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About m-theory

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  1. It's a bad tube, and specifically, almost certainly a bad 12ax7. While it's never a good idea to use a shielded cable as a speaker cable, a 5 watt amp run through a short patch cable isn't going to melt anything.
  2. Free is my alltime favorite price, without a doubt! Years ago, I got cozy with an old TV guy, when I built a Tesla coil for a science fair project, and required some assistance along the way. Great guy, and was totally willing to help out, which was way cool. Unfortunately, by the time I figured out that NOS tubes were valuable, he was long gone. I also used to buy tubes from another old TV repairman years ago, and I called him up about 10 years ago, only to learn that all of his NOS 6l6s, 6v6s, and 12ax7's, among others, had long since been snatched up by others. He used to sell tubes off his shelf for whatever price he'd stamped on them when he stocked them, so if it was a tube that he put in inventory in the early 60's, it might have a $1.75 price tag on it. A tube amp tech would test those tubes for you for a very small fee. Rock on.
  3. A tube amp tech could probably come close to year of manufacture, based upon the general construction of the tubes, but it really doesn't matter. They may be great or they may be useless. Oftentimes, NOS tubes become gassy over the years of lying around, sometimes they're excessively microphonic, and sometimes they're not really NOS at all, but instead have significant miles on them. The only way to know for certain is to have them tested for gain and conductance. As for hanging onto bad NOS tubes, for use as a "backup," you'd probably be better off getting a new production 6v6. There are some very good new production 6v6s available today that are quite cheap. Btw, the centering pin can break and not destroy the tube. As long as the glass remains intact and you're careful to line it up properly when installing it, it'll work just fine. I ran a pair of 6ca7's like that throughout their lifespan, with no problems whatsoever.
  4. I'd pass on it. First, forget about the digitoy thing...I'm sure it's utterly worthless, especially since you consider it to be "crappy." So, your really only talking about the amp itself, and you should be able to find a working used HR deluxe for real close to the asking price for this one that needs work.
  5. If you're thinking prob and stats, it's more likely to be that same preamp tube again, given the drastic inconsistencies and tendancy for premature failure of today's small bottle tubes. If replacing it fixed the problem the first time, try it again. Just because you replaced it doesn't mean the new one can't be bad. You can do at least SOME testing, with regard to tube microphonics (although, this problem may be filament rattle, too). With the amp on, warmed up and ready to play, take a pencil or chopstick and lightly tap on each tube individually. You'll hear SOME tapping, but if it's excessive, and especially if it sets off additional noise, you've found an excessively microphonic tube that needs replacing. This noise could also be caused by a loose screw or two in the cabinet. It's not at all uncommon for screws to work themselves a bit loose over time, and for certain frequencies/volumes to set up an oscillation that creates a buzz or rattle in the cabinet. These can be tricky to pinpoint, unless you can get the offending signal fed into the amp for a long enough period for you to track down the source of the noise. I see no reason to believe that the problem is either of the two possibilities that you've mentioned, frankly. Good luck. My #1 guess is a faulty preamp tube again.
  6. I'd say that if it's stuck after the screws have been removed, it's got to be some sort of manufacturing adhesive that the speaker was mounted onto, and it'll require careful prying with some sort of prying device. If you end up gouging and tearing up the baffle, so be it. Replace that too, and find a different tech when the time arrives to get actual tech work done. If this guy can't even figure out how to remove a speaker, he's not likely very good at anything else, tech-related, imo.
  7. Then, start with one of the compressor kits. Just pay close attention to the tiny details, and you'll be fine. Sloppiness, and ultimate failure in these builds, stems from failing to pay attention to details. Fwiw, BYOC used to give away a "confidence booster" kit to first-time buyers. I'm not sure if they still give that away or not, but if not, it'd be worth buying, not only because it's probably a great booster, but it's a great place to start honing skills.
  8. You know, you really don't have to spend $250-$400 for a "great compressor" for guitar. There are two basic circuits (well, three, if you include the optical circuit of the DOD 280) that most modern analog compressors are built from these days, and either could be built for $50-$100, depending on which one you built. Check sites like tonepad.com and generalguitargadgets.com for PCB, or buildyourownclone.com and generalguitargadgets.com for complete kits. The key difference between going that route and spending $250 or so on a boutique pedal is the labor. There really aren't massive differenes in the Ross circuit that boutique builder XYZ sells and what you can get in a kit form, for instance.
  9. I'd say that's a good call! If it were a 50 watt acoustic amp for $15, jump all over it! $50 for 15 just isn't much of a deal, imo.
  10. I appreciate that, and I do have a lot of experience, BUT, I try not to dissuade or too heavily promote one specific item over another, because everybody uses their stuff differently, so what might work awesome for me, might sound terrible for others, and visa versa. I run my amps on the hot side, so that I can dial the guitar volume to go from "clean" to crunch dirty. I use 3 pedal dirt circuits, all of which I use for solo boosting...a powerful overdrive/boost, a distortion, and a dirty boost. That's what works for ME, but certainly not everybody. That's why I TRY to leave these types of discussions open. This particular pedal isn't very impressive in stock form. Modded, it's much better, but it's still not a great pedal, imo. HOWEVER, it DOES work for some (Steve Vai uses a Keeley modded DS1, as I recall), so, at $30 or whatever, it's certainly worth anyone who's interested, trying it out for themselves. The older ones used a different op amp, so they probably do sound different. Better or not remains a purely subjective opinion.
  11. It can make noise, yes. None, if that doesn't matter to you. It's a purely subjective POV. I happen to think that the best distortion comes from an overdriven tube amp. Some prefer SS. I was just pointing out that the DS1 does NOT sound or feel like a tube amp. Actually, since feel is a considerable factor in inspiration, I'd say that it's very important from a musician's POV. Again, it's what moves the individual. I personally have never been moved by my DS1, either before or after I Keeley modded it. I've got numerous circuits that sound significantly better to my ears, and work far better with my amps than the DS1. Again, it's subjective. Believe it or not, some of those cork sniffer circuits actually sound pretty darn nice. I'd never pay $300 for something that I could build myself for $60-$80, but I will say that some of them are pretty awesome sounding circuits. I personally recommend everyone have a DS1, if for no other reason than to say that they've tried it. It's as common as dirt, and there's got to be some reason for that, other than price alone. It clearly seems to be working to inspire some! The Keeley mods are a huge improvement to the original, btw, but still not to my personal liking. It's still a pretty harsh, artificial sound to me, BUT, that's subjective!
  12. 15 watts is pretty nearly worthless as an acoustic amp, imo. But, if you've got excessive money in your wallet and a need for something else to lie around and add to your clutter, so be it!
  13. I've come to believe that the vast majority of players don't even know why they have a compressor in their chain. It's something that they read about somewhere, so they plugged one in, and just assumed that it had to be there, not even realizing just how much compression they're getting from the tubes in their amp. If you've had it there for a while, it's not a bad idea to go without for a while, so that you can compare notes. They can have an effect not unlike the type of signal loading that you get from poor quality cables and/or too many buffers in line, where the high end gets attenuated and you lose articulate clarity and detail, but you don't even notice that until you take the compressor out of line.
  14. What's led you to believe that you need a compressor? http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Boss-CS3-Compression-Sustainer-Pedal?sku=151307 http://www.generalguitargadgets.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=208&Itemid=26 http://www.buildyourownclone.com/opticomp.html
  15. How can a pedal that goes for $25-$35 be over-rated? Yes, they're harsh, and don't sound or feel anything like a tube amp, but they are cheap and they do make noise.
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