The Sound Of The Schaffer Vega Diversity (Back in Black)

14 Sep The Sound Of The Schaffer Vega Diversity (Back in Black)

I know… I know! But you knew that I can’t get enough of it. It’s my passion, my torment, my obsession. And the most sold album worldwide, as well.

Well., let me update you a bit about what has been going on behind the curtains recently.

I knew – directly from Mr. Schaffer – that the “Angus Young” era of the Schaffer Vega came with a Receiver AND a specific type of transmitter.

It was the X10 – naturally – but a specific type of X10. It had (has) a black knob instead of the flat screw of the later models. I really wanted THAT X10 (because I knew that that would give me the sound I was looking for).

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X10s with Black Knob

I did have it – I have three – but none of them was the matching one with any of my Schaffer receivers.

So we started (Mr. Schaffer, Mr. Borhesani and myself) hectically trying to understand how we could do the swap.

Eventually, Mr. Borghesani did the dirty deed. But – without luck – we chose two of the three black knob X10s that weren’t working. A terrible, unrecordable, unusable hiss was coming out of the amp. Couldn’t do anything with it.

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Three X10s early type, black knob.

Additionally, we knew that we had to choose one specific unit – a Receiver and one Transmitter – to copy exactly for the incoming replica. So we got down on it.

Eventually – today – we found that the third X10 with the black knob – the last of them – was the working one.

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A great match!

Ironic? I don’t know.

But now we have an original, perfectly matching and working 1977 style Schaffer Vega. 


Fil, is it any different to the Cetecs? Unfortunately, it is. And I say unfortunately, because this means this is a rare bird.

The moment you hook it up, it’s instant AC/DC to me (with the usual gear). There’s almost no equalization needed, not even the mild one I had been applying recently with the Cetecs.

And it is as such that I want to have you listen to it.

For the first time, in the right place and hopefully, in the right hands, my original Schaffer Vega Diversity System on AC/DC’s “Back in Black”.

(UNEQUALIZED! Just one Neumann U67 in front of the amp and UA tape emulators)

Back in Black, Schaffer Vega Diversity System

A few images of lab works following.

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Some of my Cetecs and two more spare, non matched Schaffer Vegas at the Lab

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Schaffer Vega being matched to black knob X10

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Hectic Fil playing Luca’s own 1959 Replica (terrific geetar!)

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See the many differences between an early type X10 (left) and a later, flat screw type (Cetec)

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Mr. Borghesani Matching a Black Knob X10 with Recevier

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Mr. Borghesani Matching a Black Knob X10 with Recevier

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A view of Mr. Borghesani’s desk

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Mr. Borghesani Matching a Black Knob X10 with Recevier



Regarding the replica, you KNOW we are on the right path. The first right components have been purchased to construct the compressor and the output amplifier of the unit.

Talk soon,


Fil! 😀


PS2: Are the Cetec R42/T77 and the Schaffer Vega Diversity different, soundwise?

Yes, they are. As I said the first time I could play one – months ago – they are internally very different, use different components.

The Cetec R42s are TERRIFIC units with a superb sound. A little less “hissy” than the Schaffer Vega Diversity, but different. The Schaffer Vega is… well used on many records!!!


Fil "SoloDallas" Olivieri

We Are Rock 'N Roll People.

  • avatar
    Posted at 21:31h, 05 December

    how different does the cetec vega r42 sound compare to the schaffer vega after it is modded for guitar?

  • avatar
    Posted at 15:45h, 11 October

    Hi, Fil ! Great work here !
    I really wish you luck with the production of this replica ! I’ll keep my eye on the things while moving…
    Just let me know, please: I have a “Vintage JHS VS6” SG type. This system works not only with Gibson SG guitars, isn’t it ?
    I also use a custom-made 15W tube amplifier.
    Must mention that I upgraded my guitar with Gibson Burstbucker model BB1 at bridge…
    Thank you !

    • avatar
      Posted at 15:52h, 11 October

      Hello Calin,
      oh yes, it works with every guitar, not only with Gibson guitars and with every amp. Just like any regular pedal.

