The Schaffer-Vega Diversity Replica (Updated)

15 Dec The Schaffer-Vega Diversity Replica (Updated)

And now Ladies (any ladies here at all? 🙂 ) & Gentlemen.

A moment of Respect & Admiration for the man himself, Mr. Ken Schaffer.

I presume all of you are able to feel the respect and admiration that I have for Mr. Schaffer. I have read his biography (though partial and summarized, see his site ) several times, and it would appear that he has lived 5 or 6 different lives all packed into one. By itself this is cause for admiration, but reading what he has achieved, and how he has achieved it really ‘does it for me’. Also, last but not least, the making of the SVDS with its history and accompanying stories is overwhelming.

So please enjoy these two images of Mr. Schaffer.


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and today

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Do you recognize the individuals next to him in both pictures?

You know folks, a fact that maybe not all of us here are aware of is that Mr. Schaffer not only created and marketed, promoted, sold, serviced, repaired when needed, also configured, etc. a wireless system for musicians (AC/DC having been our/my main focus since I found out); the point being, Mr. Schaffer has revolutionized the way musicians (singers, guitar players, generic micro-phoned instruments players) could play, entertain, walk onto stages in front of thousands of people. Even – as is the case with Angus Young – change for good the way a guitar player can feel about his freedom of movement and expression on stage or off, i.e. in the studio.

 Despite there being one or two forever failing wireless systems already in existence prior to the introduction of the SVDS, Ken Schaffer was the one to create the first exceptional sounding and reliable wireless system for musicians.

For You, Sir, with devotion.


Fil 🙂



Just a small, aesthetic update: a “Schaffer-Vega Diversity System Family Picture”, with all original (of the era) items.

From left to right, an original, near mint SVDS User Manual, a couple of stickers, an original circa 1977 63EX SVDS Dual Diversity Receiver, a “mounted on strap” (even the strap is a 1970’s original suede strap) X10 SVDS Transmitter for guitar (all courtesy of Mr. Ken Schaffer), a couple of original antennas in the back (same: thank you Mr. Schaffer :) ) and an original, advertisement page for a later device consisting of a non-Diversity Schaffer-Vega (the only thing I could find on eBay for a looOOooong time lol).

I love family pictures 🙂


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P.S. Also re-posting here an original to the era Comic/Advertisement page (courtesy of Mr. Ken Schaffer).

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PS Speaking of family pictures, we took some the other day with Franz. Get this! Partial Family Gear Picture 😀

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… and the now uncovered Wizards (one Vintage Classic and one Modern Classic : a lot more on the Wizards soon)

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Audio Update (overdriven sound, Marshall 1959)

Together with Franz, we decided to go as follows for now: whole track (backing track) where I played: two rhythm guitars and two solos (one part per unit: one rhythm part with Replica, one with SVDS; one solo with Replica, one with SVDS; Replica will be LEFT; SVDS will be RIGHT).

I am posting this for you, plus the individual “rhythms” and “solos” tracks, L/R, so you can compare them without any disturbance whatsoever (in the force).

Warning: I left in all of the hiss of both units (SVDS and Replica). They are both hissy, though in different ways. The SVDS has the compressor hiss and the RF hiss in it; you will hear it on the right channel (rhythm and solo) as a constant hiss.

The Replica has “only” the compressor hiss, which exists only when one is not playing, as the compressor – exact same one as in the original SVDS, same version, model etc. – will try to raise the signal when no signal is present.

We haven’t made a decision about this yet; we may try to find another compressor with the same exact 2:1 curve, same “sound” but modern conception which definitely kills the hiss. Most likely attempts will be made shortly.

Usually when you’ve heard me play my SVDS (and the R42 before it) I always used a noise gate, the same that was being done back then with these units.

Please note: severe hiss such as this only happens with overdriven sounds, not with clean sounds because of the gain obviously.

Here for you is the whole track:

Shook Me Track Whole Thing

Here’s the rhythm guitars (L/R: Replica left, SVDS right)

Rhythm Guitars

Here’s the solos

Solo Guitars

And here we have an Audacity frequency Analysis.

Left channel:
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Right channel:
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Guitar used was a 1967 Gibson SG Standard.

No equalization WHATSOEVER was used. Everything is FLAT. I used my 1976 Marshall 1959, recorded with Neumann U47 on axis, slightly above center cone, Celestion G12-65 original speakers.

