Volition Amps is a company that helps musicians create their ideal sound from tube amplifiers, pedals, and pick-ups. We work with each customer to understand their likes and dislikes and the tones they want to create from their equipment. We specialize in custom built tube amps, modification of tube amps, tube amp rebuilds and repairs. We also create hand-wired, hand-etched pedals, as well as
hand-wound pick-ups. We use the best quality components in equipment that is built sturdy and gig ready.
We believe in
We believe in the musician's power to choose to modify or amplify their equipment to reflect their ideal sound. Volition Amps is dedicated to providing excellent customer service, professional and meticulous work, and superior quality of sound on anything we say we can make rock and roll for you.
Volition Amps was created for the musician, with a tenacious dedication to molding the most ideal sound from the equipment available. I work with each customer individually to assess their needs and wants and to consult. I am an electronics technician, an electrician, and an avid guitar player. At any given time I am working on a couple projects in various capacities. If I am working on your project, I will keep you updated with emails and phone calls from me. Get in touch with me now to see what I can do to make you sound better.
Video clips of amps and pedals built and/or modded by Volition Amps.
Thanks to all our friends and customers who have graciously given us clips of them and their
Volition Amps equipment! Keep in mind, we recycle old amps and other equipment, into custom built guitar amps. The circuit you've always wanted can be yours. Maybe even with a chassis that can draw a crowd. Please let us know what you've been dreaming about.
The Sheriff, Hybrid Custom Build
6x 12AX7, @x 6L6GC Fixed Bias @ 50 Watts
A cross between a Two Rock John Mayer Signature and a Dumble Steel String Singer. This was built into the chassis of an Epiphone SoCal 50. The JMS sounded good, but the addition of the driver circuit after the phase inverter makes a world of difference. If you want a superior Fender clean tone with hardly any breakup, this one is for you.
The Frankenstein, Hybrid Custom Build
4x 12AX7, 2x EL34, 1x GZ34 Cathode Biased @ 35 Watts
This amp started life as a Miyuki Elk, a Japanese take on a Marshall type circuit. The preamp is very similar to a "Wreck" Rocket. Two different types of boost have been added via front panel switches, as well as an adjustable paralleled gain stage, a Lar-Mar type PPIMV. There is also a line out with level control and "bias wiggle" tremolo on the back panel, with a footswitch jack wired to bring in the tremolo and one of the boost functions. The cathode bias circuit for the power tubes will allow trimpot adjustment of the bias so that a wide range of power tubes can be used... Very nice when you want to find out how it will sound with 6L6s, EL34s, KT66 or even 6V6s. This is a very nice country to hard rock amp. It takes pedals on the front end very well and can be driven to ridiculous overdrive with your favorite dirt boxes.
Egnater Tweaker to Cornford Hurricane Conversion
10 pounds of circuit in a 5 pound chassis!
3x 12AX7, 2x EL84 Cathode Biased @ 18 Watts
This is a close clone of a discontinued circuit from Cornford. I had to think outside of the box to get the correct amount of board space with this build. I tilted the turret boards in order to squeeze them closer. I also removed the reverb circuit to accommodate everything else. Since it was cathode biased, I added an attenuator to that part of the circuit. Even at high gain, the volume can be tamed quite a bit. Cocobolo seems like a very nice texture to contrast with the brushed aluminum of the plates and knobs. The toroidal power transformer has a cover with a cocobolo trim ring installed at the base too.
The Advocate, Hybrid Clone Build
This amp is loosely based on a "Wreck" Rocket. Cathode biased at roughly 35 watts with EL34s or 6L6s. It can be used with quite a few different octal base power tubes: 6V6, 6L6, EL34, KT66, KT77, 5881, etc.. I have built them from 2 watts all the way up to 100. I'm sure it could be built way bigger if requested. A la carte mods available upon request.
The Rust Bucket, aka the Tetanus Project, a clone/custom build
3x 6SL7, 2x EL34, Fixed Bias @ 50 Watts
Based on a Marshall JCM800, this amp does it with octal preamp tubes for a bit more harmonic content. It has an effects loop from Jet City Amps. I added send and return trims to it and connected it via a bypass switch. It has external bias points and a 10-turn bias pot to dial it it anytime. There are several mods that deviate from the 2204 schematic. A Slope Control helps to get the amp to morph between the classic JCM800 tone to a more Fender type middle and Bass response. A Resonance Control was added as well as a bypassable Clipper circuit. The Clipper has two selections: Symetrical LEDs or Silver Jubilee. There is also a pot connected to the Clipper that adjusts its effect. It also has a second PPIMV (post phase inverter master volume) that will allow you to crank the normally used Master Volume to phase inverter distortion (this is a good thing) and attenuate the signal just before the power tubes. This last mod turned out to be very useful. Also, this one has an active effects loop with Send and Return trims and a bypass switch.
