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previous: CJ Landry Mark you are definitly a knowledgab... -- 3/6/1997 12:45 PM View Thread

Re: EH Memory man faint steady high pitch wine

3/7/1997 6:15 PM
Mark Hammer
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Re: EH Memory man faint steady high pitch wine
Sound advice, Christian, and worth noting.  
 
If I advocate "risky" procedures, it's only because the majority of  
participants in this forum appear to have a level of technical knowledge  
several cuts above your average alt.guitar lurker (apologies to the  
average alt.guitar lurker), so I'm relatively confident - perhaps  
undeservedly so - in their ability to undertake mods like this. So  
far, I have yet to see any "What's a flanger?" submissions to this  
forum, and I take that to be a sign of non-beginner status, and a green  
light for many of the things I suggest. On the other hand, it may be  
wiser to leave any such suggestions very cryptic so that only those in  
the know will have even the foggiest idea about how to proceed with the  
mod. You know what they say about a little knowledge...  
 
The other aspect, of course, is the AMPAGE reader who is also a  
VINTAGE GUITAR reader, and treats anything made before 1980 as sacred  
and NTBDW (not-to-be-dicked-with; hmmm, have I coined a new net-term  
here?). I started all this modification stuff some 20 years ago, when  
much of the equipment in question was considered current rather than  
vintage. A glance through many of the publications at the time contains  
lots of "mods" for things that many vinto-philes genuflect to on a  
regular basis. For example, Tom Henry (who partners with Jack Orman,  
and has written many DIY articles in prestigious DIY mags) had an article  
in DEVICE about modifying an Electric Mistress and EH guitar synth.  
In each case, there was some drilling involved. (Of course both can  
command stupidly high prices from vintage dealers depending on how "mint"  
they are. To my mind, mint simply means not perfected yet.) Other articles that  
popped up included mods to various phasers and delay lines of the era.  
Craig Anderton, among others, had small pieces in GUITAR PLAYER about  
modifying various pieces of vintage gear; e.g., a Clyde McCoy wah.  
Such articles were always intended to increase the playability of the  
pedal in question, without any regard to their collectability or value.  
 
My sense is that your comment was not a reprimand, but a helpful  
cautionary note to the adventurous who possess the spirit but not the  
chops, and it is appreciatively taken in that spirit. That being said,  
I have no qualms about dicking with vintage stuff when one *does* know  
what one is doing.  
 
I suppose this could well result in another thread, but it's important  
to realize that most stompbox, and even many rackmount, effects in  
commercial release provide only a handful of the features that are  
inherent in the design, or that make the product more usable. This  
often occurs for dumb reasons *like* drilling another hole and adding the  
cost of a toggle switch, or pot and knob, to the cost of the product.  
One need only go as far as the MXR line to realize that almost every  
product they initially produced had only one or two knobs. Why? Because  
that's what would fit neatly on the boxes they used (Hammond 1590B)  
with the style of knobs they used. This resulted in a Distortion +  
which lacked a much-needed tone control, an Envelope Filter that can  
easily support range switching, a Dynacomp and Noise Gate that can support  
variable attack and decay time, and so on. The Phase 90 and Phase 100  
are criminally derelict in their absence of controls. Electroharmonix products also  
tended to stick in switches, or preset trimpots, where chassis-mount pots  
would have been preferable, and minimized the controllability of their  
products. A glance at EH price-lists from the early 80's indicates that  
such short-cuts resulted in a product line which was VERY competitively  
priced, and put effects into the hands of users who couldn't have afforded  
them otherwise. However, a similar glance at the kinds of products being  
generated these days by Boss and DOD indicates that consumers want the  
bells and whistles which were omitted in earlier product lines. Among  
the best selling distortion units are the Boss Heavy Metal and Metal Zone.  
One of the things that goosed their sales was the presence of sophisticated  
EQ-ing to tailor the sound. Count the number of knobs on Boss and DOD  
pedals now, compared with their sales literature 10 years ago, and the  
knob count is up from about 2.5 to 3.5 on average (by Hammer's patented  
rapid gaze count technique). The list goes on an on, and includes both  
guitars and amps, with only a few "New Cokes" in the batch.  
 
The bottom line here is that there are many wonderful devices out there  
that could be made even more wonderful (without destroying what made them  
wonderful in the first place) with a few simple changes. I sense this is  
a philosophy shared by many participants in AMPAGE, so I don't think of  
this as any kind of a defiant statement, merely something that needs to  
be said out loud once in a while.  
 
Okay, back on track. The mods I suggested create many more possibilities  
for analog delay lines (I'm actually going to try them on my MXR Digital  
Delay, if time permits. Anything that has true analog pots carrying signal  
are fair game.). When you DO drill your hole, remember:  
1) you don't want aluminum shards shorting anything out on the board  
or getting in the pots  
2) you don't want to drill through the pc-board or wires  
3) you don't want to electrocute yourself  
4) you don't want to drastically alter the opportunity to sell something  
if you think you might need/want to sell it at some point, and might  
have trouble drumming up a customer for it  
5) you don't want to wreck a nice paint job  
6) you don't want to situate a switch/pot where they will be unwieldy  
to use, or where they will incur noise or otherwise degrade the signal  
path  
7) you don't want to drill a hole that's too big and results in a shaky  
installation  
 
Whew! My chest feels lighter now. Ladies and gents, fire up your  
drills and soldering irons!

 
Replies:
Christian Landry Mark, Your reply is GREAT!!.... -- 3/8/1997 6:19 AM