137 episodes

Twice a month, guitar amp guru Skip Simmons fields your questions on vintage tube amp repair, restoration and collecting. Often hilarious and always insightful, it's like no other guitar podcast out there.

The Truth About Vintage Amps with Skip Simmons Fretboard Journal

    • Music
    • 4.8 • 455 Ratings

Twice a month, guitar amp guru Skip Simmons fields your questions on vintage tube amp repair, restoration and collecting. Often hilarious and always insightful, it's like no other guitar podcast out there.

    "A Spicy Tomato Sauce"

    "A Spicy Tomato Sauce"

    It's the 133rd episode of the Truth About Vintage Amps podcast, where amp tech Skip Simmons fields your questions on all-things-tube amp! 
    Want to be a part of our show? Just email us a question or voice memo to podcast@fretboardjournal.com.
    Some of the topics discussed: 
    1:14 Skip's 1950 Ferguson tractor, the Truth About Lawn Mowers
    7:28 A zebra on the loose in Washington State
    9:30: This week's sponsors: Emerald City Guitars, Amplified Parts, StewMac, and Grez Guitars.

    12:28  Grez Guitars sends Skip Quique Gomez & Little Charles Baty's Cookin' At Greaseland
     
    16:51 What's on Skip's bench? A 1953 Fender Tweed Pro that needed nearly a complete rebuild
     
    24:14 One solution for the multiple Pignose-amp quandary from ep. 132: Radial Engineering's Shotgun 4-Channel Amp Driver (Amazon link); 100 Vintage Hawaiian Songs (Spotify link)
     
    30:35 Tom Gunterman's lithium battery pack picks from ep. 132, prunes
     
    33:51 RIP Gerald Weber (Kendrick Amplifiers)

    35:56 Book recommendation: 'The Birth of Loud' (Amazon link)

    37:39 Jason has a jdflyback handblown tube amp! (YouTube link)
     
    40:19 A Fender Vibrochamp that doesn't like my Les Paul, volume-dropping
     
    45:11 Anything worth rescuing from old tube car radios?
     
    48:55 A 1569 Altec power amplifier for guitars? Grange Hall and self-published cookbooks
     
    53:30 A Music Man 115RP with a broken reverb
     
    59:17 An update on last episode's 1972 Fender Princeton Reverb, a homemade signal tracer (based on this Kley De Jong video); 'Designing Tube Preamps for Guitar and Bass' by Merlin Blencowe (Amazon link); tahini; 'Servicing by Signal Tracing' by John F. Rider
     
    1:04:24 Why can't I pry this tone pot off of my Harmony H-200?
     
    1:07:10 What does using a tube pre-amp unit in front of your guitar amp actually do? Tube swapping a 6V6 or 6L6 (note: we'll get back to this next week)
     
    1:14:09 Skip's handiwork on the new Taylor Swift album? (Instagram link) 
     
    1:17:24 Making a closed cabinet for my Fender Princeton
     
    1:21:19 Are amp techs divas? 

    Hosted by amp tech Skip Simmons and co-hosted/produced by Jason Verlinde of the Fretboard Journal. 
    Want to support our show? Join our Patreon! 

    • 1 hr 34 min
    "Start Dark"

    "Start Dark"

    No guests or special theme this week...just an all-new, old-school episode of the Truth About Vintage Amps, where amp tech Skip Simmons fields your questions on all-things-tube amp. 
    Want to be a part of our show? Just email us a question or voice memo to podcast@fretboardjournal.com.
    Some of the topics discussed: 
    1:31 What's on Skip's workbench: Valco amps with a resistor and a normal speaker instead of a field coil
    3:46 This week's sponsors: Emerald City Guitars, Amplified Parts, Stringjoy, StewMac, Izotope, and Grez Guitars.
    5:04 Thrift store: Revere Ware

    8:01 What's the deal with this Leslie Model 18 circuit

    15:41 Daisy chaining four Pignose amps to a backpack, tuna salad

    20:46 What to do with these orange capacitors? Vacuum Tube Valley, Mexican Martinis

    25:38 Skip has a nice mono hi-fi speaker cabinet for sale

    27:07 Do speakers ever go out phase on their own?

    28:32 Fender Princeton Reverb vs. Tremolux gain stages

    31:22 The truth about vintage Sano amps (gumbo recipe found here)

    35:47 Seventh-grade Skip; the glider that never touched down

    40:11 A source for El Pato in Australia (link: productdistribution.com.au)

    41:16 Ampeg Jets and Rockets "with the knobs that point straight up"

    43:04 Spotlight on Paradise, California

    48:32 Powered vintage speakers, El Pato chili 
    53:05 Film cap orientation hack and the EH Hum Eliminator/Debugger 
    58:35 Spotlight on glue 
    1:03:04 The joys of using lithium-ion batteries onstage to power your tube amps 
    1:09:43 A 1972 Princeton Reverb that doesn't like a wireless transmitter; a simple fish recipe 
    1:16:11 How do the dual rectifiers work in the Angela Super Single Ended amp 
    1:19:17 Rainier beer 
    1:21:21 Claude Thornhill Orchestra
    Hosted by amp tech Skip Simmons and co-hosted/produced by Jason Verlinde of the Fretboard Journal. 
    Want to support our show? Join our Patreon! 

