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Australian Musician Spotlight: George Evans Custom Amplifiers.
Ground Level. Stand #42 Melbourne Guitar Show

By Eddy Lim

Guitarists are anomalies amongst the realm of musicians. We’re constantly searching for the next component to add to our signal chain in order to achieve our “dream tone” – and we have the bank statements to prove it. But most of the time, it simply ends up being a never-ending cycle of repetition.

Phil George and Tim Evans from George Evans Custom Amplifiers understand this sentiment completely. The company have a simple, singular mission: to produce quality, hand-built amplifiers that last a lifetime.

“We wanted to leave a legacy behind that no one else has achieved in Australia,” George says. “We wanted to build what we thought were the best amps out there – really versatile and extremely reliable amps. Something that you can take to a gig and even if everything else breaks, you’ve got a phenomenal baseline tone.” Evans agrees enthusiastically. “Our vision was to make some bloody good amplifiers!” he laughs. “That was our pure vision. It had nothing to do with money, it was purely to build some bloody good amps. Something to be proud of – and that’s it.”

Before the company’s inception, Evans was busy servicing amps and helming the esteemed Labsystems – a bass gear company he founded in 1986. As a touring musician, George was one of his regular clients, and the pair quickly became fast friends.
“I was always pretty inquisitive about different sorts of equipment,” explains George. “I’d always ask Tim about how I could get this tone or that sound, etcetera. We looked at a lot of different facets back then, but only really glossed over building our own amp at that stage.”
“And as you’d expect with certain clients, some of them you just connect with,” Evans adds. “Phil and I just became mates ever since.”

The conception of George Evans Amps began with George wanting a smaller amplifier for his more intimate gigs. Even when surrounded by a multitude of options, none of them seemed to tick the box for him. It wasn’t long till he proposed building a custom amplifier with Evans. However, the pair knew it was never going to be easy.
“When we first got together, I told Tim that I wanted to make a really nice combo,” George says. “I said to him ‘we should be able to do it, no problems!’ And Tim said: ‘Mate, if you think we can design something right off the bat that sounds good, you’ve got another thing coming.’”

“The complications in every design lies not in the design itself, but in the components,” explains Evans. “You can have a component that can work really well in one section, but simply doesn’t work in another. There’s a lot of variance that exists – and all of it critically affects the amp’s tone.”

“So, Tim and I put together a wish list and cherry picked the most feasible options for a smaller combo amp,” George continues. “But involving point-to-point hand-wiring, the old school way of building. We wanted to go back to the days of Fender and Marshall in the ‘60s; those vintage amps are still going strong today. In the same vein, we wanted to build something today that will still be running in 40-50 years’ time. We wanted recognisable, classic guitar tones, but not just another copy of a vintage amp.”

“We were looking for nothing short of perfection,” Evans adds. “We didn’t want just another guitar amp.”
It took several painstaking years of prototypes and revisions till the first George Evans amplifier was actually released. Much of the pair’s time was spent on auditioning individual components, ensuring everything they chose performed well with each other and lived up to their standards.

“It took years and years to finally get to a point where we were both actually happy,” George recalls. “We had to go through the whole thing over and over again from the ground up till we were both satisfied. The components we used and still use are all premium stuff. We can build a way cheaper amp simply by using cheaper components, but we refuse to do that. We’ve done the testing, and we know for a fact that these components we use sound better.”

“More importantly, it’s the philosophy behind it,” Evans interjects. “It’s not about which part is cheaper or more expensive – it’s about which one sounds the best. That’s really all there is to it.”
“But yeah, quite often the more expensive stuff sounds better,” George admits.

In 2008, the duo officially released their first amp – the Sonique 50. The 50-watt amplifier ran on four EL-34s, featuring two channels with a three-way gain selector switch for each. Both channels were further accentuated with a bright switch and boost option. To top it all off, an elegant laser-etched nameplate rested on its front panel. Slowly but surely, word began to spread about this custom-crafted beast. Interested customers began to show up at the George Evans workshop, and often left with a stunned smile on their face.

“There was no way we were going to send crap out into the world,” says Evans. “Labsystems had such great success and I’m very proud of it. George Evans had to live up to that reputation and now it’s really just gone above it.”

Other than the Sonique 50, George Evans Amplifiers also offer 30-watt and 22-watt models, which are all available in a single/dual speaker combo or head/cab configuration. If you’re dying to hear what they sound like – you’re in luck. George Evans Amps will be making a return to the Melbourne Guitar Show this year, where visitors will be able to demo their amplifiers and hear them in the flesh.

The 2019 Melbourne Guitar Show goes down on August 3-4 at the Caulfield Racecourse.
George Evans Amps are on Ground Level Stand #42.
Tickets are on sale now, so make sure you don’t miss out!

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