Posts tagged ‘tube’

02/05/2018

Bluetone’s ”Gothenburg Special” Fried Eye Played By Tuomas Wäinölä

Finnish top guitarist Tuomas Wäinölä demonstrates a few of the Bluetone Fried Eye Special’s tones using a Bluetone 4 x 10″ cabinet.

Guitars used:

• 1968 Fender Stratocaster

• 1967 Gibson ES-335

• 2013 Gibson Custom Shop ’59 Les Paul Standard

Cable used: UTA Vari-Cap

The audio was recorded with a Shure SM57 and an AKG C414 plugged into a UTA MPDI-4 running into Pro Tools HD.

For additional audio clips go to: http://www.bluetone.fi/fried-eye/

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Audio recorded and produced by Tuomas Wäinölä at Sunbeam Imperial Studio.

Video filmed and edited by Martin Berka for Bluetone Custom Amplifiers.

27/02/2018

Bluetone Goes Gothenburg

Watch Bluetone’s Harry and Matti build a special tube amp head for this year’s Fuzz Guitar Show in Gothenburg (Sweden).

29/01/2018

Review: Bluetone Shadows Jr.

Following in the wake of their very popular Shadows Reverb combo, Finnish boutique makers Bluetone Amps have recently introduced a smaller sibling, called the Shadows Jr.

The Bluetone Shadows Jr. (combo starting at around 1,300 €) is a hand-built, all-valve guitar combo, whose sound is based on the classic Vox AC15. Instead of being a straight, slavish copy, though, the Shadows Jr. incorporates many of the up-to-date features that have made Bluetone such a well-regarded boutique maker.

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The Shadows Jr. has the clean and business-like looks that active players truly appreciate. You don’t want to be slowed down on stage by a control panel that’s hard to decipher. The Bluetone is clarity itself.

This is a single-channel all-valve combo running in Class AB mode giving you maximum output power at just over 10 watts.

The Shadows Jr. is designed around a trio of 12AX7 preamp tubes and a pair of EL84s powering the speaker. The combo’s power valves are cathode-biased, which means that swapping tubes won’t necessitate a trip to your friendly amp technician.

Bluetone is one of the very few amp makers who use torroidal power transformers. These doughnut-shaped devices (the black thing in the upper left corner) are lighter and more dependable than traditional transformer designs, and they offer more exact tolerances. As a valve amp is highly dependable on a stable and electronically quiet power supply for superior tone, Bluetone decided on using torroidal transformers early on, and they’ve never looked back.

The Warehouse Guitar Speakers Green Beret is an excellent choice for a strongly Brit-flavoured combo. Bluetone break in all of the speakers they use with low-frequency sine waves.

Despite being a compact single-channel combo amp (weighing only around 10 kg), the Bluetone Shadows Jr. offers an amazing amount of different clean and gain tones, thanks in no small part to the amp’s PPIMV master volume and the three-step OPC-switch.

PPIMV stands for ”post-power inverter master volume”, which is the preferred way of master volume design at Bluetone Amps, because it eats up the least amount of an amplifier’s tone, when in use. And if you turn the master volume knob all the way up, a PPIMV design makes the master volume ”disappear” electronically, making it completely transparent.

OPC, on the other hand, stands for ”output power control”. On the Shadows Jr. you have a choice of three settings, giving you 0.2, two or the full 10 watts of power, respectively. The magic of the OPC circuit is that it will turn volume levels down very noticeably without changing the tonal character of your settings, while also leaving almost all of the dynamics intact. Many lesser output power designs will turn a clean setting into an overdriven sound when you select a lower output level. The Shadows Jr. will sound almost the same on ten, two or 0.2 watts – the small tonal differences are the result of the speaker being driven differently. With the OPC at the lowest setting you will get approximately 95 percent of the full ”Shadows Jr. experience” at bedroom/apartment block volume levels. That’s fantastic!

The back panel gives you a choice of using the internal speaker or an external 4- or 8-ohm cabinet.

