Ivan’s new Hame 1×12 cab

December 13, 2013
Hame 1x12 cab

Hame 1×12 cab

Hello & welcome back to our blog. Occasionally our customer amplifier projects require the input & support of a specialised cabinet builder, for work that is beyond our amp building workshop’s resources. For example, we have utilised the unique cabinet building skills of Mr Peter Davies (ex NSW Central Coast, now resident in Melbourne) several times for our exotic hardwood cabs.

Hame 1x12 cab

Hame 1×12 cab

More recently we have enlisted the help of Mr Brandt Horrocks of Hame Speaker Cabinets (Wagga Wagga NSW) to produce a pair of specialised 2×12 cabs for baritone guitar stylist, Mr Chris Earle. As a spin off from that project, Chris also ordered a pair of somewhat more compact 1×12 cabs, one each for Chris & Ivan, for rehearsals & lounge gigs. We will look at the 2×12 cabs in greater detail in a later blog, as part of the broader Chris Earle project.

Hame 1x12 cab

Hame 1×12 cab

This 1×12 cab design is a much simplified version of the original 2×12 cab design, which included angled speaker baffles. In both cases, the cab design allows sound to pass through vents on either side of the cab. These vents are not tuned, as in a “bass-reflex” system (ie, the cab is “de-tuned”). Sound emanates from the sides of the cab much as it would from the rear of an open back cab, while providing better dispersion & more consistent tone from venue to venue. In the 2×12 cab design internal angled reflectors push the sound from the rear of the speakers to the side vents.

Hame logo

Hame logo

The end result is a speaker cab that is never “boxy” or “boomy”, with outstanding dispersion, clarity & a solid low-end. The intended companion amp for Chris Earle’s 1×12 cab is a brand new model from the Richards Amplifier Company – Australia: the KT88se, ie a single-ended/class-A KT88 amplifier. This amp will be part of the “British Lead” series, meaning that the front end is voiced as per some of the classic amps from the golden-age of British rock. This amp is the result of months of R&D during 2013, & will be the subject of a future blog.

the pair of 1x12 Hame cabs under construction

the pair of 1×12 Hame cabs under construction

Please take the time to check out these photos of the new cabs. Regards – IR.

under construction

under construction

completed

completed

completed

completed

completed

completed

2x12 cabs completed

2×12 cabs completed

MODs to the HIWATT 20H amplifier

December 10, 2013
HIWATT 20H

HIWATT 20H

Recently we implemented some home-grown MODs to a HIWATT 20H amplifier for Rick Altavilla, now on guitar for home-grown Central Coast band Sparrows - fronted by the one & only Scotte Woods (formerly of One Dollar Short). Rick purchased this amp new, fully expecting that it would sound like a scaled-down version of the great original HIWATT amps. Unfortunately it sounds & performs nothing like an original HIWATT. This is not a cheap amp either – it’s actually a rather expensive one, even allowing for the fact that it is hand-wired from the UK. To say that the guys from Sparrows were disappointed with this amp would be an understatement.

HIWATT 20H

HIWATT 20H

The 20H has some design problems in common with the Marshall C5 discussed in our previous blog. Much of the available gain is thrown away due to some bizarre design choices and the 3-band passive EQ just doesn’t work at the desired guitar frequency ranges. Indeed, the 20H sounds really flat.

Basically, you could consider this amp to be a kind of modern AC15, with a couple of sequential gain stages, a buffer stage driving the EQ, a pre-PI stage master-volume, and a zero negative feedback power amp employing a pair of cathode-bias EL84/6BQ5 output valves. Such an amp design potentially should sound mighty fine.

HIWATT 20H

HIWATT 20H

The power amp & PI (phase-inverter) stage were OK – no apparent problems there, so we concentrated our attention on redesigning the preamp, within the constraints of the existing electronics & layout, to achieve a useable amp. We reconfigured the gain stages to get some drive & balls from the amp, & revoiced the EQ as per the C5 to achieve a useable & effective sweep from all controls. The 20H now sounded like a baby “British” amp from the 60s golden-era, which is not a bad result at all !

Thanks Rick & Sparrows. IR.

MODs to the Marshall Class 5 amplifier

December 5, 2013
the modded C5

the modded C5

Welcome back ! Over the last couple of years, in our blog pages we have presented MODs to the Marshall JTM600/JCM600 amps, Peavey Valveking 100, Fender Pro Junior & Blues Junior, Laney LC30, amps by Rivera, bass amps by David Eden, plus wah wah pedal MODs. We offer all these MODs and more here in our Wyoming workshop.

