The History of Schroeder Amplification, Inc and Tim Schroeder
The expedient approach towards a difﬁcult frequency is to remove it altogether. But Timothy Schroeder would rather you enjoy truly full spectrum sound. (This will instantly be your preference as well. Complete utilization of your instrument’s bandwidth is revelatory.) Tim’s amps are masterworks allowing just that: the pulsing, breathing electrical embodiment of devotion to high ﬁdelity living. Your electric guitar, your plugged-in nylon string, even your bowed double bass, is cast in glowing sound-light. An effortless continuation of yourself. The most demanding sonic expectations are exceeded (pesky tones hereby ﬁnessed shipshape), letting you create unimpeded.
You’ve read tons of gear origin stories and bios. All of it blurs into an organic/vintage/boutique/mojo-ﬁlled soup. Now, we all like soup, though we need to start our recipe from scratch to avoid competing ﬂavors. Tim’s approach retains what’s great about Great Amps in History while being something remarkable and fresh unto itself. We’ll extend the metaphor with Tim’s depth of expertise the stock, fresh ingredients his careful selection of premium components, and the buzz you feel from satisfying seasoning the comprehensive success of Schroederization.
Tim’s fascination with sound and music began in early childhood, becoming full-on obsession in his teen years. From the simple pleasure of plucking strings to analyzing wires on a 4-track tape machine, comparing different vinyl pressings of the same album followed by lots of playing and attentive listening, the foundation for a life maximizing musical potential was built. Columbia College in Chicago for audio engineering was his ﬁrst professional step, leading to The Apprentice Shop (a Gibson Factory Warranty facility) in Spring Hill, Tennessee, with Tim immersed in everything guitars. After graduation from The Apprentice Shop Tim continued his training under master repairman Gary Brawer in San Francisco. While at the Brawer shop, Tim interacted with the ﬁne guitars of The Grateful Dead, Joe Satriani, Carlos Santana, Steven Stills, and Henry Kaiser, among many others. Late night access to a private studio gave Tim countless hours as a listener, player, and technician among some of the Great Amps: Dumbles, Tweed Fenders, Plexi Marshalls, Trainwrecks.
Returning to his Chicagoland home, Tim opened Schroeder Guitar Repair in 1991. Here he built archtops-that-people-who-don’t-like-archtops-love, inﬂuenced by training in Pennsylvania with the esteemed Bob Benedetto. (Approximately 40 Schröder archtops were built, and they are highly sought after now, rarely coming up for resale. The Schroeder Blister Agent distortion pedal and “IT” clean boost/tone enhancer/magicizer fall into this category as well.) Having created an acoustically balanced musical instrument, the missing piece was the ampliﬁer to broadcast the sound. Tim began development of his amps, laying the groundwork for today’s Dozer, Formula 50, and SA9. But sensing the need for change after a highly focused spell, Tim closed his shop, deaccessioning large equipment and moving into a small space in Chicago’s prestigious Fine Arts Building, a hotbed for creative artists of all disciplines. Tim expanded his repertoire to include professional sound engineer and builder of home audio systems and isolation racks. He continued development and repair work for a few years, even entering the realm of high-end kitchen cabinetry until a chance phone call from Fleetwood Mac’s people brought music back to the fore: “We need you to refret Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar and overnight ship it for tomorrow’s gig in Boston.” Lindsey was thrilled; job well done, a good check-in, so no more custom kitchens for Tim, rather, back to music full-time (with clients like Rusted Root, Lucinda Williams, and Drive-By Truckers) in the building next to Chicago’s legendary Make’n Music for almost a decade before his current location of Highland Park, Illinois.
Many of the musicians who play Schroeder ampliﬁers soon ﬁnd them an indispensable part of their sound live, in the studio, and at home. Jeff Beck, Wilco, Nels Cline, Umphrey’s McGee, Telegraph Canyon, Chauncey & Darrell Marrier, Killick Hinds, Andrew Bird, and many more have been seen and heard ‘round the globe with their Schroeders. Tim prides himself on roadworthy build quality, and a 100% commitment to customer service, with clients becoming friends bound by sound. Schroeder amps make rock, jazz, country, blues, avant-garde– any styles– sparkle. Secrets revealed: while the amps are made for clean warmth and are glorious at low volume, crank ‘em up for superlative thrash metal bite. Protect your ears and hold on tight!
Tim continues to relish the beauty in overlooked sonic detail. On the horizon is more electron sculpting and the release of the wildly expressive Ramjet preamp with its, ahem, “f****d up” design. But don’t let that scare you. Spending time with Tim’s creations is to enter a complete sonic universe whereby your listening capacity and your desire for musical creativity expands exponentially.
To learn more about Tim, check out this article on Popstache.com by Tory P-Lopez