Bluetone have also included their tasty buffered, switchable effects loop with a dedicated volume control. When the loop is not in use, the circuit can also serve as a handy lead boost.

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Are you looking for a cool little tone machine with a strong Vox-y flavour, and no-compromise build quality? You should do yourself a favour and try the Bluetone Shadows Jr.

The Shadows Jr. ticks all the right boxes:

You get that classic clean tone with that sweet mid-range ”attitude”. A clean tone that is lively, but never glassy or brittle.

With the front-end volume near the other extreme you’ll get overdrive and distortion that is more gritty and dynamic – think later era Beatles, windmilling Townshend, or multilayered May – than creamy and compressed.

But don’t forget to check out the wide scope of break-up Blues and Rock ’n’ Roll sounds to be had between 11 and 2 o’clock on the volume (gain) control (depending on the guitar used). You’re in for hours of wailing soloing and chunky rhythms without ever needing an overdrive stompbox.

Here’s a Gibson Les Paul Junior on its own:

Demo track number one features two rhythm guitar tracks – a Fender Stratocaster (stereo left) and a Gibson Les Paul Junior (right) – as well as a Hamer USA Studio Custom on lead duty:

The second demo track features a Gibson Les Paul Junior (rhythm left), an Epiphone Casino (rhythm right), and a Fender Telecaster (lead guitar):

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The Bluetone Shadows Jr. is a fantastic little tone machine for the Vox-inclined player, who likes warm clean tones, dynamic break-up sounds, and gritty late-Sixties/early-Seventies dirt.

The build quality is miles ahead of any mass-produced guitar amplifier – this is a handcrafted boutique-grade valve amp. Modern additions like the PPIMV master volume, the OPC circuit, and the switchable effects loop, also raise this amp above any vintage-style copies.

For many the crucial question with low-wattage amps is volume. How loud is the Bluetone Shadows Jr?

Let’s just say that if you’ve only ever tried 10-watt tranny combos before you’re in for quite a surprise! These are ten (-plus) watts of British-style valve amp majesty, with every last ounce of loudness wrung out of the power amp and speaker.

With the OPC and the master on full, this little chap will easily get you into trouble with your neighbours in your block of flats on clean tones alone. If you don’t need 100 percent clean tones, the Shadows Jr. will easily get you through many rehearsals and gigs in small venues. And there’s always the option to stick a mic in front of the speaker.

So, don’t expect a Heavy Metal-type volume onslaught, but be prepared for some serious business.

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Bluetone Amps Shadows Jr.

Prices starting from 1,300 €

Contact: Bluetone Amps

Pros:

+ Handmade in Finland

+ Master volume

+ OPC

+ Effects loop

+ Sound

+ Value-for-money*****Save

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25/01/2018

Bluetone Shadows Jr – The Kitarablogi video

Bluetone Shadows Jr.

• Handmade in Finland
• All-valve Class AB single-channel combo
• 10 W, 2 W or 0.2 W of output power (OPC)
• Diode recitified
• Two-band EQ
• PPIMV Master Volume
• Built-in buffered FX loop/booster
• 3 x ECC83 (12AX7) & 2 x EL84
• One 10-inch WGS Green Beret speaker (25 Watts/8 Ohms)

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Demo Track

All guitars recorded with the Bluetone Shadows Jr. (no pedal effects used). Delay and reverb added during mixdown.

• Rhythm guitars: Fender Stratocaster (left channel) & Gibson Les Paul Junior (right channel)
• Lead guitar: Hamer USA Studio Custom

Recorded with a Shure SM57.

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08/01/2018

Testi tulossa === Review coming soon === Bluetone Shadows Jr

Contact: Bluetone Amps

24/02/2017

Testipenkissä: Gurus Amps Sinusoid

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Italiasta on kovaa vauhtia muodostumassa eräänlainen Mekka meille kitaristeille, tai ainakin siltä vaikuttaa, kun tarkastelee saapasmaan alati kasvavaa ryhmää innovatiivisia vahvistin- ja efektipajoja.

