Guitar Magazine


There’s a phenomenon I’ve come to recognise any time I’ve dropped in to peruse one of the many amp-related online forums–something I like to call ‘research’, but which is probably just the same quest for that quick endorphin hit most of us indulge in when diverting from our daily workload for a few moments–which we might dub the ‘how soon until Swart is mentioned?’ effect.

Click on a thread that begins with one person’s search for a great-sounding, portable, lower-wattage combo and you’re almost guaranteed that among the first three or four replies, you’ll see: “Get a Swart AST!”, a sentiment that will undoubtedly be reconfirmed throughout the thread.

And with good reason: Michael Swart’s creations are not only great little works of retro-modern art and easy front-seat-of-the-Fiat 500 portables, they just sound great, one after the other. And don’t just take my word for it: Jeff Tweedy, Dean Wareham, Matthew Sweet, Joey Santiago, Trey Anastasio, Buddy Miller, Keith Urban, Ray LaMontagne, Vince Gill and Michael Kiwanuka have all confirmed the point in their backlines. But for all that, there’s much more to this North Carolina-based designer, manufacturer and studio owner than those funky combos that look like something you pulled from your grandad’s closet.


For the young Swart, the electric guitar and its related electronics came along as a means

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