valve amps

5

1968 Telecaster with Marshal MA100C.

The amp belongs to my cousin, who actually got it in a private deal on Craigslist for a PRS SE guitar.  The Reverb doesn’t work so he asked me to take a look at it. I’m no tech, but apparently this is a common issue with this model…one of the wires in the reverb tank gets disconnected.  When I opened the tank up, sure enough, that was the issue.  Now I just have to figure out how to fix it.  the wires are totally insulated, so I am not sure if I can just take the insulation off and solder it…or if the insulation is required (once I remove it it ain’t going back on!)

6

My 1968 Gibson SG Special,with my cousin’s Marshall MA100C.  He lent this amp to me to see if I could fix it…the reverb is not working.  Apparently this is/was a common issue with these amps.  I did not have the heart to tell him that… 

1) I am not nearly as “handy” as he thinks I am, and 

2) There is a high probability I will go in there looking for the reverb issue and end up irreversibly f*cking up something else completely and irreversibly! 

BadCat 2-Tone

I have had many great pieces of equipment so far, but to get anything with BadCat stamped on it was a dream come true. I love everything they have made and much like Dr Z and Matchless, BadCat represent the highest level of quality and tone. This is no exception.

The BadCat 2-Tone is a massive pre-amp box similar to the Matchless Hot Box. It houses 2 12ax7 pre-amp valves - the same amount as most valve amps! Using mains power this pedal provides a rich and powerful volume boost with tonnes of headroom and a separate tone control. You can use the first channel as a tube buffer or a tone shaping boost which makes it incredibly versatile.  

When you kick it into the higher gain modes this pedal really shines. There is a huge amount of gain available which really stays tightly defined through the whole range. It has such a sensitive EQ it can add a second channel to any single EQ head.

As I have a very reliable distortion I only used this as a line driver and valve preamp at the end of my pedalboard. This gave me a nice warmth to all my effects that opened up my ears to a whole new tone from anything I used. Also in the studio it gave a really balanced master volume to my large pedalboard which is incredibly useful and saves a lot of time.

Retailing at well over £300 they can be a little excessive if you don’t have a particular purpose for it. If you break it down you have a 3 channel valve driven pedal with 3 functions: Boost. Overdrive. Valve pedal. In that respect comparing them to the leading boutique pedals of those categories the BadCat 2-tone is a pretty sweet deal.

Marshall 100W Super Lead MKII Re-Issue + Marshall Power brake.

Anyone who knows me on a personal level will know I dislike Marshall amps. Years of people showing up to shows with HDFX combos has really taken it’s toll on my ears and my patience. There are only 3 exceptions. JMP, JCM800 and the Super Bass/Lead.

I have been very busy musically over the last few months and in that time I have managed to kill 3 valve amps. Left with few options I had to borrow my producers (Jon Marsh @ Shed Studios) Marshall 100w Super Lead and under his instruction the matching “Power Brake” for my ears sake! These things push some serious air.

With only a 6 part EQ it is stripped down in comparison to the new Marshall JVM’s (Awful) and the 2 channels with High and Low inputs show off the vintage simplicity. This is all power. Bridging the inputs with a patch lead offers the mixed tonal characteristics of both channels. Another interesting feature is that if you turn a pot up to 10 it removes it from the circuit for purer tones.

As for sound: classic British power. All balls, no messing around. This is an amp that was meant for a Gibson, there is no denying it. With a tele it was flappy and weak. With an LP it was a purist crunch tone. I found when rehearsing and using the “Power Brake” the low end was just sucked right out of the amp. I was concerned at one point that the fan was not turning on the unit and I had blown it but the fan actually spins faster the harder you play. This is due to more energy being dispersed via the unit. I rarely used it though as in the studio I had chance to really tear it up and push it in the way it was made for.

There are many arguments popping up recently about the need for a 100W amp. I have a 135W Matamp and a 36W Dr Z and I use them side by side as a clean and dirty and love it. The main problem with having such a powerful amp is that to get a natural crunch and battle past the vast amounts of clean headroom you have to dime it and deafen the front row. The lower wattage amps break up at lower volumes which seem to win most arguments. The way I see it though, when you get to stand in front of a full stack, you can never beat the feeling of all that power hitting you in the back.

5

Guitar shopping at Cosmo Music just north of Toronto, Canada:

  1. Custome Shop ES-355.  Note: no Varitone.  Obviously not trying to be a reissue!
  2. Suhr and Two Rock amps + Gretsch guitars
  3. Fabric-covered Ritter guitar.
  4. Another odd yet interesting Ritter instrument.
  5. The 355 again.  Not the priciest guitar in the room at $4k ($CAD) either!