Archive for the ‘Friends of Ivan Richards Audio’ Category

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The original Fender Vintage pickups had previously been replaced by a pair of Seymour Duncans.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.


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

Sounds Like Sunset & the RICH FUZZ pedal

June 26, 2013
the boys from Sounds Like Sunset

the boys from Sounds Like Sunset

Sounds Like Sunset are back in the spotlight with their new single ‘Open Up My Eyes’ – equal parts shimmering noise pop, infectious hooks and bursts of the swirling, fuzz-pedal-friendly noise that’s defined their sound for over a decade – plus a chorus you won’t shake for days.

Recorded by Wayne Connolly in the big room at Alberts Studios (Neutral Bay/Sydney) in about 2010 – and then lots of DIY overdubs & vocals later (much, much later) at home in Wyoming (NSW) by David Challinor.

Mixed by Wayne Connolly in 2013 at Alberts (Neutral Bay) in Doug Mulray’s old broadcast studio on a crazy old refurbished (vintage) Neve desk.

an early Rich Fuzz pedal with traffolyte label & LED

an early Rich Fuzz pedal with traffolyte label & LED

Dave wrote to us this week with this update:

Here’s a single we’ve just released called Open Up My Eyes – we’re fortunate enough to be getting airplay on community radio such as 2SER & FBi, and also Triple J on & off (see Soundcloud link below).

The main reason I’m sending you this link is because the main drunken-swerving melody lead-guitar line in the song was recorded using my Rich Fuzz pedal. It was perfect for slithering & snarling around underneath the frequencies of all the other guitar tracks – just above bass range but below normal guitar range. I’ve had the pedal for years & years (it’s so old it’s from your pre-LEDs era – you previously had to retrofit an LED in it for me), and of course it’s still a great pedal !

We’re launching the single this Friday night (28th June 2013) at The Square in Haymarket (Sydney).

Another innovative indie band to use the Rich Fuzz extensively in their recordings is Sydney’s Circle (formerly Opanoni). We have been hand-building the Rich Fuzz since 1997, and although the cosmetics have changed from time to time, plus an LED status indicator was added when the 3-pole footswitch became available, the circuitry and component selection has stayed exactly the same, so you can be confident that a Rich Fuzz purchased in 2013 will sound exactly the same as the pedals built in 1997. Currently available from Bondi Intermusic (Sydney) or direct from Ivan Richards Audio.

(*) Wayne Connolly is an Aria Award winning producer, engineer, musician & composer with over two decade’s experience in the music industry.

major overhaul 40 y.o. Orange “Graphic” 100W head

June 10, 2013
Orange Graphic 100

Orange Graphic 100

Welcome back to the blog ! This week we look at a major overhaul to a battle-damaged classic from around 1971 – the Orange ORS100 “pics-only” head. Our very good customer David Challinor, guitar & vocals from the band Sounds Like Sunset, had recently acquired this vintage masterpiece, but in its existing condition the amp was quite unstable and of dubious electrical safety.

Orange Graphic 100

Orange Graphic 100

Dave contributed the Vadis/Galaxie amp that we blogged back in January 2012, which has been one of our most widely read blogs (for Australian readers). We have previously discussed the servicing of Orange amps back in April 2012, October 2011, & May 2011, but those amps were products of the contemporary Orange company. This is our first ever blog of an original Orange from 40 years ago.

Orange Graphic 100 internal prior to overhaul

Orange Graphic 100 internal prior to overhaul

Any guitar amp this old will have numerous issues to be resolved, including electrical safety, some components (eg electrolytic capacitors) will be well past their use-by-date, and also there will have been repairs carried out on-the-run which may well have to be corrected to produce a stable amp which performs as originally intended.

This amp is designed to run its quad of EL34 power output valves at a very high 525V DC, similar to some very old Marshalls from that era. This places additional stress on modern production EL34’s, as well as being a potential source of problems for printed circuit board designs.

