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Thread: 1967 Super Reverb sounds harsh

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    Cool 1967 Super Reverb sounds harsh

    My 1967 Super Reverb sounds harsh. I had a bud do some maintenance on it because it had stopped working. Previously I had gotten used to it over the decades and really liked it. Then it died.

    He went through it and replaced a particular cap he couldn't replace directly because they aren't made anymore. He also replaced the power tubes and maybe a few more. The power tubes are not balanced, I do know that.

    The amp was formerly very bassy. It has the dual-gang master volume that turns down both power tubes that I had installed in the mid-80's. That cost me some highs but I got used to it around the house.

    Now it is brittle-harsh and has lost all of its musicality. It sounds like a really cheap amp. In fact a cheap solid state amp might even sound better than this thing now.

    Do I need to get into the chassis or do I have a bad tube or what?

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    Supporting Member Randall's Avatar
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    Are the old tubes still available? Put them back in, and see what happens, but I doubt that is the issue. What about this cap that "isn't made anymore"? All the signal caps are available, and the modern power supply filter caps differ in value by a slight amount that is routinely substituted and makes no difference in performance. 20uF vs. 22uF or 70uF vs. 89uF. A 60's Super Reverb is one of the best sounding amps ever made, if yours sounds harsh, something is certainly amiss. <looking at your bud>.
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    It's weird, because it WAS working fine.....

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    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    It's hosed. I'll trade you for this Roland Cube.

    Just kidding of course. There are A LOT of things that may have made your amp sound darker than it does now, but a capacitor is not likely to be one of them. Most of the parts in that amp aren't made anymore, though every part on that amp has a suitable equivalent part that IS made today. And your dual pot master doesn't turn down the power tubes. It turns down the signal to the power tubes. This is actually an important distinction depending on where this goes for you.

    It could be a bad tube, or tubes. Not likely though. But you mentioned that the tubes "are not balanced" and I'm not sure if you mean the tubes are old and no longer well matched or if you are talking about a "balance" control on the amplifier. At any rate, there are a dozen or more other things I would suspect to make an amp sound "shrill" before tubes.

    Unfortunately I believe that the more you "fix" the amp the more fidelity you'll hear. It is, of course, possible that your friend has something wired wrong or grossly out of adjustment, but I think it's more likely he fixed something that was causing the amp to under perform at some level that you enjoyed. The odds of back breaking the amp through modding are about as good as, well... Go get your Lottery tickets today.

    If you trust your friends abilities as a service tech you should bring this issue up with him. If you don't then you should bring it up with a service you DO trust. I don't know what we, here can do though to be honest. Unless you have some electronic chops and bench gear it will be impossible and even dangerous for you to work on the amp. Even with guidance, because it is severely remote guidance and you may have no skills at this at all. A further complication is that we can only find out if something is wrong. We can't find out what might have been wrong that you liked because your only clue so far is that a new capacitor is in there, somewhere. But that shouldn't cause your problem. In fact your problem is that you no longer have a problem? I think you see the conundrum.

    The next step to REPAIRING or restoring the circuit would be to open it up and take voltage readings from specific locations. This is a high voltage circuit and some familiarity with that is in order before any pawing around. There are a great many safety tutorials on line regarding working on tube amplifier. There are a great many BECAUSE YOU CAN SCREW UP AND DIE if you don't know about and respect this stuff. So...

    Get a decent DMM and read up on the safety issues. If you follow through with this you likely won't be happy with how the amp sounds, but you'll know it's operating correctly.

    Welcome to the forum.
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    Thanks for replying everybody.

    My tech friend has a master's in electronics. He replaced some/all tubes with tubes he checked himself. I guess he knows how. Now the amp is just about unplayable without turning down the tone knobs to way low in order to get the shrill out, which robs balls, and I know it's a dirty amp and I've lost the dirt. I mean you can play through it, but it just sucks.