Area 51 - Custom Hybrid Build
3x 12AX7, 1x JJ6V6S, Single Ended, Fixed Bias @ 18 Watts
Start with the concept of a Komet Songwriter 30 (think Ken Fischer) and feed that into a single ended 6V6... Wait, lets put the overdrive section from an ODS in there, on a bypass switch. The Songwriter as a preamp will deliver clean to mean tones with lots of raw harmonic content. I tried to follow this concept of not having the tone controls directly touch ground. The Songwriter's bass control works here but due to only a single phase signal being fed to the power tube, the Vox type treble control Komet used will not work here. I turned to the Tweed Deluxe for the answer. I used a very old PT with cloth wire... I had some of the same wire in the bin and decided to go "old school" with point to point wiring. Another thing that I wanted to try was a fixed bias for the power tube. This addition gave this amp a noticeable bark and punch. The result is a surprisingly loud voice that can be whisper quiet when it counts. I was amazed at the lack of hum for a single-ended power circuit like this even though the filaments are all wired AC.
Fender Twin Reverb AB763 REBUILD
This one was a mess... I think it was from the Nashville flood. We removed the rust from the chassis and TX endbells. All new pots, jacks, switches, resistors and caps throughout, as well as new board material. The only electronic components saved were the blue signal caps. Pretty well a brand new amp. The customer wanted the big sound of a 15" speaker and wanted weight reduction if possible. So we installed an Eminence Neo 15".
Jim Kelly Clone
4x 12AX7, 4x 6V6GC (JJ) Fixed Bias @ 60 Watts
This one started out life as an Epiphone Valve Standard. After cutting out the top of the chassis, a new top plate was installed to get the parts in the correct location for the build. After much deliberation, a correct layout was created from pictures of the original amps.
Blue Voodoo (DooDoo) to ODS WooHoo!
3x 12AX7, 2x 6L6GC, Fixed Bias @ 50 Watts
This chassis was just waiting for something better. Why not go all out... Dumble Overdrive Specials really do sound, well, special... Why not shoehorn that in there? That is what I did. This is a close replica of #124. Not 100 watts like the original though. It is still very loud as it is. The only deviations were the wattage and the Overdrive and PAB (preamp boost) switches were relocated to the front panel for obvious reasons. Another small mod was the use of a MOSFET B+ Dropper to lower the plate voltage down to those seen in the original amp. Overall a very impressive amp with lots of tonal range. This one is played on a very regular basis here at the Tone Lounge.
Super Deluxe 5E3+ Custom Build
In The News...
Musical Dreams -Brick Briscoe
"I descended into Volition Amps’ Evansville headquarters (a basement) and entered a wonderland. I was greeted by the affable, but focused, Tony Dorris and his fiancée Amy (just Amy, like Madonna or Cher, she jokes). Neatly scattered about his workshop are classic guitar amps and pedals that had obviously been gutted, remanufactured, or modified into something better, something custom. Where Hubbard is an artisan, Dorris is a mad electrical engineer with the heart of a mechanic and inventor. He speaks like a man who knows what he likes and wears his values on his sleeve.
“Volition basically means freedom of choice, the ability to choose things, freewill,” says Dorris. “I want people to know that we can give them what they want. I found the easiest way to get started was in pedal mods (modification) by changing components to make them better. I’m into old things, antiques, etc. I find something that has tubes in it and I think there’s something I can do with it, make it better or create something new.”
Dorris makes boutique guitar and bass amps that sell for as much as $5,000 apiece.
“I offer such variety and can build things the way a customer wants it, by voicing it how they like, adding tremolo, reverb, whatever,” he says.
“People also bring me the amps they have and I take out the cheap components and make them better.”
Tony let me plug into his amps and once I found the one that suited me (an 18 watt with a 10-inch speaker), I was hooked. The amp was like milk: creamy and rich. Then I stepped on his “Can” boost pedal and suddenly it was like milk with diamonds popping in and out. Luxurious and touch sensitive. The pedals are beautiful to look at as well. Amy etches amazing creations onto the case and the undercarriage lights up to give a floating appearance. Moore Music in Evansville has all the pedals in stock.
This brings us to Boonville, Ind., and the two-story garage that is Harper Guitars. Jacob Harper is a man on the verge of success, which he may already have. He and his partner Scott Hamrick — who handles the marketing and finances — have clear plans. Their aim to jump from the 20 guitars they made last year to 50 this year seems plausible when you visit their shop. Everything is in the right place. Brilliantly finished guitars are hanging from the wall and first tries are neatly stacked in a corner.
The guitars have a distinctive yet classic look with a beautiful 3-D headstock. They would fit into any collection. “I want them to stand out, when people see them onstage, mine are different enough people will know they are a Harper,” says Harper. “But more important than that is that they play great.”