Settings. Replica and SVDS had the SAME settings, i.e., knobs rotated exactly in the same position (TX knob full right, RX Output at 10 o’ clock).

Marshall settings: Presence 0, bass 5, mids 3, treble 5, volume 7.

Guitar was at 8 on volume knob for rhythm; 10 for solos.

Now, please comment away.

P.S. Just as a final note, it came into my mind to remind you that the sound you hear “live” on the amp (well, on these type of amps at least) is basically raw, just like – the same sound in fact – here:




We have one prototype, seemingly? One working prototype?

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(Stay tuned, want to tease you all for a while).

Note: from left to right, Mr. Banane (Franz), Mr. Guido Borghesani and myself 


So, want a close up and maybe some more tidbits?


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So, it does have two knobs. They are exactly the input knob of the original X10 Transmitter (left knob on the replica) and the Output knob of the front output of the original SVDS Receiver (right knob on the replica).

They work almost exactly – if not really exactly – as on the original SVDS.

There is one power transformer.


Please note: the box/case you see now is NOT the final case! It’ just a temporary fix in lieu of the real replica case, which will be similar to the original, black SVDS receiver box (please see pic below to refresh your memory).


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And going back in time (one day), Mr. Borghesani is doing final assembly and testing. We arrived right then and continued to A/B (compare) the two: the original beauty and the ugly newborn, still in its “board infancy”….

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Testing between the SVDS and the Replica at Borghesani’s Lab:

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Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

  • avatar
    Posted at 23:08h, 18 December

    do cabs really affect your tone ? I have a standard A cab with a marshall 2204 head what would be the best cab and how much would it cost ?

    • avatar
      Posted at 08:03h, 19 December

      score a old 1960B cab from the jcm800 era, around 1980-1982 with G12-65’s in it. They make certainly 50% of your tone.

      • avatar
        Posted at 08:07h, 19 December


        • avatar
          Posted at 17:36h, 19 December

          Dont get me wrong though, the JCM800 is a great sounding amp, the band used them last night and it sounded awsome none the less

        • avatar
          Posted at 18:19h, 22 December

          I found out the guitar tech I was talking to who is malcolm youngs guitar tech, his name is geoff. After doing some research I found his full name to be geoff banks,and I think he may hve been mentioned on here before after he did an interveiw talking about angus and malcolms on stage setup

      • avatar
        Posted at 18:09h, 19 December

        Hey Dries, if you’re into this. Got a JMP 2104 combo with original Greenbacks. Great tone of course, but very, very bright. Speaker change suggestions? Maybe change of the Greenbacks for a G12-65? Please advise. Cheers Jonas

        • avatar
          Posted at 20:37h, 19 December

          The 2104 or 2204 circuit is indeed very bright sounding. Many people turn the mids up, and set the treble around 3-4. You can remove the ‘bright-cap’, its a simple removal of a capitor over the input resistor. You can still restore this to original easily. Search google for it. But a open back does still have less bass than a closed back 2×12 or 4×12.

          But if you can score a set of (old, no heritage) 15ohm G12-65’s, go for it !

          • avatar
            Posted at 08:29h, 20 December

            One more question: I have not really “cranked” that amp yet. Some say that the treble issue is less of a problem as you turn the volume up. Is that really true? Thanks for the speaker advice and other mod, will check into that. Cheers – Jonas

            • avatar
              Posted at 12:40h, 20 December

              Could be. with the std. master volume, just below 2 is still loud. But the amp comes alive around 2.5-3, what is LOUD

            • avatar
              Posted at 12:40h, 20 December

              My experience with the 2204 is that I dont have to crank up the amp.. Master volume on 4 is the sweet spot..
              At that point i have to mention that an attenuator (a good one) is necessary. Without one I usually play at volume on 2 and still be happy..
              If you check Fil’s riff raff settings you will find that even with volume on 2 you can have a very good sound..
              About speakers, my vote always went to the G12 65’s. It is a nice overall speaker..

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:43h, 18 December

    “We haven’t made a decision about this yet; we may try to find another compressor with the same exact 2:1 curve, same “sound” but modern conception which definitely kills the hiss. Most likely attempts will be made shortly.”

    Fil, that’s really a great idea – I think that even Mr. Schaffer would use one to stay at the cutting edge of technology.

    You can give it a good try at least. Looking forward to your findings!