    Plus I wanted it gone through and he said he did. I think it had one leaky busted open filter cap.

    Maybe I need to get a whole new tube set and go from there...

    I just don't feel like spending the dough.

    Without fresh tubes I'd think trying to figure out what it sounds like would be like trying to intonate a guitar with dead strings.

    You could be right, maybe it's time to take it to a regular electronics tech.

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    "Thermionic Apocalypse" -JT nickb's Avatar
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    I suggest you find out exactly what was changed. There's always the possibility that, for example, a cap was accidentally replaced with the wrong value.

    The risk of going to someone else without that knowledge is you add another layer of uncertainly. Your buddy can use this forum too.
    Experience is something you get, just after you really needed it.

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Agree, go to a real amp tech. Nothing against your engineer friend, he may be an electronic genius. But engineers are usually not technicians. He may know everything there is to know about some capacitor, yet your amp came back unplayable. And further agree, if your buddy is interested in these amps, invite him to come join us.

    I could be way off base here, but when you say it has lost all the dirt - as in a loss of gain perhaps - plus it sounds real tinny, my first thought is you have a break in the signal path and you are listening to the remaining crosstalk.
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    Another thing I would suggest is to verify that the speaker section of the combo sounds good on it's own.
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    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by g1 View Post
    Another thing I would suggest is to verify that the speaker section of the combo sounds good on it's own.
    Indeed! Since the amp was apart (how apart we can't know) is it possible one or more speakers could now be wired in reverse polarity?
    "I'm just going to perform a bit more scientific investigation, turn it up to 11 and rip of the knob." überfuzz

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Air_bouquet, what's your location? If you're near one of our competent members perhaps they could help you out.

    I say this advisedly because we did have a case where the owner of a deflicted amp replied, "Oh I see, you guys just try to sweep business to your members. Wahwahwah, I don't like that!" Whereas all he had to do was drive half an hour across Phoenix and he could have got his amp sorted out by a pro who happens to be an active member here. And another case where a fellow with a '64 Bandmaster peppered us with literally thousands of questions, then sent his amp twice to a self-described amp guru in Texas, was charged over a thousand dollars in fees PLUS shipping, ripped off in other words, and his amp was STILL broken. Then he sent his prize to an honest tech near Sacramento CA who found & fixed the real problem: a ground wire whose solder connection had come loose although it looked good until he tugged on the wire and it popped out. Another couple hun in shipping & shop fees. Now we don't really give a rat's hindquarters where you send your amp for proper servicing, but we do like to see your problems handled honestly and without excess cost. We have a brain trust of excellent techs spread across the USA, Canada, UK plus a couple other countries so why not take advantage if you choose.

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    I'm willing to ask if any wires were re-routed in the course of repair... sometimes, "best engineering practice" doesn't really work in guitar amps... some of the fact that those particular Fender layouts worked as well as they did was dumb luck, and to alter them in the name of "best engineering practice" can also result in "dumb luck."

    Justin
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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    I haven’t played a lot of Blackface Supers. Mainly because I didn’t like them much. I found them excessively bright and not particularly great a getting a warm break up. You really have to crank them and still it’s an open back cab with four 10” speakers. Jazz, country, and clean blues boys tend to use them or people that get their dirt from pedals.... Like Twin Reverbs. It may be working exactly like it should and you liked the way it sounded defective. They tend to be a bit ice picky, especially with some guitars. AND .. an added master volume can really complicate things. It’s rarely done with Supers. If you are playing at a higher volume since the repair to try to get breakup the old speakers may be brittle or damaged as well. If you are in or near a city, try to find a similar one for sale at a store and see if it’s different would be my first suggestion.
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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Chuck brought up some good points. I want to hit a little harder on the idea that maybe your Super didn't sound right and you just got used to that sound.