Marshall Class 5

Marshall Class 5

In the coming weeks we will publish a blog re our home-grown MODs to the HIWATT 20H valve amp head, which is a seriously disappointing amp (sorry about that, HIWATT !). But our latest MOD project to present to you is the Marshall C5 amp. These amps have sold really well in OZ due to a very reasonable price point for a made-in-UK Marshall with an all-valve (tube) signal path.

Marshall C5

Marshall Class 5

Unfortunately, the C5 straight out of the box is not an amazing sounding amp. The 3-band tone controls do not seem to have a particularly effective sweep, and especially not at the frequencies you expect from a Marshall (ie, the “Plexi” or “Super Lead”), plus due to the absence of a master volume control or attenuator – 5 watts is still too loud in some home playing or recording situations.

C5 chassis with original transformers

C5 chassis with original transformers

We agreed to implement the full range of possible MODs to this C5 for our customer, to transform the amp from a just OK unit into a high performance tone machine, with the option of turning down to conversation levels with the addition of an attenuator (controlled from the front panel).

C5 chassis with mercury Magnetics transformer set installed

C5 chassis with mercury Magnetics transformer set installed

Mercury Magnetics have developed a transformer set specifically for upgrading the C5, which comprises power transformer, filter choke & audio output transformer. Our customer requested installation of the full set. The addition of a filter choke will improve the performance of this Class-A/single-ended design significantly.

C5 chassis after mods

C5 chassis after mods

Other C5 MODs that we recommend include (in no particular order): raise input impedance R20 & remove C10, change cathode bypass cap C8 for tighter/plexi lows, add a (subtle) ‘bright’ cap across VR1, change ‘bass’ EQ cap C20 to implement a useable (plexi) sweep, change ‘slope’ resistor R28 for a more balanced (plexi) sound, change signal path caps C2 & C5 for improved lows & low-mids.

C5 p.c.b. connections & installing the VVR module

C5 p.c.b. connections & installing the VVR module

There are several other potential MODs which will have a less significant effect. The law of diminishing returns starts to kick-in. Note that all the above modding requires removal of printed circuit boards (p.c.b.’s), and changes to p.c.b. connections. The final MOD to this amp is the installation of a VVR module, available commercially on-line, to compensate for the lack of a master-volume or attenuator on the C5.

C5 p.c.b. connections- looking to the rear of chassis

C5 p.c.b. connections- looking to the rear of chassis

The VVR (Variable Voltage Regulator) is a relatively simple circuit that when installed in an amp such as the C5, will make the high voltage DC supply (usually referred to as HT, HV or B+) continuously variable from the maximum normally available from the amp’s existing power supply, to a minimum level which is preselected by changing resistor values on the module. In other words, by electronically varying the high voltage supply within the guitar amp, we succeed in reducing the audio power output of the amplifier from its design maximum to a preset minimum.

the VVR module requires 2 x additional chassis holes

the VVR module requires 2 x additional chassis holes

The VVR module employs a high-voltage power Mosfet device such as the NTE2973. In most cases it will need a heatsink, and ref the C5 bolting the Mosfet to the chassis is quite adequate. Thus we will need to accurately drill/punch 2 x additional holes in the C5 chassis – 10mm for the VVR control mounted conveniently to the front panel, plus 3mm for mounting the Mosfet, which must also be insulated from the chassis.

C5 front panel - the VVR control installed

C5 front panel – the VVR control installed

It just happened that a convenient place to install the VVR control is right where the Class 5 logo appears. It doesn’t look too bad actually, and our customer was happy with that, however it is an issue to take into consideration. We didn’t have any suitable Marshall-style control knobs to suit, so we ended up using a small “chicken-head” knob from Cliff.

Any of the power amp attenuation devices such as the VVR or London Power Scaling (for example) will solve the problem of reducing power for playing in the home, as will speaker attenuators such as the THD Hotplate & so on, in the latter case the amp still runs at normal power levels but the output is attenuated before it reaches the speaker. In spite of all the hype about some of these devices, they DO have a quite noticeable effect on tone & performance – it’s inevitable ! By definition, reducing the available voltage to the valves (tubes) will impact on dynamics & tonality - the various types of output valves in common use in guitar amps will sound & behave differently at different B+ voltage levels. Lower voltages particularly impact on the low frequency response of a given amp design.

