Show us your... amp!

Another purchase, so I thought I'd start a thread for people who like to yak about the other two-thirds of their sound. TBF, I don't think my speakers would interest many here because, y'know, bass requirements differ. Still, here's the latest that I've long had an interest in but it's just the off-auction pic as I haven't received yet. An Impact 60:

and rather than me blather on about it, plenty of info on Sixten's Impact site: http://www.edgaraudio.se/tubes/impact.htm. I'd be very interested to get the Impact 100W he mentions; cathode-biased 4xEL34 - interesting even if it does burn up most current-production tubes.

I'm going to transfer over some earlier posts that clogged up "Show us your guitar" thread so apols and scroll down to those that have seen them already. Please punt in any/all of your amp/cab/combo pics and why you do/don't like... :)

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Well, I made a right cod's buttock of transferring the amp-specific posts over to this thread and made them disappear into the ether :oops: . Here's one that still survives:

Most of my stuff is oddball that needs some explaining. Things like student money, mortgages, wife and now a sprog have always got in the way of really splashing out, so I've had to be inventive or an eBore specialist. Put the coffee on, or make extensive use of the scroll-down button. My first and still fave amp (not for sentimental reasons) is my CMI 100W Lead/Bass.

I bought it in a smelly "Pulp Fiction" 2nd hand shop in 1981 for £65. I distinctly remember a HiWatt being there, a heap of Sound Cities and, I think, an Orange, that he couldn't sell with a naked Deborah Harry prostrate over them. I got the CMI because it sounded the nicest. Two years later, I had an extensive loan of an Orange head + cab and I still liked the CMI more. It turned out that CMI was one of those rebadge jobs that Jim Marshall did and this is pretty much a hybrid of the early 70s Superlead/Superbass:

Yes, that filter capacitor needs replacing. So do the Svetlanas; not because they're worn but they just don't sound as good as the Mullards did. A quad of German RFTs are earmarked for it.

Coupla years ago, I wanted a combo for light work and fancied either the Fender Musicmaster Bass or Traynor YBA2 but the occasional ones here in Blighty went for too much so I switched to a WEM Dominator MkIII:

(library pic, not my actual amp or lousy photo)

I was so excited to get one for under £100 I suddenly realized I'd arranged to collect on my wife's birthday :shock: Flower shop on the way home :oops: . Mullard ECC83s and EL84s, much better than my guitarist's amp with Sovteks. Cathode biased, so I've briefly plonked Amperex and RCA in there - very decent but I prefer the Mulls. This amp was plagiarized by Marshall to make their 18W combos which now collect fantasy money even in RI form. Gorgeous with the right glass.

Around my birthday 2004, couldn't resist this '69 Laney PA Super 100:

It slightly predates the Iommi Supergroup and the power section is identical, pretty much. What I like about the preamp is that each of the six channels has its own valve to handle the gain stage and eq before going on to the mixer and PI tubes:

Channels 5+6 are slightly modded to overdrive, and 1-4 alternate between British and US pre-tubes and increasing gain types to pick a tone I like. The EQ is a little bit out, but not so bad I urgently need to change pots/caps. I reckon the bias is too cold though. It's too quiet for a 100W and the (early) distortion is not particularly pleasant. Oh, being a PA, it has an echo (FX) loop, which is nice on an amp this old.

My weirdest, and most outrageously lucky, pickup was a coupla months ago. Goes by the name of "Fradan Echomatic 50" it was made locally in 1964 and bought then by the guy who sold it to me:

The guy who ran an electronics/musical instruments shop started making his own version of the WEM Copicat. It's a valve driven tape echo, but with a 2xEL34, 50W power amp built into it. It was meant as a "whole band" PA, and that's how the seller's band used it. There are three FX levels and rate and depth knobs. Blimmin' loud as well. It came with a pair of 2x12" cabs containing '60s Goodmans Audioms that actually sound nice (I'm not big on vintage speakers usually). Why no-one bid more than £35 for it I don't know. Still, the seller seemed happy enough that it was going to someone that'll stroke it and pat it and love it...

I've yet to receive this American "Voice of Music" that I bought on impulse for about $30:

my LA chum has ditched the box, cloth, naff speakers etc. The 7-pin valves are going, to be replaced by 12AX7 and 6V6. The idea is for a 5W single-ended Champ-style head. Looking forward to that, as old Fenders are a bit thin on the ground over here:

ahh so shoot me i like modern! :D

I'm not anti-modern although, with the Mesa, I'd be like the Mother Superior at a Hefner party. I wouldn't know what to do with all the knobs on offer.