    People either love Supers or hate them. The 4x10 make them pretty dog-gone loud for a 40W amp and if you crank that amp to get it into the sweet spot your ears will be bleeding. When you say you lost the dirt, I have to comment that I can't imagine getting any dirt out of mine in the house without the SPL being at the painful level. It's definitely a stage amp and not what I think of as a practice amp for the house. I also don't think of it as a particularly dark sounding amp. when I hear someone talking about a dark sounding Super it makes me scratch my head.

    The fact that you were using it as a house amp, and say that it was bassy sounding (not at all typical IMO) suggests to me that you had become accustomed to the sound of an amp with worn out tubes. Worn out tubes sound dull and lifeless to me, and they definitely lose their top end. If the amp just up and died on you in a home environment that means that it wasn't being properly maintained. When an amp like that gets serviced the combination of replacing a bad filter cap and worn out tubes is going to make the amp sound VERY different. IMO that amp probably sounded nothing like it should have before it died, and you just got used to the sound of a malfunctioning amp. Now the amp is working as it should and that sounds strange to you.

    My first move wouldn't be to jump up and hire another tech to look at the amp. I'd ask your pal to make an itemized list of what was fixed/updated/changed and tell us what he did. Unless there's something done that was blatantly wrong, my money is on becoming acclimated to a worn out amp that doesn't work right and thinking that's normal. I like dawg's idea of going out to play another Super for comparison. If it sounds like your fixed Super that'll give you the answer.
    Last edited by bob p; 01-08-2018 at 01:27 PM.
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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    When it comes to a dark sounding Super, I think this is about as dark sounding as they get if they still sound right:

    Badfinger. Two Supers. No problem figuring out which amp is giving the great tone, the answer is BOTH!

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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I can't see the amps in this video, but the tone is unmistakable.

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    As someone who owns a '64 and a '70 Super Reverb- it should NOT be that harsh.
    Can you possible post some inside the chassis pictures? Anything is possible.
    Part of the tone stack may have a bad solder joint; possibly incorrect values during replacement.
    Possible an additional component may have died. All the caps are available.
    I'm guessing you friend was talking about the dual 25uF caps in the preamp as the one that is "no longer available" - but you can just use 2 individual caps in place of the one dual cap.

    My '64 is stock and my '70 is modified (Marshall phase inverter values, phase inverter input cap .02 uF and the normal channel tone stack setup with 56K slope, 250pF/.02/.02) and yes they sound very different.

    As mentioned - check all the speakers. If unsure of the electronics, bring it to a tech - don't risk injury!

    The tone control should allow a bright sound, but you should be able to roll it off with the treble control.
    Do all the tone controls work? please check them; start with them all on 1 and the turn each one up individually one at a time and verify.

    I also agree that you either love or hate a Super Reverb mostly depending on what style of music you play.
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    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    This love it/hate it thing is a little extreme. If you're a guitar playing musician you LOVE a properly working Super Reverb. Not for everything, mind you, but certainly anyone with moderate proficiency on the instrument and experience with more than one genre of music would recognize the amps useful tonal quality and range. If you're one of those players that has only ever played smokey blues or uber metal then you may not like the amp for your own personal setup, but even a pigeon holed player would enjoy noodling around with one for a good, long while. Learning to feel and use it's musical properties. The "love it" thing is easy enough to understand. I guess I'm just not getting the "hate it" potential of the Super Reverb. Hating an amp as musical as this is, to me, a sure sign of a very limited player and artist.

    JM2C
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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Maybe you're just one of the "love it" guys, Chuck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by g1 View Post
    Another thing I would suggest is to verify that the speaker section of the combo sounds good on it's own.
    Yes, it may be that one or more speakers has gone bad, perhaps even voice coil is scraping.
    It may have failed with the first 'kerrang' after air_bouquet got it back following the repair.
    The original speakers will be pretty tired and didn't have much, if any, power over-rating safety factor available.

