New amp demo

I recorded a new demo of the Stulce with the new 12AT7 tube in V1. I did this recording with my tele straight into the amp, SM57 in front of the greenback speaker through a PreSonus Bluetube preamp into a PreSonus Firebox interface into my MacBook.

Lots of noodling and I talk you through the different gain settings, so feel free to wade through it or not.

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12AT7

My new JJ/Tesla 12AT7 tube from Tubedepot came in today (really fast shipping FTW) and I installed it in my amp a little while ago. The Stulce cabinet is kind of a pain to open up, but I got it done. I replaced the Sovtek 12AX7 in V1 and left the JJ 12AU7 in V2. The amp uses a single EL84 power tube and I think there’s an Electro Harmonix in there right now.

Anyway, I only had time to make sure that it worked, but I can tell you that it has made a world of difference in the amount of headroom that this amp has on tap. With my strat, I was able to turn both gains up to around noon and only get some very slight breakup. Of course, it’ll be a lot different with humbuckers, but it’s a pretty sizable gain in clean tone. Beyond that, the amp sounds much more sparkly and crisp. I need to give it a thorough workout will all of my guitars, but I think that I’m going to stick with this preamp configuration for a while. I’ll probably try some different power tubes, since EHX tubes are supposedly pretty gainy, but I’m pretty set as far as tube types.

Headroom

First of all, I am not talking about this guy.
Max Headroom

I have a question about amp headroom. Specifically, I want more of it. In a nutshell, headroom deals with how loud your amp will get before it starts to distort. In general, higher wattage amps have more headroom than lower wattage amps.

Many people buy low wattage (less than 15-20 watts) amps so that they can take advantage of power tube distortion at lower volume levels. I was one of those guys. One drawback to having a small amp is that you can’t turn it up very loud before it starts distorting. This is not necessarily a bad thing, unless you want a good clean tone.

I haven’t been able to dial in a pristine clean tone with my Stulce (~10 watts) and it’s driving me crazy. I would prefer to fix the problem rather than replace the amp. My first inclination is that the speakers are the culprit. I have a 2×12 cabinet loaded with a Celestion G12M “Greenback” and a Weber ceramic Blue Dog. I’m pretty sure that the Greenback is the problem.

According to the spec sheet, the Greenback is a 25 watt speaker with 96dB sensitivity. (The higher the sensitivity, the more efficient the speaker is. This is usually perceived as loudness.) The Greenback is known as a somewhat inefficient speaker, and is probably contributing to the lack of cleanness in my tone.

By contrast, the Weber is a 50 watt speaker with ~100dB sensitivity. On paper, the Weber should be much cleaner at similar volume levels than the Greenback. I think a little experiment is in order. I currently have the speakers in series. They’re both 8 ohms speakers and when you run them in series you add the impedance (16 ohms). I’m planning on disconnecting the speakers and running them at 8 ohms. I will switch between the speakers to see if one breaks up earlier than the other. If I remember to do it, I will try to record the results.

Before I do this, would anyone care to chime in with any tips or recommendations? What are some good high-efficiency speakers that will help me to retain a good clean tone at lower volumes? I know that the Celestion V30s have really high sensitivity, but they get a pretty bad rap from what I’ve read.

Joke for music theory nerds

I just saw this over on the gear page and thought I’d share it here. You have to know a little about music theory to really follow it.

The bartender says, “I’m sorry, but we don’t serve minors.” So E-flat leaves, and C and G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished, and G is out flat. F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.

D comes in and heads for the bathroom saying, “Excuse me. I’ll just be a second.” Then A comes in, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. Then the bartender notices B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and says, “Get out! You’re the seventh minor I’ve found in this bar tonight.”

E-Flat comes back the next night in a three-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender says, “You’re looking sharp tonight. Come on in, this could be a major development.” Sure enough, E-flat soon takes off his suit and everything else, and is au natural.

Eventually, C sobers up and realizes in horror that he’s under a rest. C is brought to trial, found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of DS without Coda at an upscale correctional facility. On appeal, however, C is found innocent of any wrongdoing, even accidental. The judge rules that all contrary motions are bassless.

New band

A couple of weeks ago, I was recruited by a couple of buddies to join them in a new band project. I have been playing with these guys at church for quite a while, but we have all been wanting to play something other than praise and worship music. At least, I know that I have. There’s nothing wrong with P&W music, but the songs are all very similar in structure and it gets pretty repetitive.

We’re going to start out by learning a bunch of covers, and we’re looking to do a pretty eclectic mix. We were all learning our instruments in the ’90s, so we’re planning on doing some Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Stone Temple Pilots. We have pretty diverse musical interests, so it should be pretty interesting what we come up with. I’m into bands like Radiohead, Wilco, Sigur Ros, Animal Collective – a lot of modern indie/experimental stuff. Maury’s (guitar/vocals) interests are pretty diverse – from acoustic folk to metal. Greg (Bass/vocals) is into bands like Rush and Dream Theater, so he’ll probably want to do a bunch of 20 minute multi-movement songs that change meter every few seconds =). Ben (drums) – I’m not really sure what he’s into, but I think he mentioned King’s X. Anyway, we’re all rock guys, so it’s not that diverse, but it should be cool.

I think my current setup should work for me. I’ll probably mic my Stulce, run it squeaky clean and use pedals for drive. I may need to add another distortion if I need some heavy crunch. It seems like there’s no real reason to use massive amps anymore. I would love to use a cranked JTM45 or a Bassman, but they are so loud.

Anyway, we’re just doing this to have fun. We’ll probably write some tunes, but we have no delusions of grandeur, like we’re going to “make it big” or something. It’s just a way for us to hang out and make some music that we love.