KR12: Evolution of an Award Winning Amp

The Award Winning Louis Electric KR12 Amplifier Story

Recently I was lucky enough to sit down and spend a few moments with Louis Rosano, as he reminisces about the early days as founder of the Louis Electric Amplifier Company. It was a pleasure to hear how timing and opportunity led to how an amplifier is born. This is the story of the award winning Louis Electric KR12 amplifier. Pull up a chair and join me.

The Award Winning KR12 Amp

Lou's Encounter with Keith Richards

"It was the late 1990's, and I was at the Iridium club in NYC with Les Paul. I was delivering one of his amps that I was working on for him and I also brought along a Louis Electric ‘58 Tweed Twinmaster that I built for the show that evening. I set up the Twinmaster on stage for Les and while hanging around, I overheard the maître d’ say that Keith Richards was coming and to get a table ready for him. It was a great night. As Keith entered the room, I went right up to him and dropped a mutual friends name that I knew he would know and we got to talking briefly. Then they brought him to his table. As the show was going on, I walked up to Les Paul’s son Rusty and asked him whom I needed to talk to get Keith to try an amp. He said go speak with Keith’s recording engineer, Rob Fraboni. I introduced myself to Rob and we spoke briefly. He said to talk to him after the show.

As I was taking my amp off the stage when the show ended, I saw Keith across the room with a bunch a people around him including Rob. I said to myself, I only get one shot at this. As I was walking with the amp I said, 'coming through, equipment coming through' and everyone moved out of the way and the circle around Keith opened up. It was unbelievable moment. I said to Keith and Rob, I have this great amp I want you to try. Rob turned to Keith and me and said, hey this is great, we're working on this record that we would like to try it on. They asked me to follow them backstage where we hung out for a few minutes. They asked me if it was OK for them to take the amp home in the Limo with them that night. Of course I said yes, and I loaded it right in for them. We exchanged phone numbers and in a few days Keith's people called me and asked me to come up to Keith's house. I was in shock.

Keith loved the amp so much that he wanted a smaller version as well for recordings at his house, something more portable and for use in smaller studios. In particular, Keith wanted an amp for the upcoming Hubert Sumlin album 'About Them Shoes.' I said to Keith's team - I would build an amp for Keith for that record. I had the pleasure of being invited back up to his house 5 or 6 more times after that. Keith is such a great guy and real fun to be around. Made me feel at home all the time.

Lou sits back; his face is serene as happy memories come back to him. He tells me he went to the drawing board for Keith's amp and came up with 2 new amps. One was the M12 (Model 12), which was a 25W amp that is distinctive for distorting in the mid range. "I wanted to capture that old blues sound," says Lou. "The other, I believe, was some sort of V panel Tweed amp I came up with."

"I was happy to be working with such a great artist," Lou tells me. "Keith has done it all in his life and I was inspired to build an amp that could also do it all. I told Keith that I wanted to build him something special. That is how the KR12 was born. I started with an EL 34 output tube and designed an amp with more gain, crunch and distortion. I was looking for a late 50's Tweed sound combined with a mid 60's plexi sound. I was very happy with how the KR12 turned out it was my award-winning amp and I'm happy to say it won for Guitar Player Magazine Editors’ Pick Award. It is still one of the most popular models in the line today."

Sitting with Lou was a treat for me. Lou's talent is apparent… he is able to uniquely and expertly amplify the amazing sounds of gifted musicians around the globe. I look forward to bringing you more stories in the months to come. And remember, Legendary Tone Lives at the Louis Electric Amplifier Company.

-Story by Lynne Vellucci

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