134 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 • 443 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.

    "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
    "The Rogue Hoe"

    "The Rogue Hoe"

    We're closing out 2023 with special guest Bill Krinard of Two Rock! 
    https://www.two-rock.com
    I won't even attempt to annotate this episode but Bill joins us at 5:36 and fields a bunch of listener-submitted questions on transformers with dissimilar primary windings; Two-Rock's design process; how he uses oscilloscopes; Ampegs; Filmosound mods; potentiometers; harmonic content; and more. 
    Want to be a part of our show? Submit your question or voice memo to podcast@fretboardjournal.com.
    Our sponsors: Emerald City Guitars, Amplified Parts, Stringjoy Strings, 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

    • 51 min
    Ep. 126: "They Do Eventually Die"

    Ep. 126: "They Do Eventually Die"

    Transformer talk, spaghetti carbonara, goat horn jazz, and more transformer talk...it's the 126th episode of the Truth About Vintage Amps!

    Want to be a part of our show? Submit your question or voice memo to podcast@fretboardjournal.com.
    Some of the topics discussed this week:
    :48 Skip types out a tube chart
    3:16 This week's sponsors: Emerald City Guitars, Amplified Parts, Stringjoy Strings, and Grez Guitars; the art of bargaining at a guitar show; the Bay Area Vintage Guitar Show; Premier and Alamo amps
    7:43 A Marshall Major PA-200 head at Emerald City (link)
    11:48 What's on Skip's bench: an RCA PA head; Bill Krinard's return to the podcast?
    15:08 RIP Earl Yarrow & Shep the dog
    18:26 Junior Bonner
    21:40 More Earl Yarrow
    23:50 Brandy and soda
    24:30 What to use in my Princeton Reverb clone: A Soursound 12-watt transformer or a Hammond 14-watt?
    28:01 What to do with one single can of El Pato; avant-garde guitarist Havard Skaset; Los Pericos Quadradas chips (link); Norwegian goat horn player Karl Seglem's "Mytevegar" (Bandcamp)
    33:23 Help my humming Vintage 47 Mini
    37:52 What to do with a 1964 Magnatone 401, one-to-three input transformer, how to not get shocked
    42:43 Should we be burning-in our amps after repairs?
    46:21 Converting a Bogen MO30 to a Fender Pro circuit
    51:44 Recording a tube amp at low volume by pulling the phase inverter
    53:21 1952/1953 Fender Tweed Deluxes with low gain instrument jacks, input impedance
    55:44 Armadillo Amp Works cabinets
    56:20 Is this serviced 1970 Fender Bassman head still a Fender Bassman? gifting a tweed Bassman to your nephew
    1:01:25 Thanks for the TAVA show notes; what's the deal with my one-knob, early 1960s Gibson Skylark GA-5?
    1:06:50 What output transformer to use on my Trainwreck clone? Dynaco transformers
    1:09:03 Heritage Auctions' typewriter sale (link)
    1:10:49 Spaghetti carbonara; gutting a Peavey VTX Heritage 130 to build a bass amp with an ultra-linear transformer; Sunn amps
    1:14:40 The magic of Soundmasters; Sacramento ska band Filibuster; how a family of amps can basically have the same pre-amp circuitry; 807s vs. 6L6s or EL34s
    1:24:43 Thoughts on the 2024 Vintage Guitar Price Guide
    1:27:57 What could cause DC voltage to build up on the grid of a power tube aside from leaky coupling caps
    1:35:10 Shoutout to the Fender greats: Richard Smith, Bruce Zinky, Lynn Wheelwright, Terry Foster; a circuit baffler of sorts! 
    1:37:47 Spaghetti carbonara & Los Pericos Quadradas redux
    Love the show? We have a Patreon where you can support it and get exclusive bonus content and surprises: 
    https://www.patreon.com/vintageamps

    • 1 hr 40 min
    "Put Your Hands on the Hood"

    "Put Your Hands on the Hood"

    It's the 125th installment of the Truth About Vintage Amps with Skip Simmons!

    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 this week:
    :51 Skip works on a Jim Kelley Amp, built-in attenuators, the magnetic field caused by a Tweed Bassman speaker 
    3:30 Skip needs an RCA MI-12155 schematic 
    3:56 Making stuff for the Bay Area Guitar Show
    6:51 Our sponsors: Emerald City Guitars, Amplified Parts, Stringjoy Strings, and Grez Guitars.
    8:12 Our 2023 Voltic DTF pedal Dad joke winner: Keith F with "Why did Skip have to marry Mrs. Simmons? From the day he solder, he couldn't resistor."
    9:34 A basic servicing check-list of what to do when you get a vintage amp
     
    15:36 An early 1960s Tweed Princeton branded Harvard, tensioning the input jack
     
    22:22 Modar-branded guitar amps; tube lineup of EF86, 6BQ5, EZ81
     
    23:51 Trainwreck amplifiers; the tone difference between a single 8 ohm secondary winding vs four separate 1 ohm coils wired at 8 ohms 
     
    25:47 Should I buy this Peavey Triumph 120 combo?; five-pin footswitch replacement 
     
    28:15 Dummy load vs speaker when working on amps
     
    30:55 How to replace the battery circuit on a Bogen E66 portable PA, ice cream truck-specific amps, the Fretboard Brewery
     
    35:45 5Y3 rectifiers, demystified 
     
    39:00 Rancho Gordo beans, redux 
     
    39:46 An inspiring 1966 Champ and a vegan pumpkin pie 
     
    45:24 A hi-fi Eico ST-84/Dynaco ST-70 with the balance way off, RIP Earl Yarrow 
     
    55:22 Servicing a Carr Mercury; 12AT7 versus 12ZX7 pre-amp tubes 
     
    1:01:04 What to do with a 1980s Fender 30 with a weak second channel? a rare Ampeg B-15N
    Hosted by amp tech Skip Simmons and co-hosted/produced by Jason Verlinde of the Fretboard Journal. Happy holidays, everyone! 
    Love the show? We have a Patreon where you can support it and get exclusive bonus content and surprises: 
    https://www.patreon.com/vintageamps

    • 1 hr 8 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
443 Ratings

443 Ratings

Jonnysid ,

Love it!

I’ve listened to every episode of The TAVA podcast. I am continually entertained and inspired to heat the soldering iron up, study schematics while dreaming up future projects, play more music, and cook more food!
The wealth of knowledge shared, and the convenience of the index Jason manages to keep updated for EVERY EPISODE is such a valuable resource!
I have learned so much, and am so grateful to be a part of the community around this informative podcast!🙏

Listener AA764 ,

My favorite podcast

I love this podcast. Makes me laugh, brings me up, I learn something and we get free recipes. Long live El Pato.

JaimieMuehlhausen ,

Great Podcast about Amps and Life

I see some reviews from people who probably haven’t even listened to a single episode and just want to make things political. What a shame! And how sad that they are missing out on one of the best podcasts around. Sure, the content sometimes makes an occasional foray into the world around us. Usually somehow connected to the original subject matter and things just sort of flow. But if you let that bother you SO much that it causes you to sabotage the review section of a really fine and informative…and ENTERTAINING…podcast, then you’re living in a sad, hopeless, humorless world and you don’t deserve Skip and Jason.

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