  • avatar
    Posted at 00:37h, 18 December

    I can’t recognize the person on the left picture of Mr Schaffer (but I like them^^)

  • avatar
    Posted at 14:22h, 17 December

    Der Bericht aus Rom: Update zur Schaffer-Vega-Replica…

    So…letztes Wochenende war ich ja beim Fil SoloDallas in Rom. In erster Linie zum Kennenlernen, und um den ersten Prototypen der Replica zu hören. Als Hörbehinderter allein in ein fremdes Land zu fliegen, in dem man sich dann auf Englisch verständigen…

  • avatar
    Posted at 06:13h, 16 December

    HEY!!!!!!!!! In your “Gear Family” photo is that a tuner like the one Angus is using in the LTBR movie sitting on the WiZaRdS??????

    • avatar
      Posted at 07:29h, 16 December

      Ah, finally someone noticed it 😀 Yes, its exactly this tuner 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 05:27h, 16 December

    Fil, do you like the wizards better than some of your marshalls or the other way around

    • avatar
      Posted at 15:45h, 16 December

      Impossible to answer. I think they are all different. At this level of “sound” (i.e., vintage Marshalls and some boutique new ones) sound is so good that it just depends on personal taste and application!

  • avatar
    Posted at 05:13h, 16 December

    Holy Crap Work Sucks!!!! Promotion at work has me away from here waaaaaayyyy too much. Not to mention I’m 10,000 time zones away from the coolest happenings in the world!!!!!

    I’m 2 days late on the Freakin’ sound samples!!!!!???????
    🙁 🙁

    This sound was thought to be UN-Replicateable (if that’s a word??) BUT…… You’ve done it!!!!

    I really think the main difference listening here is the volume level of the two samples. (in the solos only anyway)

    Here’s to you Fil!!!!

    I love the Idea’s floating about the original manuals being included & I’m sure the packaging will be superb as well.

    Fil, I will e-mail you a ? that I’m not sure would be totally appropriate here. (NOTHING WEIRD) Please read…


    • avatar
      Posted at 07:27h, 16 December

      Jon! Nice to read something from you again 🙂

      • avatar
        Posted at 03:53h, 17 December

        Hey Franz, Thanx!!!! 🙂 It’s nice to be able to actually have time to see what’s up again. Time only comes in small lumps for now…. I hope to be more active here again.

        • avatar
          Posted at 14:02h, 17 December

          Yes, please, Jon! 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 14:09h, 15 December

    The shop photo is indeed amazing!

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:27h, 15 December

      It is. I am find myself looking at it again and again.

      • avatar
        Posted at 21:46h, 15 December

        i LOVE this!!! all the photos of the ephemera, the shop, all of it is so wonderful, Thanks for sharing it!

        penny arcade

  • avatar
    Posted at 23:08h, 14 December

    I’m drooling all over my laptop after seeing that gear picture. Oh my god

    • avatar
      Posted at 23:10h, 14 December

      My plan is to get this replica and make it my guitar boost for everything I play. So on my albums, when that time comes, you will be Thanked Fil and Franz.

  • avatar
    Posted at 22:36h, 14 December

    nice, very nice indeed!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    Posted at 20:36h, 14 December

    Wow Mr Schaffer i salute with respect!!!!!

    Awsome pictures indeed 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 20:15h, 14 December

    Cool photos Mr. Schaffer, nice to see you! 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:49h, 14 December

    Allright, so Van Halen also did use one 😀

    That means it could be the final part for those who are trying to replicate his sound 😀

    I’ve seen some dedicated people struggeling with mimic his tone he used with his 1968 Super Lead with the variac and all that, the replica might just be what is exactly needed to make the circle complete for those guys 😀

    • avatar
      Posted at 17:55h, 14 December

      well, VH used a whole lot of stuff at different times for his brown tone. I am not particularly into it, never liked it too much nor him lol If I am obsessed by AC/DC tone, VH fans are in a religious state when it comes down to brown sound. Thing is that it really varies with him, he used a lot of stuff and always tried to keep it secret. Not a fan of all this.

      • avatar
        Posted at 18:02h, 14 December

        Well it’s good to hear you are able to mimic not only acdc tones, i’am sure it could be interresting to VH tone ”nuts” Lol 😀

        Did the list on the picture include everyone who used the Schaffer Vega? Or did more artists?

