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Old January 27th, 2008, 12:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Neil Young's Whizzer

Just read a 2 page sidebar in "the Soul Of Tone" by Tom Wheeler on this fascinating device. A box that sits on top of Neil's Tweed Deluxe equipped with servo motors to adjust the 3 knobs automaticlly. It has 4 presets that he can change settings with via a footswitch at his mic stand. Neil had Sal Trentino design this for the 78-79" Rust Never Sleeps Tour". The objective was to change settings/tones w/o interupting the signal path with stomp boxes or other devices.Struck me as a really cool and interesting innovation.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 06:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yeah there is interview with Neil's guitar tech Larry Cragg and some pictures at tonequest.com

http://www.tonequest.com/pdf_pubs/sa...ep06_Proof.pdf
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Old January 27th, 2008, 06:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
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They used to drill holes in the stage to set it up....
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Old January 27th, 2008, 07:15 PM   #4 (permalink)
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They used to drill holes in the stage to set it up....
I think that was actually for the custom spring reverb setup, to keep it from rattling or feeding back due to volume or people jumping around. As I recall, the spring is mounted inside a mic stand, the stand sits of the floor of the arena, so there's no coupling with the stage.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 10:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Just read a 2 page sidebar in "the Soul Of Tone" by Tom Wheeler on this fascinating device. A box that sits on top of Neil's Tweed Deluxe equipped with servo motors to adjust the 3 knobs automaticlly. It has 4 presets that he can change settings with via a footswitch at his mic stand. Neil had Sal Trentino design this for the 78-79" Rust Never Sleeps Tour". The objective was to change settings/tones w/o interupting the signal path with stomp boxes or other devices.Struck me as a really cool and interesting innovation.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 10:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I guess it was very interesting to me because I work with robotics and automation for a living. I'm sure we could build one where I work if I could just talk the engineers and programers into putting their efforts into it instead of the machinery their actually responsible for.Damn those guys worring about what the owner/president of the company thinks.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 11:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm sure we could build one where I work if I could just talk the engineers and programers into putting their efforts into it instead of the machinery their actually responsible for.
I know that Neil is a big shareholder in Lionel Trains (he's a big model train buff) and I *think* I read that those guys helped him build the original rig -- I could be wrong, I don't want to spread misinformation.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 11:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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There have been two versions of the Whizzer. The first one was from the Rust Never Sleeps era, and the second one is from '91. The original only had two settings, the second one has four.

Mike Soldano did a preamp back in the 90's that had the motors built in, and said he spent more than half his time figuring out how to keep motor noise out of the audio signal path. Later on, Yamaha had the top end of their DG modeling amps with motorised knobs.

One of the main obstacles to making one of these things is that has to fit a specific amp model because of the knob spacing, and for optimum results you bolt the thing to the amp so the settings are accurate and the alignment of the knob shafts and the motor coupling is dead on.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 12:05 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I know that Neil is a big shareholder in Lionel Trains (he's a big model train buff) and I *think* I read that those guys helped him build the original rig -- I could be wrong, I don't want to spread misinformation.
I've read this many times in many places. A technician or engineer at Lionel developed a number of Neils ideas. Now I want to google this and learn the connection.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 12:59 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I've read this many times in many places. A technician or engineer at Lionel developed a number of Neils ideas. Now I want to google this and learn the connection.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lionel_Trains

The Wellspring era

Lionel changed hands again in 1995, when Kughn sold controlling interest in the company to an investment group that included rock star Neil Young and the holding company Wellspring Associates, which was headed by former Paramount Communications chairman Martin Davis. The new company became known as Lionel LLC. The company continued marketing reproductions of its vintage equipment, and the trend towards producing new equipment that was ever-more-detailed (with a correspondingly higher price) continued.

Additionally, Young, who has a 20% stake in the company[1], helped finance the development of Trainmaster Command Control, a technology similar to Digital Command Control which permits, among other things, the operation of Lionel trains by remote control. In order to proliferate this standard, Lionel has licensed it to several of its competitors, including K-Line. Another element of Young's vision was the creation of "Railsounds II" a sound system that would faithfully reproduce the sound of a particular locomotive, with electronics and loudspeaker built into each model.


In "Shakey", the Neil Young biography, it describes his train room which is a converted bar. As I recall, it's at the foot of a hill, and he had a fake tunnel opening made and some full-size rails laid so that it would appear that the real train he owns was coming out of the tunnel.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 01:09 AM   #11 (permalink)
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that ranch is like my willy wonka factory tour.....oooohhh if only i had the privilege of a golden ticket.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 04:22 AM   #12 (permalink)
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"The objective was to change settings/tones w/o interupting the signal path with stomp boxes or other devices.Struck me as a really cool and interesting innovation."

that and what I read in a Gerald Weber book about the interactivity between the tone controls of the 5E3 allows you to control the amount of break up to an even greater degree
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Old March 14th, 2014, 04:12 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Hello: I'm Rick Davis, the guy who designed and built the 2 Whizzers for Neil, one is in copper and the other in brass. I built a webpage with some photos etc. at: http://www.rdlx.com/neil_young.htm
The copper was the first and is electronically all discrete digital as I was afraid a digital clock would leak into Neils amp, as it picks up everything. The second [backup] Whizzer is brass and is run by Motorola microprocessor which, it turns out, was not a problem.

Feel free to ask me questions. Tnx, RD

Last edited by rdlx; March 15th, 2014 at 04:09 AM.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 05:23 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Hello: I'm Rick Davis, the guy who designed and built the 2 Whizzers for Neil, one is in copper and the other in brass. I built a webpage with some photos etc. at: http://www.rdlx.com/neil_young.htm
The copper was the first and is electronically all discrete digital as I was afraid a digital clock would leak into Neils amp, as it picks up everything. The second [backup] Whizzer is brass and is run by Motorola microprocessor which, it turns out, was not a problem.
Very cool! Welcome to TDPRI. Rick you ever think about making a commercially available version of something like the Whizzer for the rest of us 5E3 fans?
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Old March 14th, 2014, 05:24 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Hello: I'm Rick Davis, the guy who designed and built the 2 Whizzers for Neil, one is in copper and the other in brass. I built a webpage with some photos etc. at: http://www.rdlx.com/neil_young.htm
The copper was the first and is electronically all discrete digital as I was afraid a digital clock would leak into Neils amp, as it picks up everything. The second [backup] Whizzer is brass and is run by Motorola microprocessor which, it turns out, was not a problem.
Welcome and thank you for posting up! Very cool stuff indeed! Great motive for a thread resurrection!
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Old March 14th, 2014, 06:15 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Awesome! Welcome Rick. I've always wondered about the Whizzer.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 06:30 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by rdlx View Post
Hello: I'm Rick Davis, the guy who designed and built the 2 Whizzers for Neil, one is in copper and the other in brass. I built a webpage with some photos etc. at: http://www.rdlx.com/neil_young.htm
The copper was the first and is electronically all discrete digital as I was afraid a digital clock would leak into Neils amp, as it picks up everything. The second [backup] Whizzer is brass and is run by Motorola microprocessor which, it turns out, was not a problem.
Another very cool, and welcome aboard. Thanks for chiming in.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 06:43 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Welcome to the forum, Rick. I love Neil's imagination and how he manifests it. Now we have Pono.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 06:58 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Hi Rick, glad you're on the forum. PM sent.
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Old March 14th, 2014, 08:06 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Hey Rick, I always thought it was done by the hooded elves with the piercing blue eyes.
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