EARLY WORD: Lord Of The Amps


Let’s say you were in a big famous group called the Black Keys and you were
playing at a place like, say, the Electric Factory and your vintage, 1968,
100 watt Marshall Plexi, Super Lead guitar amp went down on you just hours
before the show. Chances are you would have end up at the door step of
Philly’s most respected and revered amp builder John Martin. Over the years
many bands both big and small found their way to John’s humble south
Philadelphia workshop/home, from the Black Keys to L7 to local favorites
like The Original Sins and the Lilly’s. Sadly this past May John died
unexpectedly at age 58 from an aortic aneurysm. He left behind a legacy
rivaled by very few both for his incredible work as well as his low key and gentle personality.

For the last 20yrs John repaired a good portion of the tube amps in
Philadelphia and hundreds more for those in the know all along the East
coast. He also built and designed his own line of amps called Martone
Amplification which were lovingly handmade and wired. These included
everything from large 50-100watt stage heads to tiny little mini 1watt amps
that were perfect for playing in the close quarters of an inner city
apartment and recording. In 1996 John teamed up with DiPinto Guitars and did
repairs and sold his creations though the store. Once musicians started
reading about them on the internet, these Martone amps were shipped all over
the country. John supplemented his musical repairs doing electrical wiring
for many local businesses and small home owners lucky enough to know him. If
you’ve eaten at places like Honey’s or rented an apartment in Fishtown you
may have unknowingly enjoyed a fresh new John Martin fusebox or rewiring

Always looking to share the love of his odd world with others, John would
often offer to build a guitar amp into anything you could find him. Local
musicians with a taste for the eccentric were constantly knocking at his
door with old tube record players, 1950’s school personal address systems,
space heaters…you name it. After a few hours on John’s bench, the old hunk
of junk would be transformed into a smoking guitar tube amplifier with more
tone and mojo than anything you could dream of. The price he often charged
for such amazing work was usually exponentially less than any other repair
shop (IF you could even find one willing to take on the job!). Many of his
friends and customers would even try to pay more to which he would simply
shrug no and say something to the effect of ” just buy me a beer or
something next time we’re out.” Throughout the hours spent standing in front
of his workbench he would be kept company by his jolly pug “Buster”, lazy
cats lying on vintage 1970’s tube amps or parts, and the occasional customer
who would stop in to just hang out. Everyone was welcomed and as a result
John was well loved by the people that knew him not just for his amp making
abilities or electrical magic but also because he was genuinely an
unassuming, humble, and kind person who would go out of his way to help

His friends and customers who owned his amps will pay tribute to him on
Sunday night at 6:30pm at Johnny Brenda’s. The stage will be piled high
with John’s creations and a selection of local bands will give him a rocking
send off. Come by and revel in the tones, the sights, the smells of the hand
wired electronic, tube creations of one of Philadelphia’s unsung hero’s-
John Martin.

Tony Violence
The Solder Suckers
The Sparklers
The Martians
Dave Steel Blues Band
Chet Delcampo
The Harrison Webb Blues Thing
The Beloved Infidels
Overdrive Date Master
Martone All-star Jam

Johnny Brenda’s
Frankford and Girard
Phila PA 19125

Sunday, August 24th
Doors at 6:30pm
Bands at 7pm

Band members:
Vimana: Jesse Jovanovich (Hi Soft), Alan Pavlica (Mountain King effects)
The Solder Suckers: Chris (Crash) Beato (the Beato’s, Ennui Malaise), Chris
DiPinto (La Resistance, Wastoid).
The Sparklers
The Martians (Chris DiPinto, Kevin Labree (Valsalva), Chris Hajinian (Crave
Dave Steel Blues Band (Dave Steel, Kevin Mullevy, Steve Adler, Dom Dispaldo)
Chet Delcampo
The Harrison Webb Blues Thing
The Beloved Infidels (Jackie Doyle, Jim Fisher, Phil Fizur)
Overdrive Date Master (John’s previous band w/Wayne Hamilton,David
Talento,and Binky the WunderMonkey)
Martone All-star Jam (everyone)

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