Friday, August 10, 2012

Page the 1st or First Page

As discussed earlier on this blog, the amps used by guitarists as well as the guitars, pedals and picking techniques, all contributed evenly to the magical electrical guitar tones produced during the 60's and the 70's. 

While most guitarists rocked the world with their Voxes, Fenders, Hiwatts and Marshalls, there were still other brands which became legendary later on when people realized that some of the great recordings ever were made using them.

Such are the Supro amps made by Valco in Chicago throughout the 50's and 60's. Although cheaper than most Fender amps they still sounded great and were quite popular in the US as well as in the UK. It is believed that one Jimmy Page has recorded the entire Led Zeppelin debut album in 1969 using a Fender Telecaster, a ToneBender Fuzz pedal, a Wah pedal and a 16T Supro combo amp. The sought after sound of Page is also a result of great playing, great mic placement and great recording techniques but surely this American style amp has something to do with it.

I have listened to some software plugins simulating the response of such an amp and decided it was worth the effort. When the Runoffgroove (ROG) team came out with the updated design of the Supreaux Deux I couldn't be happier. What's more, they actually own one of these babies so they really rtied to nail the sound rather than the FET-TUBE conversion design. I was so pleased with the former designs of the THOR and the ENGLISH CHANNEL, that I knew it was going to be a blast. The circuit is driven by 18V which gives the sound more headroom and lower gain. I really love fuzz boxes going into low gain and cleaner amps because it really gets the fuzz sounds better defined and less muddy. It was a pretty simple build and I did a pretty good job, I guess following the ROG design. I placed a 9V battery in the enclosure and connected a regular 9V power so that I could have the 18V together until I build  a 9V to 18V converter.

The results were great. Perfect clean-to-crunch DRIVE flexibility and a good lo-pass TONE control to keep that sizzle I love so much. the FAT switch is a mod I added to keep more of the low end when playing the neck pickups.The amp sounded good with humbuckers but superb with a Tele. Clean sounds and edgey and warm and the overdriven crunch is in the style of "Good Times Bad Times" opening chords. What a Blues Driver. The amp is not complete without a fuzz and a Wah. A treble Booster like the Ranger (ROG Omega) did wonders with the Drive knob about half way and north. Using a Tele you can really nail some of the crunchier sounds on LZ1 album where page doesn't use a fuzz. He engages the fuzz on solos mostly. for a Pagier sound always keep the mic away from the cabinet to get more room, and add some reverb.

The one thing I really needed now was a Germanium SolaSound ToneBender mkII....yeah right.
Well I did start looking for the best ToneBender mkII clone out there. While it may not be the Ultimate fuzz ever (the Maestro FuzzTone or Tonebender mkI are nominated for best ever), it is supposed to be quite versatile and sweet. Stay tuned.

The Supreaux Deux schematic which I call First Page or better yet Page the First can be found here. A 9-to-18V converter can be found here or on this thread.

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