Bob Rissi and Rickenbacker

While at Rickenbacker, Bob designed the Transonic amplifiers used by Led Zeppelin and other music superstars. From 1967 to 1970, Bob served as Director of Amplifiers and his work, including the Transonic series, are now highly valued collectibles.

Bob’s Rickenbacker work was featured in Vintage Guitar magazine’s December 2010 issue, with some excerpts from Dave Hunter’s article below. Click here to read the whole piece.

“A major artist’s endorsement of a piece of gear is often seen as a springboard to that product’s success, or at least serves as a footnote that has helped to keep it in the history books. Having graced the U.S. tours of Led Zeppelin, the Jeff Beck Group, and Steppenwolf in the late ’60s, and Cheap Trick after, the Rickenbacker Transonic series should have had its shrine in the annals of geardom secured, yet this wild line of hulking solidstate amplifiers has all but vanished from memory. Examples exist as prized pieces in the collections of a handful of amp-o-philes, certainly, and are still gigged out by a few dedicated enthusiasts, but the name has little to show for itself against the Fenders, Marshalls, Voxes and Boogies of the world, and even the solidstate Roland Jazz Choruses and Polytone Brutes. What went wrong?”

“Eager to build an amp working guitarists could actually afford, Rissi left to start his own company, Risson Amps, where he sold mostly tube amps, but a few solidstate models too, to several major-name players – Joe Walsh, Nikki Sixx, Rick Vito, and Lita Ford among them – before sidestepping into the computer industry in the early ’80s. Now in retirement, Rissi still builds the occasional tube amp in his home just a few blocks from the location of the old Fender factory in Fullerton, California, and currently offers the compact Marvell model, hand-made from mostly new-old-stock components that have lain in storage since his first go-round as a designer. As for the Transonics themselves, plenty of the relatively few made are still out there, and still rockin’ when called upon.”

Jimmy Page Transonic TS100 Bob RissiBob Rissi’s Transonic TS100 is featured as one of the great amplifiers of all time in Amped: The Illustrated History of the World’s Greatest AmplifiersAuthor Dave Hunter adapted the above article for use in his book and chronicles Bob’s history as a landmark designer in the evolution of sound. Featured at left is Jimmy Page performing with Bob’s Transonic TS100 amplifier.