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"Mil-spec" amps ??

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,708
When did the military start issuing their soldiers with guitar amps ??
I often see this descriptor these days, obviously used as a superlative, but it seems to be so much BS.

I can just see a bunch of grunts loading up for an operation, something like Operation Cougar Bar, dressed in their best camo gear, black eye make-up, checking the ammo in their best guitars, and loading their "mil-spec" amps into a back-pack before melting into the night.
 

drgonzoguitar

Member
Messages
4,710
It has to do with the quality of components used and the method of wiring. The military has high specifications for their components used in various equipment. For example, tubes (yes...we still use tubes. EMP resistant)

http://www.dscc.dla.mil/Programs/MilSpec/ListDocs.asp?BasicDoc=MIL-PRF-1


or resistors

http://www.dscc.dla.mil/Programs/MilSpec/ListDocs.asp?BasicDoc=MIL-PRF-19

Unless you can read a technical manual, it is tough to determine if a component meets mil specs. For the most part, almost everything produced now is.
 

alguit

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,838
Look up a photo of an old Hiwatt's wiring-THAT is mil spec, literally. The amps were wired by Harry Joyce who actually did wiring for the military.

They are things of beauty; ever wire cut to its shortest necessary lenght, all right angles...:AOK
 

Foxtrot

Senior Member
Messages
1,025
NASA standards are, on the average, considerably tougher. Check it: http://workmanship.nasa.gov/

There are a few other sites that show examples of what NASA allows & doesn't allow. I'm too lazy to look them up.

I'd imagine the highest standards of all would be used in the Space and Missile Defense Command. They f$cking better be.
 

saucyjack

Member
Messages
715
When did the military start issuing their soldiers with guitar amps ??
I often see this descriptor these days, obviously used as a superlative, but it seems to be so much BS.

I can just see a bunch of grunts loading up for an operation, something like Operation Cougar Bar, dressed in their best camo gear, black eye make-up, checking the ammo in their best guitars, and loading their "mil-spec" amps into a back-pack before melting into the night.

Lol-ing at Operation Cougar Bar.
 

drgonzoguitar

Member
Messages
4,710
"mil-spec" in the designator is not, by itself, an indicator of quality. It simply means that the product is in the government's system for tracking materiel (a lovely term you never hear outside of the military, and basically means "stuff, as opposed to personnel").

For example, the USAF buys large quantities of Simple Green cleaner. Although it is the same stuff that you can buy off the shelf at a grocery store, it has a mil-spec equivalent. Same with the "petrolatum" (i.e., vaseline), ballpoint pens, etc. Compare a standard issue "field jacket" with the latest model from Columbia or REI, and you'll realize how little it means to have that fancy number.

Are electronic components necessarily better because they have a mil-spec number? You would have to actually see the tech data. They might be, but they might also be the same stuff in the drawer at Radio Shack, depending on the usage and duty-cycle requirements.

It's sort of like "aircraft-grade aluminum." It might mean something, and it might not. :puh
When I was in the USAF, there were some components we could not use from some suppliers because they did not meet the same standards (size, length, material, etc...) as mil-spec. We had to be very careful when we ordered parts outside the normal depot system.
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,708
Lol-ing at Operation Cougar Bar.
At last, someone gets the idea that there is some humour hidden in my OP.
I just see it as a bogus claim in teh most part.
Sure, some supposedly "mil spec" amps will be great, no doubt, but it seems to be such an out-of-place claim for a GUITAR amp, as opposed to a post-apoclyptic radio, for example.

In best RSM screamo......

Ya call that guitar clean soldier, it looks like my mother puked on it.
I wwanna see that thing set-up and ready to shred scales by 1900 tonight. We're going in against a possy of shred-metallers, and you better be ready to rip soldier. You fluff a riff, and your partner could lose an eye.
 

Dave Orban

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
16,866
At last, someone gets the idea that there is some humour hidden in my OP.
I just see it as a bogus claim in teh most part.
Sure, some supposedly "mil spec" amps will be great, no doubt, but it seems to be such an out-of-place claim for a GUITAR amp, as opposed to a post-apoclyptic radio, for example.
Actually, one of the reasons for the mil-spec "precision" in an amp is that, in a hand-wired circuit, the placement of a wire can have a dramatic effect on the tone... this is especially true with higher-gain amps, where a shift of as little as a quarter of an inch can be the difference between playable and uncontrollable.

