If a home right smack in the middle of Tanjung Malim town has The Shadows’ Apache blaring from it, that simply means Seow Sow Feng is in the house.

That might either be him twanging away on his trusted Fender Stratocaster electric guitar, or him listening to his favourite band while he potters away on classic guitar amps of yore, especially legendary makes from the Fender, Marshall and Vox stables.

At 65, he still enjoys what he does best – repairing vintage guitar amps of a valvey persuasion.

“I started doing this in 1985 because I was always interested in music gear, and had by then, earned a certificate in basic electronics,” said the retiree in his cosy single-storey home.

His labour of love is always a meticulous undertaking, not unlike a doctor’s full checkup.

“I begin by checking the amp’s power transformer, then move on to its tubes, speakers and finally, the preamp section. By then, I should have a rough idea of what’s wrong,” he said, offering his expert opinion.

Seow Sow Feng

Seow at work.

Resurrecting and repairing old amps is a fine art, one in which Seow has earned a reputation for being the best. That’s not a small claim, and while he remains humble about his reputation, the industry knows he’s the go-to man in times of need.

Seow’s clients include a multitude of Malaysians – young, old, amateur, professional … all kinds, really.

“But most of them tend to be older guys, because, they are obviously the ones with the vintage stuff, and also the ones with a bit more discerning taste,” shared the family man of two adult children.

At it for over three decades

In his 30-plus years of being a supremo technician, Seow has learnt a number of things. The manufacturing industry, he finds, is not what it was more than 20 years ago, when companies built things with the pride that the product will outlast its user.

“They just don’t make them like they used to, because back then, the workers put in the time and installed quality components.”

When customers come to seek his advice or expertise, he shares with them his knowledge, a trait which runs far deeper than meets the eye.

“When I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher. But I got lost in electronics and ended up doing this,” he shared, with a hearty laugh.

He may not have the paper qualifications or the attention of an entire classroom, but when Seow speaks about vintage amps, it’s treated as gospel truth.


The Paper’s People is a weekly column which introduces Malaysia-based everyday folk, doing what they love. If you have any person to recommend, e-mail us at star2@thestar.com.my.