Soultone (full name: Soultone Amplification, Inc.), is an American guitar amplifier manufacturing company, based in Chandler, Arizona, and known for making hand wired instrument amplifiers using vintage and modern techniques, components, and features.
Soultone is exemplary of boutique musical instrument manufacturers.
While original examples of classic vintage amplifiers can be purchased for large sums of money, they are also reputed to exhibit unreliable performance. Vacuum tube amplifiers are susceptible to (and sources of) noise, and usually produce sound pressure levels only suitable for larger performance venues. Nonetheless, many purists believe that Digital Signal Processing will never be able to produce the dynamics (music), warmth, and complex harmonic distortion of vacuum tubes. Soultone advocated improved manufacturing techniques and materials, as well as carefully selected new old stock (NOS) and modern manufactured components, would produce modern variants of vintage classic amplifiers with greater reliability and significantly less noise.
With their modern power controls, Soultone amplifiers can reproduce stadium sized tube distortion sounds all the way down to recording studio, or even bedroom levels. Power Scaling is a power controlling technology, licensed from London Power / Power Press, that lowers the power tube voltages, including proportionately scaled bias voltages, in order to reduce the audible volume; the power amplifier itself is changed from larger to smaller with the turn of a knob.
By carefully crafting each instrument by hand, boutique builders like Soultone are able to retain a vintage character and flavor not found in other mass-produced products, even when using high-tech innovations.
With the success of this booming cottage industry in high dollar musical instrument amplification, the big four manufacturers jumped head long into the boutique manufacturing market. Marshall, Fender, Gibson, and Vox all currently offer entirely hand wired re-creations of their vintage products, often at costs lower than boutique competition. These products hold an even greater appeal to consumers, as they join the coveted hand-wired hype with household names and corporate longevity. While builders like Soultone have managed to survive this onslaught by combining modern and vintage processes, techniques, and materials, much of this cottage industry is quickly vanishing. Only time will tell if any of these new companies will remain viable, as the big four manufacturers become more responsive to potential buyer's actual desires, thanks largely to the internet. These larger companies have deeper products to dedicate to extensive market research, which could revitalize the musical instrument market with newer products that utilize the "modern vintage" approach. Boutique builders may in the end be relying upon their early reputation and momentum to sustain business growth.
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