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KNOXVILLE (WATE) - For many people, music is very personal. So when you buy your music equipment shouldn't it be as well? That's how two local men feel who make their own guitars and amps.
Rik's Music Store is at 8426 Kingston Pike in West Knoxville. During our time there, we were lucky enough to hear owner Rik Asher jam on one of his guitars using one of his amps.
It didn't take much to see that Asher is passionate about music. "How many times do you turn on the radio and your mood changes? Imagine if you are the person playing that music," he said.
He went on to talk about musicians striving to find their own "unique sound," and as a result he and his friend, John Brown, started making custom, personalized guitars and amplifiers.
A few years later, they formally rolled out the "Asher-Brown" product line. Together the two will tweak just about anything to help get the musician's desired effect.
Asher explained the number of things that can change the sound including, "the size of the box, the size of speaker, how many speakers."
He adds that even the kind of wood and how the joints are made will affect the sound quality.
Asher admits that Brown is the real technician behind their amps. The pair showed us the "guts" of one of their speaker/amp combos, explaining each essential element.
"I don't want to use the terms old timer," Brown said with a chuckle. "We have both been around the block a few times and we both enjoy the older style of amplifiers."
For the Asher-Brown line that means only using tubes in their amps, not transistors.
Brown says tubes allow for a warmer sound and explained the difference like this. "Carlos Santana, for instance, he is known for grabbing those notes and making them sing, making that note last for a long, long time. With a transistor amp, sometimes that is hard to do."
Another key component is the wood used for the cabinets that house the amps and speakers.
The duo uses all Tennessee white pine, much of it from Brown's family farm, and milled by his brother in Blount County.
"There is a resinous with that kind of wood and since we have access to it, it was just natural to use that kind of wood," Brown explained.
Asher says the added touch of using local pine, a tone wood preferred by lots of musicians, also helps their products stand out. "I think I speak for myself and others when I say if you can buy a product with a story behind it, it's just better."
Right now, you can buy Asher-Brown amps and guitars at Rik's Music Store and occasionally you can find them on sale online.
Asher says one day he would love to expand to other states, but he wants to stay "boutique" and never mass produce.