The T-Watt Story:
T-Watt Amps was the conceived and founded by Jack Kay from Buda / Dripping Springs, Texas (just southwest of Austin). As a touring musician back in the late 60’s and 70’s, Jack played on Marshalls and had to keep several of them in the truck to make sure he always had one to play on every night. Whenever something broke, he had to cannibalize one of the Marshall carcasses for parts to keep others running. The lack of quality in commercially-made amplifiers always amazed him. And Marshall 100 Watt Superlead rigs were by no means cheap.
As a 21-year-old musician, he wanted to someday build a guitar player’s amp without regard to what the components cost. Sound and tone would be the only focus using the best parts without regard to price. The first name he came up with was “Texas Watt” but he quickly realized that was too long and shortened it to “T-Watt.” Once Stax/Mercury folded, he came off the road and ended up doing nothing with the idea for more than 30 years.
Finally a couple of years ago, he revived T-Watt and contacted some old friends who were experts in analog amps, transformers, speakers, and cabinet building. With their guidance and assistance, the T-Watt Amp was born.
Visit the Gallery for a video of Jack Kay telling the T-Watt Story…
Inside the Amps:
We build them one at a time. They are hand wired, point-to-point, with no extra circuitry. They have one input jack, EL34 or 6L6 tubes, custom T-Watt-only transformers, custom T-Watt-only speakers, and all inside custom cabinets. If you’re covering all the bases, you’ll want contiguous pine.
Circuitry? The guitar signal is either on a piece of circuitry, or it’s inside a tube. Our amps have both British and American circuitry built in parallel, so you can mix and match the British/American circuits at will. We also have a 6-position switch to toggle between gain circuitry. All tolled, it provides about 72 circuit combinations. Once you choose the circuitry then you have the familiar bass, mid, treble, pre-amp, main amp, and presence controls. But we’re not merely emulating an old analog sound. We’re recreating the British and American circuits. There is nothing to restrict the signal. We go from lows you only feel to highs you only sense. My analog design expert calls it “angel’s breath” highs. If you have ever played an old Vox, you’ll know what I’m talking about. (NOTE: There is one non-analog part. For those who think rectifier tubes cause the sound to “sag,” we have a solid state rectifier circuit. However, it can be bypassed.) Any and every notion is taken into account. Whether fact, urban legend, or just perceived MOJO, we skip nothing.
Outside the Amps:
T-Watt Amps are all about fun. Our name is an acronym for “Texas Waveform Analog Tube Technology.” That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. If you object to the name, we even have an alternate logo to use that says “Tx-Watt”. The knobs all go to 11, as requested by our ol’ buddy Tony Moore (Iron Maiden, Counting Crew) when he said, “You just gotta do it.” So, we did and we only use prime numbers. Yes, we realize 9 isn’t prime but it gets a pass because of the Beatles. We offer 40-60 different kinds of vinyl and can even do exotic coverings like fox, mink, cow hide, and snake skin along with nearly as many kinds of grill cloth, handles, and feet. And we don’t sell our amps without a flight case to protect it.
We also offer a star treatment service. You can book time in the studio/lab and have one-on-one time an amp designer who will customize the amp/tone stack per your wishes, changing out components that affect tone stack until the you get exactly what you want. You can also A/B different cabinet and speaker combinations. We will get the entire rig dialed in, even down to the pedal board and instrument itself. You can then jam some for fun after which we will go eat at our favorite Tex-Mex restaurant and then you can take complete custom rig home. Since we already have both British and American base circuits in place, there’s very little we can’t do to obtain the sound you want.
We’ve done all we can to hold down costs in manufacturing as long as it doesn’t affect our first mandate: sound and tone. We have 1×12 combos, 2×12 combos, and stand alone heads in both 50 watt and 25 watt versions. Most musicians find the 50 watt will do all they want, from bedroom volume to stage volume.
This amp is different and unique. Since we do not restrict range in any way, you’ll find our 50 watt is not as focused or loud as a 50 watt Marshall. That’s primarily because the 50 watts are spread out over a much wider range. The engineers and I have discussions all the time about, “It’s not THAT you’re pushing 50 watts – it’s WHAT you’re pushing with the 50 watts.”
I was told from the get-go that building an amp this way would be economic suicide. However, T-Watt is intended to be a labor of love and sound. It’s all in the way we build them that makes the difference. Once you hear one, you’ll understand the tag line “There ain’t nothing else like it.”
Hopefully, this has answered any questions. Please refer to our FAQs page for more answers or use the Contact Form below if you have any others.
Thanks for your interest.
-Jack Kay, Founder of T-Watt Amps
and the rest of the T-Watt / Tx-Watt crew