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Award-Session Blues Baby

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Ted Witton, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. Ted Witton

    Ted Witton Tele-Meister

    Age:
    73
    148
    Dec 30, 2006
    Norwich, UK
    I have never got round to attempting Billm's mods to the Blues Jnr, the stock version being a good amp of ideal size, but perhaps not quite a great amp. Depending upon speaker used, I can identify with those folks who talk about boxiness.

    Anyway, I always hoped that sooner or later somebody might just come up with a good solid state alternative with greater potential reliability. Technology has progressed, the Vox Pathfinder 15R is a revelation in what can be done in a small box and that is not exactly a new model.

    Heigh Ho, for Christmas I got the Award-Session Blues Baby - a ready made chassis ready to go straight into an enclosure. http://www.award-session.com/bluesbaby.html.

    The build quality is good, the fitting into a BJ cab is easy and the result is darned impressive. The optional blackface switch is the icing on the cake, giving you close to blackface sound as well as tweed. In particular, gorgeous strat neck pu tones with that guitar, as well as the full spread of Tele spank!

    My old US made green board BJ was at some stage loaded with a Celestion G12-20s, an obsolete model with a warm woody tone. Pushing my luck I tried this before spending any more and I just loved the woody tone. Switching to an available Jensen C12N produced a little more volume and perhaps a shade too much brightness so the eq needed smoothing back. I am tempted by a Cannabis Rex, potentially even more headroom for gigging purposes, but for the time being I shall have to be satisfied with what I have got. Anyway, any hint of boxiness has gone.

    In my opinion, Stewart Ward has got this right. Transtube is good, as is the PF15R but the ability to control clean - crunch with guitar knobs a la good valve amp is just spot on with this. Plus if required, there is a lot more dirt available than on a stock BJ. For those of you with DIY flair to build your own cabinet around this amp doubtless further improvement is possible.. Oh and finally, he is right - 22 watts of quality solid state can throw out as much as a similarly rated valve amp!

    I heartily recommend this amp but stress I have nothing whatsoever to do with Award-Session save as a happy customer.
     
  2. Little Jay

    Little Jay Tele-Meister

    389
    Jul 20, 2009
    The Netherlands
    Congratz!

    I have an empty amp cabinet (tweed-like) laying around and too many spare-speakers and even a reverb-can, so I'm tempted to order a BluesBaby from Award Session to put in.

    I am curious about how much clean headroom it has an if it stays clean at gigging volumes. Could you comment on that? Thanks!
     
  3. Steve G

    Steve G Friend of Leo's

    Nov 3, 2005
    LeeK (England)
    Thats great. I was waiting for someone to try one out.
     
  4. Jared Purdy

    Jared Purdy Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    58
    Jan 26, 2010
    Toronto, Ontario.
    Cool! That's a very good price, even if you were to buy the cab, speaker and everything else needed. Cool find.
     
  5. valiant

    valiant Tele-Holic

    885
    Jan 16, 2009
    Burslem
    Just done the maths and although it could perhaps be done cheaper......
    Watford Valves Accrutronics triple spring type 8EB2C1B = £21
    Watford Vaves Celestion G12 25 Greenback = £65
    Watford Valves Blues Junior XL Pine/Tweed cabinet = £195

    So £281 + 20% VAT comes in at around £338 with free delivery.

    AWARD SESSION BluesBaby is £179 Standard and £210 Deluxe with the "presence" and "Blackface" upgrades..........free delivery

    So all in the jobs a good'un for £517 Standard while the Deluxe custom amp would be £548........the Blues Junior Tweed is £538.
     
  6. GigsbyBoyUK

    GigsbyBoyUK Friend of Leo's

    Apr 30, 2008
    Peterborough, UK
    Good maths. I suspect many purchasers will source or even have kicking around an old cabinet and speaker. But as you say, if you get quality new parts it does bring this amp in line with the competition.
     
  7. Ted Witton

    Ted Witton Tele-Meister

    Age:
    73
    148
    Dec 30, 2006
    Norwich, UK
    Valiant has it about right on cost - but of course the BJ does not have a pine cabinet. Session amps never were designed to be a "cheap" option, rather a worthy SS alternative. Custom options appear to be more prevalent in USA than UK.

    What has surprised me is the sheer simplicity of swapping the 2 chassis and also changing speakers - using Billm's invaluable safety advice on how best to do it.
    I reckon you could switch between BJ and BB chassis in less than 15 minutes with a little practice. Disconnect original reverb cable and speaker leads, remove 10 screws from the BJ cab, drop in BB chassis (which comes with its own reverb and speaker leads, re-attach reverb cable and speaker cable replace the 10 screws and it's done.


    Purdy, bear in mind that the BB has exactly the same size chassis as the BJ: if you put it in a bigger cab then you may need some additional steel brackets to hold it in place. There may also be advantages sound wise in using a bigger cab, but hey its a trade off for the sheer convenience of the BJ size - and of course the SS chassis makes it even lighter.

    As to clean headroom, It is certainly on a par or slightly better than the original, but a great deal will depend on the speaker used. I think the blackface addition is well worthwhile. The "presence" upgrade is a handy quick fix, but you may be able to get a similar result with a bit of eq. tweaking.

    Stewart has promised a line out mod next year. If that is anything like the JD10 that too could be a good investment but let's face it a mic'd BJ is good enough for many better players than I will ever be.
     
  8. Steve G

    Steve G Friend of Leo's

    Nov 3, 2005
    LeeK (England)
    Im sure it sounds wonderful, Im a big fan of the award session stuff... but when you do the math(s) and it comes out as over £500 Id rather put that toward a medium-low watt valve amp. Just my 2ps worth and in no way intended to be a judgment on anyone elses cup of tea etc!
     