Gee...so that's where that aluminum diamond step-plate went that got stolen off my tractor/trailer!

Thought you might like a look at these.

This is my THD Bi-Valve, had it 2 years, never gigged it, but play it in the house a lot.

This is my friend Gary's Marshall, on loan since the Hiwatt blew out on me last week. Its a superlead MK2 , i think from the 70's, monsteroulsly loud.

This one i dont know much about, its in original condition, i think it's 80 watts, all transistor, Ampeg with original 15" speaker, late 70's? early 80's? sounds very nice though.

And lastly my Hiwatt, it's a DR103 from 1973, all original, except for those output valves, was given to me not working by our old Bass player, spent a bit of money getting into shape again, but is in need of repair again, but the tone is well worth all the hassle.

All nice, Lee; I wouldn't mind if they fell into my stocking. That Marshall would be around '72-'76, when they stopped doing the coloured Tolex and I think it can be dated by serial number. My CMI is pretty much a superlead/superbass and CMI amps only seemed to have been made in '76 and '77. The difference is that your Superlead will have a PCB whereas Marshall carried on using the tagboards and P2P wiring for the CMI.

No-one's really sure why Jim started yet another brandline when he had Park and Narb as alternatives, but I have a (wobbly) theory. Perhaps he had (or discovered in some shelving) a large stock of tagboards and other components intended for Mk1s? Rose-Morris (who still had exclusive marketing rights to Marshall amps) wouldn't have wanted a heap of the old Superleads made, so Jim might've used the CMI name to package these up and sell them as a budgetish (the CMI has no standby, for instance) line?

That DR103 is well worth getting going again (I'll take it if you're not bothered :) ) and you know I'm a fan of the BiValve. It might be a SS, but the Ampeg is an Ampeg so it's gotta be good on bass.

Anyhoo, speaking of Hiwatt, I bought a Selmer TV100PA for £70. It was cheap because the owner found it in a house he bought and wasn't sure it worked. It does work fine but the mains lead is well dodgy and the power valves are on their last legs. Also, the metal case was painted a hideous orange. Pics are here on Steve Russell's Selmer amp site:
http://www.vintagehofner.co.uk/gallery/gallery3/gallery6/gallery7/gallery8/amp2.html

I've played it and, unlike the Laney PA which breaks up, this Selmer does a job a PA head should and stays powerful and clean to high volume. The tone stacks need jiggling for guitar and bass, but it could make a nice budget Hiwatt. Again it has an ECC83 for each of the four channels (all Mullards - yey!), an EF86 mixer and another Mull ECC83 for the PI. I'll do my previous trick of substituting preamp valves to give me four different voices (probably Mullard ECC81 and 83, and Sylvania 12AT7 and 12AX7). I haven't tried them , but Sylvs are pretty gainy and most US tubes seem brighter than the British so I'm hoping to get two attenuated (81 and AT7) and the other two as bright and middish channels. And some black paint.

Remember that Voice of Music up there? Well, I now call it "Voice of Kilgore" in honour of my Californian chum who took it in for me. I think only the original power transformer remains. He's changed it to a 1x12AX7, 1x6V6 amp on a shiny chrome chassis:


White knob is vol, black is tone. He's fitted a switch to convert the 2nd speaker out to DI for recording or driving my bigger amps. It's voiced for that '50s Champ/Princeton tweed sound, but goes holy overdrive when cranked up.

I tried out the Impact with the guitarist. He's really annoying; got out his RCCB (I'd already checked it for safety) did 5 minutes and switched to his WEM ASAP even though he liked the Impact's tone. Channel 1 is amazingly Fender twang, but the treble and bass pots are useless. Channel 2 is more bassy, but the eq is beautifully set up for guitar. So it shouldn't take much effort to make perfect (although it doesn't have headroom for bass purists). "Vintage" power valves (thankyou) but Chinese "PM" ECC83s. I changed V1 for an Amperex but that was too dark and lost the twang. An RCA restored it nicely and eliminated the Chinese tendency for brittleness.

You always get some of the best deals Bass, but then you know exactly what to look for.
I'd like to take the THD out gigging but it's one of those amps that just looks as if it's not built to be played like that, i suppose i could get a flight case for it, it does have the sweetest tone, especialy with 2 EL34's in the driving seat.
How may amps have you bought with Mullards in them? is that yet another set i spied in the Selmer?
What do these amps actualy sound like? which is your favourite?
The CMI stuff certainly looks to be top shelf kit.