They do play great, with the feel of a higher end Fender or G&L. Finding just the right feel hasn’t been easy, he adds.
“Six years I’ve been in the hole making guitars, this is the first year I might get back to zero.” Hamrick chimes in. “We use the same parts that are in a higher end $4,500 to $5,000 guitar and we’re not really sure what’s caused that to be a $5,000 guitar, other than that’s what the
You can get a Harper for $1,850 and customize yourself up to $2,500 quite easily. Harper uses CNC (computer numerically controlled) machines and computer technology. However the results are also painstakingly hand finished. The quality shines.
While each of these local entrepreneurs is still swimming upstream in a very tough and niche-laden industry, each has a distinction. But there is a common thread: all three manufacturers speak to the location of the Tri-State as crucial to their success. Hubbard says Evansville is like the center of a bicycle wheel: “You can spoke out easily to Nashville, Louisville, St. Louis, Chicago, anywhere really.”
And in some ways what they do still is like living a dream. Dorris tells stories about being with Harper in a club and seeing blues musicians Boscoe France and Alonzo Pennington playing their amps and guitars onstage.
“I poked Jacob and said, ‘Look at this, those are ours up there!’” he recalls.
One of the most telling moments during my visits was when Todd Hubbard said to me as an afterthought, “It’s honest work, Brick. Honest work.”
Indeed it is."
- Musical Dreams By Brick Briscoe / photos by Brick Briscoe from Evansville Business Magazine
Evansville Courier & Press - Front Page Dec 24, 2014
Evansville man runs guitar gear business in basement - Zach Evans
In a grungy basement on the Southeast Side of Evansville, a man, his wife and friends work together building and repairing guitar amps, pedals and pickups.
The “Tone Lounge” is what 42-year-old Tony Dorris calls his headquarters for Volition Amps.
The workshop has the scattered entrails of electronics, modified guitar effects pedals, machinery from the 1950s, guitars and a wall of vinyl records.
Since 2008, Dorris has applied a career of electrical work, a sharp ear and a keen attention to tone to his music gear.
“This is my life now,” he said while showing off some of his completed builds.
Repairs, new builds and modifications now keep Dorris in his basement as a full-time job.
Dorris, an Evansville native, has been playing guitar since he was 16, but his foray into tube amplifiers began six years ago, after he purchased for cheap what he thought was all-tube amp. It wasn’t the real deal.
“I just thought, ‘I could do this better. I could build my own.’” he said.
From the disappointment of that amp, Dorris created what’s known in the Tone Lounge as the “Frankenstein Prototype,” which combined parts of three main guitar amplification circuits: Fender, Marshall and Vox.
“My friends knew I was trying to do it. I don’t know how much they believed in it at first, but as I finished it, they were fighting over who was the next to play it,” he said with a laugh. “I figured I was pretty well onto something.”
Tubes are a key part of his operation. While most audio equipment is stocked with solid state transistors, vacuum tube-based amplifiers are the preference of many musicians for the their warm-sounding quality.
Though he began with amps, selling his own guitar effect pedals and repairing and modifying pedals are a big chunk of Dorris’ operation.
Guitar effect pedals are boxes that affect the sound of an instrument to color the signal, such as distortion or delay.
Dorris does the tube amp repairs for Evansville music store Moore Music, which also sells his pedals.
Renowned blues guitarist Boscoe France, who was crowned the 2012 Guitar Center Battle of the Blues champion, is an avid user of Dorris’ amps and pedals. France was introduced to Dorris in 2012 at a “gear head” event at Evansville music venue Mojo’s Boneyard.
France said he’s worked on amps himself for years, had endorsements and worked with many boutique gear-makers.
“The bottom line is I have never been able to get what I get from Tony’s Volition amps,” he said.
That Volition is local is also important to France. “If I need service, Tony is there. If Tony needs feedback, I try and help,” he said.
Dorris deals mostly with local musicians who come to him with damaged goods or a need for a new sound.
“I try to take care of the guys who play live local music because I know it’s hard for them. They don’t make much money,” he said.
While this is now his full time job, Dorris has aspirations of moving the operation into a building to vamp up production.
“I’m really hoping to get a group of guys together to really take this to the next level,” he said.
His guitar pickups — which take the strum of an electric guitar’s metal strings into an audio signal by magnets wrapped in thin copper wire — are hand-wound in his basement.
Volition pickups are used in some Harper guitars. The Boonville-based luthiers make high-end guitars that sell all over the world.
A Harper guitar stocked with a pair of Volition pickups is owned by famed country-tenor Vince Gill, of which Dorris is proud.
One of his proudest moments was watching France and guitarist Alonzo Pennington playing through his amps and pedals at Lamasco Bar and Grill.
“I’m proud of that. I guess it’s even better to know that your partly responsible for some of the goodness coming off the stage,” he said.