Silverface Twin Reverb Amp Wallpapers

I created these for my own desktop. Should anybody else be interested please feel free to download and use (subject to licence terms below).

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Edit: Added a third.

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All pictures taken with a Nikon D50 and post-processed to adjust the colour curve in The GIMP. The third has had a slight vignette added.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Fender Twin with 12AT7 in the preamp

Day 3 with the Twin Reverb and I managed to get a couple of hours to explore further. I tried swapping the 12AX7 tube in V2 (the Vibrato channel) for a 12AT7. It’s a fairly subtle change. It means that the preamp doesn’t slip into overdrive as easily. I’ll leave it in for now but no doubt I’ll be going back to the 12AX7 before too long.

I also got chance to experiment with my collection of pedals. As many of others have already documented, the Twin Reverb is a great amp with pedals. I had most fun with this stripped down setup. Perfect for rockabilly twang. The gem of these is Alfie’s Blue Alpaca. It just makes the amp sing.

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Right to left they are: Behringer DC9 Compressor, Nocturne Brain Seltzer, Alfalfasprout Custom Shop Blue Alpaca (inspired by the Way Huge Red Llama) and finally a DigiTech DigiDelay for a bit of slapback.

All of this was with my Telecaster. I’m really looking forward to 12th Jan when I’ll have my Gretsch 6120DSV back home.

Twin Reverb gets a “spring” clean

The Twin Reverb, whilst sounding remarkably clean was looking anything but. Time for a good clean.

The tolex is quite badly knocked about in places so I wanted to make sure it didn’t get too wet.

I dismantled everything, removing the valves and the amp chassis too. While it was apart I took pictures of the valve chart and serial number for future reference.

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I gather from this site that the “F09” denotes 1979-80.

In small sections with slightly soapy water and a firm nail brush I’d work in small circles, wipe dry and repeat a couple of times until all the ingrained dirt had lifted.

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Here’s a before and after of the top.

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Not a massive difference on first appearance until you look at what it did to the water and detergent mix.

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The reverb bag was particularly dirty but cleaned up very nicely.

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There had been an intermittent problem with the reverb disappearing which I’d traced to a dodgy connection on RCA Phono plug on the return from the reverb tank. I replaced the whole cable with one I had in my parts drawer.

The interior of the chassis itself was pretty clean but I gave it a light dusting and checked everything looked OK.

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I put everything back together, returned the valves to their original position and checked that everything worked. Now the outside is almost as clean and sparkly as the sounds it makes. The valves fitted all look pretty recent. They’re Electro-Harmonix in the power tubes and a full set of JJs for the preamp.

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One last job for today was to make myself a “fake” footswitch for the tremolo. As standard you need to have the footswitch plugged in for the tremolo to operate, whereas by default the reverb is on. I like to keep the tremolo on all the time but at a very low, almost imperceptible level. Rather than connecting up the footswitch and leaving it rattling about in the cavity at the back, I simply took an old RCA Phono plug, soldered the centre to the shield and hey presto, full-time tremolo with no footswitch.

Next job will be to experiment with the preamp tubes. I’ve got a spare 12AT7 knocking about and this can be used in place of the 12AX7 in V1 or V2 for the Normal and Vibrato channels, respectively, dropping the gain slightly, giving even more clean headroom (if such a thing is possible).

Another interesting idea I want to try out is that, because unlike most amps, the two channels are totally independent and can be used at the same time, you can take the return from the reverb tank and feed it directly into the normal channel, allowing you to control the volume and EQ independently of the dry signal. All that is required is an RCA Phone to 1/4″ adapter.

New Amp Day

The Behringer GM110 has headed off to a new home (a gift for an ampless friend) and so I was in the market for a replacement. I’ve spent a while enviously and forlornly looking at classic Fender amps. Over the last year everything I’ve been looking for has been summed up by that shimmering, sparkling Fender clean sound. In Nashville earlier this year I spent a very happy afternoon with a Princeton Reverb and I was sold and have been keeping my eyes peeled for one at a reasonable price. Unfortunately they rarely appear for sale, and when they do they’re far from reasonably priced.

I’d always assumed that the big boy of the Fender range was out of my price range and then I stumbled across a silver-face Fender Twin Reverb on eBay at around half the price of a Princeton. Deal done and the new baby arrived at home this afternoon. It is one of the late 70s models which is not loved by the cognoscenti. The downside is that it is 135 watts! I’ve got plenty of headroom to play with! Everything is working fine but it is overdue some TLC. It’ll get a clean and fettle over the next few days. To say I’m happy with it would be something of an understatement. In fact, let’s leave it there. I’ve got a new toy to play with. Ciao.

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Audio sample of the Jazzmaster

Here is a 1m30s sample of the Jazzmaster. It uses a mixture of the bridge and neck pickups. Recorded into Reaper using a clean amp model with a touch of reverb. The drums were done, as always, with EZDrummer and the bass was my custom 4 string.

NB: It was only after posting this to youtube.com that it occurred to me that the word “Jazzmaster” may be interpreted as some sort of hubristic comment on my playing abilities, particularly given the tune I chose. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is just a piece I have been trying to learn over the past 5-6 months, as part of experimenting with different time-signatures (both playing and recording them). It was the first tune that “fell under my fingers” when I hit record.

