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Custom Shop: Revsound

Revsound cabinets

Started in 1983, Revsound is a company that offers handmade bass cabinets. Proprietor David C. Luke’s deep interest in sound and sound production has driven his work to create powerful cabinets with an emphasis on staying lightweight.
Luke builds all of the cabs to order in his Effingham, New Hampshire workshop. The RS series includes a 1×10, 2×10, and 4×10 configurations with several options available.

We caught up with Revsound’s David Luke to get the scoop on his building philosophy, designs, and his wildest musical creation.

How did you get into building cabinets?

Initially, out of necessity. I couldn’t afford gear, so I built everything ­ guitar cabs, PA cabs, monitors, racks, everything. I didn’t really pick up a power tool until I was 14, but I knew how to use them and do everything with them. It was just in there.

My grandfathers gifted me craftsmanship, skill with tools, visualization in design, perseverance, attention to detail, a sense of humor, and most of a love of life and acceptance of all who come across your bow.

When I was in my twenties came the “hookup” with Celestion. In 1985 Alexis Prenn, Grandson of Celestion’s founder, was at a show my band was doing at Wheaton College. On break he came up and said, “You’re using a Marshall, why aren’t you using a Marshall cab with Celestions?” I told him I always built my cabs and was indeed using Celestions. That began a long relationship with Celestion. I played for them that year at NAMM in New Orleans and did application consulting and design for them for 16 years.

We’ve renewed our relationship and hopefully resurrected the neo line in the process. R&D at Celestion has always been brilliant.

What’s the idea behind your cabinet designs?

Well, I’ve done guitar cabs, pro audio cabs (FOH, Monitors) for years. That was easy. Guitar cabs are simple, fairly narrow bandwidth, midrange is easy to control in a sealed cab, and it really comes down to flavors. You want clean, grind, fur, dirt, dark, bright, no coloration, want your pedals to do the work, your amp, or the drivers. But, in general, it’s very easy. At least, for me as a guitar player, I can talk with another player and ask what he’s using for a rig, what he likes, what he has to play, and my mind takes off. Bass is a different animal. It requires moving a lot of air. Low frequency reproduction with fidelity, and unlike Pro audio FOH or studio monitors you don’t want to design a cab that’s flat. At least, I didn’t. I always noticed when a bass player went to play a solo up the neck he was either hitting a boost, volume pedal, or just lived with the uneven temperament. Also, I knew the cabinets could be lighter, a lot lighter. I learned that from my friend and legendary engineer “Dinky” Dawson. He contracted me to build some very large subs for The Channel in Boston and specified 1⁄2˝ Finnish ply. Until then I’d been using 3⁄4˝ mahogany. I questioned the structural integrity of the birch in such large cabinets. His reply was that I knew what I was doing and to brace them. I built the cabs and they held up. The first act to play through them was Stevie Ray, and they were loud and they did work.

Our prices are fair. Cabinets should not be as expensive as some are. There’s no justification for it. It’s not due to material cost or labor. That’s consumer rape, and Finns are notoriously frugal. Generous, but frugal. I couldn’t afford decent gear when I was in High School, and I want kids of any age to be able to have the best gear available. In order for live music to survive we need the young players coming up to develop to the best of their abilities. When you have a cabinet that “speaks”, it helps, and that’s our mission. I wanted to design simply the best sounding, light, ergonomically smart, even tempered from low B to the top of your E, bass voiced, musical cabinet in the world. Priced fairly, and that gets you so attached you pat it before you go to bed every night and look at it fondly after a gig because it translated everything you have to say.

The drivers, both the 10 and the 12, are an anomaly. They made me want to design a home for them.

The construction is impeccable; all cleats are glued, screwed, and stapled, and the cabinets have life time warrantees. They are all made at our shop in Effingham, NH and are hand cut and assembled on site. And, we will remain that way. I work on and do the final testing on every cab. I love bass.

I met John Entwistle while playing NAMM in New Orleans ­ great musician, and a gentleman. I always think of his tone [when designing] – big tight bottom, articulate highs, and even low mids. I’ve always liked that. Bass and guitar need their own “real estate” in the mix. I’ve heard a lot of bass cabs that have a strong mid that is initially attractive to a bassist, but no 1st order fundamentals in the lower register. It muddies the mix, and makes the volume war start because nothing is clear on stage.

What is it about neodymium that makes it so sought after?

Neodymium is light. Power to weight ratio, period. There are many more applications for “Neo” in other sectors, but for MI it’s all about the weight.

What has the Neo market been like lately?

A lot of companies left the Neo market last year due to the increase in cost from China. It was a provident time for our designs, and we were provided with a driver that was an anomaly, and I believed in, and knew I could do something special with. Thankfully I wasn’t delusional.

How does your musicianship in music affect your products?

I’ve been a musician all my life, grew up Baptist, more music, and was blessed with good ears. I was a FOH Engineer for years and know exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it. I think it’s important to recognize what you’re good at. Self­pride is a good thing I think.

Technically, I recognize frequencies accurately, and know tone. I know what instruments should sound like, and where they belong in the mix, and how to get them there.

Tell us about your process of building a cabinet for someone.

We communicate. They talk and I listen. I ask what kind of music they listen to, play, if they play out, size of venue, what gear they use, who they like, what they think they want. Size/weight requirements. We discuss 10s, 12s, and the different form factors, with, w/o tweeters, etc. and then answer every question they have about anything they want to talk about. I love talking about sound reproduction.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve been asked to do?

I designed, built and installed a 10,000 watt sound system and 24 track studio on the Sonic Joyride “tour bus,” a converted 1983 International school bus. The system had to be up and running in under 6 minutes. It had two 2­15/2­10/2˝ comp driver cabs and one 2­18 RCF loaded cabs were mounted into custom welded bays with doors on the outside of the bus. The rear of the bus is where I lived with the Bass player, Rick Reese, and a 475lb Yamaha PM1800B, Neve side carts for surround, and a whole lot of outboard gear and routing splitters and snakes that I fabricated. We did 3 national tours, were on MTV and played 160 shows in 60 days. That was called the Bazaar tour. I got several write­ups in Pro Sound News and was featured in Mix Magazine. It was flat out pedal to the metal time. The stage was on top of the bus with all the gear, drums – everything ­ video projectors on big screens jerry rigged. It was like playing pirates with your best friends.

What’s your favorite part of the build process?

I know when we deliver a cab or someone comes to pick up and they play it for the first time, they always smile. No internal dialogue, no words, just seeing another musician’s voice come through their instrument. That’s the best. I have to keep making that happen.

What would you tell someone thinking about getting into building cabs?

Call me with any questions at all, anytime. But, please know how to use the tools, take your time and be careful. Sounds like mom talking , but accidents know no holiday.

It’s awesome to build something and play it… good or bad. Oh yeah, and never let anyone tell you something won’t work or can’t be done. If they’re telling you that, they’re probably old and miserable. And, old isn’t always about age.

For more, check out Revsound’s website.