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Thread: Please tell me what current amp this TEISCO CHECKMATE 20 is closest to....

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    Please tell me what current amp this TEISCO CHECKMATE 20 is closest to....

    Hi guys!

    First off, I don't have pinterest so I can't post the schematic. Sorry 'bout that! But if you google "TEISCO CHECKMATE 20 schematic", it's right there.

    I have an opportunity to buy this amp for around $100. the owner says he doesn't know if it works or not. I'm trying to get pictures of the trannies to see if they're in good shape. So, before I buy it, if it was in pristine shape, what kind of amp do you think it would sound like?

    Is the amp close enough to another amp that exists that with a few mods, I could have a great amp?

    I despise Tremolo, and would use Reverb sparingly, so I would consider deleting those circuits. Would you suggest a higher gain amp using the 12AX7's for more gain stages?

    Some things I (think) I have surmised:

    1. It has a neg. feedback loop
    2. It's push/pull
    3. The 7189A tubes are VERY EXPENSIVE
    4. It's running over 400V at the tubes

    Why do think the company is using such a high voltage?

    I'd love to hear your ideas on what to do here.

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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great deal if it is close to operating. You can mod it to use EL84s. I've never done it but there are people on this board that have. The amp was a cheap alternative to a Fender Deluxe Reverb at the time. A little less power. Not a lot of gain in this amp but will probably like an OD pedal.

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    thanks for the info

    Hmmmm, a Fender Deluxe Reverb...

    I'm not sure it's right for me...

    For example, someone near me is selling a Fender Hot rod Deville 4x10 pretty cheap. I'm thinking to myself, there's no way I could ever crank it up and enjoy it...I live in an apartment in a good neighborhood.

    I probably couldn't crank the Teisco up either....

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    When you refer to cranking the amp I assume you're not after a clean sound, and this is a fairly clean amp unless you turn it up and then you'll get more crunch. Think of the clean sound you'd get with maybe a Blues Jr, or even a Pro Jr. The output tubes are fine running at 400v and this gives a little more clean headroom than a regular EL84, though there are amps that run high voltages on EL84s - Traynor, Marshall, Mesa and many others.

    The amp is really nice if your playing style fits in with what it offers, otherwise it may be too far off to easily modify. If you're looking for a high-gain amp with master volume this is not the one, unless you heavily modify it out of recognition.

    You don't say what you're looking for in an amp, or what genre you're mainly interested in. This amp is more Chet Atkins than Mick Thomson.

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    thanks Mick.

    clean sound is fine, just I can't "afford" to have the neighbors call the police while I wait to get the "crunch zone". That's also what I meant with my Fender H.R. Deville comment. I'd prefer to get to tube distortion before the paint peels off the walls....

    Another thing is that I don't need 400V pushing a really strong tube for the sake of more headroom. I also don't know yet if the 7189A's are in good shape or not...at around $50/each, it's not worth it for me.....so, yeah, some mods will probably be in order.

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    If the amp is already "almost" what you want and needs only very little tweaking, then go ahead.
    Don´t try to turn it into something it is not, specially if to begin with you are not interested in almost 50% of the knobs it has (reverb and tremolo) and on the contrary want something it definitely does not have (high gain/preamp distortion).
    You will spend tons of money and time to get a half baked thing.
    IF that Hot Rod Deville (or any other) suits you as-is, go for it instead.
    If your fingers itch to build something, (rebuilding your Teisco amounts practically to that), make an appartment/neighbour friendly AX84 amp ... the high gain one if you wish.
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    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    The amp can use the Sovtek EL84M, but there are some differences in the way the pins are internally connected and the amp may need modification to the socket connections. The 7189A has pins 1,2 & 6,9 internally connected inside the tube. Other than that the EL84M will handle the voltage just fine.

    Just bear in mind that an amp of this age will have problems and is highly likely to need a full recap. A picture of the trannies won't tell you if they're any good and the only real way of knowing is to hear the amp working.

    When it comes down to pushing an amp, I have a little 1W amp that when cranked annoys my wife watching TV two rooms away in a house with solid stone walls.
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    Yeah, I'm expecting a full recap and other parts...I like getting my hands dirty!

    Is there any way to know what the power transformer voltages should be just by looking at the schematic? (No, it's not written down).

