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  1. #1
    Top Of The World YMI5150?'s Avatar
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    12.15.13 @ 04:45 PM
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    Default Attenuator vs dummy load/ss amp - help!!

    OK, my privileges have been upgraded....

    I need to get your input on how a home-use rig should be put together to get accurate early VH tone.

    Research suggests Ed used a 100w plexi w variac at 90 vac, dummy load, effects, H&H SS amp, cabinets.

    can you get close by using a hot plate instead of the dummy load/ss amp?

    I've got a tsl 601 with NOS preamp tubes driving a 1960ax (Greenback) cabinet. No effects yet. I get close when its pretty loud (say preamp volume at 4ish and master at 8) but even loud I'm not totally there yet.

    I don't gig or record right now. Just play at home but want that tone for personal satisfaction. I don't want to cheat with a POD either unless someone can talk me into it. Maybe adding a phase 90 and analog delay is all i need to get there but the volume is still too high for most play time. I don't need ultra quiet but something more reasonable, which a hot plate would do. I see the advantage of having saturated power tubes on the preamp side. probably the key player in his early tone.

    Suggestions?

  2. #2
    Good Enough SLEEPER5150's Avatar
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    12.03.10 @ 03:16 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by YMI5150? View Post
    OK, my privileges have been upgraded....

    I need to get your input on how a home-use rig should be put together to get accurate early VH tone.

    Research suggests Ed used a 100w plexi w variac at 90 vac, dummy load, effects, H&H SS amp, cabinets.

    can you get close by using a hot plate instead of the dummy load/ss amp?

    I've got a tsl 601 with NOS preamp tubes driving a 1960ax (Greenback) cabinet. No effects yet. I get close when its pretty loud (say preamp volume at 4ish and master at 8) but even loud I'm not totally there yet.

    I don't gig or record right now. Just play at home but want that tone for personal satisfaction. I don't want to cheat with a POD either unless someone can talk me into it. Maybe adding a phase 90 and analog delay is all i need to get there but the volume is still too high for most play time. I don't need ultra quiet but something more reasonable, which a hot plate would do. I see the advantage of having saturated power tubes on the preamp side. probably the key player in his early tone.

    Suggestions?
    The Variac and dummy load were/are two separate things. First you must understand that the Plexi as well as most vintage Marshalls were non master volume amps. The only way to get that righteous crunch and gain, as well as balance the tone, is to run them full up.
    He used the variac to reduce the overall voltage to reduce the chance of blowing transformers, and the rectifier circuit, but instead, he ended up blowing tubes. ALOT of tubes! Given their cost these days, (sometime $200.00 a pair in some cases) even the most accurate replication of his rig of that time would put you in the poor house.The dummy load ultimately became the Palmer speaker Emulator.
    This is what fed the H&H's. The Hotplate will acomplish this well. Ultimately though if you don't want to "cheat" but still have a nice vintage style setup and tone using attenuation, then start with a JCM 800. It IS a master volume amp, and if you want even more gain, there are hundreds of easy mods to achieve this over the net, or in the back of mags. (Cesar Diaz offers a video series too.) Just remeber that the variac was used out of necesity. There really was no other practical way to attenuate amps otherwise, plus remember that Eddie was really the first player to break the mainstream that relied soley on both preamp and power section distortion full time. Most other players used Fuzzfaces ,Rat's, Tube Screamers' etc. etc. Since Higher gain master volume amps became the norm, there is no need to use a variac, in fact you'll do more harm than good to your amp, because their designed to run at very specific voltages for efficiency. Run them to low and things can overheat in the preamp stage, and you're not just gonna replace a tube, socket, and a piece or two of wire. You may end up having to replace an entire printed circuit board. Mucho expensive! Keep it simple.
    Just remember that any kind of attenuation of the amps output with the amp up full is going to cause more maintenance or downtime for your amp. You will burn through more tubes, (although not nearly as many with a variac!) and you do run the risk of blowing an output tranny. To reduce the risk of this, keep the amp as cool as possible. Remove the back cover when safe to do so. Vacuum away, and wipe dust out of the chassis. Some guys even buy a small fan and aim it at the back of the head.
    Any other questions just ask. It's an intensive subject.
    She looks so $#@!'n good ,so sexy and so frail....Somethin's got the bite on me, I'm goin' straight to Hell.

  3. #3
    Top Of The World YMI5150?'s Avatar
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    Thanks for the detail. It's an intriguing subject to me.

    I understand the Variac vs. dummy load well.

    My TSL is in the JCM2000 family which was derrived from the JCM800. I wonder if the construction is similar enough to play the role necessary. It seems to me that it is with 2 EL34s and an all tube preamp stage. It seems like it has a bit more functionality than the 800 but should provide similar tone. Agree?
    The 60 watt vs. 100 watt should only affect head room which I don't need.

    It sounds like the Hot Plate would suffice. i hear a lot of good things about them and some negative things. I see a lot for sale with little use. this tells me it didn't do what the buyer thought it would.

