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Hotcake and Klon Centaur


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10/17/1998 5:11 PM
aron nelson
Hotcake and Klon Centaur
I was visiting friends and somewhere there had both the Hotcake and the Klon Centaur. I played them both through a Fender Vintage amp (darn, I forgot the model) and a very good Les Paul. The Hotcake sounded just like another one of my 19 pedals that I have. It sounds somewhat like your typical IC based distortion with lots of high end rolloff. There was an interesting mid switch which allowed you to cut the mids for a scoped sound. However, I heard the magic of this pedal starts when you plug it into an amp like a VOX AC30 or Train Wreck.  
 
The Centaur was extremely smooth sounding and one thing I noticed was the rolloff again of the highs in the distortion stage. It didn't seem to distort until the last 25% of the knob. The tone control was really a mid control. Somewhat Big Muff type tone control but with way less range and a capacitor that did more mids than highs.  
 
What I wanted to ask was, what do you guys do when you look at the output on a scope? What do you feed into the pedal?  
 
Could someone make a test CD with the test tones then we could feed it into various boxes to look at the output?  
 
Anyway, I recorded the two boxes straight into a 4 track cassette recorder (hey, that's all I had). So I have the output of the boxes unfiltered.  
 
Unfiltered, I couldn't hear any magic at all. In fact, the Hotcake sounded better than the Klon Centaur. The Klon sounded weak and had more midrange and the distortion sounded unremarkable. The "clean" boost on the Centaur didn't sound any better than the clean boost on my Shaka Braddah to me.  
 
I will have the unfiltered recordings converted to MP3 and then upload them to my web site soon.  
 
Aron
 
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10/17/1998 5:24 PM
Jack Orman

quote:
"Could someone make a test CD with the test tones then we could feed it into various boxes to look at the output? "
 
 
Actually I've been considering just this very thing. I have a CD writer and can make the actual cds. Cool Edit can create very pure sine waves at any frequency, and I have another program that can create other waves. What other types of waveforms would you like to see on it? I often use triangle waves because I want to look for peak clipping or asymmethrical slewing. Ideas? Any interest?  
 
Aron, you had those boxes in hand and didn't strip them apart to trace the schematic? :)  
 
regards, Jack
 
10/18/1998 1:42 AM
paul perry

I'd happily pay for a CD of guitar test tones!  
And, I'm sure the amp people would too!  
At the moment I'm using my PC sequencer to drive a CM300 general midi box as a testbed.. not ideal.
 
10/18/1998 3:39 AM
aron nelson

>Actually I've been considering just this very thing. I have a CD writer and can make the actual cds.  
 
I have a CD writer too but I'm not sure what I should put on it. If you could get the test tones together, and we all agree on using it, we might be able to compare all of these distortions a little better.  
 
I also realized another thing. If we decide on test tones AND a sampled guitar line(s), we can record these test tones AND the same output from the same guitar by plugging in the CD player output to the distortion. That way we can hear what all the different distortions sound like with the same guitar. We could also agree to record these distortions without any EQ. That way, we could analyze the output AND take the sampled guitar through distortion without EQ and feed the result straight into our amp and hear how that distortion would sound through our amps. Yes, not as good as using our own guitars, but still better than hearing it through someone else's cabinet or simulator.  
 
>Aron, you had those boxes in hand and didn't strip them apart to trace the schematic? :)  
 
Darn it! Black Black Black GOO - epoxy over both boxes. Boo hiss!  
 
Something interesting. I was listening to my recordings over and over and I noticed that the Klon just wants to ring out a perfect fifth above the fundamental all the time. There's no feedback here - just guitar straight into Klon into un EQ'ed channel of a 4 track. You can clearly hear the 5th coming out.  
 
One other thing. It's just really apparent to me that there must be some serious caps over the clipping diodes because there's not many highs in the output even when the tone control is maxed out.  
 
Also, I wonder if it uses an IC because can anyone think of a transistor distortion that can get pretty clean boost for almost 75% of the distortion range? Almost all of my transistor-based distortions either don't have much volume when the drive control is turned off (since it's really a volume control for a transistor gain stage) or they clip relatively easily when the drive control is turned up a little.  
 
With an IC-based distortion, it's relatively easy to have clean-boost using a tapered pot for most of the drive travel.  
 
Another interesting thing. Most of my friends don't want too much compression in the signal and therefore liked my IC-based Shakka Braddah more than the Booster+. This is interesting to me because, I had been going for less distortion but with compression so I could have more sustain. They were going for clean boost plus smooth fuzzy distortion.  
 
I'm going to try running germanium diodes with larger cap values to cut out lots more high end from the distortion. I think this will get me closer to what they want as a test.  
 
Aron
 
10/19/1998 10:30 AM
gus
Aron  
 
Can you count the # of bumps and shape r,c etc. of the klon the pic at your site look like it has a # of pan elec caps dual gain control mult stage gain, it also looks like it has stacked films(good) If you take the board out it looks like there is no goo on the bottem You could tell if IC or tran. The way the switch is wired it looks to be a buffered single bypass. Your des of the tone make the tone control sound to me to be like the rat tone control(I like the rat tone filter) and IC dis. I reversed a bluesbreaker and have a hand drawn schematic parts list. It uses a single pot with dual gain stage, and is a overlooked very good mild overdrive/dis IMHO with some simple mods.  
 
Gus
 
10/20/1998 11:28 AM
Jim S.

The Centaur uses a dual pot for it's GAIN control. My guess is that this control really acts as a combination GAIN/MIX control, where it is controlling both the amount of gain in the overdrive circuit and the relative mix of the overdrive circuit's output with the output of the clean buffer stage. This would explain why there is relatively little distortion until the GAIN control is cranked way up.  
 
From the way the Centaur sounds, I would also bet it uses an IC. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the circuit is very similar to a Tube Screamer.
 
10/20/1998 6:10 PM
Aron Nelson

>My guess is that this control really acts as a combination GAIN/MIX control  
 
That makes sense.  
 
>From the way the Centaur sounds, I would also bet it uses an IC. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the circuit is very similar to a Tube Screamer.  
 
Maybe. I'm in the process of moving or else I would have had the sound files up there by now. But I will have them up there soon.  
 
Thanks,  
 
Aron
 

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