    Well as long as I've opened up this can of worms, can anybody tell me from the schematic:

    1. The PT is marked "PT-20", and the ouput transformer is marked "OPT-25"...what do the numbers stand for (watts?)?
    2. The resistor right after the diode recitifier is marked "5K6P1". The 1 is a subscript. So I assume 5K stands for the resistor value, but what does the "6P1" mean?
    3. Someone else on this forum seemed to say that there is a voltage doubler circuit. I'm no expert, but I don't think so...who's right?
    4. Some of the resistors say "1/2" after the value...I assume that means it needs a 1/2 watt resistor, right? What do the other resistor watt values have to be?
    5. The diodes are marked "5W-05C"...if needed, what would I replace them with?

    Thanks for the help!

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    The Million Dollar Question: have you or have you not bought it?
    Be aware that this is not a "$100 amp" but you will have to invest money and effort .

    You may think that this 20W amp will be less loud/annoying than the HRD ... think again.
    This one can deliver any crunch at all only by overdriving it in full, the HRD has a dirty channel and a Master volume, you can set it real quiet if you wish ... you can not do that with the Teisco.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaron View Post
    Is there any way to know what the power transformer voltages should be just by looking at the schematic? (No, it's not written down).
    Probably some 140VAC.
    And 6.3V for heaters, of course.

    The PT is marked "PT-20", and the ouput transformer is marked "OPT-25"...what do the numbers stand for (watts?)?
    No, just factory part numbers.
    2. The resistor right after the diode recitifier is marked "5K6P1". The 1 is a subscript. So I assume 5K stands for the resistor value, but what does the "6P1" mean?
    5k6 is a standard value, P1 *might* mean "Power: 1W"
    Notice the output cathode resistor is labelles 130 *ohm* P6 which could mean "Power: 6W".
    In both cases the power dissipation indicated is compatible with the position they are in; screen resistor and cathode resistor.
    3. Someone else on this forum seemed to say that there is a voltage doubler circuit. I'm no expert, but I don't think so...who's right?
    "Someone else on this forum"
    Search "voltage doubler circuit" and compare them to what you have there.
    4. Some of the resistors say "1/2" after the value...I assume that means it needs a 1/2 watt resistor, right? What do the other resistor watt values have to be?
    Probably 1/4W .
    Notice the 1/2W resistors are mainly standing high voltage, sometimes they are chosen so not for dissipation but for voltage rating.
    5. The diodes are marked "5W-05C"...if needed, what would I replace them with?
    Why would you?
    But in any case, 1N4007 should do fine.

    My main worry with this, and having been burnt countless times, is that when :
    the owner says he doesn't know if it works or not.
    it *always* means it does not work or at least has a deal killing problem, but since you bought it anyway , you can´t complain and must take the loss on your own.

    I would run away.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    If you specifically want a "bedroom" amp that you can crank and don't care about Reverb and tremolo.... I would suggest you look for an Epiphone Valve Jr head (usually around $90 in prime operating condition) and run it through a 1x12" cabinet. At 5 watts it still might be a little loud without a speaker attenuator. But with a boost pedal (and possibly a compressor), it will scream.
    Last edited by olddawg; 10-17-2017 at 02:29 AM.
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    Kustom made a nice little five watt amp a while back, had two channels and a master. For the hundred bucks my cousin payed it was pretty nice. Point being, check out contemporary offerings.

    Justin
    "Are you practicing in the lobby of the municipal library? It's still a guitar amp and it SHOULD make some noise (!!!)" - Chuck H. -
    "When receiving a shock I emit a strange loud high pitched girlish squeak." - Alex R -
    "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

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    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    Point being, check out contemporary offerings.
    Speaking of which, does anyone have any experience with these guys?
    (I do know "Celestion" should probably be written in quotes, and they use SMT components- so might not be a joy to modify.)

    5-Watt, 1x8 Guitar Combo Tube Amplifier with Celestion Speaker
    https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_...oaAni9EALw_wcB

  14. #14
    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    They are all very similar. One 12ax7, one EL84, bridge rectifier. Chinese made. To me the limiting factor is the 8" speaker. I think VJs are better built with less hum (DC heaters), are easier to mod, and have 3 impedance taps. But honestly I have always just used the stock heads with the stock tubes. They are fine with a couple of pedals and will take your face off driven hard, lol.
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    Just taken a look out of interest and it is a voltage doubler circuit for the HT.

