Reynolds Valveart is the work of brothers Peter and David Reynolds, with the help of their father Tony.
|Their grandfather, Arthur (the "Art" in Valveart) was a technician and broadcast radio operator. With the outbreak of WW2 he was called up by the RAAF where he served as a Flying Officer. He travelled the far reaches of Australia building and installing transceivers, "secret listening posts" and other communications equipment. After the war he returned to the Hawkesbury district where he built and serviced Ham radios, mantle radios and gramophone amplifiers.|
|Their father Tony, having helped build valve equipment since his childhood, served an apprenticeship with the Railways then studied at the Marconi School of Wireless in Sydney. He was then employed by AWA / AWV. He eventually started his own electronics business, where he was joined by Peter in 1979.|
|Their grandmother, Jessie (Pitman) was only the second woman in Australia to be granted a radio operators license.Her brother (uncle Doug) founded Pitman's Communications in Wagga Wagga, understood to be the oldest electronics business in Australia still in operation. Nanna Jess was also something of a musical savant - after listening to a piece of classical music once or twice, she could go to her piano and proceed to play it note for note. She had no musical training, she did not even know the notes of the piano keys…|
|Peter started playing guitar in his early teens and played in several bands - taking any expired amplifiers to his father to be repaired. He has always had two basic interests - music and motorcycles. He has been repairing amps since 1979 (and mantle radios since 1962!).|
|Dave is a professional musician and composer. He also works as a recording engineer and producer. A member of A.P.R.A. he has been a member of the bands Lime, Skin, Wrecking Crew and Mother Hubbard. He has also worked with and supported artists such as Steve Vai, Ritchie Sambora, Julian Lennon, Kate Cebrano and Midnight Oil.|
Apart from the genetic pre-disposition to build amps and make music, this is a good question. From a purely business point of view it doesn't make much sense. The market in Australia is small, and the "potential customer" traditionally doesn't have any money (unless they are famous which usually means they have endorsements!)
In the "Old Days" electronic equipment was made so it could be easy to service and repair, and then quickly returned to the customer - this is all electronic equipment, not just amplifiers. In the last decade or two it appears as if electronic gear has been manufactured with anything but longevity or servicing in mind. It is as if it has been built down to a price rather than up to a standard. As long as it works everything is okay. The manufacturer makes its money by selling the goods to a shop, the shop makes its money by selling the goods to a consumer. If something goes wrong (especially out of warranty) everyone ducks for cover. The consumer then takes the dud gear to the repair technician who has to wade his way through multiple printed circuit boards and ribbon connectors of poor quality in equipment made with anything but servicing or long term reliability in mind. As a consequence repair costs can get expensive…
Along with this type of construction has come a tangible reduction in sound "quality". Modern amps are weighed down with all manner of "bells and whistles", plus the "hi gain" circuitry of some of them restricts their response.
|People bring in their XYZ amp asking if we can make it sound as good as their friend's 1968 XYZ amp. In most cases it simply just can't be done. Check the internet bulletin boards and discussion groups and you'll find musicians all over the world are chasing the tone of the old classic amps. It is a fact that not a lot of musicians can actually get to hear, let alone play through one of the "classics" because the collectability and investment value of older amps has pushed them far beyond the reach of the average working musician. And heaven help any keen young kid with little money…|
So why do we build amps? In a way it's a kind of protest against modern
manufacturing processes. It definitely is a rebellion against the "throw away
mentality" of the modern electronics industry.
But the main reason is to create amps of pure unadulterated TONE - where the harmonics, dynamics and overtones shine so that it sounds like angels are hovering in between the notes. Technologically very basic, it is their pure simplicity which allows the tone and response to come through. It is also our aim to build amps of high integrity and extreme reliability. All our amps are quickly and easily serviced. There are no special components or parts with any "voodoo". Any basic TV / electronics repair business should have access to the bits to repair an amp. Our amps are infinitely repairable - as long as there are people making valves and people winding transformers our amps will survive. So will your tone…
|When we started building amps the aim was to capture the classic tone of
yesteryear. We had our favourite amps in mind. Our first amp (the "Antichrist")
still survives, it became the first test bed for our ideas.
Rather than say "this is it", we were never satisfied with what we'd done and we sort the ears and opinions of some of Australias best musicians and recording engineers, involved in all styles of music. We asked them to use the amp - give it a real flogging - and tell us in all honesty what they thought. All their opinions and ideas were taken on board and changes made. Then the amps went back for a second opinion. Often there was a third and fourth opinion as well. Bit by bit our tone has evolved. It has literally taken years and years.
So basically we haven't designed the amps. The amps have been designed by the thoughts, observations, ideas and requests of dozens of different musicians. To them we are eternally greatfull. As well as the tone quality being put to the test, the reliability was put to the test by roadcrews all over Australia. The amps did 10 week tours in pantechs and semi-trailers as well as boots and back seats of cars. They were in trucks which were involved in crashes and roll overs. They have toppled off quadboxes being pushed through carparks. They have fallen down flights of stairs. They have had baths in bourbon and coke as well as beer. They survived it all - admittedly there are some battlescars, but the tone and reliability is still there, shining through inspite of it all!