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    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    Maybe you're just one of the "love it" guys, Chuck.
    Well, not really. I've always been more of a Marshall guy. But I've had my time with a SR and had just the experience I mentioned. That is, it's a very musical amp and I enjoyed working with a different pallet , so to speak. I've built classic Fender type circuits before too though. So there's another level of artistic appreciation there I suppose. Still, I just can't imagine a player (I mean A PLAYER) plugging into one and exclaiming "UGH!!!" and slapping wildly at the power switch because they just can't turn it off fast enough
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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    When it comes to a dark sounding Super, I think this is about as dark sounding as they get if they still sound right:

    Badfinger. Two Supers. No problem figuring out which amp is giving the great tone, the answer is BOTH!

    I love Bad Finger and "Baby Blue" is one of my all time favorite songs... but, maybe because I have my phone to my ear, I'm not sure if this is the studio cut being mimed. Nevertheless.. it's not so much a love/hate thing with Supers. It's use when appropriate. I loved the sound I got out of an old one once on 8 with an ES 330. I was in a situation where I could crank it. But for club work with semi clean stuff I always preferred a DR. And if you put 3 different guys on the same amp, you will get 3 different sounds. It's all subjective.

  21. #21
    Supporting Member Randall's Avatar
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    Hate a BF Super Reverb? One of my clients is in a platinum record hard rock band that plays world tours. He uses Hi gain stacks sometimes, Marshalls sometimes, whatever. When he is not doing that he plays in a Robin Trower/Led Zep sounding blues rock band. He plays a 65 Super Reverb. His tone is always great. I maintain his amps. His SR tone does in no way whatsoever suck.
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    It's weird, because it WAS working fine.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    I can't see the amps in this video, but the tone is unmistakable.


    I'm 99% sure they are using Vibroluxes.

    About my amp sounding bad before, yes, it was very bassy and was in dire need of servicing, but I never thought of it as bad sounding. Somebody else would not have liked it at all I'm sure. Yep I'd gotten used to it. I had a dual-gang pot master volume installed back in 1986 or so. I've looked online for the schematic for the MV and haven't found it yet. If anyone knows abotu them, if you could mention a URL I'd be forever in your debt. When I had it pu tin, the tech recommended I add a cutout switch for the MV and I declined. This mod robs highs and I just lived with it. Now I also will be gettign the cutout switch put in. And yes it's not an around the house amp, but it was all I could afford so that's what I've always used.

    But harsh jeez yeah I do turn it on and turn it right back off agina. And I'm using a Les Paul and it's just blecch.

    But before man it would sing in a band situation. You really have to put up with the MV like that but it can be tweaked ie. everything on 10 and the bass on 4 and I'm good to go lol, It was very thick sounding. Now that's gone.

    But yeah there's lots of sounds you can't get with them, even when I got in back 40+ yrs ago it was hard to deal with. They're great, but by today's standards, you need at least 3 amps in order to mix thigns up a bit. They're not for everybody, but I never could afford an amp collection.

    What I really wanted was for it to be back the way it was, but my tech friend I think brought the treble up somehow in order to compensate for the MV mod and he's gone overboard.

    But I hate to call him, he's a relative and a great friend and I don't want to criticize his work.

    Oh and I need the tube rectifier put back in, it's got a solid state rectifier mod that dates from the late 70's. They told me it wouldn't affect the sound and I'd not have the tube to take care of.
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    I forgot to mention I'm on the MA-NH border.
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    Oh My !! Great videos ! What effects did they use?

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    lol
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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by air_bouquet View Post
    I forgot to mention I'm on the MA-NH border.
    if you're going to disclose your location then you should put that in your profile.
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    Done. Thanks for mentioning that.

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    g1
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    It wouldn't be too hard to look at the guts and see where it differs from stock, that is, what parts he changed in an attempt to compensate for the master.
    Even posting some high quality well lit pics here would probably get you an answer.
    If it's a dual pot master, probably some type of PPIMV (post phase inverter master volume).
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  29. #29
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by air_bouquet View Post
    I'm 99% sure they are using Vibroluxes.
    How do you know? Or are you just pulling my leg?