    I hate to say this and will be burned alive, but at low volume I much prefer SS amps with a multi-FX pedal. I can go from Nile Rodgers to Dimmu Borgir in an instant. I find this kind of setup is far more fulfilling than a dry-as-cardboard tube amp turned down so low the background hum and hiss is louder than than what I'm playing. I had a little Zoom pedal recently that was so expressive through a Peavey practice amp I sat for hours and it improved my playing no end in exploring different styles and techniques. I even got feedback at 'dentist waiting room' levels. It's a far more satisfying way to get 'what's on the record' sounds.
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    Hi Mick!

    Are you SURE that it's a voltage doubler? I researched Google and I thought not....but I don't know what I'm talking about, so.....

    pt-teisco-20.png.png


    Also, Mick, Olddawg, Justin, & RJB, I owned a Epi VJr. v3 for a while, and it just didn't make it for me, sonically, so I sold it. I also have SS amp (Fender M-80) and an effects pedal, and I am also not satisfied with that either. I'm not going to enter the tube vs. SS argument, b/c I don't really have an opinion.

    I've kind of been bitten by the tube bug... and I've already suffered for many years with the "buy a fixer upper" bug for MANY years, and it usually worked out for me.
    Last edited by aaron; 10-17-2017 at 11:34 AM.

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    Thanks to JM for answering my questions....

    No, I haven't bought it yet. The owner just had a baby right after he posted the ad, so he's up to his ears in diapers, sleep deprivation, and who knows what else, so no rush there.

    and yes, I know that $100 is the STARTING price!

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    thought I'd share this:...













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    Quote Originally Posted by aaron View Post
    Are you SURE that it's a voltage doubler?
    Yes it's a doubler, the two diodes and two caps are a clue.

    I usually draw it as below so it looks like two stacked half wave rectifiers.

    doubler-1.png
    Last edited by Dave H; 10-17-2017 at 05:29 PM. Reason: added schematic
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    ......I hate to say this and will be burned alive, but at low volume I much prefer SS amps with a multi-FX pedal......
    I got a chuckle out of that. Why? Because I was thinking the same thing and didn't post it because I didn't want to be burned alive.
    That said, I agree. IMO, it's much easier to get bedroom volume out of a small solid state amp. I've got some little Fender thingy in my bedroom for learning songs. I forget the model, but it's one of those little things you might get with a guitar beginner package. It has minimal modelling built in and sounds great at low volumes.
    “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

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    We don't burn people here. It spoils the soup.
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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    You mean something like ?:
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    Thanks, Dave. Your drawing is clearly a doubler. Which is why I was confused from the schematic.

    Really confused now.........

    So does that mean that the power transformer is only putting out about 200V? (I've read the amp delivers 400+ volts to the tubes, so 400/2=200).

    that doesn't make sense to me b/c the amp was made in Japan for the European market.....where 220-240V comes out of the wall....why would you use a transformer to step up voltage from the wall, if you're going to use a voltage doubler to step up voltage to 400V???

    Wall@220-240VAC>>>Power Transfomer>>>Voltage double>>>400VAC. ???????

    Here's the schematic, for any who can help...


    Checkmate 20 Teisco Schematic.pdf
    Last edited by aaron; 10-18-2017 at 08:43 AM.

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    The schematic is clearly a voltage doubler, too.

    A voltage doubler does not actually double the input voltage. It doubles the peak value of each half of the waveform and unloaded gives a little over 2.8x the RMS input voltage (1.414 x 2).

    There are many reasons to use a doubler;

    1. The transformer can be an off-the-shelf one used in a different sector and therefore more economical to source.
    2. The insulation requirements are not as stringent - the lower voltage means less insulation stress. This can give lower cost and greater reliability.
    3. Each diode 'sees' only half the peak inverse voltage (PIV) that a regular full-wave rectifier does and gives greater reliability, more so in the early days of SS rectifiers.
    4. Each capacitor can be rated at a lower voltage = lower cost.
    5. For a guitar amp the sag better emulates tube-rectifier compression. Doubler circuits experience greater voltage drop under load than a regular full-wave circuit.

