#1
Hey! If that "brown" sound is so cool, why doesn't everyone just buy a Variac [variable voltage transformer] to get it? Does it work? I work in TV, and we use Variacs all the time as "dimmers" for lights.
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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#2
Because not everyone wants that sound? I don't even know what on Earth Variacs are, though...well, I didn't until you mentioned them.
#4
Quote by Denthúl
I don't even know what on Earth Variacs are, though...well, I didn't until you mentioned them.
They're a commonly-used, voltage-varying device, designed for use in a variety of industrial applications. On a typical unit, you can "dim" the voltage from 0-140 Volts.

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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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#6
ahhhh!

variac.. "variable AC" i get it...

*not electronically educated*
Grammar and spelling omitted as an exercise for the reader.
#7
Quote by Gabel
Because they can hurt your amp.


I'd go with that + them not being very well known in the guitar world (I think).
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#8
Quote by Fama
I'd go with that + them not being very well known in the guitar world (I think).


They are sort of known because of one man - Van Halen. They can cause some issues with your amp though, so I wouldn't suggest doing too often. Keep in mind that you can't use them with any amp which has a tube rectifier.
Luckily for you, somebody has written a rather large article on using a variac. You can check it out here
"Everybody, one day will die and be forgotten. Act and behave in a way that will make life interesting and fun. Find a passion, form relationships, don't be afraid to get out there and fuck what everyone else thinks."
#9
Excerpted from, "Exploring Edward Van Halen's Early Legendary Brown Sound," by David Szabados

"First, [Eddie Van Halen] used an Ohmite Variac, a variable transformer that could lower or raise the voltage going into the amplifier (see photo for what a typical Variac looks like). Edward set the variac to approximately 90 volts, thereby reducing the amount of input voltage going to the amplifier (see the Marshall Super Lead article for more information about variacs and attenuators) and allowing the amp to run more reliably. A key element often not considered today when running vintage Marshall amplifiers is that many that were made for export to the U.S. were designed to run at 110 volts and current U.S. outlets run at 120 volts. As a result, while there has been much talk about the dangers of using a variac, in many applications, it obviously serves a benefit.

According to Gerald Weber of Kendrick Amplifiers, Inc., in the October 2000 issue of Vintage Guitar, he states, 'You cannot harm your Marshall (or any other amp) by running it at lower-than-normal voltage. The opinions you've heard concern running the variac at higher than normal levels.'"
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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#10
Quote by LEVEL4
Excerpted from, "Exploring Edward Van Halen's Early Legendary Brown Sound," by David Szabados

"First, [Eddie Van Halen] used an Ohmite Variac, a variable transformer that could lower or raise the voltage going into the amplifier (see photo for what a typical Variac looks like). Edward set the variac to approximately 90 volts, thereby reducing the amount of input voltage going to the amplifier (see the Marshall Super Lead article for more information about variacs and attenuators) and allowing the amp to run more reliably. A key element often not considered today when running vintage Marshall amplifiers is that many that were made for export to the U.S. were designed to run at 110 volts and current U.S. outlets run at 120 volts. As a result, while there has been much talk about the dangers of using a variac, in many applications, it obviously serves a benefit.

According to Gerald Weber of Kendrick Amplifiers, Inc., in the October 2000 issue of Vintage Guitar, he states, 'You cannot harm your Marshall (or any other amp) by running it at lower-than-normal voltage. The opinions you've heard concern running the variac at higher than normal levels.'"

In situations where the transformer has the wrong primaries, sure the variac can be a good way of lowering the B+ and heater voltages, but starving tube heater voltages (which is effectively what lowering the input voltage is doing) is not a good idea.
"Everybody, one day will die and be forgotten. Act and behave in a way that will make life interesting and fun. Find a passion, form relationships, don't be afraid to get out there and fuck what everyone else thinks."
#11
Quote by the_random_hero
In situations where the transformer has the wrong primaries, sure the variac can be a good way of lowering the B+ and heater voltages, but starving tube heater voltages (which is effectively what lowering the input voltage is doing) is not a good idea.
An EXTREMELY interesting, and information-packed article! Can we find some empirical data on the rate of damage to the filament plating, and actual tube failure acceleration from under-voltage duty cycles? The mentioned caveats are disheartening, but the findings in the article sure make this tempting.
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American HM Strat | LP Studio
Soldano Avenger w/DeYoung OT | Mark IV rackmount | DC-3 rackmount | Single-Recto

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#13
Quote by LEVEL4
Hey! If that "brown" sound is so cool, why doesn't everyone just buy a Variac [variable voltage transformer] to get it? Does it work? I work in TV, and we use Variacs all the time as "dimmers" for lights.


Because the Variac wasn't all that important to the actual tone. All it did was reduce the input voltage so that there would be less strain on the tubes when running the amp full throttle.

The key to Eddie's setup was running his amp into a load box and running the signal from that into a poweramp.
Actually called Mark!

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