#1
Well, it seems I've finally given in to peer pressure. After many years of being a diehard solid state devotee (An attitude I inherited from my dad, an old school radio and TV tech who vividly remembers the days when everything ran on valves and what a monumental pain in the arse they were.) I finally caved and went out and bought myself a valve amp.



Scored for A$600 off ebay, it's a mid-90s Crate Blue Voodoo 120.
Pretty basic setup: Channel 1 is clean with Volume, Low, Mid and High controls. Channel 2 covers the mid to high gain spectrum, with most of the emphasis on the high gain side. Controls are Volume, Low, Mid, High and Gain. In addition each channel has an independant reverb control and there is a master Presence control for tweaking the overall brightness. There's also a footswitchable FX loop with a -12dB pad if you need it.

Unfortunately, as the seller was quite a ways away I didn't have the chance to try it before buying and when I got it home I discovered the overdrive channel wasn't working properly, almost no volume and not nearly as much gain as it should have. It wasn't a complete surprise, in the ad he mentioned that the distortion was a bit weak, which sounded odd for one of the Blue Voodoo heads. Anyways, long story short I tracked down a tech and he figured out that one of the valve sockets had actually broken away from the circuit board. A couple of hours work with a soldering iron and all was back in place. Finally got around to pick it up today and the improvement was unbelieveable. One step closer to having my rig complete, all I need now is a bigger cab so my gear OCD isn't aggravated by my head hanging over the sides of my cab







I'll do a quick review now, but stay tuned because there's a much more in depth one coming once I've had a chance to give it a proper run in a band situation on wednesday.

Clean: Overall very good, super loud and punchy and the passive controls allow you to go from fendery jingle jangle to a fatter, more marshally type of clean sound. The built in reverb is decent, nothing spectacular but certainly useable and adds a pleasing lushness to your sound. Personally I think the addition of a gain control for this channel would have been nice and would allow you to get a wider variety of sounds from it, but you can have access to quite a wide variety of tones and textures by working with your guitar's volume and tone knobs.

Overdrive: Here's where the action happens, bwahahaha
The first thing you notice about Channel 2 is that it's bright, very bright. There's a lot of top end sizzle that some people just not going to like, although I personally love it. I like a lot of highs and mids in my tone and this amp delivers fantasticly, it has a very raw, aggressive type of tone that seems to combine a Marshallesque, midrange snarl with the low end thump you'd generally associate with more modern types of high gain amps (5150/6505, Mesa etc.) Again it's appallingly loud, in my house anything above 1.5 on the volume control is going to get me evicted. I can't wait to hear what it sounds like when it's opened up a little more. Reverb on this channel is more of the same: hardly the best you've ever heard but still very useable.
The Presence control becomes very important on this channel and is essential for taming some of the fizz on the top end. Overall I'm very happy, although as with all amps I'm sure it will take a bit of time to get the best out of it.

That's it for now but I'll be back with more pics and a better review in the next couple of days.
Peace out

Matt
#3
welcome to the dark side.
I wondered why the frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
#4
Quote by gregs1020
welcome to the dark side.

we've got cookies

HNAD looks nice.
#5
Quote by wolvenrick
we've got cookies

HNAD looks nice.


im actually wearing a T shirt with that on it now, and tbh if the Dark Side did have cookies i would sure as hell be thereee

anywaysssss, HNAD heard good things about the Blue Voodoo
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#6
HNAD!!! welcome to the wonderful world of tubes!!
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It is NOT trash metal it is tHrash metal...get it right
#8
HNAD. i picked up a 90's BV120 in the last month or so, kinda to mess around with modding, and just to have as a fifth or sixth backup.

they are great amps, i am happy with mine, i completely agree that the presence knob is the most important knob on the back.

the one reason why a lot of people aren't huge fans of these amps are because they don't know how to EQ them. its a little bit of a PITA to get it eq'd in (i actually think the EQ is active, but i am not sure, so that may be the problem).

that cab is likely holding you back a lot. when i demo'd it at the guys house i bought it from it sounded terrible in his cab with seventy80's, i got home and hooked it up with K100's, and it sounded a thousand times better.
WTLT 2014 GG&A

Quote by andersondb7
alright "king of the guitar forum"


Quote by trashedlostfdup
nope i am "GOD of the guitar forum" i think that fits me better.