Yksi todella kuuma nimi on Gurus Amps Faenzasta (noin puolessa välissä matkaa Bolognasta Riminiin). Gurus valmistaa sekä vahvistimia että efektipedaaleita – heidän analoginen, putkivahvistettu Echosex-viivepedaali on saavuttanut jo miltei legendastatuksen.

Gurus Ampsin Sinusoid (479 €) kuuluu samaan efektisarjaan, ja se on todella kiehtova yhdistelmä vanhaa ja uutta. Ison pokkarin kokoinen Sinusoid tarjoaa kaksi putkisoundilla höystettyä efektiä samoissa kuorissa– optisen tremolon, sekä aidon jousikaiun.

Sinusoid myydään ilman virtalähdettä. Pedaali toimii 9-12 voltin tasavirralla, ja virtajakin polariteetti on Boss-standardin mukainen. On kuitenkin tärkeää valita sen kanssa käytettäväksi astetta järeämpi virtalähde, sillä kyseinen Gurus-efekti on melko janoinen kaveri, joka tarvitsee toimiakseen 230-400 milliampeeria. Sinusoid toimi testin ajan ongelmattomasti Kitarablogin Cioks-pedaalilautavirtalähteen kanssa käytettynä.

Gurusin Sinusoid-pedaali on monofoninen tuplaefekti. Kitaran (tai kosketinsoittimen) voi liittää joko suoraan Sinusoidin tuloon, tai vaihtoehtoisesti pedaalin voi sijoittaa vahvistimen efektilenkkiin.

Remote control –jakin ansiosta Sinusoidin efektit voi kytkeä päälle ja pois ulkoisella kytkimellä, mikä mahdollistaa Sinusoidin sijoittamisen kauas muista efekteistä, mikä puolestaan voi auttaa häiriöäänten hillitsemisessä.

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Guru Ampsin Sinusoid on todella helppokäyttöinen:

Kummallekin efektille on varattu oma jalkakytkin, kaksi säädintä sekä (vanhoista putkiradioista tuttu) vihreä Magic Eye -merkkivalo.

Tremolopuolella merkkivalo ilmaisee vatkauksen nopeuden. Jousikaiun Magic Eye -valo taas ilmaisee Accutronics-jousitankille ohjattavan signaalin volyymitason, jota säädetään Volume-säätimellä. Volumen ”väärinkäyttö” on mahdollista, ja sen myötä Sinusoidilla voi tuottaa hyvinkin rapeita ja säröisiä Surf- ja Rockabilly-kaikuja.

Sinusoid on saanut nimensä laitteen muhkeasta, siniaaltoon pohjautuvasta tremoloefektistä. Intensityllä säädetään efektin voimakkuutta, ja siinä riittää säätövaraa lähes huomaamattomasta aina rajuun vatkaukseen. Myös Speed-säädin tarjoaa laajan säätövaran tremolon nopeudelle.

Tämä klippi esittelee Gurus Sinusoidin tremoloefektiä eri säädöillä. Testikitarana toiminut Fender Stratocaster oli kytketty suoraan pedaaliin:

Ensimmäinen ajatukseni oli ”Hullut italialaiset!”, kun kuulin että Sinusoidin uumenin on asennettu aito jousikaiku. Kaikua testattuani täytyy kuitenkin myöntää, että pedaalin herkulliset kaikusoundit voittivat minut nopeasti puolelleen. Sinusoidin kaikusoundi ei ehkä ole ihan niin vivahteikas ja tiheä, kuin esimerkiksi Fender Blackface Deluxe Reverb -kombossa. Mutta täytyy muistaa, että tässä on kyse huomattavasti pienemmästä jousitankista, ja siihen nähden Gurus Sinusoidin tarjoama jousikaiku kuulostaa jopa hämmästyttävän hienolta:

Tässä on vielä yksi esimerkki, jossa hyödynnetään molempia efektejä yhtä aikaa:

Mainitsin aiemmin, että Sinusoid-pedaali toimii, kitaran lisäksi, myös todella hyvin koskettimien/synan kanssa. Äänitin siksi demobiisissä kitararaitojen lisäksi myös kosketinosuudet Gurus-pedaalin kautta:

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Gurus Sinusoid on vallan mainio laite, jos kaipaa omaan soundiinsa putkivahvistettuja, aitoja tremolo- ja jousikaiku-efektejä. Laite on helppokäyttöinen ja samalla myös suhteellisen kompakti.

