Have you ever see one of these bad boys? You must have. This is a case of something small, doing something very, very big. Mike Matthews, founder of Electro-Harmonix was, is and will always be a lot of things, but dummy is not one of them. Mike is a keyboard player, not a guitarist, Don’t hold the non-guitar player thing against Mike Matthews. He is in good company. Leo Fender didn’t even have a “test it out” lick, unless you count George Fullerton, but hey, that’s Leo’s story. The thing of it is all the pioneers’ stories cross each other, time and again.

So, just what in creation is this little box with the jack sticking out of the side like a metal umbilical cord? Clearly, it’s not a stomp box, or pedal, or is it? At one time, Mike Matthew’s tiny guitar effects making kingdom was a small operation. He listens as well as he tells a story. A major key to his success is a direct result. That’s how the LPB-1 came to be. He listened. In 1968, Matthews started what would become Electro-Harmonix building a fuzz box for Guild called the “Foxy Lady”. As you may have guessed, every young electric guitar player wanted to sound like Hendrix, in 1968. LPB stands for linear power booster. It’s a simple bit of circuitry, and a battery. It is what you might call a “clean boost” or “full range boost” today. Matthews was asked for a clean sustainer, by many, many guitar players. The sound that came from Hendrix didn’t always sound like “fuzz” but he had coaxed a lot of sustain out of the Strats he loved. It sounded clean compared to a Maestro Fuzz. It was really the sound of a turned up Marshall that folks were after, but didn’t know it. Not many players had even seen a Marshall in the USA back in 1968, if it wasn’t on stage with Hendrix. Terminology for sub-divisions of overdrive, fuzz, distortion and compression where not yet “coined”. A guitar player might say, “I want the Woodstock Hendrix sound! Do you know what I mean: you know-clean, but with edge and sustain”? The unfortunate player might have had to resort to making sounds with his mouth to explain the tone he wanted (man would I love to go back in time and see that).  The LPB-1 was a sort of early over-driver. It didn’t really boost the amp’s power, but it did boost the signal going to the amp. In fact, you could say the LPB-1 “slapped” the preamp tubes, and sent them into a rage. It was a great first step. It wasn’t clean sustain, but it understood what people asked for.  Matthews understood what guitarists were asking for, and liked the simplicity of the circuit. The LPB-1 was eventually made into a floor controlled stomp box, with foot switch. This early 70’s unit plugged right into the amp, or your guitar’s input jack, if you wanted to manually turn it on and off.  Matthews takes his products seriously, and himself seriously. He is also seriously a bit crackers. He will tell you proudly himself, I’m sure.

Thanks for the extra power, and more power to you, Mr. Matthews. To find out more about the LPB-1 and its connection to Sam Ash Music click here

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Mike Rock
A fixture in the Rock and Roll guitar community since 1978, Mike Rock is the “Go-To” source for Sam Ash's most intricate questions involving Guitars and related gear. A collector whose true passion is playing, Mike has performed over 2,500 gigs around the world. Mike began his musical journey studying the trumpet. While buying sheet music for a recital, Mike first heard an electric guitar through a fuzz box. Forty years later, he still maintains that the fuzz WAS germanium based (he is a bit crazy). This encounter drove Mike to his first guitar and a tube amp. Soon his guitar was heavily modified and the amp was on its 3rd replacement speaker. Mike was hunting for tone and blowing guitar speakers before there was a “boutique” or “vintage” market. It wasn’t long before Mike was buying, and validating vintage guitars and gear for some of the biggest companies in the world, finally finding a home assisting mentor and friend Sammy Ash, at the place where he heard that first Fuzz Guitar, so many years ago. Mike still performs regularly and recognizes the history and beauty of vintage and modern gear. Mike is aware not everyone is a collector and most players need a set up that works for the sound they chase, regardless of its pedigree, or vintage or status.