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Archive for July, 2011

Listen What I Say

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

The Guess What

The Herzog clone is moving right along.

I shouldn’t call it a clone. It’s based on the Herzog schematics that are available on the web, but those schematics are pretty pathetic. I’ve had to fill in gaps, and there are things I want to do differently.

Here are the schematics, in case anyone out there wants to build a Herzog. Good luck.

HERZOG SCHEMATIC AT BUILDTHEMUSIC.COM

As you can see, there are two different projects. Here is what I’m told. The one on top is the first Herzog, and the one below is an improved version. The top one has a manual switch, and the bottom one is rigged for a footswitch.

There are many holes in these schematics, and there are things I just don’t like. I want to be able to use this machine as an amp, so I want a tube rectifier. That blows out all the diode nonsense in the bottom part of the screen. I want a footswitch, but I also want a manual bypass so I don’t need the footswitch when I’m using the Herzog as an amp.

Here’s how it looks at the moment. The board is in, the tubes are in, and the pots and jacks are ready. The components are not soldered yet, and there is no wiring. The tubes may be oriented incorrectly. I stuck them in there for mockup purposes, so it doesn’t matter if the pins are where they should be.

I have to run to Radio Shack to see if they have 5V relays, and then I have to go out in the garage and start tinkering again.

One nice thing about using bad schematics is that you have to learn about the circuits you’re building. If everything were going smoothly, it would be monkey-see, monkey-do. Now it’s more like monkey-figure-it-out.

I have some nice aviation wire on order. Hoping it will be here tomorrow. That would allow me to finish the amp without worrying about replacing wires later on. I want good wire in the heaters and any areas that are sensitive to noise. I have some RG174, but it’s small for heater wire (26 gauge).

I have to come up with a base for this thing. I may put perforated metal inserts in the ends (matte black) and mount it on some nice walnut or mahogany.

And finally:

I Meant to Do That

Monday, July 11th, 2011

The X-1 Needs to Cool Down

I’m making great progress on the Fender Champ/Garnet Herzog cloney thing.

Today I made the screw holes for the power transformer (I already had a hole made for it to sit in), and I installed the rectifier socket and output transformer. I also made a circuit board from scratch.

Sadly, I made a little boo boo while making the socket hole. I have a new unibit that goes up to 1 3/8″, and I was all excited about using it. I fired it up and drilled a pretty nice hole, and then I remembered…the correct size is 1 3/16″.

The hole was bigger than the socket.

I had to spend an hour an a half remembering how to use the lathe. Then I made the little tube platform you see in this photo.

Most people don’t know anything about tube amps. They’ll think there’s a scientifical reason for that platform. AND I INTEND TO LET THEM BELIEVE IT.

It looks very cool, so I’m not complaining.

This thing should be running by tomorrow night, if I can figure out what kind of relay to use for the footswitch. I may have to bypass the footswitch stuff until someone clues me in.

Anyway, it’s beautiful.

More

I figured out what the platform does. It repels microfleems that aren’t subradiante.

No Pillar of Salt Here

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Nothing of Interest Lies Behind Me

If I had to name the strangest thing the Holy Spirit has done for me, I think it might be this: he has made me into a morning person.

I have never liked mornings. For most of my life, I didn’t really wake up until noon, and I felt most energetic late in the evening. I hated getting out of bed.

These days I don’t leave the bedroom until I’ve spent a long time in prayer, much of it in tongues, and I feel God’s presence come into me, and I sense that he has prepared a victorious day for me. I feel invigorated and eager to get up and see what’s ahead. That is just crazy.

The Holy Spirit is doing great things at my church. This is a welcome change. We’re supposed to be charismatics, but I don’t recall seeing the gifts of the Spirit in action in our services. It’s my understanding that some things have been prohibited, because of the danger of scaring off new people. First limitations were placed on exhibitions of the Spirit’s power. Then they disappeared entirely.

I guess I’m overstating what has happened. Sometimes someone who is teaching says something that clearly came from God. And I have seen some “prophecies” which I think came from adrenaline, not God. But the general rule is that the services are scripted down to the minute, and we try to make each weekend service exactly like the others.

The problem with this is that God has to be unpredictable. It’s great to try to have order in your life, but God has to have room to do things we don’t expect. One of his great strengths is his knowledge of the future. His enemies don’t have that. So it’s a tool he uses to frustrate them, and the only way he can do that is to do things that can’t be predicted.

