Conrad Vintage 310
Right on Conrad, interesting layout. Please tell us more?
Dave, lets hear what you have to say?
This is a sweet amp. It is modeled after the Tweed Bandmasters of the 50's with the 3-10" and 2 6L6's in the power section. It is very basic in its tone controls , like the Fender, and like the Fender, the tone control settings also effect the output.
I dont know how many of you have played on or own an old Fender, but this amp is like them in tonal character but is very modern in the 'feel' of its response. Like ALL Conrad amps, the response is immediate and is ultimately touch sensitive. You can run this up on its output but back off on your attack and it responds completely to your touch.
It stays fairly clean much like a Bandmaster does, but I think it has a bit more pure sustain than the Fenders ever did. It is extremely quiet.
I used it with the two sets of inputs 'bridged'.. Again, for those of you who dont know old Fender amps, they had four inputs, two for the high gain and two for the low gain. A trick from years back was to bridge these with a short cord and plug into the input that best suited your guitars output. You got the combination of the two inputs and some control, as both had their own volume knobs. Old Marshalls were generally done like this also. Gee, I wonder where Jim got his ideas from???
I used an overdrive pedal with it and my MIM Strat with the Vintage EMG set-up. I cannot divulge the maker of the pedal as its a secret weapon and if I ever need another one I dont want to prices to be escallated simply because I mentioned it. Really. Sorry. The amp performed flawlessly. It was sweet and clean and got the exact setting of my pedal when asked to. It is a LOUD amp. Conrad mentioned that this one might be a candidate for the variable output circuit. This would seem to be a great idea simply because the clean tones are so firm in the lows and so bell-like in the highs. This would make a great recording head with a single twelve speaker set up, though with the speakers in the triangular array, you wouldnt seem to get the normal phasing you get with a standard 4 speaker square box. Its this phasing that a lot of questions are asked about when folks record their 4-12 cabs and cant understand why they sound thin. Anyway............
The finish is superb as always. I didnt find out what speaker was installed...I usually ask this question. Maybe Conrad can let us know. One thing that really impressed me as both an audience member listening to others play the amp, and as a performer with it, was the low-end response. I dont think it has MORE low-end than amps of this nature, but it certainly has a tighter and more focused low-end than is found as a rule. It certainly makes playing a pleasure to have the wonderful singing highs and then not have your low notes 'splat' when you get down the neck for some psychotic surf blues riffage. And you say, "Uncle Dog, have you gone off your Rocker with the PSYCHOTIC SURF BLUES????"
My children , you play what the amp says you should.
I built this amp because my son Steve who is the head engineer at Nightbird Recording Studios in LA recently did a session with Joe Perry the guitar player with Aerosmith. Perry brought several amps to the session but ended up using his Tweed Bandmaster. His guitar tech wonders why he brings many of his amps to the sessions because he always winds up using the Tweed Bandmaster. Hey this must mean something so a week later I have one. The speakers are Weber are 10A125. I ordered them 12 ohms which gives me a system impedance of 4 ohms. I've always felt speakers sound better when wired in parallel. The amp will improve as the speakers break in. The output transformer is paper interleaved and is wound on a paper bobbin. The amp produces about 34 watts just before clipping.
There are some differences from the original Tweed Bandmaster:
1. I find the random grounding schemes in Fender amps sub-par. This amp incorporates short-bus Star Grounding resulting in lower hum and noise.
2. Distributive Filtering. The power supply filter capacitors are located at each gain stage (tube) and associated circuits. There are no long power supply wires running around in the amp. The amount of total capacitance in the power supply is carefully chosen to make sure the amp "feels" right.
3. Mono Crystal Wire is used throughout the amplifier. To learn more about this wire go to http://www.conradamps.com and click on "For Geeks Only". This wire dramatically improves the performance of the amp. The amp is more open sounding, quicker and more responsive, and quieter between notes which adds the the dynamics of the amp. The amp sounds very forward - like taking a blanket off the amp.
4. I used metal film resistors on the amp instead of carbon composition resistors to make the amp quieter. My experience has shown there is little difference in the tone when comparing carbon comps and metal film resistors. Other factors can make a bigger difference.
Kevin Selfe plugged into the amp and played a set. Afterwards he came to me and said "this amp is the Holy Grail of tone". He also said that it is the closest thing to the original '59 Fender Bassman he's heard. Not being boastful here just reporting what others are saying.
