Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tab Clearing

Things I've been meaning to pass on: Miscellaneous edition:

Back in August, I wrote about the non-recall recall that Taurus has on a few models of pistols they sell. These are the PT-111, PT-132, PT-138, PT-140, PT-145 and PT-745 Millennium models (all of these are Millenium models), the PT-609, PT-640, and PT-24/7.  I returned my PT-145 in August, received confirmation it was there, and sat back for the 6 to 8 week turnaround.   Around the end of October, the 8 weeks were up and I checked online to see the status.  They said it had been repaired, but had not been shipped.  This was a Sunday night (probably 11/1) so I figured I'd have it soon.  After another couple of weeks, I checked the status and it said the same thing, so I used the online chat feature to ask about it.

I was told they're going to replace my PT-145 with a new pistol of my choice, out of a few models they offered me.  Of course, this has to go to an FFL and I need to set up a few things, but they offered me a choice between the PT845 or 24/7 45 g2/or 24/7 45 Compact.  Since my original was most like the 24/7 Compact, I'll probably get one of these.  They're saying "4-6 months" which I'm assuming means I'll get the replacement next August - 9 months from now and a full year from sending the gun away. 
When I play an electric guitar I use a solid state modeling amplifier made by Fender called the Mustang 1.  What's a modeling amplifier?  In the world of guitar players, an amp is not an amp is not an amp by any stretch of imagination.  What a modeling amplifier does is model the sound of a number of "classic" amplifiers sought out for their unique tones.  In modern music the amplifier is played like another instrument, and the guitarist usually has a pedal board (example) with some number of different effects that can be chosen by switching them in and out.  The modeling amplifier allows me to choose 24 different sets of effects, emulating the sound of 24 different classic amplifiers.  It also allows me to download more settings from a user community (FUSE) that other users have designed, or post those settings I've come up with.

Cool, right?  Not to a very large number of users who say unless it's the exact right vacuum tube-based amplifier with the exact right effects pedals, it's Just Not Good Enough.  I mean, seriously, there are guys who agonize over the difference between identical part (industry part numbers) made by different companies, and make demo recordings of them. That's a couple of minutes of a guy comparing operational amplifiers that are sold as identical to each other by their manufacturers.  Even worse in my mind (as a soon-to-be-retiring, grizzled, old engineer) is that they're agonizing over parts that I consider jelly bean parts; parts used in non-critical places, where anybody's part would be good enough. 

A lot of folks have tried to get to the bottom of the complexity of the tube vs. solid state amplifier clash and a web site I've recently come across called Tone Lizard tries to break down the legend and lore of this sort of stuff.  I've only just started wading through it, but I like his approach.  In a case like the op amp tests just referred to, he'd try to do objective tests with sensitive instruments to see what the differences really are. 
While I am not the most gifted engineer, I still have enough horse sense to figure out that whether my cabinets are made of pine or poplar would have little bearing towards the tone of my amplifier. For some players though, because they read an article in a guitar magazine or on the Internet stating it does affect the tone, it must be true. Therefore, how could any guitar player shell out $$$ for my amplifier, when I refuse to house it in a pine cabinet? My thoughts raced towards a common question or two; ‘Is this true? Why didn’t I know about this?’ So, I’ve decided to investigate these stories for myself. I have discovered that since these guitar players seemed to be neurotic and gullible, it was very easy to spread all sorts of rumors in today’s information age.
After emphasizing the point that the "Leo" he's referring to in this piece is not intended to be Leo Fender, he writes:
  • Leo was not in business to make amplifiers; he was in business to make money.
  • Leo made money by mass-producing ‘affordable’ musical equipment.
  • Regardless of what you may hear or read, Leo had to make his chassis with standard sheet metal procedures. No ‘cutting-edge’ technology here, such as using copper, or billeting the chassis from a single piece of aluminum. Leo was an old radio man, and his chassis reflected that.
  • Regardless of what you may hear or read, Leo had to make his cabinet with basic woodworking philosophies, and common woods. I haven’t seen nor heard of a tweed Bassman made from Wenge, Parawood, or Eucalyptus.
  • Regardless of what you may hear or read, Leo had to use ‘standard’ parts. No manufacturer I spoke with mentioned ‘auditioning’ tube sockets or wire. They bought what they could locally, and in quantities. Leo did not ‘invent’ speakers to use with his amplifiers; he bought common speakers available to him at that time. Importing Celestion speakers was simply out of the question.
  • Regardless of what you may hear or read, Leo was just as swayed by advertising as everyone else. If he could read about a new speaker line, and the price looked good, he’d try it. Can you honestly say Leo ‘auditioned’ Oxford speakers, and said…. “Hey! These are way better than those flimsy Jensen speakers we’ve been using; let’s switch right away, Freddie!”? If you answered ‘Yes!’, you need professional help, and this web site cannot offer that kind of salvation.
If you're even the least bit interested in this sort of thing, check it out.