    We do know that they used Supers. I looked for documentation on Virboluxes but couldn't find it. And as good as my ears may be, they can't tell a Vibrolux from a Super on a recording.
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    True stories back in the mid 1980's:

    One guy plugged a stock mid 1960's strat into my '64 Super Reverb and was disappointed in the distortion and sustain (or lack there of). He normally played a Les Paul into Marshall Super Lead 100's.
    Another guy (different day) plugged a stock mid 1960's strat into my '64 Super Reverb and offer to buy the amp from me on the spot. He loved it!

    Perhaps "hate" is a too strong and harsh a word; let's say prefer, favor, fancy? It has a lot to do with style, preference and mood I guess.
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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    And as good as my ears may be, they can't tell a Vibrolux from a Super on a recording.
    Well what is a Super Reverb other than a Vibrolux Reverb with 4 speakers instead of 2. Generally you're putting the mic on one speaker so yes they would be hard to tell apart.

    On that Badfinger TV video I can hear out of tune guitars & performance errors, also I can see a mic on one of the amps so I believe it is really a live performance, not a lip sync.
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  32. #32
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    Well what is a Super Reverb other than a Vibrolux Reverb with 4 speakers instead of 2. Generally you're putting the mic on one speaker so yes they would be hard to tell apart.
    Yes, that's my point. The VR and the SR both had the same circuit with clean preamps and clean 6L6 based power amps, and they both used the same low power 10" drivers. The difference was 2 vs. 4 speakers, and the effect that you'd get from speaker distortion, as both amps used cheap 10" speakers where the speakers would start distorting before the amp distorted. My position is that even if you have dog ears you'd never be able to tell a 2x10 from a 4x10 when the amps are being mic'd.

    I also think that the TV performance was live. When I compare it to the pressed recordings I also think the performances are different. I had originally thought about posting a video of the studio recording but I decided not to do that, primarily because I preferred the TV video that showed them both playing Supers.
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    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TigerAmps View Post
    TOne guy plugged a stock mid 1960's strat into my '64 Super Reverb and was disappointed in the distortion and sustain (or lack there of). He normally played a Les Paul into Marshall Super Lead 100's.
    I prefer to say he's a fancy pud But seriously, even a guy with a preference, if he/she is a real player, should be able to plug into an amp like that and instead of thinking "I'm disappointed in the lack of distortion and sustain" should think "Wow! What a cool vibe this amp has for THAT tone. I'm having a $h!t ton of fun noodling around with it."

    To put it another way, if you're the sort of player that would plug into ANY amp that is known for it's tone, and therefor you know what to expect, and therefor you shouldn't judge it based on criteria for something it's not, and you find no merit in it, you are a pathetically limited player and artist. I consider myself a limited player and artist and I have no trouble appreciating and enjoying the tonal experience of playing through the venerated tone machines.
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    "I'm just going to perform a bit more scientific investigation, turn it up to 11 and rip of the knob." überfuzz

    "...less ear-friendly but handy for jazz." Leo_Gnardo

    "Shut up, you big dumb poopy-head!" Justin Thomas

  34. #34
    Supporting Member Randall's Avatar
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    Anyone who plugs a mid 60's strat into a proper '64 Super Reverb and is disappointed, doesn't know much about much.
    bob p, Chuck H and J M Fahey like this.
    It's weird, because it WAS working fine.....

  35. #35
    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randall View Post
    Anyone who plugs a mid 60's strat into a proper '64 Super Reverb and is disappointed, doesn't know much about much.
    Right! And if your a guitar player how could you know NOTHING about THAT!?!
    "I'm just going to perform a bit more scientific investigation, turn it up to 11 and rip of the knob." überfuzz

    "...less ear-friendly but handy for jazz." Leo_Gnardo

    "Shut up, you big dumb poopy-head!" Justin Thomas

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