Why Buy

Who Buys A Graefe Designs™ Guitar Amp?


This article in all essence is... the writer's personal opinion, is an opinion of who would purchase one of Graefe Designs™ Boutique Hand Built Amps.

First and foremost there is the "guitarist" who, above all, who wants to hear exactly what his/her guitar and fingers are doing. (Of which I am one.) It's actually quite scary when you take away the veil of mush or syntheticky thing that most amps have due to either cheap parts or digital processing. These TruTONE™ Amps will inspire you if you are a serious player.

The next would be a studio facility that would love to have a WORLD CLASS GUITAR AMP to match the investment they made in world class recording gear. It will cover any style of music.

Last but not least, The Collector. It's one thing to be blessed enough to buy anything you desire. It's another thing to have that ability and spend your wealth on the beloved guitar. Many collectors buy wondrous gems in the guitar world. A few buy rare amps as well (many of these amps are old and may need rebuilding). The Graefe Designs TruTONE™ is in a rare class all it's own. You've invested all that money for guitars that are all unique in their own way. Well if it has a pickup on it, running it through these babies will really let you hear and know what it meant to play that guitar.

I, the author of this article, personally went to demo the amp for Graefe Designs on a few occasions while they were developing and tweaking. For some reason Tom values my opinion. I don't know why. :)

But I have to tell you, I left my amp with him.

This TruTone™ Amp is absolutely, hands down, without a doubt, undeniably the f***ing best amp I have ever heard!

For me the big test is having an amp pre-gain wide open (you know you need the crunch) and the master at a comfortable level. The test is when I start rolling off the GUITAR KNOB VOLUME the crunch goes away, the clean guitar appears without loss of MASTER volume. I have never heard an amp successfully do that... UNTIL NOW!

Safe to say I put my order in immediately! :)

Do yourself (and your guitar) a favor, look into buying one of these remarkable Graefe Designs™ Amps. Especially if you care anything at all about the sound of a guitar through an amp specifically made for a guitar player. I am now reevaluating how I play because of this amp. ;)

Why Buy a Graefe Designs™

Let's start with who is actually building these things. Bottom line... MUSICIANS! Ok, granted you may not know them for their musicianship but the fact is, you do know them from listening to damn near every song you've ever heard. They care about what things should sound like MUSICALLY because they have been designing World Class Gear and playing their whole lives!

The premise was to build the best amp available that will not only make your guitar sing, but inspire you, the amp owner, once again to make music.

Graefe Designs TruTone™ Amps have similar features to other amps both commercial and boutique. However, what makes the Graefe Designs' TruTones™ stand out above the rest is not only it's well thought out components and signal path, but the implementation of STUDIO GRADE QUALITY RESTRICTIONS.


And if anyone knows what not to put inside an amp it would be Tom Graefe and Gary Phillips (read the bios). Remember these two guys designed and built most of the world's World Class Consoles.

Highest quality components, highest quality sound.








Now, for you players below is a short list of the pleasures of owning a Graefe Designs™:

  • Dynamics: Designed to allow a full and wide expression of dynamic range from YOUR GUITAR. CLEAN TO CRUNCH AND BACK AGAIN ALL FROM YOUR GUITAR'S VOLUME KNOB.
  • Bass Extender: This little baby does wonders. It helps to tailor the Graefe Designs™ ability to enhance the bottom end response for a particular musical style and or stage setting. (I would go into the specifics behind it's implementation but I have been sworn to secrecy or death.)
  • Effects Loop: Post Drive/Gain, Tube Driven to prevent tone loss, Series or Parallel (switchable). This is one of thee most transparent Effects Loops ever. So much so, you may now have to look into better built effects.

Below is a brief list for whom it matters of what's under the hood of each of these babies:

  • 35 years and a day experience in sound design.

  • All Tube 50 Watt design with 2 EL34's
  • 3 12AX7's
  • Switchable output 4/8/16 ohms
  • All Tube effects loop
  • CNC machined G10 Epoxy Turret Boards

  • 1% Metal Film Resistors, 500V

  • MKT1813 ERO caps

  • Low ESR 105 degree C, filter caps

  • Teflon Silver 600V wire

  • Low Microphonic, Hand Selected, tubes

  • LASER cut 0.090” aluminum chassis

  • Pont to Point Hand Wiring

  • Hand built in the USA

  • Solid walnut cabinets with Dovetail joints, all design work done on CAD with 0.001” tolerances

  • Years of listening to bad amps

  • And a Whole Lotta Love!



Gary Phillips


(Amp Builder, Electronics Design Guru and all around Great Guy)

When you have accomplished so many things in your life time, you most undoubtedly come across others who you not only feel connected to, but can relate to as well. Below is a brief story of Tom Graefe's encounter with Gary Phillips. Who has since become one of Tom's longtime friends. Not to mention one of only a handful of people Graefe Designs would ever even consider when building these beauties we have to offer. As a matter of fact, at the moment he is the only one. But that's not without good reason. With a client list that includes many of the who's who in the guitar world like Steve Morse, Buck Darmha, James Delia, Jeff Beck, and more... who else would do?

Tom tells the story like so....
I first met Gary sometime around 1976. I was with two Musicians, Dan Raymond and John Nichols, AKA Round John, at SRS Studios. I walked into the control room and two feet were sticking out from under an MCI JH-416 console. My mind said, "What is this kid doing under the console?" Gary came out from under the console and said “I am modifying it”. He was also the engineer for the session and session Bass player. That, was my first encounter with Gary.
Several years later I was building a Studio at Musician’s Exchange and I asked Gary to work for me. He took one look at my console and said we have to redesign it. So we bought a bunch of Military parts and started designing PCB’s. I drew them out with sharpie’s and etched them in Ferric Chloride. 6 weeks later we had a new console. Rolled the soldering irons up in a shipping blanket and did our first session. After the session Gary and I looked at each other and said, that console sounds like crap. Went back into the console and found all the resistors were inductive. Replaced them and it sounded wonderful!
When the studio was not too busy there was a parade of musician’s coming in with broken crap (I mean the instruments and amps that they made their living with). Gary and I would fix this stuff. After a few years Gary decided to leave the studio and open a full time repair shop in the Musician’s Exchange complex. This was the start of Alpha Kinetix.
Gary can repair or design anything, from Tube equipment to complex Computer controlled Keyboards. Luckily Gary and I are now working on High End Guitar amps together here at Graefe Designs. Gary is a person I have known and respected for over 35 years. For me this is a dream come true to be working with a dear old friend who actually knows and respects the quality workmanship it takes to produce such an amazing sounding boutique amp. Plus Gary is adding new innovations to the amp daily.

Now building twice as many!