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Introducing Metro Amps

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16 Sep Introducing Metro Amps

Update as of Sep 16th 2010: George has provided internals images of my amp directly from his archive. If you wanted to peek into it, you’re served!

http://plexireplicas.com/amplifier-archives/Misc/5007/

A few months ago, I started researching for another Amplifier Head. Reason was, I wanted to go even higher in quality and a sort of back to my vintage Marshall Heads. But didn’t want to go into vintage again

with amps: too many things to maintain to make the amp work.

So, I stumbled upon a known replica builder: George Metropoulos, the builder of the famous early design Marshall replicas “Metro Amps” (click here to go to George for more info)

George offers his amps both in kit form and completed. I wanted a completed one and got in touch with him.

I told George – kind and always professional – that I wanted a sort of “AC/DC” Marshall Head. Specifically, one that would capture the raw sound of Angus.

He said he could do it and we went on.

A few months went by and George sent me my amp.

Metro Amps are known among professional and amateurs as some of the best replicas of vintage Marshalls. George is a top notch professional that researched every detail on the older models and seems to have captured the magic of those early, older Marshall amplifier heads.

You can read a fascinating article of a group of people comparing several JTM45s, with the Metro basically the winner:ย 45 Degrees of Tone: The JTM45 Roundup

Here it is to you, today I received it and opened the box.

I will be posting a qualitative video/audio test with this in the following days. I shot a rough video of it today, but I have to check if it is worth posting (might post it here for us members only).

I will also be interviewing George here, an exclusive for us at SoloDallas.net soon.

Below, a close up of the head.

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Invoice and wishing well by George.

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Detail of the back of the chassis: a master volume (acts similarly to a cheap power attenuator). This way, also this amp – similarly to my 1987XL Marshall head – can be brought down to bedroom volume level.

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Sitting on top of my Marshall 4×12 non slanted cabinet (Vintage 30s speakers inside)

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Loading the EL34 tubes in it.

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This one is the tuber rectifier. My 1987XL has a solid state rectifier, resulting in “stiffer” attack. I wanted a softer, mellower attack for this one.

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Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri
sd@solodallas.com

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

49 Comments
  • avatar
    stretchy
    Posted at 06:46h, 27 September

    I’ve kinda lost the thread here… I’ve been following you on YouTube for years now… glad to see that the project is in it’s working phase.

    I know Metroamp for a long time now, and I’m planning to build my own either JTM45 or 50w kit (plexi 50w). can you be more specific on the model you got form Metro ?

    Is it from the replica site or the store site ?

    Is it the GPM45 (JTM45 replica) with some mods (el34 tubes and MV) or is it the 45/100 model ?

    Or is it the 50w kit (modeling the real 1987 model) that you ask pre-builded ?

    So many questions… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Long live to this site!

    Guy Provost

  • avatar
    Kinglance
    Posted at 17:13h, 17 September

    I love that Metro-amp, sounds very very nice with Gibsons :p Is that a 100 watt amp? Cause 100 is too much for me, I prefer 60 or less…

  • avatar
    Emerald
    Posted at 00:38h, 17 September

    Sorry, the True Replica cabs are 1968, not 1969, my bad!
    http://forum.metroamp.com/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=32249
    Emerald

  • avatar
    Emerald
    Posted at 00:15h, 17 September

    Passed on your SoloDallas info to my friend Richard Baines of Shredaholic fame, hopefully you’ll have a European link for your awesome site Fil! Just warning you, but have you checked out George’s relatively new True Replica 1969 4X12″ cabs, available both in pin stripe and basket weave.
    I know you already have a great Marshall cab, but the cabinet is the final factor in the complete tone equation.
    These cabinets are CNC’d to exactly replicate the vintage Marshall cabs of old. The construction, materials used and the inner workings of the cab are that extra 25% of the tone factor equation. Not that your clips aren’t awesome, just check out these cabs though, expensive to go to Italia I know, but unloaded shouldn’t be too expensive (ie;heavy)!
    Again you have done so much with Word Press, mine is pathetic in comparison, but great site. I am spreading the word on the net to many many forums, so hopefully your membership will start increasing.George really picked the ideal Metro for your AC/DC request, he is a great guy!
    Cheers
    Emerald