        Very Curius if Motörhead used one since it’s my favourite Rock’n’roll band next to ACDC tonewise, is it possible Motörhead used a Vega? 🙂

      • avatar
        Posted at 01:17h, 15 December

        I for one LOVE the brown sound Eddie had, lol

        but Van Halen are also my 3rd favorite band,soooo yeah 😀

        (Behind AC/DC which is number 1 of course haha)

  • avatar
    Posted at 17:45h, 14 December

    Just an advice i read somewhere on the net about putting a guitar close to speaker cabinets, they say it can s**w up the pickups or something like the magnets in the pickups if close to the speaker cabinets, at least if they’re active, i dunno how true it is and i cannot confirm it to be false or true but i’d stay away from putting guitars in front of speaker cabinets just in case 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 13:21h, 14 December

    Now i listened to it.
    I must say, that there is indeed a very little difference. That unit in the right speaker is definitely louder, has more gain while the other is cleaner. Some say, the replica is louder, maybe it depents on my speakers, that the replica is on the right and the Schaffer on the left ?? I don`t know.

    The sound or the soundcolour is absolutely the same, 100% here !!! It just needs a little adjustment and these soundfiles are 100% identical. I think, it is even now, worth to buy one, if the price is correct !

    So, the right amp, the right guitar, the right box with the right speakers and the right style of playing togheter with the replica will make the sound for everyone here ?
    I think one important part is missing.
    The right microfone, but that`s a different theme….

    I must say Thank You for the recreation of the famous Schaffer Vega !!!!!
    It sounds awesome !!

  • avatar
    Posted at 09:48h, 14 December

    A new era is comming..
    Now a A/B test video will be very entertaining .

    • avatar
      Posted at 09:54h, 14 December

      in my dreams it would be coming.
      But we all know how things go in reality: differently lol
      This Replica – appropriately named and hopefully, marketed and priced (with the support of Mr. Ken Schaffer himself, if he will decide so) will remain much likely a niche, “boutique” thing. I still love to “life” the idea of it and how it was found, developed etc. It makes for a terrific story and I think the story itself “may” get some recognition even in the international press (I think it will). But sales wise, it won’t change our lives lol.
      It’s solodallas.com that I plan on making my business life more and more into. With hopes. Fil 🙂

    • avatar
      Posted at 09:54h, 14 December

      PS oh yeah, I will make enough videos of this to be boring. 😀

      • avatar
        Posted at 01:19h, 15 December

        No way you could make too many videos,

        LET alone bored us.

        We are all ears mr. oliver,er um should I say Professor Tone?

        haha 😀

  • avatar
    Posted at 03:26h, 14 December

    sign me up for one!

    • avatar
      Posted at 08:59h, 14 December

      Hang on, no preorder list yet 😛 Will make proper announcement soon 😉

      • avatar
        Posted at 10:50h, 14 December

        Very soon hopefully, I can’t wait for it 😀

        Sounds amazing, you did great job there guys 😉

  • avatar
    Posted at 02:16h, 14 December

    They both sound really great although to my ears there not 100% identical…very close but the original seems louder and a little more clean in the recording anyways. But can’t wait to be on list to get one!!!!!!

    • avatar
      Posted at 09:02h, 14 December

      It could be that the output knob of the Replica had to be gently twisted a little counter-clock-wise, to take some boost out (because of the wearing of the original components in the original SVDS versus the newer, more effective ones). But I would say that we’re definitely in the right “ballpark”, and that the “sound of the original” is definitely obtainable just with a combination of input knob/output knob/ amplifier settings/ guitar settings. One just messes around with these a tad and you’re there 100%. Promise 🙂

      • avatar
        Posted at 09:10h, 14 December

        I created an mp3 in Audacity that flips back and forth from each channel (but mixed to stereo so you hear it in both headphones) and it is very close. I think what you’ve mentioned is in fact true Fil, the Replica had a slightly higher output than the SVDS… very very close. Exciting times around here 🙂

        • avatar
          Posted at 09:12h, 14 December

          Yes, thats true. The ears can be fooled a bit just by the loudness. Different loudness levels seem to sound different, often louder sounds “better”.

        • avatar
          Posted at 09:14h, 14 December

          I wants that mp3, please? 😀

      • avatar
        Posted at 09:27h, 14 December

        Testing iphone

  • avatar
    Posted at 00:33h, 14 December


    Get this man a medal, and a record deal 😉

    haha Great job by all here Fil.

  • avatar
    Posted at 00:29h, 14 December

    The tone of the gods in a box. Amazing. I want one!

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