The crucifixion is an example. The disciples were crushed when they learned it was going to happen. But look how it turned out. It restored us to our positions as governors of the earth, and it saved us from hell. Some of us, anyway. God did the unexpected, and he even tricked Satan into helping.

It seems like the sermons are getting less powerful over time. We hear the same kind of stuff apostate churches teach. “Try hard.” “Be good.” “Pray a lot.” But behind the scenes, among a few people here and there, the Holy Spirit is working a counter-revolution.

I’ve persuaded a bunch of people to start praying in tongues more, especially in my prayer group. Wild things are happening. I used to come in and try to tell people what I had learned about the Holy Spirit. Now they’re telling ME. I learn wonderful things from them. I feel built up when they testify about what God is doing for them and their families. And our numbers are growing.

We have a guy who has only shown up twice. Once a long time ago, and again this past Saturday. His wife is Jewish. To her, a cross and a swastika are pretty much interchangeable. I believe she’s an atheist, so her objections are not based in Judaism.

He says he has been hiding his Bible from her. He put it in a box covered with foil, so she won’t know what it is. He reads it when she’s not around. He’s an outcast in his own house.

She made him go into psychotherapy. She chose the doctor. He’s a Jewish atheist. He tells my friend the Bible is full of lies. Surely that’s unethical. He ought to be turned in to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

His wife believes Christianity is a mental illness, and it sounds like his doctor is in the same camp. Mind you, my friend is not bothering her. He’s not telling her what to believe. He’s not trying to force her to go to church or become a Christian. He’s just praying and reading his Bible, and she is treating him like a lunatic. She even told him to choose between her and the Lord. Fortunately, he said he would choose the Lord.

Here’s the great thing about his story. God baptized him with the Holy Spirit, even though he wasn’t free to go to church or associate with Christians. He started praying in tongues one day. No one laid hands on him or prayed for him. It’s like what happened to me a long time ago. God has a purpose for this man, and he is not going to let the man’s wife get in the way.

We started reminding him that he is the priest of his home. The man is the head of the woman. He is supposed to lead, not follow. We told him he had to quit hiding. If he reads the Bible in the living room, his wife’s head isn’t going to explode. It’s not going to hurt her. Let her be unhappy, if she so chooses; it’s not her place to tell him what to do.

I don’t know what my friends in the group would have told him a year ago. Probably useless things. “Tough it out.” “Christians are supposed to suffer.” “Stop complaining.” Instead, because they’ve been building themselves up in the Spirit, they told him the right things. Take charge, obey God, pray in tongues, associate with other believers, and let God work it out. Don’t let the tail wag the dog. And I told him he needed to go see my Messianic friends. He’s not Jewish, but he knows what it’s like to be shunned by a Jewish wife. They would have unique insights to help him succeed.

Maybe she’ll leave. She has free will. But if that happens, her husband should be able to say he provided a clear example for her.

I wish I had time to talk about the way God is unifying my friends and me. I’ll give an example. Yesterday an illegal alien showed up with a newborn baby and started begging in front of the church, holding a sign. I had to deal with her, in my capacity as a security volunteer. I needed someone who spoke Spanish. There are few Cubans in my church. Nearly all Cubans speak Spanish. We have some Puerto Ricans, but they generally speak Spanish poorly. We have a pastor who speaks Spanish, but he didn’t want to do it. Guess who God found for me? A young man who sees me as a source of Biblical knowledge. Someone who takes my Facebook stuff, without telling me, and reposts it on Twitter.

We went and talked to her and took her to the church’s cafe. I felt like God wanted me to do something for her, so I ordered her some food, and I agreed to do other things the Spirit seemed to suggest. While I was at the cash register, my friend Alonzo came out behind me with his credit card out and told the cashier he was paying for whatever I was having. I said, “It’s for someone else.” He said, “It doesn’t matter. I got it.” Later he told me the Holy Spirit told him to go up and pay for what I was ordering.

We heard a sermon about the power of words. The pastor mentioned two things. He said the Bible says we conquer through the blood and the word of our testimony. He also discussed the story of Moses at Meribah, where he struck a rock with a stick to open up a spring, instead of speaking to it, as God had commaned.

While I was working in the sanctuary, Alonzo came up, and I started telling him what I believed the true significance of these things was.

I said I thought the Meribah story was about the baptism with the Holy Spirit and prayer in tongues. Water, wells, and springs usually symbolize the Holy Spirit inside us. “Beersheba,” for example, means “well of seven,” and seven is the number of the Holy Spirit, as symbolized by the seven lamps in the Holy of Holies.