Orange Graphic 100 internal prior to overhaul

Orange Graphic 100 internal prior to overhaul

Sure enough, there had been a melt-down in this amp, probably many years ago, which resulted in permanent damage to the p.c.b., with some tracks & pads having lifted, required the circuit to be completed with wire links. This had been repaired reasonably well previously, and we carried out some additional repair work in this area. You can see from the photo immediately above, the amp had been modded with the addition of zener diodes to lower the EL34 screen grid voltage. Quite amazingly given the high DC volts, there was no bias adjustment available on this amp.

Orange Graphic 100 rear view of chassis prior to overhaul

Orange Graphic 100 rear view of chassis prior to overhaul

Our agreed strategy was to restore the amp where possible to the original design, and update selected components, plus create an adjustable bias supply for the EL34’s. In Dave’s words: if you are able to drag the amp from being a potentially lethal museum piece & back to its former glory, then please proceed ! The trickiest bit was removing the p.c.b. from its position without introducing any more problems. These amps were really well made, built like a proverbial British tank, but employed single core wire, which as it ages becomes rather brittle and prone to breakage.

Orange Graphic 100 chassis front view prior to overhaul

Orange Graphic 100 chassis front view prior to overhaul

We cleaned up the copper side of the board and replaced all 9 x electrolytic capacitors, together with some 2 watt carbon film resistors. We installed a bias trimpot in place of a fixed resistor, which gives  a very broad range of adjustment, permitting the installation of various EL34 alternatives, eg E34L or KT77. We bedded down the high voltage capacitors in a blob of silicone for stability. We replaced the 4 x worn out pots and added an earth wire to the rear of the pots to improve shielding.

Orange Graphic 100 checking electrical safety issues

Orange Graphic 100 checking electrical safety issues

External to the board, the pair of vertical mounting 100uF/500V main power supply caps were replaced. All jacks & 9-pin valve sockets were cleaned with DeOxit. V1 & V2 were replaced with JJ 12AX7-s valves, which would be a reliable choice given the rather high cathode voltage in the V2 phase-splitter stage. The EL34’s tested OK and were retained. We found that the earth connection to the terminal block in the photo to the left had a stripped thread, which meant that the earth connection could not be tightened ! We replaced the terminal block and added a multi-strand earth wire connection direct to the chassis.


Orange Graphic 100 HV capacitors replaced & board repaired

Orange Graphic 100 HV capacitors replaced & board repaired

One unusual feature of the ORS100 design, especially compared to the published schematics of vintage Orange amps available on the internet, is that the huge filter choke actually carries the entire HV current draw of the amp, not just the screen grids & preamp valves. This probably has a positive impact on the amp’s performance when driven into clipping. However, the down side is that the voltage on the EL34 screen grids is too high. As a general rule of thumb, the voltage on the screen grids should be lower than that on the anodes, so we increased the value of the 4 x screen grid resistors, and installed those W22 series enamel body resistors which are intended for the harshest conditions.

Orange Graphic 100 new capacitors plus bias trimpot installed

Orange Graphic 100 new capacitors plus bias trimpot installed

The customary earth shield between the input jacks & the output transformer connections was missing, presumably lost at an earlier unknown repair job. Given the proximity of the input jacks to high voltage (HV) wiring, this was a contributing factor to the amps instability issues. Luckily we had a suitable shield in stock which we had manufactured for our own Richards amps, and you can see it has been installed in the photo to the left. After hours of work we were finally in a position to carry out a PAT test and a power output test. The result was 30V/8 ohms = 112 watts @ onset of clipping.

Orange Graphic 100 repairs completed

Orange Graphic 100 repairs completed

What did the ORS100 sound like ? This amp is designed to be played loud ! We gave it a blast in the workshop, and the more we turned it up, the better it sounded. The treble, bass & presence controls are very effective, but we really preferred the 6-position FAC switch on maximum anti-clockwise for a maximum full-bodied tone. There may not be too many venues left where you can actually use this amp to its full capability.