  • avatar
    depuis1899
    Posted at 02:54h, 16 September

    Fil, this amps are juste great, perfect work…
    i’m just a bit shy and don’t want to contact george for nothing so i ask you, to you think he could build an head amp with a cabinet for about 800 โ‚ฌ? so that i get something close to angus’ sound with 20 watt
    greetz

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 03:01h, 16 September

      We’re all shy. I’m a shy nerd, what do you think???
      Just write him. Do NOT worry. Write and ask. George is a GREAT guy. Mention what you want and your budget. And be proud: you deserve it.

      • avatar
        depuis1899
        Posted at 06:46h, 16 September

        what i think? that you are one of the greatest guitarist i’ve ever heard and you’re juste a really really nice guy =)
        thanks for your answer, i think i will contact him in a few days (when i got out how xD )

  • avatar
    bmi
    Posted at 01:28h, 15 September

    I know Metropoulos amps and nothing is secret about his great work but it seems that you ask a specific build.
    I’m wondering if it was possible to get technical details, even a simple picture of inside could be enough for me.
    Thanks,
    bmi.

  • avatar
    Lemmiwinks
    Posted at 09:37h, 13 September

    Hey, I tryed a marshall jtm 45 reissue a while ago and it was good but really hard to get an early ac/dc tone out it. I only tryed it for about 1 hour or so with only high treble volume on but it didnt have that malcolm crisp. I used a gretsch jet and all too but it was a lowprice one with so called ”dumbuckers” straight into the lead channel.

    Do you think a pair of real (or tv jones) filtertrons would help?

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 09:46h, 13 September

      I always tend to say that the guitar comes first if you want to play good rock and roll, but getting specific tones can involve having the correct gear. So, yes, I think the reissue JTM45 won’t cut it WITHOUT a proper mod. I think all Marshall reissues need the modification to sound “better” like the older ones did.
      I shot a video last saturday – 4 hours long – trying the Metro and my older 1987XL MArshall David Bray modified. They sound good both of them, with the Metro being the better one. More sensitive to tone controls, more bass, more cream. The reissue head tended to be more acid sounding, less bass frequencies, less sensitiveness. Still a great heazd – modified – but not quite on par with the Metro. You need to go either real vintage, or boutique (Metro, Ceriatone, … ) or modified reissue. Imho!

      • avatar
        Lemmiwinks
        Posted at 10:00h, 13 September

        ok thanks for the fast reply. I will read about mods :)

  • avatar
    LedSabbath
    Posted at 18:36h, 06 September

    Wait what tubes does Angus use?

    • avatar
      HagusYoung
      Posted at 10:16h, 13 September

      EL 84s, says that he liked the JJs for both pre and power amp tubes.

  • avatar
    adam10603
    Posted at 04:03h, 27 August

    Hey Fil
    That starwars trooper appears very often in your pictures. Are you a starwars fan too ? ๐Ÿ˜€

  • avatar
    Ethan Tomlins
    Posted at 17:32h, 21 August

    Hey Fil,

    First, I appreciate the website and all the input so far. Also, do you know what kind of marshall amp Angus would’ve been using during the powerage and highway to hell recordings specifically? And possibly what kind of Metroamp would be equivalent?

    thanks, Ethan

    • avatar
      adam10603
      Posted at 19:59h, 21 August

      Hi

      As far as I know, he used JMP 2204 (or 2203) master volume marshalls during the powerage era. If you look at the concert videos on youtube from 1978, you can see those amps there. And also:

      httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0lKDjsNE_o&feature=related

      This is pretty close to the powerage tone, and played on a 2203. So thats for powerage, but i dont know anything about highway to hell.

