Digital Piano + Tube Amp = Great Tone

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Digital Piano + Tube Amp = Great Tone

Postby doc williamson » Sat Aug 13, 2005 10:58 pm

I posted this on another thread but thought it might be more useful to others posted alone. I do want to add that I think for live stage playing the tube amp needs to be at least 80 watts or more so you don't reach "tube breakup or distortion" and you have a lot of head room.

Here is a way to take the digital edge off of a stage piano. I play a Yamaha P120 and love the piano sounds but I really want more of an old upright piano sound like in an old juke joint or on Memphis Slim or Otis Spann records. A couple of months ago I got a 1969 Fender Twin Reverb chassis and still plan to have the three minor mods made to take it back to Leo's original specs and have cabs built, etc.

Two weeks ago, because I was working in my new music store (not open yet) but word has spread and I am buying some great gear. Anyway, this guy brings in a Fender 135 Tube PA system. The amp section and tubes are almost identical to a Fender Twin Reverb but the transformers are larger and this has 135 watts of power and four channels. The columns are black tolex with white "wings" extending from the grill cloth and at an angle out about 8" to meet the front of the cab and each column has 3 - 10" Fender Blue "Special Design" speakers. I'm guessing it is early 1970s.

I experimented with it and took it to a jam I host. I ran my piano through one channel with both cabs leaning at an angle against the wall. I cranked the Master Volume to 8 to let the tubes breathe and set my volume at 1 1/2 with the Bass and Treble Controls set at flat. Man, what a sound! Nice and warm and not so brittle. I added the delay on my P120 and though it still won't sound like an upright it now has a whole new great texture run through the tube amp. I then ran three of the jammers guitars (though not 3 guitar players playing at the same time) through the other channels. I explained the Master Volume was like a gain and it was hot and I fixed their volumes at 1 - 2 they could control the treble and bass on their channel as they saw fit. The Volume control on each channel is a push/pull knob and pulled out adds reverb. I dialed in a good reverb sound on the Master Controls and thankfully no one thought they needed to sound like The Ventures. They all loved playing through that tube PA head and the 6 - 10" speakers filled the room with sound and warmth.

So when are YOU coming to Florida? We'll all have a great time at the blues jam. Winter is just around the corner.

"I chose to sing the blues." Ray Charles
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doc williamson
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Location: Central Florida

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