This overhaul exceeded the original budget by quite a margin but Dave seemed to be very excited by his new amp acquisition. Here are Dave’s initial reactions to the amp as conveyed by text message:

HI Ivan  – the Orange was wonderful, thanks ! Enormous sound. I love it !!

Once again the Orange was phenomenal at rehearsals. It’s my new favourite amp. I think it’s because it handles pedals so well too. I really, really love this amp & as always your work is top notch.

Thanks Dave, we love that kind of talk. IR.

Dean takes delivery of his Blue Mood 18W custom amp

December 10, 2012

Mr Dean Gardiner, the brother of Jonny Gardiner (proprietor of the Rock God Music School, situated around the corner from us here in Wyoming NSW), recently took delivery of his Blue Mood 18W 6V6 amp head, by the Richards Amplifier Company – Australia. Naturally, when the day came for Dean to pick up his new amp, we took it around to the music school auditorium, so the two brothers could give it a good blast.


Dean Gardiner 18W Blue Mood 002The photos show Dean’s new Richards amp sitting on top of Jonny’s favourite well played in Marshall 4×12 speaker cab, but we demo’d the amp through a variety of differently voiced speakers. Some amps only sound at their best when connected to specific models of speaker, but this amp sounded great connected to any speakers we had access to. We originally discussed the assembly and design concepts of this amplifier in some detail in our earlier blog dated July 17th, 2012. There are two important details that differentiate this example of the Blue Mood series amps from other custom orders, apart from the choice of 6V6 output valves.

Dean Gardiner 18W Blue Mood 003Firstly, this amp includes the optional extra of a valve-driven FX Loop, please see the original blog. Secondly, Dean chose the Mercury Magnetics reproduction of the original Fender “Brownface” DeLuxe 6V6 audio output transformer. This transformer has only a single 8 ohm secondary winding, so there is no impedance selector on the rear panel as per most models. However, this limitation is more than compensated for by the trademark Mercury sound that is smooth, exceptionally musical, warm and balanced. Sweet, rich, detailed and seductive !

Dean Gardiner 18W Blue Mood 004So………………what is the intention of the Richards Blue Mood series amps ? To equal or surpass the tones of the great late 50’s tweed and the early 60’s blonde and brownface guitar and bass instrument amplifiers. The Blue Mood gives you finer control over your tones and less power supply noise than the originals. The amps are designed around 6V6 or 6L6 power amp stages, although we do also build a 30 watt EL34 model with a more ‘British’ voicing, as a tribute to the great TW style amps. In the latter case, the control panel and chassis layout remains unchanged. The EL34 model will be the subject of a forthcoming blog. Regards – Ivan R.

Gary takes delivery of his Blue Mood 18W combo

September 22, 2012

Our good customer Gary recently took delivery of his new Blue Mood Series 18 watt reverb 1×12 combo from the Richards Amplifier Company – Australia. As you can see in the photos, this combo is just stunningly presented in a cabinet built from a central section of Tasmanian Blackwood, with Bird’s Eye Maple edges. The 1×12 speaker baffle is furniture-grade Fiji Cedar ply, although this is covered in a plain black grille material for contrast.

The exotic timbers cabinetwork is done for us by our good friend and colleague, Mr Peter Davies, who is formerly of the NSW Central Coast, but now resides in Melbourne. This combination of Tassie Blackwood and Bird’s Eye Maple represents the most attractive combination for our amps we have achieved so far, although Peter tells us he is working on something even more eye catching !?!?

Any of the amps and speaker cabs that appear on our blog site can be ordered with conventional “tolex” coverings, available in a variety of styles and colours, over a furniture-grade plywood cab. This particular 1×12 combo was supplied loaded with a Celestion 70th Anniversary Series G12H30, a speaker that sounds very good with most amp designs.

We don’t imagine that Gary will be taking this amp out on the road, it’s more the kind of amp that you enjoy in the privacy of your own home. The combo features a pair of high impedance inputs, a bright switch for guitars with humbucking pickups, volume, treble, middle, bass, reverb and master volume controls, footswitch jack and send & return jacks for the passive FX Loop.

