooo awesome. An acquaintance is awaiting one, I’m really looking forward to checking it out in non-internet real life.

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