    The Palmer is nice and versatile but a bit more money. Then I would need the SS amp to follow.

    I see guys on youtube get pretty damn close with just a head, cabinet, and effects...for some reason I cant get there with this setup. I don't have any effects and that might be part of it. Could be time tweaking settings too. I do know when I'm close, it's pretty damn loud...louder than what guys are posting on the tube.

    It would be nice to tame the volume and get there without blowing tubes...

  4. #4
    Good Enough SLEEPER5150's Avatar
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    12.03.10 @ 03:16 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by YMI5150? View Post
    Thanks for the detail. It's an intriguing subject to me.

    I understand the Variac vs. dummy load well.

    My TSL is in the JCM2000 family which was derrived from the JCM800. I wonder if the construction is similar enough to play the role necessary. It seems to me that it is with 2 EL34s and an all tube preamp stage. It seems like it has a bit more functionality than the 800 but should provide similar tone. Agree?
    The 60 watt vs. 100 watt should only affect head room which I don't need.

    It sounds like the Hot Plate would suffice. i hear a lot of good things about them and some negative things. I see a lot for sale with little use. this tells me it didn't do what the buyer thought it would.

    The Palmer is nice and versatile but a bit more money. Then I would need the SS amp to follow.

    I see guys on youtube get pretty damn close with just a head, cabinet, and effects...for some reason I cant get there with this setup. I don't have any effects and that might be part of it. Could be time tweaking settings too. I do know when I'm close, it's pretty damn loud...louder than what guys are posting on the tube.

    It would be nice to tame the volume and get there without blowing tubes...
    It also depends on exactly which how early a tone of Ed's you're trying to replicate. As far as taming the amp, well thats the challenge most have faced. Don't forget that alot of Ed's early tone came from the way it was recorded. Not taking anything away from him, but its a fact. Landee and Templeman are as much to compliment as Ed on that early tone. I can give you a few pointers there that help recording wise.
    She looks so $#@!'n good ,so sexy and so frail....Somethin's got the bite on me, I'm goin' straight to Hell.

  5. #5
    Top Of The World YMI5150?'s Avatar
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    12.15.13 @ 04:45 PM
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    Understood.

    Maybe its not in the cards to play low.

    Listen to this guy if you haven't already.

    How is he getting such sweet pinch harmonics without cranking the gain or volume? No fancy setup, just a handful of effects and a Peavey halfstack...


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    11.06.14 @ 03:09 AM
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    i would go with a metroamp plexi kit or even a reis plexi..the hotplate is ok,if you want to go with an attenuator get the faustine phantom,its the best attenuator out their for lower volumes.now if you want to get a loadbox you will need a good amp for slaving,i use a peavey classic 120 +120 power amp.i variac my plaxi down to 90 volts.you can hear it here.it was recorded with a cheap sony digital camera....

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    10.26.16 @ 03:37 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by YMI5150? View Post
    Understood.

    Maybe its not in the cards to play low.

    Listen to this guy if you haven't already.

    How is he getting such sweet pinch harmonics without cranking the gain or volume? No fancy setup, just a handful of effects and a Peavey halfstack...

    I'd get the Hotplate. There is no more of a chance blowing your tubes or transformers using it than if you just cranked the amp up full without the attenuator. Also, the Hotplate seems to preserve tone a little better than other units I've seen. The only other attenuators I like are the Weber ones.

    That guy is playing fairly loud, but you gotta realize that the 5150 is designed COMPLETELY differently that Ed's Marshall. Yes, you can achieve very close tones to the early Ed sound with the 5150, but it is accomplishing it mostly in preamp section, and then is making it sound good using the 'magic' of the ingenious cold-biased power amp design in those amps.

    Keep in mind also, that unfortunately, the variac was a big part of Ed's sound as well. Those old Marshalls were designed to run at 110-115 volts, and were running on the point of destruction there. Those voltages were common back then in the USA, but a lot of the time Ed was playing, US voltages creeped up to 120-124ish. Now your house voltage can hit 128, which is way too much for those old amps, and so a variac can be used to bring them down to 110 so they run 'correctly'. Ed took it a step further, and 'browned out' the voltage (my theory is that the term 'brown sound' really came from the term 'brown out', like when house power used to fluctuate and come it at way lower voltages during storms or heatwaves). He took the amp down to approximately 90-100 volts, which is enough that the tubes Ed was using didn't 'cathode shred' (and die immediately), but they kept functioning, and a direct result of the lower voltage made the even-order harmonics in the amp stand out WAY more. An effectively 'cold biased tube' like Ed's being run colder because of the variac, will cut out more harsh highs, smooth out the overall tone, and have much more harmonic content (cancel bad sounding odd-order harmonics, and enhance even order harmonics).

