TRAINWRECK
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TRAINWRECK
Amplifiers previously produced in Colonia, NJ between the early 1980s and 2006.
Ken Fischer started Trainwreck Amplifiers in circa 1980. Fischer has a long history in the tube amp business, and he is considered to be one of the most knowledgeable persons in the industry. After working for the Navy in the technical service departments and Ampeg during their heyday, he opened an amp repair shop in New Jersey. Fischer has always been interested in Vox amplifiers, especially the famed AC-30. After building a reputation of repairing, modifying, and restoring amps, he was encouraged by many customers to start building his own models. The first amp he designed was the Liverpool 30 - a variation built on the Vox AC-30 chassis with 4 X EL84 tubes. The two other models he produced are the Rocket (2 X EL84 power tubes) and the Express (2 X EL34 or 2 X 6V6 power tubes).
The Trainwreck name, according to Aspen Pittman, comes from his handle (nickname) in his motorcycle riding group as he drove like a "Trainwreck." All amps come as head units finished in hardwood cabinets. Fischer does not build combos because he prefers keeping the electronics and speakers separate to reduce interference. The hardwood cabinets are unique in themselves, as they are entirely hand-built and they feature engravings on the control panel. The controls typically include five knobs (v, t, m, b, p) and a bright switch. Fischer designs are very simple with few controls, as complexity often distorts the original tone. Trainwreck amps are also "serial-numbered" with a woman's name instead of a number. Each amp has a different name, and at one point, Fischer could remember every one he had built.
Fischer estimated that he built four or five amps a year, and very few have been produced in the past. Because of the amount of time invested in each amp and the overall quality in Trainwreck amps, they are very expensive. Used models have sold for between $20,000 and $30,000! Many collectors and players consider this to be the Holy Grail of guitar amplifiers. Each model should be evaluated individually, and currently there is no set pricing for individual models. Fischer passed away on December 23, 2006 after a long battle with a chronic illness that left him very frail. He produced less and less in later years and built amps specifically for close friends. Before he passed away, Fischer estimates that there are about one hundred true Trainwreck amplifiers out there.
In the late 1990s, Fischer was approached by Holger Notzel and Michael Kennedy from Riverfront Music in Baton Rouge, LA. They wanted to build a Trainwreck-style amp themselves, and they asked Fischer if they could do it. Fischer agreed and supplied them with a design of Trainwreck. Notzel and Kennedy produce a prototype that was well-received as a Trainwreck-sounding amp. Fischer allowed the boys from Louisiana to produce amps commercially, and they named the new company Komet Amplification. Currently, there is a licensing agreement between Trainwreck and Komet to produce Trainwreck-style amps in different cabinets (see Komet Amplification). Information courtesy Aspen Pittman, The Tube Amp Book: Deluxe Revised Edition.

From Blue Book Publications:


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