The backline choice not just for bassist Bill Wyman, but also for Mick and Keith Richards during the band’s 1969 U.S. winter tour.
The 1969 Summer of Love is often remembered as a time of classic music, flower power, and few inhibitions, all of which was epitomized by the 3-day Woodstock Music & Art Fair. For the Rolling Stones, however, it was a tumultuous year of firsts and lasts. It was the last year Brian Jones contributed to a Stones album (two tracks on 1969’s Let It Bleed) before passing away that July. Consequently, it was the band’s first year with guitarist Mick Taylor, who hit the ground running and contributed parts on two songs for Let it Bleed and performed at the band’s November concerts, which were released on 1970’s Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out. And 1969 was also the first and last year of the Altamont Speedway Free Festival—which was headlined and organized by the Stones, and billed as “Woodstock West.” Sadly, it’s primarily remembered for its fatalities, including the infamous scuffle between a Hells Angel and a murderous meth user.
Gear-wise, 1969 was the birth of Ampeg’s SVT amplifier—the backline choice not just for bassist Bill Wyman, but also for Mick and Keith Richards during the band’s 1969 U.S. winter tour.
Ampeg’s Bill Hughes and Roger Cox designed the “Super Vacuum Tube” amps with help from Bob Rufkahr and Dan Armstrong. They debuted at the ’69 NAMM Show in Chicago. The 95-pound, 2-channel, 300-watt head was originally loaded with 14 tubes, including six large, volatile 6146 power tubes. A year later, the 6146s were switched out for more reliable 6550s. The earliest “blue-line” SVTs like the one shown here (which has since been updated with KT88 tubes) had control panels engraved with blue lines and text, though Ampeg later switched to a more legible black format.
SVTs of this era had volume, treble, midrange, and bass knobs for the first channel, while channel 2 only had volume, treble, and bass. Extra flexibility came via the five rocker switches along top, which engage ultra-hi and ultra-lo boosts for each channel, and a 3-position mid-tone control. There were also four inputs, normal and bright for each channel.
The Stones’ 1969 U.S. tour, their first since 1966, was the group’s seminal run in American arenas—up until then they’d been playing smaller theaters and auditoriums. The need to move and groove fans in the nosebleed seats made the powerful SVTs a perfect choice. The amps were so loud they came with a Surgeon General-esque warning: “This amp is capable of delivering sound pressure levels that may cause permanent hearing damage.”
During rehearsals, the band reportedly pushed the prototypes to the brink of meltdown. Production models weren’t out yet and backup rigs weren’t an option, so Ampeg’s Rich Mandella joined the tour as the official SVT babysitter.
Today, Ampeg builds recreations of this beloved behemoth in the Classic and Heritage lines, both of which mix vintage SVT soul with modern needs such as cooling fans, tube-bias controls, Neutrik connections, and direct outputs. The SVT Pro series has models with more modern voicings, solid-state and class D power amps, graphic EQ, and power-reduction circuitry. And Ampeg’s recent GVT amps are specifically voiced for 6-stringers looking to emulate Ya-Ya-era Keef.
A special thanks to Jeff Sadler of Rock N Roll Vintage Guitars in Chicago and Ampeg for the opportunity to feature this fine piece of gear and its story.
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Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.