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14 Feb Playing with a Marshall YJM (quick initial impressions)

Marshall YJM poster.

So, just got a used (but like new) Marshall YJM, which is a signature amp (Yngwie Malmsteen). While I never cared for Mr. Malmsteen not even for two seconds in a row (with Respect), I love the amp.

It is basically a regular Marshall 1959 Super Lead, 100 watts amplifier (which is my favourite amplifier type in the world), loaded with additional features that the vintage ones don’t have. Including a boost, reverb, noise gate and embedded attenuation via a modern “EPA” electronic circuit that lowers the voltage going to the main (EL34) tubes thus reducing the output up to bedroom levels.

I immediately tried the EPA function, which didn’t strike me as the best attenuation method available – it lets the amp drive way less and subtracts high frequencies, at least compared to my Aracom.

Expect a much better review of this soon – I am very interested in the differences between new and vintage amps, attenuation technologies and tone in general (you knew it didn’t you). I think these right here are all the necessary tools for us bedroom rockers, and I will not stop investigating.

Edit: after speaking with friend CrossroadsNYC (moderator at the marshallforum.com) it turns out that these are known characteristics, and it is just normal for the EPA to behave like that. I still like my Aracom a number of times better, however keeping in mind that the Aracom is a few more hundred bucks and the EPA is included with the amp… you know the math.

 

I made this little AC/DC copycat thing this morning to let you have a grasp of what the YJM sounds like. All parts played with a 1967 Gibson SG Standard (the one that was recently repainted), stock pickup (which I don’t even know if it is a t-top anymore, it came with the guitar and it is rather old). Cabinet is a Marshall B type with vintage 1970s G12Ms “blackbacks”. Microphone was  my newly acquired Neumann U47 FET (god I love it).

IMG_1009-2

 

The two guitars on the sides were played with NO TSR; the solo in the centre was played with TSR in standby for its first half, then TSR on (you should be able to tell when this happens).

The Marshall YJM settings were P0, M4, T6, V4 (yep, voume on 4), attenuated with my Aracom. Guitar volume and tone both on 10.

Like it?


Wanted to add the backing track in case someone wants it

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10 Feb A Few Synthetic AC/DC Facts relative to “recording”

relative facts small

The original text, in image form above.

I just bumped into an email I had written to someone sometime ago, and I thought that it would be good for all of us to keep things summarised as such:

 

