|Here's what Jeff Snider, the creator of Snider Amplification, says about his amps:
"Snider Amplification came about after many years of live performing and recording. Over the years I have had the privilege of experiencing just about every imaginable American and European classic amp as a guitarist and a repair tech. As a player, I wanted an amp with some very specific characteristics and features. Some of these qualities were available in existing amps while others were more conceptual -- you could call them my 'wish list.'
"My first agenda was very specific: To make an amp of moderate physical size and output that sounded and behaved like a big amp. Like most of us, I love the depth, largess and dynamics of a half-stack or even a 2-12 enclosure with a 50 or 100-watt amp. But like all of us, I hate being on stage playing my guts out and having the sound man shining his flashlight in my face and motioning for me to turn it down. Way Down!
"I tried using smaller less powerful amps, but the trouble with them was not the lack of output but rather the lack of dynamics and depth. They just sounded small. To compensate I would play harder, break more strings, but they still sounded small and I'd go home completely frustrated. This scenario provided the incentive to designing my own amp.
"I was playing at the same place with the same band every Fri and Sat night one summer doing mostly guitar-oriented material. This provided a consistent environment to audition my ideas. Absolutely essential! I would routinely finish the night at 2:00 am, toss the amp in my car, head straight back to my shop and implement whatever changes I thought were needed based on what I'd just heard while it was still fresh in my head. For me five minutes on stage with a band was more revealing than five hours of referencing alone in my shop.
"It became clear early on that my perspective and commitment as a guitarist would be the most significant factor in designing this amp. No engineer, no matter how skilled could possibly have the level of intimacy that only comes from first hand experience with a guitar and amp. It was playing it, with a band and in the studio, that drove me to achieve my design.
"The California and The Chicago models came about as a result of all of the experimenting with the first prototypes. I built two initial prototypes because it was the best way to compare ideas side by side. I would take an idea that I wanted to hear and would build it into number one and then set it up right next to number two, plug into a passive A/B switcher and listen back and forth. If I liked the idea enough I would leave it in until the next live date.
"On several occasions I brought both amps and bounced back and forth during the course of a set to determine the viability of each idea. It got to a point where I really liked the way both of them were sounding. At some point during this process I started voicing one of the amps around my Les Paul and 335 and the other one around my Strat® and Tele®. Although I had no intention of making more than one amp at the time, I found that both versions had qualities that were too good to ignore.
"After struggling a bit with trying to decide which was best I eventually resolved myself to moving forward with two amps, The Chicago and The California.
"Once I started viewing these amps as two separate entities my agenda became to expand on their differences rather than minimizing them. I'm sure my transformer manufacturer thought I was nuts although to their credit they never said so. My requests went from splitting hairs to much broader variations almost overnight."
Both The Chicago and The California amps retain similar features; switchable output levels, defeatable master volume control, three band EQ, ducking reverb and tremolo. But they have very different tonal flavors:
The Chicago evolved into a pure blues machine. Guitar, cord and nothin' else. A big robust midrange with a very rich harmonic complexion. With a humbucking pick up this thing just came to life. From the volume control of my 335 I could go from George Benson to Robin Ford and everything in between. From the volume control of my Strat® "The Wind Cry’s Mary" to "The Sky is Cryin." That much variation with no pedals or channel switching.
The California is quite different. There is a very pronounced scoop in the midrange. The output transformer is more dynamically sensitive with less compression while maintaining the big spread in gain and harmonic complexion from the guitar's volume control. The speaker enclosure in this amp enhances the presence while tightening the huge bass response. Very "in your face" and expressive. Remaining present even when introducing pedals of extreme gain and color like a germanium based fuzz or an octave or a lushy 60s style phase shifter. Mix these ingredients with a Stratocaster® and WOW!!
Essentially The Chicago is a bluesier version of The California.