AArdvark's amplifier project

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lethargic
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Post by lethargic » Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:03 pm

I've barely used that amp for 10 years. It became a cat bed. Then he threw up on it and stopped sleeping on it.

I've always hated that amp and have wanted to get rid of it. But now all of a sudden I find myself in a new band out of the blue so I need it.

But I hate it, right? So I started to look into upgrading it. I was planning on just replacing it with a Marshall head. But then I looked it up online and a lot of people like these amps better than Marshalls. I listened to it in youtube videos and it sounded great. I found out this is the amp Izzy used on AFD, it sounded pretty good there. So then I decide to keep it. I figure I bought it used, I've had it a long time, the tubes probably need changing.

I decide to bring it in and clean it up and check the tubes.

I bring the head in first and clean it off pretty good. I check the tubes. This amp is supposed to come with 6L6 tubes, but mine has EL34s in it. Somebody already changed the tubes before I got it! So now I don't know if I should change them. Most people said the EL34s are better than the 6L6s so my whole plan was to switch to EL34s, but they're already in there. So should I switch to 6L6s? What if I hate them worse than the EL34s? That'd be a waste of around a hundred dollars. And since somebody already switched them I don't know if the amp was biased. You're supposed to re-bias the amp if you switch between EL34s and 6L6s. If the person who switched them didn't do that, maybe that's the problem? Or maybe he did so I should just try another set of EL34s so I don't have to re-bias. Or if I get the 6L6s, maybe the amp is still biased for 6L6s and I don't need to do it??? AHHHHHHHHH HEAD SPINNING!!!

Also, I read you're never supposed to use guitar cables from the head to your cabinet. Only use speaker cables. I have always used two 20 foot guitar cables between mine. Maybe using the right cable will make it sound better?

Anyway, I was cleaning it up. One thing I noticed is that, unlike every example I saw on the internet, my tubes had no clamps or anything that held them in position. They just push in and pull out. All my power tubes were very loose. One was almost all the way out. Maybe this was the problem??

I bring the cabinet in and start trying to clean the cat puke off. I get the metal grate off the front and clean it but it doesn't help. Even without the cat puke, it has been rusted so it doesn't look any better at all. The speakers had some kind of nasty funk all over them. I cleaned that off. I go to put the grate back on and it slips out of my hand. The corner of it goes right through the bottom speaker.

I almost cried.

I went to the internet to start looking up speakers. 80 bucks for a replacement speaker.

I almost cried.

200 to just get a new cabinet. I'd rather do that than pay 80 for one speaker.

I sadly put everything back together and wheel it into my bedroom so I can try it out and see how bad the busted speaker sounds.

It sounds fine. And the amp itself sounds fine. I don't hate it at all. Why did I hate this? I decide to go back through videos of my old band to see when I started using this amp and check how it sounded. I can't find it. I'm using my old Peavey half stack in every video. Now I am utterly confused. Did I ever really hate this amp or did I hate the Peavey? When the hell did I get this one and from where and how? WTF?

I just sold my old guitar for 200 on Ebay. I was planning on using that to buy tubes. Now I've decided to just get some effect pedals and some cables and maybe some pre-amp tubes and see how it does. And maybe stab the other speakers since that seems to help.

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Flack
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Post by Flack » Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:25 pm

I don't remember what model of head I had but it was a Crate head and a Celestion (?) half stack. I put it up on Craigslist for $200 and it sold in like 3 minutes. I just checked CL and I think I found my old amp and the guy is asking $450. I asked him if it was the model with the ripped speaker and the cat puke. He said no but he knows a guy who can hook me up.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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AArdvark
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Post by AArdvark » Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:53 pm

So first is to see the strat before I did anything to it. That's this picture...

Image

This was back in '89 maybe? I was doing a black and white photo artsy-fartsy thing but it didn't work out. Anyway, you can see the three single coil pickups on the plain cheap pickguard.

In order to accommodate the dual humbuckers I had to carve out the body cavities some. I used a sharpened screwdriver as a chisel.

Image

Now I have to wire up the pickups and the custom circuit board my brother built for me and get everything to fit in there.

Image

The tone pots wont work anymore. That's OK, I never used them and I never knew anyone who played a strat on anything but full bright anyway. I have a better use for them (rubs hands together in an evil manner)

Hey, that reminds me while I'm posting pix. I found a picture of the Kramer I sent to Robb. Back in the mid Eighties..Ug.
Image


THE
REALLY OLD NOW
AARDVARK
Last edited by AArdvark on Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lethargic
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Post by lethargic » Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:24 pm

I wish I understood stuff. I would put changing my guitar's pickups right up there with "stranded in the woods at night" on my scale of scary things. I know I would ruin something. And I have no idea what the difference between single coils and humbuckers are. I wish I was famous so I could just hire a guitar tech.

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AArdvark
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Post by AArdvark » Thu Jan 09, 2014 4:03 pm

I practiced on a low end axe (the Kramer) before I ventured on to a higher quality instrument.
Single coils are nice but they hum. It's just the way they're built. Some people say it adds to the charm of a single coil sound. Humbuckers are two single coils put together with one of them wound opposite the other. This cancels out any ambient noise but changes the overall tone. I prefer quiet to tone chasing. That's what effect processors are for, right?