We are happy to install devices such as the VVR in your amp (where appropriate) – just keep in mind that there is a trade-off.

By the way – our customer just loves his upgraded C5 amp now ! IR.

Warning !

While the VVR described above is a simple circuit it is not a simple MOD to install. It should only be installed by a suitably qualified amplifier service technician.

Valves [vacuum tubes], transformers, capacitors, amplification circuits found within a guitar amplifier operate at high voltages that can cause permanent injury, disability or death. Never attempt to repair, modify, test, work on or touch electronic equipment unless you are trained or otherwise qualified to do so.

Brett takes delivery of his custom Blue Mood 30W EL34 head

December 1, 2013
Blue Mood EL34 head in rough blonde tolex

Blue Mood EL34 head in rough blonde tolex

This blog showcases a customised “Blue Mood” series amplifier designed & built by the Richards Amplifier Company – Australia, for our good customer Brett Lowe. Brett has been playing guitar & bass on the local Central Coast (N.S.W.) scene for many years and was a pupil of the late, great Don Andrews, so he knows his stuff. When Brett was looking for specific voicing for his next amplifier acquisition, he came to us and we recommended a custom design based on our successful Blue Mood series amps.

Blue Mood 30W EL34 head

Blue Mood 30W EL34 head

Brett was looking for a hybrid Brit/USA voicing, so we kept the layout and gain structure of the Blue Mood amps, but substituted a pair of EL34 output valves (tubes) in lieu of the 6V6 & 6L6 family of output valves we would normally employ in this series of amps.

Blue Mood EL34 amp head

Blue Mood EL34 amp head

We rejigged the choice of output transformer and its primary impedance & also revoiced the 3-band passive EQ for a more Brit tonality, all of which contributed to the final result. The amp retains the Blue Mood features of a bypassable master-volume, and a pull-shift on the bass control for fine tuning of the bottom end, plus a “bold/vintage” switch on the rear panel to reconfigure the EL34′s to cathode-bias operation for a nominal half-power output.

Blue Mood 30W EL34 head

Blue Mood 30W EL34 head

Brett chose “rough blonde” tolex & “wheat” grille cloth to match one of his speaker cabs. Brett has acquired (and sometimes moved on) many amps over the years, including DR-Z, Swart, Bad Cat, Budda & so on, ie many of the top boutique names in the business – but his band mates are of the opinion that this is the best sounding amp he’s ever owned. We love to hear that !

rear panel - Blue Mood

rear panel – Blue Mood

You can see in the photo opposite, we have employed an output transformer by Mercury Magnetics - we are one of their recommended installers, by the way. The choice of output transformer was a key ingredient in the design of this amp. Our next project for Brett will be a replica of the “Brownface” 2×10 Vibroverb amp of 1963, once again employing transformers & choke by Mercury. We will report on this success of this project in a few weeks. Regards – Ivan.

rear view - Blue Mood

rear panel – Blue Mood

rear panel - Blue Mood

rear panel – Blue Mood

burn-in test @ the Rock God Music School Wyoming

burn-in test @ the Rock God Music School Wyoming

burn-in test @ the Rock God music school Wyoming

burn-in test @ the Rock God Music School Wyoming

Pedals & amps by Ivan Richards Audio at work in the Australian music industry

November 26, 2013
Rich Blues live on Sunrise TV CH-7 Sydney. Marcus Catanzaro NOV 2013.

Rich Blues live on Sunrise TV CH-7 Sydney. Marcus Catanzaro NOV 2013.

Rich Blues. Recording session - Slow Chase.

Rich Blues. Recording session – Slow Chase.

Class-A Distortion. Hoodoo Gurus on tour. NOV 2012.

Class-A Distortion. Hoodoo Gurus on tour. NOV 2012.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session - Slow Chase.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session – Slow Chase.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session - Slow Chase.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session – Slow Chase.

Raw Brit. Melbourne, Australia.

Raw Brit. melbourne, Australia.

Raw Brit. Melbourne, Australia.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session - Slow Chase.

Richards 15W Expressionist amp. Recording session – Slow Chase.

