amp diy

Courtesy of Telefunken

Welcome to the tube zoo, where you’ll get to know about the nature and habits of output and preamp tubes. And how they perform in the wilds of amplification—and in your own amp.

Of all the tonally tweakable elements in the extensive chain of components that define your sound as a guitarist, the tubes tucked into your amplifier might be the most enigmatic. Working symbiotically with the circuits and transformers housed alongside them, these tubes help to determine the way your playing is translated, from the signal produced at the guitar’s pickups to the sound waves ultimately pumped into the air by the speaker and broadcast to listeners’ ears. Given their role in the signal chain, tubes can greatly influence the feel of your playing, as well as the sound.

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This EVM-15L focuses sound at longer distances, which is why it's known as an audience killer. But it can also provide killer tones. For the record, this 1964 Vibroverb powers a Jensen C15N speaker.

Your signature Fender sound could be just a tweak or twist away.

More personal, original-sounding guitar tones enable me to play differently or better, making my contributions to songs inspired and relevant. In my May 2020 column, titled “Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate," we talked about classic Fender amp and guitar pairings that have stood the tonal test of time. This time, I'll discuss finding more unique Fender amp sounds that can help you be inspired and stand out from the masses. Over the years, I've made some surprising tone discoveries trading and servicing vintage Fender amps.

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With Public Enemy, guitarist Khari Wynn uses a Marshall, but a humble Fender workhorse helps carry his own transcendent compositions.

If you've seen Public Enemy on tour over the past two decades, you've heard Khari Wynn breathing fire through a Marshall stack. In fact, you can hear him on the band's new album, What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down?, on the apocalyptic songs “Grid" and “Rest in Beats." But these days, when he's at home in Memphis gigging or cutting tracks, Wynn relies on a workhorse favored by many players, from pros to weekend warriors: a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe.

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