Servicing the Carr ‘Sportsman’ amp in Australia

the Sportsman logo

the Sportsman logo

We have had a relationship with Carr amplifiers of North Carolina, USA, going back several years to when the former Bondi Intermusic Australia began importing these amps. Of course Bondi is long gone, so therefore we are no longer the national warranty service agent as the brand has been taken over by another distributor. However, with the full approval & support of Carr USA, we are still providing post-warranty after-sales-service to the entire range.

the Carr Sportsman 1x12 combo

the Carr Sportsman 1×12 combo

We have previously published blogs re the Carr Artemus and other models in the range. The Sportsman model is a relative newcomer to Australia, and this is our first servicing experience with this model, for new customer Matt. The design of the Sportsman follows on from Carr’s most successful models, being somewhat like a hot-rodded “blackface” Princeton Reverb amp. That’s the best way we can describe it, although there are some differences, particularly in the phase-inverter and power amplifier circuits.

the Sportsman front panel

the Sportsman front panel

The power amplifier is designed around a pair of 6V6 output valves, employing a form of compound bias – combining both fixed bias & cathode bias, with a power output @ the onset of clipping of about 16 watts into a 16 ohm load. This arrangement seems to work well in practice, although when Fender (as a division of CBS) tried something similar in the late 1960’s the results sounded so bad they had to implement a redesign of the “Silverface” models.

the Sportsman from the rear

the Sportsman from the rear

The power supply uses solid-state rectification, as opposed to valve (tube). The “headroom” control is actually a master volume with some tone shaping, following on from the final preamp gain stage. As per the Two-Rock amp discussed in the previous blog, this control is intended to manage the gain structure of the amp, rather than introduce distortion, hence the “headroom” label.

Sportsman chassis & speaker

Sportsman chassis & speaker

The reverb on this amp is exemplary, which is a real contrast with the many current production guitar amps offering really poor reverb !! There is no tremolo on this model. The chassis is completely hand-wired. Matt reported that although the amp was still functioning, the sound of the amp had deteriorated markedly. We examined the interior of the chassis looking for any signs of component failure or drift, but chassis checked out A-OK.

Sportsman 006We carried out a full re-valve and once more the Sportsman was delivering the kind of attitude that Matt was missing. The one and only concern we might have with this amp is the minimal ventilation for the horizontally mounted 6V6 output valves, which are biased to run quite hot. We have to thank new customer Matt for providing us with the subject matter for this blog. I think the only remaining question for Australian guitar players would be – could you buy an amp with a duck on the front panel ??    IR.

Sportsman 008

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