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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

NIK AZAM

Britain and the US might traditionally be the homes of overdriven thermionics, but one maker in Malaysia has been satisfying countless guitarists’ quests for highquality, hand-wired tone for a solid decade and a half. We talk to Ceriatone founder and proprietor Nik Azam to ind out how it’s done and what this game-changing amp maker has in store for the future…

CERIATONE AMPLIFICATION

Nik Azam in Ceriatone Ampliication’s workshop in Kuala Lumpur, where all Ceriatone amps and pedals are built by hand

We’re not talking about an offshore manufacturing facility catering to the entry-level models of major makers, or some mass-production clearing house cranking out consumer-grade goods for big-box stores. We’re talking Ceriatone Amplification, and since 2006, Ceriatone has been producing entirely handbuilt amps, backed by cutting-edge design prowess, to compete with just about any boutique maker, while often ruffling quite a few feathers in the process.

STEEL CITY

A guitarist and tube-amp enthusiast from a young age, Nik Azam gained his formal training in electrical and computer engineering at the highly respected Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the late 1990s.

“Of course, there’s not much about tubes taught these days,” he reflects, “but the basic concepts are the same. Training-wise, though, specifically for amps, you just learn things yourself. The internet is a wealth of knowledge, but actually doing it – initially through repairs to vintage amps – is very important.”

After earning his degree, he returned home to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to work for the company that sponsored his education, but quit after 10 months to form an IT business with some friends, doing custom software and web work and generally making a pretty good success of it. All the while, though, the amp bug was nibbling at him, and Nik found himself spending more and more time dabbling in repairs, hanging out on internet amp forums and generally getting drawn toward that world.

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