Maven Peal RG88 REDUX

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by trisonic, Mar 1, 2006.


  1. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Well, I finally packed up the RG88 in its wooden crate to return to Maven Peal. Dave Zimmerman had sent me one to evaluate and we all know what happened in the interim - whoever ends up owning this amp is in for treat, really.

    I've got to say that Dave Z. leaving the amp business is a great loss to us. One of the best amp designers in the World and truly innovatory. I hope that eventually he will return to the fold and make again Maven Peals in one form or another.

    This particular RG88 had been set up by Dave with two 6L6's and two 6v6's and in that form reminded me of old Twins or Pros. The two sets of power tubes can be set in any permutation with the two channels.

    Both channels are equipped with their own full set of tone controls ( Presence is shared) but also have a "Chime" control and a "Sag" control each.
    These two controls are vital in changing the overall responsiveness of each channel and the amp as a whole. Think of changing your amp from Blackface to Tweed and back again (and even more subtlly in between). I guess everyone has wanted a Chime control at some point or other - believe me this works (however, I wasn't comfortable at over 8.5 on the knob and you had to be careful with the Presence at high Chime levels).

    Channel 1 has a simple Volume control whilst Channel 2 (unusually for Maven Peal) has a Gain control and a Master. I used the Master more for balancing the level between the Channels.

    Personally I much preferred Channel 1 purely because I'm a low-gain freak and this Channel is so rich and responsive to the touch. As I said before one can go from Purr to Snarl just by the way you hit the strings. Channel 2 is probably the highest gain thing that Dave has produced. I like the way that you can play full chords at quite high gain levels without that "out of tuneness" that you sometimes get with other amps. Any high gain person would like this Channel I think, "power chords" are very crisp and raunchy with a deep but tight bottom end.
    No need for OD pedals with this amp.

    It shares one feature with all other Maven Peal amps (apart from the patented Sag control) that is you can set the tone and response that you like and then just alter the overall level with the "Watts" control - simply brilliant idea.

    Best, Pete.
     
  2. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    I was thinking reading the first part of your post that the Maven Peal amps aren't really appreciated for perhaps the most valid and significant improvement in amp design in 20 years or more. The SAG circuit as Dave calls it really is a evolution in amp design. I almost hate to say it but it really is so significant that many players are kind of blinded by it. For instances it makes owning a half dozen amps of different wattages totally unnecessary as one Ganesha will do everything from 100 watt Superlead to 18 watt and more since it really sounds great as low as one watt.

    And now with the RG88 which I haven't had the pleasure to try yet it shows how that same capability can be expanded into a new area. Maybe a full blown Metal amp might have been next with three channels each having it own level of power amp distortion all at volumes suited to every possible situation. Sounds like a day dream but he could have made it happen. I told him the first time I talked to him that amp manufactures should be beating down his door for this technology.
     