  1. Oh, boy....the audiofools and their money.....

    I've seen extremely heated Internet "discussions" over what finish should be used on your wood knobs to get the best "sonic clarity"!

    I mean, gee.....everybody just knows that you can't use metal or plastic for the knobs!

    Or the people who spend upwards of ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS for an AC power cord, never even considering that the power coming into their place came over how many hundreds of miles of 100-year old copper....

    I could go on, but it makes my head hurt.....

  2. Purist assholes.
    They are everywhere and so full of shit their breath stinks.
    I see the same type of know it all jerkoff in the car area too.

    "Oh, that part can't be from the original vendor, they used a crinkly black paint only available in England from Joe Slipwad and sons back in the late 50's and early 60's. the part number for that paint was blah blah blah blah, blahblahblah".

    Self important "experts".

    Like you said, the original was whatever the hell they could get their hands on in quantity and cheap.
    Everything is built like that.

  3. I've seen it in car clubs, radio clubs, photography clubs, and astronomy clubs.

    Some of it defies common sense, and some of it defies the laws of Physics.....

  4. DrJim,

    "Audiofools" - as opposed to audiophiles - is a great word!

    I had an audio salesman tell me I needed to buy teflon insulated cables because they "sound smoother". I say, "no, they feel smoother; they sound the same".

    I used to know a website full of audio crapola. Magic lacquer you paint on an IC to make it sound like a tube. Plastic baggies full of pebbles to put on your speaker cables. All sorts of stuff. I'll have to try to find it.

  5. And if you complain that you can't possibly tell the difference in real world trials of how it sounds, they just sniff and say you lack the Magic Golden Ears.....

    Like many things you and I have dealt with in the past, you might be able to measure a difference using sophisticated test equipment, but you sure won't hear any difference, "Golden Ears" or not!

  6. When it comes to fine musical electronic components the "Producer Switch" blows them a away.

    It's looks like your typical guitar pickup switch, but it's not connected to anything, yet producers can tell the difference in tone when it is switched from 'a' to 'b'.

  7. Tone Lizard is a great site! I found his section on VTVM's and tube testers particularly helpful a few years ago when deciding which ones would be best for my vintage radio restoration bench.

  8. Thanks for that Tone Lizard ref, great stuff

  9. Thanks for that Tone Lizard ref, great stuff

  10. Been out of guitar making for 30 years or so. Recently wanted to do some work on a few and ordered some stuff from Stew-Mac. A catalog arrived also- wow- every special tool imaginable to do a 75 cent job... just like the woodworking catalogs, and gun supply catalogs, etc etc- we have become a nation saturated with obsessed hobbyists! Which I rather like, actually!

    Also, in what to me is a new development, no mother of pearl items can be shipped outside the US. Hmm. It is astounding how far the regulatory state is going.

  11. ... we have become a nation saturated with obsessed hobbyists! Which I rather like, actually! I like that quote.

    Pick any topic, from making coffee to making guitars to just about anything, and you can find a raging flame war on the internet. Complete with incredible insults and a devotion to each side worthy of the most committed zealots.

    But, yeah, I like having the options of all those hobby stores, too.