  • avatar
    Posted at 05:47h, 08 October

    So if I am understanding this correctly, there will be a replica made of this units tone rather than actually being wireless, it’ll function more or less as a box you plug a cable into?

    • avatar
      Posted at 08:31h, 08 October

      Yes, exactly. This is it.

      • avatar
        Posted at 03:50h, 09 October

        Is there an idea of how much it’ll sell for? I am very interested in giving one a try when they’re done.

        • avatar
          Posted at 09:31h, 09 October

          Not yet. The prototype should be ready soon, next thing will be demoing and intensive tone auditing to make sure it sounds just like the original. Most important thing now.
          Then we look for production stuff. But it will not be super-expensive, just a decent price.

          • avatar
            Posted at 06:18h, 10 October

            Sounds good! I can’t wait, but you can’t rush perfection. =]

            • avatar
              Posted at 06:20h, 10 October

              By the way a couple years ago I was looking for a schaffer vega but couldn’t find any is there any still out there for sale or is it kind of a lost cause to find one?

              • avatar
                Posted at 04:38h, 01 March

                I would try the eBay Wish List feature.

  • avatar
    Posted at 01:37h, 24 September

    Sounds great, Fil. I don’t post much on here but follow the site almost every day. I’ll be on the pre-order list 🙂

    Just waiting (very patiently) for the BIB solo-instructional video. I have played the rhythm video over and over since it was released!

  • avatar
    Posted at 07:51h, 20 September

    What are you going to name the unit? I think that you should name it the Noise Pollution Box or the SoloDallas, or The Filsani, or The Black Sheep, or The Secret, The Jack in a Box, Dark Horse, Dead Ringer, Back in a Black Box, Let There Be Box, Rock-Box, The Beast, Fil’s Soapbox…Just trying to help Fil. lol

  • avatar
    rockn roll man
    Posted at 15:32h, 19 September

    When can I book the replica?
    Write to me soon
    I’m sorry for the disturb……

    • avatar
      Posted at 15:37h, 19 September

      Soon, mate, be patient 🙂
      What amp and guitar do you have?

      • avatar
        rockn roll man
        Posted at 15:50h, 19 September

        I’ve got a Fender Squier Bullet and an old Marshall 8020 valvestate ’cause I’m very young. But, I’ll buy a (very) better
        strumentation in the future (very early).
        Write to me soon
        Your small guitarist

        • avatar
          Posted at 15:59h, 19 September

          Ok, just then wait till the first prototype is out and pre-ordering is open. Give us some time to develop a great piece of gear 🙂

          • avatar
            Posted at 16:02h, 19 September

            Seems there are two people writing the same stuff from different accounts lol (that would be – to clarify – Franz and me lol)

            • avatar
              Posted at 16:03h, 19 September

              Yes 😀

            • avatar
              Posted at 06:33h, 30 September

              Fil, are you going to make the unit look as the original one does? Like a vintage 70’s looking unit? It would make it all the more cooler< and help to give it that vintage vibe.

              • avatar
                Posted at 09:21h, 30 September

                Yes, it will look like the original you see in the video in Fils new Back in Black performance posting.

  • avatar
    Posted at 10:49h, 19 September

    Sign me up for one also Fil! It’s kinda funny, when I was recording about 8 years ago with my old band, I was in the studio and I asked the sound engineers to give me the AC/DC back in black album sound and they did a horrible job. I eventually bought a 1959 slp with the 1969 ax and bx cabs to add sound to my sg standard and gretsch duo jet. Then I eventually had my slp modified by getting a master volume added. I got my sound pretty close to ac/dc butt the problem is im missing the compressor/receiver. Anyway’s I was wondering if you could hook me up with amp settings for Angus and Malcom?