  3. kwk13

    kwk13 Supporting Member

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    I have to say that hearing that Maven Peal will not be making amps anymore came as very bad news. I originally bought a Marshall Reissue but even at the 50 watts, it was blisteringly loud. At volumes that you could sit in the same room with it, the Marshall sounded bad. I bought a Hot Plate to tame it a bit but didn't like the way the HP effected the tone. I sold the Marshall and bought (and sold) just about every low watt, "Marshall tone at livable volumes" amp available. I decided to buy another Marshall and live with the Hot Plate. Through the Gear Page I was turned on to Maven Peal. When I heard the sound files on the web site, I truelly couldn't believe it- especially at the settings they said they were using. I called Maven Peal and spoke to Dave personally! I basically told him that I wasn't going to buy an amp but had some questions. He spent over an hour on the phone with me and lots of time on subsequent phone calls! What a smart, knowledgeable, funny, nice guy! The industry is losing alot when Maven Peal closes it's doors. Anyway, I decided to try one since he allowed me a trial period and to say I was blown away is an understatement! I was very skeptical at the 100 watts rating because of my experience with the Marshall. The wattage control was more than amazing! Definitely not a Master Volume and not what I would consider an attenuator (with my experience with the Hot Plate) because it brought the volume down to practice levels without losing ANY of the amazing tone! I sold the Marshall! Probably the coolest feature on the amp was the SAG Control. Withe the SAG Control I could get the Maven Peal to sound like an old Plexi by bringing the control down a bit or have it sound more modern (JCM800ish) by tightening the SAG up a bit- very cool and VERY unique! I used to plug the Ganesha into a 4x10 cab, adjust the tone controls a bit and bring the SAG Control down a bit more and I could get spot on Fender Bassman Tweed tone! I had a Victoria 4x10 when I first got the Ganesha and I A/B'd the Ganesha to the Bassman and once I got the tone controls, and the SAG Setting correct, I'd have bet anybody that they couldn't pick out the real Bassman in a blind test. I ended up saving money by buying the Ganesha because I ended up selling the Victoria 4x10, the Marshall and HP, a Fender Deluxe Reverb (with the SAG Control, the tone controls and an outboard Fender reverb tank through the amazing effects loop) I could get better Blackface, syrupy reverb tones than I could through the Deluxe! I could go on and on but this is long enough already. The only Harmony-Central review that I have ever written was done for the Ganesha- I thought it was that great! Dave builds amazing instruments and he is a true innovator. The industry is losing a great member and it's truelly a shame that many of his unique and innovative features won't be available anymore. I wish Dave the best in his new ventures. One of my real dissapointments is not having been able to check out one of his newer designs- the DZ44 or RG88.
     
  4. gearlovin

    gearlovin Supporting Member

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    I've just finish another gig with my Rg-88
    All I can say is WoW!!!

    I've just play every set with different volume... thanks to the wattage control.. in the same night I have played for 20 peoples to 200 peoples without changing the setup of the amp.

    And now for the sound...the amp got one of the best clean I ever play thru and get as dirty as you can think of....It got the maven peal bass,
    the tighter bass I've try.

    you've got 2 channel with a preamp boost ( total of 4 settings) enough for me to do the gig without any pedal.

    I've set mine with a pair of 6v6 and a pair of EL-34.
    I used the 2 pair on the clean channel and the el-34 on the dirty channel.
    My first thought was that the amp was bright, but that was until I 've try it in a band context. The amp just cut in the mix.

    Dave Zimmerman got the best customer service I ever experience.
    Sure one of the biggest lost in the amp business. I know he got lot more ideask, hope he'll get back to finish is work of art.:BEER


    Thanks for what you've done Dave :dude

    Carl
     
  5. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Interestingly the Maven Peal website (go to Inventory Optimization Sale) states that Dave will be finishing off some chassis in existence (including some Zeeta) but will also be accepting Custom Orders utilizing his patented circuits - that is good news.
    It's the regular production amps that will be discontinued.

    Now, I'm thinking what circuits could he work his magic on for me? What do you think?
    Howzabout Channel 1 of the RG88 (as a "simple" amp) but with a 3 knob reverb built in? That's a starter!

    Best, Pete.
     
  6. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    kwk13,
    Sorry, I just reread your post.
    You used a Fender Outboard Reverb Tank thru the Ganesha loop?
    How did it sound as opposed to going in the front end?

    As a Philistine I use a digital DD20 thru the Ganesha loop but I had to reset it (the DD20) for it to work properly......

    Best, Pete.
     
  7. Barefoot

    Barefoot Senior Member

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    trisonic, I've been waiting for the last part of your review. How did Dave have yours tubed, NOS or NProd, and biased? Did you do any experimentation? What cabs set up were you using?

    Regards....
    RG88 #10
     
  8. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Ha, Ha! Sorry.

    I've written about this amp on a number of occasions and should have drawn all the threads together! All new tubes except one NOS RCA 12ay7 which Dave put in V2. I can't remember the makes but the 12ax7's were likely to be the new Tung Sol - 'cos Dave likes them, maybe he'll see this and answer???
    Dave biased it before I received it and I did not want to mess around with the bias, I had the flu halfway thru my tenure of it which curtailed much experimentation. Anyway I wanted to hear it as anyone else would have done straight from the "shop".

    I used Celestion Blues and Greenbacks. I preferred it thru the Blue (natch) but would have liked to have heard it thru some of the Eminence American vintage types - I think an American type speaker would have suited it "more" better, but the Blues sounded glorious....the cabs were one "standard" Avatar and one Premier (with the Greenbacks).

