Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Snowden Effect

Right about now you're probably scratching your head and thinking "Well, I dunno, Lester, what in the hail is this Snowden feller doing right in the middle of this yere ampolifier blog or whatever this here Dougloid feller thinks it is?"

Good question. It's a phenomenon that I have decided to call the "Snowden effect" and it has, in fact, something to do with guitar amps and maybe  bass amps as well.

Let me explain. One thing that we often see in this part of the world is this: someone appears, they've got a rare guitar amp from a long dead maker about which published information is scarce .When asked for technical details they say more or less-if they say anything at all-"Well, I'm sworn to silence because a friend of mine is tooling up to make these things, and he intends to charge an arm and a leg for them, you wouldn't want me to shank him now, would you? And don't think you can reverse engineer it either, because you'll never acquire the soul of tone that only I possess."

Classic cock tease.

Well, this is, like it or not, the age of information leakage, and if you want to keep something secret you can't go showing it off like a new Buick. Sooner or later the information gets out. A case in point is the amps made by an eccentric and marginally socialized guy named Alex (or Howard, come to think of it) Dumble. The secret was well and truly kept until two guys reverse engineered it by removing all the potting compound with dental picks and Dremels and documenting the whole thing. And in doing so they spawned a new industry of D-clones. Here's a site where the info's been collected.

Another prime example is the Standel 25L15, the innards of which were a closely guarded secret until somebody spilled the beans and Ted Weber, the Hoosier Speaker guru, came as close to reverse engineering it as anyone's likely to ever get. The schematic's not on the Weber site any more and they don't plan on offering any kits but the cat got out of the bag.

 I also saw this phenomenon with the Fender Woody Princeton and lately an amp none of us were aware of, the National Professional. It does look tasty enough that I started a long term project file and I'll be out there slurping up every scrap of information I can lay hands on.

I do have an amp in transit, an Ampeg 7020, for which I know of no documentation. If it's got the schematic inside I'll publish it. Or maybe I'll just be a tease. No. It'll get published.

Never fear. "Murder will out, as we see day by day." So saith Geoffrey Chaucer, and it was as true then as it is now.

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