Pritchard Sword of Satori 1x12 TB

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by carltonh, Aug 29, 2005.

  1. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    This is a 2+ year review. Honeymoon is long over, unless they can last forever. I'm still impressed more than ever. This amp probably has more features and perfect tones than any other amp I've ever played or heard, but if I'm going to complain about something, then it would be that I can't use my 16 ohm 4x12, and without a stereo 1/4" adapter to use the non-mono ring, you can't do straight 8 ohms either. The watts knob is a great attenuator that doesn't compromise tone, though at the minimum setting, you'd want to compensate by increasing the treble slightly. The "practice input" does compromise the tone some, but this attenuates to speaking tone volume and I just practice with the "gig input" with watts at minimum.

    I have tried most of Pritchard's different cabinets and own the 1x12 TB (Tunnel Back). My favorite was the 1x15 TB which uses an Eminence Legend 151, probably the best 15 in production (or out of production) that I've heard. The Pritchard in that cab can do absolutely everything without the slightest compromise. My 1x12 TB is about 35 lbs and perfectly portable. It's speaker is a custom version of a Legend V12. Even if you think you may not like the V12, in this amp and cab it is incredible (Even ask David Barber about the V12) But it does lack a little of the sparkle available in other cabs and speakers. It tends to make a 1x12 TB sound like a 4x12 closed back. Basically anyone who likes closed back cabs already wouldn't think the Pritchard 1x12 TB lacks necessary sparkle. I didn't care as much for the Pritchard 1x12 closed back, even though it sounds great for thick crunch tones, just because it doesn't sound as good with clean tones, and Pritchard amps, to me, is all about tons of great tones without compromise to any of them. The 4x10 TB is absolutely killer for blues and everything unless you want to do palm mute high gain riffs on the low E string, which I do.

    The M (Marshall voice) is my favorite, and my standard starting tone. I can max the boost and get an old vintage Metallica tone (but remember, this is a non-master volume amp!) and then roll down my guitar volume and get such sweet and harmonically rich clean tones. It is unbelievable the range of tones that stay great just by guitar volume knob. EVH rolled down his guitar volume for his cleans, but they weren't anywhere near this good with the same technique. You can get great EVH tones here as well, I'd say closer to VH 1&2 than EVH got with Peavey and Soldano amps. The F voice gets from BF to tweed Fender tones just by how you set the volume and midrange controls, and gets them both quite convincingly, though you can't set the bass very high or it is capable of farting out, just like vintage Fenders, because the F voice is designed to replicate their circuits that closely. I stick to the old magic sixes trick and it is not a problem. The S voice is sort of a extra-harmonically rich twin, but not quite blackface or tweed. I use it for Steve Howe of Yes type stuff and it works great. Others use it for jazz, but I won't pretend to be able to play jazz.

    I also like the H voice. Initially this was designed to be a type of high gain voice, as it has the designed tonal effect of running 2 Marshall preamps in a row. However, it effectively makes a high frequency emphasis and at clean settings has this great almost lo-fi EQing to it that immediately brought to mind Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn. I loved that tone, but had to look up what amp Barrett used. So turns out, the Pritchard can sound like a great Selmer Treble & Bass, and this is a cool tone to have, for those of you who know that album. In fact, I'm not sure of another current production amp that can get that tone. The V voice is fun, but at least with my 1x12 and current 12, it can't sound like a vintage AC30 through Celestion Blues. A friend did bring over his Hellhound one time, which he used to get the "Voxiest" sound he could afford. He set the Hellhound up to his stage settings and volume, and then we set the Pritchard up to match the Hellhound, and did so, so closely that he couldn't tell which was which, then we tweeked the Pritchard a little and made it so much better than the Hellhound for the tone he was trying to get.

    I also use the L voice to get smooth or aggressive sustaining higher gain tones from Vai to Dream Theater, but this (remember the Satori is a non-master volume amp) still has slightly less bite than Dream Theater/Petrucci uses. Believe it or not, after 2 years I still haven't used the other voices much. There's just so much to try on the voices I focus on. I've heard other people experiment with the other voices for their styles and sound unbelievable. I've still only tried just a few pedals, but hardly ever. I've just been going direct to amp. (Oh and the direct out from the amp to a board or PA is so good it isn't funny, and my V-stack Classic (to be sold) isn't even in the same ballbark for DI.) The Pritchard has both serial and parallel FX loops, and I still haven't bothered to try them. The reverb is good and useful, though I've probably heard a few better as I like 'em springy. Supposedly Eric Pritchard currently has his amps where you can have the reverb only on one channel and switching channels could turn it off automatically for your gain channel if you so want. That's cool because the 2 button pedal is only for channel switching and for the boost on each channel, but I think my older amp doesn't have that option.

