That One Guitar - Phil Mutz

Name: Phil Mutz

City: Atlanta, GA

Instrument: Bogner Fish Preamp #197.

From what I have gathered, Bogner produced 200 Fish pre-amps between 1989-1990. Jerry Cantrell, of Alice in Chains, owned one of the early units. Then he had 5 Fish preamps specifically modded with a mid-range boost. Those amps would become the foundation of his signature tone, along with the G&L Rampage guitar. Fish serial numbers #195-200 had the “Jerry mod.” This very unit was used on Alice in Chains’ ‘Facelift’ and ‘Dirt’ albums and supporting tours. Essentially, it is 1-in-5 of it’s kind in the world.

Coming of age as grunge was hitting and being a rock-n-roll guitar player, I was definitely drawn to Jerry Cantrell’s dark crunching riffs. I was also starting to see the light that it’s not the effects pedals, processors and guitars that give you good tone… it’s the amp. Up until this point I had never owned a legit tube powered amp. So I was in the market and researching my next and perhaps biggest gear purchase. I saw this preamp come up on eBay a few times during the fall of 2002. I knew it was meant to be mine, and each time it sold a part of me died. Sure enough, it popped back up on eBay again. The story in the listing of being owned by Jerry and all was way too grandiose for me to believe. However, I called Bogner and spoke to Reinhold Bogner himself. He confirmed the story and knew the individual selling the amp. It had just been in his shop for re-tubing, as the listing claimed. Emboldened by this confirmation, I then contacted the seller with questions. We spoke on the phone even. He was clearly tired of people playing games with him on eBay – winning the auction and backing out after-the-fact. This explained why it kept popping up on eBay every few months. He sternly said, “don’t even bid on this thing unless you’re serious.”  But again, spending that much money on eBay, without hearing/seeing the amp in person was very sketchy, to say the least. But, I took a leap of faith. The amp arrived and I was just blown away. Ever since then, I have played dry straight into the Fish and a Mesa 20:20 Power-amp. After 12 years, I am still in love with the tone.