Groove Tubes Trio preamp

Chat about Equipment Info

Postby playingdead » Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:17 pm

Just as a completely useless and subjective piece of trivia, I hooked up the Trio and the Twin head to my 2X12 E120s ... I can tell you that the Twin head is much brighter sounding, and quite a bit hissier than the Trio. The Trio sounds a little warmer, very clean but less piercing on the highs ... kinda the opposite of what I was expecting.

However, the Twin is much louder, which surprised me, because the poweramp is 200 watts per channel running in stereo, and the Twin is, what 85 watts? Of course, tube power is always much hotter than solid state, but I'm wondering if it might not be because the Trio's output isn't really driving the solid state power amp hard enough; I have it cranked on both gain and volume on the Clean channel, as the manual suggests, and while it's good and loud with the power amp turned up, the signal isn't lighting the clip lights at peak, either.

All of this is purely academic anyway, because who knows what mods exactly are on my Twin head, and what Jerry did, etc. etc. etc.

But I can tell you that they both have the "Jerry" sound to them! (Maybe it IS in my fingers.)
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Postby playingdead » Tue Apr 08, 2008 4:57 pm

And, just for fun, I ran the preamp out of the Twin head into the poweramp and JBLs ... a really nice, clean sound from there, as well, comparable to the Trio. Output was a little hotter, but not by a whole lot.

I would say that the biggest difference in sound between a blackface or silverface with blackface mods Twin and a Trio is almost wholly the power amp stage of the Twin itself, it's much brighter, hissier and brittle sounding. I suppose I could try 40 different varieties of power tubes to get around THAT issue (I am running a JJ 6L6 quartet) but I'm not going down that particular road.

The nice thing about the Trio is it gives you the other channels as well ... the Mean channel is like a terrific Marshall head, and the Scream channel is sicko high gain territory. So, you can have the "Jerry" sound, and then also dial in and play a whole bunch of other stuff, too, if you want.
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Postby jenkins » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:23 pm

Thanks for posting your experiments playingdead. Very interesting. The hissing sound is one thing that pisses me off with vintage amps. Its nothing really when playing live but whenever ive tried to record a vintage amp I've had bad luck. One reason why I don't think I want to go vintage, I've been doing a lot of recording lately and probably will be for a while.

What kind of power amp were you using for the test?

Is your TRIO>poweramp> 2x12 cab pretty much silent? Is there a small hiss?
Thanks a lot bro

.
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Postby jenkins » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:27 pm

The other thing I was thinkin about the TRIO is th fact that i can put it in a rack.
So that means I can use a mcintosh without having to add an extra trip carrying the gear.
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Postby playingdead » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:15 pm

An ART SLA-2 power amp is what I have now ...

The rig was very quiet with the power amp and Trio, yes.

The McIntosh is a great setup, but those things are super heavy, man, one site says they are 128 pounds. You want to carry that beast in a rack with all your other gear?
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Postby jenkins » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:45 pm

Well I won't be getting the mc2300. that is just too big for my needs, in weight and wattage.

Im proably getting a mc2205. 2x200w 400w mono and will fit in a rack. Much lighter than the mc2300.

128 pounds is just way too much to carry in and out of gigs
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Re: Groove Tubes Trio preamp

Postby FEBBDAYBAND » Fri Apr 02, 2010 4:09 am

Hello all. I found this link by accident tonight and by shear gravitational force I was compelled to join up and comment based on my endless search to nail down the Garcia tone dragon! I made lots of phone calls and emails over the years and even went down to visit some of the folks who made it all possible back in the day. One thing that's clear... The Grateful Dead were the most experimental band in music history (and not just with the drugs!). LOL ...that included just about every piece of electronic equipment known to man (and some that will never be). It was a forty year moving laboratory for the entire manufacturing community!

Anyway, I mean absolutely NO disrespect to anyone who commented previously, but I feel the need to correct some widely held beliefs about the Grateful Dead equipment usage that I learned from the proverbial "horses mouths" over the years.

1) As far as I know Jerry never played live in the 90's without a speaker being miced - even when you couldn't see it. Most people don't know that for all those years - back behind his racks - sat a small 1x12 cabinet with a mic attached. They wanted a backup in case anything happened to his main rig in the middle of a song. This way if a tube or a speaker blew the stage mix engineer could just pull down a fader and the offending sound was removed from the audience's ears.