    Don't think about the amp in today's context - you have to wind back to the time that the amp was originally designed. There are lots of things that were done then that you wouldn't necessarily do now. Having said that, I use doublers quite a bit in builds. A 230v>120v stepdown transformer will give 350v on my 240v mains using a doubler - just nice for a 2xEL84 amp and hardly any significant increase in parts count.

    EDIT: as per J.M. Fahey's comment below - I'm referring here to a transformer with isolated windings - NOT an autotransformer which has no isolation and leaves the secondary connected to the live incoming mains.
    Last edited by Mick Bailey; 10-19-2017 at 01:28 PM. Reason: Safety note.

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    Thanks so much Mick! The light is starting to go in my head!
    I think I need a voltage doubler for my brain!

    So what do you think is happening in the Teisco Checkmate 20?

    I'm still confused about what the transformer is doing! Since wall voltage is 220-240VAC, it's going to be multiplied by the voltage doubler to about what the valves/tubes want to see, right?

    1. Wall sends 220-240VAC to the transformer....How many volts are coming out?
    2. Transformer sends THOSE volts to the double.........How many volts are coming out then?

    I hope you see what's confusing me........

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    Quote Originally Posted by aaron View Post
    1. Wall sends 220-240VAC to the transformer....How many volts are coming out?
    2. Transformer sends THOSE volts to the double.........How many volts are coming out then?
    Mick explained it in the post above.

    1. It depends on the pri:sec turns ratio of the transformer. If it's designed to be an isolating 240:120 volt power transformer then when you put 240V AC in you get 120V AC out which is isolated from the 240V mains voltage.

    2. In the above example the transformer is sending 120V AC rms to the doubler. The doubler converts that 120V rms to a DC voltage of 2 x the peak AC voltage. The peak voltage of a sine wave is 1.414 x the rms voltage so the output of the doubler is 2*120*1.414 = 340V DC.
    Last edited by Dave H; 10-19-2017 at 03:17 PM. Reason: transformer clarification

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Please Mick Bailey and Dave H edit your posts to make it **VERY** clear that the
    230v>120v stepdown transformer
    you respectively mention and comment on without further clarification is NOT the same as the common available anywhere **autotransformer** 230v>120v stepdown transformer by any means.
    Please make clear you are referring to a separate/mutually insulated windings transformers.
    Sadly the 230v>120v rating and the stepdown transformer label by themselves strongly hint at the autotransformer type.

    I would have used the "Power Transformer" label which can´t be confused with the mains adapting one.

    As confirmation, please look at what does Mr Google aswer when asked the exact keywords 230v>120v stepdown transformer

    https://www.google.com.ar/search?q=2...O5Lj8AfG6Z2IAg

    The words stepdown transformer and just nice for a 2xEL84 amp should not be together in the same phrase.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    aaron
    You have mentioned several times the 240v in and then tried to equate that to the DC supply circuit. They are not related. When you design a circuit, you determine what voltages you want to end up with for your circuit. Might be 400vDC for B+ and maybe 6vAC for heaters. SO you decide what AC voltage do I need to make the 400vDC. Whatever voltage that might be, I can make a transformer to provide it. I then have to consider the mains voltage from the wall, and make the transformer to use that.

    If I have a voltage doubler, and want 400vDC, I might look at it as 200v twice. To make 200vDC, I need about 140vAC. SO I need to make a transformer that has 140v output and 6v output. I can make such a transformer with 120v primary or with 240v primary. There is no direct connection THROUGH the transformer, SO the DC circuit only knows it has 140vAC to work with, and has no idea whether the wall outlet was 120v or 240v.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    aaron
    You have mentioned several times the 240v in and then tried to equate that to the DC supply circuit. They are not related. When you design a circuit, you determine what voltages you want to end up with for your circuit. Might be 400vDC for B+ and maybe 6vAC for heaters. SO you decide what AC voltage do I need to make the 400vDC. Whatever voltage that might be, I can make a transformer to provide it. I then have to consider the mains voltage from the wall, and make the transformer to use that.

