Mass production amplifiers versus Boutique amplifiers.
2:47 pm pst
One of the most important parts of an amplifier commonly gets the least amount of consideration when building
a tube amplifier. The power supply, which equates for around 1/3 of the cost of the amplifier. The power supply should be
rock solid and produce the least amount of ripple voltage as possible. Once the Alternate current has been converted into
pulsating Direct current the Filter Capacitors smooth out the ripple fluctuations.
Most mass production
amplifiers that I have serviced use inferior filter capacitors. These etched filter capacitors are smaller than the standard
non-etched filter capacitors. The etching process allows more surface area for the Electrons in the capacitor, which enables
the manufacturer to create a smaller package. These types of capacitors do not work as well in audio circuits. When choosing
Filter capacitors for an audio circuit power supply it is best to go with the larger US made electrolytic capacitors compared
to the smaller Taiwanese capacitors of the same uF rating. Better yet are the France made Solen capacitors that are made of
Polypropylene. The great thing about these capacitors is that they can last as long as the amplifier. The only down side is
that they are much larger than the standard electrolytic capacitors. Steve Carr of Carr amplification uses the Solen’s
and we currently have the Magnum Opus amplifier, which uses them also.
Why do the production line companies go with
the etched plate capacitors? It saves them money. If you compare the price of a Sprague atom 100uF@ 450vDC cap to an Illinois
100uF @ 450vDc capacitor, there cost saving is $5.05 per capacitor, you multiply that by 1000 and their savings is $5,0050.00.
This is one of the reasons that production line companies can sell their products for substantially less than Boutique companies
that use better parts.
There are other cost cutting methods the larger production
companies use to streamline their manufacturing process such as printed circuit boards, wave flow soldering, to name a couple.
In testing printed circuit board amplifiers against hand wired amplifiers I have discovered that it really does not make much
difference in tonality if the PC boards are designed with a well thought out layout & double-sided thick copper traces.
The issue that I have from an amplifier technician’s view point is the wave flow soldering.
With the wave flow soldering the printed circuit board is hoizontally passed over a vat of melted , then waves are created
in the vat to cause the solder to touch the bottom of the PCB. You can see how this saves a lot of time. However, the wave
flow technique can yield weak solder connections, sometimes the solder joint will have small cracks in it which could cause
an open circuit which may result in arcing.
There is a reason that Boutique amplifiers can cost 3
times as much as a mass production amplifier. Most of the time if the Boutique shop is using high quality parts it can cost
them 3 times as much in labor and parts to build the amplifier. Price wise it is nearly impossible for a Boutique company
to compete with a larger amp building facility. I said nearly because there are a few companies out there that make a great
amplifier and have very reasonable prices such as Mike Zaite of Dr. Z amplification, Jeff Bober at Budda amplification, to
name a couple. The old analogy" you get what you pay for." Makes sense when you break it all down. Let your ears
be the guide not persuasion.
Whole Tone Music
New studio quality effects fit in your guitar
Anyone who played guitar in the 80's in Los Angeles knew of Lee Jackson.
4:28 pm pdt
His passion for amplifiers and tone capture are unsurpassed. Lee Jackson
for his technical contributions with Ampeg & his company Metaltronix.
He was Paul Gilbert's and many other
hollywood guitarist's amplifier tech when
he lived in Los Angeles. The latest from Lee Jackson are his
innovative Crack Potz™ .
Studio quality effects mounted right on a potentiometer. All
effects come with a
wiring diagram. All effect are interchangeable, and are transparent, which means
will not change the original tone of your guitar.
There is a video on the Lee Jackson website which shows the installation process,
or you can have it installed through Whole Tone Music.
models include the Shock & Awe which is a Classic 60's wah. The Bitch Boost™ which adds more gain to your guitars signal.
The Creamy Compressor™ Most compressors change the sound of the instrument for the sake of the
compressor. The Creamy Compressor™ allows the full frequency of your instrument
to pass through, making your instrument
sound more like studio compression. It is the warmest, smoothest compression you have ever heard.