    MV Mod

    • avatar
      Posted at 11:23h, 19 September

      I will sign you up. But actually, YOU will sign yourself up VERY soon (grins) as SOON I will post the pre-order list. This will happen though ONLY right after I tested the working prototype and have extensively demoed it to you all, via quality video and audio. It WILL be 1:1 with the original SVDS, audio wise, and looks wise it will be VERY similar. So, a black vertical box – NO stomp box! – with an optional pedal to activate it / bypass it. Black vertical box, one VU meter to measure compressor/input signal and a few knobs to control settings. Yes it will be THAT cool. Do not worry, you will learn everything there is to know about it. Regarding the settings: I “only” have Angus’ settings so far, have never tried to duplicate Malcolm’s yet (but I will). I don’t think Malcolm was using the SVDS naturally, so the tone will be different. Angus instead, in my humble opinion, has been using the SVDS both for rhythm tracking and for solos. The sound on certain songs (Back in Black, You Shook Me All Night Long, Shoot To Thrill) is too distinctive. There is NO way that sound can be replicated without a SVDS. The SVDS is more than subtly characterizing the overall tone/sound.

      Fil over for now, you will hear more from me on this very soon.

      Will passion and dedication yours,

      Fil 🙂

      • avatar
        Posted at 13:35h, 19 September

        Hi Fil,
        Just wondering if you need any help with the unit. Small instruction booklet wise that is. Just a couple of pages. I could even print them… Could be the same size as the unit (helps in packing) and could contain a small history of the idea, making , people involved etc. Maybe a couple “presets” to get the ball rolling. Would be a pleasure to chip in

        • avatar
          Posted at 13:41h, 21 September

          Thats a Great idea!

          we could have the members family photo at the back or last page….. thats if it will fit hehe 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 04:20h, 19 September

    I think I speak not only for myself, but also for most everyone else here that it is wonderful to know that your obsession and devotion will not accept compromise or mediocrity, and therefore will ultimately approach or achieve perfection. Bottom line Fil – I am pre-sold !

  • avatar
    Posted at 16:53h, 18 September

    So Fil, are you gonna call back in black officially debunked tonewise, or will there be more equalized version coming out? Personally I think this is it!

    • avatar
      Posted at 18:37h, 18 September

      I am going to do exactly as follows, bro’: the whole Back in Black is debunked. Gear wise, we can now be sure 100% that it has been debunked. However, for personal pleasure (and to reply to possible future attacks, when I will be stating publicly that I consider this album debunked by me (and reproduced) for the first time since its release, I will now proceed to trying to nail it 99% or 99.9% (add correct percentage here) even with proper EQ and some additional processing (Universal Audio Plugins mainly). I’ll do this likely in my next performance video, to be shot in the next few days. 🙂

  • avatar
    Posted at 14:10h, 18 September

    It is said that most of the tone is “in the fingers”. Well my friend, you are gifted and have that ! But since “most” does not cover 100%, the balance is in the guitar, amp, effects etc., and in AC/DC at least, apparently in the The Schaffer Vega Diversity as well. Congrats man – you have reached the 100% mark ! Absolutely awesome tone (not to mention, although I will), stellar playing. Are you sure you didn’t have Angus in your studio ???

    By the way, is only the transmitter going to be developed or both the transmitter and receiver ? Put me on your mailing list – I’m sold ! Now your next project will be cloning SoloDallas fingers . That is going to be A LOT more challenging.

    • avatar
      Posted at 18:31h, 18 September

      Flattering, flattering and flattering (thank you!).
      You know what I am about to tell you? That it ain’t true that tone is in the fingers. So I’ll rephrase it, to try and kill an old myth I don’t buy into anymore: STYLE is in the fingers, tone is in the gear. Some talk about the “bone tone”, i.e., the sound (tone) really made by touch. Our own touch. This may be true to some extent, but it really needs to be revisited. I can assure you that there is NO way to get Angus’ tone as on Back in Black without


      of the ingredients that I researched painstakingly. I “wish” I could say it is me – bare me – but it is not true and I’d rather shoot myself in the foot that tell a lie. Gear DOES matter, and a lot. Thank you so much for your rewarding comment 🙂
      Now regarding the replica: BOTH the Transmitter and the Receiver are being replicated, as they BOTH make the sound (I wish it was simpler lol). The transmitter is responsible for a lot of the tone. It has a specific compressor and a signal gain (that does interact with the compressor). The receiver has a specific signal amplifier that can be additionally boosted. There is actually two distinct amplifiers in the receiver. Everything – audio wise – will be faithfully replicated 1:1. This, or nothing! 😉

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