      • avatar
        Ethan Tomlins
        Posted at 21:31h, 21 August

        Interesting to know because powerage and highway to hell are my two favorite eras of ac/dc. Thank you for that information.

        • avatar
          AccaDacca
          Posted at 14:42h, 22 August

          Does anyone know what amp angus would’ve used during highway to hell?

          • avatar
            SoloDallas
            Posted at 14:52h, 22 August

            Nope. Not exactly at least, not yet. I think what it’s been stated above might have been reused for HTH as well. Let’s remember that “tone” the way we hear on records, it’s much a function of the CABINETS (surprising, huh?) and the recording environment and recording technique (microphones, their placement, … ). More than the amp itself.

            • avatar
              AccaDacca
              Posted at 15:22h, 22 August

              It is surprising that the cabinets and the recording style have such an impact on the tone. Thanks for the input. :)

              • avatar
                SoloDallas
                Posted at 16:12h, 22 August

                It was (surprising) for me too, when I learned about it. Just make a simple thing: listen to AC/DC live, and then listen to the record. You can obviously relate the two – it’s the same people playing . but the sound is completely different. Recording in studio gives you a completely controlled environment. The rooms are designed to “sound good”, and good studios are recognized much for this, more for their equipment. Recording engineers add a magic touch. Naturally, you HAVE to know how to play well, to sound well. But the inner characteristics of the tone will be captured by great microphone positioning. It’s a lengthy matter, I’ve been reading interviews with Tony Platt (former AC/DC recording engineer on HTH and BiB) and they are revealing. I will be posting them here with personal considerations, soon! :)

                • avatar
                  Dries
                  Posted at 17:43h, 22 August

                  http://www.recordproduction.com/tony-platt-bigvid.html

                  Here’s also a interview with Tony Platt, he talks about the Back in Black album.

                • avatar
                  rpatzelt
                  Posted at 13:58h, 16 September

                  OMG, I’m helpless – there are too many things involved: the mics, the heads, the cabinets, the room (I told you that the color of your studio gives that warm tone from early clips :) ), the sound engineer, the player, the guitar, the strings, pickups…OMG. I think there are two ways to get “The Tone”, your way (digging it deep) or pure luck – close your eyes ant turn the knobs :) Crazy, crazy…

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 14:44h, 22 August

      Pleased that you like it!
      It’s a good question. I am studying these things in these very days. I think he/they used both Plexi style amps (and precisely, JTM50s and JTM100s) and 2203-style amps (master volume amps).

      • avatar
        AccaDacca
        Posted at 22:18h, 22 August

        I actually heard somewhere that on the HTH album, Angus’ channel might have been two recordings overdubbed to make a more full sound.

        • avatar
          AccaDacca
          Posted at 22:21h, 22 August

          I think the above is for just the song highway to hell, not necessarily the whole album. Does this sound like it might be a possibility?

          • avatar
            SoloDallas
            Posted at 03:02h, 23 August

            It IS like that, but I think quite much on the whole album. At least two main interventions were made on Angus: a main, center guitar that will play rhythm parts AND solos and there may be a few overdubbings even on the right positioned guitar, just like you said, to make the sound fuller. I can hear that because of the phase shifting caused by different – slightly different – guitar tuning

            • avatar
              AccaDacca
              Posted at 23:45h, 07 September

              Would you happen to know what kind of cabinet Angus would have used on Powerage? Im interested because you said that the cabinet has a lot of influence on the tone as well.

  • avatar
    adam10603
    Posted at 18:04h, 15 August

    Hi. Why are you using Vintage 30 speakers ? As far as I know, Angus uses G12M Greeenbacks. Congratulations for your new amp by the way. You should do a video, letting us hear the sounds of it.

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 18:44h, 15 August

      That’s a good question. Partially, my mistake. Angus live uses vintage30s, but in the studio, only marginally, he uses the greenbacks 25 watts. Since I have those – original, 1969 – in another 4×12 slanted, I bought this. But I prefer the crunchier, smoother greenbacks, so probably will be going back to the other cabinet

  • avatar
    mbstring
    Posted at 17:38h, 14 August

    I am dying to see the demo of this amp! Can i order the same one too? Is it more expensive as just an ordinary marshall plexi replica and how much it costs?

