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Score! Crate GX-212 for $70

Started by JonnyDeth, March 20, 2024, 08:35:18 AM

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JonnyDeth

100% American made, 30 years old and with the Crate speakers that replaced the flimsy Celestion Rockets they previously used(I have some of those too). I hit the cabinet with a degreaser, and it's electrically still a beast. They even had the casters for it, but no foot switch which I can easily build if I truly desire one; I don't.

This is probably the most "sterile" of their SS series, but still ear bleeding loud and the wattage is 100% useable when maxed out. I designed my very first distortion pedal directly around this preamp's lead channel, and have used it ever since on every piece of gear including 2024 digital modelers for 15 years now.
I can crank gain through the roof for sweeping and shredding, and don't even have ground buzz and without a noise gate using the overdrive I designed. It gives me something to use in my gym or roll outside onto the deck or into the front yard and rain hell down on my neighbors  ;D

joecool85

Rock on!  I remember looking at Crate amps when I was a beginning guitarist almost 25 years ago.  I always thought they looked cool.  Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but they sure do get loud!
Life is what you make it.
Still rockin' the Dean Markley K-20X
thatraymond.com

JonnyDeth

They're not for everyone, but the classic overdrive channel will give you AC/DC and that sort of stuff, the modern overdrive takes you more to Megadeth, Cannibal Corpse etc. so, thrash and 90's death metal. On the bright side, they're one of the few vintage SS that handled pedals and they do well with just about any modeler.

In shredding on it this morning though I must admit, even with a really good sound and response, there is a strange "sterility" or "dead" emotion to their tones at times. I remember 20 years ago someone regarding them as the "hi-fi" home stereo equivalent of guitar amps lol. I think it's primarily when you really crank their volume, they have a dead as stone texture to them, hence 90's death metal.

RookieRecurve

I see these pop up often around me, but not for that price!  There's one I saw for $100 with only one of the two channels working.  I thought about buying it to try and fix it, then flip it.  It would be too loud for me, but they are pretty amazing amps.  The ease of access to incredible schematics makes these a great buy.

JonnyDeth

Quote from: RookieRecurve on March 31, 2024, 08:39:55 AMI see these pop up often around me, but not for that price!  There's one I saw for $100 with only one of the two channels working.  I thought about buying it to try and fix it, then flip it.  It would be too loud for me, but they are pretty amazing amps.  The ease of access to incredible schematics makes these a great buy.

I saw a guy on youtube that flips gear for a living and he nabbed one for $40! He said it was his very first amp so he made a video with it then sent it on it's way to someone who had bought it.

I am a shred and sweep player so it's a little harsh in the bass due to the very high, even order harmonics added by semiconductors, but in combining the dirty channel with my modeler and an overdrive pedal I actually designed around this amplifier's dirty channel used to overdrive the modeler, I get perfectly useable lead tones. I also have a Zoom G5 on the way to replace the one I have that some crazy b*t** smashed, and those with the 12AX7 in them turn damn near any amp into a thoroughbred.
That coupled with this and I have a brutal metal amp but really, an every genre amp. It's so friggin loud I could never actually use this much volume and in a live setting, I would definitely be using earplugs.

It's all about gain stage cascades and teaming the right devices. Solid-States have some universal problems shared by 99% of them, but Crate is highly underrated and players with really high standards would rather spend 3 grand on known gear combinations than experiment and get something built for $500 that is every bit as good as the 3 G's arrangement. The Zoom G5 is an example within itself because when you run the processor without the tube engaged, it's very digital and quite truly sounds cheap, but when you switch the tube in and crank it's gain, it makes every single patch you design for modeling whatever amp, pedal and speaker combination sound amazing. The harshness, "swooshing" etc. to your bass is completely filtered out of the signal by the tube's limited bandwidth. The 12AX7 is said to have a maximum of 20Khz for audio, but typical is actually 10 Khz. The semiconductors will add ridiculous harmonic bandwidth like 40 Khz to a 100 Hz bass note!
This trait is why solid-states continue to be the whipping boy of the industry and because digital circuits are still using solid-state semiconductors, 90% of those units aren't designed to compensate so the war wages on! I shutter at the sight of digital modelers and FX I see selling for $1500 and I can hear all those extremely high, even order harmonics still coming out of them and trashing the signal, but not every player is sweeping and shredding for it to matter.
The technology guarantees people will always spend big money on tube amps, and even I'm still guilty of that.

