Saturday, 14 January 2012

2012 kicks off with a gig at The Retreat

Hey All, Well, Christmas and New year already seem an age ago as we hit the middle of January, a month that always seems a little bleak, mainly due to being strapped for cash after the aforementioned celebrations. Still to keep you entertained during this month we've organised a Jack Cade and the Everyday Sinners gig at The Retreat in Reading. For those who don't know The Retreat is an excellent ale house in the back streets of central Reading which apart from serving some mighty fine beers put on a lot of great acts generally playing blues, country and folk. I've seen a fair few great performances down there so am very pleased to have been invited along to play. I'll be performing a short acoustic set to get things rolling, playing a few covers that have inspired me over the years and playing a few newly written songs too. After that I'll be joined by Everyday Sinners Adam Perry on Drums and Mike Muggeridge on bass for a run through some songs from the 'This Fiery Road' album. The gig is free entry, but fairly small so be sure to get down early to get a place. Music kicks off at 9pm.

In separate news label mate Steve Morano is in the Collision Music studio in Cholsey this weekend laying down rough demos for his forthcoming album which will be out in the middle of this year. I'll be dropping in on the session with a few beers for a listen at some point, really looking forward to it. Cheers for now Jack - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Fender Champ 600 mod

Hey all, A bit of a departure from my normal posts as I'm going to run through the guitar amp mods I've just made. A bit geeky maybe , but what the hey.

For those that have a copy of the 'This Fiery Road' album you will, on several tracks, have heard my burns steer guitar crunching through my fender champ 600. As small guitar amps go I love it's portability and astonishing loudness for such a small thing. The only thing that really let it down was the harshness of the tone and in recording terms the amount of hum coming from the amp.

As is the way of things I Googled to find out if there were any remedies and in so doing ended up spending the next month running in circles deciding what was best to do. I first toyed with the idea of ditching the amp altogether and buying a Blues Junior a Peavey Delta Blues or to be honest any number of other amps. But ultimately everything I read led to the conclusion that any number of these amps would need some kind of additional investment in valves or speakers or even mods, and to be honest I wanted something that would offer flexibility as well as portability.

Having read more blogs than I care to mention I decided on the following;  

1. The stock tubes Fender use are rubbish, particularly the Chinese 12AX7 and to be honest the Electro-Harmonix 6V6 whilst not awful is a bit harsh. I decided to change these to Cryo Valves from Watford Valves. Namely a Harma ECC83 (£16) and a Brimar 6V6GT (at £40 a bit pricey I know but I read some glowing reviews)  

2. Having decided to splash some cash on these I didn't want to install them in an amp with no standby, so some form of modification was going to be needed. I decided on the Alnicomagnet kit available on EBay. I was impressed by the write up explaining why the mods were needed and there were a few good videos too. All in all it made me feel like I could achieve the mods needed even though I'd not previously undertaken much more than soldering leads or repairing my guitar.

The kit came with excellent instructions and pictures which made it very obvious what was required. I had most of the tools I needed apart from a meter which I bought from Maplins for £8. A bit of advice on how to use one of these would have been useful as the instructions that came with it weren't that great, however I worked it out.

Having steeled myself for several days of frustration and swearing I managed to complete the main mods in the kit in around 5 hours. These mods removed the annoying hum, adjusted the voltage from the Euro standard 230v to the UK 240v and added a standby switch along with a few other items. For more info go to

Mods completed I tried the amp out with the stock valves in place, there was a noticeable difference in the tone of the amp and all the hum had gone. The overall sound had great clarity without as much of the harshness and I was very pleased with the result.

Next I swapped out the old valves for the two new valves and wow what a difference, it really is hard to describe how much the clarity, depth and quality of the tone improved, with the mid and the valves installed all harshness had been removed, and I have to say the power of the amp seemed to jump up several notches with the use of the Brimar 6v6gt, it really is a great tube. Where before I didn't care too much for the sound of my Champ 600 now I love using it and seem to be rehearsing more at home with my electrics now rather than my acoustics.

3. Phase 3 of the project is the addition of an extension cab. The main difficulty here was the impedance of the amp which is 4 ohms. Most prebuilt cabs are 8 or 16 ohm not a problem as such but the higher impedance will effect the loudness and given it's only a 5 watt amp anyway I really didn't want to lose anything if possible. Another factor was the speaker configuration, I had set my mind on using two 10" speakers rather than a single 12 or 2x12. this was partly to do with weight and size but again also to do with the sound, as 10" speakers are more responsive than 12's.

Being that the amp is 4ohm I have decided to go with two 8ohm Jensen P10R wired in parallel, so creating a 4 ohm cab. The cab itself I'm having built by a guy in Ireland who sells hand made cabs on Ebay, check them out they are beautifully built. The cab will be with me in two weeks, when it arrives I'll add a review to this post. Cheers Jack