So – what makes this 18W combo different from the other models in the Blue Mood range ? For one thing – this model is all about the reverb. The reverb is warm and lush, not the thin and insipid reverb that we hear in so many commercially made amps nowadays. Naturally, we employ a full size reverb tank, housed within a double bag to minimise coupling from the nearby speaker. The reverb does not add any hum, noise or power supply hash to the dry signal. The sweep of the reverb level control is useable from minimum to maximum – we don’t concentrate the entire sweep of this control into just a few degrees of rotation !

Primarily, this model is designed for transparency, with the added bonus of the warmth and harmonic complexity that only a well-designed valve amp can deliver. The master volume control is intended more to control the gain structure of the amp, and is less about overdriving the preamp easily. In other words, the player can find the desired sweet spot when setting the volume, treble, middle, bass & reverb controls, then set the appropriate playing level with the master.

The footswitch jack offers a boost facility for solos, etc, achieved by partially bypassing the passive EQ, ie the tone stack. A robust footswitch pedal is included. The FX Loop is positioned after the master volume, between preamp and power amp and is completely passive to maintain the transparency of the amp design. This will require the use of a professional quality (line level) time delay outboard FX, which offers a high input impedance plus input & output level controls with LED signal level indication.

Feedback from Gary so far – well, all of our customers love their Richards amps, but we have never before received such a warm & enthusiastic response as we have over this amp. Gary realises that this amp is making him a better player – the transparent nature of the amp means that it doesn’t hide any mistakes or sloppy playing, so you just end up playing better. The warmth and sheer tone of the amp means that you can play for hours on end and never want to stop. Even Gary’s wife has noticed the improvement. We think we have achieved something extraordinary here !

Well – we will probably only ever build just a handful of this particular model. Our most popular models are the British voiced Expressionist and Rich Tone amps, with good reason, but we have certainly proved a point with the 18W reverb combo. Many thanks to Gary for his enthusiastic response to this amp – IR.

Brent’s vintage DIASON amp

September 16, 2012

Welcome back ! This week we have another curiosity item from the distant past. We are discussing a vintage Diason 15 watt guitar amplifier, serial # C1048, belonging to Brent, from Bondi Intermusic, our favourite Sydney boutique guitar store. We know very little about Diason amps, we’re not even sure how to pronounce “Diason”, but we know they were manufactured in Melbourne Australia, back in the 50’s and 60’s.

Once again, if anyone out there has any knowledge regarding the manufacture of the Diason amp, please contact us so we can present this information to our readers. Our primary concern always is that the history of the Australian music industry is not lost forever. We have repaired Diason amps previously, usually from the mid-60’s, and always 1X12 combo’s of less than 20 watts output.

This stunning example is presented in a very attractive green covering material with contrasting speaker grille. Judging by the approach to construction of this amp, it is a fair guess that date of manufacture is in the late 1950’s, or early 1960’s at the latest. There are two channels with individual volume controls and a common tone control, a fairly standard format back in the day. There are separate chassis for the preamp and the power amp, also a standard format at the time, usually connected together by an octal plug and socket, but also by other methods.

The input jacks and controls face to the rear, which was perfectly fine at the time when dance band guitarists often played seated, with their amp in front of them. Fifteen watts was more than adequate for the job. We recall seeing amps just like this from Maton, Vadis and Moody, to name just a few, plus Fender, Gibson and Ampeg from the USA. The amp sounds quite good, by the way. Brent was intending to put this amp in his special room upstairs at Intermusic, with all the nice acoustic guitars.

Well, there wasn’t actually a great deal wrong with this amp – just a general service required. All the electrolytic capacitors were replaced of course – they were still the originals ! Plus a resistor that had drifted way off value. Electrical safety issues included the 240V 3-pin plug, and the fuse. The single biggest problem was the pots were so scratchy, the amp was barely useable. A good squirt with Caig Faderlube restored them to good working order, replacement not required. They made things to last in the old days !