    I know that you can put just about any tube you like in the RG88 but I definitely got the vibes that this is an "American" (as opposed to "British" like the Ganesha) amplifier; it's quite Twin like.

    Trust this helps.

    Best, Pete.
     
  9. mainsale

    mainsale Member

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    I had my RG-88 loaded with a pair of 6V6' and KT-66HP's, going for that Fenderish flavor. I'm in heaven!:AOK
     
  10. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    I would have liked to hear it with KT66's, nice warm mids.

    What speakers are you using?

    Best, Pete.
     
  11. mainsale

    mainsale Member

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    I've got two cabinets I use with it. One is a tweed Mojotone with a Jensen P-15N and the other is a Tone-Tools Fat Cat 1012 with Alnico magnets.
     
  12. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    I'm loving my RG88 with a pair of the new JJ KT77s and you name it for the other pair - 6L6s, EL34s, whatever. Fired up a pair of Gold Lion KT77s and A/B'ed them with the new ones, so close as to be indistinguishable with minuscule amounts of EQ tweaking.

    I haven't even gotten beyond playing it thru a Fane Alnico 12 in a StevoTone homebrew cab. Now, if Celestion can REALLY make 50-watt Blues (what are they? Golds?), I'm betting that would be a breathtaking combination.

    The amp is nearly infinite.
     
  13. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Hi, David!

    Did jeff leave it in one piece?
    I really loved Channel 1 on the RG88 (Channel 2 was growing on me, I'm just a low gain type of guy). Just one tip: Be careful of Presence should you turn Chime up high.

    Great amp to play around with!

    Best, Pete.
     
  14. Swampash

    Swampash Member

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    Hi David,

    I've got one of these and just received my KT-77's (great minds think alike :) ). Anyway, what did you bias them at? I also purchsed a couple of the JJ-6V6's...any ideas on bias for them? Actually, how do you determine the proper bias for tubes in a particular amplifier? :eek:

    Thanks in advance!
     
  15. TaronKeim

    TaronKeim Member

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    Just sent the downpayment for one of these bad boys this Friday after talking to Dave for about a week about the amp. Can't wait till it is finished:D

    -TJK
     
  16. shood

    shood Member

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    TJK,

    What is he charging now that RGs aren't in normal production?
     
  17. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Good job, TJK!

    Very interesting amp, as I said before, it really rewards time well spent with it. What sort of music do you play? Which tube set are you getting?

    I really trust that you like the RG88!

    Shood - Dave says on his website he has a few remaining at $3,250.

    Best, Pete.
     
  18. TaronKeim

    TaronKeim Member

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    Thanks Pete, your descriptions were part of the reason why I called Dave, he was a hell of a nice guy, really proud of his product and did a phone demo for me, all of it, the service and the sound, made me want the amp more.

    I'm getting it done up with 6V6's and 6L6's. I play a wide variety of styles, but I'm hoping to use the 1st channel as my main clean, slide tone and for taking modulation pedals. I want to use the second channel as a ripping solo channel for 60's and 70's psychedelia/arena rock lead tones. I do small scale film score tracks and wanted a really flexible clean that could do tweed and blackface tones but also have a great break up and a solo channel that was a hotrodded tweed/marshall thing. So really, the amp sounds perfect for me.

    If this amp really works out well for me though, I'll definately be getting Dave to do a custom design for me. Can you say Dual Channel Ganesha with all controls, one channel "stock" and the other a modded fire-breather, with two footswitchable DualQuad FX loops, pre-amp boost, dual power-amp boost, RG88 style tube selection and wattage and sag controls for each channel... that would be heaven.

    Thanks again for the great advice Pete, I can wait to get this home.

    -TJK
     
  19. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Heh, Heh. Main clean? Channel 1 will end up as your only clean, it's that good.

    You're getting the same tube set I had in the tester (which Dave is going to keep as his "standard" RG88 btw). I loved that amp!

    I was just talking to Dave about a possible Custom, now where do I sell kidneys?

    Good luck and let us know. Be sure to spend a lot of time with it!

    Best, Pete.
     

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