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I’ve never seen any good reason to modify any amp radically. Designers and companies put a lot of time and thought into their products, so if someone buys them and figures out he or she doesn’t like them, they should buy a new, different one instead.

If the amp actually sounds nice, but not good enough – that’s no problem at all: Small modifications and part replacements will help to “culture” the sound a bit more. For example replacing the foil-caps in the signal path with different kinds (same for resistors), modifying the power supply to get more headroom or get closer to that “brown sound”, replacing the tubes of course, based on your own taste… those are all very nice methods, but to me, it’s important to keep the actual amp intact, but finetune and adjust it, because:

                 Small details make a biggest difference......

I happen to think that cranking the whole circuit to get more gain or a radically different voicing does not work that well – it simply ain’t a good idea to turn your JTM45 into a higain-monster or whatever… just buy another amp and be happy! =)

There are many different amps out there, suitable for pretty much any style, taste and budget…

Power AMPS:

Let’s not forget that the basic design of tube-poweramps is quite old, and if you think about it, not one company really took it to a whole new level with a totally new system – the differences are in small details. Those details are very very important though.

Actually, every output transformer must be designed for the tube types used in the amp. “Combined” transformers like “for use with EL34 and 6L6” will always be a kind of a compromise because these transformers will be a bit “too much” for the EL34 and a bit “too close” for 6L6 tubes.

A lot of people are not even aware how much of a difference using different tube types makes – the difference can actually be huge and can get you exactly the sound you are looking for.

PCB vs Point-To-Point:

There is a lot of arguing out there about PCB vs. Point to Point designs. As an engineer and developer, I am quite surprised about the amount of generalization and incompetent statements. PTP was invented because it was the only possibility to build complex (at that time) circuits – there was really no alternative.

Many years later, the production prizes of printed circuit boards (PCB) were low enough to use this technology in guitar amps as well.

In fact, the tonal differences between PCB and PTP can range from very subtle to quite extreme. But it’s impossible to say “PTP always sounds better” or anything like that.

PCB and PTP technologies have their own individual capacities, inductivities and mutual influencing of signals and more – all these factors change the tonal results. What will be better? It really depends on the developer and production conditions only.

“Is PTP only good for vintage blues sounds?” – No, as my F6F Hellcat can sound very brutal, perfect even for death metal, no problem.

“Does PCB great for nice bright clean sounds?” Well, check out old Fender Twins!

In fact, I use PTP technology in all audio paths because I am not building that many amps and can change or adjust the voicing or even the whole circuit if necessary. However, for a big production, in order to reduce the costs, I’ll combine PCB and PTP as well. If a developer knows exactly what he is doing, the difference between PCB and PTP will be very very small.

More coming soon.......;-)

Stay tuned!
(c) Sebastian Kulik
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