As you might imagine there are some questions that frequently arise. Here are answers to many commonly asked questions. Check out the Information Center for articles on amp designs and technical questions.
Q: Can you explain how pick each part in the amp and why your approach to building amps will produce a superior amp?
A:Not to be dismissive but I'm not going to want to explain my approach point by point. It’s a big question. For many years my working life has been about developing amps, learning and experimenting. This is a continuing process. Therefore it cannot be compressed into a brief answer. I use the parts I think work well, sound good and use the best engineering practices I can. In my opinion the vast majority of builders overemphasize "magic" parts and special secrets because this language appeals to some buyers. The fact is that an amp is piece of engineering and if you understand the the hows and whys you can make a better amp and and get the tone you want from it. The only problem is that explaining engineering to a customer is not very feasible or marketable.
Q: Can I buy an amp, cab or pedal and return it if don't like it?
A: No. Carl's Custom Amps is not a retail business so we cannot allow players to "try out" custom made items. We are happy to answer questions and work with you to make sure you get the right gear for you. We've never had a customer request a return because they though an amp, pedal, or cab sounded bad thought occasionally it just wasn’t the right gear for the player.
Q: How often will you update me on my amp's status?
A: Typically I will only contact the buyer when the amp ships or if there is a delay beyond the usual build time. I will however respond to occasional update requests. Be aware though that the less time I am answering emails the more time I am either working on or working towards your amp!
Q: I was hoping to have my amp sooner than the typical build time. Can that be done?
A: No. I build amps in the order of the date when the order was made and when parts arrive. There is always a line of amps waiting to be done so to be fair to all my customers I do not move builds up the line. I do often have amps in stock and those ship out the next day.
Q:I have X speaker. Can you sell me a combo amp without a speaker?
A:No. Complete combos use speakers that are specially selected for the amp and I want your amp to sound it's best! I am happy to talk over an speaker related concerns you have. Occasionally a players style may require a different speaker.
Q:Do you make amps that are EU voltage ready?
A: Any of my amps can be built for EU voltages. Typically this can cost from $30-50 more.
Q: I want to pay less than the listed price and I'm sure you are charging me too much. What kind of discount can you give me?
A: I do not negotiate prices. The price is what it is. Remember I'm trying to make a living!
Q: Will you do trades?
A: I generally do not do any trades unless you have valuable item that you want to trade at a fraction of it's value :). Seriously though you will be better off selling gear yourself.
Q:Why do custom amps cost more than the stock models?
A: A great deal of extra labor, often custom made parts, research, and tweaking are necessary for custom amps which increases the price and the amount of time to build.
Q: Can you do a different color of tolex/grill cloth on an amp?
A: Yes I can. I have a wide selection to choose from. It generally costs slightly more to do a custom tolex color. Be sure to ask and I'll let you know what is possible.
Q: Will you sell your amps without a Logo?
A: No. Many hours go into each amp and I want other people to recognize my products.
Q: Will you use all NOS parts (other than tubes) in a custom build for me?
A: No. Many NOS part are unreliable and sound no better (often worse because of age) than high quality new parts. I cannot warranty NOS parts so I do not use them.
Q: Can you provide NOS tubes for my amp?
A: Yes. Typically I can find NOS/Vintage tubes for my amps. The prices vary quite a bit (temporally) so please ask for quote. While NOS tubes are well tested I cannot extent a 30 day warranty on the tubes like I do on new production tubes.
Q: Will you picture the build process of my amp and send me photos?
A: I can photograph the process and send you thumb drive with the amp for $50.
Q: Can you add a fan to my amp?
A: Most of my amps will not need one. If yours does I am happy to install one.
Q: Can you add an effects loop?
A: Most of my models do not benefit from having an effects loop since they are low gain amps. I can add one in cases where it is beneficial and there is enough room.
Q: My amp is not working---can you tell me how to fix it myself?
A: I would be happy to service/repair your amp if you will send it or bring it in. I do not provide technical support to the DIY amp builders for financial, temporal and liability reasons.
Q: Can you add reverb to my amp?
A: Not usually. Reverb must be integrated into the design of an amp. A good tube reverb usually requires two more tubes, a reverb tank, and transformer. In addition you often have to make changes to the rest of the amp to add it in thus altering the sound. Using a reverb unit like the my Classic Tube Reverb or a reverb pedal is a better way to go with many non-reverb amps.
Q: Will you make a clone of current boutique amp?
A: No. I can build you an amp with similar features in many cases. Most amps are derived from the classics with added features but if you want an specific Carr, Tone King or other amp just buy one.
Q: Are your Tweed Amp replicas?
A: No. They are sound-a-likes and look-alikes in many cases but they are not meant to look exactly like the originals on the inside or replicate every screw. With decades of hindsight and without the economic concerns of a large company I’m able to build amps with better practices than were possible in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. There really is no excuse for a modern amp to be noisy or have reliability problems due to engineering flaws. All those goals can be met and the amp will have exceptional vintage tone!