RookieRecurve

Quote from: JonnyDeth on March 31, 2024, 09:14:42 AM
Quote from: RookieRecurve on March 31, 2024, 08:39:55 AMI see these pop up often around me, but not for that price!  There's one I saw for $100 with only one of the two channels working.  I thought about buying it to try and fix it, then flip it.  It would be too loud for me, but they are pretty amazing amps.  The ease of access to incredible schematics makes these a great buy.

I saw a guy on youtube that flips gear for a living and he nabbed one for $40! He said it was his very first amp so he made a video with it then sent it on it's way to someone who had bought it.

I am a shred and sweep player so it's a little harsh in the bass due to the very high, even order harmonics added by semiconductors, but in combining the dirty channel with my modeler and an overdrive pedal I actually designed around this amplifier's dirty channel used to overdrive the modeler, I get perfectly useable lead tones. I also have a Zoom G5 on the way to replace the one I have that some crazy b*t** smashed, and those with the 12AX7 in them turn damn near any amp into a thoroughbred.
That coupled with this and I have a brutal metal amp but really, an every genre amp. It's so friggin loud I could never actually use this much volume and in a live setting, I would definitely be using earplugs.

It's all about gain stage cascades and teaming the right devices. Solid-States have some universal problems shared by 99% of them, but Crate is highly underrated and players with really high standards would rather spend 3 grand on known gear combinations than experiment and get something built for $500 that is every bit as good as the 3 G's arrangement. The Zoom G5 is an example within itself because when you run the processor without the tube engaged, it's very digital and quite truly sounds cheap, but when you switch the tube in and crank it's gain, it makes every single patch you design for modeling whatever amp, pedal and speaker combination sound amazing. The harshness, "swooshing" etc. to your bass is completely filtered out of the signal by the tube's limited bandwidth. The 12AX7 is said to have a maximum of 20Khz for audio, but typical is actually 10 Khz. The semiconductors will add ridiculous harmonic bandwidth like 40 Khz to a 100 Hz bass note!
This trait is why solid-states continue to be the whipping boy of the industry and because digital circuits are still using solid-state semiconductors, 90% of those units aren't designed to compensate so the war wages on! I shutter at the sight of digital modelers and FX I see selling for $1500 and I can hear all those extremely high, even order harmonics still coming out of them and trashing the signal, but not every player is sweeping and shredding for it to matter.
The technology guarantees people will always spend big money on tube amps, and even I'm still guilty of that.

Great explanation of why tubes are still so popular.  Its also a great reminder that great tones from inexpensive SS stuff can be had with the right piece(s) of equipment in front of it.  Sometimes I like to just plug into my fairly stock Valve Jr. and appreciate its simplicity, but other times I love playing around with different tools.  Your talk about having a tube in the signal path makes a ton of sense.  Thanks!

JonnyDeth

#6
Quote from: RookieRecurve on April 09, 2024, 09:39:06 PMGreat explanation of why tubes are still so popular.  Its also a great reminder that great tones from inexpensive SS stuff can be had with the right piece(s) of equipment in front of it.  Sometimes I like to just plug into my fairly stock Valve Jr. and appreciate its simplicity, but other times I love playing around with different tools.  Your talk about having a tube in the signal path makes a ton of sense.  Thanks!

Crate really screwed themselves going back nearly 30 years ago when they started producing the cheapest solid-state amp line on the market, and because they were releasing the BlueVoodoo soon, they omitted the midrange control from their dirty lead and rhythm shared EQ. For their scale of production, we're talking a 10 cent pot replaced with a 1/20 of a cent 100 ohm resistor. Fundamentally, every reputable amp's midrange control coupled with a "legendary" speaker scoops the midrange deeply, and what they did was remove this control and replace it with the "shape" that is an active band-bandpass that sweeps it's cornered frequency while cutting or boosting while you rotate it.
You hear the amp, and initially they sound amazing, until you hear something that truly does lol. Then you hear the GLX which has the midrange coupled with the shape control, and it's one of the best metal amps you've ever heard, especially when paired to the right pedal. I own a GLX, and 3 GX amps, 2 of which are the same heads.
I scored this insane deal for $150 last night, and will mod the preamp to add the midrange EQ...the deal was only the Crate gear, not the valve-state Carvin V3 lol.