We are supposed to get the living water flowing, pray in tongues, and take on God’s nature and his power. We do this instead of struggling to please him with our own puny tools. Apostate churches, however, claim tongues are from the devil, and they tell us we have to earn our righteousness and our favor from God. Jesus bought it all with his blood, but we have to earn it!

When Moses struck the rock, he was using human effort. He tried to “help” God. Instead, he deprived God of his glory. His punishment was that he was kept out of the Promised Land, which symbolizes the kingdom of God. Spirit-filled believers have God’s kingdom inside them; a believer who rejects tongues and will not listen to the Holy Spirit will not enter the kingdom.

I told Alonzo this was my take, and he started telling me he had told his wife the same thing. And we had a remarkable conversation about it, in which we confirmed each other’s conclusions.

I said I believed the passage about the blood and the word of our testimony referred to salvation (the blood) and tongues, in which the Holy Spirit testifies using our mouths. This is the word of God. It’s the sword of the Spirit. Scripture is the word of God, but so is anything God says today. And of course, Alonzo was right there with me. He said he believed the same thing.

The unfortunate thing is that the sermon didn’t connect the Holy Spirit and tongues to the power of words. What we received was a shallower interpretation. “Be careful what you say, and make sure you speak positive things in God’s name.” That’s great, but it’s the tip of the iceberg. We should have received the whole thing. People came for a meal, and all they got was a roll and some parsley.

I have had concerns that I haven’t been listening to the Holy Spirit lately; not as much as I should have. So I’m trying to do a better job.

A week or two back, in our prayer group, I felt that the Holy Spirit was telling me to make a big sacrifice in order to put a complete end to a terrible relationship. I was involved with the wrong woman, and the relationship failed, but I got stuck with a worldly connection to her. I feel that the Holy Spirit has told me to get rid of it. Why would God provide me with someone new, while there are still strings tying me to someone else? If I were a woman, and I married a man, I wouldn’t want to see him writing alimony checks or doing anything else to indicate he had a relationship–even a dead one he regretted and thoroughly repudiated–with someone else. So I plan to listen to the Holy Spirit. He will wash this person out of my life for good and clear the way for someone else.

When I do what I’m planning to do, I will be wronged to a certain extent, but it’s better to be wronged than to wrong. God repays. He repays you, and if they don’t change, he repays the people who wrong you. We are not supposed to jump in the mire with the pigs and mud wrestle. We fight principalities and powers, not people.

“Meribah” means “bitterness” or “quarreling.” I don’t want to get bitter because I got stuck fighting someone with earthly tools. Bitterness may rest in those who wrong me, but it will be rinsed out of me by God’s cleansing waters. When I think about the things that have been done to me, I have my crabby moments, and sometimes I give in a little, but I know that the future is sweet, and this garbage will soon be too far behind me to see.

Champing at the Bit

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Monster Wattage is the Answer

Life just gets better and better.

I received the parts for my new 5-watt Herzog/Fender Champ clone, and today I started working on it. I had such great results with the heavy aluminum channel on the 5f6a clone, I decided to use 4″ aluminum square tubing for the new project. And I’m using a tube rectifier, just in case it makes a sonic difference when I use the rig as an amp. I’m told it won’t, but it will still look cool, and that’s important.

The next photo shows the chassis after I trimmed it with a table saw. I just made a rectangular hole for the power transformer, using the milling machine, but I’m too lazy to take a photo. Now I’m waiting for my giant unibit to arrive so I can drill the tube holes instead of using a hole saw.

My buddy from church settled on an amp: the Trainwreck Express. This is one of those legendary small-shop amps, like the Dumble Overdrive Special. A little outfit in the Northeast made them, and then the maker died. Now people go over them with microscopes and try to copy them.

It’s supposed to be a high-gain amp with a temperamental circuit. They say the overdrive goes nuts with a small twist of a guitar pot. It’s said to be better for rock than blues, but my friend says it’s what he wants.

Next week we’ll order parts.

I’ve learned a ton since I made the 5f6a, so this new amp will have new intelligent features in it, like heater wires that are arranged correctly to minimize hum. I’m referring to the Champzog. The Express is another story. People are telling me to do exactly what everyone else has done, if I don’t want trouble.

Here’s something amusing and possibly useful. The Express is a head (like all Trainwrecks), and it’s traditionally made of lacquered hardwood. Someone found that you can go to Woodcraft.com and order a nice dovetailed cherry drawer for $56, in the exact dimensions of an Express cabinet. Good info to have.