I once tried winding my own pickups from a bus buzzer and failed miserably. But it was fun trying.

I'll post a video of my strat when I get it put back together so I can demonstrate what all the new and improved features will do.


THE
SHOW AND TELL
AARDVARK

lethargic
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Post by lethargic » Thu Jan 09, 2014 6:08 pm

AArdvark wrote:That's what effect processors are for, right?
Don't ask me! I have no idea what to do with effect processors! haha

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Jizaboz
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Post by Jizaboz » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:34 pm

Some cool stuff in this thread. Just now reading it.

On the topic of distortion, the BOSS Metal Zone 2 is hands down the best. It's about 100$, but worth it. I basically have a Fender "surf guitar" guitar/amp setup, but as soon as I kick the Metal Zone petal, I'm in Death Metal Land.

lethargic
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Post by lethargic » Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:54 pm

I got my new tubes in my amp. It doesn't sound any different but it has a huge hiss now.

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AArdvark
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Post by AArdvark » Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:02 pm

The best sounding tubes I have heard were in an old Stromberg Carlson hi-fi unit from the late fifties. My friend's parents had it in their basement from forever ago and were throwing it away (finally) The thing was about the size and shape of a coffin and weighed slightly less than half a ton. I scarfed the amp cause it looked cool.
I almost killed myself when I hooked it up wrong the first time (RF burn!) Once I got it right it sounded pretty sweet through my Peavey cabinet.
Alas, it finally cooked itself to death after a year.


Edit: Holy shit! here's one on Ebay

THE
E-Z BAKE
AARDVARK

lethargic
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Post by lethargic » Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:20 pm

I switched them around and got rid of the hiss. Still sounds no different through.

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Ice Cream Jonsey
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Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Wed Jan 15, 2014 6:53 pm

Vark! The guitar arrived! Hey, thanks man. I really appreciate it.

I'm at my house now (cleaning it up for the maid tomorrow) but I will take it to where I am living now tomorrow. I will try to .... put the strings on it? I don't know if I am gonna do it bad or what.

I feel like learning some chords!
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

lethargic
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Post by lethargic » Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:27 pm

Cleaning it up for the maid? Isn't that the maid's job?

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Ice Cream Jonsey
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Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:58 pm

lethargic wrote:Cleaning it up for the maid? Isn't that the maid's job?
Yeah, but it really gets bad over here. I have to clear a path, for instance.
the dark and gritty...Ice Cream Jonsey!

lethargic
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Post by lethargic » Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:16 pm

Hoarder?

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AArdvark
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Post by AArdvark » Mon Jan 27, 2014 5:45 pm

I'm working on a tentative video script for the demo. I only have a crappy webcam so it'll look pretty lo-def and cheesy. The rest of it will make up for the lack of video quality, I hope.


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AArdvark
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Post by AArdvark » Sun Jul 26, 2015 3:21 pm

Thread bump!

I should really put some closure to this project, as I finished it over a year ago. Been busy, tho.

Ya know, I re-read this thread and not once mentioned the actual project. I wanted to replace the three single coils with dual humbuckers and install a home built FuzzFace board. I replaced the tone pots with volume and distortion so when you switch over to the FuzzFace the regular volume is disabled and the two tone pots take over. Maybe pictures will help.

Image

The FuzzFace sounded pretty good in the strat. That was before I moved so let's hope it still sounds good.

Instead of a finished project video, I will just give you a summary of the proposed footage. That way I don't really have to film it, post-produce it and upload it and it'll look better in your imagination than in reality.
------

Opening scene: (Part of the wrap-around segment)

Me, sitting in my desk chair facing the camera, interesting stuff in the background. I explain my project to the camera, giving a couple, three interesting Fender trivia facts.
- Jump cut to cat on my desk in front of the camera.

- I apologize, shoo the cat off the desk and continue monolouge.

- Jump cut to cat on my desk again in front of the camera.

- Again shoo the cat off desk, apologize again and continue monologue.

- Cut to working scene where I demonstrate the guitar with and without the FuzzFace mod.

- Cut to wrap around scene again where I monolouge into wrap-up.

- Jump cut to cat on my head. ( I trained him to do this!)

- I shoo the cat away and proclaim that I want no more cats.

- Jump cut to me holding the cat in my lap with a gun to it's head. I react in horror, shoo the cat off my lap and toss the gun out of frame.

- Bright flash of light from out of frame and gunshot sound inserted. Interesting thing behind me falls as if shot from random bullet. I react in double horror and reach for camea to turn it off.

-Screen goes black.

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Flack
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Post by Flack » Tue Jul 28, 2015 6:07 am

I would watch that video.

Also, kudos on finishing the project! You need to throw some audio up somewhere and show us how it sounds!
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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AArdvark
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Post by AArdvark » Fri Jul 31, 2015 12:24 pm

The battery fits in between the bridge springs. Notice I blocked up the bridge with a piece of marble cause I never use the whammy bar.
Image

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AArdvark
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Post by AArdvark » Fri Jul 31, 2015 12:25 pm


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Flack
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Post by Flack » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:54 pm

Two whole minutes and not a single cat on your head. ;)
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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