Robert Garland, owner of Hillbilly Amplifiers and Hillbilly Effects in Kingman, Arizona, launched his company in 2009 and added the effects division in 2014. I first met Garland when writing my book on B.B. King’s Lucille’s and discovered he was King’s longtime guitar/amp tech, repairing his music gear after long tours. Robert briefly worked for Taylor guitars and owned his own music store, but his passion lay in building his own amplifiers and pedals.
Garland’s amps look more retro visually but under the hood he adds his own personal tweaks to bring out the most tonal possibilities from low wattage tube amps and heads. Each guitar pedal he produces is personally built by hand and two effects are currently offered the OMG distortion model and the Rooster Booster gain optimising pedal.
The pedals are very simple cosmetically with only brightly coloured boxes and a few sparse knobs, but they both are built from high grade components to deliver the best sound possible. The OMG distortion pedal features a high/low mini toggle switch, true bypass, tone, volume and drive knobs and you can power it by its 9vdc adapter plug in or a nine-volt battery. Current colour offerings are Vintage Cream, Red, Metal Silver, Green Citrus and Purple Passion.
I found the OMG do provide just the right amount of dirt for some bluesy distortion or you can increase the gain to achieve nice heavy rock sounds. The Rooster Booster is still in the development stages but the version one I tested did not colour my guitar sound and the light up knob was cool too. At this time Hillbilly Effects can only be ordered online but Garland has plans to increase his Hillbilly offerings in the near future so stay tuned! Eric Dahl www.hillbillyamps.com
year. I first played it live in New York City and the reaction was surprising and beyond my expectations. It came 5th out of 40,000 in a song – writing competition so I decided to release it as a single. It’s very moving and a little sad but people just love it. It’s my first genuine single release so I guess it will pass most people by but please go check it out Hold Me Close.
How would you describe your sound to new listeners?
I’m still finding my way. I love to rock out but I write my songs very quietly so I’m always trying to find the balance. Mostly acoustic but with attitude. Big country chorus’s, bluesy guitar solos, harmonies, lyrics about love and heartbreak, easy listening, warm & cuddly at times and the country twang is never far away…