Rocktron launched in 1983 when founder, Bob Waller, along with co-hort Jim Chowning and others stepped back from a long musical career that included stints on the Hollywood club circuit and the Detroit to Toronto circuit. Using their background from years of club and concert appearances with their rock bands (The Blame, and originally Wildwood), the boys decided to launch a company aimed at producing top quality signal processing, amplification and effects.
Rocktrons first hit product was the HUSH® noise reduction lineup. The HUSH technology was the first single-ended noise reduction designed specifically for guitar. Over twenty years later, HUSH stands as the industry standard and has been used by an amazing plethora of guitar greats spanning 80s rockers to today's extreme metal. To list the famous users of this outstanding noise reduction technology would require pages and pages of names.
In fact, over the years Rocktron products of all types have been used by professional guitarists. A small sampling of those include Dave Mustaine, Brian May, Diamond Darrell, George Lynch, Prince, Neil Schon, Slash, Steve Stevens, Eddie Van Halen, John Petrucci, Viv Campbell, Steve Vai, Gary Moore, Gary Hoey. The list of bands that have used Rocktron products include Disturbed, Lamb of God, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Papa Roach, Black Sabbath, Queen, Taproot, Pearl Jam, U2, Bon Jovi, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alice in Chains, Nine Inch Nails, and the Deftones. Again, this is just a small sampling of the long list of professionals who have taken Rocktron products on the road and into the studio.
Innovation is often the name of the game, and Rocktron has a history of many firsts. In 1984 the company introduced the first compressors, preamps, enhancers, effects and controllers with built-in noise reduction, along with the first footswitchable rack mount compressors. 1985 saw the introduction of the first touch-sensitive, digitally-controlled multi-effects preamp. In 1989 Rocktron provided the first factory-produced Bradshaw switchers.
Innovation continued into the 1990s as Rocktron became the first ever electronics company to bring to market preamps that included Artist presets as the ProGap provided presets from Steve Lukather and Allan Holdsworth. In 1992 Rocktron introduced the first 24 bit DSP effects processor with the Intellifex. This was followed by the first preamps with on-board speaker simulation, the first DSP processor based on analog stomp box sounds, the first digital effects processors with no annoying drop-outs and the first digital noise reduction. We also brought to market the first power amps with reactance and definition.
What followed was a stunning array of products that have lasting fame in the industry. Just a few of these famous mind blowers include the Piranha, the VooDu Valve, the Chameleon, the Velocity power amps, the Replifex, the PatchMate, and the All Access. While some of these are still manufactured today, those that are not are sought after on the vintage markets. Some long discontinued items are still craved by guitar players and snapped up on re-sale web sites.
Today Rocktron continues the progress with great products such as the Banshee Talk Box, the Gainiac 2, the Xpression, the Black Cat Moan, the Silver Dragon, the Zombie, the Nitro, the Blue Thunder and the flagship Prophesy preamp.
In the year 2000, Rocktron was sold to GHS Corporation, famous for its GHS Strings (including Boomers). The move was a short one, a mere 100 miles from the northern suburbs of Detroit to Battle Creek, Michigan. Bob Waller remains the division President/General Manager and thus the brand is still under the care and guidance of an original founder. Jim Chowning continues to serve music retailers in both technical support and sales roles.
While the manufacturing is no longer done in the USA, the design and development aspects continue to come from Michigan. Key engineering moved with the company as it folded into the GHS umbrella and Rocktron remains a brand developed and designed by American musicians. Product is now cost-effectively manufactured offshore under strict Rocktron requirements.
Guitar players of all types will continue to choose Rocktron for their tone, effects and control needs. Rocktron strives to further push the tremendous range of products that will enhance and enrich your lives. Rocktron understands that Rocktron users are often loyal to the brand, using multiple Rocktron items in their live and studio setups, and they proudly let others know their allegiance to the worlds best brand of electronics for guitarists.