Square Amps Reflects on Summer NAMM Experience
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.