By Andrew Catania
Steven Fryette was once asked what it is that determines and influences his approach to designing every amp. He was prompted if there is a pattern that he follows with every amp. Fryette had responded that he focuses on the player and playing the music. He thinks of the kind of music being produced or played and what that composition is trying to accomplish.
Fryette amplifiers have been very popular over the years. Those who have used Fryette amps for guitars have turned devotees, almost. They worship the amps for the exceptional sound quality, the build and durability. Fryette amps have been used for practice sessions, in direct recording and direct to FOH live or to monitors and in-ear monitoring. For almost three decades now, Fryette amps have helped musicians, especially guitarists, to find their most trusted friend and enabler, second only to the musical instrument.
A Brief History of Fryette
Fryette Amplification was previously known as VHT Amplification. It is presently a private company specializing in amplification equipment. Founded in January 1989 by Steven Fryette, the company is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. While the primary market of Fryette amps is North America, today the equipment is available far and wide beyond the states.
Over the years, Fryette Amplification has carved out a niche for itself manufacturing premium amplifiers for electric guitars. The company makes hand built guitar amplifiers, power amplifiers, speaker cabinets, sound effect pedals and pedal board accessories. The ever expansive inventory of products can be traced back to the first ever three-channel vacuum tube amplifier that was designed and produced by the founder Steven Fryette at Studio City in Los Angeles back in January 1989.
Popularity of Fryette Amps for Guitars
In mid seventies, Steven Fryette worked at Valley Arts Guitar in Los Angeles as a repair technician. He mastered the craft of customizing equipment, repairing and modifying for Eddie Van Halen, Larry Carlton, Steve Lukather, Tommy Tedesco, Duane Eddy and Carlos Rios among many other renowned players. It was during those years that allowed Fryette to understand the needs of musicians. He would come across complains, challenges and there would be desires but unquenched due to lack of a way to manifest them. While that remained the crux for the need to innovate, it also helped Fryette amps become useful for musicians who could now do what they couldn’t do earlier.
Through the late seventies and much of eighties, Steven Fryette worked on many prototypes, including all-tube stereo power amplifier and multi-channel amplifiers. Eventually he set up his own enterprise and started making affordable but good quality amplifiers. The first Fryette amp for guitars was 2150 Power Amplifier. It was a runaway hit. Within two years, by 1991, Fryette was a brand to reckon with. Over the next few years, the company rolled out the Classic Power Amp and Pittbull Classic Head & Combo amplifiers. The company expanded by leaps and bounds so had to change offices many times in the first five years. The success of Pittbull led Fryette to design and produce several models in the series including Ultra Lead, CL Series and Fifty Series and Forty Five Series among others. Fryette also developed the P100E, P75E and P50E guitar speakers during this time.
Presently, you can get the Two/Fifty/Two & the Two/Ninety/Two. The Pittbull Series is still in production, so are the Valvulator I, the Deliverance Series, Sig: X, Memphis, S.A.S and Boostassio Pedals among others.
Legacy of Fryette Amps for Guitars
Over the three decades, the growth in popularity of Fryette amps for guitars has been one of a kind. Its rack mountable power amplifiers have been used by the likes of Metallica, Anthrax, Alice in Chains, Steve Lukather and Megadeth. Fryette amps for guitars have also been used by Rob Caggiano, Page Hamilton, David Torn, The All-American Rejects, Blue Öyster Cult, Children of Bodom, Pete Anderson and Aaron Turner.
Fryette amps for guitars will always be special because of their organic nature. The technical aspects are engineering marvels which no musician can dispute. The other aspect which is the experience of using those amps is equally important. In Fryette’s own words, the brute engineering aspect and the being-in-the-moment, playing and using the amps aspect don’t exist separately. The two experiences coexist and must complement one another to offer a satiating outcome.
Fryette amps for guitars will always be known for the ease with which musicians can get accustomed to the equipment and derive the best output. Steven Fryette has worked with musicians, understood their problems and needs, jammed with artists and friends, made note of the refinements needed in prototypes and delivered masterpieces. Like the instrument, an amp is very personal. Two guitarists don’t have the same approach to using an amp. Page Hamilton uses the Ultra-Lead with the master volume turned down at low, sets it in half-power mode and produces big dynamic sound. Another player will have a different approach. In every scenario, the Fryette amps will be more than appropriate. They would be unique. That is the legacy of Fryette amps for guitars.