Trainwreck Circuits

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Trainwreck Circuits was an American company that manufactured boutique guitar amplifiers. They were handmade by Ken Fischer (May 12, 1945 – December 23, 2006) in Colonia, New Jersey, and are some of the most expensive and sought-after amplifiers on the market.


Fischer began working on electronics in the US Navy,[1] and then repaired TVs[2] and radios,[3] and then got a job building amplifiers at Ampeg, where he became senior engineer.[4] Disillusioned,[3] he left in 1967 when the company was being sold to Magnavox.[1][5]

When he set out on his own, he started building boutique amplifiers with "custom wood cabinets, configurations and secretly built transformers" for clients such as Mark Knopfler and Eddie Van Halen. He made the first Trainwreck amp in his shop in New Jersey, in late 1982/early 1983. With inspiration from Atlantic Records Caspar McCloud the amp was named 'Ginger' after Caspar's wife.[6] His first amps (later named "Liverpool 30") were based on the 4 × EL84 configuration of the Vox AC30.[1] "In beautiful wood cabinetry that matched their legendary sound,"[7] They were made to order in limited numbers, and are "ultra-rare and highly collectible".[4] Lacking serial numbers, they are individually designated with women's names;[1] the one owned by guitarist and producer Matte Henderson is called "Nancy".[8] The last one he built ("Kaylene"), while suffering from chronic fatigue immune dysfunction, was an Express made from an old leftover chassis.[6]

Fischer made only heads, not combos.[1][9] In 1998, his health declining, Fischer allowed Komet Amps to use his circuitry to make a 60 watt amplifier head with two EL34 output tubes.[1]

As of 2010, Trainwreck amplifiers fetch $25,000 and up.[3] His amps are praised for the simplicity of their design and their touch sensitivity: "The sound's so immediate from the pick to coming out of the amp, [which] opens up a whole new kind of playing", according to Charles Daughtry (Kaylene's owner, who sold all his Dumbles to build a collection of six Trainwrecks). Fischer's circuits were simple yet original, and he took extraordinary care in selecting the individual electronic components.[6]


All amps were individually made: "it's possible that no two Trainwreck amplifiers actually have the exact same circuit". Usually they were equipped with three 12AX7 preamp tubes.[10] Fischer made three kinds of models:

Notable owners[edit]

Matt O'Ree (Bon Jovi) Trainwreck homepage


  1. ^ a b c d e f Pittman, Aspen (2003). The Tube Amp Book. Hal Leonard. pp. 89–90. ISBN 978-0-87930-767-7. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  2. ^ "Kenneth Fischer, 61, Colonia". Home News Tribune. 24 January 2007. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Pfeiffer, John (26 February 2010). "Shoreworld: Tantalizing Tubes And Mega Wattage Wonders—A Look At New Jersey's Top Amp Builders". The Acquarian. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  4. ^ a b Hunter, Dave (15 October 2011). "Gibson Tone Tips: Guitar Cords". Gibson Guitar Corporation. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  5. ^ Hopkins, Gregg; Moore, Bill (1999). Ampeg: The Story Behind the Sound. Hal Leonard. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-7935-7951-8. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d Hunter, Dave (January 2014). "The 'Last' Trainwreck?". Vintage Guitar. pp. 34–36.
  7. ^ Moore, Adam (September 2008). "Trillium Archetype Series Amps Review". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  8. ^ Hunter, Dave (February 2012). "Bogner Ecstacy 101B". Vintage Guitar. pp. 64–66.
  9. ^ Weber, Gerald; Thompson, Art (2009). All about Vacuum Tube Guitar Amplifiers. Hal Leonard. p. 239. ISBN 978-0-9641060-3-1. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  10. ^ "Trainwreck Circuits". Trainwreck Circuits Official Homepage. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  11. ^ "Rocket schematic". Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  12. ^ Weaver, Chad (July 2010). "Brad Paisley's Flooded Gear: The Aftermath". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 7 January 2012.

External links[edit]