What is a hand-wired amplifier?

In a hand-wired amplifier, each component is soldered to the next manually. The opposite is an amp where all of the components are mounted on a printed circuit board.

So which one sounds better? That’s a trick question. Hand-wiring and PCBs are simply styles of assembly. The ultimately quality of the amplifier depends on other factors, including layout, component quality, and of course the design of the circuit itself.

We chose to hand-wire the Vesper amplifier because we felt our amplifier demanded it. Here’s why:

Assembling a hand-wired amplifier is a skilled task that requires close attention to detail. Most manufacturers consider this a downside. We don't. Hand-wiring an amp requires careful attention to layout. It means that you have to double-check every placement and every solder joint. It's taking the time to place every wire not just correctly but consistently, in exactly the same place from amp to amp. The amount of time and care (and therefore expense) required to assemble a hand-wired circuit is what leads many manufacturers to choose PCBs instead.

But for us, time and care are the foundation of the Vesper. We spend hours (over 24!) making each bent wood cabinet from scratch. We think that time is a small price to pay to create an amplifier that is visually striking and unlike any other available today.

And while the cabinet is important, the circuit is the heart of the amplifier. That's why we put the same level of care and attention into assembling the electronics by hand as well. Our cabinets are meant to reflect - not hide - the quality and the craftsmanship of the circuit within.

Hand-wired amps are built to last. The Vesper was not designed for planned obsolescence. It's not a dishwasher or a smartphone: it's a guitar amp, and we’ve worked on enough 50- and 60-year-old amps to know that extreme longevity is possible. So we hope that you’ll love and play your Vesper for years upon years. That's why, one day - well into the future - if a component gets old and starts drifting, the hand-wired nature of the circuit will ensure that it's easily replaced.

Compare to a PCB circuit. In that case, of all components, the PCB is the weak link. If that becomes damaged - which is possible even from the light wear-and-tear involved in changing components - the whole amp needs to be swapped out.

There are enough disposable electronics in this world. The Vesper is not intended to be one of them, and that's another reason why it's hand-wired.

The vintage amplifiers that inspired us were all handwired. Yes, yes, we know: it was because decent PCBs hadn't been invented yet. But hear us out.

The best pieces of vintage gear are like nesting dolls. Every panel that you unscrew leads you to something new and beautiful and surprising: a secret hook, an elegant set of connections, an old paper schematic, a date, a signature. And at the center of the amp, once every screw is removed and every cover detached, is the handwired circuit, clean and dustless, every component an open book.

In designing this amp, we departed from plenty of vintage traditions. But we kept all the handmade details we could: the hand-wired circuit key among them.

Further Reading

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