Tone controls & the “slice of pie” analogy

I’m often asked for expanded tone stacks on the smaller circuits like the 5F1 Champster, 5F2A Prince, or 5E3 Tweed Deluxe D-Lux that I offer that I think it’s about time for me to share my thoughts, and more specifically it would be why I choose to keep the amps as simple as possible.  I like to use simple word pictures when I can, and the analogy I use for tone is the time-proven pie chart which goes like this.

The whole pie is the absolute most tone that you have available to work with in any circuit, with each tone control being a slice out of the total pie.  While you get to choose where the slice is taken from with each tone control, I’m the one that determines how big the slice will actually be by the components I use.  Either way you look at it, there will be a loss in the available tone.

In my experience it’s usually the smaller amps that people mention when tone is the subject of conversation.  The amps included would be from companies like Fender, Gibson, Supro, Valco, etc. and most always had a simple passive tone knob if they had any tone control at all.  While most of us have owned amps with lots of knobs & switches, it’s quite often the simpler amps that we’re the fondest of.

Just my thoughts ……



Stereo power amp project

I recently had someone ask if I’d build a stereo power amp for him to use with his Sarno pre-amps & other gear, and since I had been interested in going that direction myself it was an easy decision for me.  Charlie lived nearby so he came by and tried my 5F6A TopDawg LunchBox prototype out which he really liked a lot, so that was the basis for the project.  One of the requirements for the power amp was that it be a rack mount unit which worked out nicely as it allowed me plenty of room to work with.   Continue reading

The interactive controls of the 5E3 D-Lux, and how to make them work for you.

The controls are very interactive and you can get lots of usable tone quickly.  I’ll give you the basic outline on the amp as it’s pretty simple.  Facing the back of the amp from left to right is switch, pilot light, tone, instrument volume, mic volume, hi/lo gain input (hi is the bottom & lo is the top), and the mic inputs (same as the instrument inputs). Continue reading

Amp chassis conversions

How many times have we all looked at a solid state amp that died on us and it wasn’t worth fixing to just have the same tone again?  Or we just got tired of the tone it offered and wanted something with tubes for a change?  Or even a recent production tube amp that gave it up big time and now what do you do with it?  A simple solution that I suggest to customers from time to time is to convert your old amp into something new.   Continue reading

The low wattage option may be just what you need.

Everyone would probably agree that a 5F6A tweed Bassman sounds incredible when you get to crank it up, but how often is that for most of us?  I’d like to think that an amp should be a complimentary part of someone’s tone and not something that the player would have to struggle with, and while they are various ways to quiet the “raging beast” some can be quite expensive or just alter the tone too much to be of value.   Continue reading

The 12AY7 tube.

The 12AY7 (also called a 6072 or 6072A) is a very sweet tube and every tweed amp from the 5E3 & up used one in the V1 position.  The 5E8A low power Twin used them in the first three positions to get that extra smooth tone that it’s known for.  Now for my opinion on the 12AY7, and while someone else’s thought may vary I think most would agree with me. Continue reading

6V6 vs. 6L6 tubes and how to decide between them.

This is another question that comes up quite a bit so let’s take a look at it now.  I like the 6V6s a lot because of their tone which tends to be on the warm side with what I consider to be “smokey” overtones, plus they also have the early break-up which I prefer as well.  There seems to still be a lot of NOS 6V6GT tubes available which are my favorite as they have a smoother tone to them, and while the current production tubes being offered seem to have a bit more gain & edginess to them they also come in as a very solid tube as well.   Continue reading

Multi-tap transformers & speaker loads

I’ve been asked this question several times in as many days so it seems like a good time to discuss the question.  I’ve previously mentioned how the proper speaker load is important as well as matched speaker impedances in a multiple speaker configuration, so we don’t need to cover that again.  This is directed towards amps that have individual speaker output jacks for their various speaker impedance options.   Continue reading

Transformer ratings & how to interpret them

Regarding the transformer output ratings, I need to clarify how to interpret them.  I use the manufacturer’s specifications in the description of various builds, but I don’t guarantee that you actually get that output in every instance.  For example, a 6V6GT in a single ended amp like the 5F1 Champster or 5F2A Prince will only have an output of 5.5 watts regardless of the output transformer used.  An 8 or 12 watt transformer will give you more headroom and a bump in volume over a 5 watt unit, but it’ll never exceed the ability of the tube itself.  When you get into the push-pull circuits like the 5E3 D-Lux, then the output of the two 6V6GTs can go up accordingly with some of the larger output transformers but still may not yield the rating of the output transformer.   Continue reading