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Old 16th January 2012, 06:56 PM   #1
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Default Van Halen brown sound

I have a question about the 'brown sound' that Eddie Van Halen had.

Does turning down the wall voltage-which makes the secondary voltage less-have any difference than cutting the secondary voltage?

EX:

120v steps up to 350v for about 450v on the plates
So then, EVH uses 90v and should step up to 263v for about 350v on the plates.
I can just reduce the plate voltage w/o buying a Variac but I'm not sure if this is the same.

Thanks,

Daniel
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Old 16th January 2012, 07:09 PM   #2
GloBug is offline GloBug  Canada
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Yes, you can lower your B+ but keep your heater voltages the same for long tube life.
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Old 16th January 2012, 07:14 PM   #3
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I did not think of the heater voltage. So that means EVH's setup w/a Variac gives less heater voltage too. Does that effect the tone in anyway?
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Old 16th January 2012, 07:16 PM   #4
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GloBug is right. What kind of amp was he using? Perhaps we can find a schematic and make suggestion about just how the B+ could be changed. Of course this can involve working with dangerous voltages, soooo. Are you actually going to atempt it yourself?
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Old 16th January 2012, 07:21 PM   #5
GloBug is offline GloBug  Canada
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In the original version, he had a variac before the amp, so it would have lowered the heaters a bit aswell. The cost of tubes was not a priority for EVH at the time.

I don't think it effected the tone as much as the plate voltage.
A variac at 90v would have gave him a lower heater @4.73v. It is lower, but I don't think it changes the sound nearly as much as the B+.

The main effect is the lower B+ which causes the particular distortion known as the "brown sound"

The name came from the rolling electrical "brown outs" which were used at the time to save electricity during the summer.
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Old 16th January 2012, 08:43 PM   #6
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Thanks,

Yes I can and will do the mods myself. I've built a couple and wondered about putting a switch to select different B+ voltages to achieve that 'brown sound'; and to really see if it's something I notice or like. But my main concern was any effects the transformer has with less voltage going through it vs dropping the secondary.

I will try different voltages and see what it does.

How would putting a voltage divider on the plate/screen lead work? That way the voltage to the rest is high. (just thought of that)

And is there a low limit I don't want get below?

Thanks for all your suggestions...

Daniel
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Old 16th January 2012, 09:18 PM   #7
GloBug is offline GloBug  Canada
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I will let others advise the best way to lower the voltage.

I don't think you will bother the transformer at all by running at a lower voltage, if you go that route.
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Old 16th January 2012, 09:24 PM   #8
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Clarify: 'main concern' I meant to say 'I wonder if it adds to the effect of the sound having the voltage lower on the primary'. Since it is what is 'sought after'.
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Old 16th January 2012, 09:35 PM   #9
GloBug is offline GloBug  Canada
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I don't think it matters which way you arrive at the lower voltage.
The amp can only see the secondary voltage.

You could intentionally design a new amp to run a lower plate voltage-having an earlier break-up. (distortion)

As you may know a power supply can have an effect on how the guitar feels or responds, due to how much 'sag' or voltage drop it has under load.
Some of this is determined by the rectifier used. Tube rectifier=sag, solid state=stiffer, faster response.
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Old 16th January 2012, 10:08 PM   #10
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Thanks a lot. I'v neen walking around work all afternoon with "running with the devil" playing in my head, Oh well, could be worse.
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Last edited by firechief; 16th January 2012 at 10:10 PM.
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