My full circle amp journey and the chase of the Dragon :)

Discussion in 'The Squawk Box' started by LPV, Sep 14, 2017.

  1. LPV

    LPV Senior Member

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    Sorry for the very long post. I usually split when I see someone wrote something this long too. But if you're into amps you might enjoy the read :)

    My first real amp was a Marshall 2204. That was a bazillion years ago but I've always been a die hard Marshall fan. My main amp (still is) is my 1987 Silver Jubilee 2555 that I bought 30 years ago. That amp took the place of my 2204. The 2204 was a monster and at the time I always found myself using a pedal to get a tone I could play live at a normal volume. And in fact it didn't always go as planned, got fired over volume once but hey that was 1986 or 87' and that's the way it was.

    So time goes by and like many other guys on here, I got older (more mature ? nah.) had kids, job, bills etc.. so the bar band days stopped for me. I was banished to a corner of my castle where I was encouraged (not forced, my wife is awesome. She was with me during all those greasy bar gigs) to find a quieter way to play guitar. I remember buying a zoom 9000 thinking "hey, heres a good alternative" but like most of those things, they are to the ears what fresh cat crap is to the nose. I digress.

    I went thru a few very unsatisfactory playing solutions until my son became interested in the instrument and that got me to pull out and dust of some gear, because hey, at that point its to teach the boy right ? (he has turned into a great player who can play damn near any instrument he picks up - good at violin too). So I next hopped on the small amp band wagon and bought an 18w Phaez daisycutter. Still a very cool amp, first one here at MLP. My only issue with that was el84's. I just can't seem to enjoy their compressed top end.

    Next I bought a Swart Space Tone Reverb Tweed thinking "I'm not in a band right now, just occasional jams so I'll buy a 5w amp. While being a fun amp, I learned that 5w amps are 2 things - way too loud for home use (pedals not withstanding) and not nearly loud enough to really play in a band.

    I thought hey those tweed deluxe's seem cool, so I built one. Sounded good but not enough clean headroom and just not loud enough for the type of music I play.

    Then came the BadCat Unleash. "Hey this is perfect!" I can make my 5w amp loud enough to hang in a band and tame my Jubilee. Well needless to say, even though the effect on tone wasn't huge, it was there. At first I thought I could live with it but in the end I just couldn't.

    All along I had my Jubilee as a reference that would make me remember what I was really chasing. I think that's important when spending your hard earned money that is supposed to go into your children's college fund on gear.

    Why not just play the Jubilee ? Volume and portability.

    Then a great local deal came up on my Traynor YBA-1. I had read the tube amp book where the author explains the lineage between the connection between the 5f6a and the jtm45 and the traynor YBA1. As a Canadian, it was my duty to own one. It sounded ok... when it was wound flat out. But I began what would become the final leg of my dragon hunt with this amp. I've got a thread here detailing all my changes to the amp and there were many. Each one either brought me closer to my goal and or taught me a little more about how tube amps really work.

    Now, about 20 months ago I started playing in a band again and began to get a bit more serious about finding a more reasonable solution to my amplification needs that my half stack - enter modelling. I'll admit it, I was caught right up in what is touted as the ultimate solution. And it solved the issues. It was easy to carry and I could control my volume. But I was playing in a band with my son at that time and he was using my 18w Phaez w/a 212. He wasn't playing overly loud at all but the tube amp always was prominent. This lead to several months of frustration of being able to be heard in a band context. It was great by myself but very unrewarding in a band context.

    My experiences with modelling basically drove me back into tube amps with a vengeance recently. I started using a combo at band practice instead of the modeller. The guys in the band were much happier with my sound, but I wasn't. It still wasn't that Marshall tone I was looking for. My quest for great tube tone a reasonable volume led me to the same inescapable conclusion that many amp builders have obviously come to realize over the years - great tube amp tone of the kind that I like (remember JCM800's , Jubilee's...), at reasonable volumes... has to come from the preamp.

    So today I took the final step and cascaded the channels on my YBA-1 in a very Marshall way, but with a few other tweaks. Its not a traynor circuit anymore nor is it completely a marshall circuit. And I just friggin' love the way it sounds. And it can do it at very reasonable volumes. You may hear in the vid that I've got less that normal filtering on v1. I did that because I kind of like that chewy feel but I may yet up it.

    Meet my dragon.

     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  2. dissaffected

    dissaffected Senior Member

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    ya..... tone is where you find it. Great story!!!!
     
  3. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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    Terriffic. Welcome home, Prodigal Son
     
  4. ht-57

    ht-57 Member

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    Awesome tale!
    In your quest have you considered "power scaling" on your 2555?
     
    cherrysunburst00 likes this.
  5. Cjsinla

    Cjsinla Premium Member

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    Sounds good but please spell check your last paragraph, not sure I got an understanding of what you meant. You must have been really excited when you typed those last two or three sentences.
     
  6. LPV

    LPV Senior Member

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    I love it too much exactly the way it is. It's perfect. The only things I have done are replace the filter caps (all electrolytics actually) and adjust the bias resistor to be able bias it a tad hotter.
     
  7. LPV

    LPV Senior Member

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    One of my biggest disappointments was the PPIMV. I read hours of posts over at the metroamp forum on the proper implementation of the Lar/mar master and I don't know if I was just expecting too much but when it starts to reduce volume to the point that it's very noticeable you lose so much nfb that the character of the amp really changes. And the low volume crunch which really isn't that pleasant is directly related to the untamed power section.
     
  8. cherrysunburst00

    cherrysunburst00 Senior Member

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    I'm dubious about PPIMV too. It works pretty well on the Dr Z Monza. I don't know what Friedman uses, but his MV is totally KILLER. I'd say the best I've used
     
  9. Soul Tramp

    Soul Tramp Speaker Snob V.I.P. Member MLP Vendor

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  10. LPV

    LPV Senior Member

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    I've read that many times and there really can only be one reason I think, the tone of Friedmans comes from the preamp "feeling" like power amp distortion. I'd bet that the power section, like a mesa, soldano or 5150, is running fairly clean most of the time. It adds character but not that much harmonics.
     
  11. LPV

    LPV Senior Member

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  12. sonar

    sonar Senior Member

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    Hey, I read your whole post. Sometimes a good long post hits the right chords...

    I wouldn't make a habit out of it, but still a good read.

    I chased the amp dragon when I was a newbie player. Unlike you I spent a lot of money on amps, without a baseline amp like your 2204, that were supposed to be the next great thing. I was always left disappointed and a little more broke.

    Then a buddy brought over a Vibrolux Reverb that he had just bought. "Bingo!" The sound on all those records I grew up listening to. I bought my Vibrolux shortly thereafter and my '72 Super Lead roughly a year later. Those 2 amps have been my baseline to judge amps for the past 25 years.

    It helps when you know what you like... and condolences on dancing with the amp dragon.
     
  13. Standard 64

    Standard 64 Senior Member

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    Psychiatrist.That sounds like a cool name for an amp.
     

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