Wow Conrad, I'm speechless really. You are obviously a man of passion and Dave is one lucky Dog. Its apparent to me you are building amps because you can and are able build them exactly the way you have dreamed, without compromise.
I would love to see more pics and hear from others that are using your amps. I would love to see some sneak peeks of you building one in your shop. Maybe mine one day :biggrin:. I would love to have one signed by you.
Anyway, please continue when you have time. Its very interesting.
Conrad Amp Testimonials
OK audiokid you asked for it so I'll comply. Here are some testimonials from my clients.
Velvet Hammer from Taylor Svendsen, Oregon City, Oregon
Hey Conrad this is Taylor Svendsen and just wanted to shoot you an email saying hi and that the Velvet Hammer is working great! I fall in love with that amp a little more each day and I have yet to find a sound I can't achieve with it. It really is one of the most versatile all analog amps I have played/seen. Everyone I have talked to is always curious about the amp and are always impressed with the tone and I have gotten many compliments from people on my amp and the sound quality it produces.
Velvet Hammer (Comments from the Portland Tone Fest – Amp Show)
As for the gear. All I can really say is that only one amp really really really hit me off and that was Conrad Sundholm’s Velvet Hammer. Anyone who knows me knows that I don't buy amps and I will rarely be really blown over by anything but Conrad’s amps all kicked ass and had amazing tone. The Velvet Hammer though.....friggin awesome!!! And one could not ask for a nicer guy to be building an amp for you. He's the real deal in my book.
If your unaware of the man do yourself a favor and find out about him and his work. The decades of experience he has is evident in his amps. Hands down the Velvet Hammer was THE amp I was impressed with the most and as you can read in this thread there was a TON of great amps there. Anyone who knows me knows that buying an amp is not something that is ever on my radar but I see a distinct blip on the horizon...
Velvet Hammer from Dave Alvarez
Last night I was at a Blues jam and got a chance to play most of a set with a Conrad Amp called the Velvet Hammer.
This may very well be the best amplifier I have ever used. I say 'may be' because I have owned well over 40 amps in my life and some of them have been phenomenal. The 1960 Tweed Vibrolux might be up there too...as well as the 65 Vox Cambridge tube amp I had....then there’s the 62 ProReverb or the 85 Marshall JCM800....BUT,
This one was simply the sweetest most responsive thing I have stuck a cord in in a very long time.
So now a week later and last night was at the blues jam again. I love just going and playing off-the-cuff anything that comes to mind....or doesn’t as sometimes the case may be.
Conrad showed up again with the Velvet Hammer. I got to use it quite a bit and I grow even more enamored with this amp. Not only did I play through it with my stock JAP 87 Strat, but we got to hear a very nice 06 Flamey LesPaul ...one of the 59 reissues down to the nickel patima on the gears and pickup covers....VERY nice. Also one of the Heritage/Les Paul guitars also with buckers. Again, the amp sounded like the guitar was designed to sound. The Bucker'd guitars were warm and thick sounding with no blurring at the edges of the sound.
Lets talk about the blurring. A lot of amps have overtones and inner-harmonic distortions that tend to 'blur' or lessen the definition of the sound when you start getting up to playing volume. Live its not so much of a problem, but in the studio where "Mics Dont Lie" its almost instantly recognizable. Its really one of the big reasons, sometimes, it takes so long to really dial in a great guitar tone in the studio. I did say that 'live' is not so much a problem....this is true until you play on an amp which doesn’t have this distinction. Once you do, you'll never be happy again with blurring. There is no 'blurring' with this amp.
My playing is easily going places I have never been and its mostly due to the fact that I'm not fighting against the amp to get it to respond to nuance. My hands are now dictating the sound and the articulation of the sound and the amp delivers it as easily as possible.
Blues Jammer from Tony Galla, Los Angeles, California (http://www.tonygalla.com)
“I must tell you that I had a rehearsal this afternoon and used the amp and I had a chance to really open it up. Oh my!! This amp is ridiculous! it is making me play better than I ever have. Inspiring. Your Jammer is not an amp at all but rather an instrument in itself and extension of the player. Congrats on building an incredible instrument.”
Blues Jammer from Mark Ratcliffe, Stafford, Texas
(1) Over the years I have tried Bassmans (re-issues only), Blackface Vibrolux, Black Face reverb deluxe, band master, Music Man, Sunns, modeling units and a few Marshalls.
