The warm scent of softened vanilla extended a welcoming hand from the open front door of a townhouse in suburban Raleigh, NC. I kicked the irony away with a quick snicker and shouted…
…my most formal of greetings
“Hey, come on in!”
…someone shouted back from beyond the shadowy doorway.
This was not the first time I’d encountered Greg and Ossie of 3 Monkeys Amps, but it would certainly be the only time I’d had a chance to sit and talk with them. We’d met years back when Greg and Oz came through Mojotone for a breezy tour of the facility from which they’d been sourcing vacuum tubes and various small parts.
We shook hands and reacquainted atop an ornate rug covered in tiny space men. A tall indian coffin topper championed the mantle and suggested connections to the iconic casket-shaped design of the 3 Monkeys amps and cabinets. I added this to my “kick the irony” list and moved on.
The place was clean…
…and full of gear: Everything from old Blockhead amplifiers, to the expected 3 Monkeys rigs, and even an extensive recreation of the Van Halen studio setup that radiated an extreme attention to detail. This was Oz’s home and it was rather evident that he was a collector. Not just for personal satisfaction but also for research. There were tons of pedals, guitars, preamps, and strange instruments of whose existence I’d been previously unaware. On the builder’s side of things, there were tool benches in just about every room, a foot pedal bone yard in the kitchen, a lively guitar collection in one bedroom, miniature futuristic cities made up of open-faced circuit boards and scattered electronics. I even found a Mojotone pickup winder sitting with a polite smile on one of his tables, implying that Oz was a mad scientist who stood without jitter in the face of any experiment.
Then came a cold bottled water and a brief history lesson…
…like many young lads, Greg Howard was deeply inspired at an early age by the coolness of the bands featured on The Midnight Special. When attending a concert, he was the guy paying just as much attention to the roadies and the gear being used on stage and backstage as he was paying to the actual musicians playing in front of him. So it’s no surprise that Greg has found himself working as a highly sought-after guitar tech. Making appearances on both huge tours as well as assisting in the studio, one day he found himself working with Brad Whitford of Aerosmith fame. The two gentlemen found an instant connection over gear and tone. During the recording of Aerosmith’s “Honkin’ on Bobo,” Greg was tasked with sourcing a variety of vintage and modern amps. After a bit of digging, Greg found Oz’s then company, Blockhead Amps and commissioned him to build an amp for Brad. Oz personally drove the amp to the Aerosmith warehouse to deliver it safe and sound, and had the chance to meet face to face with Greg and Brad — they hit it off immediately and remained in touch thereafter.
A number of years passed wherein Greg would occasionally call on Oz for custom projects and Oz would come through. When Greg came across the idea to start his own company, his natural goto’s were Oz and Brad.
So let’s think about this for a second…
…we’ve got Greg — the emperor of touring guitar techs and keeper of tone secrets far and wide. Then there’s Oz — the creator of brilliant circuits who sold his soul to the gods of sound. And lastly, you have Brad — an icon of rock and roll and literal hall of fame musician…
I’ll allow you a brief moment to put the pieces together on your own…
Alright, brief moment is up!
Yep. You nailed it. They are a company whose constitution is that of the three most powerful points of view in the industry. A perfect storm of awesome. The amount of unique and relevant experience held between the three of these dudes is completely ridiculous…in a good way, obviously.
Here are a few more pictures cause I need this article to look as pretty as it sounds…
So here’s the part that has me really excited. Seeing as how this company is one which is not only qualified by industry experience but which is also defined by it, their latest venture is one I can only describe as being derived from an acquired maturity. After many years fermenting in boutique, high-dollar amps and cabinets, 3 Monkeys has moved on to solderless DC and audio cables. The beauty really is in the experience. With both the audio and DC cables, there is no wire stripping or set screw involved. One would simply purchase the desired cable kit (which is sold in various lengths with various numbers of connectors), cut the cable to length and screw on the connector. While screwing on the connector, the wire is inherently stripped and secured perfectly for a tight fit at a custom length.
3 Monkeys have shifted their focus from luxury to practicality. It is obvious to me that these gentlemen have spent many years dissecting, designing and building an exorbitant amount of gear and have discovered a very real NEED in the industry. I’m genuinely impressed by the level of ingenuity in these cables, and delighted by how much experience has gone into something that, at face value, seems so simple.
But compare this to music itself…I don’t know about you, but most of my favorite songs consist of about 3 chords. I tend to cling onto the simple things that really mean something to me. Innovation comes from those composers who have mastered the realm of the necessary and who do not noisy their artistry with excess. 3 Monkeys has collectively spent more than a lifetime acquiring knowledge and skills that would afford them the right and ability to forge an overly complicated jazzical arrangement, but instead have chosen to put their years of discipline into the creation of a 3-chord masterpiece.
In today’s world, there should be no shortage of audiophile-grade wiring in your setup, especially when it comes to your pedals. Thus 3 Monkeys Solderless is giving musicians the ability to really overhaul their pedal setups in hopes of having a world full of clean, secure pedalboards featuring high grade cables that function perfectly and sound great.
Definitely go check these guys out. They’re helping. And in case you were wondering, the vanilla smell billowing out onto the streets came from a sugar cookie smell machine Oz had running in his house. Friggin’ brilliant.
can you say “George L’s”?
Great article!!! I love hearing about innovative accomplishments. Now I’ve got to go out and experiment with solderless cables. Back in the 1960’s I raced Triumph Motorcycles. The wiring looms were all solderless. They weren’t screw in wires they were pressed on with a hydraulic press or crimped. While most of the street models were somewhat adequate for this type of wiring the race bikes almost immediately had problems as the pressed/crimped on wires vibrated apart. Hopefully these courageous high tech wizards have mastered the technique. Sure sounds like they’ve done their homework. Love hearing about success!!! Thanks Much.
Good, story. But I know the guy how designed the first few amps for 3 moneys. He is not in the article?
Huh? You are misinformed. Ossie and I have designed all the amp circuits for 3 Monkeys (mostly Ossie). I do all the graphics, cabinet design, and fabrication.
oh, 2 monkeys ain’t enough for ya?
I have known these guys for years. So artful, so peaceful, and so smart. They are all about tone, humor, and putting the clients/customers needs first. So many great products. I love their amps and the Soderless Cables are stupid good. So cool and so needed. The molded plastic garbage and the wonder when it’s gonna cut out strip/mangle cables are banished to the bottom drawer in the back of my garage. OK, I have used the word “so” – 75 x….so I have to go now