Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

 #134645  by claytushaywood
 Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:10 am
I've always wondered why there isnt more use of the stratoblaster. With my D Allen pickups and a fender twin combo amp, it is a helluva combo for that 72 jerry tone. The fattest and best jerry tone IMO. I started thinking about this because I have had the stratoblaster in my strat for so long I forgot how important it is to jerry's strat tone. The other day I played my buddies strat- which is nearly identical to mine with the same exact pickups, and we were both blown away at how much different the tone along with dynamic response and attack felt with the stratoblaster. The D Allen's are pretty good for a jerry tone on their own, but the stratoblaster is absolutely crucial for getting that quick attack and maintaining your treble content, sparkle and shimmer when you roll down the volume knob.

I was thinking nobody really uses em, cuz noone is selling em. And I would like to share in the spirit of the grateful dead and offer them for a stupid cheap price.

I was also thinking I could offer them in a number of different platforms-
1.) which would be the cheapest- would be you install yourself completely (like the waldo buffer)
2.)pedal form
3.) Sent out connected to a 9v battery snap and a stereo switching jack (a new output jack for your guitar that disconnects the battery when you unplug your cable. i'd have the output and ground wired up to the jack and I could also install screw in wire terminals for the input and ground from your pickups. This means installation would be as easy as cutting two wires (the output from your pickups and ground) strip the ends and connect the stratoblaster in the middle with simple to use screw in wire terminals. install the new jack (tighten a nut) and you're done!

I think having just a little bit of boost is the best way to run this pedal for jerry tones. I could offer it with your choice of a set boost (i just use my stock volume knob with it) or I could put a trim pot on there so you can adjust the boost to your taste. The stroblaster is nescessary for that early jerry alligator tone. And jfet boost/buffers just sound awesome.

I'm thinking my price would be about $55 with a switchraft output jack and screw in terminals. You would just need a small screw driver and wire stripper to install (you wouldnt even really need wire strippers honestly). 2 wires- that's it.

The pedal I could do in a teeny tiny 1590a enclosure (check out the "malekko omnicron series" for an idea of the dimensions of the 1590a enclosure) I was also thinking I could do it in an even smaller enclosure with a clip to hook onto your strat with just a toggle switch for on and off. External versions can come with a gain knob for control over the amount of boost.

I would also offer installation services and could do custom stuff like a switchable tiger buffer/stratoblaster/no buffer 3 way toggle

Let me know if you're interested!
 #134651  by waldo041
 Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:44 am
Exactly why i am not mass producing my version with correct parts and spec'd transistor as the one his would have had.


 #134652  by tommybo
 Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:57 am
I could never give up my strat o blaster- I too have had mine for so long- so many uses
 #134653  by schmidtz
 Tue Dec 03, 2013 8:15 am
Are you going to use the E230? I could only ever find a J230 (from Tayda), and when I tried to make mine on strip board it only let out loud squeals....
 #134655  by waldo041
 Tue Dec 03, 2013 8:39 am
schmidtz wrote:Are you going to use the E230? I could only ever find a J230 (from Tayda), and when I tried to make mine on strip board it only let out loud squeals....
I do have some e230's(thanks leo) but the j230's have identical specs to the e230 except for the case, and i have a small stash of those. Wickersham also stated to me he used these when the e230 went obsolete, they do not use it now. I have tested my version side by side with an original blaster with an e230 jfet and the results were identical. I also put in my circuit the currently used jfet's a j201 and 2n5457 and they had different characteristics to the e/j230. The currently used jfets do work in the circuit but without a doubt a big factor in getting things identical to the original circuitis using the correct jfet. That said, you could change the circuit by rebiasing for the jfet you use to try and get things similar to the original. I do not believe wickersham did that, he just threw in a different jfet, so i am not sure rebiasing is the answer.

 #134663  by hippieguy1954
 Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:50 pm
I'm not sure. I would have to compare the parts list. There are slightly different variations flying around.

I use an Alembic in one guitar and a GGG in another. They are slightly different from each other, but I can't hear it. I like them both, a lot!

Then there's all these :shock:
 #134664  by claytushaywood
 Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:04 pm
I know about people offering stratoblaster pedals, there are complete- non kit- pedals you can buy. But I didnt know alembic was offering them actually. and that jack plate is a nice addition. But that jack plate makes it only useable with a strat unless you wanna dismantle it. Mine would be half the price if you install it yourself and wouldnt require wire nuts which I absolutely hate. The screw in terminals are much more compact and the hold a lot better in my experience.