You can clearly see from the photo on the right the arrangement of the two separate chassis. The hefty Aussie power transformer is mounted at the end of the chassis, well away from the 12-inch speaker which takes up most of the internal space within the combo. The audio output transformer is mounted to the chassis of the speaker itself, also a common arrangement back in the day. The captive 240V power lead usually has a space to be curled up underneath the power amp chassis.

The speaker is mounted slightly offset, possibly to balance the weight and also possibly to create space for the power transformer. You can see on the left that the speaker manufacturer’s label and the stamp for model number and impedance have survived. The alnico-magnet speaker was manufactured by MSP, a division of AWA in Sydney. MSP = Manufacturers Special Products. The MSP speakers were standard equipment in many Australian-made guitar amps. AWA also manufactured valves (tubes) in another division called AWV (Amalgamated Wireless valve).

Most, if not all the valves (tubes) in this Diason appear to be original. Apart from the made-in-Holland EL84 output valves (labelled 6BQ5), they were all made-in-Australia. The photo to the right shows the 5Y3 rectifier valve, labelled Philips Miniwatt. Miniwatt was the division of Philips that manufactured electronic components, for example capacitors, as distinct from consumer products. All these valves are still working fine after 50+ years !!

Obviously we were manufacturing very high quality valves (tubes) right here in Sydney, at the manufacturing facilities of both AWA and Philips. That’s another Aussie manufacturing skill that’s disappeared, unfortunately. We remember buying a carton of 12AX7’s from AWA in Ashfield at the beginning of the 1970’s, which lasted most of that decade. Each and every one of them was excellent, and they didn’t require individual testing and grading, which is what we have to do now.

Anyway – back to the Diason general service, we completed the job and invoiced Brent for 1.5 hours labour plus a handful of components. Not a huge investment required to get this amp running at its best, with a check on electrical safety as well. Whether or not anyone actually plugs an instrument into this amp, it will look just fabulous in the Intermusic acoustic guitar room.

The remaining photos are before and after shots, inside and outside of the power amp chassis. They are typical of the layout and construction style of the amps of that time. We hope you enjoyed this appraisal of yet another quite obscure vintage Aussie guitar amplifier. We have a bit of a backlog of material to publish, so please check in with us on a regular basis. Regards, IR.

Victor takes delivery of his Blue Mood 12W head

September 4, 2012

Here is a new model in the Blue Mood series of amps from the Richards Amplifier Company – Australia. Utilising our smaller chassis size, and powered by a pair of 6V6 output valves, the Blue Mood amp is now available as a 12W head. In spite of the seemingly rather modest power rating, this amp is quite capable of holding its own with a bass player and drummer.

This example is presented in a stunning combination of colours – vintage style (British) purple tolex, and a front panel made from a selected piece of exotic hardwood – purpleheart. Black hardware, control panels and control knobs complete the picture. Those of you who are familiar with our amplifiers will know that we are particularly proud of the presentation of our amps in such beautiful timbers as Tassie Blackwood, Bird’s Eye Maple, Bubinga, and others – now including Purpleheart.

The basic Blue Mood format offers a stripped down circuit for purest signal path. A single high impedance input jack, volume control, passive treble/middle/bass controls, active prescence control, and master volume control with bypass. The bass control has a pull-shift function to shift the focus of the bass and midrange controls upwards by approx 1 octave, for an alternate vintage voicing. Rear panel offers 4/8/16 ohms impedance selection, a pair of parallel-wired speaker jacks, line/DI jack, a pair of fuses, detachable mains connection, plus a bold/vintage switch – in this amp the vintage setting reconfigures the 6V6 output valves for class-A/cathode-bias operation.

The basic tonality of the Blue Mood amp is inspired by everybody’s favourite early 1960’s amp from California, as exemplified by the Mark Knopfler’s, Stevie Ray’s and the Brian Setzer’s of the guitar world. We just go out of our way to make it a little fatter, a little warmer, and a little sweeter.