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 17:46h, 14 August

      OF COURSE you can order the same one too! :)
      Wait for a proper demo from me though first. THEN decide if you like it. It would kill me to know you’re spending your money on something you don’t like. It cost me 2.6k USD, shipping included, head only. The cabinet I had it already.
      If you decide to get in touch with George, tell him you want SoloDallas’ amp. Fil’s amp. He should remember. Plus he’ll be here in the near future ๐Ÿ˜€

      • avatar
        mbstring
        Posted at 20:43h, 14 August

        Yes i will wait for the demo, i must get the money first anyway ๐Ÿ˜€ ! 2,6k, but don’t you get the original marshall 1987x reissue for that money?

  • avatar
    whiskeyontherocks
    Posted at 20:52h, 13 August

    How much is spent in maintenance on a tube amp like this? Thanks for all of this information

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 07:32h, 14 August

      For a new amp, nothing. For a vintage amp of value, that’s another story. They need re-biasing, you have to be careful if you blast them all the time, they may blow, even the power supply. You have to be careful with vintage stuff. Which thing, I don’t wanna do!

  • avatar
    Max
    Posted at 19:19h, 13 August

    Hey Fil,

    Are these the tubes that come with the amp? usually the bias setting needs to be regulated every time the tubes are replaced?

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 07:31h, 14 August

      Maxi, YES: These were the tubes that George at MetroAmps biased for me. It’s all good, works excellently! Great tone.

  • avatar
    Kossoff1
    Posted at 17:53h, 13 August

    Your gear look beautiful Fil, can’t wait for the video!

  • avatar
    TheBrowling
    Posted at 17:06h, 13 August

    I know another enterprise that sells replicas, it’s called ceriatone Fil and it seems a good one. Oh! and another one that sells good cheap pickups is called GFS (Guitar fetish).

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 17:12h, 13 August

      Oh yeah, Ceriatone is also known and very good.
      Thanks for the heads up on the cheap PU maker. I’ll have to compile a links page with vendors suggestions for people to look into. I’ll try to remember your entry. If not, please remind me :)

  • avatar
    iBrows
    Posted at 17:06h, 13 August

    Hey Fil!

    I’m loving the site so far. As an AC/DC fan and a gearhead, this is my new heaven!

    How does the Metro head compare to your modified 1987XL?
    I own a stock 1987x and I quite like it’s sound.

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 17:10h, 13 August

      So happy to hear you say that (well, read you state that ๐Ÿ˜› ).
      Don’t know yet (comparison): haven’t tried them both one next to each other (just shot a pic of them together). I will, naturally, that’s for sure.
      Feeling for now is that the rectifier tube works well, towards my desire: I love to hear the amp “fry”, like it was about blowing. It’s soft, smooth, sweet, not stiff. My 1987 sounds stiffer and – from what I recall – was harder to play. But these are only feelings and memories, will have to do a thorough test. To be published here, naturally!

  • avatar
    deni91
    Posted at 14:49h, 13 August

    It’s a JTM replica? I would like to buy a JTM Metro amp one day :) After a Gibson SG I think I’ll spend my first salary on these :D:D

  • avatar
    davidon66
    Posted at 12:19h, 13 August

    Cant wait for the videos :)

    • avatar
      SoloDallas
      Posted at 12:52h, 13 August

      I may upload what I played today, need to check it

      • avatar
        FjordMonkey
        Posted at 13:14h, 13 August

        Do it fil:P also check your Facebook page:)

        • avatar
          SoloDallas
          Posted at 14:38h, 13 August

          WIll check in a little bit. Heard the clip, it’s awful. My camera compressed all the audio, it’s impossible to appreciate. I want to do you guys a service, not a disservice! ๐Ÿ˜€

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