Posts Tagged ‘dual’

The purpose of the article about changing the anode resistor value was to improve the clean channel and smooth the dirty channels.  That is exactly what it will do, but I wanted to talk about conceptual ideas regarding this change.  I’m going to use pedals for illustration and then translate that over to tube amplifiers.


I used to build guitar pedals and I’ve spent a lot of time cascading circuits into each other.  While transistors and op amps react differently than tubes, the overall result on dynamics is similar from one component to another. (more…)


I know I previously stated I would discontinue writing about mods, but this one has been in the back of my head for a long time.  A lot of the grind produced by the cold clipping stage is due to the presence of third harmonics (H3).  By forcing the idle point to be so close to grid current limiting, the amount of information loss from the distortion is going to produce it.

Yesterday, I was playing around with the Trioda load line program and found an interesting effect.  With the parameters set about where the resistances would be for V2b, the cold clipping stage, I was adjusting the cathode value.  As the cathode resistance moves from 39k to 10k, the amount of H3 falls to an amount which would become inaudible. (more…)

I already covered the input stage and clean channel.  I’m not going to repeat the information about the input, except for applications to the dirty tones.

The input stage is followed by a coupling cap and a 2.2 M load resistor in parallel with the voicing circuit and gain pot.  Most amps made prior to the Recto place the grid resistor between the coupling cap and the load.  The load is usually a potentiometer to control gain.  I think Mesa made this change to separate from the load and gain pot, so a 250 k pot value could be used. (more…)

This is in regards to the Presence circuits for a 3 Channel Dual/Triple Rectifier and the Roadster/Road King.  I do not have information on the Reborn or miniature versions, though I suspect they kept it pretty much the same.

Mesa came up with a clever Presence circuit for the 2001 3 Channel Rectos, which carried over to the Road King and Roadster on their relative channels.  For the sake of flexibility, the Presence pot is flanked by relays to swap the function between modes.  The modes are used to determine power amp response due to negative feedback and the amount of distortion it is capable of producing.  From most to least: Modern, Vintage, and then Raw.

Using Modern, the negative feedback is disconnected and treble frequencies are being attenuated by an RC filter connected between the the Presence pot and the wiper of the Treble pot.  Using Vintage, negative feedback is being fed from the transformer to the PI.  The amount of feedback is controlled by the Presence pot, which also sets the frequency cutoff; it has dual functions as a resistor divider and a filter.   Raw is a special case and is discussed on its own below.  I will be using Channel 2 for the examples, but I will contrast the circuit differences with channel 3. (more…)

In any tube amplifier, the cathode resistor can be bypassed with a capacitor to increase the gain.  Aside from the benefit of wringing extra gain from each stage, a shelving filter is created by this RC combination.  Since the resistor sets the bias of the stage and would normally need to remain at a particular value, the capacitor can be be chosen, or changed, to set the cut off of the filter.

In most modern guitar amps, the cut off is set to voice the stage for a particular bass response.  While there are many filtering options in an amp, the cathode cap is  powerful.  The frequencies below cut off are amplified much less, which means that frequency also gets driven less during overdrive or clipping.  For low frequencies, this is important. (more…)

Mission Improbable

There are a few reasons I’ve been spending so much time exploring the Dual Rectifier.  Those reasons include: misinformation, biases and myths, and helping others.

The misinformation takes many forms.  Sometimes, it’s just reading about the DR having “active EQ” (false), that it isn’t a “solo” amp (false), or other equally dubious claims about the design that are ridiculous.  Biases and myths also fit in with the misinformation, but are just as much about the insecurities of the users as any misunderstanding of the amplifier.  Claims about early revisions being “superior” or the utility of the 2001 3 Channel version are as ridiculous as the circuit misinformation, because it’s all subjective.  If I was a little more cynical, I’d even think the second hand market is involved in promoting and spreading this kind of bias to increase, and retain the increases on, the obsolete designs.  Seeing as how Mesa designs them, builds them, markets them, receives feedback, and profits most from the sales, if the old amps were superior, they’d swap directly back to it due to customer demands and complaints. (more…)

ACDCPlexi VintageCleanThese settings are for an approach to getting some vintage tones from a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier.  The Clean uses the ideas I’ve been developing about a higher gain setting against a lower Volume setting.  It also has less Bass dialed in.  This made the moderate use of Mid and Treble possible to control sizzle and distortion.  The Presence is just an extra treble control, because Channel 1 has no negative feedback in the power amp.  This setting is very full through the mids and has enough bass and treble to sound good, without either dominating.

The Dirty setting is copping a nice late-70s AC/DC tone.  It sounded really good for many Classic Rock tunes that aren’t fuzzed up.  Raw has a lot of top and bottom rolled off.  It only needs a little nudge to move into Plexi territory, though it could take some more Mid if a person wished to do so.  The Solo is engaged and dialed-in just enough to change the top frequency response.   (more…)

  1. Input Stage
  2. Stage 2: Go With The Flow
  3. Stage 3: Clean It Up
  4. Skip The Nerd Talk: Putting It All Together

I’ve been thinking a lot of about modifications recently and I’ve been going over the schematic for the 3 Channel Dual Rectifier on a regular basis for quite awhile.  I was recently thinking back to when I was starting out and how it was difficult to understand why or what a part of the amp was doing.  I don’t consider myself an expert.  I was taught solid state theories in school and had to buy books and read websites regarding tubes and how they apply to guitar amps.  I wished there was more information about the design concepts.  So, I thought I’d break down the preamp for the Dual Rectifier into the stage circuits and just talk about the general, overall concept of what each does on its own and together with its neighbors.  This might help the users with tones and circuit designers and hobbyists with ideas and insight. (more…)

(11/15/15: Edited information about the Presence and Treble)

Modern, high gain, guitar amplifiers generate much larger signals than vintage amps, hence high gain (high increase).  Compared to a vintage amp, modern amps can produce much more distortion and saturation.  In addition, the low frequency content of a Recto is fairly great.  Stages 1, 2, and 4 of the dirty channels are shunting the lows at about 88 Hz, -3 dB.  While the amp voicing is another topic, it’s important to have an idea of what is coming into the tone stack if you wish to shape it.  Since I own a Dual Rectifier, I’m using it as the example, but these concepts and this tone stack are applicable to many amplifiers.  I’m focusing on the Vintage mode of the Orange Channel.

Our topics for this discussion are: target frequencies, response of individual controls, the interaction of the controls, and dialing in useful tones more easily.  Some of the information is simplified for clarity.


This is the result of testing equipment during a time when I was trying for vintage guitar tones.  I used an MXL condenser pencil mic.  It was about 6 inches back, straight on, pointed 3 inches left and one inch down from the cone.  I wanted to capture a balanced, smooth sound.