Rich's start-up - ToneStack Amps

Hi Everyone,

I hope this message finds you all well.  It isn't my style to reach out in this way, but I'm in the process of starting a business and could use a little help from my family and friends to get it off the ground.  

The art of music has fascinated me since I was a kid.  I got my first guitar when I was 12 and it’s the one activity that has demanded AND maintained my attention / focus since then.  Simply put, I’m drawn to it.  It's my passion and anyone who knows me knows that I'm more knowledgeable (and opinionated!) about it than anything else I've ever done.  A lot has changed in the subsequent years: my equipment, my tastes, and my lifestyle have all evolved.  But, one thing has remained the same; not a day goes by where I don’t at least pick up a guitar to play.  It has been and will continue to be the anchor that centers me through good and bad.

A few years ago, I wasn't getting the sound I wanted out of my current amplifier and began to explore why and what I could do to change it.  After replacing a few external parts with little change, I began to look into the actual circuit design and how it compared to others.  How could I modify it to sound like those classic amps of the 50’s and 60’s?  That sent me down the rabbit hole of learning as much as I could about classic tube amplifiers and their design.  What makes a 60 year-old vintage amp so sought after as compared to something of this century?  Why is their natural tone so much richer and fuller overall than most mass produced modern amps?  Why were Eric Clapton, BB King, Keith Richards, Duane Allman, Freddie King, Peter Green, Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, etc... the guys whose playing I studied, able to just plug a guitar directly into a Fender, Marshall, or Ampeg and get the tone that people try to recreate now with a bunch of pedals and sound effects?  That natural, raw tone was what I was chasing.

Now while studying and learning about all of this in relation to my own amps, talking to a lot of local amp technicians, it became clear that the beauty of these circuits and their design was their simplicity.  Most classic guitar amplifiers are not terribly complex pieces of equipment, really.   However, there just aren’t many of them left which makes them incredibly expensive, and most other boutique companies and custom shops recreating them have a retail price targeting wealthy collectors.  Understanding all this now, I don’t see any reason why the people who need a high-quality amplifier the most should be priced out of owning one: working musicians and active players.  

Now, a lot has been discovered in the last 60 years since those first circuits were developed regarding the attributes and deficiencies of all those vintage designs.  I’m in the process of developing a prototype which combines the hand-wired techniques and circuit designs of several vintage amplifiers (with quite a few of my own modifications) along with modern quality electrical parts as well as a hand-built amp cabinet using some products that are only available in the great Pacific Northwest.  Altogether, it’s an amplifier that is unique in tonal characteristics and appearance. 

I’ve been planning the logistics for some time now and have a 5-year plan to turn this endeavor into a full-time operation.  I just need some help bringing my idea to life and generating some capital to get it going.  All donations will go toward purchasing some necessary equipment that I haven’t been able to obtain yet, some raw materials, further prototyping, and start-up Legal / Accounting / Marketing expenses.  Any amount will surely help.

Up to this point, I’ve always done my best to draw the line between my creative and professional sides out of necessity.  I majored in Business Administration and Finance in college and I've spent the last 15 years working in corporate finance at large multi-national corporations like Levi’s, KPMG, and Experian as well as smaller start-ups.  I’ve got a well-rounded background and truly know how businesses operate and what makes them successful.  Now I feel the time has come to apply my business expertise to something I’m incredibly passionate about.  My creativity, sensibilities, work ethic, and work experience don’t have to be opposing forces as they have been thus far.  They can be synergistic and extremely powerful when applied in the right situation.  My ultimate goal has always been to be my own boss while doing something that intertwines my interests with my education: art and commerce.  That’s the dream, and now I believe that I’ve found my path and I’m determined to turn my vision into a reality.  

I apologize for the mini-series but I just wanted to give you some perspective of the backstory that got me to now, and why I’m reaching out for some assistance.  Feel free to pass it on to anybody who might be interested.

Cheers and thank you so much for your support.


PS: I’ll be sure to keep you all posted on the progress in the future as things start moving
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Rich Mikolitch 
Portland, OR