Keikkaympäristössä täytyy kuitenkin tarkkaan miettiä Sinusoidin sijaintia pedaalilaudassa sähköisten tai mekaanisten häiriöäänten ehkäisemiseksi. Nimensä mukaisesti jousikaiku tuottaa efektinsä sähkömekaanisesti resonoivilla metallijousilla, minkä vuoksi kaikki kaikutankit ovat herkkiä tärinälle ja iskuille. Tavallisesti jousikaiku on sijoitettu turvallisesti kombovahvistimen pohjaan tai sille on jopa rakennettu oma kotelo. Gurusin Sinusoidin tapauksessa jousitankki on lattiaefektin uumenissa, ja laite kytketään päälle ja pois jalkakytkimellä. Jalkakytkimen ytimekäs käyttö ja/tai vahinkopotku laitteen kylkeen voi saada jouset rämisemään, mikä kuulostaa eriasteiselta ukkosen jyrinältä. Suosittelen siis solumuovikerroksen tms. asentamista pedaalin pohjan ja pedaalilaudan rungon väliin iskujen vaimentamiseksi.

Minun mielestäni Gurus Sinusoid -tuplapedaali on mainio valinta vintageen kallistuvalle soundiesteetikolle. Tiedän, että nykyään on tarjolla loistavia vintage-tremolon ja -kaiun mallinnuksiakin, mutta aitoja analogiefektejä arvostaville Sinusoid on juuri oikea valinta.

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Gurus Amps Sinusoid

479

Maahantuoja: NordSound

Plussat:

+ kaksi aitoa analogiefektiä putkivahvistuksella

+ tukeva rakenne

+ kompakti koko

+ soundien laatu

+ toimii efektiloopperin kanssa

Miinukset:

– jousikaikujen yleinen herkkyys tärinälle

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07/02/2017

Review: Gurus Amps Sinusoid

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Italy is fast becoming one of the top countries for tone hounds, thanks to the ever-growing number of cool Italian guitar amp and effects companies.

One such company is Gurus Amps from the town of Faenza, about halfway between Bologna and Rimini. Gurus makes both amplifiers and effect pedals, with their valve-driven Echosex analogue echo pedal probably being their best-known product.

Gurus Amps’ Sinusoid (price in Finland: 479 €) is another cool design, which seems both anachronistic and up-to-date at the same time. The Sinusoid is a paperback-sized effect pedal, offering you two valve-driven analogue effects in a very compact format — optical tremolo and genuine spring reverb.

The Sinusoid is sold without a power supply unit. This double pedal’s power input can handle DC between nine and twelve volts, and its polarity follows the well-established Boss-standard. Be aware, though, that this Gurus effect is relatively power hungry, requiring anything from 230 mA to 400 mA, which means running the Sinusoid off a professional pedalboard PSU is strongly advised. The effects unit worked fine with Kitarablogi’s Cioks PSU.

The Gurus Sinusoid is equipped with mono in- and outputs – you can plug your guitar (or keyboard) directly into it, or run the effects pedal in an effects loop.

The Sinusoid is loop-switcher-ready, sporting a remote control input jack in the upper left corner.

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gurus-amps-sinusoid-1-blog

Guru Amps’ Sinusoid is extremely easy to use:

Each of the two effects comes with its own footswitch, two control knobs, as well as a green ”Magic Eye” indicator.

