NAMM Shows have a reputation for being the spot to debut products and to highlight emerging companies. Square Amps, a new company from of Austin, Texas, used the Summer NAMM Show to debut a new line of amplifiers.
NAMM Member company, Square Amps prides itself on the commitment to preserve the “American spirit of handcrafted guitar amplifiers built from authentic vintage wooden tube radios from the 1930’s-1940’s,” and does this by handcrafting tube amplifiers from vintage radios and designing and building their own line of vintage inspired heads. The one-man operation was founded in 2013 by Matt Richards with the tagline “if it’s a square, it’s alright!” We recently sat down with Matt to discuss Square Amps and his first NAMM Show experience.
Where did the inspiration come to start converting tube radios into quality guitar amplifiers?
My grandfather was into Citizen Band or CB radio when I was a kid and had them laying around everywhere, so I was always tinkering and listening to people talk to each other. I became fascinated with figuring out how radios worked and that lead me to where I am today.
How do you source the vintage radios?
I find them all over the place; in antique shops, eBay, Craigslist, the side of the road, you name it and I have probably found a radio there! I also have a lot of people reach out to me with radios they are selling. I really enjoy the hunt.
What was it like to debut a new product line at Summer NAMM?
It was a great experience to be able to share something you created with the world and watch it grow. It was also extremely helpful for me to be able to interact directly with musicians to gather their opinions. Overall, it was very exciting and a tradition that I will look forward to continuing every year!
hat advice do you have for young product engineers looking to enter the market?
My biggest piece of advice is to go about things your own way. If you have an idea that is way out in leftfield, follow it. There are so many copies and copies of copies in this industry that it is always good to step out of line and do something different.
How did the decision to expand into pedals come about?
The expansion was fueled by a few reasons: The biggest motivation was to create a well-rounded product line with something for everyone. Second, pedals are an addiction for so many guitarists, and I have found that they are always buying, selling, and trading them. I figured that is a good way to get your name out there on a different level than just with amps. Third, and maybe most importantly, they are fun to build and to play!
Is there anything you think our community should know about Square Amps that we may be missing?
The biggest misconception that I face is that I am just rewiring old radios into amps, that is not what I do! I gut all the radio parts and start from scratch, reusing only the metal chassis and wooden enclosure. Everything else is new parts built from scratch. Another area to clarify is that I am a one-man show - building, sales, website, tradeshows, floor-sweeping – it’s all just me. I found that a lot of folks at Summer NAMM were surprised by this.
Any plans to attend future NAMM Shows? If so, anything in particular that you are looking forward to?
I am planning on exhibiting at Summer NAMM in 2020. I have a few new product ideas I am working on that should be ready by then. You’ll just have to stop by my booth and see what is new.
During 2019 Summer NAMM, Avid will be hosting a special event at Belmont University on Thursday, July 18, 2019. After the day’s events have wrapped up, the Avid team will be heading over to Vintage King Nashville at 5 pm for a special Summer NAMM party of epic proportions.
Join us and the Avid team at Vintage King Nashville for an evening-time soiree with free food and adult beverages for attendees. Our showroom will be open to the public and you’ll be able to check out the store’s many amenities, including our two mic lockers, a control room with an API 2448 console, the modular synth wall and guitar pedal station.
Throughout the party, Avid experts will be on-hand to answer any questions you may have about Avid software or hardware products. We will also have our linked Avid S3 and Pro Tools | Dock station up and running so you can learn more about how using the two interfaces together can improve your workflow.
Saturday, July 20, 2019 — 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Singer-songwriter Lee Ann Womack will be performing on the NAMM Avid Stage on the Terrace, featuring music from her Grammy-nominated record, The Lonely, The Lonesome & The Gone, as well as others from her storied career. With over six million records sold, Womack is sure to excite and delight audiences on Saturday at Summer NAMM.
C. F. Martin & Co. invites guitar and uke players of all levels to perform at Summer NAMM at the Martin Guitar and Strings Open Mic event. Attendees will be able to sign-up to perform a song during the Martin Open Mic in the level 3 lobby of Music City Center, directly off the exhibit floor. Everyone who plays will receive a set of Martin strings and a chance to win a piece of Martin gear on the hour. Each player will also be entered for a chance to win a Martin Guitar. The guitar winner will be selected at random from everyone who performs that day.
At this special session, NAMM Young Professionals welcomes JC Curleigh, CEO of Gibson Brands, Inc., who will share his career path and his advice for you.
After the session, stick around for a networking reception with NAMM YP. This session and reception are open to all industry professionals and NAMM attendees.
Thursday, July 18, 2019 — 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Join us for a special networking gathering, uniting members from the Audio Engineering Society (AES), as well as studio, recording, house of worship and live sound professionals. The nominees for the 35th Annual NAMM TEC Awards will also be honored during the event. Food and drinks will be provided.
Thursday, July 18, 2019 — 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Make plans to join us Thursday night for our Summer NAMM tradition, an informal social gathering at The Flying Saucer including good food, drinks, fun, relaxing and socializing! Stop in any time after 8:00 pm as your schedule allows. Food and beverages are on your own, but the networking and fun are free!