We must separate the various albums though, because they were mostly different approaches and gear until Flick of The Switch in 1983, which starts the “un-interesting” period in my humble opinion.
Also, as many relevant sound engineers will confirm, the exact nature of the pre-amps (mic preamps) is not so important for recording guitars, and definitely not as important  as other components in the signal path/sound chain, as the guitar and the type of hum buckers used; the amplifier, its tubes and wattage; the speaker types; the microphone used and ultimately, the type of board equalisation used to record and/or mix the albums of interest.
Once you secure some good enough, qualitative mic preamps (such as, APIs, Neves or SSLs, for example) you’ll be already set for a great start.
So let’s get back to Let There Be Rock (the album) to begin with.
Let There Be Rock was recorded about Feb/March 1977, so no Schaffer Vega Diversity for Angus yet (he’d get it the following August). How to get that overdriven tone (that both guitars have, by the way)? That was done by overdriving the mic pre-amps to the point of clipping (and beyond). But I didn’t mention any tubes there; only maybe that I was using a tube Neumann U47 (but I wasn’t overdriving the microphone!), in place of what they used back then which was a Neumann U47 FET (a recurring microphone for recording guitars, Bon’s vocals and Phil’s kick drums in those years – Vanda & Young were using U47 FETs at all times!). The microphones though are rather different and different sounding. The FET version is definitely preferable to the tube version, that is also more delicate.
At the time, all I had though was the tube version (now I sold it to Vintage King Audio and got from them money & a FET version, so I will be covering all that territory – early AC/DC – soon). But these are maybe irrelevant details.
For Let There Be Rock, you want:
– Marshall Super Leads (model 1959)
– G12Ms “greenback” speakers
– At least one Large Diaphragm condenser microphone per cabinet (one is already enough) (they tracked with the Neumann U47 FET)
– you want to clip the microphone preamp, which does not mean clipping the microphone, but just the preamp you will connect to it, by raising its gain to saturation.
– Console is unknown, but I believe they were tracking with a Neve of some sort there
For Powerage,
– Marshall 2203s (100 watts Master Volume)
– G12M “greenbacks”
– Cabinet should be against an angle (two walls), also with baffles. This will increase the bass response from the cabinet (the 2203 is short on bass frequencies).
– Again, one Neumann U47 FET used here, so at least one Large Diaphragm condenser microphone per cabinet (one is already enough)
– ALL the solos and additional rhythm played from the control room with a Schaffer-Vega Diversity System
– The console they tracked it with such be the same as above, so much likely Neve
For Highway To Hell
– Marshall 2203s (100 watts Master Volume)
– G12M “greenbacks”
– at least one Shure SM57 and one Sennheiser MD421 per cabinet (better vintage ones if possible, they were different); close micing was used (they used two SM57s and one Sennheiser MD421 per cabinet; cabinets again against the wall and baffled).
– ALL the solos and additional rhythm played from the control room with a Schaffer-Vega Diversity System
– Tracked likely on a Neve and mixed on an Helios console (type 69).
For Back in Black
– Marshall Super Leads (model 1959)
– Rhythm cabinet usually with Celestion G12-65 (might have used G12Ms for some tracks!)
– Soloing (for Angus) usually Celestion G12Ms (must do more matching on this, he could have used G12-65s as well; several types of cabinets were used, and also one 50 watts Marshall head was used for some solos).
– ALL the solos and additional rhythm played from the control room with a Schaffer-Vega Diversity System
– Microphones used here are one Neumann U67 and one Neumann U87 per cabinet (one cabinet per Young brother)
– Console for tracking was an MCI JH500 series – mixed on another type of console though!
For For Those About To Rock
– – Marshall 2203s (100 watts Master Volume) for rhythm tracking
– Marshall type 1959 & at least a Marshall 50 watts (unknown type yet) for solos
– – Rhythm cabinet usually with Celestion G12-65
– Solo cabinet usually Celestion G12Ms
– One or two Shure SM57s per cabinet
– unknown console used for tracking (it was a mobile studio)
Tips: never push the amps to the max! Huge mistake. Naturally, playing this way will be way more difficult for you guys. But this is how it was and it still is for the Young brothers. They are a couple of underestimated virtuosos, both of them.
However, they are the rock band that sold most albums of all the others. So this tells us something.
Usually, the maximum you should go with the master or volume in general of the amplifier is 7. If your amp is a Master volume, the preamp can go as high as 8. Usually 10 is useless (better to crank a bit more the Master then).
The Schaffer-Vega has a capability of further overdriving an amplifier that is second to none; with its on board compressor and clean boost, is a no-match for any device but the overdrive pedals that started pouring in in the 1980s (and have never been used by AC/DC).
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02 Feb Now a GREAT example of an Old Times “AC/DC Microphone” Would Be… a Neumann U47 FET (Audio Update)

Minor update (2 audio files) please scroll to the bottom to hear a Wizard Modern Classic/The Schaffer Replica® GT combo recorded with this Neumann U47 FET!

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Oh yes. It is my theory in fact that most (if not all) of early (up to 1977, including “Let There Be Rock”) AC/DC studio album recordings were mostly recorded – guitars and Bon’s vocals – with Neumann U47 FET (NOT the tube versions!). And maybe – just maybe – even bass drum with it (the Neumann U47 FET is also famous for that).

For the technically curious: Neumann U47 FET

My own Neumann U47 FET out of the Vintage King Audio packaging! Near Mint.

