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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Larry F, May 31, 2013.
and the cats love to sleep in them...
Here's another question. If all of the 450 Tweed Deluxes have the same original components, not including tubes and speakers, why would a handful have that special sauce? What's left to affect the sound? Are some resistors and capacitors from different batches? If so, an excellent research project would be to track down that info. If Neil were to do this, that would be a great use of the 450 amps. Option 2 is to factor the tubes and speakers into the equation.
As to the issue of him having "too many," it certainly would be an issue for me. I would send most of them back out into the world. I'm not criticizing Neil Young, but I am thinking that here's a peace and love guy doing something that I personally would not find morally justified. Me, me, me. I'm not talking about him, or others. Just me. If these amps are tools, and tools that are highly valued, I think, then why not help out my musical brothers? On the other hand, if these are collectibles, then I am not even interested in this discussion.
If anyone here thinks I am being ridiculous, fine. It has been said already as such. If you want to pile on, the very worst aspect of this forum, have fun.
Resistors and caps have a tolerance factor. A nominally 100ohm resistor could vary from 90 to 110ohms potentially (if a 10% tolerance was used). It may not seem like much, but it could make a real world difference when you add up all the tolerances of all the components in an amp.
Neil may feel he's the conservator of these vintage amps...?, as many were trashed over the years. In my experience in the 60's, I just saw blackface at shows, garages etc, no tweeds in sight...
When your playing a one note solo, you got to have your amp just right.
What Geoff said. Back in the 1950s, the resistors might have even been 20% tolerance, not 10%. So you'd get some fairly wide variance in the combination of resistances in the operating circuit.
And then there's the output transformer. I have *heard* that an OT will sound great, right before it fails. I don't know this to be true, as I am no amp doctor; it's just pre-intermess BS I've heard around guitar shops....
... figure the amps are aging, and that is not a constant thing. Depends on where it was stored for 60+ years, down in the heat of Houston, or up in Chicago? On the coast, or out in the desert?? It will all affect how it has aged...
Anyways, Neil says some examples have that special mojo, but we don't know what's been done to which amps, to keep them running. So we don't even know if the 'special' ones are alike in any particular way. Including tube make & age, and/or speaker types.
I think, really, a good amp doctor can fix 95% of why an amp will not sing. Unlike guitars, which incorporate twitchy natural materials like wood, amps are a matter of science. Highly specialized science, in the world of pleasing-to-the-ear distortion, but science, nonetheless. And I think Neil is a guy who operates in a very un-techy sort of way. So his mindset comes from from a non-tinkerer's approach: If it doesn't have that mojo, go find another one that does.
He can own the 450 tweed Deluxes , no skin off my nose. The Whizzer thing is interesting, but were it not Neil, some stage manager would have long ago tossed said Whizzer down the stairs, shoved an A/B box under Neil's nose, and said "Use this, dude"
Neil is very very particular about his setup and sound. The wizzer is not an A/B box it allows remote control, physical turning of every knob on his Amp. The two channels of a deluxe bleed over, and adjusting either volume knob, changes his tone. Neil claims he can hear slight differnces in AC sources, and has gone so far as to drill holes in the floor to run cables to his reverb, that he is also very picky about.
I could be mistaken here, but I'm pretty sure Neil has done a couple of other songs besides Cinnamon Girl...
I am a huge Neil Young fan. I was lucky enough to see him in Biloxi two years ago. Front row center seats. He was literally within ten feet of us. It was a tasteful close up view of his incredible control over his amps. The man is fully immersed in his art.
I am really interested in the tolerance question. Is there any way to model this, not for building a modeling amp, but just for understanding?
Someone here on the forum, maybe Jakedog?, once was clothes shopping with Bob Dylan. He found a leather jacket that he liked and bought 26 of them. I have a hard time processing that. How could such a guy be anything at all like me and Joe Blow. I tried to think of what he would do with these: one at the such and such house, another at another house, another at another house, one for touring and wearing onstage, and maybe 15 more as the sweat would ruin them every two weeks or whatever. How does that work? I am such a naif.
Like timgreene said before, I read that there's just ONE Tweed Deluxe that he uses in preference to all the others. According to the Shakey book he buys every 50s Tweed Deluxe that he sees, looking for another amp that has the same sound, but so far none of them has.
You'd think that maybe he would sell a few on after he's realised that they don't have the mojo. After all, you don't need as many as 450 just for spare parts. I agree with Larry that it's an interesting situation and worth discussing.
Tim: I am aware that the Whizzer is not the same thing as an A/B box.