    The only draw back to the Sword of Satori not already mentioned is that by having 2 non-master volume channels, you have a limit on the relative gain of them. However, you can get a pretty high gain on one channel and a pretty clean tone on the other to be equal volume due to different preamp voicings. Just don't expect to get the extreme gain and pure clean tones of equal volume that some heavy metal bands use. For that maybe the Pritchard Estoc would work, but I've only played one of them just a little bit, not enough to have an opinion on its differences. (I did have a Black Dagger for a couple months before I just HAD to trade up to the Sword of Satori.)

    To compare the Pritchard amp to other SS amps or even digital amps is apples to oranges. I cannot stand any Line 6 product I've ever tried, which is all their amps and PODs. I don't like any Tech 21, which all sound fake. (Perhaps the problem with all of these is I really REALLY want my vintage tones to be absolutely real, and those aren't 100%, and even 99% is no better than 0% if it can only annoy you.) I like the Lab Series amps only over a very limited range, not when they are pushed into noticeable gain. I haven't got to try a Pearce or Blue Tone amp yet, but hope to eventually.

    One other thing, cause I'm not sure if it is now standard, or something he just did for mine and on request. But he has a noise gate, even though this amp is not noisier than any other good amp, but originally when he first released the amps, the noisegate would be noticeable if you had the boost on and rolled down your guitar volume "too far" for playing clean and played softly. That problem is completely fixed on mine when I play cleans through the guitar volume knob. If any one buys one, ask him about this.

    Anyway, I hope that other people can test one out thoroughly for themselves. It seems lonely being the only Pritchard owner posting here. I know there were two others, but perhaps their Pritchard amps cured them of the desire to discuss on forums instead of play. :) Maybe I'm the oddball Pritchard owner who hasn't been cured of the Gear Page? Makes me think, although I have only scratched the surface of this amp in explanation... to heck with writing...I'd stop to play but I'm typing this at 1 AM with 3 kids asleep. I'll go to sleep now so I can play tomorrow, er today when I wake up.
     
  2. AdamGian

    AdamGian Member

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    I guess I don't understand the watts control on these amps. On a tube amp, you want power tube compression at a volume level that suits the room. Is that really the object on these amps?
     
  3. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    The watts control is like a very high quality attenuator. At the minimum setting, it sound like a ~10 watt tube amp at the maximum it sounds like a 100 watt tube amp. IMO, it works much better than a Hotplate, and doesn't alter the sound at all except at the very minimum setting. At this setting it still sounds very good, but you'd need to increase the treble slightly at this setting if you want it to sound exactly the same.

    Well, there are some other minor tonal differences, but these are all because the speaker reacts slightly differently at different volumes.
     
  4. AdamGian

    AdamGian Member

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    So, you're saying that the output section of this solid state amp sounds different based on whether it's being power scaled down to, say, 10w, versus running at 100w availability. Can someone explain this to me?

    I didn't think that pushing a solid state output section into distortion/compression was a good thing. It's great that it works, don't get me wrong here, I'm just stumped as to how it works.
     
  5. ekp

    ekp Member

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    Well, my output stage is a bit complicated. There five sections besides the Watts pot. The power device is a monolithic chip. This was picked for the over-temperature, over-current, and over-voltage protections. The chip is driven by a variable gain current controlled amplifier (More current = more gain). One section of the pot controls this current. The other section of the pot controls the feedback - less feedback is more output. Consequently, inspite of turning the amp down, the amps interrelation with the speaker stays about constant. Also the clipping level relative to the guitar stays about the same. The feedback also drives a clipper that includes sag and ripple modulation. The last bit of circuitry creates the compression signal. This is combined with the ripple modulation and fat signals to control the gain of the variable gain stage.

    When the Watts is turned up, the clipper does not work, but when the Watts is down, the clipper comes into play and works...

    As you can see, it is not the usual solid state stage. But then too, the preamp stages which get their gains from opamps, are not like the usual solid state stages because they include special circuits to make them have "plate characteristics" They actually measure proportionally and similarly to triodes.

    The output stage has a much more complicated behavior than the preamp stages. Most of my patents are on the output stage

    Check out the website tech talk articles for more info.... www.pritchardamps.com

    Questions? Just ask.. Eric Pritchard
     
  6. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    I guess Eric answered your question better than I could, though I'm guessing he has named specific circuit sections that he patented and given them the names above to state what they do that a tube amp does naturally. I'm not sure if any of the other SS amp makers have anything remotely equivalent for tube power amp emulation, and I see that there would be no point in attenuating a power section if none of the tube character of an amp came from the power section.

