Speakers make difference

From jbreski–(at)–oresnt.com Sat Oct 21 17:51:56 CDT 1995
From: Joe Breskin
Newsgroups: alt.guitar.amps
Subject: Re: HELP: Opinions needed – Fender Champ
Date: 21 Oct 1995 22:32:48 GMT
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

One of the major issues missing from this discussion, over the couple of
months that I’ve been lurking you guys is a serious discussion of the
role of loud-speakers.

Speakers are an essential link in the tone chain, and it has been my
experience in the 35 years that I’ve been exploring the cutting edge of
electric guitar tone that they play a role at least as important as any
other single factor. Bigger than Les Paul / Tele. Bigger than transistor
/ tube.

This summer I played lead thru my tweed champ 3 nites a week in a duo in
a small restaurant. We play mostly oldies, but I play a very modern tone
most of the time, at least as modern as Cowboy Junkies. My champ is 100%
stock except for a JBL 8. The only one that fits in the box is the old
flat one with the all-paper cone, the gray one that looks like a scale
model of a D-130.

I use a lot of old JBL’s in small amps. These are very efficient
speakers. Efficient means conversion of a small amount of electrical
power into a lot of noise output. Like over 100dB/1wat–(at)–meter. I also
use alnico magnet Altec 12’s in open back installations. They can deliver
incredible breakup tones with no box at all, just set face down on the

There is a problem with this: you buy an amp like this to be able to
sound good at low volume, and then you put a real speaker in it & make it
loud again… what did you gain? Tone. These speakers create truly
exquisite harmonics when the cones start to distort. You can’t get it any
other way.

The solution to controlling the output is physical amp placement. Put it
against the wall. Stuff a sweater in the cabinet. Muffle it & turn up the
treble to compensate for the loss.

When I’m sitting around an upright piano with a singer and a bunch of
pickers who are running mandolins and a fiddle, I turn it face up, with a
book under one corner, and put a cushion off the couch on top of it. By
varying the cushion & the book I can get a wider range of sounds than is
available with my Butler Tube Driver preamp. Like a trombone player with
his mutes.

Bottom line: by messing with the speaker & how I load it, I can make a
Peavey Decade or Rage, or similar modern “junk” amp, sound better than a
tweed champ or a black face champ with a stock speaker.

My other relevant amps are two Fender Deluxe’s, a tweed and a brown face.
The tweed has a JBL K-110 (10″ Ceramic magnet) the brown face has a D-130
(15″ Alnico). The tweed lives in a box that works a bit like an Ampeg
Portaflex. When closed (sealed) it has awesome bottom end. When open it
sounds just like a guitar amp. The size of the hole is variable. I am
still experimenting with the design, but it clearly shows great promise.
Over the past 27 years I have hot-rodded the brown face a bit, by
installing an un-buffered effects loop (1970) and a variable bias control
(1982). The bais control is a little “edgey” but hasn’t burnt out the
transformer yet. It’s a stereo pot that allows me to “turn down” either
or both of the output tubes.

I am not sure I believe there is a guitar player alive who has any
business playing anything bigger than 2 6V6’s will go. If you need to be
louder, mic the amp or fire the drummer.

$90 is a steal if it works, buy it. It will help you learn how to listen.
If you have some $$ left over, start buying some good speakers & start
experimenting. Audax makes a killer 8″ for the high-end hi-fi market that
is as nearly as efficient as the JBL & sounds totally different.
Generally, I avoid the speakers with foam surrounds.


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