Pre-History of High Gain Amps

renico00

Member
Messages
238
If you want to get started on patents then check out O'Brien Amp's patent... their super duper "blend" circuit :rolleyes:

Jeff
 

tralfax19645

Member
Messages
581
Hi,
I dont know how he could have had a blanket patent for cascading gain stages, there always has to be filtering and attenuation to make it sound right,which is the basic difference between one high gain unit and another.
Just changing the value of 1 part would get anyone around it I would think.
Rob
 

drbob1

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
28,890
I'm not even sure that the idea of "cascading gain stages" is correct, what he did do is add attenuators between stages to make the amount of distortion/sustain controllable. One could argue that a Marshall has at least 3 gain stages, obviously cascaded into each other, and available long before the 73 date mentioned above. However, I can't remember any preamp with adjustable interstage coupling prior to Mesa?
 

davidespinosa

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,749
Nonchalantly resurrects TEN YEAR OLD thread...

Ten years ago on TGP:
Plexi Marshalls were selling for $1500 !
BF Princeton Reverbs were selling for $500 !
A Dumble was $10k !
Just kidding, they weren't that cheap...
 

CubanB

Member
Messages
2,148
Cascading preamps isn't any kind of innovation. Anyone could have done it. It's like putting 3 pickups in a guitar instead of 2. Or 4 instead of 3, it's not rocket science. The real trick is making it sound good. In this case, let's call it filtering or tone EQ shaping.

Do you consider Santana high gain? If so, the Mark series were the first I guess. That fluid liquid sustaining lead tone sort of thing. But at that type it wasn't really a heavy rock or metal sort of thing, which is what most associate with "high gain".

Soldano took a Marshall style preamp and added an extra stage, a cold clipping stage (39k) and a lot of filtering (1uf cathode caps) and the big one IMO, the filtering of the signal between the first and second stage.. 1N/500k.. (by memory) that reduces a lot of bass early on and allows it to stay tight, despite being so "gainy". And also two cathode followers, with one for the loop (which isn't essential to high gain tone IMO but yeah). With the two channels, you could go anywhere from clean, to Plexi ish gain to modern high gain.

Then the Mesa with the Dual Rec or the later versions of the Mark series.

EVH was sort of showing what could be done with a basic Plexi, but it was how he was using it. In itself, the Plexi wasn't very high gain. After designs like the SLO (and then the 5150) he'd no longer need to resort to those methods, because there'd already be enough gain on tap.

So take your pick I guess. IMO, Soldano was the most influential in shaping the "high gain" tones of the future. Pioneering them.. and being a foundation for later people to copy etc. You can say that Peavey 5150 or Dual Rec copied this amp.. but indirectly.. most high gain amps copied the "principles" used in the tone shaping, but giving them their own twist.
 

somedude

Member
Messages
7,791
Soldano took a Marshall style preamp and added an extra stage, a cold clipping stage (39k) and a lot of filtering (1uf cathode caps) and the big one IMO, the filtering of the signal between the first and second stage.. 1N/500k.. (by memory) that reduces a lot of bass early on and allows it to stay tight, despite being so "gainy". And also two cathode followers, with one for the loop (which isn't essential to high gain tone IMO but yeah). With the two channels, you could go anywhere from clean, to Plexi ish gain to modern high gain.

Then the Mesa with the Dual Rec or the later versions of the Mark series.
The Mark III predated the release of the SLO by a couple years. Metallica was already using the IIC+ by then. Master of Puppets recorded and released well before the SLO was built.

Soldano's design definitely inspired pretty much everyone that followed, but he wasn't the first to the top of the mountain.
 

JPIndustrie

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,372
So take your pick I guess. IMO, Soldano was the most influential in shaping the "high gain" tones of the future. Pioneering them.. and being a foundation for later people to copy etc. You can say that Peavey 5150 or Dual Rec copied this amp.. but indirectly.. most high gain amps copied the "principles" used in the tone shaping, but giving them their own twist.
Very good write up, I still have a soft spot for mesa and would like to point out that while Soldano was first, the tone was in the Marshall style "EL34" camp, Mesa's Modern Marks + Rectifiers were firmly in the American/6L6/Fender style, their own unique twist not a copy as said above.
 






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