Hi-Watt Amps

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ottokbre
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Hi-Watt Amps

Post by ottokbre » Fri May 30, 2003 10:51 am

Hi-Watt Amps. Which models are the real grabbers?

I'm basicly looking for a super huge clean tone that can fill a decent stage, and compete with a loud drummer. I've though about a Plexi or a Twin, but I wanna head to push a 4x10 with some good definition. Is this what I am lokking for?

This would be for a live set up, not a recording one.
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Re: Hi-Watt Amps

Post by joel hamilton » Fri May 30, 2003 11:37 am

Hiwatts are great. just make sure it is either an older one or a newer one. the ones from the late 80's/early 90's have pc boards in them and they do nothing but murkify. I have a 100 watt plexi that I really like. the other guitarist in a band i play in has a beautiful late 60's hiwatt 50 watt that is just gorgeous. chimey clean brutal rock drive.

i think the cruddy ones have DM in the name like "DM100."

i cant remember.

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Re: Hi-Watt Amps

Post by Catoogie » Fri May 30, 2003 11:38 am

If you want a Hiwatt then you want to get either a Custom 50 and Custom 100 DR series head. These are the original, early hand wired heads when Dave Reeves was around.

Keep in mind that a 100 watt Hiwatt is REEEEAAALLLY LOUD!! Depending on where you're gonna be playing a 50-Watter is gonna be more than enough. The tone is huge, warm and clean. I would suggest you go with a Hiwatt 4x12 cabinet though. There's something about pushing one of those cabs loaded with Fane speakers.

Plexis are great amps but I wouldn't really say they are clean amps. Go woth the Hiwatt!!

Good Luck!

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Re: Hi-Watt Amps

Post by Bear's Gone Fission » Fri May 30, 2003 10:23 pm

Absolutely bypass American made Hiwatts. These are generic late 80's hair metal era amps with none of the real character.

The Lead models are a maybe proposition. I have a Lead 50R combo which is okay, can sound fairly Hiwatt (Svetlanna EL-34's got it a lot closer), though they can (fairly generically) shove into other territory. I'm keeping it for now, but only until I can get my hands on a . . .

Custom. The Custom 50 and 100, in head or "Bulldog" combo's (not to be confused with the recent "Bulldog" combo w/o the Custom designation) are the real deal. I believe there are some variant signature models that had limited production as well, and these are basically mods on the basic Custom formula. The characterization of the Custom is typically as a clean amp, and while it does have a lot of headroom and transparency, their is a color to it. There is a thump and grindiness to the lows, a certain jangle and chiminess through the mids and highs. It's a dry sound, not a lot of compression like say a Vox. The suckers project and push air, which is great live where Marshalls can sometimes become mush. Any of the original Customs are great, and I've heard good things about some of the reissue versions.

If you've got the bucks, the Harry Joyce amps are faithful copies or derivatives of classic designs, and are handwired just as neatly as the classics, at least that's what I hear. If you look hard enough, the originals will present them at prices that are ridiculously low for what they are, though, so i don't see the necessity.

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Re: Hi-Watt Amps

Post by foley » Sat May 31, 2003 11:40 am

Gotta chime in on this one.

The bass player in my first band had a custom 50 laying around in his basement for months and I was too stupid (18 years old) to know what the hell it was as I tried to crank my little Crate 150 or whatever the hell that sucky amp was. He ended up trading the hiwatt head for a farfisa, etc., etc....

Years later he gets the head back and now I'm not a moron (well - at least not about hiwatts) and I can still remember the first time I plucked a D major throught the Orange 4x10 underneath it. Ahhhh...

Those custom 50s have a clean sound that is not particularly bright, but is full in a way that will not step on the bass player's frequencies. If you can find a custom 50 (70s?) you need to buy it.