I'm not trying to brag, it was just that I could never find what I was looking for my guitars (Tele and Les Paul). The closest is my 93 Blues-Deville. I took a gamble and, yea paid the price. But at least I don't have to look anymore.”
“Yes, and I'm having some good fun! I am speechless! One hot little amp
that's for sure. After all these years and so many amps, I've now got a
(2) First thing is the style, I loved the look and the workmanship that went into the cabinet. The top controls and text were facing the the front of the amp, I don't have to crook my head to see what I'm doing. It's the little things that add up. Very easy to use, turn it on and go! No pre-amp outs, no foot switches to mess with. No channel switching patches. Just an amp to make you concentrate on your playing and your tone. Tone is every thing, not gimmicks that mask.
Now for the sound. I am still experimenting but I have all the tone (treble, mid and bass) controls on 6, maybe a touch more bass. The volume and master volume on 7 or 8. I can get any note to sustain with a wonderful, warm sense of distortion. With a little bit of vibrato from ones finger action it will go on forever. Sweet tone all the way. The sound is huge and commanding and very responsive coming out of one 12 Eminence GB12.8 speaker. When you want you can turn the volume down on the guitar (I used a Les Paul Custom) and you get the warmest tone ever. Almost creamy. Perfect for a Jazz flavor if you like.
I then switched to my 71 tele and a little rockabilly, fun stuff. It responds to your playing like no other amp I had without going overboard.
Very, very clear! I was amazed! I now think my Blues Deville sounds muddy in comparison.
The reverb is set on 1 and has a wonderful room effect, I'm not into the big echo sounds. I use the 4 ohm speaker jack as opposed to the 8 ohm one based on Conrad’s suggestion. I like the looseness of this a little more. Over all a perfect 10.
The only thing I think I will do is have him build me a matching 1X12 cabinet if he's willing. Thanks Conrad for a great amp!
Blues Jammer from David Kelly, San Jose, California
(1) “Initial impressions: Hey, not bad at all! Twiddled the knobs a little bit. Next impression: HOLY CRAP!!!
Very loud 28 watts (2x6L6), Weber Blue Dog Alnico speaker that sounds already broken in, reverb but not surfy, and a very cool master. It likes the volume and master volume balanced with each other - you can dime one or the other (you'd be arrested for diming both), but it seemed happiest with the master at about 1pm, volume at 11am or noon. It loved every guitar we threw at it, but Jeff's (hawkeye's) Les Paul 'Beaut most of all. Easy to overdo it (and way fun to overdo it!). Cleans up with the volume knob (on the guitar) beautifully.
It has an 8-ohm speaker but Conrad recommends plugging it into the 4-ohm tap for a little darker, a little faster breakup. Oh yeah. A bit saggier feeling too. Great both ways and I need to play some more with that. We also plugged it into a big Fane in a big 1-12 semi-open cab, and that was heaven too - bigger and thumpier. But I see no reason to overthink it - just use the amp's own speaker and there's much joy.
Bill Chapin (Chapin Guitars) described it as being like a tweed front end into an Ampeg power section. I am a simple plain-spoken man so I have no idea if that's right, I just know that you start grinning right quick and don't think about the amp any more, you just bathe in the big fat mean righteous tone bellowing out of it and play every rock and blues riff you ever heard.”
(2) “Yeah, yeah, honeymoon and all. No argument. But oh my, what a sound comes outta that thing! I'm still smiling!”
It's pretty exciting. The clean is as rich and warm as any I've ever heard, but the best way to get it really is to bump up the gain and volume and then back down the guitar volume knobs. And that has the added benefit of letting you dig in or dial up the knobs to get the meanest blues distortion you could want.
It loves pedals - COT50 is especially sweet - and it has a very pleasing cut to the tone so you can actually hear it in a mess of other instruments. I'm really knocked out.
When Bill Chapin sez he's jealous of me because of this amp, I gotta feel like I'm on the right road! It's a total gas to play through. It just gets more fun to play every time I plug it in.”
“Jammed it again tonight and oh my! What a killer amp! Birch-o-caster and the Keef. Oh yum! And the COT50 in front is godlike.”
“It's a killer 1-12, 28 watt, grab'n'go, control-the-breakup-from-your-guitar, what-the-heck-IS-that?? amp of your dreams.”