The Stack in a Jack™ allows the full frequency of your instrument to pass through, which is why it sounds more like amp distortion. It is
the warmest, smoothest distortion you have ever heard .
For the classic 60's Fuzz meet Mr Fuzzy™
11:23 am pdt
The preamp tubes sold will have a few abbreviations on the box.
Gm1 is the transconductance of triode
Gm2 iS the transconductance of triode 2.
Ip1 is the Plate current of triode 1
Ip2 is the plate current of
Each triode is also tested for shorting, audible microphonics and vacuum leakage.
tubes the top # on the box is the Plate Current and the bottom # is transconductance.
It's all about The Bomb.
Experimenting with different speakers in the same cabinet or an extension cabinet can be alot of fun. The first cab
that I tried with different speakers was the Z best cabinet by Dr Z. This still is one of my favorite guitar cabinets to date.
With a mixture of the Celestion Vintage 30 and the G12H you get a full, deep sound with a well blended chime.
7:06 pm pdt
Brown soun has had much success with their Bomb cabinets which feature the Ceramic 40/40s and the AlNiC'os. I have used this
in a 64' Super Reverb before and the tone is great. Another great sound is the Tone Tubby San Rafael and the Ceramic 40/40.
John Harrison and I were talking about this set up last week and the name C Bomb came up.
You can try the C bomb
in a closed back cab for more tight bottom end and compression or in an open back cab for a more 3D sound.
2:52 pm pdt
I have been working with Nik of Ceriatone
on getting some of the Ceriatone amps for sale in the United States. The amps sound great, are well built & are
a great deal. He offers many style of amps such as the Over Tone Specials which are a remake of the ODS™ amplifiers.
Also available are many Marshall® and Fender® style amps. Want a Trainwreck amp but don't have the funds? Ceriatone
offers three of Ken's most popular amps.
Coming soon DIY pedal board cable kits that are comparable to the Lava pedal board kits
sold in the webstore at a fraction of the price.
Mackie warranty information
When purchasing Mackie, Crate, Ampeg, EAW, Blackheart, Alvarez gear be sure you know how long the warranty is for
and make sure that you know what your purchasing. For example B-Stock units only carry a 90 day warranty if purchased after
May 1st 2009. If purchased before May 1st 2009 they have the A Stock warranty. These B-Stock units have been refurbished.
Refurished is usually just as good as a new unit, however they have been fixed and the warranty is substantially less than
a brand new unit. Make sure you ask the seller for specifics about the unit your purchasing such as, refurbished or new, and
the warranty period of the unit.
10:36 am pdt
Modifications to get your Silvertone amplifier sounding great.
4:53 pm pdt
The following is for the model 1482.
- Change out the flimsy two piece ¼" particle
board baffle to a ½" Baltic Birch baffle.
- By changing out the baffle the stock speaker will not fit, you
only had 5" of clearance to begin with from speaker magnet to baffle. Now you have 4 ¾" clearance. Not a
bad thing because you will want to preserve the original speaker anyway. You could size up some of the Weber new Vintage speakers.
- Speed up the tremolo circuit by replacing one of the feedback capacitors with a .01uF cap. There
will be 3- .02uF capacitors in series to the right of the 6AU6 tremolo tube if you’re looking from the back of the amp
chassis. On the schematic they are C9, C10, & C11. Each cap gives you about 60 degrees phase shift, when added up you
get 180 degrees approximately. The 6AU6 will give you another 180-degree phase shift.
- For more gain (amp breaks up
sooner) add a bypass cap to v1’s 2.2K cathode resistor. Pin 3 to ground for more gain to the instrument channel. You
can try a .5uF-25uF capacitor. The bigger 25uF will give you more bass. The smaller .5 will give you a tighter, brighter more
powerful sound.Tone hint- Marshall used a .68uF bypass cap with a 2.7K resistor on some of their amps. Fender used a 25 uF
cap with a 1.5K resistor. For a boost you could switch the bypass cap in and out of the circuit with a foot pedal. All you
need to do is add a jack for the footswitch. If your not using the tremolo you can disconnect it from the jack and use that
jack as a boost. Diconnecting the tremolo will also give your amp back some fidelity. Every effect, tone control a builder adds
to an amplifier causes insertion losses.
