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Old 16th October 2008, 05:09 PM   #1
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Default Is it normal to think this way?

I am a guitar player. I've been playing through a small peavey amplifier with an 8 inch speaker for as long as I can remember, and I always thought it sounded good. Until I made my own amplifier with a twelve inch Eminence Red Coat speaker. I was so amazed at the tone, every time I look at my amp, I just want to play through it!
Here's the thing. I went to try out some similar sized amplifiers by Fender, Peavey, Traynor and Marshall. Some tube, some solid-state. I was not impressed by what I heard until I auditionned a Fender hot Rod deluxe, but the reverb was a bit springy. surprising considering it had a long-spring reverb tank. And it's 600$, which is a bit too much for my current budget.

But the main thing that bugs me is that my amplifier sounds better! Can it be possible? I mean, it's basically a Bassman ten chassis I redid with a tube preamp and a Darlington power amplifier, nothing fancy, it doesn't even have tone controls! Just a preamp gain, and a Master volume to the power stage. no pcb, (except for the power amp, and it's actually a perfboard so it's kinda like point to point). Just three gain stages with old 12AU7 tubes, and they're running at low voltage(38V).

1- Is it possible I like my amplifier better because I know how it works? Is there subconcious attitude behind my reasoning?

2- does it bother anyone else that they cannot know the internal workings and signal routing of an amplifier, and therefore have difficulty judging it?

My amp=around 78$ with speaker
Other amps=over 400$

Thank you for your insight
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Old 16th October 2008, 05:37 PM   #2
teemuk is offline teemuk  Finland
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I would answer "yes" to both questions.

But of course it's not that black and white.

When I build amps, effects and other similar stuff they usually undergo a lot of modifications so that I really like their tone. So, no wonder they tend to sound good to my ears compared to stuff I can't lay my hands on design-wise. Many of us also have at least some self-critique to tell if something that you made by yourself is really not that good. At least when it comes to me, I'm quite a bit of perfectionistic (is that a word) about things that I do. Whether it involves my occupation or my hobbies. I'm likely much more critical about stuff I make myself than about stuff that is made by others. I think things like these explain a lot of why people tend to like the amps they built themselves.

The second question: Yep, I pretty much always curious about how things work. I'm pretty sure that it is even fairly typical characteristic amongst people who have something like electronics as hobby in the first place. Even if I'm not that interested on some amp in regard of finding something new from it, schematics and circuit diagrams can still tell a lot - much more than some simple block diagrams in manuals or other similar sources of information. They are simply very informative. I for one like to see, for example, the tone control circuit of an amp rather than reading from the manual that "bass adjusts lower frequencies and trebele adjusts higher frequencies".

Sometimes finding out how things work can be a bit dissapointing, though. Ever had that feeling of "How can THAT sound so good?", or vise versa "How CANNOT that sound good?". Also, I have also realized that I simply can't get a grasp on everything. Like DSP processing. Would be great to know how it works in detail, but currently there's really no time for me learn those things. At the point I'm just satisfied with the fact that it does something.
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Old 16th October 2008, 05:49 PM   #3
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I wote for reason #1 . But this can be easily verified. Just show the amp to other guitar players - have you done this? If they want to buy it, tell them that the price is $400. At this moment you will know everything. The same situation will be if they don't want to buy it.
You can also sell the amp for $200 and build a new one for yourself. In case you can sell it for a good price, it sugests that the amp is really good. Then tell us more how it is build.

Mark
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Old 16th October 2008, 11:09 PM   #4
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Hi and thank you both for your constructive comments. Actually I have only had one person listen to it but it was through a bass. My band is going to hear it soon, but not before I put a grill on the thing (too ugly to show now) Another case of "How can that sound good, it's bruised and dusty and it's missing all those knobs!"

I will never sell it.
But if want to know, I can tell you one thing look at a typical Marshall type 1959 preamplifier circuit, without tone knobs, and that's it except it has another identical gain stage after the first one. The power amplifier uses tesla Darlingtons KD366 and KD367. A little 2N3904 class A driver drives those two in a typical single-supply class AB setup. The Darlingtons don't get hot even after an hour of playing 90% full volume. Well, I think it's full volume, I should put a scope on the speaker terminals and see what voltage swing I have. Loud enough to fill a house so you can hear every detail.
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