    I know that Carvin only feebly (awfully/unsuccessfully) "modelled" the 12ax7 with the original SX amp, which I also own. Peavey just used FETs, and I'm not sure about Pearce, Lab Series and the others. (Though Peavey and Carvin may have updated their technology over recent years.) Oh, and Hughes and Kettner have some current-feedback SS circuit, but I haven't heard that.
     
  7. GreenTea

    GreenTea Member

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    carltonh, how's the chime on the clean channel?
     
  8. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    Clean channel, which one is that? :) I joke because either one could be set up as the clean channel.

    Actually with the Pritchard layout, I'd say the V (Voxy) voice, H, and A voice can get pretty chimey. Still haven't got to do a side by side with a Vox or Matchless, but some people consider the Hellhound a somewhat budget boutique amp to get a chimey tone. I had my 1x12 TB Pritchard side by side with a Hellhound (with Alltone 1250) and the Pritchard was capable of significantly more chimey tone than that. Also, the M voice can get that 18 watt Marshall chimey sound in the right settings too.

    That said, if you want it most chimey, the 4x10 with alnico 10s or the 1x15 TB would work great. (Despite that you wouldn't think of 15s for that.) The 1x12 TB is not bad at all, but I wouldn't expect it to sound like a Vox through Celestion Blues, but probably alot like a Vox through Greenbacks. Avoid the closed back combo for the most chime, obviously.

    Maybe Eric could be convinced to make a 2x12 with alnico speakers, but even if he used 30 watt Red Fangs, the Pritchard could put out enough power to blow them if someone wasn't careful.
     
  9. ekp

    ekp Member

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    I have two concepts for a potential 2-12. One is a short 4-12 with the speakers side by side. The other is a tall 1-12 with one speaker above the other. I am torn because the horizontal format is familiar, but the vertical format makes the knobs easier to get to..

    What is your desires?
     
  10. GreenTea

    GreenTea Member

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    Like the Blue Tone amp makers tout, can the Sword of Satori pump convincing KT66 or EL34 sounds at various volumes? The Blue Tone looks like it's up my ally---reasonable volumes, one sound really good!, easy to use. Looks like you and I haven't played a Blue Tone but wondering if those sounds and feel they're marketing are easily found in the SOS.

    Also, understand this amp is loud but some of the venues we play are small and don't have to mike; some are larger and we do mike for balance. Does the Sword of Satori require miking to sound good?
     
  11. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    I haven't got to try the Blue Tone yet. However, I think the Pritchard amps have a definite "raw" EL34 sound. You know how you can tell the different sweetnesses in the power sections of different amps? I contrast "raw" and "refined" as to the nature of power amps, and both types can be extremely good. If a 100 watt Fuchs has a very refined sounding power amp, and and Tweed Fenders have very raw sounding power amps, then the Pritchard is much closer to Tweed Fender rawness, and similar to 1960s Marshalls. I'm not as knowledgeable about KT66 amps, as the Rt. 66 is the only such amp I've played, but the Pritchard is definitely on the rich end of this type tone. You can't get the Pritchard's sound with just average EL34s even in a very good amp.

    So you can definitely get those vintage 60s Marshall tones at an extreme range of volumes, and is extremely sweet an extreme range of gain settings. All you have to do is set the voice to M, start with tone knobs at 12 and adjust to need. You don't have to mike it as it sounds great anywhere from bedroom to outdoor settings and volumes.

    I can't compare many things about Blue Tone vs. Pritchard, but the Pritchard would definitely give you a much wider range of options, and you'd have to decide if it's worth paying the price difference for them. You may not need all the voice switches, but everyone seems to quickly find a few they really love. (Also the Pritchard has a greater volume range because 180 watts of "peak distorted power" is about equal to a 90 watt rated tube amp, and the Blue Tone is 30.) With my SOS, I can hang with a Fender Twin in volume or with a Fender Champ, and it comes alive at both volumes.
     
