Monday, February 2, 2009

Changes to the Marshall

My amp is back! And it sounds the best I've ever heard it!! I've always loved the tone of my Super Bass but now it's just ridiculous. I never thought it could sound this good. Here's the story:

I brought the amp in a few weeks ago to get the power and preamp tubes changed out and biased. During it's two week wait to get worked on, a couple friends of mine, who are also friends of Savage (where the amp was getting worked on) were in the shop, pointed out my amp in the waiting list, and suggested they take extra care and look it over. It's a good things they did because instead of just changing the tubes they gave the amp a look over and noticed one of the filter caps was about to burst and the others were dimpling and would need to be changed at some point. They also took a look at some of the mods my amp has and wanted to remove a mod and get it back to stock settings.

A little history on the mod they wanted to remove, I was told it was a "half power" switch so to me that meant it would cut two of the power tubes from the circuit and make the 100W amp a 50W amp. I had tried it on the "half power" mode expecting to get more tube amp tone at the same volume, but that was never the case. It always sounded awful so I just never used it.

Back to savage, they found out this switch wasn't cutting tubes, it was cutting half of the main preamp tube. ?????? So it was the dumbest mode ever. It essentially was just cutting preamp gain and therefore cutting volume... kind of. That explains why it sounded bad. On top of that, when the switch was up - "normal" it was STILL changing some values in the preamp stage. They called to talk about the changes and asked me what I liked and didn't like about the amp. I said I really liked it as a warm clean amp but never liked the overdrive. I always assumed it was just because amps back then sounded thin over-driven. They said the OD didn't sound like it should for the amp and they thought removing the switch would make it sound much better. I gave them the go ahead to change all the filter caps, remove the switch, clean everything, and change all the tubes.

A few days later they called to say it was all done and they were excited about how it sounded. They've been making a 100W prototype and had been A/B/C-ing my amp, theirs, and a Hiwatt to hear the differences and really liked the sound of mine.

I went in to play it and dang does it sound nice! The clean channel is noticeably better but with the gain cranked it's a completely different amp than before! It's the Marshall balls-to-the-wall stuff's falling off the shelf rock n' roll tone!!! And not the JCM800 or 900 tone, it's the classic AC/DC, Hendrix, The Who tone. Nummy. When they were changing the preamp stage back to stock they opened up a plexi super bass they have at the shop and made it identical.

Here's how the faceplate changed:

Sorry the top on is so blurry, I didn't have a hi-res photo on my computer. It's nice having the use of both channels again. I like the bright channel better but now I can jump them and blend the normal channel in if I want. They also told me something about the master volume that makes perfect sense, but I had never thought of it - if I dime the master volume it's essentially back to stock and volume 1 and volume 2 control everything like they would have stock. Why didn't I think of that?!

Overall I'm completely happy. It ended up costing way more than a tube change, but it was worth it. I haven't even plugged my pedals in yet, the guitar > amp sound has been keeping me happy :)


Anonymous said...

very nice!

Its great to love the gear you already own and just be able to be happy and jam in simplicity's sake!

Good to hear! Nice Amp!

How are the Tung Sol's?

electric community said...

I ended up getting JJs instead of Tung Sols. The guys said they had really bad luck with Tung Sol... 25 of the 50 they had ordered were bad. I may buy a couple and see how they sound, but for now, it's JJs.

Karl said...

Awesome stuff. Who did the original mod so we know not to go to them? hehe ;)

Mike said...

Haha, true! No idea who did it, or when. I know the guy I bought it from, and he got it from a store I go to, but past that, I have no idea on the lineage. The mod was done before it was sold to the store. It's possible Jimmy Hendrix's tech did it. Probably not though.