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Current Status of “Vega Research” (Mr. Guido Borghesani’s Lab, SECRET-1 and Cloe Guitars): The “Black Vega”

22 Apr Current Status of “Vega Research” (Mr. Guido Borghesani’s Lab, SECRET-1 and Cloe Guitars): The “Black Vega”

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Fig.1: The “Black Vega” Outer Box (left); Other Cetec Vega unit (right).

 

So,

today was (Guido) Borghesani‘s lab day 😀

Went to Guido & Luca and all the other guys at the shop.

The shop is split into two parts: Cloe’s Guitars & Borghesani’s Tech Lab.

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Cloe Guitars and Luca’s Harley


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From Left to right, Alex “Ringhio”, Luca, Me, Guido.

 

I must stress again that these guys are terrific. The most professional and available people I have ever met, in Italy and abroad. I wish them deserved success.

Cloe Guitars is the shop where I get/got all my guitars set up and PLEK’d. Luca is a knowledgeable individual but more so, someone who will “reason” with you and work with you to get you what you want.

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Alex Plek’ing a guitar

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Luca working at the Luthier’s desk.

 

 

But today was more of a Guido’s visit for some technical detail on both my current original Vegas (Cetec-Vegas) and to discuss about the replica.

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Guido in his lab.

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On a side note, Guido just repaired my 1950s original Neumann U47!


So here’s the summary of what all of this is boiling down to:

– I have a total of 4 Cetec Vega R42 receivers and their transmitters.

– 3 are R42s with cream-colored transmitters that look almost identical to the original X10.

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The original Schaffer Vega

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One of my R42s Cetec Vega

 

– 1 is an R42 coupled with a Cetec microphone (similar to a classic SM58) and will be used for tutorials (I won’t use anymore comment audio taken from the camera).

– One of the three R42s is “broken”. Won’t work. So we decided to use it for both parts AND to use its guts for the prototype of what we called at least temporarily the “Black Vega” (this name seems to receive a lot of attention :D).

Regarding the “Black Vega“,  the following has been temporarily decided (to be confirmed):

• Looks wise, the unit will be indeed “black” ( 😀 ) (yes, we already picked the box!). And it will be a metal box (recycled aluminum). See Fig.1 above.

• It will be circuit and components wise as close to the original R42/Transmitter as much as possible and needed.

• It will therefore have a power supply built in (likely, inside the unit). I do not think the Black Vega will be battery powered. The power supply inside the R42s plays a big role in providing the R42s the boost that is needed to drive the amplifiers inputs the way we heard here and on record.

In fact, the R42 (and likely, the original Schaffer Vega XXX) has a number of ICs internally one or more of which are great quality ICs used in mixers. Really powerful sounding and qualitative.

There are two separate output circuits inside the R42. One drives the front monitor output, the other one drives the rear XLR output. It will give up to +20db and its output measures 28 volts(!). Really powerful.

After my own tests I realized it was the rear output the one that was used extensively. It has virtually no hiss (noise) and sounds terrific. It’s the one that got me and is getting me as close as can be to Angus Young’s tone on at least two identified records (“Back in Black” and “If You Want Blood You’ve Got It”.

• it will likely feature a VU meter as on the original unit, which will likely measure the compression level you are supplying (same as one of the options you have on the real unit). So yes, you are getting this right: looks wise, it will be cool as “hell”.

• it will sport a number of knobs to control the tone. Likely, it will be probably more controllable than the original or as much as the original. Knobs will be much likely as on the original “Schaffer Vega”.

• It will sport a compressor and a boost.

• The expander (which on the original unit is called “Dynex II”) won’t be there, as it is not needed (the expander on the original unit serves to flatten the compressed signal; on the “Black Vega”, a variable amount of compression between 0 and x will be set by the user and then, signal will be boosted, which is the resulting effect happening anyway on the Cetec-Vegas).

• There won’t be of course any wireless transmission. Everything will be inside the “box” (Input/output).

