For a while I have been wanting to change the pickups in a couple of my guitars but I also wanted a low output set for my needs which I was having trouble finding at a price I was willing to pay. So I came up with the idea of winding my own, & that’s just what I did. I ordered in a winding machine, the various parts that I needed for what I wanted, and took a wild guess as to how many turns would be right for me.
After a few attempts I got the process down and away I went. My first set of pickups for my Strat turned out to be 4.8KΩ on the bridge, 4.6KΩ on the neck, & the middle was calibrated nicely at 4.4KΩ as a RW/RP unit.
The true test was gong to be what pickups sounded like though, & I was very happy with the result as I have a tight low end to them with moderate midrange, and lots of chime on top.
Long story short, I decided to venture into the pickup winding side of things as well. I’ll be sticking to single coils only and putting together sets for Strats & Tele’s as well as individual pickups as needed & I can also custom wind to spec or rebuild pickups upon request. The upside of the pickups is that I now have something to do in between amp builds.
I was asked about a 6G11 brown Vibrolux as a 1×12 combo, & since there are no reproduction chassis available for the 6G11 brown Vibroverb, I needed to look for a suitable platform that would work for it and happened to find one that was just right. We added a custom faceplate with brown cosmetics & barrel knobs, then the brown cab with wheat grill cloth finished off the look. The customer loves the look of the amp & more importantly the sound of the amp as it sounded exactly liked he had hoped it would.
I’ve offered the 6G15 stand alone reverb as part of my line up in the past when I was doing my own cabs here, but never really pushed them once I began outsourcing my cabs. So it seemed timely right now to offer them again & here’s the first look at what I call the Li’l Dawg Reverberator.
While this one is done in the traditional brown cosmetics it’s also available in tweed, black, or other colors as well. While I like the chicken head knobs myself, I know a lot of folks prefer the barrel knobs so you get a choice on that as well.
I was recently presented with another interesting amp build and this time it was a 5F8A high power tweed Twin, but the customer wanted it in a LunchBox head. So after some thought I figured out I could fit the circuit into my 16×8 chassis enclosure so I committed to the build. When everything was said & done the amp turned out be be a very nice fit in that chassis, and it really was a tone monster with a loud, throaty growl & bark when it got pushed. I also added individual bias points so each tube’s bias can be measured just to make sure that each pair match or even the entire quad. I’ll be waiting to see if the owner sends any sound clips to share but in the meantime here’s some of the build pics.
It’s taken me a while to put this review of the Chainsaw up that my friend Charlie Shapiro did for me, but here’s it is now.
Lil Dawg Chainsaw Stand-alone review:
I am going to leave the stand-alone practice amp for Mark Revel’s review. He covered it all and I am in agreement with his findings.
Lil Dawg Chainsaw first device in the pedal chain:
I tested the 1 watt with the tube complement of v1: 12AX7 , v2: 12AX7, v3: 12AU7, silver pin JJ’s. I ran the 1 watt in the first position of my pedal chain with the guitar going into the 1 watt.
The sonic fingerprints was dead on for that elusive Black Faced Twin Reverb sound of Clarence White, Marty Stuart, and Jerry Garcia at their best.
Testing the 1 watt Chainsaw with the tube complement of v1: 12AX7, v2: 12AX7, v3: 12AU7, Gold pin JJ’s. I ran the 1 watt in the first position of my pedal chain with the guitar going into the 1 watt. The Gold pins created a wider creamer sound than the Silver pins with what appeared to be an earlier break-up that was fatter sounding. Starting to encroach upon British amp territory. By manipulating the Volume and single tone control, I was able to achieve a convincing Hi-watt, Orange, and Marshall type sound. I spoke to Euro Tubes and they said that Gold pins are more linear than the Silver pins in guitar amps.
Lil Dawg 1 Watt Chainsaw as last device in the pedal chain:
The most interesting position, for my ears and tastes, is placing the Lil Dawg 1 watt at the end of my pedal chain and outputted into the amplifier’s input. Volume and single knob tone controls were varied below and around 9 o’clock. The Lil Dawg 1watt in this potion, adds an amp’s ‘output section’ of distortion and tone to the chain. Further, the Lil Dawg 1 watt is very reactive to pedals and changes tone greatly depending on the pre driving pedal. All the sustain, that Mark spoke of was present.
The Lil Dawg Chainsaw creates a real sound that is totally believable and is absent in all pedal chains that I have heard or experimented with.