- Replace R32 & R33 (the two resistors across the multi-can capacitor in
the power supply. with ½ watt or 1 watt metal oxide resistors. They can handle heat better than the stock ½
watt carbon composition resistors.
- As a safeguard replace the cathode bypass capacitor on the power tubes with a 25uF
50 volt. The stock capacitor is rated for 25 volts.
- Replace the electrolytic capacitors. This could cause your B+
voltage to rise 20 volts or so. Enjoy your hard work.
Weber Vintage speakers
6:23 pm pdt
If your looking for that Vintage Tone, Weber speakers are some of the best sounding speakers made. They are
made by hand the way they use to make speakers before the fancy assembly lines came along. We have been installing the Weber
speakers into our builds since the first amplifier Pearl. Vintage 47 amps and many other Boutique builders have been
using the Weber speakers in their builds. The higher wattage speakers have more warmth and less bite than the lower wattage
speakers they make.
Also you can order the speakers with or with out doping. If you want the full character
of the amplifier and do not play with heavy distortion then no doping will be sufficient. If you play high gain and do alot
of string bending above the 10th fret on the high E string then you will need some doping to prevent ghost notes, cone cry
and excessive vibrations. The doping will extend the life of the surround and act as a shock absorber to prevent excessive
The Weber speakers are also a great replacement for Tweed and Blackface Fender amplifiers. If
you have a particular amplifier that you are not sure which speaker to use please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Weber also has speakers that are great for replacing vintage VOX and Marshall amplifiers such as the Silver Bell
& the Blue Dog. The Blue Dog is similar to the Celestion AlNiCo Blue however the Blue Dogs can be ordered in 15,30,50,75
& 100 watts. The only draw back with the Celestion AlNiCo Blue speakers is they are rated for 15 watts. To
view our wide selection of Weber speakers click here.
Rock & Roll Flea Market & Guitar show
The Rock & Roll Flea Market and guitar show is scheduled for Sunday October 17th 2010 10 am- 3 pm in Annandale Virginia.
This event will have Used & vintage gear, memorobillia, guitars, amps, drums, recording gear, speakers and much more.
80 + tables, rain or shine. The event will be at the Virginia Community College in the Ernst Community Cultural Center Gymnasium.
The address is 8333 Little River Turnpike. Annandale Virginia, 22003
1:23 pm pdt
$4.00 at the door, 12 and under are free.
Tube Amp Doctor sale
10:52 am pdt
Tech Talk: 60/40 rosin core solder vs 63/37 rosin core solder.
10:33 am pdt
For years I have been using the 60/40 rosin core solder which consists of 60% tin and 40% lead. It is a great general-purpose
solder which is easy to work with. It has a melting temperature of 374 degrees Fahrenheit and does not become a solid again
until it cools to 361 degrees Fahrenheit. So you have a working temperature of 13 degrees. The down side to this is that components/
wires etc. must remain still during this cooling process or you will have a cold solder joint. I also have burnt my fingers
many times holding wires during the cooling process. (Losing fingerprints in the name of tone.)
The 63/37 rosin
core solder consists of 63% tin and 37% lead. The up side and down side about this solder is that it has no working time.
It melts at 361 degrees Fahrenheit and it becomes solid at 361 degrees Fahrenheit. This solder works great for soldering components,
wires etc. Because it cools once the soldering iron is removed. Less chances of cold solder joints. The down side of this
solder is when you are de-soldering. You haven't any time to apply your solder sucker to the joint before it cools. You could
use soldering braid to remove the solder. A method I like to use when de-soldering 63/37 solder is to heat the joint and apply
a small amount of 60/40 rosin core solder so I some working time to use a solder sucker.
