Carrying on the Vintage Vibe

Rescue and Restore
In Randall Ball’s case, if it sounds like a good idea, it’s an opportunity. After hearing from a fellow-musician buddy about an amp he saw that looked like an old TV, Randy was inspired.  So he went on eBay and purchased an old Zenith table-top radio from the late-30s and outfitted it with circuitry to create a unique, vintage-inspired amp with a certifiable vintage vibe. The response was great, and has encouraged him to turn his idea turned hobby, into a business.
With a growing interest in his “Ball Amps,” Randall has broadened his search for cabinets to house his amps to include antique stores, Craigslist, and flea markets. “I’ve always liked and appreciate old stuff but wouldn’t consider myself a collector,” says Ball. “Now I spend my time collecting old suitcases, radio cabinets … anything that catches my eye and is big enough to accommodate the speaker and electronics and everything else needed to turn the cabinet into a working amplifier.”

Although Ball says sourcing materials on the Internet is the most efficient way to find things, he really enjoys the quest, and the time he spends finding unique cabinets that are really going to grab people’s attention and look cool as an amp.
While the majority of the amps he builds are housed in old suitcases because of their availability and reasonable prices, he has also used old radio and TV cabinets from the early 50s, although, he says, they are harder to come by.  “Musicians like the vintage look but they also want that vintage sound. The circuits I use are clones of the classic tube amps used in the 1950s.”
A recent interview in Vintage Guitar magazine is fueling his start-up business, and has led to a number of custom commissions which, no doubt, will lead him in new, creative directions and in search of cool, vintage-inspired cabinets for his amps, which start at $900 and go up from there.
Visit Randall’s web site at www.ballamps.com for more information about Ball Amps.
Carrying on the Vintage Vibe