Looks like it’s been a while so I’ll throw out a recent completed project. And see if we can kick-start this thing again 🙂
About 5 years ago I successfully built the AX84 Core Clean Preamp mated to the Core 20wSE PA w/KT88. I didn’t know what to expect: My goal was simply a loud/clean amp. What I got was more than I’d hoped for tone-wise, good tight bass and the sparkly high end was heaven 🙂 The response overall to pick attack was better than anything I’d been playing through. Despite the waffly mid/mid-shift I was achieving tones I’d only dreamed of. Definitely a keeper and was destined to become my primary gigging amp.
Except… I couldn’t get any appreciable volume out of it. My wife said “I like it – it sounds pretty and it’s not too loud.” Well damn. That won’t do…
In the intervening years I did everything I know how to do and could just never get any volume above the level of loud conversation. All voltages within spec, all parts tested, all wiring checked, checked, and re-checked against the schematics with no errors found. I combed the AX84 forum for a solution and found others with a similar issue, but not until recently did I stumble upon the “magic” solution – offered by the original preamp designer no less!
Anyway… I jumped in, following his instructions explicitly and using his values. The result was everything I’d hoped.
In the Clean position it’s CLEAN without being sterile – everything’s punchy and articulate with both humbuckers and single coils. I dare say, my Strat actually sounds like I think a Strat should sound – that’s never happened before 🙂 In the Blues position the clean is a little blurred (not fuzzy) with a touch more character but still articulate. Every control has an effect on the sound that can be as subtle as I want it to be. The mid-shift was previously kinda ho-hum – either because I didn’t understand its purpose until recently, or because it just didn’t work well in the original iteration, now has a useable and tweakable effect on the overall tone.
And volume? With the designer’s modification it goes from wife-friendly bedroom practice levels to ridiculously loud cranked and sounds great everywhere in that spectrum. In the clean setting it stays clean and loud with barely a smidge of breakup at the highest levels (probably speaker distortion). In the blues position with sparkle/grit and volume dimed it emits a wonderful heavenly overdrive that I’m hard pressed to describe… It reminds me of a cranked 5E3 but doesn’t sound exactly like that. It’s saturated but not fuzzy. It’s smooth and even but not quite creamy. It has a roundness/softness to pick attack but it’s not squishy or saggy. Seems it’s easier to say what it’s NOT, but that’s just to say it’s unique in my experience. I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.
Thanks for reading my book… Pics of the build