2013-04-15

It's Hard To See Myself Buying Another Amplifier

I've been mulling over the idea of building my own guitar amplifier. There are a multitude of amp-building kits out there, and a rich library of schematics. I don't completely suck at soldering, and I have a decent head on my shoulders. I also have several engineer friends and acquaintances who have successfully built their own amplifiers in the past, so I believe I would have the moral and technical support I'd need to pull it off.

This would, of course, be a labor of love, just something to do for my own personal entertainment. In the year 2013, it is not particularly cost effective to build your own amplifier from scratch. Of course, the skills developed in such a process could certainly save me amplifier maintenance money in the future. But that is more of a bonus, rather than a core feature.

Anyway, while looking around for schematics for an appropriate first build, I surfed over to the Carvin Service website and discovered that they have posted the schematic for the original (and now discontinued) Steve Vai Legacy amplifier, otherwise known to fans as the "Legacy 1." (There have since been Legacy 2 and Legacy 3 updates to the original design.)

One idea I was considering was to build a single-channel amp based on the Lead channel of the original Carvin Legacy 1. (My general dislike for clean-toned electric guitars is destined to become fodder for a future blog post. It's not that I dislike clean tones, it's that I greatly prefer the sound of acoustic guitars over the "twinkle twinkle" tones of a clean electric guitar.) Because I have no use for a clean channel, a guitar amp that is basically an awesome overdrive tone with gain sensitivity appeals to me greatly.

But last night, after listening to some great sound samples of the Legacy 1, (see this awesome clip, for example) I fired up my Egnater Rebel 20 amplifier, tweaked the gain and tube selection settings a bit, and promptly spent an hour making gorgeous, gorgeous love to the beautiful tones emanating from my speaker.

Every tone I am even remotely interested in can be had from my Rebel 20. The amplifier is almost perfect. I can't think of a single thing I dislike about it. It could be that this amplifier has ruined me in the same way that my Carvin guitars have ruined me. In fact, when I think about how pleased I am by my amplifier, it makes me reluctant to bother with building my own amplifier at all.

What can I say? I love having great gear.