  12. GreenTea

    GreenTea Member

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    Great explanation. Not even sure I asked the proper questions but you sure answered it right! :eek: I had a Dr. Z Route 66 for five years. Great amp but finally sold it. Sounds like Pritchard's Sword may be a good fit for my wants. Now if he can only bottle the "liquid smoke" so I add a few drops and smell the tubes cooking. :D

    I'm amazed by your comments of "from bedroom to outdoor" and "hang with a Fender Twin in volume or with a Fender Champ." This must be quite an amp! My stone is whet. :eek:
     
  13. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    My favorite "location" to play my Pritchard is outside in front of my garage, facing the garage across the street. I don't think even any tube tape echo could sound as good. That is my definition of perfect alive tone that man-made reverbs and delays can't capture. However, I can't get any amp over 18 watts to sound as sweet in the bedroom as the Pritchard.

    Yes, the Rt. 66 is a very different beast from about anything else on the market, even from Dr. Z. I don't think anything has as much of that midrange throaty woodyness, the Pritchard can't get that identical tone either, but likewise, there are lots of classic tones the 66 can't get that the Pritchard can.

    Last thing, although it can be as loud as many Fender Twins, at that upper envelope of volume, it won't be as clean at that extreme volume. Though that seems to be the nature of its raw power amp sound and the speaker. (And actually, this is comparing the 1x12 TB Pritchard to the 2x12 open back Twin. Other Pritchard cabs may vary.)
     
  14. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Silver Supporting Member

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    I have a Pritchard Black Dagger/ essentially a 1 channel Sword of Satori...An incredible amp!! Like nothing else on the market...Amazing!!! I also own a Two Rock LTD, Bad Cat Hot Cat, and a Maven Peal Ganesha 1/100........I'm the guitarist for
    www.motorkings.com
    The Pritchard amps are the best kept secret in the amp world...They are also small, and light, and REALLY loud, if you want....The only other amp with a Wattage control!!!:p
     
  15. carltonh

    carltonh Member

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    Hey Rod,

    Glad another Pritchard user is on the board. I'm curious how the Pritchard sounds compared to the Ganesha, which I've never got to try. My guess is that they'd be similar on the M channel. But I'm also curious how the Ganesha's power scaling compares to the Pritchard's Watts control.
     
  16. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Silver Supporting Member

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    Hi Carlton,
    The Ganesha is on route to me as we speak..I will let you know the differences as soon as I've had some time with it..
    The Pritchards are amazing aren't they?:cool:
     
  17. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    I have the Jade Dagger. It responds similarly to tubes in any of its modes. You can get very natural and convincing tube overdrive tones out of this amp. Believe me, nobody will think you are playing through a SS amp. I also own a Carr Rambler and a Naylor Electraverb and in many ways the pritchard out-tubes both of them. It's bluesier and sweeter and all volume levels, plus it has 5x the headroom (configurable with the watts level control)

    This is the first SS amp I've ever had that has the perceived headroom of a tube amplifier. The only other amp I've ever owned that had this kind of power was a '71 Marshall 100 watt Superlead...

    Additionally, it loves pedals. Using my Xotic RC Booster, I can coax it into a very natural compressed sustain which sounds similar to when I have my Carr cranked up pretty high. The difference being that the Pritchard's wattage knob allows you to get this sound at virtually every listening level.

    My amp is a 1x12 combo so in a venue where stage volume is an issue, I'd probably want to add another speaker. I'll have to look into what's involved with that.

    An additional feature of this amp is the speaker simulated and direct outputs (neither of which I've had a chance to use yet)

    There's also the practice speaker output. What this does is scales the entire amp's power section and then engages some type of circuitry which yields low-level practicing compensated eq.

    I picked the amp up used so I'm still getting used to all its features but I'm really blown away.

    The only "nit" I can find with the amp is with the gain control turned down, it is a little dark sounding due to the pickup loading I would assume. As you turn the gain knob up, you get less loading and the tone is brighter. I would suggest that Ekp add either a bright switch or bypass cap or even a "high treble" control to allow you to bypass some high frequencies around the input volume...
     
  18. Tone Loco

    Tone Loco Silver Supporting Member

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    Split the difference... go diagonal. Easier access, familiar look.
     
  19. ekp

    ekp Member

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    The real problem with diagonal is that it is not compatible with the tunnel back structure. Consequently it wastes a lot of volume and space

    Carlton likes the vertical and I favor it. I have concept designs for both. I am going to kick it about.

    Thanks for responding, Eric
     
  20. Tone Loco

    Tone Loco Silver Supporting Member

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    FWIW I think I'd be nervous about a tower configuration getting knocked over in a gigging situation. Just seems inherently unstable. :eek:

    Might want to offer little optional flying buttresses ;)

    Just kidding - with your inventive approach I'm sure you could find some way to lower the center of gravity w/o adding more weight.
     

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