Howdy do tone brothers and sisters.
This week has been really fun for me.
I recently acquired a Gibson GA20RVT amp. Gibson has made amps with this model
designation several times over the past 40 years or so; I’m talking about the
latest incarnation ... from around 2001-2007.
These quality hand-built amps can be had cheap, so they qualify as a "sleeper" amp. This model sports 12ax7’s
in the pre amp and a pair of 6V6 tubes in the power section and is (very
conservatively) rated at 20 watts. She’s
a real looker, and her beauty ain’t just skin-deep; when you look deep into her
soul, you find even more to love. She’s
laid-out well, hand wired on a superb turret board, and has top-shelf
components throughout. And the
sound? It’s thick, rich, complex, and, well,
awfully dull on the top end. That’s the problem we’ve gotta fix! Read on for the Rx.
So, first the gal got a ride to the amp shop where she received a couple of
minor mods: 1. Reverb was enabled on
both channels, and 2. the volume of channel 2 was brought up to the same level
as channel 1. I also hoped to make the
weak tremolo rock, but alas, there just ain’t enough gain stages to be had in
the available number of 12ax7’s! I’m gonna just
flat call this one a design flaw. If
really lush tremolo is your thing, get a pedal, or don’t consider this
amp. The verb, however, is straight-up
good long-spring accutronics, very sweet.
Next, I decided to address the suspected heart of the tone problem, the
speaker. This one left the Nashville
Gibson factory with a Celestion "seventy-eighty"; most had Eminence
Legends. I got to choose, and I
preferred the Celestion; the Legend only enhanced the amps overly-warm nature.
First, I tried the G12C. I hoped this
would bring out a nice fenderesque sparkle and chime. It did, kinda, but I felt as though it lost
too much of the sumptuous bottom:
Then came the Retro 30. I feared this
might take the amp too far in the Britt voiced direction, but my fears turned
out to be unwarranted. This combination
actually gave me just what I wanted. I still had the big, beautiful bottom and
complex mids, but now had all the sparkle I could ask for; wow, the treble
control actually didn’t need to be on ten for the amp to sound good!
Last, I decided to give the Reaper 30 a shot. This is a great all-around speaker, and it
sounded great; but I felt that maybe it didn’t quite give me what I wanted in
the sparkle and shimmer department.
So, last I decided to put the Retro 30 and the Reaper up against each other
and see if I could be 100% sure that I had found this pretty gals speaker
That last little shoot-out confirmed that the Retro 30 was the speaker that
amp had been waiting for all it’s life.