Who is Aiken Amplification?

We are a small guitar amplifier manufacturing company located in Greenwood, SC.   We have been in business since late 1999, starting in South Carolina, moving to Georgia for a few years, then back to South Carolina.

 

Who is Randall Aiken?

 me

I got started in electronics at an early age, when my elementary school science teacher, Mr. Wright, brought in some Allied electronics kits, which sparked my interest in electronics. From that moment, I knew what I wanted to do for a living.  I spent quite a bit of time in the local library, where I found several old tube electronics books aimed at beginners.  Fortunately, my parents encouraged me in this pursuit, taking me to the local TV/radio repair stores to buy parts, and allowing me to cart home all sorts of discarded tube television sets, which I disassembled for parts to build amplifiers and other projects.  An early interest in ham radio also helped me learn more about electronics, and I was soon building my own transmitters and receivers.  I had also expressed an interest in playing guitar, so my parents bought me a Silvertone acoustic guitar that I played constantly, with the help of a set of Mel Bay books, until I finally talked them into getting me a used Harmony electric guitar and amp.  That first amp was barely in the door before I had it apart to see what the circuit looked like.   I realized that this was the best of both worlds, a chance to combine my two main interests, electronics and guitar. That combo amp eventually gave way to a Fender Bassman 50 head and cabinet, followed by a Twin Reverb (which I modified into a Marshall cicuit), and a long series of Marshall heads and cabinets of all colors.  The first album I ever bought as a teenager was "Force It" by UFO.  From the very first feedback note on "Let It Roll", I was hooked.  After hearing Michael Schenker's amazing tone and melodic playing style, I haven't been the same since.  If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be doing this now.  Thank you, Michael!!!

In high school and college, I made money repairing guitar amplifiers, and as word got out, musicians all around the area started bringing me old Fender and Marshall amps for repair and mod work.  I always had an apartment full of guitars and amplifiers in various stages of repair.  By that time, I was in a few bands, and was playing clubs in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia on weekends.  Somehow, with all this going on, I still managed to graduate college with my first engineering degree.

I currently hold two engineering degrees, a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE), and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology (BSET), both from Clemson University, in South Carolina.  I have worked for various companies since 1983, in both design engineering and manufacturing engineering, and have worked as an engineering consultant to several companies, designing broadcast television and video equipment, avionics, and medical electronics equipment, among other things.  I still  do consulting engineering for an avionics company, designing video and audio interfaces and multi-format LCD displays that go into the cockpits of military, law-enforcement, and commercial aircraft.  I do analog and digital hardware design, microcontroller design, switchmode power supply design, software, PLD and FPGA design (Xilinx), video hardware/firmware design, including analog composite/component, SDI/HD-SDI/3G-SDI digital video, and ARINC-818 optical video transceiver design, printed circuit board layout, mechanical design, and, of course, vacuum tube circuit design.  Aiken Amplification is the culmination of all that experience, combined with my intense passion for vacuum tube guitar amplifier design.

I have gotten a lot out of this hobby/profession, and thoroughly enjoy passing on the knowledge to other people interested in building their own guitar amplifiers.  Vacuum tube amplifier design is becoming a lost art, with most companies just copying old designs and blindly changing a few components here and there by trial and error.  I try to make it a point to educate others as to the inner workings of the circuits, and the reasons behind the tonal differences in amplifier circuits.   To this end, I have started the Tech Info section of this website to share the knowledge I have gathered from years of study and experimentation, in the hope that others will benefit from it as I have.

 

Who is Wesley Owens?

A few years ago, after moving in to a new manufacturing facility in SC and looking for employees, I kept getting pestered by this guy wanting to come work for me.  I finally relented and hired Wesley, which turned out to be a very good move.  Wesley is a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy, a very fast learner, and a perfect complement to my skill set.  He now does all of our 3D mechanical design, website, powder coating, silkscreening, and a dozen other jobs.   Wesley also builds custom guitars in his spare time (if I ever give him any)  - http://owensguitars.com/ .