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How We Create Great Tone


How Mack Gets$2500 Tone from a $750 Guitar Amp

Mack Amps believes that circuit design has a greater impact on amplifier tone than the use of rare, esoteric, mythical - EXPENSIVE components.

Builders who pursue their personal ‘holy grail’ of tone dominate the world of boutique guitar amplifiers.  

Mack Amps

They spare no expense to produce what they believe is the ultimate electric guitar tone.  Like the high-end audio equipment market, there will always be guitar amp manufacturers that adhere to this philosophy.  That’s okay.  Undoubtedly, their amps can sound terrific.  And, there will always be players who will pay anything for their equipment.

However, at Mack we believe that the use of high cost components doesn’t always justify the resulting increase in price.  In our experience, the increments in price required to move up the 'holy grail' staircase of boutique amplifiers often don't produce a practical improvement in sound.

We think you shouldn’t pay extra to get a bunch of marginal value, trendy components along with awesome tone.  

Lowering the price of inspiring guitar amplifier tone is Mack Amp's focus. Therefore, we design our amps to produce hot tube tone using low cost, commonly available - high quality with very high reliability - components. We believe the design of the circuit produces most of the tone, not the individual components.

HS-18_Chassis_Close_Up.jpgFor example, Mack amps feature mass produced capacitors that are easily available at prices considerably less than caps that have attracted a cult following.  These are high quality components, but they are not the super expensive 'mythical' caps that are often revered in Internet forums.  In our opinion, any difference in tone is not significant and certainly not worth the added cost of fairy-tale caps.

We use Hammond transformers instead of vintage replicas or custom transformers that cost 50 – 100% more.  Hammonds are renowned for their reliability.  Our analysis of comparison listening tests shows that they sound only marginally, if at all, different from their high priced brethren.

Carbon composite resistors have a rabid following because of their historic use in vintage amplifiers.  Many tone hounds say carbon comps “sound better”.  Although carbon comps are inexpensive, we believe that any difference in tone is negligible compared to the metal film, carbon film and metal oxide resistors we use.  For certain, carbon comps are much noisier than metal/carbon film/oxide resistors.  Plus, carbon comps tend to run hotter and therefore can have a shorter service life depending on how much use an amp gets.  Metal/carbon film/oxide resistors are more consistent, more heat resistant, less noisy and cost the same as carbon comps.

Cost effective design does not compromise reliability or safety.  All switches, indicator lights, fuse holders, power plugs and other applicable components are CSA/UL rated.

Finally, we take considerable time to voice each amplifier design.  Voicing refers to selecting the value of critical components to produce the desired frequency response of the amplifier and harmonic content of the amplified guitar tone.

Of course, voicing must involve the speaker cabinet and driver.  That’s why during the prototype stage we conduct exhaustive listening tests auditioning drivers, modifying cab design and tweaking component values.

The result?  You get a hand made, all tube guitar amp optimized to produce rich electric guitar tone at a price that is much more affordable than a typical boutique amp!