Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quest for tone part deux...

Got another sweet score in the mail today. I got my paws on a lot of Gudeman 0.022uf 200v paper-in-oil caps from an electronics surplus place out west. These are Vitamin Q type caps that are the military spec version of the consumer PIO caps like Bumblebees (that sell for a pile). Gudeman was one of Sprague's competitors and these were used interchangeably with the Vitamin Q's back in the day. All new old stock and ready to make some sweet tones in a Les Paul or 335 (or any other guitar with humbuckers). Sell a couple sets, gift a couple sets and I've got a good stash of fantastic caps at my disposal for my guitars.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The quest for tone continues

I scored a set of NOS military spec K40Y-9 paper in oil capacitors, direct from the good 'ol Russian Federation (Moscow to be exact). It took over a month to ship, but was worth it. There are quite a few companies (Luxe is the major one) who are making "reproductions" of vintage american capacitors like the Bumblebee and Grey Tiger and so forth, and selling them for lots of cash. What's interesting is that in the good old former Soviet Union, they still use old technology, so they still produce paper-in-oil type capacitors for the military (or at least did until fairly recently). Figures since Russia is where 90% or so of all new production vacuum tubes are made. Anyway, these american companies are basically taking these exact caps and wrapping them in vintage-correct covers to make them look like the old Bumblebees and Tigers, and selling them for a fortune. I say screw the cover, you'll never see it in the guitar, I just want the tone. The added bonus is they're military spec to they adhere to super tight tolerances, and are much newer than most of the NOS american PIO caps you'll find around that may have drifted over time. Time to get these suckers soldered it!
On another note the Super is back and better than ever. The man with the golden soldering iron, Casey Gooby, rebuilt the entire channel in question with Sprague Orange Drops and Sozo's, all new bypass caps, plate load resistors, cleaned up the tremolo tick and dropped in the fresh Mercury Magnetics output transformer, and it sounds HUGE!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

So the Super is sick

I was playing the my new/old super reverb the other night and it started cutting in and out distorting really badly. Seems like something vibration or signal induced, but it's hard to tell for sure. Swapped the tube in V2 around a few times as well as the phase inverter but neither made a difference. It's only in the vibrato channel, so it has to be something in that circuit. I took it back to my boy Casey Gooby again to see what's going on.

We decided it could stand to have the power supply filter caps changed, so I ordered up a some big 'ol blue Sprauge Atom Electrolytics. We also decided the mystery 4ohm output transformer wasn't doing me any favors, so we ordered up a new Mercury Magnetics that is spec'd as an upgrade for a '59 Bassman. What's cool about it is that it has 2ohm and 4ohm taps, so I can run it @ 4ohms for my current 2x10 setup, and if I decide to rebuild it as a 4x10 combo again someday, I can swap it to the 2ohm tap. I'm also considering having JD Newell build me 2x10 extension cabinet, then wire the 2 taps to a switch which would make the impedence at the speaker jack switchable between 2 and 4ohms depending on whether or not I was using the extension cabinet.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mah other new baby

A few weeks ago this was a beat to shit 1973 silverface Fender Super Reverb 4x10 combo. I bought it for peanuts and decided to restore it. In the process I discovered it had 4 blown CTS Alnico speakers (which I will recone later) and an incorrect, but still vintage fender 4ohm output transformer in place of the correct 2ohm OT. The tranny was good so it meant that without modification I could run it in a 2x10 configuration for the time being. I had JD Newell ( build me a custom 2x10 combo cabinet out of finger jointed pine, got a new Accutronics reverb tank, a new reproduction blackface faceplate and knobs and a pair of the way too good for the money Eminence Legend 1058 speakers. Got it tuned up and transplanted and she's sweet as can be. Very big sounding for such a small form factor (because of the large output transformer and middle control). Eventually I may get the original CTS Alnico's reconed and restore the old cabinet, or get another 2x10 extension cabinet made for it so I can run 4-10's when I feel like it. Sorry, didn't get any before pictures, but here are the afters (I've got a reproduction 60's Fender grill logo on the way as well).

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mah new baby

What a beauty, just showed up this week. Got it used, but basically brand new from a guy somewhere in new england. This one is very rare because it has never been through the guitar center/musiciansfriend supply chain. It was a factory direct Gibson Custom Shop order to a Canadian dealer (who have different CS dealership agreements than the US dealers who have a hard time getting these factory direct). I love it, still needs a setup probably but I'll let it get settled in after shipping for a while first.

Friday, December 18, 2009

This is going to be an interesting Christmas

I'm stuck in Minneapolis this Christmas because I'm on call that week. That sucks, but since Sara is going back to Bismarck to see her family I'm devising a plan for my own holiday celebrations. On Christmas eve, this guy I work with and I are going to have a liquor and ham party where we basically bake a huge ham, eat a lot of it and get real drunk. I also suspect over the remainder of the week I will basically plant myself on the couch and play Modern Warfare 2.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ok, I'm going to be more diligent, I promise.

So I'm on call again, and up...again. I just picked up a couple pieces of sweet gear so I'm going to do a write up with pics and (hopefully) video samples this weekend if my camera and schedule cooperate.