This month we have stocked up on a few of the best Weber speakers and do offer break in service for them for a small upcharge. To order a Weber with the break in service,
order the speaker, then go to home page and select upgrades on the categories, Add $10.00 to your order with the Product Upgrade option. Weber Blue Dogs & Silver Bells in a 2x12 cabinet make for some serious Vox/Marshall tone nirvana. Have a vintage Princeton Reverb, Deluxe, Deluxe Reverb and want to enhance the amps sound. The Weber Vintage speakers may be what your looking for. Click on
the link to find the Weber speaker that best suits your needs.
3:54 pm pdt
10 tips for getting great guitar tone.
1. If you have a tube amp make sure your power tubes are
matched and biased properly. When choosing matched tubes the Ip (plate current) is the most critical measurement. When
ordering power tubes request middle #'s for the Ip.
10:28 am pdt
2. Roll in a batch of 12AX7's in positions V1 & V2 (the two 9
pin sockets generally furthurest from the power tubes.) Rolling in means to cycle a batch of preamp tubes through the amp
and to critically listen to each tube to find out which one sounds best. Use the best sounding two.
3. Use a low capacitance/
high shielded guitar cable preferably under 25 feet. Too long and you begin to loose high frequencies.
4. If your tube
amp is more than 10 years old have all the Electrolytic capacitors replaced.
5.Make sure your guitar is set up &
6. Pickup choice for your guitar is extremely important. The luthier Taku Shakashta knew the importance of guitar pickups. That is why he chose to have his own custom made. They equate
for approximately 20-25% of you guitars tone.
7. Use a thick gauge speaker cable such as a 14- 12 gauge cable such
as the Cardas Audio Crosslink speaker cable. Speakers operate on high current, the thicker wire transfers the current more efficiently.
8. Try a
different speaker with you amplifier.
9. Use a noise suppression circuit such as the Decimator pedal to get rid of unwanted
10. Play with all your mind, heart & soul.
Speaker choice makes a difference
With the speaker being the final transducer in an amplifier circuit it is
crucial to the sound of amplifier. You can have the greatest amp in the world and if the speaker is sub par then your amp
will sound sub par. Finding the right speaker for your individual amplifier can be a juggling act and the costs can add up.
The best advice I can give is identify the tonal characterists of your particular amplifier and find out what it's lacking
or what it is not lacking. For instance, the Fender Blackface amplifiers have a mid scooped tone stack. You may want to look
for a speaker that has more mid-range if you want to fatten your lead tone. The Marshall tone stack is more mid-rangey so
adding a speaker that has more mid-range may give you ear fatigue. In this instance you may want to look for a speaker that
is more mid-scooped. Be sure to check out our selection of speakers.
10:19 am pdt
ISP Decimator pedals.
12:39 pm pdt
I am pleased to announce that we are carrying the ISP Decimator Pedals.
The Decimator pedals are ideal for taking you tone to the next level. At higher volume levels muting the
strings is a valuable technique, However it doesn't get rid of all the noise and feedback. The Decimator solves this problem
with Time Vector processing. Which allows silence even when a Staccato style of playing is used. In the past with noise reduction
processing such as the HUSH® silencing the Staccato notes weren't silent. Many of the Pros use these pedals for the icing
on the cake.
24 hour burn in service on power tubes.
24 hour burn in service available on your favorite power tubes for maximum stability. Canare GS-6 guitar cables made in house with neutrik gold plugs. You can also have the Neutrik Silent plug added for pop free hot swapping
of guitars. Canare GS-6 is a specially designed Oxygen Free Copper (18 AWG) cable for connecting Guitar/Bass or Keyboards
to amps, mixers, effects pedals and all outboard signal processing gear. Low capacitance and low series resistance provides
improved frequency response, with a double Carbon/Braid Copper shield construction for maximum RFI & EMI protection.
All Canare cables made here come with a lifetime warranty.
2:13 pm pdt
Coming soon Canare Star Quad speaker cable with 4- 14
gauge conductors. Ideal for high current power, guitar amplifiers, & PA systems.
