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Un-Transistor-like Tone!

Warmth, on-the-edge distortion, touch sensitive dynamics and cut... not descriptions you'd normally associate with a solid state amp. But 'BB' is certainly not your typical transistor amp!

Stewart Ward started designing and building guitar amps in 1967 and began working with transistor amps in 1980. Since when, he has accumulated a wealth of unrivaled specialist solid state design knowledge and has invested it in BB.

You can expect nothing less than top draw performance that would usually only be heard from amps costing many times more!

So, lets all appreciate the many advantages it can offer over valves.

We're NOT saying valves are rubbish... just that transistors are NOWHERE as bad as many claim... without having ever heard a well designed SS amp!

Welcome to the world of BluesBaby™!

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UK Designed and assembled using parts from around the world.

It is no longer possible to source all our components from exclusively 'UK Made' sources. And in anycase, it would not make any difference to the tone and reliability of BluesBaby™ if we could!

Components made in the Far East are perfecly good and are regularly used in high reliability medical and other such applications

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Getting The Best Out Of BluesBaby™

What does the Presence Control do? - It provides a warmer tone similar to that you would hear if you fitted a Lightning Bolt or Canabis Rex speaker. Because it is installed into the amp's circuitry post distortion, it takes some of HF 'sting' out of the distortion tone.... making it much more 'creamy' and less 'in your face'. This, when used in conjunction with the TREBLE control, can add many more tonal flavours to the amplifier. The benefit is, unlike with swapping the speaker, that you can switch it in or out whenever you desire.

What does the BlackFace Switch do? - Well, as its name might suggest, it converts BluesBaby's EQ (tonestack) into a classic early sixties toned EQ section based on that found in a Twin Reverb© of that era. It shifts the MID control's centre frequency downward from BluesBaby's stock setting of ~700Hz, to ~250Hz. Just flip between the two characters. Very useful for authentic 'old school' tones... add generous reverb too and you're into sixties surf music's 'Wipe-Out' or 'Pipeline' heaven!

The use of the FAT, Presence, BlackFace and its three band adjustable EQ controls can provide the amp with a myriad of unparalleled tonal ability. Perhaps too much?

Amp Loudness (Chassis Only Customers) - This will be affected by the type of speaker and cabinet you use. We recommend a speaker with an efficiency of at least 99db@1 watt/1 metre rating. However, absolute loudness may not be your aim. In which case, there are many speakers available with great tones which are less efficient... but we would respectfully suggest you do not go much lower than 95db@1 watt/1 metre.

Our own sample BluesBaby™, is fitted with the same speaker as the Fender Blues Junior (Legend 1258) for comparison reasons. It's loud and very economical, but can be a little harsh for certain genres... it's not the greatest guitar speaker in the world. Its low cost is a significant part of why the Fender Blues Junior is so affordable. Tonally, its not dissimilar to the Celestion G12T 75... Coincidently, the Legend 1258 is also rated at 75 watts! It is used in many Fender® amps, including the Blues Deluxe® and Hotrod Deluxe®.

To get the kind of high class tones and ultimate loudness you'd expect from a high class amp... you will have to employ the services of a high class speaker too. A great amp can only amplify what you put into it and reproduce the acoustic output through whatever speaker you have hanging on its output jack! So get a decent speaker from the outset - cheap speakers are a false economy!

Speaker Impedances - BB has been designed to work at optimum with an 8 ohm speaker. However, fitting a 16 ohm speaker will reduce the power output by about 1/3rd to around 15 watts.  So you should use an 8 ohm speaker ideally... but it's perfectly OK to use a 16 ohm from a safety point of view providing you don't mind a lower power output. Nothing will be harmed, unlike with valve amps.

BE WARNED - Hooking up speaker(s) with a total load impedance of 4 ohms will raise the output power, but also cause the amp to run much hotter. This could cause permanent damage which will not be covered by the warranty!

Speaker Cone Breakup Harmonics - The guitar speaker is undoubtably, one of the most important components in a guitar amplifier. This often tonally underated item gives rise to the creation of mechanically generated distortion harmonics from the 'resonating' paper cone, which do not come from the amplifier's electronic circuitry. Most of the world's iconic guitar tones owe their creation to the humble and often ignored guitar speaker! Fact.

So, unsurprisingly, the speaker you choose will dramatically alter the way your amp both sounds and feels. Guitarists generally seem to worry more about the type of 'toobs' and 'caps' fitted into their amps. That's a big, big mistake, sadly!

We cannot tell you which the best speaker for you is, it's subjective, and so you will need to experiment. However, some 12" 'rock orientated' speakers do not work well in small cabinets. In our opinion, the Celestion Vintage 30 is better in large 2 or 4x12" cabinets with a closed back construction. It is not very suitable for 'old school' tones... you'd be far better off with a Classic Lead 80 (G12 80), G12T 75 or maybe the Greenback G12 25. The cheaper Celestions are OK, but not as loud as the classic models. The G12T 75 errs on the classic Marshall® tone... the reason perhaps that Marshall still offer this 'classic rock' speaker in their 4x12" cabs!

Open or Closed Back Cabinet? - All speakers have a resonant frequency, usually around 80Hz (open E/sixth string). This is the frequency that the speaker gives the most acoustic output for the least input power. Cabinets with an open back will have a dominant output equal to that same resonant frequency. Cabinets with a closed back will apply extra resistance on the speaker's cone. Therfore, its ability to move back and forth inside the sealed enclosure is more difficult, as it tries to squash and stretch the air. This causes the resonant frequency to move up to around 110Hz (open A/5th string). This applies to all cabinets of any size.

Speaker Cabinet Size - It is worth stressing, that making the cabinet as small as possible does reduce the bass output and also affects how the speaker works. It sometimes may not be the most flattering guitar tone you've heard. It exposes mid frequencies which can sound a little 'ice-picky' or harsh.

Whilst it is possible to boost the bass electronically inside amplifier to compensate a little, it's never tonally quite the same as having a larger cabinet! Bass boosting the electronics can sound 'forced' and unnatural. And this is part of the reason why guitarists prefer the tone of a valve amp... their cabinets are always bigger! A good size for a 1 x12" cabinet is about 50 litres internal volume. But many players are happy to trade a little bass for the convenience of portability.

Component Quality - BluesBaby™ is built using high quality components made to meet stringent European safety and environmental regulations. They will probably meet most others too.

We have been very conservative with the ratings of components used in BB.  The power amp can deliver 68 watts... but we've restricted it to 22 watts.  The power transformer can deliver up to to 50 watts of power.  So BB, unlike most 'big name' makes, is built to survive the hard punishment it might receive!  Designing it to run cool ensures its life will be much, much longer than a typical shop bought product. High temperatures kill components more quickly!

Why is BluesBaby™ not a DIY kit of parts - The time it takes to assemble a kit of parts is about the same as that for us to actually build the amp! Plus, there's the risk it might not work first time when a customer builds it. So, all in all, it's much more efficient to work with a'ready built' system... and you get an amp that works first time right out of the box!

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Page last updated: 28.11.2015

 

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