    • 1 hr 21 min
    "Sandy Soil"

    "Sandy Soil"

    Illustrator/musician/underground comix legend Robert Armstrong (Mickey Rat, Couch Potato, the Cheap Suit Serenaders!) joins Skip and Jason this week for a very special installment of the Truth About Vintage Amps. 
    Want to support our show? Join our Patreon! 
    Some of the topics discussed: 
    1:38 NOS military-grade green pilot light jewels from Gary Economy (Instagram); leave us an Apple Podcasts review and take a screenshot to enter to win one!; 5879 tubes
    3:03 Where is George? (Danger UXB on eBay)
    4:48 Rick Estrin and Dennis Gruenling's harmonica workshop, March 16 (link)
    6:43 This week's sponsors: Emerald City Guitars; Amplified Parts; Izotope; Stringjoy Strings; and Grez Guitars.  Ordering from StewMac? Use this affiliate link to help us out! 
    11:26 The 2024 Fretboard Summit, August 23-25 (link)
    11:49 What's on Skip's bench: A PA head; blown power transformers
    13:44 A discount on Eric Daw's amazing Solid Sound guitar wiring book (use TAVA when you check out): https://www.solidsoundbook.com/
    16:19 Taming the bass frequency on your amplifier
    23:15 Resistors: What does Skip use?
    27:27 Special guest: Illustrator/musician/friend/Mickey Rat & Couch Potato-inventor/record collector Robert Armstong (link)! Early Hawaiian guitar recordings; growing up in Fender country but gravitating towards the banjo; Coulter guitars; Hugo Ernst guitars; John DeLapp guitars; playing saw on the 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' soundtrack; animator Ward Kimball; 'Man in Space' (YouTube link); not working at Disneyland; seeing David Lindley at the Topanga Banjo & Fiddle contest; coining the term "Couch Potato;" Bob's tweed Fender Deluxe; Supro Dual Tones; Pee Wee's Playhouse; playing with Sourdough Slim; sheepherder conventions; touring Japan; Ben Pollack's "Two Tickets to Georgia" (YouTube link); playing 78 records today; Al Dodge
    1:38:10 John Sebastian gets his dad's PA head back; a Disneyland tube PA

    • 1 hr 48 min
    "America's Hat"

    "America's Hat"

    It's a very special, all-Canadian episode of the Truth About Vintage Amps podcast, the call-in show where amp tech Skip Simmons fields your questions on all things tube amp repair! This week, we have special guests Calvin McCormick (Hiwatt) and Mike Watson of The 6L6s along for the ride.  
    Reminder: You should join our Patreon.
    Some of the topics discussed: 
    1:06 Jason heads to the Phoenix MIM Museum (link); the National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota (link); the American Banjo Museum (link)
    3:20 This week's sponsors: Emerald City Guitars, Amplified Parts, Izotope, Stringjoy Strings, and Grez Guitars.
    6:05 Canadian amp builders worth following: Gary Economy (Instagram) & Lo-Fi Electronic Instruments (Instagram); Stromberg-Carlson 207; Pepco Riviera 725; Lifco Cobra Mark 2; how to make an amp less bass-y; Frazey Ford's "U Kin B the Sun" (YouTube)
    13:10 The Velvet Touch
    14:31 Our Facebook group (link); how did Skip first notice Johnson and Soundmaster amps?
    20:18 Garnet quirks: What's up with the tone stack on this Garnet Revolution II?
    23:22 Ted Weber speakers, field coil reconing
    23:51 Niagra Falls
    25:01 All things poutine; Suuns (link)
    30:25 Special guest: Calvin McCormick of Hiwatt! (link)
    53:01 Regional Canadian foods: Ketchup chips, coffee crisp, beaver tales, peameal bacon on a kaiser, Newfoundland Screech; the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist
    58:23 Outside foil cap orientation on Soundmasters; DC leakage in grid leak bias input caps
    1:03:10 The Kahayan 8x4 Selector (link)
    1:05:30 What's the deal with this Soundmaster 086 schematic?
    1:11:31 Slowing down the trem on a Traynor Custom Reverb YSR-1; Kevin O'Connor's books; Pepco amps
    1:17:51 Reducing the noise on the Fretboard Summit Microtone pre-amp; Traynor YGM-3; El Pato chicken
    1:23:07 Special guest: Mike Watson of the 6L6s; Lifco amps; Keil Amps; the Velvetone amp; Turner amps; Swampdonkey amps; amps with 6Y6 power tubes; Acrosound
    1:43:23 Jimi Hendrix on a Marshall amp
    Love the show? We have a Patreon where you can support us, get to the front of the line with questions, and get exclusive bonus content and surprises: 
    https://www.patreon.com/vintageamps

    • 1 hr 45 min
    Ep. 129: "Summer of the Comet"

    Ep. 129: "Summer of the Comet"

    Welcome to ep. 129 of the Truth About Vintage Amps podcast, the call-in show where amp tech Skip Simmons fields your questions on all things tube amp repair.
    This week, it's an (almost) all-Fender episode! Reminder: You should join our Patreon.