On the optical tremolo side the indicator light gives you the speed of the tremolo effect. The spring reverb’s ”Magic Eye” tells you how hot you’re currently driving the reverb tank’s (manufactured by Accutronics, by the way) input stage (using the Volume control). It is possible to overdrive the reverb circuit, should you wish to achieve extreme Surf or Rockabilly effects.

The Sinusoid’s name has been taken from its very musical tremolo circuit, whose modulation uses a sinusoidal wave generator. The Intensity takes you from completely off to quite choppy, with an ample range provided by the Speed control, too.

This clip gives you an idea of the range of tremolo effects offered by the Gurus pedal, when plugging a Fender Stratocaster into its input:

My first thought at realising that the Sinusoid incorporates a genuine spring reverb was ”These Italians must be nuts!”, but I must confess that the pedal has quickly won me over with its classic tones. To my ears, the pedal’s spring reverb sounds a tad less dense, rich, and wet, when compared to something like a Fender Blackface Deluxe Reverb. But when you remember that the Gurus Sinusoid is far smaller than a full-sized reverb tank, you will have to admit that the sound quality offered here is truly astounding:

Here’s a short clip of both effects running at the same time:

I already mentioned this before, but Gurus Amps’ Sinusoid also works very well, when used with a keyboard. This is why I’ve recorded the demo track’s keyboard and guitar parts using the effects pedal:

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In and of itself the Gurus Sinusoid works wonders in delivering genuine vintage-sounding tremolo and reverb effects in a compact and easy-to-use format.

There is one thing worth considering, though, and that is the effect’s working environment. Due to the way a spring reverb creates its magic – namely by means of vibrating metal springs – all reverb tanks are susceptible to mechanical shocks, at least to some degree. Normally, a spring reverb tends to be safely tucked away at the bottom of an amplifier cabinet, but the Sinusoid is meant to be mounted on your pedalboard and switched on (and off) by foot. Depending on your stage volume and/or the vivacity of your showmanship, accidentally kicking the Sinusoid (or switching the reverb on very forcefully) will inevitably lead to audible spring reverb rattling (sounds like distant thunder). I’d recommend using some type of shock absorption when mounting the Sinusoid to your pedalboard, if you want to minimise reverb rattling.

In my view, Gurus’ Sinusoid is a great two-in-one pedal that scores high in the vintage tone and coolness stakes. Sure, you can get nice-sounding digital models of tremolo and spring reverb effects for less money, but the Sinusoid is the real McCoy!

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Gurus Amps Sinusoid

479

Finnish distribution: NordSound

Pros:

+ two genuine valve-driven effects

+ sturdy built

+ compact format

+ sounds

+ remote switcher compatible

Cons:

– spring reverb susceptible to mechanical shocks

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01/02/2017

Working on a review +++ Testi tulossa +++ Gurus Amps Sinusoid

Gurus Amps Sinusoid

• valve-driven genuine spring reverb
• valve-driven optical tremolo
• runs on 9–12 V DC (230–400 mA)
• handmade in Italy

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Demo Track

• All keyboard and guitar tracks recorded using the Gurus Sinusoid.
• Organ and Electric Piano played on a Korg SP-200.
• Rhythm Guitar – Fender Stratocaster
• Lead Guitar – Gibson Melody Maker SG
• Amp used – Blackstar HT-1R

01/02/2017

Jam Track: Latin Rock in A-minor (130 BPM)

02/01/2017

Review: Juketone True Blood

juketone-true-blood-logo

If you’ve always lusted for a hand-soldered guitar amp you were left with two options until quite recently:

You could either buy an expensive boutique/custom shop amplifier, or – if you’re handy with a soldering iron – opt for a DIY amp kit.

Now there’s a third choice for those of us neither well-heeled nor technically savvy:

British company Juketone offers a range of tasty Fender tweed inspired, hand-wired guitar amplifiers at very moderate prices, thanks to Chinese production and selling direct via the Internet.

