I was 18 years old, just having started engineering school. I’d spend most my days in circuits textbooks and playing guitar, so it only felt natural to combine the two. Along with being broke, it provided the push I needed to make it a real business.
The first model I made was in the spring of 2005, based loosely on a design from ax84.com. It was a single ended 5W high gain head a combo. It’s got a unique saturated type tone and pumps pretty hard for 5W. I still use it to this day.
After the success of the prototype, I was able to secure a small business loan from the Ontario government. $1500 at the time was like a fortune to my broke student self, and I quickly used the money to buy transformers, speakers, and other electronics to build a small batch of CC-01s. My local music store was kind enough to let me sell them there on consignment, and was able to sell my small batch of 3 in just a few weeks. I was happen with the CC-01 but I wanted to build a stadium grade product.
In the summer of 2005 I spent basically the entire summer in my parent’s garage. I made a few other prototypes including the CC-02 and the CC-03. The CC-02 was a 15W cathode bias PP amp with EL84s and a plexi style preamp. It sounded pretty good but it wasn’t really a full fledge gigging amp. The CC-03 was a monster, I tried to cram everything I could into that amp. It was 3 channels, reverb, and a 50W EL84 power section. The chassis became such a mess inside that I had untameable oscillation on the high gain channel. I was able to show the working CC-03 to a few friends, but ultimately scrapped the project in favour of something more simplistic.
Then came the CC-04. The mothership product that I still use to this day. The core design of it was fairly simple, combine the rocking style of a plexi preamp and a JCM800 preamp, with the smooth class A power section of a matchless style amp.
I recall spending weeks in the garage tweaking capacitor and resistor values. Even 10 pf can have quite the effect on the tone in a preamp signal. I attribute a lot of what made the CC-04 sound so good was that I was tuning it with fairly crappy gear. A cheap fender strat with terrible pickups, and a super cheap fender 4×12 cabinet.
-Speaking cabinets, testing with Celestion greenback, Vintage 30’s, and Eminence speakers.
-Jeff Martin call, and studio visits
In early 2008 I was contacted by an Australian who was interested dealing my amps. Usually I was not interested in dealerships however with the currency exchange he was able to get decent margins and I could sell them at near full price. He ended up buying 5 heads with cabinets for a total order of about $15,000. This was by far the most money I had seen at the time. It was very good timing considering I was about to finish my undergrad and was needing to start paying rent. Shortly after I rented a small workshop in Amherstburg Ontario and got to work, producing the amps over the next month. Unfortunately the order was severely damaged by the shipping company, though I’m told the Aussie was able to recover a good amount from his insurance company, and was able to order new head casing from me, as well as the new combo amp I head been working on.
-Combos, new CC-02 and single CC-04 combo
In the summer of 2008, while sleeping sleeping on my buddy’s couch in a Toronto basement, I was preparing to do my first music gear exhibition. It was prohibitively expensive at the time. I spent upwards of $5000 for the space rental and preparations. I also had to have each amplifier at the show certified by the Electrical Safety board of Canada. I recall an inspector coming to my small workspace in Toronto, telling me to paint the inside of the cabinets with fire proof paint, then coming back a few days later to charge me for another visit. The show itself was fun enough, but mostly a waste of time. I met a group of retailers from Toronto that wanted to carry my line of amps, but something about them didn’t seem and I ultimately passed. I am still off put by the idea of a retailer taking a 40% cut for simply placing the amp in their stores.
-2013 batch, I was out of amps!