Posts tagged ‘shock’

March 21, 2009

Better know a tech… Garrett Landes


I’ve only heard Garrett tell two stories.  One of them uses “and then I got hammered” as a central plot device, and the other always beings with, “well I was really hung-over…”  Despite his lack of variety in adventures, one story I’m sure I’ll never hear is one of Garrett intoxicated on the job.  The tube amp shop is not a place to risk getting sloppy.  Working with the kind of heart-stopping current that a charged up capacitor can send through your body will teach you some painful lessons.  This time of year is especially dangerous for the boys in the back.  With the annual migration of aspiring rock stars from Williamsburg to Austin comes a violent surge in “rush” tube amp repairs.  Garrett recalls a few SXSWs ago when his mentor Pat got a little ahead of himself at the bench trying to get everyone ready for Texas.

“I heard a noise, and thought Pat had gotten mad or something and thrown his stool.  I turned around, and Pat had been thrown off his stool, and he landed on a pile of amps.  He had forgotten to discharge a filter cap(acitor), and it knocked him off his ass.”  Pat remembers it well saying, “yeah, it was bad.  I haven’t forgotten to discharge a cap since.”

Death aside, the main thing these students of arcane electronics fear is producing sub-amazing work.  Garrett obsesses over every solder joint; each one challenging him to perfect his skills.  He sees a lot of amps with quick and ugly repairs.  When an amp comes through with unsatisfactory connections, he will resolder them, making each one mechanically sound, and visually impressive.


Making each connection neat and clean not only means a long lasting, better performing amp, but it also looks great and tells the next repair guy, “somebody took the time and cared for this amp properly.”  Garrett feels that it doesn’t matter how much of his work will go unseen and unappreciated by his customers – he takes pride in the details of every job.  A couple weeks ago, Garrett put in an extra hour and fifteen minutes of wiring that might have taken forty-five minutes if he had rushed through.  The task was to completely rewire a Traynor 8×10 bass cabinet (for the laymen: that’s eight 10″ speakers inside a wooden box made by the amp manufacturer Traynor).  This particular make of cabinet is odd in that, instead of taking off a back panel and seeing all eight speakers at once, each speaker is loaded in through the front.  What this means for Garrett is that no one will probably ever see the care and time he invested into each speaker connection, but that’s not what matters.  This Flint, Michigan native has a working class pride that fuels an impressive work ethic, and a equally impressive drinking ethic – after-hours, of course.

-David Morrin