My own Neumann U47 FET out of the Vintage King Audio packaging! Near Mint.

I just got my own unit. I am not sure yet of its date of manufacturing (they were made from ’69 to the early 1980s), just got this yesterday.

Unopened Package from the great Vintage King Audio guys - thanks Nick Buzinski for trading with my Neumann U47 Tube

Unopened Package from the great Vintage King Audio guys – thanks Nick Buzinski for trading with my Neumann U47 Tube

This is an extremely expensive microphone, and a rarity too (especially in this near mint conditions). So given the times – where I already have spent quite much for the development of our beloved Schaffer Replicas™ – I traded this for my original, 1950s Neumann U47 tube version, that was specifically used on vocals, and that I had saved from my Studio58a times but was mostly useless for me.

Microphones for me are for recording guitars mostly, and the Neumann U47 FET was used countless times for guitar recording in the past.

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23 Jan SoloDallas AT NAMM: Blogging it.

Dear friends,

as some of you know, this year we are participating to the Namm show, in Anaheim, California, willing to introduce the Schaffer Replica® to the (rest of the) world (that doesn’t know it yet). Today it was preparation day for the exhibitors (us included), and it has been packed of great feeling and emotions for everyone involved.

For me it actually started last night, when I got to meet Mr. Schaffer in person.  Mr. Schaffer had to literally, jump on an airplane to get to Anaheim from New York. In fact, his previous tickets (that he had reserved way in advance)  were suddendly cancelled for a snow storm that is forecast to be incoming in the north-eastern part of the USA right during NAMM, and right where Mr. Schaffer is based (NYC). So he called me hectically but I was already asleep in the city of Angels (Los Angeles). So Mr. Schaffer decided on his own (he his a very brilliant person you know) and just jumped on the first plane to Los Angeles. Crazy! But got there safely.

Mr. Ken Schaffer, a Schaffer Replica® and SoloDallas. All three smiling.

Mr. Ken Schaffer, a Schaffer Replica® and SoloDallas. All three smiling.

After napping a little bit at his hotel in Anaheim, CA, we got to meet. My wife (who also came along to Anaheim to support me) had chosen a Japanese Restaurant for the “meet and greet” event between Mr. Schaffer and myself (first time in my life that I got to see him, after two long and exciting years of discoveries, planning and work) but the wife naturally fell asleep (horribly jet lagged) 5 minutes before we were supposed to be out of the door to go to the restaurant –  so I went alone. Mr. Schaffer was instead accompanied by a beautiful actress friend of his (great taste in friends, Mr. Schaffer!). Naturally he got lost on the way and appeared about one hour later. But I waited chatting with Canadian friend and solodallas.com member Kris, who entertained me with his tone findings with his Schaffer Replica, supplying videos and pics to keep me busy. So it was good waiting. When I finally got to see Mr. Schaffer in front of me, it was a great feeling. There is some kind of – unexpected? – resemblance between us, which added some pleasant laughs to the night. We talked about many things, and Mr. Schaffer was as kind, warm and funny as ever (he’s a funny guy!). It was a blast for me. I kept repeating to him how pleased I was to see him in person. And I have kept telling him today at Namm, when he walked into the exhibition building to come and meet the booth gang.

I was in fact lucky enough to be able to share a Namm booth, invited by Billy Rowe of rocknrollrelics.net . Our booth is number 3395, and we set it up together today (wed the 22nd of Jan 2014), since Namm will be officially opening its doors tomorrow,  to thousands of people. The people that matter in the music business.

 

G93R4043

Part of the 3395 booth (left side). It includes products from Rock N Roll Relics, David Allen Pickups, David Friedman amps, Knagg guitars and our Schaffer Replica. Shown here, the great Metro-Friedman 1959 Super Lead clone of Eddy Van Halen (I own one of these!)