This was blended with many different signals (some miced in front of his larger JBL cabinets and some direct to the board or as sends from an effects loop). When they played around with in-ear monitors they fed that miced-up signal into the monitor mix. But, I don't belive he ever went direct alone because back in the 90's most direct sends just sounded kind of "processed". Remember, this is pre-digital amp modeling which brings me to...

2) The "acoustic tone" that SOOOO many people keep refering to as "weak" or somehow different from Jerry's previous sound was from a Mike Christian Tune-O-Matic Piezo saddle. It was an innovative (and invisible) bridge saddle system that ran six little wires from each saddle to a preamp which was blended with Jerry's electric buffered preamp system. This blend is also why from night to night the tone would sometimes change radically from VERY acoustic - almost jug band acoustic tones and back to the very usual electric tone we were used to hearing. I say it was invisible because the wiring was hidden under the saddles (which were direct replacements) and routed internally so there was nothing visible to notice. I tried some right around the time of Jerry's death and low and behold it sounded just like the big guy.

Also, so many people here seem to refer to certain equipment as having been used during one set time frame or another... one thing for sure that I learned from all my conversations with various engineers and designers from Meyersound, GrooveTubes, Mesa Boogie, Hard Truckers, TC Electronic, Tube Works, etc, etc... the band and it's road crew changed around things night after night, show after show, month in month out and year by year. They would modify, rewire, retube, refine just about every piece of gear the band used on stage and off in a constant flux, so it's damn near IMPOSSIBLE to say ANY piece of gear had a time frame or era. They brought stuff from the 70's back in the 90's and mixed things up constantly. The only true constants I know of from about the 70's on were Jerry's pickups (DiMarzio's) and his JBL speakers loaded into custom made - recently available - Hard Trucker's 13 ply european birch cabinets.

I'm trying not to rant - it's just always been funny how many assumptions have become "facts" over the years on chat rooms. I truly don't mean to ruffle anyone's feathers. It's just amusing how many rumors became truth so quickly after Jerry's death. ;)

So, as far as chasing the fatman's tone? Here's my two cents after twenty years of this obsession:

1) Get the pickups... find yourself some vintage DiMarzio's just like Jer's. Strap them to a log of a guitar - something really solid and heavy with either an ebony fingerboard or even graphite if you have to. This got me more than half way and was definitely the single biggest obstacle to nailing down the fatman's elusive tone.
2) Get the GT Trio... there's few options out there that really nail the sound of those old silverface preamps. I bet Jer was psyched the day he first plugged into that realiable new circuit that sounded cleaner, warmer and hiss free! I sure was.
3) Get the JBL's... you can use any speaker under the sun (there are more speaker choices than guitar players these days) and many of them are outstanding. However, if you're looking for one of those last 'pieces of the puzzle' to get Jer's presence and body, you need the JBL's and a sufficient amp (tube or solid state) to drive them. At this point, I'd recommend either a GT D75 (which Jerry never actually used but is THE best sounding and by far the most versitile tube amp I've heard) or a CROWN K1 (not the K2) which does a nice job at mimmicking the old McIntosh MC2300 and it's less than 40lbs and hermetically sealed with NO FAN!!! Great product live and/or in the studio but also out of production from what I hear. They do pop up on Ebay from time to time though.

I will try to find some of the more interesting email correspondances I've had over the years and post clips and photos I was given from the "horses mouths" so to speak. Anyway, good luck to all on your personal "tone voyaaaage".
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Re: Groove Tubes Trio preamp

Postby hogan » Fri Apr 02, 2010 5:51 am

FEBBDAYBAND wrote:Hello all. I found this link by accident tonight and by shear gravitational force I was compelled to join up and comment based on my endless search to nail down the Garcia tone dragon! I made lots of phone calls and emails over the years and even went down to visit some of the folks who made it all possible back in the day. One thing that's clear... The Grateful Dead were the most experimental band in music history (and not just with the drugs!). LOL ...that included just about every piece of electronic equipment known to man (and some that will never be). It was a forty year moving laboratory for the entire manufacturing community!

Anyway, I mean absolutely NO disrespect to anyone who commented previously, but I feel the need to correct some widely held beliefs about the Grateful Dead equipment usage that I learned from the proverbial "horses mouths" over the years.

1) As far as I know Jerry never played live in the 90's without a speaker being miced - even when you couldn't see it. Most people don't know that for all those years - back behind his racks - sat a small 1x12 cabinet with a mic attached. They wanted a backup in case anything happened to his main rig in the middle of a song. This way if a tube or a speaker blew the stage mix engineer could just pull down a fader and the offending sound was removed from the audience's ears.

