Trashy little tube amp for White Light/White Heat tones?

vanguard

Member
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2,515
I can't stop listening to the Velvet Underground's White Light/White Heat lately. I just love those primal, exploding, sitar-like, screeching guitar tones. Other adjectives might be: scratchy, raw, cheap, etc.

I want a little tube amp that I can chug along on to make those sounds. In my head, I'm imagining one of those little no-name/off brand/department store gray tolex amps you sometimes see in pawnshops. They usually have a single 8" or 10" speaker with a wafer-sized ceramic magnet and a couple weirdo tube types.

So, I'm not looking for "pleasing" Fender Tweed-style distortion here, with the even order harmonics, musical compression, "brown" sound, etc.

And please, no fuzz pedal recommendations. I know fuzz pedals and, in the end, they their own thing. I know there's fuzz here and there on this record, but those aren't the tones I'm looking for. More the chugging, clanging rhythm parts you hear carrying on.

And if you know what gear was used originally, that'd be great too! Thanks!


 

jpage

Member
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9,226
Myself, I'd make a custom I/R of a small 8" speaker mic'ed from the.back and run it through my Torpedo. But one of those old Supros with an 8" speaker would do the same thing--I have one of those as well. They are not the most reliable or pleasing over long periods of time however. Mine has a 2 pronger so it's not the safest either.
 

DaveKS

Member
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16,705
My little 8" Ric on 10/meltdown.
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Greg_L

Senior Member
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1,303
Keep in mind this is a recording, done to tape, in the 60s, probably live, and there's distortion all over the track. Even the drums and keys are distorted. The actual guitar tone probably wasn't that filthy.

I'm not suggesting you not chase that sound, I'm just saying keep it in perspective.
 

vanguard

Member
Messages
2,515
Keep in mind this is a recording, done to tape, in the 60s, probably live, and there's distortion all over the track. Even the drums and keys are distorted. The actual guitar tone probably wasn't that filthy.

I'm not suggesting you not chase that sound, I'm just saying keep it in perspective.

Good point.
 

critter74

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,415
Keep in mind this is a recording, done to tape, in the 60s, probably live, and there's distortion all over the track. Even the drums and keys are distorted. The actual guitar tone probably wasn't that filthy.

I'm not suggesting you not chase that sound, I'm just saying keep it in perspective.

This is truth here. Especially this album. Songs like "Sister Ray" were press record and leave (The Recording Engineer famously said "I may have to record this ****, but I don't have to listen to it." Then left the room for the rest of the 20 minute jam song.
 

support

Member
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890
Any ratty little 60s pawnshop amp in the 5 to 25W range or if you have a nice DR laying around that's too sweet, just take out one power tube crank it. That, along with a linoleum floor, cement walls and maybe a visit to Dr. Robert is all you need.

The original recording engineer did VU and the world a favor by staying the hell out of the way and letting music history be made. Waiting For The Man is my personal fav.
 

bullet6759

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2,864
There is a thread right here on TGP = Velvet Underground Gear and Equipment. (1965-1970).they did use Silvertones and Vox amps maybe that’s why a I can get that tone with my 1472.
 

gldtp99

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4,371
Silvertone 1484 Twin Twelve cranked and boosted------ 40 watts, two original Chicago Jensens in a semi open back 2x12 cab.
I have a Silvertone 1482, 15 watt, 6V6 x 2, 1x12 combo that can get pretty close.
Old Silvertones have a raw wail to them when pushed----- the circuits were unique, much different than typical Fender/Marshall design.
I have a 1484 head I rebuilt as well as a 1485, 85 watt, 6 x 10 piggyback----I play the 1484 sometimes....................gldtp99

1484 head pics:











I replaced the power supply filter caps and diodes, bias cap, preamp cathode bypass caps, and a few badly drifted resistors as needed----- new properly grounded 3 conductor AC power cable and new power switch---- new Switchcraft 1/4 inch speaker jack.
Everything works-- including the strange, oddball reverb---- I changed some values in the reverb circuit so it doesn't go into out of control mode so quickly--- This one even has the original OT still in good shape--- these amps were known for blowing the OT.
I've re-done about a dozen of these 1484's and they all sold---- I think i'll hang on to this one for a while----- I usually play other types of amps but sometimes a Silvertone 1484 is exactly what is called for..............................gldtp99
 
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drbob1

Gold Supporting Member
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30,109
Those tend to be pretty crude amps with poor power supply filtering and small iron, and small speakers… The problem is that even the really cheaply built ones are starting to command more dollars as more and more people seek that lo-fi tone.

The simplest version is the "3 tube" amp built by Danelectro for Silvertone and copied by everyone and their dog. The problem with them is that the AC is grounded directly to the chassis, so if you plug it in backwards the AC is also grounded directly to YOU. Rebuilt with a proper transformer for the heaters, they're killer little amps (or an isolation transformer to plug into). They still sell in the $100-150 range, less if it's a pawnshop and no-name.

Next up the food chain are the cheap amps built by decent companies: the Kalamzoo series from Gibson, some of the less well known Valco amps for Montgomery Wards and so forth. They can vary from badly wired and super primitive to fairly well put together. They may be noisy and buzzy which can be fixed with a little TLC, and they often sound great. I just had my Kalamazoo 12 redone and it's a killer little amp with a completely different tone and reverb than a Fender. That said, these amps are going up in price-expect to be in the mid$200 range up to $450 if it's a better known Valco.

Another option is modding an amp from a PA system (Bogen are well regarded), tape recorder (Voice of Music is popular) or stereo system. They tend to be a bit more polite than absolute skanks but you can make some ill advised changes to dirty them up… They're often available in the $100 range at Goodwill, although you may have to rip apart an old cabinet to get at the good stuff…
 

Firepie Uno

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
145
Funny you should ask...

Played a White Higher Fidelity by Satellite this weekend at the Dallas Amp Show. Thought about "White Light White Heat" when I cranked it; pretty reasonable retail for something of that craftsmanship as well. I can also get that tone on a smaller scale out of a Danelectro Honeytone practice amp. I love that thing.

In all reality, if one was to hear the amp isolated, it probably would sound a lot different. The album's mix is a bit scooped, and lord knows what the signal path for the guitar was.

But my ears tell me you'll be happy with a White Higher Fidelity from Satellite, which will last you a lifetime.
 

vanguard

Member
Messages
2,515
Now that White amp is very interesting. Any idea what the originals go for?
Funny you should ask...

Played a White Higher Fidelity by Satellite this weekend at the Dallas Amp Show. Thought about "White Light White Heat" when I cranked it; pretty reasonable retail for something of that craftsmanship as well. I can also get that tone on a smaller scale out of a Danelectro Honeytone practice amp. I love that thing.

In all reality, if one was to hear the amp isolated, it probably would sound a lot different. The album's mix is a bit scooped, and lord knows what the signal path for the guitar was.

But my ears tell me you'll be happy with a White Higher Fidelity from Satellite, which will last you a lifetime.
 
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LPVM

Member
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2,635
You called it, gray tolex pawn shop prise.

The Silvertone 1482 will do that and more.

I've got a beater '67 (CL buy for $195) that I updated (+$50 in parts) and a mint '65 that I bought NOS/NIB a few years ago (CL buy for $375).
I bought extremely well. Who says you have to spend a mint for cool sounding recording amps?

The '67 begins and ends the clip below, everything else is the stock '65.

 
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lang.murphy

Member
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3,583
There are quite a few photos of Lou sitting next to a DR and Sterling sitting next to the Silvertone. No clue what pedals they might have used...
 




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