So don't dismiss it out of hand...
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,708
Actually, one of the reasons for the mil-spec "precision" in an amp is that, in a hand-wired circuit, the placement of a wire can have a dramatic effect on the tone... this is especially true with higher-gain amps, where a shift of as little as a quarter of an inch can be the difference between playable and uncontrollable.

So don't dismiss it out of hand...
Ah yes Dave me old mate, I have read many of Alan Phillip's post talking about the importance of this.
But "lined up with military precision" is not necessarily the same as "in the right place" for the purpose of stabilising a high gain circuit.
Precision in amp building, I am not dissing.
It's the recurring image of soldiers goign to battel amred with guitar amps that is tickling my funnny bone.
Darn poker face room here lately, let me tell you.
 

quinnamps

Member
Messages
1,220
mil spec is pure unadulterated bs. As was previously mentioned a mil spec is just that....a specification for the military.
What if the "mil spec" for a resistor was that it was brown, had a tolerance of 5% and was dipped in conformal coating?
So what!? Just because the military has a specification for ANYTHING does not make it any better than anything else.
As for the amp itself being "Mil Spec" there could not be anything more purely bs than that.
Show me any document that has any mil spec method to building an amp....You cannot because this does not exist. If it did it might be more like "18-22 watts, 6v6 tubes, painted green," again big whoop.

Like was mentioned before NASA actually does have manuals on what is and is not acceptable for space flight. The military blows things up, NASA goes into space. I'll take the NASA spec that my amps are built to over some dreamed up mil spec non sense any day.
If anyone has a document that shows otherwise please do share. ;O)
Otherwise hip you "Mil SPec" amp builder to NASA specs:
NASA STD 8739.3
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,708
^^^
I thought so !!

With the caveat that some of the most spectacular televised explosions in recent history have come courtesy of NASA.

Wait, I gotta ask, do astronauts take guitar amps into space now ??
(Joking guys)
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,708
Nice pic, but sorry, that one unsightly blob of solder would have sargent-major screaming his lungs out in a fit of military fury.
Is that a Ceriatone ??

I forgot to mention, it's always in for-sale ads that I see "mil-spec", not in promotion by builders.
My amp is built like a tank, therefore it must be mil-spec.
 

alguit

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,838
Nah, that's a Harry Joyce hand-wired Hiwatt!

Putting everything else aside here, that's awfully darned pretty, yes?
 

The Captain

Member
Messages
12,708
Nah, that's a Harry Joyce hand-wired Hiwatt!

Putting everything else aside here, that's awfully darned pretty, yes?

Yes, very nice work.
Hey, don't get me wrong. I'm not dissing anyone's work. The craftsmanship and pride of work displayed by many amp builders is quite remarkable at times.
It's the benchmarking as "fit for war" that was amusing me.

So, I gotta ask too, is that a real Hiwatt or a clone ?
 

alguit

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,838
Harry built electronics for over 50 years. He was taught military-spec construction as a boy by a couple of Americans during WWII. He introduced that method to guitar amplifiers when he was contracted to build HIWATT amps for Dave Reeves in the 60's and 70's till Reeves' untimely death in 1981.
[FONT=Arial,Helvetica][SIZE=+1]For the next 20 years Harry and company built all sorts of electronic apparatus for the British Ministry of Defense. In 1993 Harry was urged to end his retirement and once again lend his skills to the world of guitar amplifiers.[/SIZE][/FONT] (www.harry-joyce.com)

As I wrote, Harry wired this one himself; it is an original Hiwatt.

I know you're having fun with this, and I'm enjoying it, but it IS worth noting that when these amps were first being built, this is the kind of wiring that one would have found in a lot of military equipment. Go back far enough, there were vacuum tubes inside tanks! This is why we see the JAN (Joint Army/Navy) designation on those tubes-they were selected for their (relative) toughness and durability.
 




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