John Grammatico has been building amps for some of music’s biggest stars for years and recently relocated to Nashville where I got the opportunity to meet him and try out many of his amps at his shop. They were all great and each had their own thing going on, whether it be tweed or dumble or trainwreck inspired. When we got around to his Steel String Singer, I was quite literally blown away. The fullness, power, and clarity of this amp can easily knock down the little pig’s brick house all while sounding smooth and refined. Low strings have a twang to them and high strings have a roundness and attack that is never piercing and always pleasant and clear. I left the shop and the sound of that amp haunted me. I’m so glad I recorded a clip of me playing it on the first day to refer back to.
I had read about some of my favorite guitarists using a Steel String Singer: Stevie Ray Vaughan, David Lindley, Eric Johnson, etc. And as soon as I played this amp, I can hear it. It’s predominantly a clean amp but unlike any other clean amp I’ve ever played because it sustains like a high gain amp. The notes bloom and change timbre as they develop, full of rich overtones that make the amp seem 3D, especially compared to other amps. Which is what I did… I took some of my favorite amps to John’s shop a few weeks later and listened and compared them, just to see if my memory of the SSS had become mythical or if I had just dreamed it and built it up bigger in my head. Soon, a room full of some of my favorite amps sounded little. The tones of them were still there and I could hear the sounds coming out of the speakers, but the SSS was just bigger and yep! 3D. It’s like seeing a high-definition TV for the first time.