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Amp With No Knobs?

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by The Ballzz, Jan 19, 2021.

  1. The Ballzz

    The Ballzz Tele-Afflicted

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    Well, here's a goofy idea. How about an amp with no knobs and/or controls, other that an on/off switch? For most of my career, I've found that once I get "my sound" dialed in on any particular amp, I could glue the knobs in place and be no worse for the wear!

    Now, I realize many naysayers will ask questions like "But what if you're switching from switching from a Strat to a Les Paul or a Tele?" or "What if there are different volume requirements, from one situation to another?" and several others. In my case, I always worship at the altar of the "Holy Trinity" of SSS Strat, stock Tele and H-Bucker (or P90) Les Paul. I dial each guitar in with setups to allow them to be the best of the best of the range of what they're designed for, all with the same amp settings! Tele sounds like a Tele, Strat sounds like a Strat and Les Paul sounds like a Les Paul! If the volume needs to change, the use of a GREAT attenuator and/or combined with playing/picking technique can compensate quite nicely, without needing to change the response characteristics of the amp!

    On to the "meat and potatoes" of the question. How difficult would it be to get an amp to it's optimal (for me) settings and simply measure the setting values of the pots and replace them with resistors? I'm guessing that eliminating the variability may also reduce the number of some of the other required components?

    I know it seems like a crazy idea, but.......?

    Any & All Thoughts Appreciated!,
    Gene
     
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  2. D'tar

    D'tar Friend of Leo's

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    build the circuit with trimmer pots, (small and inexpensive), mounted to the board. You can adjust to your liking whenever you feel the need. I actually love the idea!
     
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  3. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Who needs an on/off switch?
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
  4. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

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    I feel like I read a Facebook post in one of the tube amp groups just like this within the last week. If it wasn't you, I guess you're in good company!

    On a philosophical level it sounds like a crazy idea, but then again there are plenty of pro players who take a Fender amp and set and forget it. One of my favorite players is Derek Trucks, he has always just dimed Supers and let his guitar do the rest. So I guess you could say the knobs on those amps are practically irrelevant in most situations.

    Maybe the biggest drawback is that you have no way to make minor adjustments according to the room dynamics. But if you aren't touring the amp then this is non-issue.

    Anyhow...

    Not difficult. It's like you say, you're just replacing pots with resistors. I can't think of any other components that would get trimmed in the process.
     
  5. mrriggs

    mrriggs Tele-Meister

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    I built a 5F1 without the volume control. Figured the guitar already has one so it wasn't needed.

    The "volume" knob in the amp was hooked to a built in Variac that adjusted the B+ voltage. It was pretty much always set around 3 (~100 Volts B+) so probably could have done without that knob either.

    Honestly, when that was my only amp, I spent more time playing and less time fiddling with knobs.
     
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  6. naveed211

    naveed211 Friend of Leo's

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    One of the best amps I’ve ever played had no knobs, just an on switch.

    It was a 30’s lap steel amp that I played a Tele through at a store years ago, no brand name. I’ve never been able to find another since. The most amazing breakup overdrive sound you can imagine, defaulted to full volume (about five watts I’d say) and you controlled it with the guitar volume. So dynamic.

    Kick myself for not buying it right then and there.
     
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  7. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Reminds me of the old joke:

    Moe: I have a dog with no nose.
    Joe: How does he smell?
    Moe: Awful.
     
  8. Teleguy61

    Teleguy61 Friend of Leo's

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    "I went to the desert with an amp with no knobs."
     
  9. King Fan

    King Fan Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Lose the power switch -- just plug in an IEC power cable to turn on. And use an internal fuse mount. Two jacks: In. Out.

    Or wait. Name it "Heart of Gold". Paint it that new BMW black that basically eats light. Then lose the IEC too -- power it with an infinite improbability drive. :)
     
  10. WingedWords

    WingedWords Friend of Leo's

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    I've done this for years with my Wem practice amp. The treble control doubles as the on/off switch though, but I knew exactly the spot where I wanted it. After a decade or two I realised the volume and bass pots were noisy as heck through disuse. Cleaned them and now I try to remember to use them occasionally.
     
  11. scottser

    scottser Friend of Leo's

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    you need at least a volume control.
    an amp with no knobs is like a pub with no beer.
     
  12. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Was it an old Dickerson covered with garish purple MOTS? I used to have the matching lap steel, but didn't have the amp.
     
  13. marshman

    marshman Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I read that this is pretty much what Brian May and his tech did...Brian would play the amp and adjust the settings. His tech would take reading from the pots to determine the resistance, then remove the pots and replace them with "plain old" resistors. I seem to recall they left the volume knob, but does this sound pretty much like what you're talking about?

    I think Vox built a run of AC30s like this, as well.
     
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  14. scelestus

    scelestus Tele-Holic

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    I was just thinking of these as I read the original post. They made some May signature AC30s and they only had a volume knob.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. naveed211

    naveed211 Friend of Leo's

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    Nope, it was black tolex, kinda looked like an old Rickenbacker but not exactly. Might’ve been made by National, I’m really not sure.

    I randomly found one again on eBay by trying a zillion different searches a few years ago, didn’t buy it then either. I’m not the smartest guy.
     
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  16. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I've though about that but after much consideration concluded that I had other better ideas to pursue.
    My guitars pretty much all have one pickup and one volume knob, but amps often enough need adjusting for the room sound.
    Cool idea and if it's your favorite cool idea then you gotta build it.

    Trim pots hidden inside?
    Those are knobs.
    An amp with no knobs has no tone stack, that's the advantage.
    Go all the way or stay home!
     
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  17. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    To me, it sounds like a solution looking for a problem. "My sound" changes daily...
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
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  18. Nickfl

    Nickfl Friend of Leo's

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    What would be the point? Removing the temptation to twiddle the knobs, making sure no one else can use that amp to get "their sound"? If you want to set it and forget it, then just do that. Ironically it would take more effort to build the amp with no pots than to just build a normal amp and not touch them.
     
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  19. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Doctor of Teleocity

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    My most awesome Smokey amp I bought in the mid-90s design by Bruce Zinky, of Fender
    , supro and Zinky amps I still use it and I even have a backup!
    Great little at home practice amp and it will leave in power a cabinet 20171024_100812.jpg
     
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  20. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Another thing to consider - tubes won't sound the same a year or two from now as they settle in. New tubes + new bias = new tones. The tone of an amp changes slightly over time - speakers change, caps and resistors wander. They are dynamic animals.
     
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