Speaker break in service
11:09 am pdt
For the past month speaker break in has been offered as a service. This service includes a full speaker break
in of the entire cone surface. A frequency generator is connected to the speaker and signal is applied to the speaker. The
frequency generator is swept through various frequencies to assure the entire surface of the cone is broken in. Special emphasis
is then placed on the lower frequency spectrum to get maximum forward & reverse excursions on the cone & suspension.
During the low frequency signal process the voice coil is closely monitored for heat. Finally the frequency generator is manually
swept through the entire frequency range and audibly checked for any fizz.
Also available is preamp tube
matching within each triode for critical guitar & HI-FI stages.
There are some really exciting things that are
in the working which will be released soon.
The Whole Tone amplifier sound clips are going to be on the website
Guitar Cable Showdown
9:08 am pst
I remember when I was a child I heard
the phrase “ Your chain is only as strong as the weakest link.” As an adult I have applied this concept to amplifier
building & guitar rigs. The quickest and simplest way to test the theory is to take an amazing sounding amplifier and
hook it up to an amazing sounding speaker. Play a few notes, chords, then shut it down and hook up a bad sounding speaker.
How does the amazing sounding amplifier sound with the bad speaker? It just sounds bad.
why not stop there? Trace your entire signal path through you set up. Start with the guitar all the way through to the speaker.
Find out where the weakest links are and upgrade them. Often the best place to start is with a guitar cable. This is the place
where the signal is injected into preamp of the amplifier. The preamps job is to amplify any signal present. Regardless if
it is your neighbor’s skill saw, the baseball game on the radio, or a guitar with a P90 pickup in it.
I decided to take a few guitar cables that we sell in our Web stores and run them
through a series of tests. The cables tested were the Evidence Audio Melody, Evidence Audio Lyric HG, Canare GS6, Klotz La Grange, & the Fender Vintage Voltage. Each cable tested was 10 feet in length.
Evidence Audio 10 ft Melody-
a single 20 AWG solid copper conductor, spiral shield, 98% noise rejection.
Evidence Audio 10 ft Lyric HG- balanced dual 20 AWG solid copper conductors,
high-density copper braided shield.
Canare GS-6 10 ft- 18 AWG stranded oxygen free copper, double carbon braid shield..
Klotz LaGrange 10 ft-
coaxial design with high quality stranded copper conductors & spiral shielding.
Fender Vintage Voltage 10 ft- oxygen-free
copper wire and braided copper shielding.
The testing procedure was methodical. I first tested
the flex of each cable by hooking it to the guitar and amp and flipping it around a few times to see how well the cable would
lie. Next, was the listening tests, I used a few different amplifiers and guitars, Never switching guitars or amps until all
the cables had been listened to though that particular rig.
The amplifiers chosen for the tests were:
64’ Fender Super Reverb
with 2 - 10"Tone Tubby AlNiCo speakers on bottom and 2 -10" Eminence Copperhead speakers on top.
Whole Tone Pearl Custom Classic
Two Rock Onyx
The Guitars chosen were:
Paul Reed Smith McCarty guitar with Tone Pros bridge,
10 gauge SIT power wound strings.
62’ Re-issue Fender Strat with nitro finish, Eric Johnson maple neck (no string trees.)
62’ re-issue pickups, blender setup, Suhr BPSSC system, SIT 10 gauge Power Groove strings.
Super Reverb with the Strat & PRS- Clean sound
Evidence Audio Melody
good tonal balance, rich harmonic content. Very balanced high end.
Evidence Audio Lyric HG- Smooth relaxed feel in the midrange. Bass frequencies
sounded slightly attenuated.
GS-6- Most transparent & balanced cable out of the 4 tested, no tone coloration.
Klotz La Grange- More bass response
than other cables, smooth chimey high end.
Fender Vintage Voltage- High end rolled off a bit, smooth mid response.
Whole Tone Pearl Custom Classic with Strat & PRS-
The Pearl has a Princeton 5F2-A tone stack
which gives the amp more warmth and mid-range.