    Some of the topics discussed: 

    :44 Jason goes to the NAMM Show
    4:20 Skip is fixing his 1961 Comet
    9:04 What's on Skip's bench: Three Fender Concerts; 5C1 Fender Champ circuits; a 5-watt Oahu with a 40-watt transformer; a silver panel Fender Champ for sale at Skip's
    14:27 This week's sponsors: Emerald City Guitars, Amplified Parts, Izotope, and Grez Guitars.
    20:36 Ceriatone amps; Divided by Thirteen Amplification gets acquired by Two-Rock
    25:20 The art of drawing your own schematic; Robert Kidney's 'Jackleg'
    29:56 Increasing gain on a Fender Princeton AA964
    33:02 Isolated input/output jacks
    35:45 A 1979 Fender Vibrolux with warped MDF baffle board, baffle replacement; good goo wood hardener
    42:53 Should I recone the CTS alnico speakers on my rusty Fender Super Reverb or get new speakers? Slovakian Bwoop; Solfood's hot pepper sauce (link)
    51:37 Why do my tubes have this crusty stuff around the base? Don Pepino pizza sauce; The Mob Run Pizzerias of NYC, N-Men: The Untold Story (link); Lake Berryessa's glory hole; Ben Harper (redux)
    59:07 Help me understand why a tube amplifier needs a load?
    1:03:11 The all-Fender episode
    1:05:09 What's a good cheap alternative to the Fender Musicmaster I am looking at? Ampegs
    1:09:20 Tweed Princeton kit woes … new Champ speaker
    Love the show? We have a Patreon where you can support us, get to the front of the line with questions, and get exclusive bonus content and surprises: 
    https://www.patreon.com/vintageamps

    • 1 hr 17 min
    "The Smells Were Overwhelming"

    "The Smells Were Overwhelming"

    Welcome to episode 128 of the Truth About Vintage Amps podcast, the call-in show where amp tech Skip Simmons fields your questions on all things tube amp repair.
    The first hour of this show probably belongs on our Patreon, but I'm feeling generous and sharing it with everyone. Reminder: You should join our Patreon.

    (The amp questions kick in around 49 minutes.)

    2:10 Skip goes to the Bay Area Guitar Show: Fancy Gibson ukes, a Martin 00-28, lots of amps, a shopworn Grez, Jimboys Tacos, the bar on San Clemente Island (Yelp), pupusas
    33:46 Gibson reissues the Falcon (link)
    40:03 Skip fixes a refrigerator
    43:51 Skip loses his dentist and finds Trader Joe's; musician/illustrator Robert Armstrong (link)
    48:52 A 1961 Harmony H322 bass amp that isn't loud enough
    53:38 A vintage Gibson Falcon with a flickering pilot light; D-cell batteries
    56:18 Using a thermistor to slowly ramp up voltage on old amps, the new Toyota Landcruiser
    59:17 Do you want to be an old car guy? Skip's 1961 Mercury Comet; Jason needs a body shop
    1:04:17 My house's dimmer switches are driving me nuts
    1:07:47 Why did Fender change the plate resistors on the Bassman?
    1:11:44 Using the signal from just before the phase inverter on a push-pull amp to drive another amp
    1:15:31 Skip sees a bobcat
    1:15:58 Draw differences between matched pairs of the same tubes
    1:20:41 Distortion on the Normal channel vs Vibrato channel on vintage Fender amps
    1:23:51 How to expand the volume range on a Masco PA; the Necromancer cocktail recipe; Groove Tube tube adapters
    1:31:22 A low-watt amp for bedroom playing; power-adjusting amps; music recommendation: Issa Juma And Super Wanyika's 'World Defeats the Grandfathers'
    1:36:39 A push-pull output transformer in a single-ended amp
    Our sponsors: Emerald City Guitars, Amplified Parts, Stringjoy Strings, Izotope, and Grez Guitars.
    Love the show? We have a Patreon where you can support us, get to the front of the line with questions, and get exclusive bonus content and surprises: 
    https://www.patreon.com/vintageamps

    • 1 hr 43 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
455 Ratings

455 Ratings

Tyrantulah ,

Started for the education, stayed for...

the banter, camaraderie, laughs, history, interviews, personal stories, recipes, and the general analysis of the circuit of life.

dtttggtghj ,

Great Show!

A must-listen for anyone who has ever wondered what is going on inside their amp. Skip and Jason do a fantastic job of demystifying circuits and components, while offering practical advice for guitarists, bassists, harp players, and home cooks, helping us to quit our crying, and just count it off.

Joe B Wan ,

El Payto, El Pahto?

I like my eggs fried and my amps warm. This show delivers them biscuits in spades.

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