It is January 20 and I am in my cabin in the snow-covered woods, sitting in front of a fire reading Lady Chatterly's Lover, for the one-hundredth time. My pet bear cub Spartacus is curled up next to me. I hear the wolves howling to the moon. Tara, in her favorite Victoria Secret combo, is in the kitchen finishing up dinner….the skillet fried Moose loin, and corn bread. I sigh, and put my book down. I wander over the day's reverie in my mind…the excitement of a day in the woods with my Winchester, hunting for the elusive, yet prized trophy, The Long Haired Tonal Wholey Grail.

I get up and walk over to my computer to check for email and discover this message:

Dear Doc,

As a reader of Listener, and a big fan of your column, in the hopes of inspiring you, the way you inspire me, I wrote this poem.

Things men have made with wakened

Hands, and put soft life into are awake

through the years with transferred touch,

and go on glowing for long years

D.H. Lawrence

When I showed this email to Tara, she really freaked. I tried to calm her down, by explaining to her that it was no big deal really…and this type of contact between gifted listeners; this direct connection to our bros', over time and space, is quite common…and it is obvious to gifted men, that all "edge" men, no matter the edge they are dancing on, are directly connected to each other, and expressing The Wholey High Beaudacious Force Which is One…the force that created you, me, the V-8, the glass pack muffler, the six pack of beer, and push up bras…and Listener Magazine.

It shouldn't surprise you that "edge" men, like us, have trouble communicating with our polarity, the "protectors of sod", and vica versa, because we spew forth different tribal jargon, because our vibe is so different…though we may be trapped in the same body.


Modern culture is turning men into zombies, according to Lawrence, and I agree. We all live in an aurally repressive culture, where we use about ten percent of our listening gifts. Living in a modern world means that we must repress, turn down, all of our senses…to survive ubiquitous noise pollution. Our diminished hearing ability explains why it is so easy for the music industry's dumbing down towards lower mediocrity policy to go unchallenged.

When I realized this years ago I went into a very deep depression. So deep I contemplated suicide by dancing a non-stop polka, in a powder blue polyester double knit leisure suit, and shiny white shoes, while listening to a 10,000 watt per channel solid state amp blasting a Lawrence Welk LP that was constantly skipping. I could no longer avoid the painful truth …no more denial…I too must be aurally repressed, compared to the Jivaro Indians in Brazil, or a Massai warrior, or a Whirling Dervish. My ego was destroyed. What would you do?

Now you know why the rumors are true. Yes, after meeting George Hamilton I did go to Switzerland for a bat ear transplant and now my hearing is 2 Hz-2 megahertz, and I can catch a bug, with my tongue, while hanging upside down in my listening room. It was worth every cent of the $100,000 cost….which most of you can not afford. My hearing pride returned, because I was out of my industrial aural prison.

To others, not covered by the Triode Guild medical insurance, I have suggested a different liberation strategy: ten thousand years of psychotherapy, or bio-energetics, Reichian or Gestalt therapy. Or…what about…near death experiences, or the death of someone we love, which always causes a dramatic, though temporary, expansion of aural sensitivity.

I have also recommend extended fire-walking, and even published an article on the Triode Guild web site that reveals my secret technique of dancing for hours on burning hot fire coals and never getting burned.

That night while Tara, Spartacus and I were snuggled up on the bear skin rug, by the fire, we talked about Lawrence's warning that Industrial man was turning into a Zombie. Then Tara, had a Eureka experience…." I know what Lawrence's poem means. He wants you to write about liberation through the thermionic techno-shaman initiation ritual…where the novice, by using his hands, is able to craft the key that unlocks the door of his aural cell, and it is also the key to the door of his higher musical consciousness…deeper, more intense… the CORPUS MYSTICUM BAD ASSEUM EST…. and it looks remarkably like a single-ended triode amplifier".

Now you know why I am in love with Tara's mind. And then Tara became very still and thought for a minute..

" This is really spooky…now I see a pattern in all of my relationships with men…the only ones who make me really hot, like you Gizmo, are men… who really know how to use their hands….to build beautiful things…and readers of Listener".


Your Guildmeister is suggesting you follow Tara's interpretation of Lawrence's poem…use the ancient wisdom. Use the strategy that worked for young Arthur, for Homer, to Abe Lincoln. The most effective method of liberation, is also the most ancient: endure a challenging male initiation ritual…one that you would naturally resist because of a lack of self-confidence, fear of pain and embarrassment, but mostly because you don't think you are skilled enough to be successful. All of the above is exactly why you will get the maximum liberation benefit from building your first single-ended triode amplifier kit. In the same way fire walking, climbing a mountain, killing a lion with spear, service in the armed forces, or sky diving, are male initiation rituals which transforms our entire matrix of bogus self-deprecation. So will building your first amplifier kit eradicate that enormous dung heap of bogus dis-empowering cheese ball attitudes that is the repressive tyrant restraining your vast listening gifts.


