A Brief History of
by Jesse Quitslund, founder
ACME Instruments as a brand was born around 1990, when I built a series of guitars and basses as an industrial design student at Rhode Island School of Design. From the beginning, my creations were inspired by my favorite vintage equipment, influenced by my experiences as a repairperson, and driven by a love of fine handcrafting. When I
began building tube amplifiers in the mid-1990s I was working at Angela Instruments and Budda Amplification. Consequently, both Steve Melkisethian and Jeff Bober were big influences on my tastes and techniques. I remember first meeting Jeff at Steve’s shop when he dropped by to listen to the Trainwreck amp Steve had just received from
Around the same time I built my first tube amp, my work as a touring technician turned into a steady gig that would keep me busy for the next 20 years. When I wasn’t on the road, I was fixing musical equipment and studio gear as fast as the musicians of the greater Washington DC area could break it. By the late 90s I was also busy working on recording studio installations and began collecting and restoring old tube broadcast consoles. I took Steve’s advice and started haunting DC area ham radio swap meets, buying up all the NOS parts and tubes I could get my hands on.
In 2004, I moved my shop and vintage equipment collection (all 10,000 pounds of it) to Tacoma, WA. I started working for Rick King at Guitar Maniacs and took on the broken equipment of the greater Northwest. My parts collecting escalated to buying out electronics supply stores, TV repair shops, and notably local institution Puget Sound
Organ Repair, a goldmine of vintage parts and service literature. I also started touring
with artists who inspired me to build them custom amplifiers. This was the beginning of the amps and reverb units you will find on this site.