Ivan’s guitars & pickups by Pete Biltoft

November 24, 2013
Ivan's '52 Tele Reissue

Ivan’s ’52 Tele Reissue

Welcome back to the blog ! Recently I discussed my intention of upgrading one of my favourite guitars – my ’52 Telecaster Reissue (late 1990′s USA manufacture), with our good customer Chris. In appreciation of some labour intensive work that we have done this past year, Chris presented me with a pair of Tele pickups from Vintage Vibe Guitars, by Mr Pete Biltoft, wound to my preferred specifications. Chris had previously had some custom work done by Pete Biltoft, with geat success. All the photos that accompany this blog were taken after completion of the upgrade work.

USA '52 Tele Reissue

USA ’52 Tele Reissue

According to the Vintage Vibe Guitars website, Pete Biltoft has a strong background in chemistry, metallurgy & precision fabrication. Add to the fact that he is guitar enthusiast, and those are pretty good qualifications for a custom pickup winder. Pete’s designs aren’t a copy of any one specific vintage pickup, but rather they are considerably enhanced & evolved designs for today’s player, while retaining the very best characteristics of the original pickup. If anything, they are somewhat over-engineered for the job at hand. It’s not often that we endorse products to this degree in these blog pages !

Ivan's '52 Tele Reissue

Ivan’s ’52 Tele Reissue

The original Fender Vintage pickups had previously been replaced by a pair of Seymour Duncans. The original neck pickup as usual was totally underwhelming, and the original bridge pickup had loads of character but a very spikey top end which rendered it unsuitable for some styles. I chose the Seymour Duncan Jerry Donahue bridge pickup and Alnico II neck pickup. The neck pickup would have suited a solo jazz guitarist but not a rock’n’roll band context, and the JD pickup curiously was not a stunning success in this guitar, although in theory it should have been. The bridge assembly is standard, but the saddles are from Acme, by Callaham, for improved intonation. The choice of saddles does have a significant impact on tone & sustain – even brass saddles from different suppliers can sound different, so every variable has some impact, however subtle that might be.

Pete Biltoft Tele neck pickup

Pete Biltoft Tele neck pickup

My preferred specification for the Pete Biltoft pickups was as follows: both neck & bridge pickups 5% overwound, both neck & bridge pickups Alnico V magnets for E, A & D poles, Alnico II magnets for G, B & E poles; G pole piece slightly raised & D polepiece raised higher to compensate for the thinner core wire in the D string of most string gauges. As an absolute minimum requirement there should be a very good balance between the neck & bridge pickups, unlike the originals. Normally I would prefer the neck pickup to have the usual cover to maintain a vintage appearance, but in this case I accepted Pete’s recommendation of no cover for maximum tone & clarity.

Ivan's ESP Ronnie Wood Telecaster

Ivan’s ESP Ronnie Wood Telecaster

The neck pickup measured 7.4K nominal & the bridge pickup measured 8.3K nominal. The pots are CTS 250K with a 0.047uf tone pot capacitor, with no treble bleed cap, and a standard 3-way switch. Pete has also supplied a 5-way SuperSwitch, to allow two additional pickup combinations – neck & bridge in series, in-phase & out-of-phase. We have yet to install this option. The documentation accompanying these pickups is the best we have seen, and Pete has done commendably well in achieving a balance between the neck & bridge positions, and also a balance between the Alnico V & Alnico II magnets.

ESP Ronnie Wood Telecaster

ESP Ronnie Wood Telecaster

The Duncan Alnico II neck will go on Ebay. But ref the Duncan Jerry Donahue bridge pickup, I had a hunch this one might work a lot better on my ESP Ronnie Wood Signature Model Telecaster – a very handsome fellow with black body, white binding & maple fretboard, a favourite look of mine. This guitar has had numerous pickup changes, mainly because of the problem of matching the neck & bridge pickups. Considering that this wasn’t a cheap guitar at all (over $2000 AUD retail, $1600 AUD street at the time of purchase), the original pickups were really average. The neck has had Fralin & Duncan humbuckers previously, and is now home to the Duncan Seth Lover Alnico II humbucker, which has a nice warm vintage (50′s) sound and is not too hot compared to a Telecaster bridge.

ESP Ronnie Wood Model

ESP Ronnie Wood Model

The bridge has previously had Jason Lollar & Jerry Amalfitano pickups, and once again getting the balance just right has always been my problem. Well, my hunch paid off – I installed the Duncan JD pickup in the bridge and together with the Seth Lover it transformed this guitar with nice vintage flavour tones, but actually although it measures 7.5K nominal, the JD pickup sounds vintage but is quite a bit hotter than vintage. Having both pickups with Alnico II magnets makes good sense, the tones & volumes match up better – the pots are CTS 500K with a 0.022uf tone pot cap, plus a 0.001uf treble bleed cap across the volume pot – this is particularly useful with the humbucker neck position.