I sent the prototype of the 1 watt build off to a good friend of mine that was also the one that asked if I would think about adding this build to the amp line-up. So here’s the review from Mark aka “JakeBoy” as well as a sound clip that Mark put together.
I recently took delivery of a 1 watt Lil Dawg Firefly-type head chassis to test.
The amp is typical Lil Dawg hand-wired Quality by an amp building expert who has the best customer service in the industry, bar none. 1 JJ 12au7 for single-ended class A power, and 2 JJ 12ax7s for the preamp.
There are no tone controls, just 2 volume controls and a switch to add in the boost circuit, which is presumably the 2nd 12ax7? It has a line out, and 2 speaker outs at 8 ohms. It also has 2 inputs, one hotter than the other.
I plugged in my tele with vintage wound pickups. It is probably my cleanest guitar. Even with the volume on the amp set to 2-3 on the hotter channel with no boost engaged, it was difficult to get a crystal-clean tone. That is not what this amp is for. With the tele I got some jangly cleanish tones and by backing off the pick attack on my right hand, it cleaned right up. You can hear it on the sound clip where I recorded Tele clean, Humbuckers clean (Shishkov Ultimate), Tele dirty, and buckers very dirty.
This little guy is a gain monster! I mean instant class A distortion that just rocks. I ran it through my brightest cab loaded with an Eminence Red Fang.
Engaging the boost makes both volume controls highly interactive. In fact, I was able to get the humbuckered guitar cleanest by engaging the boost and finding the clean spot by manipulating both dials. That said, clean with humbuckers is difficult. This is like a baby 5e3 tweed Deluxe with extra gain added. It has a similar spongey feel even though it has so,I’d state rectification. The bass is rather loose similar to a 5e3.
With humbuckers the amp just sings…right up into a 60s fuzz tone! With single coils I was able to get any shade of OD I wanted. Buckers are about class A distortion with this guy.
My only complaint is that it isn’t quite bright enough. I am a bit of a treble fiend and I found myself reaching for my guitars tone knob for more, even only very right tele which I normally turn down.
The key to this amp are the interactive volume controls. You can capture a myriad of useable tones for sure, particularly if you dig classic rock with a distortion pedal thrown on top!
The sound clip was straight in to the amp with no delay, reverb, or anything. Speaker was an Emi Red Fang in my Lil Dawg Champster pine cab. Mic was an Audix i5 right on the speaker grill. I played familiar riffs to give a sense of the amp while I switched through pickup positions. The middle position on both guitars provided the most chime, Sprite, and clean tone. I love middle positions on my guitars!
The sound clip is: Tele clean, HB clean, Tele dirty, then HB distorted
Though I didn’t record pedals with the amp, it took a 60s Rangemaster (my fave for added dirt) extremely well. Tightened things right up and gave me my treble and upper mids fix! I also tried a Klone on it as a clean boost with the treble up and it also tightened up the bottom in a pleasant way. So the sounds are endless with this baby monster! I also own a Marshall 1watt JMP-1H 50th anniversary. It similarly uses small 9 pin tubes (12at7s) for power and it also has a gain boost switch.
To compare the amps really isn’t fair….kind of like apples to clothes pins…..the Marshall is designed to do one thing: sound like a jumpered 1970s JMP 1959 Marshall 100 watter at a 1 watt volume. It nails this tone. It sounds exactly like a 70s Marshall cranked. The bottom is much tighter than the Dawg and it has plenty of treble on tap. The Marshall is a one trick pony….70s Marshall JMP. Not much sparkly clean on the Marshall, it wasn’t designed for that. The Marshall does have a power reduction switch which takes it truly to a conversation level with full JMP tone….something like 1/4 watt.
The Lil Dawg sounds like it’s own thing…not Marshall, Vox, nor Fender yet there are sonic similarities to a 5e3 Deluxe or even a 6g3 Deluxe, albeit with a LOT more gain on tap. This is a fantastic amp for recording. You simply engage the boost, dial in the tone you want via both volume knobs, and voila—instant rock and blues. If you need 6l6 big bottle cleans, look elsewhere. This true Lil Dawg Is all about the dirt. Oh, and wait until you try it through a 2×12 or a 4×12….one watt is still quite loud and can be coaxed into musical feedback quite easily when cranked! Loud enough to gig with, yes mic’ through the PA or through the included line out feature. We are talking USA made, top drawer boutique quality, for way cheaper than most Imported junk amps. A winner for sure!