 

I really love the way that the booth has come out. You can check our big logo, that was welcomed among the others in a very, very friendly way by hosts Billy Rowe, David Allen and David Friedman. I particularly enjoyed meeting Mr. David Allen of David Allen pickups, as well as

Great (funny, "alive") David Allen. When he says "bringing tone to life", he MEANS it.

Great (funny, “alive”) David Allen. When he says “bringing tone to life”, he MEANS it.

getting to hug again my friend Billy Rowe. Shaking hands (and getting to play his amps) with David Friedman was also a blast. You can see that they setup my own little corner, with the Schaffer Replicas over a super cool Metro Friedman 1959 type circuit amp. I love that amp! Got to play some with it plugging one of our Replicas and it rocked. I was able to play one of Billy’s latest SG models, pictured to the left. The silver one.

That one will be my guitar here at Namm (I’m a lucky guy!). The guitar sports Mr. David Allen’s latest POWERAGE pickups, a great interpretation of Gibson T-tops of the 1970s and I have to tell you, I am getting a set of these immediately. These are the ones I never got

A Schaffer Replica and its POWERAGE T-top Replica friends. You know, great Replicas get easily friendly with each other.

A Schaffer Replica and its POWERAGE T-top Replica friends. You know, great Replicas get easily friendly with each other.

to try because David had no time to build a last set for me. Incidentally, as it often happens, they are my favourite set of T-tops and one that you all will get to hear a lot as soon as I am back from NAMM.

I got to plug into that great amp, attenuated by Friedman’s own “STFU” unit (name is pretty much self explanatory). I got to play with it a bit and it would seem like a great little piece of kit. Really silent, bringing that beast of a 100 watt amp to my usual bedroom rocker type sound levels. Good for me (and good for NAMM: we are not allowed to play loud!).

FRIEDMAN's great 1959 type circuit amp, with Friedman proprietary attenuator the "STFU" (HOW cool is that???)

FRIEDMAN’s great 1959 type circuit amp, with Friedman proprietary attenuator the “STFU” (HOW cool is that???)

 

The Schaffer Replica behaved wonderfully, with pretty much the approval of everyone at the booth. I kept on pushing the pedal on and off, going from Angus Young of AC/DC mode to standard rock mode. I have seen quite a few heads nodding while I was playing, and I frankly enjoyed that very, very much. It was a great start it being preparation/set up day, I just couldn’t have desired anything better than this.

 

We will be continuously updating this page to try and blog the NAMM event and our booth 3395 adventures. Please stay tuned. I hope to be able to entertain you a bit!

 

Always yours,

 

Fil :)

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03 Jan Preparing delivery of the first 25 Schaffer Replica units

Dear Members,

Franz picked up the first 25 built units from the shop today. Now we’ll prepare the delivery. Means: getting packaing material, price quotes for delivery to different countries, writing and printing invoices, attaching the “Gold Tag” brass plates, shooting a photo of each single unit for each buyer, doing a short sound test (functional tests and burn in has been already done at the shop) and writing the delivery notification emails. They will be sent out at about tomorrow, Saturday, 4th January, somewhen in the afternoon/evening.

To mention the procedure again: Every buyer will get a “ready for delivery” notification email with a photo of his unit and we’ll ask for the final part of the payment. After the final payment came in, we’ll immediately send the unit. Insured to the full amount and with tracking. Tracking number will be sent via mail, of course.

And as usual, I’ll end the post with a few photos. The unit you see there, is #001, brass plate not yet attached. Higher quality photos will follow later. Enjoy!

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19 Dec A sly look into the shop part III: PCBs and front rework

Dear Members,

Another small update from the shop. Gold Tag front plates are being made, Gold Tag main boards are being made. Unfortunately, the Gold Tag fronts were not exactly to our specs, the VU meter cutout is about 1.5 millimeters too small. So the shop re-routes the holes in their CNC router.

 

goldtagfrontboards

 

 

goldtagmainboards

 

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