ESP Custom Shop

ESP Custom Shop

In conclusion, as well as offering a complete valve (tube) amplifier design/build/repair/modify service centre, we also perform electronic repairs & upgrades to selected models of guitars & basses for local customers, which of course includes installing your choice of pickups & other components. Please contact by email to enquire. info@ivanrichards.com

Restoration of a vintage Sears “Silvertone” practice amp

November 18, 2013
Sears Silvertone 001

Sears Silvertone 001

This week’s blog is about the restoration to good working order of a classic item of Americana – the Sears ‘Silvertone’ guitar amplifier, marketed through the Sears Roebuck chain of stores in the USA, many years ago. This example was recently purchased by our good customer James, who is an enthusiastic collector of low powered valve (tube) guitar amps, including models by Matamp and WEM.

Sears Silvertone 002

Sears Silvertone 002

The Sears Silvertone products have become famous over the years for the entry-level guitar amps that many a successful guitarist first started playing through (in the USA & Canada). This particular model doesn’t appear to have a model number anywhere, but does have a chassis number on display. The schematic diagram is still attached to the inside surface of the cabinet.

Sears Silvertone 003

Sears Silvertone 003

The presentation of the amp is quite appealing, in the style of a vintage radio or record player. The circuit design is broadly similar to the ‘tweed’ Fender Champ models, with a single 12AX7 preamp valve, a single 6V6 output valve, and unusually, a 6X5 rectifier valve in lieu of the more common 5Y3. This last component enabled a simpler power transformer to be manufactured, not requiring an additional 5V AC winding for the rectifier valve. Obviously the cosmetics are very different to the ‘tweed’ Champs, and wouldn’t look out of place in somebody’s lounge-room of that time period.

Sears Silvertone 004

Sears Silvertone 004

The circuitry runs at somewhat lower DC voltages than the Champ, and there is less gain. The amp is very quiet – even at full volume you are playing at conversation levels. This is definitely a practice amp ! There is a commendable lack of hum & noise. This amp would probably suit the higher signal levels from a lap steel guitar. We were pleasantly suprised by the high standard of manufacture, wiring & assembly – one of the benefits of larger scale manufacture (we would assume) compared to vintage Aussie guitar amps, some of which were pretty rough & ready.

Sears Silvertone 005

Sears Silvertone 005

The Silvertone was purchased off Ebay & shipped over from the USA. Unfortunately the amp was not safe to use, with no earth and no fuse, just a 2-prong vintage USA power cord. The power transformer naturally was wired for domestic USA power only, so after some calculations & some assistance from Mercury Magnetics we were able to select a suitable replacement transformer wired for the 240V AC mains supply. The layout on this chassis is very tight indeed, and required some juggling of space to install the new transformer.

Sears Silvertone 006

Sears Silvertone 006

The 8-pin socket for the 6X5 rectifier valve had to be relocated slightly. The inclusion of a 240V primary winding unfortunately necessitates a physically larger transformer. The captive mains lead was replaced with a 3-core 240V rated lead & plug. A chassis earth point was installed, plus an internal fuse. The power supply filter capacitor was years past its use-by-date and was replaced also. This unit comprised 3 x 40uF/350V DC capacitors in a single chassis mounting metal can. Fortunately, these are being manufactured once again for the vintage amp/vintage radio market.

Sears Silvertone 007

Sears Silvertone 007

The valves (tubes) were still the original Sears labelled but actually by Tung Sol and still working fine. That’s quality for you, and we’ll never see valves manufactured to that standard again. Believe it or not, there is no input jack on this amp, but rather a short captive lead with a standard 1/4″ jack plug on the end, to insert into your guitar’s output jack. This lead was seriously crap, so we installed a decent quality captive lead. An electrical safety test, power output test and final play test and the job is complete.

Sears Silvertone 008

Sears Silvertone 008

Many thanks to Jimmy James for continuing to submit his varied & challenging projects. We still have a pair of Jim’s small WEM (UK) amps to bring back up to standard in the not too distant future. Regards, I.R.

