Category Archives: Amplifiers

Finding Your Distortion Tone (Hint: Mids)

1976MarshallheadftIf only things were so easy that we could buy the guitar we felt comfortable with, plug into an amp, maybe add a pedal or two, and then be done. Tone Nirvana. It usually doesn’t happen this way however. The problem is that there are numerous choices for gear and, and even more options for putting together the whole rig, to create an effective system that is optimized. And just how we use the equipment (whether for live use or studio recording) also makes a difference in finding what works for guitarists.

We recently wrote about the challenges with the Internet and its opinions. You can find as many people who will love or hate any particular piece of gear. This can become frustrating when trying to dial in a tone you’re interested in capturing.
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Marshall 1976 JMP Model 2203 Master Volume Rebuild Project

1976MarshallStack First, Some Background…           

When people most often think of vintage Marshalls, the most highly regarded are the non-master volume series including the model 1959 100 watt head produced in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  It’s hard to argue against the amp that Hendrix, Page, Van Halen, Clapton and many others used.

And while I would agree that they are incredible amps, the REAL game changer in my mind for Marshall was when the company introduced its master volume series of amps in 1976. The models 2203 (100 watts) and 2204 (50 watts) heads became instant hits, and quickly began to outsell the non-master volume versions by the late 70’s. Why? Well, they sounded great at more reasonable volumes which essentially made them more practical for guitarists who couldn’t always play at full volume and crank up a non-master volume Marshall inside a concert arena.
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The Legend of the Soldano Super Lead Overdrive

Purple SLO Michael Soldano had no intentions of becoming a guitar amp maker. Prior to the launch of the first Soldano Super Lead Overdrive (SLO), he dreamed of rock stardom and not amp building. But it was during these early days while he was on his tone quest that he realized he wasn’t fully satisfied with the amplifiers that were available at the time.
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Keeley Oxblood Overdrive Pedal Giveaway!

Oxblood_lyxe57We’re thankful for YOU, our readers! And to show our gratitude, we’re giving away one of Robert Keeley’s most in-demand new releases, the Keeley Oxblood overdrive pedal. All you need to do to enter is insert a comment below with a topic you’d like us to research and write about next year! It could be anything from a review request for a specific product, a tone tip or question, a profile of a favorite artist or an interview, etc. We’ll select a winner randomly on DECEMBER 18, 2015! Good luck and wish you all a wonderful holiday season!

Vintage Jensen Speaker Rebuild Project – Part 2

Two months ago we posted part 1 of our project Jensen speaker rebuild for our IMG_6545original 1964 pre-CBS Fender Super Reverb. The amp has original transformers and used to sound wonderful – but the original Jensen speakers were in rough shape. The cones had tears, and the magnets on two of the speakers had shifted off-center, causing the voice coils to freeze and no longer produce any sound.
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Vintage Jensen Speaker Rebuild Project Part 1

At LegendaryTones.com, when we’ve taken on amplifier upgrade projects in the past, IMG_6538often we have recommended replacing stock factory speakers in the process with new models. This is especially true with Fender reissue amplifiers, as often the reissue models include speakers that do not sound or respond anything like the originals – regardless of the brand name they are badged with.
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Marshall JTM-45 Reissue Modification – Part II

In part I of our Marshall JTM-45 transformation process, we installed a point-to-point board from Metropoulos Amplification and began to hear the positive results of our test Marshall as it came to new life.

Now, in Part II of our continued Marshall JTM-45 transformation, we move forward with two additional changes in addition to having the opportunity to compare the final results to an original 1964 badge-logo Marshall JTM-45. The two changes that we decided to perform were to swap out the stock output transformer to a Mercury Magnetics Axiom O45JT-C model as well as to upgrade the board’s capacitors to those made by SoZo Amplification. To say that we were excited as well as just plain curious about the final results, especially when we could now compare it to an original JTM-45— is an understatement.
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Magus Innovations’ “The Ultimate Attenuator”

When any new product comes out that takes an interesting new twist on a design, it of course always piques my curiosity to check them out. I was recently contacted by a new maker of a device called "The Ultimate Attenuator" that falls into just that category. If you’re unfamiliar with power attenuators, they simply enable you to take the signal of a fully-cranked tube amplifier and then bring the volume levels down to those necessary to play in various club/rehearsal environments – and some designs can power down to bedroom levels as well.
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Weber MASS Attenuator

The past several years have brought about an era of reinvigoration for vintage non-master volume style amplifiers and I believe some of the reason is due to the fact that there are some great choices for attenuators out on the market today. Everyone knows that there is nothing that can harmonically compare to the tone of a quality vintage tube amp cranked up with its warm power tube distortion running along with its preamp gain. But the trick has been trying to capture that great tone at lower volumes and that’s where an attenuator can come in very handy.
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