Author Topic: Design Question  (Read 3055 times)

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Offline richopp

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Design Question
« on: October 04, 2008, 06:33:01 pm »
Hello, Conrad!

It is very cool to actually be able to get a question to you.  It has been a while since I have been out on this site, and things have certainly changed.  In 1970 I bought a Sceptre in a music store in Charlotte, NC.  I still have the receipt somewhere, but I remember paying $400.00 plus tax for it and a tall 4x12 cab.  I was a terrible guitarist--still am--but love playing anyway.  At the time I had an orange Gretsch hollow-body with gold fittings; it was a Chet Atkins model, I think, and I gave $150.00 for it.  I sold it in '72 for $200 and thought I had gotten a great deal!!  I think it is worth considerably more than that today, as is the Sunn, which I also sold when I moved from Chapel Hill to Florida.  Ah, well...

I have been reading about your new stuff and wanted to ask a general question.  After moving to FL I opened an 'audio' shop.  (Back then 'audio' meant stereos that cost a bundle.)  Anyway, I met a great man, much older now but still going strong, named William Z. Johnson--he likes being called that.  Anyway, BILL was an amplifier designer and started a very high-end (expensive like you wouldn't believe) company called Audio Research Corporation.  I sold a lot of his stuff back then.  The company ran from the late 1960's until recently under his sole ownership.  He is much older these days, and sold it recently to a group of investors or something.  He was the designer of the best audio amps and pre-amps of that day or any day, and they still are, even if they cost more than a house today. 

What I was wondering was if you had ever gotten any inspiration from looking at his products over the years?  Bill was about the only person back then who still used tubes in the audio business long after everyone else laughed them out of the industry.  During the '80s and '90s many other tube guys entered the home audio market, but you probably know that already.  So, while I am far from an engineer, I do understand that guitar and audio amps are quite different in many ways, I was just wondering if Bill had done anything with his circuit designs over the years that you felt you could transfer over to the guitar/bass amp design area?  I know that amps all have to have the same basic design or they aren't amps, but just wondered about this.

I also remember that Bill was always complaining that he had trouble getting transformers wound the way he wanted and that the state of tube manufacturing--he used mostly GE 6550s in his stuff in the old days--was giving him fits.  As a sideline, he told me at the time that getting the faceplates made and etched the way he wanted took longer than actually designing his products, so I guess manufacturing to spec is an ongoing business problem.

Look, I loved your amps back then, would buy one today if I could afford one, and just wanted to ask you a "just sittin' around talkin' " kind of question that I always wondered about.

Glad you are still working, and thanks for taking the time to interact with your many devoted fans and customers.  Peace!


Offline sundhy

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Re: Design Question
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2008, 06:41:25 pm »
Hi Richard,

Never have looked at Audio Research schematics but am familiar with their amps - if fact I know a friend that has one.

Audio amps are quite different than amps designed for guitar.  However, the "clean" circuits used in audio amps can be useful for bass guitar.

Getting the right transformer (especially output transformers) is still a challenge.

Conrad Sundholm
Great tone my passion.