St. Louisan reviving Magnatone Amps to new generation

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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KTVI) – That guitar you hear emitting from south St. Louis is the sound of a rock and roll icon being resurrected.

'Elvis` guitar player Scotty Moore used Magnatone,' says Dave Hinson. 'Buddy Holly is really famous for using Magnatones, he used the 280.'

From 1937 to the mid 1970s Magnatone amplifiers helped define the early days of rock and roll, but then they disappeared.

Now some 40 years later, Ted Kornblum is reviving the brand as a line of boutique amps.  And these amps are the vehicle to drive some vibrato.

'So most guitars use an effect called Tremolo which is amplitude, softer louder, softer louder,' says CEO Ted Kornblum.  'Vibrato is what you use in your voice when you fluctuate the pitch.'

Or in the case of an amplifier, the tone.

And these tones are tremendous and they're all handmade.

'These amplifiers are painstakingly put together with parts from all across the country like Kentucky, North Carolina, Chicago, Pennsylvania and they're all brought here to St. Louis where it takes them a day and half to finally finish one,' says Patrick Clark.

'To make products in America they are more expensive,' says Kornblum.  'But they come with elements of the story. And I think the story of why and who makes it is important.'

Obeid Khan is the engineer who was given the task of taking the old amps and making them modern.

'It`s a really cool experience to do this all my life, design guitar amps,' says engineer Obeid Khan. 'Who would have thought I'd be able to stay in the town I would call my hometown and do this thing with a brand that has that name recognition and the history and the heritage.'

It's that heritage s that's brought the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, ZZ Top and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco to purchase the premium amps.

And though they just re-launched with six new models they're already returning to concert tours worldwide.

'People in general know of Magnatone but they don't,' says Hinson. 'They're sort of relearning the brand. But once they hear them it's over.'

That's cause the sound of a revival uses a lot of vibrato.

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