Thought I’d get something down about this new addition to my amplification arsenal, having been an avid Marshall user for many years the lure of the Blackstar sound is just something you cannot ignore.
I found this little beauty on eBay going cheap, it had an intermittent fault which the previous owner didn’t know how to resolve so he bought himself a Fender as a replacement. After a few emails with the seller, I soon had a good idea what the problem might be so purchased it as a fixer-upper…
Having repaired or serviced most of my amps over the years and being a qualified electronic engineer before entering into the muddy world of management, I wasn’t overly put off that maybe I wouldn’t be able to fix the amp. Even if it proved beyond me to get her running, the price I got it for would still have left room for a repair at an authorised service centre. Other than this, the amp itself is in pristine condition and hardly used at all.
Well, I’ll admit it was a challenge to find the problem as it was intermittent. When playing the amp at volume it would either cut out completely or make some horrendous crackling sounds which at times would feedback down the mains supply and cause other equipment to make the same noise… Loudly! If the amp was at a low volume then it would perform flawlessly, so here were my fault finding clues and easily put me on the right track for repair!
It turned out to be a broken leg on a component which controls the flow of current to the amp for safety, when the volume was at rehearsal levels the vibrations from the speaker caused the component intermittently break circuit. A quick soldering job, some hot melt glue and the amp is as good as new!
While I was poking around inside, I took a look at the speaker and valves, both stock components from the factory. The speaker is a Celestion Seventy/80, although Celestion make superb speakers this one is from their low to mid range and to me sounded a little harsh. So I ordered a replacement Celestion Vintage 30 probably one of the best loved speakers by a majority of guitarist out there. I’m going to go through the speaker ‘break-in’ process which I’ll describe later on, this helps loosen up the moving parts and make the sound much warmer.
Next up, the valves. The stock tubes are Sovtek ECC83 and TAD EL34’s and once again are a budget range, I’m going to replace the two pre-amp sets with JJ-Tesla ECC83’s as they are built well and give a warm tone to the sound. For the two in the power stage it has to be a matched pair of Svetlana Winged ‘C’ which I’ve had laying around unused since around 1998, so these pre date the modern ones available now and some say were the best.
Marshall have been using Svetlana’s for years, they typify the ‘rock’ sound associated with British amps. They produce a warm tone, deep bass with a rich mid and a well rounded treble response, they’re also not cheap but considered the best. I’m seriously looking forward to getting the Svet’s in as soon as possible as I’m certain this upgrade is going to make a good amp sound great!
Ok, so I start the project this weekend, so I’ll keep updating this post with progress. The first thing will be to break in the V30 which will take some time, I’ve ordered a frequency generator to help me cheat a little, ideally the best method is to simply stick it in the amp and play the thing but this method can take up to 80 hours! With a frequency generator we’re looking at reducing the time down to 12, after which normal playing at volume should round the process off nicely…
Be Back soon…