2002 - Custom Shop

The Retro 50 and AD 50 amplifiers were the first to feature ‘Custom Shop’ on the front panel.

Retro 50

Ade Emsley – Technical Director

During 2001 – which was really the year of the AD140 – a number of people approached us asking if we could produce Custom Shop 30 watt and 50 watt amplifiers. We developed the Custom Shop Retro 50. This sounded very much like the original Pics Only. It had a concertina phase splitter, but it still had the EQ after the volume, which made it stable and very reliable, switching from 30 watts Class A, to 50 watts Class AB. We designed it to sound like a combination of all the best Pics Only amps, yet in a 50 watt package. The difference between Class A and Class AB is that the Class A tends to run hotter but gives richer tones, and is a more pleasurable play in guitar terms – less harsh and a bit more forgiving on the ear. Class AB has more clean headroom, and is better for clean sounds.

Retro 50 Wiring

Retro 50 Front


Whereas the Retro 50 was a combination of the best Pics Only designs, the AD 50 was designed to be a combination of all the AD models. The idea was to have two different hand wired amps – the Retro 50 and the AD 50 – each with different sonic characteristics, so that the customer had a choice of sound. The AD 50 has a bit more gain available, and it also has more clean headroom. Cosmetics-wise, both of them have the graphics back. We also used them on the Mk 3 bass amp. We made 2×12 combos of both models as limited editions.

AD50 Front Panel

Damon Waller – Former MD

Soon after we launched this pair as combos, Andy Dunlop of Travis changed from using his AD30 to using Custom Shop Retro 50 and AD 50 amplifiers – one of each.