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 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.
Once again while I wait for some parts I decided to try another project that I’d been thinking about. This one was going to be a small tube stereo table top style build for someone that might want to use their pedal board, multi-effects pedal, or even an iPad or iPod for true stereo at a lower volume. So this is a stereo single-ended amp running with 3 1/2 watt output transformers as well as high & low inputs and a volume control for each channel. I used a 5Y3GT to power the circuits with a 6V6GT & 12AU7 on each side, and found it turned out exactly as I had hoped it would be. It can also handle 5V4G & GZ34 rectifiers as well as 5881 or 6L6GC power tubes and any of the 12A*7 pre-amp tubes. It can also run different preamp & power tubes on either side at the same time as well so there’s lot of options for the gain structure the sound pressure level.
In a 16x8x2 enclosure I could also scale this circuit up to be a stereo build with push-pull output transformers running pairs of power tubes if needed.
So here’s some pics of my prototype in a 12x8x2 chassis.
While I waited for some parts to show up I remembered a friend asking if I ever thought about a Vox AC15 style build. I had a number of times but finally thought today is the day to work out the details for the build.
The layout seemed fairly straightforward to me as I’ve done so many LunchBox builds already, so what I ended up with was a 2 channel (normal & top boost) but not the tremolo channel as not many players used that anyway.
When everything was said & done I was pleasantly surprised with a great sounding amp full of the Vox tone that I had been missing from my line-up for so long. So it’ll be available in my catalog of circuits as a LunchBox head for now, and maybe a head or combo if I can find a suitable chassis to work with there. In the meantime here’s some pics of my prototype.
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 had a good friend & Li’l Dawg owner ask me recently if I’d ever thought about building a 1 watt amp, and honestly I never had but the idea made me think. So I worked up a good layout for the circuit board & chassis and gave it a go. This is the basic FireFly style circuit but I added both a hi & lo gain input to it along with parallel speaker outputs & a line out. The circuit already had a switchable boost function designed into it but with the different inputs you really get a variety of gain structures to play with. The tube compliment is a pair of 12AX7 for the pre-amp, and then a 12AU7 running push-pull for the power tube which the result being a smooth overdrive that goes from clean thru over-the-top crunch and anywhere in between. I’m thinking of adding a simple tone control to the amp but that’s not a problem at all for me as I have the room. While this one was a straight chassis build I think offering it as a LunchBox would be a good idea as well. I’m ready to run with it right now but I’d like to get some feedback (pun intended) on the amp first to make sure I’m on the right track with it. So here’s some pics of the prototype build for now.
Thanks for the interest in the amps as I really do appreciate it.
Several years ago I was asked what my business model was for the amps, and I didn’t have to think long before giving an answer. It’s what I believe in, and hopefully I succeed in following it. It’s a very simple plan with just three objectives. Provide a good product at a fair price, treat the customer well and with honesty, and finally have fun. You can always add more things like making money, etc., but I honestly believe those first three are the most important to follow.
Another thing I’ve learned is that satisfied customers are the best advertising you could ever hope for. So other than this website, I rely solely on my customers for their “word of mouth” advertising about the amps. That also lets me stay focused on doing things right rather than on a new ad campaign to boost sales the next quarter.
Feel free to contact me with any questions you might have, I do love to talk about Lil Dawg Amps.