Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #111004  by FBlades95
 Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:42 pm
So I have the option of getting a late sixties, blackface wired Dual Showman head w/ reverb, for around the same price as the SMS Classic and a used SS poweramp. Which should I go for? ALSO, I've been running from my guitar to a little Vibro Champ XD, then to a Hot Rod Deville. I think it sounds better this way, other than just going to the Deville. Is this because there are only two preamp stages in the Deville? I know that there are three in the SMS. Please help!
 #111005  by wolftigerrosebud
 Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:02 pm
That's tough dude... it's hard to go wrong.

Well, though the variations will be different, they'll give you two different sounds. To compare it to Jerry's tone through the years, the blackface would probably be more like pre-hiatus Jerry, capable of getting super beefy and dirty sounding, whereas the SMS and SS power amp would give you (I think) a little more option to go either way, with more late 70s or 80s sounding Jerry stuff or a really very convincing 60s sound without being truly the sound of like 8 6l6 tubes or however many it is in one of those big old heads.

If it was me I'd go with the SMS. Best of both worlds and a lot of room for variations outside of the specifically Jerry style -- makes an incredibly beautiful sounding jazz amp. Also, Brad's an awesome guy and I like paying for his work. And, because it'd be made after it was ordered, it will presumably need less upkeep and will be more reliable than a 40 year old amp.

But, like i said, I feel as though it's impossible to go wrong with these two things as your choices. I doubt you'll be unhappy either way.
 #111030  by Pete B.
 Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:40 am
I was in a similar position, and decided to buy a DSR for $575 and have it modded (another coupla2-3'hun$ iirc).
I would grab the SMS rig.
All the mods are done, and it's way lighter.
What is the amp?
 #111033  by wolftigerrosebud
 Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:03 am
The SMS is worth it for the resistor customization options alone... the carbon-film one Brad put in mine sounds just incredible. Never played an amp that does high notes as much justice as the SMS, including all-original blackfaces with JBLs that I've played.
 #111047  by JonnyBoy
 Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:41 pm
SMS dude. It is exactly what you would want done, mod wise, to a real 65 twin to make that sound even better (if that's possible). Once you have that you can go through all kinds of power sections to get whatever "power tone" you want.... Want clean headroom and jerry's exact 80's tone, get a mac. Want a good blues tone with 6l6 breakup? plug into a low wattage amp through the effects return. It sounds awesome through my 40 watt HRD through the "power amp in". A buddy of mine let his SMS go when he joined a country band and moved to a mesa lonestar, he owns a few choice fender amps like a real 65 super reverb and a deluxe. He claims the SMS beats 'em all and will get another one day just to have on hand. Now that's an endorsement.
 #111048  by brbadg
 Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:32 pm
That's what I was looking for.Hot Rod Deluxes are cheap,although they might need a tweak here or there.The Sms through the effects loop was what I was thinking of.Back on track,heading over to ebay...
 #111049  by jeager
 Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:42 pm
Wicked happy with the SMS. I got the carbon-film mod with mine and have tried it with a MAC, and other solid state power amps but have settled on (and love) the Mesa 50/50 power amp which is not solid state. So you have options. I can't stop playing the thing and everybody comments on the awesome tone. Brad is a great guy to deal with as well...
 #111113  by NSP
 Thu Mar 15, 2012 7:39 am
Yup, I just took ownership of my SMS this week and couldn't be happier. All the kind words written on this forum about Brad and his products are dead on. My pre is currently paired with a Carvin Tube100 (thanks Jim S.) and is everything I hoped it would be. Can't wait to gig with it this weekend!