This was blended with many different signals (some miced in front of his larger JBL cabinets and some direct to the board or as sends from an effects loop). When they played around with in-ear monitors they fed that miced-up signal into the monitor mix. But, I don't belive he ever went direct alone because back in the 90's most direct sends just sounded kind of "processed". Remember, this is pre-digital amp modeling which brings me to...

2) The "acoustic tone" that SOOOO many people keep refering to as "weak" or somehow different from Jerry's previous sound was from a Mike Christian Tune-O-Matic Piezo saddle. It was an innovative (and invisible) bridge saddle system that ran six little wires from each saddle to a preamp which was blended with Jerry's electric buffered preamp system. This blend is also why from night to night the tone would sometimes change radically from VERY acoustic - almost jug band acoustic tones and back to the very usual electric tone we were used to hearing. I say it was invisible because the wiring was hidden under the saddles (which were direct replacements) and routed internally so there was nothing visible to notice. I tried some right around the time of Jerry's death and low and behold it sounded just like the big guy.




While I disagree w/ almost everything you said, this in particular is not true. The Christian unit was not on any of jerry's stage guitars. It may have been going to be added on future guitars but it never saw the light of day. The wires are very visible on the Christian bridges.
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Re: Groove Tubes Trio preamp

Postby High Peaks » Fri Apr 02, 2010 6:07 am

Interesting post. The whole speaker being miced behing the line makes sense.

As far as Dimarzio--> Silverface peramp--> Strong Poweramp--. JBLs goes I completely agree. After you have that all you need to do is turn way up and you have Garcia's tone. Not necessarily his chops, but his tone!
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Re: Groove Tubes Trio preamp

Postby SarnoMusicSolutions » Fri Apr 02, 2010 6:22 am

I distinctly remember the summer of '94, talking to John Cutler at the sound board about Jerry's anemic tone. He said Jerry was going direct from the GT Trio rig, and they were indeed discussing the idea of miking a JBL back stage somewhere to get back THAT sound, but at the moment there was no speaker. I'm not sure if they ever did come back and add the JBL, but no doubt for a time there post-Healy, there was just the direct sound. This is that glassy, sandpapery sound that typified 1994. Some people thought it was the piezo Christian pickups adding that acoustic sound, but much of that factor was simply from going direct and not having a guitar speaker to roll out the tweetery highs. But I honestly thought I did hear those piezo type pickups on one of his guitars because there was a very acoustic-y sounding tone on certain songs.

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Re: Groove Tubes Trio preamp

Postby strumminsix » Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:02 am

FEBBDAYBAND wrote:Hello all.


Hello and welcome! There are some real pro's that hang out here so I think it might be best to cite your sources vs. "horse's mouth".

I am not one of them but some of our brethren are in regular communication with some of the "horses" and have gone through some of Jerry's guitars.
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Re: Groove Tubes Trio preamp

Postby CoolBreeze » Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:06 am

I seem to recall reading an article where Parish was talking about the Cripe guitars, and how people kept asking about the piezo pickup. Steve said it didn't have any- that was strictly an inherent quality of the Bolt and Tophat.

I wish I could remember where I read that-
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Re: Groove Tubes Trio preamp

Postby playingdead » Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:42 am

Gary Brawer has stated that none of Garcia's stage guitars -- the Bolt in particular -- had piezos installed. Since he wired them, I would take that as a definitive "no."

As for the other Cripes that were being built, and were never used onstage, it's anybody's guess.
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Re: Groove Tubes Trio preamp

Postby jackevorkian » Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:47 am

Did he ever simulate an acoustic guitar with his midi? There is definitely an acoustic quality to his '93 and later tone that could be attributed to the Cripe, or buffers, or in ears, etc....but every so often I'll hear a show where there is a tune that is undeniably "acoustic". The licks and playing are too fast, fluid and bendy for it to actually be Jerry on an acoustic guitar, but it is absolutely an intentional acoustic sound...either piezo or midi. I'll try to dig up an example.
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Re: Groove Tubes Trio preamp

Postby tigerstrat » Fri Apr 02, 2010 7:48 am

I thought it was Brawer who testified as to the non-existence of the piezo transducers...

Anyway the thin, faux-acoustic tone was not inherent to any of the guitars. Heard in JGB applications, Bolt sounded warm and electric (check out Youtube of 11/11/93) I would be much more inclined to attribute it to the lack of a guitar speaker, as Brad stated.
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