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I got a new amp!


(@alexk)
Eminent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 26
Topic starter  

I pulled the trigger on a Kalamazoo Model 2 from the '60s, which seems to be an old Gibson bargain-brand. It is a small, about 5 watt or so all-tube amp. It is point-to-point wired (I think that's what you call it), and it has a tremelo.

It's kind of like a Fender Champ. I can easily push the volume to 10 and it won't hum at all (it's not that loud either). When I push it to 10, it gets into a little bit of overdrive. I wish there was just a little more, but that's ok. Maybe I can buy a Tubescreamer or something. But the amp really makes my $99 Stratocaster scream. It gives it a little more "bell-like" tone, and it really brings out the true colors of the guitar.

The guy at the guitar store said it had been worked on a couple years ago, although he didn't know what was done. Looking into the amp, there are these blue battery things that look new, so those might have been what was improved, and maybe he put new tubes in or something.

Any tips or advice on caring for an old tube amp? I'm also thinking about modifying it, like putting in new tubes and a new speaker or something. Thanks.


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(@english-one)
Estimable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 154
 

If you like the way the amp sounds now, I don't suggest that you modify it. A New speaker or a different type of tubes could change the sound a lot.

On the overdrive issue, you could look into boost pedals, there are a lot on the market, from an MXR micro amp to a Tube Screamer for dirtier sounds. I believe Carl Martin makes and excelent boost/driver thing, but I can't remember it's name. These are all pedals designed not to distort the sound, but to boost the input signal and overdrive tube amps.

I hope that maybe helps.

Peter


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

A Danelectro Daddy-O is a good pedal because you can use it as a great Overdrive or a Boost. It also has 3 band EQ, so you can get many sounds out of it. In addition to the EQ's it has Volume and Drive (Gain). To get a great Overdrive Distortion you turn the Gain up and leave the Volume low. But if you turn the Volume up and the Gain down low it will act like a great clean Boost. A very versatile and good sounding pedal.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

alexk

Forgot to say Congratulations!

Also, here are some interesting reviews on your amp from Harmony-Central.

Kalamazoo Model Two

You know that rhymes. Kalamazoo Model Two!

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@alexk)
Eminent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 26
Topic starter  

Gee, thanks guys! I'll look into some boost or overdrive pedals. I think I want to change my speaker though, because I've heard that the Kalamazoo's speaker is one of the weaker parts in its chain of sound. It feels so good to own a tube amp though. I like how it gets hot and you can see the tubes light up. Much more human than my old solid-state amp. And plus, on this one, I have a hard time deciding which of the five pickup positions on my Strat I want to use, because they all sound so good through this amp! Any more advice?


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

alexk

I read all of those reviews on Harmony Central last night, people who own this amp sure love it.

This amp sounds remarkably similar to the 1958 Premier amp I picked up a month ago. Volume, Tone, and Tremelo, about 5 Watts. I love the tone of mine as well.

I would pick up an overdrive and distortion pedal. It won't hurt the amp at all and it will scream. One fellow recommended the Zoom 505.

If you ever plan on playing out, pick up a good instrument mic like a Shure SM57 and a stand. Mic it and run it into the PA. People will think you have a full blown Marshall stack!

One of the great things about these amps is that they are so simple, that even if they break they are very simple to repair. Thing is though, I don't think these amps ever break.

Hang on to it. Someday the value will go way up.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@alexk)
Eminent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 26
Topic starter  

Man, you are a really helpful guy. Thanks. That Premier sounds like a nice amp. I'm kind of mad that I didn't check out overdrive pedals at the store when I was trying out the amp, but that's ok. The guy at the store said that I shouldn't move it around a lot (i.e. gig with it), because it's probably pretty unreliable. But now that I've got it home and taken a look at it, I can't see what would go wrong. I'm not much of an electronics guy, and trying to figure what went where according the schematic was really tough for me, but there are so few things that could go wrong! Maybe a tube would burn out or a cap or something. Besides that the only other way I could think of is if one of those wires just unsoldered itself!


