Sunday, March 06, 2005

Amplifiers Part One

My first amplifier was probably manufactured by the Kay Guitar Company as a house brand for Western Auto Store. I still have it. It is a class A amplifier, which means it has one power tube that runs continuously and one pre-amp tube. It also has a rectifier tube. The rectifier, be it a tube or solid state, does the job of converting alternating current to usable direct current.

The pre-amp tube is what amplifies the electric guitar's tiny signal and amplifiers tonal range and the power tube amplifies the signal into audible sound that is sent through the speaker.

Class A denotes that the power tube is running at peak power continuously. Usually these amps have one or two power tubes. A class AB guitar amp has two to four power tubes that alternate duty so that while one or two are "on" the other one or two are "off". The first preamp tube in this type of amp is called a Phase Splitter and is designed to send alternate the signal between the power tubes.

My first guitar and first amplifier were very much underappreciated by the 17 year old kid that owned them. My father had purchased a 1956 Fender Stratocaster for $150 including tax from Dodd’s Music in Covington. It was beat and so was the tweed case that it came in. I carried that guitar around everywhere.

About a year later, I had saved up $200 and went to Midwest Music and purchased a brand new Fender Deluxe Reverb. Which I also toted around everywhere. I think the Deluxe Reverb weighs in at around 30+ pounds and the Strat and case weighed a respectable 15 pounds or so. Who needed gym classes.

All my buddy’s owned new guitars and here was I with this beat up Stratocaster. After a couple years, I traded it for a 1967 Gibson Trini Lopez Standard. The Trini is still in great shape and probably would be worth at least $2500 and up in today’s dollars. However a 1956 Stratocaster with original 7.5" radius maple neck, original pickups and original case would be worth about $15,000. My

My Deluxe Reverb pumped out 22 watts into a 12" Jensen speaker. I cranked it to 10 to be heard in the garage bands. Most of my friends owned Super Reverbs. These were rated at 40 watts and had 4 - 10" speakers. There were some more bells and whistles on a Super. It had a midrange control and a bright switch. It was heavy and bulky.

I sold the Deluxe for about $250 and bought a Bandmaster 2 - 12" speaker cabinet and a 50 watt Kustom tuck and roll amplifier head. Kustom amps were solid state, but I didn’t know. Amps was amps.

No comments: