Dave Friedman got his start in the music business when he moved out to L.A. at age eighteen and took a job at Andy Brauer’s Studio Rentals, which was paradise for a budding gear head. Whenever studio musicians needed a certain tone or touring acts needed the perfect backline, they’d call Andy, because he had everything. Vintage amps, pedals, guitars—you name it, Andy had it. Over the years, many of these vintage pieces received modifications to optimize their usability in live or studio settings. This was an eye-opener for Dave, who had been taking things apart and putting them back together his whole life. These sixties Marshalls and tweed Fenders weren’t holy relics that had to remain untouched. They were tools, and why wouldn’t you improve your tools if you could?
Right after Dave started working for Andy, the guy who built custom rack units for the rental shop quit, and Andy asked Dave if he wanted the gig. Of course, Dave said yes, and he figured out how to build rack units for some of the biggest stars in rock music on the fly at age eighteen. He quickly established a reputation as an electronic mastermind, and soon the elite musicians of L.A. were clamoring for him to modify their amps.
After years of modding, Dave decided to dive further down the rabbit hole and work for Egnater Amplification in the nineties to learn the ins and outs of building amps from the ground up. After absorbing plenty of knowledge from his mentor, Bruce Egnater, Dave eventually struck out on his own. He started Friedman Amplification with the goal of applying everything he’d learned from building and modifying amplifiers to his own designs.
So, what are the principles that guide Dave’s designs? Well, according to Dave, every amp he’s ever built was inspired by his favorite amp of all time: a ’68 Marshall JMP. The wattage, voicing, and gain levels might be different, but everything he does ultimately stems from classic British tone. Though Dave loved the sound of old Marshalls, they were too finicky, and you needed to run them LOUD to get them to sound good. Dave decided to make it his mission to design British-style circuits that were more reliable, more practical, and more usable than the vintage amps he cherished.
Of course, the first three ingredients to the Friedman sonic cocktail are obsessive attention to detail, boutique-quality components, and meticulous craftsmanship. Dave’s peerless dedication to his craft is evident in every amp he builds, and he only sources the highest-quality materials.
But, ironically, the biggest part of his tone formula is turning the volume down when he voices his amps! That might seem counter-intuitive—especially for a man who lives in the world of loud rock like Dave—but it makes perfect sense.
Think about it like this: if you’re mixing a song in the studio with the volume cranked, you get different frequency response from your speakers. The bass guitar rattles your ribs, the kick drum punches you in the gut, and the guitars sound thick and meaty, because bass and mid frequencies become more prevalent as you get louder. But, when you turn the volume down to normal listening levels, the mix sounds thin, because you’re not getting that frequency boost from the extra volume. That’s why the best mixing engineers always mix at reasonable volumes. If it sounds good with the volume on ten, it won’t always sound good on one. But, if it sounds good on one, it almost always sounds killer on ten.
Dave Friedman simply applies this principle to his amps. Using his intimate knowledge of old circuits and his passion for classic sounds, he tweaks each amp so that you can get all the mojo and magic of a cranked old amp at volumes appropriate for the bedroom, the club, the arena, and the studio. They allow you to hit a big power chord and feel like a rockstar without angering your neighbors or the sound guy, and that’s pretty special. Of course, they sound like heaven when you dime them, too!
Here at Wildwood, we’ve been a fan of Dave’s creations for a long time, and his amps have inspired our customers for years. Our partnership has led to some truly incredible Wildwood-exclusive amps, too. First, there’s our old standby, the Wildwood Small Box—a three-channel fifty-watt EL34-driven beast. Then, there’s the newcomer, our Wildwood 20, which is an EL84-powered two-channel twenty-watt monster. Both are incredibly versatile, and they brim with tones that will inspire you to make all kinds of rock and roll racket.
We’re proud to present our selection of Friedman Amplifiers. They are the product of Dave Friedman’s lifelong quest to make the sounds in his head a reality, and we believe that he has succeeded with flying colors. We invite you to browse our Friedman inventory, find the amp that speaks to you, and take it for a spin. We have no doubt that it will inspire you to plug in, turn up, and rock out.