Our story begins in 2002 when Greg started working with Brad as his touring guitar tech. They immediately bonded over gear and tone, over the next 5 months Greg helped Brad to acquire a dozen new guitars, a bunch of new effects pedals, amps, etc. Brad even had his original ’59 Gibson Les Paul on tour until Greg replaced the electronics in Brad’s Gibson Historic ’59 Les Paul with some handwound pickups, correct CTS pots and caps, and an aluminum tailpiece. The ‘real’ ’59 was returned home and the Historic immediately became his number one guitar.
After the tour ended in December 2002, Aerosmith went into the studio in Boston to record a blues/rock album called “Honkin’ on BoBo”. Greg was asked to come in and work on the record, as the band was going to play together in one room, as opposed to the modern ‘Pro Tools’ method of each guy doing his part separately. This made for a more organic sound, and many amps and guitars were tried out in the studio by both Brad and Joe Perry.
Tasked with finding both vintage gear on eBay and newer gear for the studio, Greg worked his contacts in the industry and soon found Blockhead Amps in the Spring of 2003. Contacting them he spoke with Ossie, who agreed to build up an amp for Brad. Oz even drove the amp up to Boston from NY, so there was no chance of shipping damage to the amp. Greg and Oz met at the Aerosmith warehouse, where Oz brought out not only the amp ordered, but one of his other models for Brad to try. Having a lot in common, a immediate friendship was struck up between the two. Brad went on to use his Blockhead amps on the 2003/2004 Aerosmith/KISS tour.
In 2005, where Greg is working on Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ tour while Aerosmith is on a year hiatus. In need of a replacement amp for guitarist Jason White, Greg calls Oz from Europe and discusses the possibility of a custom amp. Once again Oz delivers, this time to Green Day’s sold-out show at Giants Stadium in NJ. Oz tweaks the amp on-site to Greg and Jason’s specs. The amp is immediately put into the ‘B’ rig to be used on TV and fly dates.
During 2005 Greg puts in motion the plan to start an amp company of his own (with encouragement from Oz and other fellow amp builders). While still on the Green Day tour, Greg hashes out ideas with amp repair guru Kevin Silva on a prototype 6V6 amp similar to the Fender Super Champ, called The Contender. Design of the proto extends into 2006, and is finally delivered in the Spring. It sounds great, but Greg is still touring and has no time to produce any amps.
Greg is back touring with Brad and Aerosmith for almost all of 2006. During this time Greg and Oz had started talking about the possibility of working together on a new amp company. When the tour has a couple of extra days in Boston, Greg, Oz, and Brad go to dinner where the new amp venture is mentioned to Brad, he immediately responds “I want in on that”. Thus 3 Monkeys Amps is born (well, maybe not born, but at least conceived).
Later in the tour Oz comes up with an idea for an amp he wants to build specifically for Brad. The amp is delivered to the Camden, NJ show sans head box, mounted on a piece of plywood (hey, it’s a proto!!). Brad uses it for the show, really digs the tone, and wants to use it for the rest of the tour. Oz whips up a custom suede covered cabinet in a few days and the first 3 Monkeys amp is born. The amp has now been a permanent fixture in Brad’s rig for the last several years.
Back to touring with Aerosmith into 2007, Greg and Oz keep refining their ideas for the new amp company. While on tour in South America, Brad and Greg agree that to get the company going, Greg must leave touring behind and concentrate on their new amp venture. With Brad touring in Europe, Oz moves down to NC (where Greg lives) to start the company. Bouncing tons of ideas off each other, from the look, to the sound of the amps (and many sleepless nights later) a working prototype is built and rebuilt over the next 6 months. During this time Aerosmith is asked to open the VH1 Fashion Awards at Radio City Music Hall, Oz, Greg, and Brad quickly design an eye-catching amp to use on the nationally televised event.
More prototypes are built and eventually sent out to pro players in Nashville, Austin, and Los Angeles. With reviews and evaluations from these players, more refinements are done to the protos until a final design is decided upon. This final design is tried and tested by many of the touring acts that pass through Raleigh in the summer of 2008, many placing orders for a 3 Monkeys amp of their very own.
Also in 2008, we get a call from one of our touring buddies who is in rehearsals with Elvis Costello in Nashville. He asks if we have anything like Elvis' tried and true 50's Tweed Deluxe? Well, we quickly whip up a circuit that crosses our Orangutan proto circuit and a Tweed Deluxe, and the Hi-Baller is born. Elvis loves it and takes it out on tour and eventually buys two more for spares and continues to use them to this day. (Elvis owns the only Hi-Ballers ever built).
Since the initial launch of The Orangutan in late 2008, we here at 3 Monkeys, work on not only producing amps on a daily basis, but prototyping new circuits and updating our existing amp designs.
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