I have had this 50 watt, modded Traynor head for years now. It’s awesome. However, I notice for my really loud bands (Cartographer and Select Sex), it just doesn’t have the balls to really get over the insanely loud drummers of those bands.
I tried a number of changes. I messed with coupling cap values to tame the low-end and not use up power for frequencies that couldn’t really be heard live. I tried adding a cap to make a high shelf circuit like on many mid to high gain amps. The mods made the amp crunch in a nicer manner, but it didn’t help with the “push” and the volume. I checked the bias. I hooked the amp up to a scope to check wattage before clipping. It was giving me 49 watts of clean power, and the bias was spot on for me.
I couldn’t figure it out. I had an amp performing well, I had a good guitar, and I had an awesome cabinet. I’ve discussed my cabinet on this blog before. It’s a Lee Jackson cabinet. It’s very well made with nice wood. It has heavy metal associations, but I though the cab sounded great when I got it. You can see the quality construction in this photo.
I’d replaced the speakers, but I was questioning one of my choices. I had picked up a couple Eminence Governor speakers a while back, but I had not put them in. Finally, a couple of weekends ago, I had some time. I went down to the practice space and rewired my cabinet. I cross-loaded the two Mesa/ Celestion C90 speakers with the two Governor speakers. While doing this I noticed something very wrong. About 3/4th of the screws that hold the speaker baffle to the rest of the cabinet had come loose. They weren’t just a little loose. Many had backed out at least three or four full turns. Some had come out even more. This is like finding the lug nuts loose on your car wheels, but you know, without having your life in peril.
I tightened up the baffle screws, and put in the Governors with the existing C90 speakers in an X pattern. I sealed it up, but I didn’t have time to play the when I finished. At the next band practice it seemed to cut a bit more than usual and I didn’t have to turn up the amp as much. I played my first show with it last night, and it was really great. The guitar wasn’t getting lost in the cymbal wash, and there was plenty of volume on tap.
This is a problem that has bitten me in the ass again and again. When I’m having some technical issue, I’ll assume something is okay because it was okay in the past and it has shown no obvious signs of degradation and failure. Because I tend to be an amp circuit guy, I went looking at the amp’s electronics as soon as something seemed amiss. I looked in my comfort zone. If I had taken the ten minutes to unscrew the back of my cab at the first sign of a problem I would have found it long ago and not have spent so much time looking for issues where there were none to be found.
Finally, this is a good reminder that guitar setups are systems. Even though we buy all of our gear as separate pieces, we run them all together, and they way they behave when run en masss is not necessarily indicative of how they will run when isolated.
Thanks for reading, friends.