Pre-History of High Gain Amps

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by pcutt, Jul 30, 2005.


  1. pcutt

    pcutt Member

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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
     
  2. Roccaforte Amps

    Roccaforte Amps Member

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    Soldano was first, and is very sucsessful.
     
  3. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    I thought Mesa Boogie was first? No?
     
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  4. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    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.
     
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  5. tralfax19645

    tralfax19645 Member

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    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
     
  6. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Member

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    Me too.
     
  7. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    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?
     
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  8. Roccaforte Amps

    Roccaforte Amps Member

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    '






    If you consider the early amps high gain,
    IMO, Soldano was the first to do the real high gain stuff.
     
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  9. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    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.
     
  10. renico00

    renico00 Member

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    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
     
  11. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    Wasn't he building the modded princetons as early as 67 or 68 for Prune Music?
     
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  12. tralfax19645

    tralfax19645 Member

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    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
     
  13. TimH

    TimH Member

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

    LaXu Member

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    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."
     
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  15. rooster

    rooster Member

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    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.
     
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  16. LaXu

    LaXu Member

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    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.
     
  17. renico00

    renico00 Member

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    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
     
  18. 563

    563 Guest

    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.
     
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  19. somedude

    somedude Member

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    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.
     
  20. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    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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