“I think I'm the only guy around who has one, but the Conrad Amps Blues Jammer is the #1 blues amp I've ever played with. Conrad Sundholm founded Sunn Amps in the 60s. Now he's making amps up in Portland and he's been bringing the proto for this one around town to the blues jams, where people really do go nuts over it. Incredible touch sensitivity, everything from a surprisingly yummy clean to mean snarl all with your fingers or your guitar's volume knob. Not exactly like any other amp, but maybe closest to a Supro in early Led Zep mode? And it does have a master vol, so you can tune it to the room you're playing in, even if it's the bedroom.”
“I have a ton of amps ... literally, and I've used hundreds of other models through the years. Best amp, bar none, better than Carr, better than vintage Fender Tweed, best of the best I've ever heard and played through live is the Conrad Blues Jammer combo amp. The guy who started Sunn amps in the 60s makes 'em one at a time. I believe his name is Conrad Sundholm. Lives in Oregon. I have played through famous person's amps, museum pieces, almost every boutique amp (EXCEPT Nolatone) and own great sounding old Fenders, but nothing I've ever heard or played through comes close to a Conrad, period.
If you try this Nolatone, try a Conrad to compare. Thank me later.”
My main amp is a recent addition, it was made by the creator of SUNN amps, Conrad Sundholm. It's called a Blues Jammer, I picked out the colors and he made me an amp. It's the brown one on his website. I cannot tell you how amazing this amp is. Just a monster tone machine. Check him out on his website. I met him when I went to Oregon for a bit, met some amazing players and was introduced to Conrad.
I play a 97 Fender Custom shop strat, Cunetto era I believe. My pride and joy indeed. Just a great guitar plugged in or not. Plugged into the Conrad it just really comes alive. Pure strat tone and gets the sound I've been after for a real long time.
C-4 Tube Bass Pre-amp from Andy Clapp, Portland, Oregon
"I've tried various tubes and tube emulators including the Line 6 Pod, ART D-I/O and the Blue Tube.
The Conrad C4 Bass pre-amp is the 1st tube pre-amp that gave me everything I was looking for. I can achieve consistent levels with all styles of playing. I really love the warmth of my tone. I get a mouthful of sound – very tasty.
In the studio I’ve had great success with the Conrad C4. I get a great Bass sound. I’ve even used it for Guitar and believe it or not, vocals.
The Contour Control is awesome. For a Funk tone put both the Bass and Treble on 10 and the Contour Control on a low setting. For Jazz and Rock tones all three tone controls are set to about 5.
I Love this thing. I have clean power and great sound. When I purchased the Conrad C4 Bass Pre, I scrapped my Line 6 Pod.”
C-4 Tube Bass Pre-amp from Colby Hendricks, Vancouver, Washington
“Holy cow! You really hit the nail on the head with this one!! That is the perfect tone, and loud! I love the vintage look of it. I love the contour feature. I can't thank you enough. People are going to freak out over this bass pre-amp.
We cut the final bass tracks (Shrinking Violets) with your C-4 Bass preamp last night. It was awesome! It brought everyone in the room's energy up. We are all so excited! Eveyone is grinning over the incredible tones!”
Sunn Restorations from Doug Pratt
“First off I'd like to say that amp (Sunn 2000S restoration) sounds magnificent! Unbelievable! I have some guitars and basses hanging on the wall in the basement where the SUNN is. The first time I played my P-Bass through it, a bunch of them started playing themselves!! Sympathetic string vibration I guess. It was pretty funny. Yep, the furniture shifts, the throw rugs crawl, all the pictures on all the walls upstairs and downs were akimbo. Stuff on shelves shifted.
POW-ER-FUL!! The craftsmanship, the detail, the cosmetics.......ALL EXCELLENT!! I love that behemoth! Thanks again for doing the restoration.”
Thanks for the reviews Conrad. They dont really tell the story of the construction aspects of these great amps. Perhaps you could talk in some detail about what your approach to amp design and construction is all about. Also maybe talk about some of the Custom models I have seen and played on. There are, after all, a lot of amps being used that arent part of the model catalog that have features especially suited to recording. The Minni-Me comes to mind, as well as Roberts' Blue Condition and the Echelon or any of the amps with the variable output.
I'd still like to see that Vintage design with that Variable output feature as well as in a separate head only.
What was that one that you were bringing around that was the head and cabinet ? That was a very interesting amp. Too clean for me but for someone else, a gem.
See ya soon!