Pre-History of High Gain Amps

pcutt

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Here in Silicon Valley it's commonly accepted that "the pioneers get the arrows in their backs," and high-tech lore is filled with early, innovative companies that failed, yet those who came along later succeeded. So what about high-gain amps? Were there early attempts that failed yet were perfectly good products? If so, who were they?

Thanks,
Paul
 
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6,116
Originally posted by pcutt
Here in Silicon Valley it's commonly accepted that "the pioneers get the arrows in their backs," and high-tech lore is filled with early, innovative companies that failed, yet those who came along later succeeded. So what about high-gain amps? Were there early attempts that failed yet were perfectly good products? If so, who were they?

Thanks,
Paul






Soldano was first, and is very sucsessful.
 

carltonh

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1,545
Weren't Dumble and Boogie making high gain MV amps in very small scale just to professionals for years before they became famous? What year did they start? I think they were both before Soldano. No clue if anyone came before these.
 

tralfax19645

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581
Hi,
I agree, I believe it was Dumble. The first ODS was in the 60s, you can go to schematic heaven and see the print, this is the info I am going off of.
Rob
 

carltonh

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1,545
From some R. Smith interview, he claimed to invent the cascading gain stages independently and to his knowledge first, and I see no reason to doubt at least the independent part. IIRC, I think Dumble did think that Smith might have copied the idea from him, however.

I also think from that interview, Smith invented it to meet a type of smooth sustaining sound request from Santana? Either way, he invented it about the same time as he started working with Santana, IIRC. Was that around 1969 or so?
 

Jon Silberman

10Q Jerry & Dickey
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42,060
Originally posted by pcutt
what about high-gain amps?
I don't see any ambiguity either with the question or with the MB being a high gain amp but that's just my view.
 

renico00

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238
Mr. Smith invented cascaded gain stages... and I invented air, but I forgot to patent it. If he actually said that in an interview I would be shocked.

Jeff
 

tralfax19645

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581
Hi,
According to the article floating around this forum, it said that Dumble made amps for mosrite in 1965.
No mention if they were of the high gain variety.
Rob
 

TimH

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Originally posted by renico00
Mr. Smith invented cascaded gain stages... and I invented air, but I forgot to patent it. If he actually said that in an interview I would be shocked.

Jeff
ON what do you base this? I've read this several times about Boogie and they do own the patent and always have.
 

LaXu

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7,679
Originally posted by carltonh
From some R. Smith interview, he claimed to invent the cascading gain stages independently and to his knowledge first, and I see no reason to doubt at least the independent part. IIRC, I think Dumble did think that Smith might have copied the idea from him, however.

I also think from that interview, Smith invented it to meet a type of smooth sustaining sound request from Santana? Either way, he invented it about the same time as he started working with Santana, IIRC. Was that around 1969 or so?
Guitar Magazine March 2003 article about Santana says this:

"... around 1973, when Randall Smith happened upon his great breakthrough. Keyboardist Lee Michaels was having trouble with his new Crown DC-300 power amps, and asked Smith to help sort things out. Purely as an experiment, Smith built an entire valve-powered preamp stage and added gain controls at three points in the amp's circuit. The first time Michaels played a note, it nearly blew him through the back wall. Smith had tripped over the Holy Grail: cascading preamp architecture capable of adding unheard-of quantities of gain to the circuit, allowing unimagined levels of sustain at any volume. His first thought was to build an amp for Santana using four 6L6 valves, giving an output around 100 watts - and Santana still plays his original Randall Smith Boogies to this day."
 

rooster

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2,119
That's strange. As I recall, RS made an amp out of a Fender Harvard with cascaded gain stages and 6L6 tubes for the guitarist for Country Joe and the Fish, and Santana heard it, and said "Man, that amp boogies." That was the origin of the "Mesa Boogie" name.

rooster.
 

LaXu

Member
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7,679
Originally posted by rooster
That's strange. As I recall, RS made an amp out of a Fender Harvard with cascaded gain stages and 6L6 tubes for the guitarist for Country Joe and the Fish, and Santana heard it, and said "Man, that amp boogies." That was the origin of the "Mesa Boogie" name.

rooster.
According to the same article that was basically a Fender Bassman with oversized transformers and a 12" JBL stuffed into a Fender Princeton. No mention of cascading gain stages but it might have had some other mods.
 

renico00

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238
Originally posted by TimH
ON what do you base this? I've read this several times about Boogie and they do own the patent and always have.
Are you telling me Mr. Smith has a patent on cascaded gain stages? That cannot be. The idea of cascading gain stages is not something patentable. Maybe I'm not on the same page as everyone else or we're using a different definition for cascaded gain stages.

If anything, Mr. Smith helped develop the idea of attenuating between stages to make the idea controllable. However, there were some others around in the early days like Red Rhoads. Anyway, I'm probably completely wrong about all this and misinformed. I will add this, Doug is correct about Soldano if we're talking about really high gain.

Jeff
 
5

563

In 65-66 Gar Gillies (Garnet) created the Herzog, a circuit he later built into his amps. That is the earliest "high gain" design I know of. Pre-dates both Soldano, and Boogie as far as I know.
 

somedude

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7,620
Originally posted by renico00
Are you telling me Mr. Smith has a patent on cascaded gain stages? That cannot be. The idea of cascading gain stages is not something patentable. Maybe I'm not on the same page as everyone else or we're using a different definition for cascaded gain stages.
If I remember correctly, somewhere he said is biggest business mistake was not patenting the cascading preamp....I believe it's the only invention that he didn't patent.


As for "modern" high gain, the cathode follower circuit that Soldano was doing form the basis for circuits used in the Rectifier, 5150, JCM2000....and to the best of my knowledge, every other "modern" high gain amp.
 

carltonh

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1,545
If I remember correctly, somewhere he said is biggest business mistake was not patenting the cascading preamp....I believe it's the only invention that he didn't patent.
My only criticism of Mesa/Boogie is precisely that they are patent happy. They threatened to sue Carvin over the "look and feel" of the Carvin X amp. They threatened Budda and made them discontinue an amp. Maybe some patents are justified, but Mesa seems to fight competition through lawyers too, and would probably be the type to patent a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and send out patent lawyers for enforcement.
 




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