  9. valiant

    valiant Tele-Holic

    885
    Jan 16, 2009
    Burslem
    There are numerous superior XL solid pine cabinet upgrades on the market for both the Pro junior and Blues Junior even in the uk.......Watford Valves offer such an upgrade while AF Custom Cabinets offer wide panel and TV front XL solid pine Blues Junior upgrade cabinets and just about every bespoke option possible even a 2x10.....any Blues Junior upgrade cabinet will of course be a perfect fit for the Blues Baby chassis.
    At around 500 sheets with a Celestion speaker and top quality cabinet the AWARD SESSION BluesBaby
    looks a very good buy indeed.
     
  10. stevieboy

    stevieboy Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    67
    Mar 16, 2003
    the valley
    Next time I'm in Basingstoke I'll have to try one out!

    Price seems pretty reasonable to me. I wouldn't buy an amp just because it's cheap, but if I did have a chance to get to Basingstoke, or otherwise had a chance to give one a try in a less exotic sounding location closer to home, and liked it, the price would be a big plus.
     
  11. valiant

    valiant Tele-Holic

    885
    Jan 16, 2009
    Burslem
    STEVE G..........the AWARD SESSION BluesBaby is a high end top quality amp and £500 is a very good price in the world of boutique amps.......there are certainly more expensive solid state amps beloved of jazz players......Henrikson JAZZAMP etc,etc.
    Anyway how is the medium-low watt 5e3 Deluxe sounding.....am still well happy with me Valvetrain 5f2 Princeton.......can't beat a good 6v6 valve........still would love to try this new BluesBaby.
     
  12. Steve G

    Steve G Friend of Leo's

    Nov 3, 2005
    LeeK (England)
    Yeah Id love to try it and Im sure it is. Just my opinion. I gig a sessionette regularly so Im pretty up on the session legend. 5E3 is wonderful thanks! Its my main one at the moment. Maybe Im just trying to talk myself out of wanting a blues baby!
     
  13. valiant

    valiant Tele-Holic

    885
    Jan 16, 2009
    Burslem
    Blimey Steve G you've already got a legendary SESSIONETTE along with that grand owd man-o-war middle weight champion of the world 5e3 Deluxe and didn't you have a Pro Junior..........you don't need a BluesBaby you've got it covered!
     
  14. Steve G

    Steve G Friend of Leo's

    Nov 3, 2005
    LeeK (England)
    Im a greedy beggar. Just got hold of a Traynor guitar mate too! Anyway, back to the thread.. maybe I dont need a bluesbaby but im still interested. lets hear some clips!
     
  15. MrTwang

    MrTwang Friend of Leo's

    Feb 9, 2009
    London, England
    Steve, you really need to get your Sessionette "Retrotoned". It really transforms a great amp into an amazing one.

    I'm guessing that the mod incorporates some of the technology/research that has gone into the Blues Baby.

    It's hard to describe the difference but you can really hear it - it cuts through like a valve amp without any harshness - just enough bite when you crank it. I always thought the Sessionette was a great amp "for its size" but maybe a little "clinical" sounding (I only ever use it on the clean channel) but I was happy to live with that and gigged with one as my main amp for years until I got my Musicman 210-65's. Now it's a great sounding amp with no reservations.

    Even the drummer in my band commented on how great it sounded after it was Retrotoned.

    I know I'm starting to sound like an advert for Award Session but I really have no affiliation other than as a satisfied customer.
     
  16. Steve G

    Steve G Friend of Leo's

    Nov 3, 2005
    LeeK (England)
    Cool! Thats another one to go on my wish list then..
     
  17. boyatheart

    boyatheart TDPRI Member

    59
    Sep 9, 2013
    Phuket
    I'm interested in this amp.
    Does anyone know if the reverb "loop" can be used to feed a delay pedal or even a clean boost or compressor etc. instead of a reverb pan.

    I could ask the designer, but I've already asked him loads of questions and I think it's only fair to make my next communication to him an order, should I decide it's what I want.

    I wish there was more info from users out there on the web, seeing as I can't demo one (I live in Thailand), but this looks like a great option for a regular gigging musician where humidity & high temperature climate takes its toll.

    I've gone through too many tube replacements in the last year including some component failures due to said tubes blowing mid gig. The only "serious" solid state options here are Fender Frontman amps (meh).
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
  18. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 8, 2007
    Norfolk UK
    I have an early 80,s Peavey Backstage 20 with a Legend 105 in in it .Its built like a tank,you could use as a nuclear shelter if its was larger .I use it as a cab mainly but was wondering whether the Bluesbaby chassis would snick into it with some surgury .does any one have the dimensions of the Chassis ,it would go in horizontally not vertically like the blues junior cab,Thanks .
     
  19. Miff

    Miff Tele-Meister

    193
    Sep 30, 2009
    London
    The aluminium chassis dimensions are stated on the BluesBaby page on the Award Session website. One problem with horizontal mounting might be the power/footswitch/speaker jacks which are located on the bottom of the chassis if mounted vertically but might be difficult to access, depending on your cab design, if mounted horizontal.
     
  20. Tony474

    Tony474 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    71
    Apr 16, 2007
    North Bushey, England.
    I've been aware of the BluesBaby for a long time, since Stewart showed me a prototype chassis when I was over at his place quite some while ago. I'd be very interested indeed in trying one out at some point, although, what with my RetroToned Sessionette and a big bunch of other amps I possess, much as I'm a big fan of Stewart's approach to guitar amplification and his products I'd find it extremely hard to justify buying one. All the same, I wish it all the success of which I'm fully confident it is worthy.
     
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