The Smell of the Amps
3/27/2013 2:33:00 PM
Every industry has its smells and sounds, and certainly the music industry does as well, and to me there is nothing like the smell of my tube amplifiers warming up. It smells… like… like victory.
Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived. - Helen Keller
I’m sure many musicians know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s like when you walk into the rehearsal studio, or the music store, or up on the stage, and the gear has been warming up for a while and you can smell a special electrical and wood warmth. It’s like the combination of the antique wood trunk at the bottom of your grandfathers’ closet and an old TV.
It’s kinda funny, but it doesn’t matter what state I’m in, this crazy smell is always present when it’s band time. And I love it!!!!
Memories, imagination, old sentiments, and associations are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
Now, I also love to turn wrenches on my hot rods. So, I can describe it a little for my motorhead brothers. You know that smell when you’re sitting in your old vintage muscle car and you start it up, and it smells a little like old car interior, gas, and exhaust? Kinda gets your blood pumpin’ right? Yeah, it’s like that.
Whenever I walk into my home studio and I am greeted with that old familiar scent, I can instantly remember the first time I walked into my local music store.. it always had that same smell. It’s almost like the smell triggers instant fully colorized memories. It’s amazing. I instantly can see myself at my high school band practice, my first gig, practicing in my parent’s house, playing on stage in front of 15,000 people, or heading downtown on a rainy Saturday to spend the afternoon playing through Guitar Centers amp section.
I like the smell of film. I just like knowing there's film going through the camera. - Steven Spielberg
One of my recent amp purchases was a vintage 1965 Fender Vibroverb. Here’s an amp that spent almost 50 years in other guitarists homes, being played through, stored in closets, put into the trunks of cars.. who knows what all its’ been through? The day it arrived I opened the box, plugged it in, and within minutes that old familiar smell was in the air.. Tube amps baby! There is no substitute.
Sure, we could say the smell of spilt beer, cigarette smoke, with a bit of pot drifting through the wind is also the smells of rock and roll. True. But for me, there will always be something magical about the smell of my old tube amps warming up. It’s the smell of anticipation, power, warmth, history, and live rock and roll.