Xtonebox Custom Amplifiers. First Dream It, Then Build It
Couple weeks ago we had the opportunity to meet Xtonebox guys in an interesting sound market which took place in Madrid. At that time we had a conversation about their project and Soundpeers and the way in which we could help them with their business.
Today, you can find the Xtonebox online shop at Soundpeers with plenty of their custom amplifiers, cabinets and pedals (usually at a discounted price). We had an interesting conversation with Francisco J. Pastoriza, Engineering Director at Xtonebox, where he explained us the origin, the present and the future of this fascinating brand.
Q. Hi Francisco, nice to have you at Soundpeers. How long have you been building custom amplifiers and pedals? Can tell us something about your background?
A. Honestly, we have started working hard on this project a year ago. Previously I was working many years in Telecom Engineering, specialised in sound and image, so I had a solid base before starting out this project.
Q. What are your references when speaking about music or amp builders?
A. I’ve always been into extreme music. Otherwise I like lots of different genres when well executed. Speaking about builders, I love Soldano’s work because he is the creator of what we call today “high-gain”.
Q. How did you start out this project? Who is behind Xtonebox?
A. Nowadays I believe that everyone in this business started out as a hobbyist. It happened just the same with us. I used to watch closely custom and boutique markets while I already had many fresh ideas that I could implement. It was just a matter of time before we took the decision to risk everything and do something we love. Right now we are two people at the team working full time.
Q. How would you define the creative process at Xtonebox?
A. First dream it, then build it. All the designs we use are our own, respecting the ancient vacuum tube technology. We try to run away from the concept of creating a custom amp which is a clon from a copy of a Fender or a Marshall. Obviously it is quite hard not to be influenced by these two brands, but I consider that copying everything and adding your logo is just pathetic.
Q. What kind of components do you use in your products?
A. We use stainless steel, aluminium, different kinds of woods, tolex, acrylics, LED lighting, etc. We make and design our own circuit boards using “point-to-point” technique, even in complex circuits. We use Hammond and Lundahl electronic components, which are the best that you can find in Europe. We always use new materials with the best quality and tolerance possible.
Q. If you would have to choose one of your amps, which would you say it is your favourite one?
A. This question is like if somebody ask you who is your favourite son? There is none. Otherwise GREEN-1005 is the first one of our models. This amp is quite special, it has a great design and people are usually surprised with the sound and the volume that you can get from it.
Q. Are you working on some new project?
A. We always do that, we are restless people always executing new ideas or starting out new projects which are in the queue. Our plan is to continue delivering BLUE series with the addition of two compact heads which will deliver unique sound. Also there is a high demand on the 100w series and obviously we plan to have some Pro-Audio equipment around mid-2016.
Q. You have a great design in all your products. What is the relevance that you give to this factor on your equipment?
A. We love design and we try to do things ourselves without copying other existing ideas. We tend to fusion modern and vintage aesthetics. For us it is crucial to get visual attention so we can afterwards surprise with the sound.
Q. How do you see the custom/boutique european sector comparing to the US one?
A. In US people are very used to buy products manufactured in Asia so they value a lot everything which is handmade, and if it is “made is US” then it is much better. There are many big brands with the label “Custom” in US and they are succeeding by their own merits. Regarding Europe I don’t have that much information. In Spain I can give a good reference to MPF, they show great taste and quality in all their products.
Q. What other kind of tasks do you need to deal with on a daily basis?
A. We do repairs and restorations. We have been learning a lot going to the heart of big brands equipment and we do learn from their mistakes. Also we need to deal with all the management, comercial and promotion tasks like every company do.
Q. What did you like the most when you first heard about Soundpeers?
A. The possibility of being part of a community from Spain devoted to custom & boutique equipment, together with some second hand stuff. It’s just perfect for people who suffer from G.A.S.!
Q. What would you demand from a company like Soundpeers in order to help you consolidate your business?
A. We value the promotion that you can give us and we want that projects like yours can grow and get more and more traction. We consider that the work you do here can help us a lot in our daily tasks.
Soundpeers is an online community of luthiers, builders and handcrafters where to find boutique, custom and vintage musical equipment and buy directly to sellers. Do you want to write in this publication? Visit us on soundpeers.com or send us an email.