Each and every amplifier is individually hand-assembled, hand-wired, one at a time, by one person from beginning to end, to a specific customer order.

Dean’s custom amplifier build progress

July 17, 2012

Here is the 2nd in our occasional series of blogs where we publish a visual progress report of a custom-order amp build. This example shows a Blue Mood series amp chassis under way for Dean Gardiner. This amp is a customised variation on the Blue Mood concept, with the addition of a fully-featured valve (tube) driven FX Loop.

The FX Loop features separate Send & Return level controls, as well as separate Send & Return buffer stages. Obviously the Return buffer stage can be configured as an additional gain stage, or purely just to balance the wet signal against the dry signal. The FX Loop can be activated or bypassed by means of a toggle switch mounted on the front control panel. There is no need to be messing around at the rear of the amp in the middle of a gig or session.

This 18 watt Blue Mood head is built around a pair of 6V6 output valves, with power transformer from the very fine Harbuch company of Sydney, plus output transformer & choke from the very fine Mercury Magnetics company (USA). The 6V6’s can be operated in fixed-bias mode for maximum power & dynamic range, or cathode-bias mode for a sweeter tone & more compression (activated rear panel).

Rectification of the high voltage supply on this model is handled by a GZ34/5AR4 rectifier valve (tube). The basic tonality of the Blue Mood amp is inspired by everyone’s favourite early 1960’s amp from California, as exemplified by the Mark Knopflers, the Stevie Ray’s & the Brian Setzer’s of the guitar world. We just go out of our way to make it a little fatter, a little warmer & a little sweeter.

The front panel controls are as follows: single high-impedance input jack, volume, treble, middle, bass (with EQ pull-shift), FX Loop send level & send jack, FX Loop activate/bypass switch, FX Loop return jack & return level, (active) prescence control, master volume (pull activate), standby switch, power on/off switch, neon power on indicator.

The rear panel controls are as follows: 240V/IEC power inlet; mains fuse, HV (high voltage supply) fuse; bold/vintage switch (selects mode of operation for 6V6’s), bias test points (for 6V6’s), line/DI jack, pair of speaker jacks (wired in parallel), speaker impedance selector switch.

The Richards Amplifier Company – Australia. Each & every amplifier is individually hand-assembled, hand-wired, one at a time, by one person from beginning to end, to a specific customer order.

the Experience Jimi Hendrix Show Melbourne June 2012

July 14, 2012

The Experience Jimi Hendrix Show took place at the Forum Theatre in Melbourne Australia, recently (Saturday 23rd June 2012). A talented lineup of some of Australia’s best loved guitarists performed the songs of Jimi Hendrix.

This tribute concert brings together an all star cast of Australian guitar playing greats, each performing their two favourite Hendrix songs. For the previous two years, the concert has sold out Sydney’s Enmore Theatre.

Eleven guitarists in total performed at the 2012 Melbourne concert: Bob Spencer, Brett Garsed, Brett Kingman, Charlie Owen, Dave Leslie, Jimi Hocking, Joel Silbersher, Phil Manning, Steve Edmonds, Daniel Spencer, Stuart Fraser (listed in the same order as the poster).

We are proud to be able to tell you that Bob Spencer played the concert using his “big” amp, the custom design Richards 4 x KT66/85 watt head. This particular amp is about ten years old now, and is still regularly used for Bob’s home town gigs, for example with Raw Brit. This is a record for Bob !

For high quality photos of this event, approx 125 of them, click on the FasterLouder link below.

Now, while on the subject of Raw Brit – click on the Soundcloud link below for a live recording of the band playing at a Melbourne venue. The track is a song by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band from the UK in the 70’s. Bob is playing his Tokai SG loaded with Mick Brierley pickups, through the Richards KT66/85W amp into two speaker cabs. One cab is an Achilles quad loaded with G12H30’s, the other cab is an old Lenard loaded with Lorantz speakers. Bob usually plays through a Rich Blues into a Rich Drive pedal, plus a VOX wah modified by Shaun Klinger.