Amp mistreatment is a serious issue plaguing the rock star community. Once you’ve seen what these people are capable of doing to their $2000+ amps you start to wonder what they might be capable of doing to the people they love. It’s an important issue that I want to shed some light on, if for no other reason than to ensure future rock stars won’t repeat their hero’s missteps.
Here are 5 true stories of amp abuse. Together we can end the tragedy that is becoming amplifiers:
The Panties in the Combo Incident
About 10 years ago, I was minding my own business in the customer service office at Orange, just chilling and noshing a banana, when out of nowhere I was called to the warehouse to inspect an artist combo that had been returned due to “unknown default.” I tested it and sure enough, it wasn’t playable. It was a real headscratcher until I looked in the back and noticed a pair of women’s panties had found their way into the area between the chassis and the speakers. Somehow, they had partially melted to the chassis. I called the artist to notify them of the issue and was met with a discouraging tone. They only cared about making sure I didn’t tell their wife.
No care for the combo was demonstrated despite the obvious abuse it had endured. It was a sad day.
The Dr Pepper Incident
We once got an amp back that wasn’t working and when we opened it up the soda was literally burned onto the board. It had probably been there for half the tour. It was then I remembered going to the artist’s show prior when they were slamming their guitar into the speaker cab to make cool noises. There was a Dr Pepper on top – the artist’s preferred drink – and it was splashing around. Not a big deal for a speaker cab, but I recalled thinking to myself at the time “I hope they never do that when the soda is on top of the amp.”
They did. Several times. It was as if the amp had been crying when we opened it up. Crying Dr Pepper.
The Weed In The Cab Incident
Hey, fun fact: if you stuff your entire speaker cab with 10 pounds of weed, it won’t sound as good. In fact, it will sound muffled and more than likely will result in additional heat, with no way to disperse it, which can result in speaker coil damage. Moreover, when you run a 200-watt amp through it while it’s stuffed with weed the overheating can actually burn through the plastic bag containing the weed and, thus, burn your weed.
Now if this doesn’t sound real that’s because it doesn’t sound real. Why would you stuff a cab with weed and then despite the shitty tone, despite the fact it smells as if it is burning, continue to play the cab for an ENTIRE TOUR? That is a great question and one that answered with this response: “Because people kept giving me weed so I didn’t need to smoke any of mine.” Of course that doesn’t answer the question “why did you need 10 pounds of weed?,” but it’s close as we’re going to get to figuring out why this artist would subject their gear to such horrible living conditions.
The Throwing All Their Shit On The Ground Incident
There is no feeling as terrible in the world as watching an artist you trust, one that you’ve shared a beer with, blatantly mistreat their amps in front of you when there’s no recourse. This is exactly what happened on a festival stage in 2015 when a band I had just given free gear to decided that their live experience had been so fantastic that it warranted them pushing over their full stacks. The rage in their eyes, I’ll never forget it. They brutally kicked and punched their amps until all of them were on the stage floor in a pile. Then they turned to me, smiled, and gave me a thumbs-up. It was as if they were trying to implicate me in this travesty. I refused to be their accomplices though.
Upon exiting the stage I told them “great show” through teary eyes. Then we drank a Jagerbomb and the rest is somewhat blurry.
The Bullet Holes Incident
Back in 2012 I was a fresh young Artist Relations rep with all the hope in the world. I woke up to birds singing, showered with lavender soaps, and took the time to put on actual pants. That all changed with one simple email from a up and coming metal band.
They were a hot band on the scene. Cool guys with long hair and jean vests. I wanted them on the artist roster but they wanted a loan of gear for a tour and I didn’t think I had the budget. I went to bat and got it approved but it was definitely “all on me” to ensure nothing bad happened to the gear. The outbound shipment went smooth. The tour was a sell out and that meant many in-person impressions for Orange amps. Everything seemed normal until the band started demonstrating a weird pattern of verbal abuse through emails. Things like “we love the amps but we’re not sure they’re for us.” I couldn’t figure out they were implying. Did they not love me anymore? Were they cheating on me with other amp companies? It was a tough time in my life. The worst 2 weeks ever, you might say.
Finally, I cut the string. I said “I’ve had enough” and requested they return the gear. After what seemed like a months-long hostage negotiation, they signed the papers and I sent a freight company to collect the items. I never could have prepared myself for what happened next. The gear came back and when I opened the first box I noticed a hole in the grill cloth of a speaker cab. As I lifted that cardboard box higher, another hole. Then another and another. Four speaker cabs and four amps had been murdered. The weapon? A rifle, likely an AR15 from the size of the entry points and the exit wounds. It was an absolute massacre.
We held a short ceremony in the warehouse for the gear before burying it in a dumpster out back. The gear didn’t give its life for nothing though. We scrapped it for parts, thus giving life to other amps. There’s no excuse for not being a parts donor!