Yamaha/Soldano T-100C :: Tone Report

FrankiePRS

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Okay, so last week I cleaned out the 'Closet of Mystery and Sadness' in my studio a bit (okay, that's a lie -- I was looking for a pack of JJ's 12ax7's - but I had to clean out the closet a bit to find them). In the process, I found some pretty cool stuff I had stashed, including an old MXR red compressor. But I digress. At the back of the closet were a couple of amps I had pretty much forgotten about. One was a modded early 70's Fender Champ that doesn't work. The other was my Yamaha T-100C.

I had a session last weekend that required both high-gain and very clean sounds, and since the Yamaha had been one of my go-to amps for years, I figured I'd drag it out and see if I even still liked it.

Oh....My....God....

It occurred to me that there are probably people who don't even know this amp exists, so I thought I'd throw a Tone Report up, especially considering that fact that there are probably some of these gathering dust in used-gear shops, not getting a second look because of that Yamaha logo.

The Yamaha T-100C was designed by Mike Soldano in (I’m pretty sure) the late 80’s, and IIRC, it was built in the USA. It’s a 100-watt combo (they made a head version too, as well as 50-watters) that utilizes seven (!) 12ax7 preamp tubes and 4 6L6 tubes in the power section. I am under the possibly-mistaken impression that this amp was built to compete with the Mesa Mark Series. I’ll try to remember to add pics to this post tomorrow so you can see the amp and the control layout.

On to the tone…

I love my live 2-stack rig (which includes a modded Mesa MKIV and a hand-wired PtP VVT 100w Earthquake), but I really dig using other stuff in the studio and at jams. Besides Marshalls and Fenders, I have a bunch of 80’s Laneys – all AOR Series Pro-Tube stuff, and I think they’re the best amp most people have never heard of… except for the Yamaha T-100’s.

IMHO, this amp does everything a Mesa MKIII does, but better. It’s closer to a MKIV, really, because (like the MKIV) the 2 channels are discreet, meaning you can have very high gain on the gain channel while retaining complete and separate control over the clean chanel – something’s not possible on the MKIII.

It has an excellent, well-buffered effects loop, placed after the preamp, and before the tone stack. It also features a beautiful 3-spring reverb that functions very reactively, like a good older Fender.

In fact, with the preamp below 5, the clean channel reminds me a lot of my ’72 Fender Twin, but with a little more malleability. While the Twin seems to always retain a bright quality, it’s possible to calm the Soldano/Yamaha down a bit, which I find useful with some guitars, especially my ’60 Junior. the 6L6’s really shine in clean mode and sound very shimmery. Increasing the preamp setting differentiates this amp from the rest of the Fender pack, as it induces a lovely natural break-up when pushed.

Note: My combo has an old Celestion Sidewinder speaker – have no idea what the specific properties of it are, but it sounds great.

There are lots of amps that can get a comparable clean sound to this one (notably Fenders), but not many that claim to have another channel as savage as the overdrive channel here. Soldano may as well have labeled these channels Heaven and Hell.

The gain channel is criminally insane. More gain than a MKIII, more than any stock MKIV… but very controllable, and extremely articulate, unless you dime the preamp knob. You can hear the 6L6’s compress when you really slam the power section, but it seems less ‘flubby’ than a Mesa to me. The master ‘Presence’ knob can be utilized to color the tone in some very cool ways – I’m pretty sure it’s affecting the power section. There are a lot of different voices here. The legendary Soldano low-end thump is easily achieved by tweaking the bass knob a bit, and the mid control is very responsive, working more like an EQ.

Anyway, these amps just sing, with tons of sustain and harmonics, and like those old Laney AORs I love so much, they are largely unheralded, and thus usually priced far below amps that cower in fear of these monsters. Hell, part of the fun of the gear hunt is finding extraordinarily cool stuff that others don’t know even about. Now go find one!!
 

Monster

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Thanks for the cool report. Have you ever had the chance to compare your Yamaha to a Soldano?
 

LoKi

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Built like a brick shithouse, with tone to SPARE. I love those things.

I almost grabbed one, cheap about a week ago. If its still there, I might. ;)
 

Dave C

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I've had both the 50 and 100w heads and a 100w combo...they were designed by Mike Soldano, built in USA (Georgia if I'm not mistaken) , built like a tank...sound exceptionally good ...especially for the low price they usually go for.
The only deviation from Mike's design was they installed a resister instead of a filter choke to save money. I installed filter chokes in all 3 amps. It made minimal difference until the amp was really cranked.
I never payed more than $500 for one and they are easily comparable to amps costing 4x that much...so if ya find one cheap...don't hesitate to buy it...I wouldn't.
 

ReverendJWblues

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Yeah they were great but I believe they came about early 90s they can bust a nut open even think I know where thres a few. Maybe stil NOS
 

lexluthier

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I had a couple T50 combos, decent sounding amps for the $$$. I heard Dennis Kager also had a hand in the design of these amps.
 

lp59aholicDon

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I played thru these things a bit back in the days when they were new, Impressive amp
 

coldsteal2

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they are insane for lead, they have great gain
 

hydraman

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i have a tc100 for sale it is in great condition , has been gone through by a tech and the one weakness...the reverb has been corrected . my tech added an alesis unit which is controled by the reverb dial on the front. the original tank remains and can easily be hooked up again. a steal at $799 wshich includes shipping (and it is quite heavy)
 

mcmurray

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You should give it a new lease on life - new capacitors and tubes. Totally worth it imo.
 

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