Were I a roadie, I would find carrying two or three similar amps, set to different settings, and a couple A/B boxes, to be infinitely less aggravating to maintain, than that mechanical one-off contraption.
But he's Neil, so he can do what he likes
I'm not really trying to be a troll. I just find it interesting that there's only one Whizzer; Neil likes his, so he keeps using it, because it works for him.
Jerry Garcia was another who was known to have great 'ears', and be very particular about his setup and sound. I have heard tales that he could detect when the voltage supply to the mains dropped a few volts
I'm just saying: there's more than one way to skin a cat, sonically.
He needed to buy 450 over a span of 40 years to find the one.
...which turns out to be the same one he started with take that as you may.
Having built, ahem, a few Deluxes I can tell you it's not just one thing that makes a good one. If you think about it you'd have to go through 450 of them to find the ones that are great, say maybe 50 great amps outta that big ol' pile. Then measure what you can to figure out what makes them great. Joke's on you 'cuz you'd have to be a very clever fellow to measure all the things you could measure. At this point all the naysayers spring to attention because as far as they're concerned a resistor is a resistor, a capacitor is a capacitor... they're blissfully unaware of hysteresis, ESR, even stray capacitance from lead dress. It all adds up.
We're also talking about 50+ year old amps. Every damn one of them has drifted differently. We could look at the schematic
and try to herd the amp back to the values we find there. Some of the drifted values sound good and some of them don't.
I'm not worried about 450 vintage amps taken outta the gene pool. I'd rather see 450 bulletproof far less precious clones in the hands of musicians who can properly exploit them. Yup, that's the word I'm lookin' for. Exploit those clones. That's better than musicians payin' in blood, sweat and tears oh wait, blood sweat and tears converted into green Yankee dollars 'cuz your average vintage vendor prefers nasty dirty green money over gettin' body fluids all over his nice clean counter.
+1 Nyaaaa, Nyaaa...lol
I think Muchxs said what I was trying to say, but much more better
It helps if you know what you're talking about; when it comes to the specifics of amps and their vagaries, I, decidedly, do not
I am coming around to him storing these amps. As others have said, it makes better sense to build better tools for musicians, rather than have them trying wrangle a classic amp in the world of gigs. But, to be clear, in this sense, Neil's amps are not tools, then. They are collectibles, which, as I have said, doesn't interest me in the least.
Muchxs, it doesn't really matter how many variables there are in an amp, as long as there are arbitrarily fewer than too many to keep track of. In the world of academics that I am in, people study some really arcane stuff. What is so great, is that this leads to some really insightful findings that interest some number of people. Academics are not very concerned about the number of people who are interested, knowing that future scholars might look at that earlier research as breakthrough stuff. I shouldn't say "all" academics, because, believe me, talk about a lot of variables in the gene pool.
If not now, I bet that pretty soon there will be a qualified PhD student in engineering, or should I say "engineering in the arts?," who might do something just like this. I doubt that any academic in engineering would be motivated to do something like this that doesn't actually advance the kind of understanding that the field values. Grant, forget about it. The hope I have for this in the proliferation of interdisciplinary programs and faculty hires that bridge things like engineering and the arts.
The reason I am pinning my hopes on really learning about the arcane side of amps and why some sound so good and nearly identical ones not so much on academic researchers, is that they are patient and exhaustive when they have to be. If people like Muchxs could tell an engineer what the variables seem to be, the researcher could then find a bunch of amps, maybe getting access to one for, what, 2 hours, and measuring what is reasonable and likely significant to measure. Take some photos, make sure to have the specifics on the components. I hesitate to consider doing audio recordings and tests. As every even bone-head musician knows, the sound of an amp depends on who is playing it.
How many variables are there to measure? 100? 1,000? That's nothing to a researcher. Get a grant, hired 2 grad assistants, get travel money and send them around the country. Do the variables change according to external factors, such as how long the amp is on, the temperature of the room? Talk to people who know a lot about amps and get their advice. Or, hire some to help out with the data collection and experimental design. These are all finite, immensely doable things, especially if you have financial support to do it.
To those who say that these things are secret juice, mojo, or whatever, I turn to Arthur C. Clarke, whose 3rd law on technology says, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
Same deal for dopes like me when I was a kid. All I could see was Marshall. Fortunately I didn't get one. I did get rid of a 60's Princeton Reverb in trade up for an old Bandmaster though. Bigger was better.
Just to reiterate - how much of a fan of narrow panel Tweed Deluxes is he really when his favorite has monster replacement transformers and 6L6's swapped in ?
I had a an old Bogen that was essentially a Tweed Deluxe and when I beefed up the transformers and had it recapped and set up to run 6L6's it was a very different amp afterwards.