Yes, I primarily bought the Selmer as a parts raid. I spotted the quad of Mullard xf2 EL34s (those pics are the actual Fleeb pics, mixed with my "chassis out" pics) and figured £70 and a trip to Leicester would be worthwhile. I reasoned that if the power valves were Mulls, then the hidden valves would be, too. Sure enough, all the ECC83s were Blackburn Mulls (the EF86 is a 'foreign' marked Brimar) but it was a bit of a failure from the parts-raid POV.

Steve's site stated that the MkII had a pair of GZ34 rectifiers; these alone fetch £30+ each if Mulls in good nick. Steve even sent me a contemporaneous Selmer catalog scan stating that it was 2xGZ34 rectified. Opened her up and there was no sign of them ever having been there. Given that my MkII is the early, Sept '68 version, he's updated his site but that was too late for me. Also, those EL34s looked healthy but it's all dust. After wiping them off, the silvery getter flashing only covered the very top part of the dome. I'm working (hoping) on a semi-sound theory that flash loss is inverse-exponential and I'm keeping them in because they sound phenomenal. The Mullard is my favourite EL34 by a thousand knots.

When I bought the CMI, I assume that it was Mull equipped. Another band borrowed and trashed it but a friend of a friend brought it to "as new" cond (wiping a fair bit of value off by replacing the mains jewel light and all the knobs but I don't care about cosmetic originality) including Mull EL34s. I had it serviced in ~1990 by a "guy in a bow tie" in a local electronics shop who was so impressed with it (by now I knew it was a Marshall) that he got out a quad of xf4 Mulls he kept for amps that "deserved" it. In 2000 I had it serviced by some gits in Burton-on-Trent (a long round trip) who didn't fix the problem but (IMO) stole the Mulls and replaced them with Svetlanas. Svets last (they're still in there) but I hated them immediately. Given that all three pre-tubes are all Mulls (rebranded, otherwise I think they'd've been stolen too), it just shows the difference a good power valve makes.

The WEM came with, and still has, three Mull '83s in the preamp and 2 Mull EL84s in the power section. The Fradan can't be opened up ( :shock: ) but it has a pair of xf2 EL34s and I can see a Mull '83 in the PI. I'll bet all the preamp and tape echo valves are Mulls. The Laney came with Svet EL34s and a mix of 80s Chinese and 1990 Yugoslav Ei ECC83s. I've already done the Selmer, and the Impact power valves are a Mullard xf4 with a RFT (East German, supplier to Siemens, Telefunken, numerous British and American rebranders) EL34.

So, to answer your other Q, how do they sound, and which is my fave? Well, you have to remember that I'm a lousy guitarist and the proper guitarist only gives me 5 minutes max to tell me what they can really do. I've really discovered that a guitarist with great touch (ie, not me) can make these things sing.

The amp I'd never sell until I retired is the CMI. It is an ugly box, but it's a P2P Superlead and, with Mulls, it is God's Own Amp. Gorgeous on bass or guitar. Next, it would take a lot more than I paid to prise the Fradan Echomatic off me. With no FX, it has that classic Brit EL34 sound for guitar or bass and those Goodmans work well. I was knocked out by the seller's playing on a RI Burns and even my stuff on a Sunn Mustang is passable. The first amp to make the bridge pup sound good. Put the echo on full and I can do "Apache" :) The WEM Dominator III is now tricky to get under £150, but I'd still consider it a sleeping beauty. The mega-expensive Marshall 18W is well known to be a straight copy of the WEM's normal channel (in turn, WEM's channel 1 has a treble boost switch doubtless influenced by Vox, but I don't use it). I think my Impact has the potential to be a Blackface Bassman with a few tweaks and I wouldn't like to sell it, even though it's not much more than practice volume for bass guitar. The Selmer is urrrglee but I'm keen on that "wall of warm clean" sound. If I had to fill my account up a bit, the first one to go would be the Laney. It's very versatile, but I don't need all the channels. HST, with a set of Roznov Tesla (not the JJs) E34Ls and a rebias, it could come climbing up the list.

Maybe I'll keep them all and put Mrs Bass on the streets to earn some money :lol:

This is what I chose from all the kinds I checked out that I could afford, sounds real well matched for cool tones with my dual humbucker LP style guitar.

a Crate Powerblock into an old Univox 1x15 cabinet.I gigged with a Traynor YBA-1A MKII for the last 6 years before that,and a eavey Delta Blues for some jobs.

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