Sadly, the bass player ended up trading the hiwatt for something else down the road, but I did get his Acoustic 220 bass head with the 402 cab (w/2 monster 15s!) before he unloaded it. Ahhh....

mf

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Re: Hi-Watt Amps

Post by BrianK » Sun Jun 01, 2003 4:19 am

Having loved Pete Townshend's HIWATT sound above all (is there a better reason to love Hiwatt?), it turns out he was using modified PA Head circuits. I found a 100W PA Head from the early 1970's/ It sound bigger, warmer, less glassy and brittle-bright than the other guitar heads. Try it. Usually peopol "want" a Hiwaat to sound like something they imagine in their mind - they are often disappointed. I think the PA head comes close to this ideal sound.... clean and full of harmonics and punch.
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Re: Hi-Watt Amps

Post by Bear's Gone Fission » Sun Jun 01, 2003 10:08 am

Aw, hell, Brian, did you have to let people in on that? There are so damn few PA heads of any variety floating around, and now I've gotta compete with everyone else who now knows to look for them.

Well, okay, the cat is out of the bag. PA heads from Hiwatt, Orange, and Marshall can be amazing bargains. They don't have the treble emphasis standard for most lead amps which can be an advantage to some, or easily modified for others. Also, they usually 4 channels instead of two so you can bridge in two more channels to overdrive the power section with. I've seen once a silverface Fender PA head that probably had similar potential. With 4 channels, you can mod each for a distinct tonality to select or combine to quadruple your pleasure.

Brian, just don't go and tell them about using old bass heads from these makers for guitar. It would kill me if that got out.

Bear

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Re: Hi-Watt Amps

Post by Catoogie » Sun Jun 01, 2003 3:12 pm

Here is the deal with Pete Townshend's Hiwatt amps. Never before did I hear he used Hiwatt PA tops.

The stage amplifier Pete Townshend used almost exclusively from 1970 to 1982. He began using the Hiwatt CP103 after using modified Sound City L100 amplifiers with Hiwatt badges, which he used beginning late 1968. The first actual Hiwatt models featured the same circuit as the CP103 but did not feature the "The Who" branded control panel faceplate. The first CP103s with "The Who" faceplates appeared in 1970.

Pete had seven of these amps custom-built for him based on the Hiwatt DR103 design between 1969 and 1976 by Dave Reeves of Hylight Electronics with the following factory modifications:

CUSTOM HIWATT 100 “The Who” faceplate.
Instrument inputs linked together and boosted by an additional 10db.
Middle and presence controls were rendered inactive at the factory, leaving bass and treble.
Two additional volume controls added to give increased gain and flexibility at both the pre- and post- gain stages.
Output stage boosted to deliver 120 watts R.M.S. into an 8 Ohm load.

With the custom modifications, CP103 amp controls are, from left to right: four inputs, four volume controls (one for each input), bass, treble, master volume, standby, and mains. There are four 12AX7 preamp tubes and four EL34 power tubes. The rear panel contains voltage and impedance selectors and two speaker output jacks. Hiwatt amps of this period, in general, featured Partridge transformers, point-to-point military spec wiring (courtesy of Harry Joyce), bell-like sound and “Spartan” reliability.

Pete plugged these amps into one Hiwatt SE4123 4x12 cabinet each (bottoms are usually dummy cabinets), loaded with four 50-watt Fane 12" speakers, voiced for increased bass response, or four 50-watt JBL K120 12" speakers.

In his standard setup, three amplifiers total are used onstage, two shelved in a custom rack unit, with one on top of the rack unit. One amplifier is backup. The two amplifiers employed each drive one of the top two SE1123 4x12s, with the bottom two being dummy cabinets. In this setup, the guitar signal runs from the guitar, to the effect pedal sitting in front of the amplifiers (next to the drumkit), out to a junction box mounted to the side or back of the rack unit, which splits the signal out to the two active amplifiers. Usually, the top left input is used (#1) on both amplifiers.

For effects in his classic setup, through 1978, he used a Univox Superfuzz pedal; and from 1979-1985 an MXR Dyna Comp pedal. (For other modifications to his rig during these periods, see the main equipment index.)

He used the CP103 on stage from early 1970 through the end of the Who’s primary touring career in 1982.

In 1974, 1977, 1978, 1982 and 1985, he used amplifiers similar to the CP103 — the Hiwatt DR103W. These models featured a similar circuit and controls to the CP103, with no “The Who” faceplate, and five 12AX7 preamp tubes (instead of four as in the CP103) and four EL34 power tubes. Controls are, from left to right: four inputs, four volume controls (two for “Normal Vols.,” two for “Brilliant Vols.”), Bass, Treble, Master Volume, Standby, and Mains.

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