Garnet Amplifiers

Thunderous rarities from Winnipeg

* dedicated to Gar Gillies *


photo by Russ Emmerson

Hand Made in the by Gar Gillies and family in Winnipeg Manitoba mostly during the 60's and 70's, Garnet amplifiers are well regarded by players who come across them - according to Gar around 40,000 Garnet amps were made ... sound engineers will tell you that Garnet amps are very handy tone boxes in the studio, musicians will tell you they kick butt on stage !


Gar "Garnet" Gillies

Gar was a hero and mentor to many of us guitar nuts

Thank-you Gar !!

I'm the lucky owner of several Garnet amps: a BTO , a Sessionman - both early models, and a Herzog ... (!)

Under the hood of Garnet amplifiers you might find Cathodyne or Transformer based Phase-Inverters, unique Preamp and Tone control circuits, the use of atypical tubes in key parts of the amp, higher than usual turn-ratios in tandem with starved output transformers for richer harmonics and a crunchier breakup, old school bias-modulating Tremolo circuits, ... and more

... from a design point of view Garnet amps are off the beaten track, and they sure sound like it

The Garnet "BTO"

Big Time Operator

This amp is a monster, few other amp comes close IMO - maybe a well modded JCM800 ... The BTO puts out 118 watts RMS of clean-ish power, but it's not just loud - the tone that comes out is amazing.  It's beautiful.  Gar told me the Stinger circuit was really designed for bass, and in the BTO the Stinger fuzz works really well with the natural distortion of the amp, combining to form a dangerous sound.  According to Gar around 125 of these amps were made ...



Early BTO's had 6SN7 dual triodes for phase driver - killer !

B+ /// 530 volts - killer !!

The Garnet "Session Man"


photo by D. Brand

The Garnet Herzog

The first version of the Herzog was based on this basic idea but taken to new heights through a special design collaboration, it is known as "Randy Bachman's Herzog" ... made by Gar Gillies to Randy's specs ...

Later, a slightly altered model came out as the "H-zog" which incorporated remote-relay switching (a very silent switching method) incorporating true bypass and some filtering options ... that's the one I have ...

The H-zog circuit is inspired by the Tweed Fender Champ except the H-zog is tweaked for much higher preamp gain, greater signal coupling between stages and hot bias levels for output 6v6 tube - it is full out in every way possible ... except the noise, I still marvel at Gar's design, that it can produce so much gain and distortion at full blast but seemingly shuts off (or gates) when there's no input signal present - a real marvel in tube audio design IMO ... it can safely drive a bigger amplifier, PA or recording console even when the unit is self-overdriving like nuts ... it can also be plugged into a speaker cab standalone to produce a strong 4~6watts of unique class-A tone ...


photo by Todd Eccreate

The Herzog/H-zog has several uses that I can think of ... (i) It was designed as a fuzz-preamp to go into a louder amp and is bypass-able as an effect pedal ... it can be used to warm up any kind of amp when using it at low gain and moderate volume settings or it can be used as a blasting fuzz/overdrive device at high gain and low-to-moderate volume settings to produce the famous American Woman tone - it's sort of a one trick pony in this department, but a great trick no doubt with four distingishable dynamic range zones at the touch of your picking ... (ii) it can be used the same way in DI recording as well, more interactive with an tube reel-to-reel deck ... (iii) it can be used as a head to drive a speaker cab - even though the single-ended circuit puts out about 4~6watts max at full clipping ... that amount of power can still produce a fairly loud sound through a 4x12 cab - the sound is very angry and unique, lots of potential for recording again here ... if I'm not mistaken the Herzog (along with the Gnome and Banshee) can also operate on a 6L6 tube for more output power - though I haven't tried that on mine yet ... (iv) my latest and favorite use for the Herzog is as a Talk Box driver - I took the horn that buddy stuck in the little Red tolex Garnet story above and hooked a clear plastic tube onto it, plugged the horn into the Herzog speaker output ... awesome !



Garnet Photo Gallery



Garnet-made "Stencil Viscount"

"... 4x10 is a rev III Garnet. Gar says there are less than 50 of them (III Quad) ... "

Garnet BTO - later downside panel

Garnet SessionMan Combo with Garnet Les-Paul copy

Garnet Gnome ... single-ended 6L6 amp, same Output Tranny as Benshee and H-zog

 photo source : Doug Macaulay

SessionMan P.A. with high senesitivity inputs - amazing dirt for guitar !!


Garnet Deputy MkII's



Garnet Enforcer II Prototype



Garnet Tripper Vocal PA

photo by R. Latraverse 

Garnet Banshee


Tube Rectified Garnet S-90



more Garnet Amplifier pics ...


Meeting Gar  Nov 15'th 2000


jc ->