Our 1×10 Tone Cabinet

November 3, 2013
Our 1x10 Tone Cabinet

Our 1×10 Tone Cabinet

Welcome back to the blog after a long break. We have actually been very busy designing, building, modding & repairing valve (tube) amplifiers & other rock’n’roll gadgetry, and we thank our loyal customers very much for their continued support. In this blog we showcase the latest offering in our custom range of tone cabinets, the single 10-inch speaker, semi-open-back cab. This model is obviously intended for home recording enthusiasts, and/or the guitarist who primarily plays at home.

the 1x10

the 1×10

However, depending on the choice of speaker unit, this cab will perform more than adequately at those lounge gigs. For example, the Celestion “G10 Vintage” 60W model, ie this is basically the 10-inch version of the well known G12 “Vintage 30″, produces a surprising amount of lows & low-mids loaded into this cab, and is a good choice for creating “British” type tones on a budget.

Our 1x10 Tone Cabinet

Our 1×10 Tone Cabinet

Why choose a 10-inch speaker rather than for example a 12-inch model for your home recording project ?? Consulting with guitarists who have been on the recording scene for decades reveals some interesting facts. The 10-inch speaker in fact has a more focused sound dispersion characteristic. The same comment obviously applies to 8-inch speakers.

the 1x10

the 1×10

This is all very subjective, but there is a strong body of opinion that the recorded guitar sits in the “mix” or the “track” better with the 1×10 or 1×8. But obviously to anyone standing in the room, a 1×10 cab doesn’t sound as big or impressive as a 1×12 cab, but it’s all a question of what the mic “hears” !!

the Weber loaded 1x10

the Weber loaded 1×10

Our good customer ‘Bill’, ordered this particular 1×10 cab loaded with a Weber 30W alnico magnet model, to match up with his 18W 6V6 model Blue Mood series amp, by the Richards Amplifier Company – Australia. Bill is looking to recreate the great late 50′s/early 60′s sounds from the West Coast USA, so this amp & cab are a great match.

Nothing ultimately affects electric guitar tone more than the speaker does. A speaker swap can completely transform the volume, tone & responsiveness of an amp. This is especially true in the case of a valve (tube) amp, where valves (tubes) & speakers share a unique symbiotic relationship.

Never has there been a wider choice of 10-inch speakers available, several “British” voiced models from Celestion, two great “American” voiced tens from WGS, and a bewildering number of options from Weber & Eminence. The biggest problem is – when used for their intended application, each & every one of them sounds great !

Which one to choose ??    IR.

Bondi Intermusic closes its doors !

September 9, 2013
Bondi Intermusic Oxford Street

Bondi Intermusic Oxford Street

Unfortunately folks, it is with great sadness and regret that we have to confirm that Bondi Intermusic of 362 Oxford Street Bondi Junction (Sydney/Australia) has closed its doors and ceased trading. For many years Intermusic served the needs of local eastern suburbs musicians specialising in guitars/amps/pedals and home recording, and also was a magnet for international touring bands, particularly from the UK, that often stayed in the Bondi area.

Yet another victim of the downturn in the music scene generally, plus the longer term after effects of the GFC, and the changing circumstances of musical instrument retailing. Intermusic always had a very friendly ’boutique’ vibe happening, and a sense of fun, so all the best for the future to Brent Williams, Bruce Thomas, Jono Clarke, Jimmi Ivanyi and all the other personnel who played a part in the Intermusic story.

inside Bondi Intermusic back in happier times

inside Bondi Intermusic back in happier times

Our own relationship with Bondi Intermusic extends back to at least 2003, at a time when we were establishing our custom amp service workshop as a full-time entity. Bondi put our FX pedals and amp services well and truly on the map by connecting us with Sydney’s musicians, both the weekend warriors and the top recording and touring professionals. Prior to this we were very much a regional service centre, virtually unknown outside of the NSW Central Coast. Thanks guys !!

Guitar Acoustics 1 Railway Road Meadowbank NSW

Guitar Acoustics 1 Railway Road Meadowbank NSW

But wait – there’s more !   Bruce Thomas, former guitar/amp/pedals sales manager at Bondi Intermusic recently opened his own shop in Meadowbank (Sydney), called Guitar Acoustics. Located in the corner shop position at 1 Railway Road, with ample parking in the street, Bruce’s shop is directly opposite the Meadowbank train station and also the TAFE. Only just established upstairs in the same block of shops is a guitar and music tuition studio.