    If I have a voltage doubler, and want 400vDC, I might look at it as 200v twice. To make 200vDC, I need about 140vAC. SO I need to make a transformer that has 140v output and 6v output. I can make such a transformer with 120v primary or with 240v primary. There is no direct connection THROUGH the transformer, SO the DC circuit only knows it has 140vAC to work with, and has no idea whether the wall outlet was 120v or 240v.
    Ahah! thanks to everybody, I'm starting to see the light! My first assumption was (after seeing all the Fender schematics where 120VAC>>340VAC, e.g.) is that the transformer that greets the wall VAC supply always steps up the voltage.

    My second assumption was that diodes only convert AC to DC. (I didn't know about voltage doublers).

    So I concluded that the PT would step up the voltage from 220VAC to 400VAC, and the diode(s) would convert AC to DC.

    My mind has been blown by you telling me that the power transformer is actually stepping down the voltage and that the voltage doubler is the one doing the step up job. Dayum!
    Last edited by aaron; 10-19-2017 at 12:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Bailey View Post
    I use doublers quite a bit in builds. A 230v>120v stepdown transformer will give 350v on my 240v mains using a doubler - just nice for a 2xEL84 amp and hardly any significant increase in parts count.
    You know, I didn't understand what you said the first time I read it. Now I can see what you wrote. Sometimes my mind ignores things I don't comprehend, and just keeps reading.....

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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    A transformer can make any voltage you design it for.

    A transformer is two coils of wire wrapped around a common iron core. The primary coil is what connects to the wall outlet. The secondary is what we connect to for our circuits. Transformers work by "turns ratios." If my primary side has 100 turns - 100 loops in the winding coil - and my secondary coil has 200 turns, then the voltage will be stepped up to twice the primary voltage. So 120v in and 240v out. If my primary was 100 turns and the secondary 50 turns, then it steps down to half, or 120v in and 60v out. By changing the turns ratio, my 120v in primary can make any voltage I want in the secondary.

    If I have a ten to one ratio, my 120v in makes 12v out. If I connect that same transformer to 240v instead of 120v, then I'd get 24v instead of 12v. It is all about the turns ratio. And yes, if I hook it up backwards and I put my 120v into the secondary coil, I'd wind up with 1200v on the primary coil.

    SO I can make a transformer to any voltages I want. By wrapping additional coils around the iron core, I can have additional voltages. So for example with my 120v primary (or 240v, whichever we are designing for) I can have one winding producing 350vAC, and a second making 6v for heaters. So one steps up and one steps down on the same transformer.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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    Juan makes an excellent point in outlining safety concerns over step down transformers (and the same applies to step up). Many of the small low-wattage transformers available to convert 230v>120v are not isolated and are what are termed an 'autotransformer'. Their purpose is to be able to run an imported (US or other) piece of equipment from a higher voltage wall supply, or vice-versa. These offer no mains isolation and are dangerous to use in constructing a tube amp of any kind. They can only be used as a plug-in unit to run an item of equipment as if it was being used in the country it was manufactured for.

    There are however isolation transformers that are used to provide a supply for the purpose described above. Confusingly these are often not marked as such and I've been fortunate in discovering some of these in a batch of redundant power supplies that I originally dismissed as containing autotransformers. Additionally, there are isolated industrial transformers that are used to satisfy safety requirements - I have some that are intended to power industrial control panels and these make excellent tube amp supplies.

    The best advice I can offer is that unless you know without doubt that a step-up/step-down power supply is isolated, then assume it to be an autotransformer and don't even think about using it in a tube amp build.

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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaron View Post


    Also, Mick, Olddawg, Justin, & RJB, I owned a Epi VJr. v3 for a while, and it just didn't make it for me, sonically, so I sold it. I also have SS amp (Fender M-80) and an effects pedal, and I am also not satisfied with that either. I'm not going to enter the tube vs. SS argument, b/c I don't really have an opinion.

    I've kind of been bitten by the tube bug... and I've already suffered for many years with the "buy a fixer upper" bug for MANY years, and it usually worked out for me.
    There are only a couple of ways of getting power tube amp saturation distortion at low volumes. The two easiest ways are a low wattage amp (5 watts or less)and a speaker power attenuators. That Tiesco is going to be clean and loud before it breaks up. If you are using a modeling pedal it won’t matter a whole lot what you are plugging it into (tube or SS) as long as you have a compatible speaker. It could be the power amp in your home stereo.

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    Don't worry, this whole thread was about an amp that already has the transformer in it.

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