Untitled Document
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.


  The California Front Panel:
Bright switch, Trem, Verb and Gain controls are marked as is
"Sizzle" is treble control
"Bark" is middle control
"Woof" is bass control
  The California Back Panel
Power switch -- up position is on, middle position off, down position is on reverse polarity Standby switch -- up position is 30 watt operation, middle position is standby, down position is 18 watt operation
  • Output: To create a 20-watt amp capable of behaving like a 50-watt amp with regards to frequency response and dynamic range I had to ignore "small amp" protocol (or so I theorized) and design it as if it was literally a 50 watt amp. My initial design was still too loud for some situations. I needed it to be quieter and still sound wide open. To accomplish this I lowered the power supply. I discovered that along with dropping the power supply it was necessary to run the output tubes at full capacity to maintain the big wide open sound. Now the less powerful version wasn't quite loud enough for other situations. Both outputs that I had arrived at optimized the amps performance at significantly different volume levels. I wanted both of them at my disposal. The result is a 30 watt output and an 18 watt output that are selectable from the standby switch -- both sound huge!

  • Preamp: The gain structure that I envisioned would be completely over-the-top and then clean up with the twist of my guitar's volume control. NO CHANNEL SWITCH! I wanted all the shades of the gain spectrum, not just black and white. I was after a truly interactive amp. This process went through several radically different configurations over a rather long period of time. My initial efforts, although aggressive, wouldn't clean up to my satisfaction. My subsequent efforts lacked the harmonic complexity and sing that I was after. Almost all of this stage of the design took place with guitar strapped on and solder iron in hand. I would get just so far and then have to step back and regain some perspective. It was at this stage that I began to experiment with the raw materials as well as the values of the components that would be used. Physical placement or layout would also have a big impact. The evolution of this process lead to discoveries that would make up the final formula. On top of having the variable gain structure that I was after the discoveries here would be applied throughout the amp.

  • EQ: I wanted the EQ to be flexible as well as complementary to the character of the amp. I love Fender®-type Ash/Alder guitars with bolt-on Maple/Rosewood necks and love Gibson-type Mahogany guitars with Mahogany set necks. The sonic differences between these two types of guitars, for me, is primarily in the midrange. So I tailored the midrange to dial in what I wanted from guitar-to-guitar. Sometimes I like using pedals and on bigger stages run long cable lengths between my guitar and amp. Other situations I prefer just my guitar and a 10 foot cord. The differences that I hear from those two scenarios is mostly in the ultra highs. I tailored the bright switch to compensate for those variations as well as guitar properties. I chose the bass and treble frequencies based on what I consider to be the optimum tonal points for my (mostly traditional) guitars and the cabinet of the amp. They also have a role in the previously mentioned factors. I named the bass, midrange and treble controls "Woof," "Bark" and "Sizzle" because I thought those names were more descriptive of what those controls do for a guitar and they're a bit more interesting.

  • Reverb: I always loved reverb when used tastefully. The digital age brought in some new parameters to this effect. The most significant accessible parameter for me was a function called "ducking." This feature would keep the reverb out of the mix while the guitar was playing and then allow it back in between phrases or notes. Unlike conventional reverb that increases when you kick in a pedal or play harder, this stays out of the way when you get on it Interactive reverb that dances around the guitar rather than submerging it. This kind of reverb does not lend itself to surf guitar. It was however exactly what I'd always wanted. But how to do this with tubes and a tank? Not to mention getting the right splash and decay duration. After quite a few completely different approaches the effect began to take place. A little success opened the door and the ducking reverb that I was after came to life.

  • Vibrato Tremolo: I always preferred the swirley type of vibrato like you get from a Leslie. I like being able to dial in slower speeds as well. I prefer having the vibrato big and lush when playing moderately or clean. I like less intense, more subtle swirl when playing aggressive and dirty. I wanted to have a tremolo that was dynamically sensitive thus reducing the need to switch in and out within the context of a song. So with the vibrato engaged you could back your guitar volume down and get lots of swirl while playing rhythm and then crank your volume up and the vibrato swirl would shrink for playing a lead or melody. This is how the vibrato behaves in my amp.

  • Master Volume: While I prefer to run the amp wide open, I find a master volume is useful in volume sensitive situations. I wanted a master volume that was both transparent and completely removable. I found what I consider to be the most transparent master volume circuit for my amp and I used a pot with a latching/unlatching switch at the bottom of its throw. So when you turn the control all the way down, it goes click and the master is switched completely out of the circuit and the output is wide open.

  • Cabinet: I spent two years working for an amp manufacturer that was the sister company of a car audio manufacturer. I was fascinated with the amount of bass response and output that the car audio guys were getting out of very small speakers and enclosures. They could (and did) take an eight inch speaker inside of a small cylinder shaped cabinet and shake the whole building. The engineers explained to me that it was the enclosure and not so much the speaker that was responsible for this performance. My goal wasn't nearly this monumental. All I was interested in was making a two-foot cabinet with a 12-inch speaker sound like a four-foot cab with four 12-inch speakers. From that experience I knew it was possible. After making several boxes followed by a few revisions I had the dimensions that produced the amount of low end as well as the low to mid ratio that I was after. The highs at this stage would be determined by the speaker.
The California or The Chicago by Snider Amplification
Cost (either model): $2995.00 (PART#: SACA-01 / SACH-01)

To inquire about or make a purchase, please call DeTemple Guitars at (818) 782-9933
(Note: DeTemple Guitars is the exclusive Los Angeles dealer for Snider Amplification)