Guitar Acoustics now open for business !

Guitar Acoustics now open for business !

Bruce Thomas is a well known identity from the eastern suburbs retailing and rehearsal studio scene, and we wish him all the best for this new venture. The location of the shop close to TAFE & music school at least guarantees some passing trade. Bruce has adopted a different approach from past retail experiences for this venture, offering primarily a range of acoustic guitars, ukuleles and accessories chosen for a specific price range.

inside Guitar Acoustics 001

Bruce will also be making available our custom amp and pedal workshop services available to customers as before, and in fact is already shipping amps to us in Wyoming for electronic repair work.

the guitar wall 002

guitar acoustics 007

another wah pedal blog: the Cry Baby Super by JEN of Italy

July 24, 2013
JEN 001

JEN 001

Welcome back to the blog. We haven’t discussed wah pedals since our blog ‘wah wah mods & repairs’ published 21/5/2011. We still regularly receive recent production wahs for basic repairs & setups. In this case a Cry Baby Super by JEN of Italy arrived for a complete overhaul from a customer in Canberra. This wah has been owned by the same customer for well over 30 years & could be considered a ‘classic’. Compared to some modern production wahs it has the most basic no-frills circuitry, and yet it is capable of a more ‘vocal’ sweep that is so musical & engaging that you just don’t want to stop playing !

JEN 002

JEN 002

We identified that the following components were faulty and should be replaced: the ‘pot’, the footswitch, the 9V battery clip & the input jack. The board itself (which included the famous ‘Fasel’ inductor, see JEN 004) was still OK. This was the perfect opportunity to offer the customer a ‘true bypass’ MOD, as we were going to install a DPDT Carlingswitch anyway. This is literally the only modification we would recommend for this wah. This wah already has a 9V DC IN jack installed, but there were no additional components provided for filtering the power or protection against reverse-polarity &/or over-voltage. The customer’s intention is to power the wah using 9V battery only (which some people still feel gives the best results in a traditional wah), so we took no further action in this regard, beyond a fresh battery & a new battery clip.

JEN 003 - replacement of rubber pads

JEN 003 – replacement of rubber pads

Before we could attempt to setup the newly installed pot & footswitch, we replaced the 2 x missing rubber pads on the underside of the pedal as shown in the photo JEN 003. These pads are critical to the ‘feel’ of the wah as you reach the end of the sweep and also dampen the mechanical action of engaging the footswitch. Most important. It is necessary to glue these pads in place and allow the recommended time for the contact glue to set.

JEN 004

JEN 004

24 hours later we returned to set the height of the footswitch, ie its point of engagement, plus the sweep of the pot. The original pot we removed measured 250K ohms, which is not a standard value for wah pots these days, but we successfully installed a 150K pot which when adjusted resulted in a very nice sweep. We discovered that there are significant physical differences between the original pot, rack & gear compared to current production (not for the first time). Therefore the nylon clamp that holds the rack nicely in place up against the pot gear was actually exerting way too much tension for this wah pedal to be of any practical use. Much trial & error later we finally had it just right.

JEN 005

JEN 005

You can see the original nylon clamp with the new pot in photo JEN 005, plus the ‘true-bypass’ MOD has been implemented. A resistor has been added to minimise pops & clicks (ie, a ‘pull-down’ resistor). We added some foam (JEN 004) to enable the battery & clip to be padded down firmly when the bottom plate is re-attached.

The sweep of a wah & the ‘feel’ of the bypass switching are so much a matter of individual preference, in most cases we can only adjust to what we think is appropriate, based on practical experience. We returned the completed wah via parcel post to our valued customer, Mr John Milton, and some days later received this very positive feedback & testimonial:

HI Ivan…………….and I must say how great it sounds. Certainly feels different under foot, but the sweep & the clarity of the wah is most notable and it didn’t take long for my memory of the pedal to return. Also noticed there was hardly any change (when using the Jen) of tone apart from the wah effect, of course, and the subtle transition of OFF to ON & vice versa. Very clean signal, and the low tones of the sweep don’t go muddy & gurgly (!?!). The newish ones seem to do that and it is horrible (the Zac Wylde version in particular). All in all, I’m really happy and it is great to get that ‘sound in my head’ back, which I didn’t realise was gone for a few years. Thanks again for a fantastic job and I certainly do appreciate it. I wouldn’t want to make any further changes, it is perfect for what I try to do. JM.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,235 other followers