About Us

Hottie Electrics Company History:

(Jean-Claude Escudié, February 2017)

Early in 2005 I was at a vintage guitar show in Dallas Texas admiring a few guitar amps built from old tube console radios from the ‘30s and ‘40s. That’s when the idea came to me, I should build myself a battery operated guitar amp from an early ‘60s transistor pocket radio. Great idea, right? The beauty of the idea was in the simplicity of the build. The amp, battery, and speaker are already there. The problem was, I had a very hard time finding old transistor radios that worked. Whether they worked or not, they were all ridiculously expensive. While searching through various pawn shops and junk stores I kept coming across old vintage toasters. I was at a thrift shop in Portland Oregon when the thought popped into my head; I can turn one of these old toasters into an amp! The idea was perfect. Not only were toasters solid enough to work with but they could also provide excellent sonic qualities.

I came home with about ten vintage toasters and strong determination to build a guitar amp. I decided to call the amps “Hotties.” The first prototypes were crudely built but sounded killer. I sent one to my friend who lives in Atlanta. He’s a professional musician. Of course, he loved it. I made a few more for myself and other friends. My toaster amp quickly became popular. Hottie Amplifiers Inc. was born soon after that.

Over the last decade we’ve built and sold over 500 Hottie Amps® from toasters, toaster ovens, broilers, pizza ovens, waffle irons, bonnet hair dryers, and even an old Tonka Winnebago (custom build). We mostly used toasters from the 1930s through the 1960s – the golden days of American manufacturing. We bought toasters from pawnshops, antique shops, thrift stores, and sometimes eBay. We’d pick them up in various conditions. Obviously, the broken ones were less expensive. Some had never toasted a slice of bread while others looked as if they’d burned a house down. Personally, I like the fried ones better. It seems that the aesthetic qualities of the toasters from the mid 20th century took design elements from wartime manufacturing, art deco styling, the auto industry, and the space age craze. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the toasters we’ve worked on were made from recycled WWII surplus aircraft. General Electric, Sunbeam, and Hamilton Beach are just a few of the companies that designed these iconic American toasters. Every part of the toaster that we didn’t use was recycled or sent to toaster collectors.

Not all toasters could be made into Hottie Amps®. Modern toasters, for example, don’t utilize a strong enough metal gauge to support a speaker. I’m kind of obsessive about using American made products so the newer imported toasters were out of the question. Many older toasters simply fell apart when we removed the inner machinery so they couldn’t be used. To become a Hottie Amp® a toaster must be large enough to house a 6″ speaker. We removed most of the toaster machinery, gave the shell an industrial wash, and installed the amp circuit, the speaker, and a few other parts. Our amps run on a 9-volt battery so we removed the electrical cords. In the beginning it took a few hours to make a Hottie Amp®. Eventually, the whole process took around an hour. Painted Hottie Custom Amps® involved much more work.

I’ve received many notes asking: “Cool idea, but how do they sound?” Hottie Amps® sound fantastic. I wouldn’t have considered making an amp that sounded otherwise. We started with a very simple solid state amp circuit that provided classic overdrive and sweet sustain (thank you Bruce Zinky). Hotties have an input jack and an output jack … that’s it. Volume and tone can be adjusted via your guitar’s volume and tone controls. Dialing back the volume on your guitar will clean up your sound considerably. Dialing back your guitar’s tone knob will warm up your sound providing a fat bluesy tone. The 6″ Jensen® “MOD” speaker breaks up nicely and provides enough volume for practice, travel, or home use. We also offered a Weber® speaker upgrade for a reasonable price. Sound from the speaker bounces around inside the toaster and creates a natural reverberation before exiting through the bread slots. I’m sort of an audiophile. Hottie Amps® have a very organic tone with lots of feedback and natural harmonics. Each type of Hottie has its own unique sonic qualities. You’d be surprised how loud Hottie Amps® are when played through a speaker cabinet. Visit YouTube and search “Hottie Amps” for proof! Hottie Amps® will power any 4, 8, or 16ohm cab. A fresh 9-volt battery will provide you with hours of power.

In 2007 turned to my longtime friend, Portland Oregon Master Luthier Saul Koll, to collaborate on a line of electric guitars. Saul is well known as one of the finest builders in our industry. His knowledge, dedication, and passion are inspiring. Saul has been hand building solidbody electric and archtop guitars under the Koll Guitar Company® name since 1990. Together, we set out to build the finest American guitars available today. Our first model was the Limited Edition Hottie 454® (no longer available). The Hottie 327® and Hottie 429® soon followed. Design elements of Hottie Guitars® are heavily inspired by early ’70s muscle cars and the beautiful women of that era. Hottie Guitars® are substantial, voluptuous, and built-for-speed. The deep dish carved maple tops and rounded upper bouts result in very feminine designs. When holding a Hottie Guitar® you’ll notice that the appointments are purposeful and subdued, the nitrocellulose lacquer finish is especially light, and the quality and attention to detail is stunning. Each guitar is hand-made by Saul Koll in his Portland Oregon workshop. Original fittings including pickup rings, backplates and pickguards that are crafted in-house. The fretwork is impeccable. For outsourced components we partner with the best manufacturers in the industry and always choose American made parts when possible: Seymour Duncan®, Lollar®, Switchcraft®, CTS®, Bigsby®, TonePros®, G&G Quality Case®, Fender Strings®, etc…

Hottie Guitars® are built for tone, sustain, and maximum resonance. We source the finest woods to build one-piece bodies and one-piece necks that are matched, voiced, and balanced to transfer the energy and nuance from your hands to the amplifier.

Hottie Guitars® have been very well-reviewed by Guitar Player®, Premier Guitar®, Vintage Guitar®, Guitar World®, and other prominent magazines. They’ve been highlighted in Rolling Stone®, Maxim®, etc … and have been in the hands of a few of today’s most influential guitarists.

Hottie Guitars® are available as custom orders only. Custom build cards are available via email. The current guitar backorder is 6 months. Saul builds no more than six Hottie Guitars® a year so they’re each exclusive and collectable.

What’s next? My daughter Chloe has taken over the company, now operating as Hottie Electrics.  She is the owner and operational manager. She is designing all-new Hottie Amps® which will be built into early ‘70s AM/FM solid state radios. They’ll be introduced late 2017.

We hope you’ll have the chance to own Hottie®.

We’re Hottie®. We Update, Innovate, Hot-Rod, and Mod.

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