SUGARLOAF EMRAD CUSTOM AMPLIFIER

New info has been added in regards to the history of Ev Evans and the EMRAD amplifiers near the bottom of the page. (10/25/11)

This is the story of how I (Les) ended up owning one of the original Sugarloaf amplifiers.  On 6/03/04, Jeff Laser contacted me through The Moonrakers website after having checked it out.  We've been in touch ever since.  He used to live in Colorado and loved the music scene of Colorado in the sixties and early seventies and had seen The Moonrakers and Sugarloaf (as well as several other bands) several times.  When he is back in the Colorado area he usually stops by for a visit, which has always been fun and interesting--and I always look forward to it.  The following is an e-mail that he sent me well over a year after our first communications that involve the amps Sugarloaf was using when he saw them:

Jeff Laser, 9/04/05:  For some reason I got back on this "kick" about the amps that Sugarloaf used for a short period (EMRAD - I believe they were manufactured in Boulder or Denver). I ran into an interview with Bob Yeazel where in passing he mentions those amps. I think  this is where I originally ran into your website last year as I was searching for info on those amps.  I may have mentioned that Bill and I used to jam with a kid in the Springs that had one. As I recall it was a big (huge) solid state amp with some cool lights on it... really loud, but kinda sucked tone wise (at least when I played through it)! I remember Bob Webber using one (he played some sort of semi-hollowbody Epiphone through it)  and it sounded pretty good. I think Bob Y. was playing a GIBSON SG through a FENDER Twin the 2 or 3 times I saw SUGARLOAF live.  I saw them play at the City Auditorium in the Springs in June of 1970 in a dual billing with ZEPHYR... what an awesome concert that was!!!! 

I wrote Bob Yeazel and asked him about the amps.  Bob replied on 9/06/05: 
Yeah Les, we used Emrad Amps and they were built in Denver. Our amp guy was a very nice older man and we liked the fact they were loud and reliable. He even had our "Sugarloaf" logo made into chrome nameplates he put on the front of them.

Jeff's response:
Man... that's way cool! Thanks!  Actually, I would like to know a few other things about them.
#1.  Do any photos of those amps exist? 
#2.  Does either band member know if any of those amps are still around and in tact (I might be interested in buying one if the price isn't  too high - sort of for archival purposes). 
#3.  Were those amps used at all in the studio? 
#4.  Finally...  What was their availability to the general public.

Bob's reply: 
1)  I don't know but it's possible, best bet would be from a live show
2)  I don't know that either- I'd love to have a Sugarloaf model myself.
I used my Gibson Rhythm King and preamped out into 2 powered Emrad cabinets
for slaves. It was loud!!!!
3)  Webber and Raymond-yes. Me no. I used my beloved Rhythm King tube amp
(vintage late 40's or early 50's). I really really really regret selling it.
4)  He sold some in music stores around Denver, but it was (and still is) a
very competitive business and he went under after a year or two. Then he
just mostly did repairs.

I also wrote Bob MacVittie and he responded on 9/22/05:  The Sugarloaf amps were made in Englewood by an engineer that Webber came up with. He gave us a great deal to use them and get them out into the market. I don't remember his name, Yeazel might. They were clean and very powerful. But, didn't have much bottom end and some thought they were too clean sounding. At the time Fender and Marshall tube amplifiers were the sound of choice with the bigtime rockers who liked the dirty blues sounds.

Fast forward to 1/20/07 and a post on this website's guestbook by Tony Nolan:  Long story short, I was telling an in-law how an ex friend hocked my bass and lost it. He said he had a bass and amp I could use indefinitely. It just so happens I have a EMRAD bass with Sugarloaf stenciled on the back in white letters. The in-law got it from Wedgel Music. I just thought it was pretty cool that I have a bass (amp) from Sugarloaf.  I happened to get here by Googling EMRAD guitar amps.

This led to many e-mails back and forth between Tony, Bob and I.  At one point Bob was going to buy or trade to get the amp back, but after thinking about it for awhile Bob decided not to get it.  (There is no question that this was an amp used in Sugarloaf by either Bob W. or Bob Y., or both)  Since Bob was no longer interested, I contacted Jeff Laser about it because of his prior interest.  Jeff and Tony made a deal and by the first week of June it was in Jeff's hands.

Fast forward again to 4/18/09, Jeff Laser wrote to me: 
Hey Les:

I was wondering if you would be interested in having that EMRAD amp I got a couple years ago? I don't play through it, even though I had it repaired. For my purposes it isn't practical and it's tone kinda sucks! 
I thought you might want it to go with your ever expanding museum.

On 4/30/09 the amp arrived.  I posted the story today, 5/06/09, and sent the link to Bob and this was his reply:  The name of the man who built them was Ev Evans. You can see the output jacks in the back for preamping out to a powered slave unit (approximately the same sized cabinet without the controls). They were screamers at 100 watts RMS per cabinet. Each of us had four 100 watt cabinets.......... 2 stacks of 2 cabinets each. Depending on the show and the logistics, we would sometimes use variations of amp configurations, using smaller rigs for smaller venues.

So this is the story of what we know about this particular EMRAD Amp.  I'd like to thank everyone that was a part of it.  

Now, a bit more interesting information on the EMRAD amp and it's creator.  

"During the course of his PhD research about guitarist Johnny Smith and his role in instigating Ev Evans' EMRAD amplifiers, Lin Flanagan interviewed Lee Brenkman, who as a young sound engineer in the early 1970s was taken under Evans' wing in his store in Littleton. Through Lin, Lee was kind enough to share the following priceless information about Evans:"

The postal address of Ev Evans's workshop/store was 2569 W. Main Street, Littleton, although the actual entrance was on Curtice Street. He was a licensed electrical engineer who had previously worked for an aerospace firm. He began repairing amps before he started making them. He was on his own in his store at first, but took on a couple of casual helpers in the early 1970s. Johnny Smith was so impressed with the quality of his repair-work that he asked him to build him an amp (i.e. EMRAD). The cabinets were made by a local supplier, not by Ev. He designed the preamp circuit himself (to achieve Johnny's desired flat frequency response), although the main output power circuit was from a standard RCA schematic. The Johnny Smith model was sold through Johnny's shop in Colorado Springs but you could also buy the same amp, perhaps without the Johnny Smith badge on the grille, directly from Ev. The Johnny Smith model was in due course joined by some bass amps (combos and separate head-cabinet sets). They were all based upon the RCA 100 watt transistor output circuit.  All of the other amps were pretty much sold direct from the "factory". I don't think Ev ever caught the fancy of any other music shops enough for them to carry his line.  Ev was an early adopter of the powered speaker cabinet, meaning that you started with a combo which had a preamp output and then added more and more speakers with their own amps for larger gigs. Ev changed the subtlety of the tone controls at the request of the rock fraternity. You could then order the 'jazz' or 'rock' versions of his amps.  Apparently, a notable feature about the Sugarloaf amps was that they had black grilles instead of the standard silver ones.  By 1974, Ev had lost the lease on the property, and had moved to South Broadway in Englewood, where he pretty much just did repairs. By 1976, he had shut down the business.

I'd like to thank Lee Brenkman and Lin Flanagan very much for this very interesting information!  You can find out more about the many things Lee has done in music by clicking here.  You can also find out more about what Lin has done in music, along with the book he has recently written about George Martin and the Beatles by clicking here.

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