For the novice everything is terrifying, and it should be. Your first response is, "Building a tube amplifier is dangerous because I will be working with over 400 volts of DC and I could get electrocuted"…NOT. Electricity is frightening and dangerous and must be treated with respect,…but driving a car is far more dangerous. How dangerous is tube amplifier building? Bowling, golf, motorcycling, skiing, sex, marriage, skate boarding, sex, roller skating, football, sailing, sex and driving a car is more dangerous. There is a greater probability of you getting killed while watching television than building a tube amplifier kit.

(Note: the reason that motorcycling is exploding in popularity is because it is the most dangerous form of transportation: every time we get on our motorcycles we literally risk our lives, and that is why we experience such intense beauty. Which do you think is more difficult to master and dangerous, tube amp kit building, or motorcycling?)

Will you get a shock? I hope so, because, like every other sport, there is no other way to learn. Come on Mr. Audio Softee…it is time to grow up and be a man, and take your dose of pain so you can glory in the gain? Will it feel like a shock? Yes. Will you scream? Yes, in the same way you scream when you get a really hard hickey, which will leave more of a scar. Consider this my bro': How much pain and damage did you endure while learning to play baseball, or basketball or football? How many are permanently injured by their favorite sport? One hundred per cent more than men who get permanently injured building a kit. How many people died while building a tube amplifier kit last year, compared to people who died at soccer matches? Zero for kit builders…hundreds at soccer matches. Have you ever built a custom car and suffered burns, bruises, and all of the frustration of giving birth to a work of art?

Though there is nothing easier to build than a single-ended amplifier kit, there is no point in building a kit, if it isn't a real challenge, because if it is too easy, then it won’t be an initiation ritual. On the other hand, if you want to build the simplest, you can make the experience more exciting by being naked while you solder. This must be a challenge that makes you suffer; in the same way you suffered learning how to throw a football. Do you remember the courage and endurance you had as a small boy learning to pitch a strike? Courage is not about having any fear; it is about action, in spite of the fear. If you approach this ritual with the right head, and right hand, it will transform your relationship to music..And that is why I am recommending you gather up your courage, cast off your flaccid high end audio attitudes, and learn how to use a soldering iron and volt meter. …And turn the key and see what is on the other side of your door.

Note: I once gave a course in building Dynaco 70s and most of the students were women, and this amp is very difficult to build compared to a SET


The minute we shift our relationship from passive to creator, the minute we shift existential modality from the passive, child/receiver", to adult " creator" our entire modality of experience shifts. The minute we jump from the bleachers to be on the field…the game gets much higher. It becomes richer, deeper, more sensual and more complex…and much more euphoric/ecstatic…because you are vulnerable..spiritually, emotionally and physically. Concrete example…the fact that you have struck out, been wounded by a line drive, have made errors, known the agony of defeat, and the glory of hitting the hit that won the series, makes every baseball game you watch a more vivid, personal, and intensely emotional experience, because you have successfully endured the initiation…you went through your higher door. You have just followed Joseph Campbell's advice


Men resist change for good reason: our egos are vulnerable during transitions, and who wants to be a fool, or a failure? What if I fail at putting a screw in its right place? What if I am not competent at cutting a piece of wire? What if my solder joints are not as good as Bill Johnson's? What happens if the amplifier doesn't work when I am finished? What if it doesn't sound good? I understand you ego's concern, so let me once again clarify: THE PROCESS, the process of your self escalation to your higher plane, is what I want you to master, because I have faith that once you get the hang of it, there will be no limits to your self actuated ascension, other than the ones you create…which you should, so that you don't get too high, too fast and burn your wings on the sun, and fall into the sea. Grunt if you understand this paradox.

Yet, I can't think of a better modern classic heroic act…right out of the Bible.

Be proud of your mistakes and failures. Take notes and pictures of them. Love them. If I had a dollar for every mistake I made in building my own custom amps I would now be living in my tree house on the island of Jamaica. Yet, these are authentic male ego concerns, because every man, as I said, has a dung heap of bogus attitudes in his soul…INCLUDING ME.

Whenever you are ready, the Guildmeister is ready to accept you into the brotherhood of thermionic techno-shamans…with a salute and cheer.

A TRAGIC IRONY: As I was completing this article Tara and I broke up and it was very painful…especially for my ego. She left me for a man who is building his own direct coupled high voltage tube amp and matching electrostatic speakers, like the Beveredges. Can I blame her for wanting to get higher?

In closing this preposterous agitation of your audio orthodoxy, I would like to, again, thank my father, who is now in Triode Heaven, who sat next to his young son, and taught me, at his workbench, that a man creates art with his hands. It was the best lesson of my life. I hope you will learn this lesson and share with your son.

Over and out from the Nth Dimension of Music-Hyper Space.

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