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

Overdrive will get you a blues type sound. You will probably also want a Distortion pedal if you like heavy stuff. They are different.

I've been taking my little amp down to an open mic and mic'ing it into the PA. I run a Fab Tone distortion pedal through it. You would not believe the sound I get. You can hold any note and it will sustain into feedback. When your amp sounds like that you can do some incredible playing. It is almost scary sounding.

I have never understood these people that have so much trouble with equipment. My stuff seems to last forever. I really believe in most cases people are doing something completely wrong like running a Speaker Out into the input of another amp. Yeah, that will fry it quick.

At home with the distortion pedal I can make this amp MUCH louder than normal. But I'm not crazy. I don't try to crank it up to super volumes. The speaker is not designed for that. If you need big volume, mic it and run it into a PA or larger amplifier. It will knock the walls down.

Have fun with your new amp!

Wes

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@forrok_star)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2340
 

One kind of important thing about Tube amps is wait till they cool down before moving them around. especially if they've been on for 4 or 5 hours. generally I let mine set turned off while I'm packing everything else up.

You'll know when somethings going wrong, they will sound different or make noise turning on / turning off, or Hum real loudly. Those that have problems is from just plain old being hard on them, banging them around, I've seen guitarist half throw their amps around and wonder way they have problems with them. Tubes will come loose from the sockets doing that.

Consider your equipment family and take care of it. most will last a life time in doing so. I better add that I have also broke a few things in my day, (I call it) my testing..lol, On my quest of sound and tone. I would also spend sometime researching about tube amps, theres plenty on the net, and if you have a question ask.

Remember think " SAFETY " Anytime your working with anything electrical. Those cute small little capacitors can hold a charge well after the amps been disconncted for the source. We're talking 25 to 600 volts.

As Wes has said add a Pre-amp or effects pedal (think Equalizer) to the input you'll be amazed at what you'll come up for sound and tone.

joe


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(@alexk)
Eminent Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 26
Topic starter  

Hey, thanks for the tip. I'll keep that in mind if I ever gig with it. I generally take pretty good care of my equipment, so I don't think that will be a good problem.

Remember what I said about not having good overdrive? Forget that! For the first time, I turned it up to 10, went into another room, closed the door, and jammed. Wow. There's some really nice stuff there. It's not quite Marshall distortion, but it's definitely a little hotter than a Champ. I think one of the problems is that my Strat has pretty bad pickups, so they might' not be hot enough to really drive the amp the way I want. Also I bet Strats in general are kind of tricky to get good distortion on (moreso than say, a Tele or a Les Paul).

I'm still going to look into an overdrive or distortion pedal though, in case I want to get heavy on it. Maybe since I'm a huge Hendrix fan, I should look into fuzz pedals too.


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(@wes-inman)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 5599
 

alexk

What I like about these amps is that you can get that early Who sound like Pete Townsend on "I"m Free" or "Happy Jack" or "I Can See for Miles". Nice warm, slightly overdriven sound. Great rhythm guitar sound.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


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(@slothrob)
Reputable Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 477
 

In addition to the Danelectro pedals, you might try a Boss SD-1 or SD-2 for some good overdrive. Also, Fulltone Fulldrive II is a great overdrive pedal for a bit more smack (about $180 new). The Klon Centaur and Blackstone Appliance Mosfet Overdrive are some of the top end ($200-300) units. If you see one, give them a try, they are great boutique units, but you'll probably be pretty happy with something a lot cheaper.

You need to see what works with your amp to give you the sound you want. Some of the lower end overdrives and the tubescreamers and fuzz boxes have their own sound and that might be what you are looking for, but if it isn't you might be disappointed. The higher end boxes try to overdrive the amp in a "transparent" manner to allow the guitar's personality to come through. They then try to push the amp to get more of the amp's inherent distortion to come through, without adding a lot of their own color.

Also, try a humbucking guitar through the amp. They tend to have hotter pickups that will drive the amp more from the getgo.
And, don't underestimate the value of an equalizer before the amp to change the nature of the overdrive. It allows you to select the frequencies that are prominent going into the overdriven phase of the amp, which will change the final sound.


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