Setting up the Jazzmaster

Now that woodworking and assembly has been completed, the next job is to get it set up so that it plays as well as it can. For a new guitar I have found this is much more of an iterative and drawn out process, than setting up an old guitar. The neck relief in particular seems to take two to three weeks to settle in while the wood, truss rod and string tension all ease themselves into some sort of equilibrium.

Now I’m not saying this is the right order for tackling a setup, but this is the approach I use and it works fine for me.

  • Adjust the pickup height to be slightly lower than where you think the final position will be.
  • If you’ve got adjustable polepieces then, as a start point set them to a height that approximately matches the fretboard radius.
  • Set the bridge saddle height to be slightly higher than you think you’ll need.
  • A new set of strings is a must. Get them on up to tune,stretched and settled.
  • Make a quick check of the neck relief. I hold the string down at the first and last fret (using a capo helps) and at around the 8th or 9th fret you should have a gap between the fret top and the string that you could just slide a pick into. If you’re not sure about how to adjust the relief then head off to youtube.com and search for one of the many excellent guides.
  • With the guitar tuned and the neck relief close enough for now I then set the intonation.
  • I start with the high/thin E string. Play the 12th fret harmonic and then fretted at the 12th. If the fretted note is higher this means the string needs to be longer so adjust the saddle accordingly. Retune the string, recheck and adjust. Keep going until the harmonic and fretted note are in tune with each other.
  • I then set the D string saddle to about the same position as the E and go through the same process.
  • Next is the thick E string and the G string (I’m assuming an unwound G). I set the saddle about 4-5mm further back than the D and thin E, respectively. This gives you a start point that will be close. Then fine tune with the fretted/harmonic at the 12th.
  • And to finish off I set the A saddle between the E and D position, and the B saddle between the G and E. Again, this is just a close start point for the fine tuning.
  • The next phase of adjusting the action requires two separate adjustments; to the nut slots and the saddle heights. Because cutting the nut slot deeper is a one time deal (OK, it is not exactly but trying to raise a nut slot is a real PITA) I cycle round this many times, going slowly, just taking off a little at a time. I make sure the nut slots aren’t too high. I then adjust each saddle bringing it down and playing at every fret along the neck until I get a buzz. At that point I wind it back up a notch and then move on to the next string.
  • Once the saddles are about there, go back to the nut and check the slot height. If it is near-ish I leave it at that for now. It’ll get done properly after two to three weeks, once the neck relief has settled into shape.
  • Last job is adjusting the pickup height, which I described in detail a few posts ago.

One thing to bear in mind is that just because you can have a low action doesn’t mean you have to. For years I did everything I could to get ultra-low action on all of my guitars. I had assumed that, because one sign of a bad guitar is high action, low action was the sign of a good guitar. This is not true! I have found that a slightly higher action gives a much clearer sound and, for me, makes bending a string much easier. I feel that I can get my finger under the string and push it up, rather than trapping the string between finger and fretboard and squeezing it upwards. It does require more finger strength and tougher finger tips, but hey, that’s what practice is for.

Instalment two will be along in a few weeks but, in the meantime, if you’re interested in this topic then I would highly recommend that you head over to Billy Penn’s 300 Guitars blog and check out his guitar setup guide.

If you’re not familiar with the name, Billy is a guitar and amp tech (and shit hot guitar player) from New Jersey who has tirelessly provided many, many helpful posts and videos. And let’s get this straight – Billy is not some back garden hacker like me – he is the real deal. He is selling his guitar setup e-book for just $4.99. My first thought was that I’ve been setting up my own guitars for 20 years and have just about got the hang of it now, but I’ve had second thoughts… First off Billy has been so generous with his advice over the years and five bucks seems the least I can do to say “thank you”. Secondly, and perhaps from a selfish perspective, if I learn just one cool new trick that helps me setup or maintain my guitars better, that’s got to be worth it.

BTW: If you take your gear to a guitar tech I’d still recommend the guide. If you’re not doing it yourself then having a good understanding of what you’re talking about, or even of what to ask a guitar tech, is worth the five bills in my opinion.

Disclaimer: I don’t have any connection to Billy Penn, other than following him on Twitter and subscribing to his YouTube channel.

Finishing the Jazzmaster

I was just left with a few jobs to finish off the Jazzmaster.

I cut myself a bone nut blank from my stash.

Sanded it to shape and marked the string slot positions.

And checked the fit.

Normally I would fix it in place with a small dab of CA glue, but the fit is very snug and so I’m going to leave it as it is for now.

That just left me with giving it a final wax polish, installing the pickups, wiring it up, giving it a fresh set of Ernie Ball Slinkies and a rough setup.

There are a few jobs left to do, such as applying a headstock logo and making a truss rod cover, but I’m going to be too busy playing it for the next couple of days.

This one has been a smooth build. A couple of interesting challenges, a few new skills to learn, 10 days of work (in the region of 40-50 hours) over 18 elapsed days and a final total cost of £156.06. I’ll call that a result.