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The Juketone True Blood (250 £; introductory offer for a limited time only) is the company’s smallest combo.

The True Blood is based on Fender’s legendary 1950s Tweed Champ (specifically the 5F1 version), with a few small tweaks.

Tweed Champs have been built with several differently shaped cabinets over the Fifties, depending on their exact vintage. The True Blood comes in the all-straight cabinet seen on most mid-Fifties originals, while Fender’s current Custom Shop version features the later angled front.

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The tweed covering on our review sample was very neat and crisp.

The combo’s cabinet is made of plywood, except for the back covers, which looked (and felt) like MDF-board.

juketone-true-blood-valves-and-speaker

The two most important differences between a vintage Champ and Juketone’s True Blood combo lie in the speaker-type and rectifier valve choices.

In addition to the two audio signal valves – a Ruby Tubes 12AX7 and a 6V6GT – Juketone has chosen a slightly less-known 6Z4 rectifier tube. The 6Z4 used in Juketone amps is a Chinese version (aka the Sino 6Z4) that is not compatible with the American rectifier valve of the same name.

Jensen has traditionally been the speaker brand of choice for vintage tweed amps, but their bass response very often sounds a bit flabby by modern standards. In my opinion, Juketone has made a very good decision in choosing a more British-voiced speaker for their True Blood combo. The eight-inch Celestion Super 8 could be described as an alnico-driven version of their popular Eight 15.

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Inside the metal amp chassis you will be greeted by high quality components and clean workmanship. This is genuine hand-soldering using soldering lugs riveted to a fibreglass board.

You’d be foolish to expect the wiring to be on the same, insanely high level – in terms of its neatness – as generally seen on boutique-grade amps, but the True Blood is definitely in line with Juketone’s ”affordable boutique” ethos.

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juketone-true-blood-control-panel

Maybe the most important part in the charm of a 5F1-type Champ (or Champ clone) is the directness of this small combo’s approach to tonal nirvana. There’s no master volume, no tone control, no effects – just a single volume control, and the straightest signal path from input jack to speaker known to mankind.

To some, this type of diminutive Fifties practice amp looks like it’s hopelessly ancient, but the Tweed Champ still has a lot of fans.

The Juketone True Blood’s secret to success lies in the combo’s interactive behaviour. The most traditional way to use the True Blood would be to dial in the maximum amount of volume (and distortion) needed, and then control the amp using the guitar’s own volume and tone controls. Thanks to the naturally rich compression this combo produces when pushed, turning down the guitar volume for cleaner sounds will result in less of a volume drop than expected. Here’s a short clip using a double humbucker guitar (Hamer USA Studio Custom):

If you need more clean headroom from your True Blood (Blues harpists, listen up) than what the factory 12AX7 has to offer, you could easily drop in one of a number of ”cooler” 12A_7-family replacements, such as a 12AU7 or a 12AT7.

Here are three clips of a Fender Telecaster, a Gibson Les Paul Junior and a Hamer Studio Custom, respectively, with their bridge pickups selected. Each clip has been recorded with the combo’s volume control set to ”6”, ”8”, ”10” and ”12”, using a Shure SM57:

The Juketone True Blood’s low volume and tasty compression make this combo an excellent choice for use in the (home-) studio. Just add a little EQ and compression, and season the result with a bit of reverb and/or delay during mixdown, and you’ll be surprised at how big this little chap really sounds:

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I can only recommend Juketone’s True Blood warmly for use as a living room and recording amp.

Laying your hands on a hand-wired tweed-style combo has never been so easy or affordable. The warm, big bass response of the Celestion speaker is a definite improvement, at least in my book!

This Juketone combo is a serious alternative to your run-of-the-mill mass-produced practice. It sounds pure and sweet. A hand-soldered combo, such as this, is also far easier to repair (or modify) than a PCB-based design.

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Juketone True Blood

250 £ (introductory offer)

Contact: Juketone

Pros:

+ affordable

+ workmanship

+ hand-wired

+ sound

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