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Author Archives: Dave Hunter

The “Last” Trainwreck?

 
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Ken Fischer’s prolonged illness and subsequent death at the age of 61 remains one of the great tragedies of the guitar-amp world. Aside from the fact he was a good soul taken too soon, if this rare and genuine tube-amp guru had enjoyed better health and greater longevity, he would most likely have blessed the […]

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Gibson GA-80T Vari-Tone

 
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In the late ’50s and early ’60s, Gibson was apparently convinced the Vari-Tone switch was the way of the future, with its instant access to six different tones. But a high proportion of players who clocked serious miles on their ES-345 and 355 guitars had the switches disabled (and the guitars rewired to mono!). As […]

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Vox AC50

 
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Vox AC50 Preamp tubes: one ECC82 (12AU7), three ECC83 (12AX7) Output tubes: two EL34s, fixed-biased Rectifier: solidstate Controls: Volume, Treble and Bass for each channel. Output: nominally 50 watts RMS, but upward of 70 watts flat-out. Where the evolution of guitar amplification in general traces musicians’ needs to be louder, the history of Vox follows, […]

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The Soldano

Super Lead Overdrive
 
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One of the leaders of what we might call the second wave of high-end high-gain tube amps, Soldano has been making a big noise since 1987 – the year Michael J. Soldano released his (more…)

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Building a Studio

The Art of Home Recording
 

There has been a sea change in the music industry over the past several years. Recording has become more of a do-it-yourself component of the creative process, and less an end achieved in a professional studio. This shift has, on one hand (and rather sadly), (more…)

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The Supro “Model 24”

 
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Okay, Zep police, sound the alarm and prepare to loose the hounds – we are finally about to lift the lid on the Jimmy Page amp. Well, maybe not the Jimmy Page amp, but almost certainly a Jimmy Page amp, and even this claim should be (more…)

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Ampeg R-12-R Reverberocket

 
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1962 Ampeg R-12-R Reverberocket Preamp tubes: two 6SL7, two 6SN7 Output tubes: two 6V6, cathode-biased Rectifier: 5Y3 Controls: Volume, Tone, Dimension (reverb), Speed, and Intensity (tremolo) Speakers: Jensen Special Design C12R Output: approximately 18 watts RMS In the view of Ampeg main man (more…)

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Music Man HD-130 Reverb

 
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1977 Music Man HD-130 Reverb Preamp tubes: solidstate preamp circuit with 12AX7 phase-inverter tube. Output tubes: four 6CA7 (similar to EL34) Rectifier: solidstate Controls: Volume, Treble, Bass on “Normal” channel; Volume, Treble, Middle, Bass, Reverb, Intensity, Speed on “Reverb/Tremolo” channel; shared Master. Output: 65 watts or 130 watts RMS. Intended to be the masterpiece of […]

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Buddy Holly’s ’58 Magnatone 280

1958 Magnatone Custom 280
 
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When guitarists talk tremolo or vibrato, you can bet the magnificent Magnatone amps will find their way into the conversation. The watery, warbling “true vibrato” that the larger Magnatones are capable of producing is never forgotten by players fortunate enough to have experienced it. In searching to expand the Magnatone legend, the subject is likely […]

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Excelsior Americana

 
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If you play any breed of twang, country, roots-rock or, well, “Americana,” could there possibly be a better amp than this? Okay, according to specs and tonal preferences, sure there could. But for sheer vintage-hip and all-out cool, you really can’t do better than dragging this 1966 Excelsior Americana to the next Gram Parsons tribute […]

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