Quote by andersondb7
youre just being a jerk man.



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#9
I agree that this amp does combine both the Marshall and 5150 feel into a more inexpensive head, as I used to own one before I sold it to make up for the 5150 I bought.. go figure.

Since you're australian I don't know how great of a deal this was, as most in the US go for about $350 or less.
#10
Quote by polishedbullet
I agree that this amp does combine both the Marshall and 5150 feel into a more inexpensive head, as I used to own one before I sold it to make up for the 5150 I bought.. go figure.

Since you're australian I don't know how great of a deal this was, as most in the US go for about $350 or less.



I think that's a great deal in Australia.


My local shop had a brand new Blue Voodoo a while back, I think they had it priced at like $1200. I hope it was for the head and cab but IIRC it was just for the head
#11
Quote by Tedward
I think that's a great deal in Australia.


My local shop had a brand new Blue Voodoo a while back, I think they had it priced at like $1200. I hope it was for the head and cab but IIRC it was just for the head


Definitely would have been just the head, in a country where a shabby, 2nd hand 5150 head can go for over $1500 finding any kind of new valve head for under a grand is a goddamn miracle. Although to be fair Crate seems to be one of the very few companies passing on the savings from the strong A$. Everyone else's attitude seems to be "**** you guys, you were happy to pay double US prices for stuff before, you can keep doing so. Even if your dollar is worth twice what it was 10 years ago."
I really should upgrade my cab though, the TBX cabs (much like the heads) are much better than most people give them credit for but they can get a little wooly in the bottom end.

@trashed>> I remember your NAD well. Incidently, thanks for answering my questions about it
Last edited by Waylanderau at May 9, 2011,
#12
I have the second gen, which is black. I love it. It is bright, however great for lead tones. Clean channel was surprisingly good. Presence knob can kill it if you don't EQ it correctly.

Mine still have the tags on it, I paid 350 for it used. There are some on craigslist for that price with the cab but they look beat to hell.

It sucks to hear they are so expensive down there.
#13
Valves in TV's and radios were far more problematic than audio amps. Radio guys used to seek out Raytheon tubes because they are extremely stable and less prone to drift than other valves that may sound better. That is a big issue in anything with a tuner, like a TV or a radio. In audio amps stability never even gets mentioned. Valves really aren't such a big deal in audio, you have to replace valves occasionally but that's about it.

HNAD. The Blue Voodoo is a fine amp, perhaps the only Crate I'd consider owning.
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#14
Got some better pics for you guys to check out. Was dicking around with my wife's camera and figured I might as well try for some better shots.

Here's a couple of the front panel









Some internals









And finally... THE PORTAL TO HELL ITSELF!



#15
two questions for ya.

1. does your OD volume seem like it has an audio taper pot (meaning that it doesn't start getting loud until noon)? but the clean increase at a "'standard"' rate?
2. keep in mind mine is running two 6l6's, but do you get any break up at high volume on the cleans? i do and it bugs me.

i will probably throw a pair of KT88's in mine, cath said it should work, so whenever i throw those in there i will let you know how it behaves.

i am thinking somebody messed with mine, i gotta wait to get a bias probe first to get those tubes running a little hotter because the previous owner said he had it biased cold.
WTLT 2014 GG&A

Quote by andersondb7
alright "king of the guitar forum"


Quote by trashedlostfdup
nope i am "GOD of the guitar forum" i think that fits me better.


Quote by andersondb7
youre just being a jerk man.