I love it when new amp parts arrive. I want to pour them out on my bed and roll in them. But I’m not that mental yet.

I’ll bet anything I end up making more amps for the guys at church.

Time to unwind with a Coke. This has been a phenomenal day.

Herz so Good

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

5 Pounds of Sustain

I’ve decided on my next tube amp project. I wanted to make a low-powered Bassman 5f6a clone, but my 40-watt amp sounds so beautiful at low volume, I think a smaller one would be a waste of time. I decided to do something a little more unusual: a Herzog.

This is the effect Randy Bachman used to solo on the Guess Who hit “American Woman.” You get a creamy, compressed, overdriven sound with infinite sustain.

How did he do it? Amp maker Garnet Gillies took a single-ended 5-watt design similar to the Fender Champ, slapped a resistor across the output, and ran it into the input of an ordinary amp.

There are two well-known Herzog schematics out there, and neither one really makes sense, but they are authentic. I pored over them and asked other people for help, and today I ordered parts based on my conclusions. I plan to make a 5-watt amp head which can be turned into a Herzog effect with the flick of a switch.

I know there are other ways to get this effect, but my guess is that they don’t sound the same. The Herzog has two tubes in it. I would be surprised if you can duplicate their sound with solid state electronics. I’ll bet the analagous pedals are not quite as good. And they definitely won’t drive speakers.

The Bassman is beyond amazing. I can play it with the volume at 2 and get beautiful, warm sound. It loves pedals. It sounds great on its own. It’s perfect. Better than I hoped.

I’ve noticed that the dynamics go way past any other amp I own. It’s actually a problem. If you pick lightly, you get a very quiet sound. If you pick hard, you get popping notes that fracture your skull. The trouble with this is that it exposes every mistake. Things I used to get away with are suddenly right out there where everyone can hear them. My other amps evened out the volume, and I didn’t know it.

This is a great quality for an amp to have, because dynamics are a big part of playing well. Nat “King” Cole was an astounding jazz pianist, but he played everything within a very narrow volume range, so he never got the kind of acclaim Oscar Peterson got. Vladimir Horowitz doped the hammers on his Steinway so he could cheat and get a wider dynamic range. Art Tatum could go from a whisper to a roar instantly. Variations in volume keep the listener engaged. They make music less boring.

The amp makes a little noise, but still, you can hear tiny details. If I run my finger up and down a wound string, you can hear every winding.

I can see why so many amps were based on this circuit. My guess is that if you don’t care for metal death distortion, this is as good an amp as you can get.

It’s a little hard to think of new projects after hitting a home run on the first try. But I’ll keep going. After all, there wasn’t a whole lot of original thinking in this amp. The physical design is completely unique; I did all that, apart from using old circuit board layouts. And I chose the components. But the actual circuit is 95% Fender. And Ma Bell’s engineers designed it before Fender got ahold of it.

My blues guitarist friend now says he wants a Trainwreck Express clone. Whatever. Once he figures out what he wants, we’ll build it.

Vox Hunt

Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Homebrew Amp Sends Sino-British Combos Packing

I took my new amp to church yesterday? The verdict? Amazing.

One of the guitarists asked if he could use it during services. Mind you, he was going to be putting it up against the lead guitarist’s $1200 Vox AC30. At the end of the day, the guitarists were telling me how great my amp was.

The sound is warmer than the Vox. It breaks up nicely. It sounds way better at low volumes. It has plenty of juice. They didn’t have to turn it past 12 o’clock, even with a single 10″ speaker battling against the Vox’s 2×12.

I put a new part in it: a humdinger circuit suggested in Merlin Blencowe’s book on power supply design. This is a trimmer pot between the heater feeds with the wiper connected to ground. It allows you to balance the voltages in the feeds so they’re identical. This gives excellent hum cancellation. Now the amp is really quiet.

I’m planning to build an amp for one of the guys, and he was leaning toward a Super Reverb, but now he’s thinking two amps, because he likes this one so much. It looks like I can do it for around $400, unless he goes for a Gucci tone-snob transformer set. That will add $300 to the job.

It amazes me that I can use this amp to practice in a small room. And look how God has given new value to the physics education I thought had been wasted.

Two of these would completely solve my church’s guitar amp problems, but I guess they’re stuck with the Voxes. They’ll never sell them and use homemade amps. People don’t like to rub their mistakes in their own faces. When you blow that kind of money on amps, the natural thing is to struggle to make use of them.

Life is sweet. The next project will begin as soon as I can get parts.