Regarding the e230. These are obsolete and I havent been able to find any e230's, but that doesnt mean we cant enjoy the stratoblaster. I do have a source for j230's and it is electronically identical to the e230. The important part of this circuit is that I bias each unit specifically. There is a good deal of variation from jfet to jfet (yes, the same exact models coming off the same line have a good deal of variation) and a resistor must be adjusted to achieve the proper bias.

now regarding installation- if you have a guitar with a tiger buffer I would be willing to install the stratoblaster into that guitar and change the usual on/off switch for the buffer to a 3 way "on/off/on" switch that would allow you to get tiger/no buffer/stratoblaster setup.

Another option for getting this buffer would be something similar to a nicely priced alembic product

a stratoblaster in the middle of a cable. Mine definitely would not have a nice little wooden box, but it also would not cost anywhere near $400- I'm thinking $175 would be a more honest price. I would use canare gs6 cable (or mogami) and some nice amphenol jacks. and I think the design would be much better if the buiffer (stratoblaster) was placed closer to the guitar end of the cable- not just because closer to the pickups is electronically 'better' as your pickups dont have to drive as much cable before seeing the buffer, but also because I am looking into adding a clip to the buffers enclosure that would allow you to clip it onto your guitar strap. I would also put a true bypass toggle switch on it so turning off the tiger buffer and turning on the stratoblaster would be easily done in between or even during songs. This cable requires no extra installation cost (or diy work) or hassel on your end and no internal modifications to your guitars. This would also allow you to use the stratoblaster on any guitar. and it would be better than a pedal because A.) the buffer would be very close to the pickups- i know a lot of guys like using long cables with their jerry pedal boards in the back and the sheer power of a 3 12" JBL speaker cab and Mcintosh amp. so having a buffer after 10" of cable would be quite a bit better than at the end of 20' of cable. B.) you'd also be getting a killer cable out of the deal- a cable that Hard Truckers charges $36 for 10ft and $50 for 20' lengths- I also would use these particular amphenol jacks that have an awesome strain relief design that will survive years of abuse. C.) you wouldnt have to put an extra pedal on your board and use an extra patch cable and have extra jacks to make contact between. But mostly because it would be very close to your pickups and there is a reason that buffers have historically been installed inside your guitars cavity.

I am gonna build a prototype of it today. I would have built one already but I've had the stratoblaster installed inside my guitar for some time.

So the reasons I thought I would offer it
-proper bias and construction- including proper component compositons. The tantalum caps were in several parts of jerry's signal and they are key to the dist + and the stratoblaster.
-universal installation/ease of installation
-installation services

I know a lot of guys have the super 2's and tiger setup. But lets not forget the old alligator into twin reverb setup. A little dirty and classic tone. I love the grit jerry got out of his alligator setup and having a little extra gain off the strat pickups gets you there nicely. I also have strong convictions about the MXR dist + and have built a couple of true to vintage dist + pedals for a couple local deadheads. I've never met a pedal where component composition was so crucial, and the (somewhat) recently released dist + from MXR that is supposed to be true to vintage has metal film resistors in it! I build mine with NOS tantalums and the correct caps in the correct places with NOS carbon comps, NOS 1n270 diodes, NOS 741, full sized pots all measured within tighter tolerances- along with modern amenities like true bypass and an LED with high quality wire.

Sorry for the long post- I just really want you guys to try this stuff out- as it seems the stratoblaster and dist + isnt very popular on this forum.

If there's anyone out there that has a good recording setup for demoes and maybe one of those other guys stratoblasters and the modern MXR dist + I'd be glad to send out some of my builds for some shootout action
 #134666  by milobender
 Tue Dec 03, 2013 2:35 pm
I've had the UGB or Stratoblaster, or Passive as standard equipment on all my builds and modifications from the beginning... it's a nice combination.

 #134667  by barefootdave
 Tue Dec 03, 2013 5:34 pm
I knew Alembic was expensive, but didn't realize their prices weren't honest. That's helpful information.
 #134668  by James-T
 Tue Dec 03, 2013 6:15 pm
OK, I definitely want one! Its been on my too do list and I even emailed Alembic, but their customer support appears to be non-existant unless you are dropping 10K for a 6K guitar.

Let me know what's up, should I PM you? Mike, do you already offer one?


James :smile:
 #134678  by milobender
 Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:46 pm
I can make you one too... on a plate if that's what you want to do. PM me if you are interested.