Stratifier is an amp that I built in the fall of 2012 and tweaked until
I was happy with it in early 2013. I started out with a design by Honeydip on the Amp Garage
forum. Honeydip had married a D-style preamp section having simplified
tone control circuitry to a single ended EL84 poweramp taken from the AX84 website. I had been wanting to try a D-style amp but didn't need 50 - 100W so I thought I'd build his circuit.
completion I tried the amp with and all my speakers and guitars. The
immediate positives were the sustain and the way notes would hang, the
touch sensitivity, and the clean tone with my strat, particularly
through my Weber ceramic Signature 12
speaker. On the down side, to me the OD channel was quite bright and
harsh and I felt that humbuckers had too much of an edge on the OD
So, the mods started. I decided to sculpt the amp for the Weber Sig 12 ceramic speaker (which is a great value at just over $40) and single coil Fender style guitars. Here is sort of the path I followed:
1. Replaced both 12AX7's in the preamp with 12AY7's (new EH's).
Reworked Honeydip's "Mild" control on the OD channel to be a much more
significant Low Pass shelving filter to mellow the OD harshness. I just call it OD Tone now.
Added switchable coupling caps between the first tube and second tube
to control the amount of bass frequencies sent to the OD
channel. I call it the OD Fat switch, which I labeled "Off -
Medium - Max" fatness. Max fatness is the original Honeydip circuit.
Added a Dana Hall VVR board to allow dialing back the volume while
maintaining tone. This worked so well that I changed the existing
Master Volume to a clean volume so that the balance between the clean
and OD channels can be easily set.
5. Added a slight treble cut to the clean channel and labeled it the bright switch.
Added a Weber low power switching relay board for footswitching bewteen
the clean and OD channels (there is a front panel switch too that works
when the footswitch is not plugged in).
a resistor to the bottom of the OD level pot. This prevents you from
going to zero volume for the OD channel (who would need to?) but gets a little more output
delivered to the Power Tube.
result is very cool, I think. I have loaned it to several friends now
and everyone really enjoys it. It is still a single coil, Strat and
Tele kinda amp. Think "blues machine". The clean sound definitely
impresses everyone - especially if you hang it on the edge of starting
to break up - you know, the "warm clean" thing - both by cranking the
preamp gain and by pushing the power tube a little. The only
disadvantage when you get really into the "pushing the power tube thing for warm clean" is that the OD channel is slightly lower
volume than the clean channel. Weird, but I remember Honeydip noticing
something similar in his amp. However
you can get a great match between the OD channel and a clean tone that
doesn't push the power tube much and it sounds excellent on both
are some sound clips from me and an excellent guitarist friend, Nate
Hundley, from the prog rock band Hysterical Society. All mine are on a
strat, Nate's are on a tele. I
miked with an SM57 just off center at the speaker grill and a Rode NT1A
back about 6 feet for ambience. Nate used a Fathead ribbon mic
positioned a foot or two in front of the speaker cabinet (see below),
which, by the way, is a little 1 x 12 combo open backed cabinet that at
one point in its life had a Peavey Bandit transistor amp in it. Both of us used Reaper as our recording software and I added a tiny bit of reverb to my clips.
For those that can't wait to know how much distortion it generates, I
start this clip clean on the mid/bridge combo pickup and then switch to
the bridge pickup when I kick the distortion in about 7 seconds in.
It's not a high gain amp, so don't expect that, but it does generate a
nice thick OD tone.
The best demo of the warm clean tone was done by my friend Nate Hundley
of the band Hysterical Society with his Tele. Nate plays finger style
and really shows how touch sensitive the amp is.
Clip 3: This clip shows various clean and light to medium OD settings with the neck and neck/mid pickups
This clip is various clean and OD settings with the bridge, middle and
bridge/mid combo pickups. The riff at 0:27 is clean and then repeated with light OD at
0:34. Same thing at 0:42 - first clean, then with OD at 0:49.
are two demos of the "OD Fat" switch effect. It is somewhat subtle, but
you feel it a lot when you play it, both in the thickness of the notes
and the fuzz of the bass strings. In each clip I play the same basic
riff four times: (1) clean, (2) OD Fat off, (3) OD Fat Medium, and (4)
OD Fat Max.
Clip 5 Clip 6
Clip 7: Another nice clip of the OD channel done by Nate.
Gut Shots and Construction
amp was built in a 16 x 8 x 3 inch chassis that had previously housed
my Firefly amp. I built an eyelet board and the initial build was very
clean and nice. But then the mods started. I did my best to keep things
tidy, but after moving controls around on the panel and adding the VVR
and relay boards, it got a little messier. Thankfully, it is still
Labeled VVR and Relay boards
Closeup of board and controls
Front Panel Layout
Rear Panel Layout
And yes, it will go in a cabinet soon. Learned how to hand cut dovetails doing this one. And I am working on a faceplate.