    And finally, speaker movement at high volume is also very important to the sound. A lot of the magic of guitar tone you hear on any recording is that they are cranking speakers and moving a lot of air to get the tone you are hearing at a nice, quiet volume level on your ipod. You could probably get away with having a quieter setup if you have a cab with Celestion Greenbacks or similar. Those tend to break up and sound nice at much lower volume levels.

  8. #8
    Top Of The World YMI5150?'s Avatar
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    12.15.13 @ 04:45 PM
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    so are you suggesting that the new 5150 heads don't need dummy loads and slave amps to achieve his early tone?

    If that's the case, I think I'd rather set my sights on a 5150 III head than try to make my TSL get there with a bunch of auxillary equipment...

    I've got greebacks so i can get the breakup needed without going deaf.

    it sounds like either a Hot Plate or a new head, and the Hot Plate is a gamble.

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    10.26.16 @ 03:37 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by YMI5150? View Post
    so are you suggesting that the new 5150 heads don't need dummy loads and slave amps to achieve his early tone?

    If that's the case, I think I'd rather set my sights on a 5150 III head than try to make my TSL get there with a bunch of auxillary equipment...

    I've got greebacks so i can get the breakup needed without going deaf.

    it sounds like either a Hot Plate or a new head, and the Hot Plate is a gamble.
    Nope, you'll REALLY need an attenuator if you get a 5150 I... or II... The only difference is that most of the tone, etc. is coming from the preamp. I don't own a 5150 III yet, but I've heard those are much better at lower volumes, more like a Soldano SLO100. So, I'd try the attenuator, see how it goes. If you still don't like it, then save up (or sell your Marshall) and get the 5150 III.

  10. #10
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    11.06.14 @ 03:09 AM
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjstudios View Post
    I'd get the Hotplate. There is no more of a chance blowing your tubes or transformers using it than if you just cranked the amp up full without the attenuator. Also, the Hotplate seems to preserve tone a little better than other units I've seen. The only other attenuators I like are the Weber ones.

    That guy is playing fairly loud, but you gotta realize that the 5150 is designed COMPLETELY differently that Ed's Marshall. Yes, you can achieve very close tones to the early Ed sound with the 5150, but it is accomplishing it mostly in preamp section, and then is making it sound good using the 'magic' of the ingenious cold-biased power amp design in those amps.

    Keep in mind also, that unfortunately, the variac was a big part of Ed's sound as well. Those old Marshalls were designed to run at 110-115 volts, and were running on the point of destruction there. Those voltages were common back then in the USA, but a lot of the time Ed was playing, US voltages creeped up to 120-124ish. Now your house voltage can hit 128, which is way too much for those old amps, and so a variac can be used to bring them down to 110 so they run 'correctly'. Ed took it a step further, and 'browned out' the voltage (my theory is that the term 'brown sound' really came from the term 'brown out', like when house power used to fluctuate and come it at way lower voltages during storms or heatwaves). He took the amp down to approximately 90-100 volts, which is enough that the tubes Ed was using didn't 'cathode shred' (and die immediately), but they kept functioning, and a direct result of the lower voltage made the even-order harmonics in the amp stand out WAY more. An effectively 'cold biased tube' like Ed's being run colder because of the variac, will cut out more harsh highs, smooth out the overall tone, and have much more harmonic content (cancel bad sounding odd-order harmonics, and enhance even order harmonics).

    And finally, speaker movement at high volume is also very important to the sound. A lot of the magic of guitar tone you hear on any recording is that they are cranking speakers and moving a lot of air to get the tone you are hearing at a nice, quiet volume level on your ipod. You could probably get away with having a quieter setup if you have a cab with Celestion Greenbacks or similar. Those tend to break up and sound nice at much lower volume levels.
    have you tried the faustine phantom?

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    10.26.16 @ 03:37 PM
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmf5150 View Post
    have you tried the faustine phantom?
    Not personally, no. I'm sure it does well too. I also hear that the Palmers are AMAZING... but I haven't tried one of those either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjstudios View Post
    Not personally, no. I'm sure it does well too. I also hear that the Palmers are AMAZING... but I haven't tried one of those either.
    the palmers ok,it just gets hot with a 100 watt plexi pushing it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmf5150 View Post
    the palmers ok,it just gets hot with a 100 watt plexi pushing it...
    I would be surprised if ANY attenuator stays cool with 100 watts going into it... I mean, the volume is basically turned into heat...

  14. #14
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    07.23.14 @ 08:40 AM
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    You could try one of these: http://www.surprisesoundlab.com/

    It's only one watt and has a 15 day money back trial period. You can crank it and not wake up the neighbors... It's about as loud as screaming at the top of your lungs when turned all the way up.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RG550L View Post
    You could try one of these: http://www.surprisesoundlab.com/

    It's only one watt and has a 15 day money back trial period. You can crank it and not wake up the neighbors... It's about as loud as screaming at the top of your lungs when turned all the way up.
    Little amps like that are really cool, but honestly I've not yet heard one that reproduces anything close to a cranked 6L6/EL34 power section.

 

 

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