One night we were playing at the Redfish on North State Street in Chicago. I'm in the middle of a solo and folks start yelling “You're on fire”, they keep pointing and when I turn around and look, there is smoke coming out of my amp. I finish the night plugging into the PA system. I figured I might have to get a new amp to replace my old workhorse Fender Twin I had been using for decades.
I was aware of Victoria's emergence as a pioneer in the boutique hand built guitar amp industry. I decided to call Mark Baier to see if he would check my amp out, as he is an expert on old Fender tube amps. He was very gracious and told me to come and see him at the shop. Red had been playing a Fender 59 Bassman reissue and didnt want to miss the opportunity of checking out Victoria's fine vintage style amps for herself.
So, Red and I spent a few hours with Mark as he introduced us to his great sounding amp lines. Red is picky about the tubes, speakers, and power she looks for in her amps. She had retubed her working amps over the years and had certain favorite combinations that worked well with her mic. What was so cool was Mark actually turned Red onto some other combinations that Red fell in love with on the spot. Mark has the ability to translate the sound characteristics a player is mentioning, into an electronic assembly that produces those characters. Things went to another level, Red decided she had to have a Victoria 45410 model amp with one of the setups Mark had introduced her to. She did request to have a switch included that would reduce the output power and then switch to only two speakers also. Mark said he had a good way to include that too. Mark was swapping out many components and Red was comparing many amps and sounds, and by the time they were done Red said “Mark I only have one more request, “Can you make it in Red”. They both grinned as Mark said “Of course!”.
Mark did repair my Twin that day, and tweaked a couple of other parts that he felt would work better. I don't even question Mark's work because everything he has said and done for me has improved my sound the way I imagine it!
"Mark on the forklift shippin' amps".
"Red wanted Checkerboard knobs".
"Mark, JoAnne, and Red messin round".
"I had to try that nice vintage Strat Mark was playin".
I did get my own Victoria amp a few years back after Mark came by the stage that our duo The Original Delta Fireballs was playing at the Chicago Blues Fest. We hadn't started our set yet and I was complaining to Mark backstage about how heavy my old Fender Twin was starting to feel after all these years. I explained that with the duo I needed my Twin, cause it had a type of “thump” that helped rock my low notes as I played bass lines in my accompaniment. I asked if he would consider making a piggyback amp for me so I could carry it in two pieces. I mentioned that I really needed that thump from my amp though, and Mark said he had a special transformer in mind, but wasn't quite sure if it would be right. He wanted to hear our set before he committed to what he had in mind, cause he hadn't ever heard a live set with The Original Delta Fireballs. I knew that even if he said no, that it is just really important to him to get it right for me. So, he said “Let me check out your set, and then I'll have a better idea of what I might be able to do”. Well after our set, Mark was the first one to approach me backstage, and he said he heard what I had been talking about, and now had a good idea of what he was gonna do. I knew I was asking for something special and knew too that Mark just wanted to make it right for me, no BS about it! As he described his vision of my amp a smile came to my face as he always makes it clear that he will not build or allow an amp to come from Victoria if it is not up to his knowledgeable and impeccable standards. I am grateful to have this amp as the sound is absolutely right for me, and the load in and out is much easier. The tremolo sound is in a class by itself.
Red and I tip our hats to Mark and his dedicated team at Victoria Amps, thanks guys!
"Tryin' my new Victoria out".
"Mark had to check out my doubleneck guitar".