Two Rock Onyx with Strat & PRS-
The Onyx was primarily used
for the over-driven sounds to see how the cables would sound with an over-driven tube amplifier.
Evidence Audio Melody- Not as 3 dimensional as the Klotz and the Canare GS-6.
The Melody had good high end detail, a slower attack,
rich harmonics with a slight grittiness added to the over-driven notes, No high end glare.
Evidence Audio Lyric HG- Less low-end response,
a slower attack, rich harmonics also with a slight grittiness added to the over-driven sound. Fast runs were articulate, slightly
subdued with a hint of grit, No high-end glare.
Canare GS-6- Most 3 dimensional out of the four cables tested, faster attack, retained
high-end detail yet remained smooth sounding. Similar low end response as the EA cables. Rich harmonics, fast runs flowed
well. No high-end glare. Best over-driven sound.
Klotz La Grange-Slightly less 3 dimensional than the Canare GS-6, slightly hotter signal
than the Canare GS-6 cable, As the overdrive is turned up the cable has a glare in the high-end. The Klotz La Grange had the
best overall attack.
Vintage Voltage- The highs were rolled off when over-driven. Smooth mid-range response, Bass was slightly muddy.
All the cables had certain qualities that I liked about them. For clean sounds I
enjoyed the extended lows of the Klotz La Grange cable. For recording I would go with the more transparent Canare GS-6 cable.
The cable that suited my style of playing best was the Canare GS-6 cable with the over-driven amplifier. The best way to find
out what cable works best for you is to try a couple out with you rig. It’s a lot of fun!!!
M AudioFirewire 410 review
10:17 am pdt
The M Audio Firewire 410 computer interface is a 4 input, 10 output mobile recording device with two headphone outputs
with independent level controls, and on board DSP. Also features Digital I/O with S/PDIF & on board ASIO 2 compliant
mixer with software control panel. The sound quality is 24 bit analog I/O with 192K for outputs 1&2, 96K for the
rest of the outputs, & a 96K input.The Firewire 410 also has a MIDI I/O, dual mic/instrument pres with 66 dB of gain and
The first thing I noticed when hooking this device up was that the chassis it is housed in is
rugged enough to take some abuse on the road. Some of the knobs looked like the metallic coating may flake off after time.
The connections were simple and took a couple of minutes to hook up to a PA system. The computer was a Laptop running Microsoft
XP and Amplitube 2 was used for the software. Easy to hook up and get sounds from, the only thing we had to do was to
change the output device on the computer.
The sounds were good as I ran through the gammet of Amplitube tones
starting with some clean jazz sounds and then some hendrix, cream and EVH patches. I may have to do a review on Amplitube!
What fun, any way back to reality here. The flexiblity of the Firewire 410 is amazing for it's price. You could do a 7.1 surround
sound project with it or route the outputs to a mixer if needed. The only thing I noticed was the PA signal had a bit of noise.
Not sure if it was a connection/ cable issue.
There were no latency issues with the interface and it did it's
job. The Input/Output LEDs on the interface make it easy to trace down the signal path if you needed to troubleshoot the signal.
The M Audio Firewire 410 is a winner for the aspiring Recording musician who wants the flexiblity to use in a home studio
or on the road. Also the M Audio Firewire 410 has seemless integration with Pro Tools M powered software for the ultimate
in Industry standard recording.
3:15 pm pdt
New Pro Audio gear is available at the online store on the home page. First batch of Canare star quad mic cables
and Canare GS6 guitar cables have been made and are available on the website and the ebay store at http:stores.ebay.com/whole-tone-music
The cables have a very flat frequency response, so you hear the guitar, vocals, & signal with
no sound coloration. Superior shielding from emi/rfi. The Canare cables sound just as good, if not better than alot of
the boutique cables on the music scene today. The good news is your not paying boutique cable prices.
Canare Star Quad snake cable will soon be available by custom order. Your pick the channels, connector types, &
lengths & the Star Quad cable does the rest of the work with it's excellent shielding capabilities, 100% with
the foil shield type.