• The unit will feature a stand by/on switch (non-existent on the original: you either play with the Cetec-Vega or you don’t).

• It won’t likely be cheap; though, it should finally solve the desire of many to really take you into Angus’ golden tone of that golden era (1978-198x).

 

So, it won’t be a “simulator” of tone. It will be as much as the real unit as possible. We thought about this, and I chose to go for the “real” way. That is, the boost will be a clean boost of immense power, as opposed to a simulated boosted sound already sounding “distorted” (i.e., a “gain”, “overdrive” unit). Much likely this will be a tool to feed into tube amps only. We still don’t know about this for certain (i.e., only tube/solid state/hybrids, etc.). Tests will have to be made.

 

All for now (and I think I gave away enough detail 😛 ).

It will take time. You can be sure about this. Maybe I will have a prototype by next June, but really this is unknown at this time.

 

Now, regarding my current Cetec Vegas, both transmitters were modified today.

We knew that these had a 10kohm resistance (they were set up for microphones) while instead the original unit had a 50kohm resistance. So we fitted one unit (TX only, naturally: nothing changes on the RX side) with a 50kohm resistance; the other one, has a 1Mohm (1 Mega) with a provided, variable 100kohm potentiometer (external, plugged with a jack) that will serve me to determine how the transmitter changes with different kohms.

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All of this is rather important, as it will let us find the best settings upon which to build and setup the replica.

I haven’t tested thoroughly the kohm change yet, will do tomorrow and report (both here and at the lab).

EDIT: Tested, please see and hear here.

Also, we found out that there is a switch on the R42 (receiver) to bypass the expander (Dynex II): basically, this leaves the compression entirely IN! To be experimented with.

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Additionally, Guido has almost finished drawing the schematics of both TX & RX.

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All for now. It was a very exciting visit for me.

SoloDallas out 😉

 

avatar
Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri
sd@solodallas.com

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

28 Comments
  • avatar
    jfreden
    Posted at 22:36h, 25 June

    This all sounds great. I will certainly buy a unit as soon as it’s available :-)

    Oh, and a digital wirelss together with this is probably the way to go.

    So Fil, Please make sure that we get a heads up when the unit is available for ordering.

  • avatar
    OldSchoolRocker666
    Posted at 17:57h, 18 June

    How about having an peice of text saying something like ”An black boosting tribute to Mr Ken Shaffer..” on the box? :)

  • avatar
    wheelman
    Posted at 07:09h, 18 June

    Very cool!

  • avatar
    OldSchoolRocker666
    Posted at 18:37h, 25 April

    Just out of curiosity, is it possible the unit will be able to work with Marshall models such as the Marshall Silver Jubilee 25/50 from 1987 or at least the model i mentioned?

    I’am having future plans to also obtain an Silver Jubilee for other kind of sounds, i don’t only play AC/DC so JMP Marshalls is not the only amps i’am planning for in the future, and would like to boost most of them, so that’s why i’am wondering :)

    Wish good luck with the unit!

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 18:40h, 25 April

      Most certainly yes.
      This replica will in fact replicate what the Schaffer Vega did; which was meant for any amplifier. I guess it would sound better on some, worse on others. I think it will sound great with most tube amps to tell the truth. It’s “just” a terrific (and adjustable) pure clean boost with a terrific compressor 😉 Don’t forget MANY starts used it: Boston, Kiss, Eddie Van Halen, ….

      • avatar
        OldSchoolRocker666
        Posted at 18:54h, 25 April

        Sounds great! :)

        Have you ever tried an Silver Jubilee, if so what do you think of them? Ok they’re not all tube amp and surly not the best amps for ac/dc but they got their own unique sound, but you may prefer older style Marshalls so they might not be the Marshalls for you. :)

        soundclip of clean channel of an Jubilee, not stock cabinet though, but what do you think of the sound?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGhz2e5Nfgg&feature=related

  • avatar
    SCgrad98
    Posted at 05:14h, 24 April

    Everything sounds great! I can’t wait. :-)