****** NEW NEW NEW!
2017-07-07 2017-07-07 Update and a Chat On Noise Constraints *** NEW FRIDAY 7/7
2017-04-13 RUN AWAY from COMPUTERS!!! TCE? RANT ALERT!!!
2017-03-02 - Guitar Philosophy 1001- Be Prepared For the Situation (Thursday 2017-03-02)
2017-02-21 How to Hot-Rod the Hell of your Stratocaster for $50! (Tuesday 2017-2-21)
Resentments and Rambling from a Guitar Junkie
---> http://trashedengineering.blogspot.com/
#18
Quote by darkwolf291
HNAD
Can it do early Metallica style distortion?
Never tried one.


to be honest, i haven't played mine enough even though i have had if for a few months , and i am not into metallica, but if you EQ it in i am sure it would do it fine. the cleans are really nice sounding and imagine they would do okay for metallica's cleans.
WTLT 2014 GG&A

Quote by andersondb7
alright "king of the guitar forum"


Quote by trashedlostfdup
nope i am "GOD of the guitar forum" i think that fits me better.


Quote by andersondb7
youre just being a jerk man.



****** NEW NEW NEW!
2017-07-07 2017-07-07 Update and a Chat On Noise Constraints *** NEW FRIDAY 7/7
2017-04-13 RUN AWAY from COMPUTERS!!! TCE? RANT ALERT!!!
2017-03-02 - Guitar Philosophy 1001- Be Prepared For the Situation (Thursday 2017-03-02)
2017-02-21 How to Hot-Rod the Hell of your Stratocaster for $50! (Tuesday 2017-2-21)
Resentments and Rambling from a Guitar Junkie
---> http://trashedengineering.blogspot.com/
#20
Quote by trashedlostfdup
two questions for ya.

1. does your OD volume seem like it has an audio taper pot (meaning that it doesn't start getting loud until noon)? but the clean increase at a "'standard"' rate?
2. keep in mind mine is running two 6l6's, but do you get any break up at high volume on the cleans? i do and it bugs me.

i will probably throw a pair of KT88's in mine, cath said it should work, so whenever i throw those in there i will let you know how it behaves.

i am thinking somebody messed with mine, i gotta wait to get a bias probe first to get those tubes running a little hotter because the previous owner said he had it biased cold.


Got your PM, I'll answer here though in case anyone else is wondering.

1. Now that you mention it, yeah a little bit. I took it to rehersal last night and expected the OD channel to destroy with the volume on 2 (like the clean channel) but I had to push it up to half way to be loud enough. Didn't take it past half way though, so I'm not sure if it gets dramatically louder past the 12:00 mark but I'll check it out next time I'm noodling.

2. Not really any noticeable breakup on the clean channel, although it's certainly a more meaty clean sound than you'd get with a fender or something of that ilk. I've not had the clean volume above 3 though, so it may start to get a bit gnarlier as you go higher. Valve-wise the power tubes in mine say "Sovtek 5881" which according to my very limited understanding are closer in character to a 6L6GC than some other 5881 valves out there, although I don't really know for sure. When I first read the 5881 stamp I figured someone must have switched the original 6L6GC valves out for those, but after a little research it seems the Sovtek 5881 is a fairly common stock tube for a whole range of amps so it's possible they're the originals from 1996 or whenever lol. Will definately look into re-valving soon, I'm thinking of switching to EL34s for a more Marshally kind of vibe, not sure exactly sure how much work it would be to make that work though so I guess I'll see how I go.
Let me know how you go with any valve replacements, I'd be interested to know how it performs with a different power section. Anyways, good luck with it and I'll let you know if I discover anything cool about it.

As regards the Metallica sound, it does it no worries at all. Personally I've found it's best to keep your gain control in the 50% - 75% range, much higher than that can get a little muddy. That's not too much of a problem though because even with lower gain settings it still sounds very beefy.
Last edited by Waylanderau at May 12, 2011,