  • avatar
    KyleSG
    Posted at 06:36h, 23 April

    http://www.gilmourish.com/?page_id=22

    David gilmours rig including vega with a pic

  • avatar
    Chris Garbutt
    Posted at 06:03h, 23 April

    Alright… I think I love this thing…
    I too am wondering if this will be available June 2011 or if you meant 2012? Will I have to part with limbs or organs to be able to buy it? 😉

  • avatar
    rpatzelt
    Posted at 13:42h, 22 April

    YES! The “Black Vega”! It’s the best name indeed. Franz, you know, you are now the Godfather of this beast, capisce!?

  • avatar
    HagusYoung
    Posted at 12:05h, 22 April

    Fil, you can tell Guido, I will buy it and I bet a few other guys around here too.
    But the market is fairly big for the Black Vega, there is a lot of “Vega” tone in the recordings of the 70’s and 80’s or at least something that sounds very similar to what the Vega does to a Guitar sound. I cant remember what I heard, could have been Don Henley and I instantly recognized the compression like boost on the Guitar track.

    • avatar
      HagusYoung
      Posted at 12:06h, 22 April

      forgot to say, put it in a fairly small box if you can 😀

  • avatar
    Angusrocks
    Posted at 11:42h, 22 April

    Very interesting news !!
    I like very much, that the Black Vega (very good name, should call it so) shall be a replica and not a another simulator stomp box.
    There are sooo many tonesimulators on the market that there is no need to build another one. Great job of Guido !!

  • avatar
    Tyler
    Posted at 03:38h, 22 April

    I like it, I like it alot! I think black vega is a great name, really sticks!

  • avatar
    06AngusSG
    Posted at 02:31h, 22 April

    So sounds like more than just a “stomp box” :) The versatility that’s going to be in it sounds Awesome!!!! Jealous of their shop!!

    When you say “next June” are you talking in 2 months or 2012?

  • avatar
    Andrea Sg
    Posted at 02:22h, 22 April

    wow ehi fil ci sono passato anchio qualche volta da quelle parti 😉

  • avatar
    headwhop26
    Posted at 02:07h, 22 April

    Very good info! I like the pictures, you guys all look like a bunch of dorky gearheads :)

    When you say it most likely wont be cheap, what are we talking? hundreds and hundreds of euros?

  • avatar
    JaiminhoPagina
    Posted at 01:29h, 22 April

    Wow! That’s really exciting!! 😀

    Yeah. “Black Vega” seems like the best name 😛
    Really catchy 😛

    Can’t wait to see the final product!

    Cheers!

    Hey, Fil! I got something for you! Check our Megaupload account! 😉 (It’s just a “prototype”. I need you to point me out exactly how you want it to be :P)

  • avatar
    banane
    Posted at 00:26h, 22 April

    Great news and a lot of pictures and detailed info. Will ask Guido what I have to do when mine arrives here. And that article makes me even more impatient now :)

  • avatar
    currentpeak
    Posted at 00:22h, 22 April

    Great great great! Crossing my fingers!

    Btw. the name “Black Vega” sounds great (best of both worlds :))

    …and also, close to my fabrication “Dark Vega” (http://postimage.org/image/2h73401pg/) 😀

    • avatar
      Chris Garbutt
      Posted at 05:56h, 23 April

      LOL your Dark Vega looks really cool but my attention was soon drawn to the pictures of the babes below it… 😉

      • avatar
        currentpeak
        Posted at 12:19h, 23 April

        Thanks mate!

        LMAO, it was the first pic uploading web I googled, pure coincidence 😉

  • avatar
    Dries
    Posted at 14:24h, 18 June

    Wireless is a completely different thing to build than the boost circuit. It requires a lot more work to do reverse engineering on that part of the vega.

  • avatar
    banane
    Posted at 14:27h, 18 June

    Maybe a digital wireless together with the Black Vega is the solution then. As far as I know, digital wireless devices dont change the tone as much as analog wireless do, but sound rather neutral.

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