In regards to the science explained in simple language everyone can understand, I would probably churn out 50 paragraphs, but there's a decent redacted version. When a tube is pushed into overdrive and clips, it does 3 specific things. It obviously clips the signal producing distortion, it produces soft clipping so the edges of the wave's knee where the bandwidth cuts off and declines in magnitude is rounded, as are the mini-waves when zoomed in that comprise the entire waveform, and it cuts off bandwidth organically.
In general, a 12AX7 peaks out in typical operational bandwidth at about 20Khz in the audio spectrum, but it's actually more typical that it has a steep cut-off at about 10Khz. The soft clipping also results in an abundance of low, even order harmonics and by order we're regarding bandwidth so you hit a 100 Hz range bass note, and you aren't hearing a "crust" of 10Khz bolding within it let alone 20Khz, 40Khz etc.

What semiconductors do when driven into clipping is usually but not always, produces hard clipping so the waveform reproduction curve has a sharp edge at the bandwidth drop-off point of response and the mini-waves the entire waveform is comprised of also have sharp edges, and the bandwidth response/reproduction curve is massive. It will go out into 50 and 60Khz. If the circuit architecture isn't designed so it produces asymmetrical clipping, you get an abundance of dominant, odd order harmonics. These sound sleazy, sour but oddly very pleasing, and all around harsh. You hit a 100 Hz range bass note and you're hearing 13Khz, 27Khz etc; high, odd order harmonics due to semiconductor's organic bandwidth. It's literally the nature of the material at the quantum level due to speed of it's materials under electrical pressure.
When you design solid-state or for that matter, digital that uses semiconductors to clip asymmetrically, now it's even order harmonic dominant, but it's still high magnitude even order harmonics. So, you hit a 100 Hz range bass note, and you're hearing 10 Khz, 20Khz etc. content in it, which sounds more or less like static, swooshing and white noise.
People will often use an EQ pedal on solid-state gear and run a 12AX7 somewhere in their signal chain, and this greatly improves upon reducing the high even order harmonics because the valve naturally incorporates some low-pass filtering to remove some of that content in the signal, adds low even order harmonics, and some rounded clipping.

I'm here obviously because I love solid-state amps. Overall, I find they have much better modern characteristics than 90% of valve circuits which is why most every player uses a solid-state pedal in front of their tube amps. I prefer the sleaze, raunchy, in your face thrash metal sound, but also despise that high, even order harmonic content so it's the tradeoff you face in tube vs solid-state. At this current time though, I am designing my own gear from the ground up, and only just made my last few purchases because I have a pile of gear in need of minor repairs and some crazy famous b*t** I prefer not to name smashed my Zoom G5 modeler which just happens to have a 12AX7 in it, and sounds great on my tube amps, but significantly better on the solid-state.

(I had to order that all the way from Japan, but even at 12 years old, it sounds better than the 2023 Valeton flagship model I have, the flagship model Headrush I returned after a few weeks which was a 3-legged dog, and I would put it up against the $500 PODs for that matter. That valve at the end of the digital chain makes a massive difference, but even with it switched off, it sounds much better than what was released in the last 5 years from virtually everyone and this is from having tried or temporarily owned their gear.)

The first thing I sat down to do recently was design a transistor-based distortion without diodes by overdriving the transistors into clipping organically and asymmetrically which not only sounds indiscernible from tube distortion, but obviously better when you hear the right circuits. This is where I can just keep rambling on since this recent task has been ongoing for about 20 years starting when I was an ignorant amateur modding and building gear 20 years ago, and finally enrolled in college for the science of electrical and electronics engineering 13 years ago. I'm unsure if I can truly bring my creations and inventions to the commercial market through my own manufacturing scheme or licensing if not selling designs, but I know I can produce something superior to everything up to this point that should be a huge leap in analog and outperforms both vacuum-state and solid-state. Overdriven transistors produce a fuzz style distortion that sounds interchangeable to overdriven valves, and there's a ridiculously simple solution to resolving the excessive upper range bandwidth magnitude of even order harmonics that makes *s!!t* raspy, crusty, swooshy, sloshy and also adds that white noise hiss everyone has grown to loathe about solid-state, and for good reason.

That's another series of ranting paragraphs in itself about my belief as to why major mfr. have done very little about it until recent years, it's only just been in digital semiconductor designs, and they still haven't completely resolved it. The short story there is I think it's a mixture of ignorance due to the nature of engineers that have advanced educations and are thinking in terms of numerical value vs actual organic performance that satisfies human hearing, and some that know maintaining a bit of these short comings ensures their tube lines keep luring in massive pools of customers and in the grand scheme of commercial manufacturing, they're making the most dependable and consistent profits off valves. Majority of players will eventually turn to valves and primarily depend on them over semiconductor technology.

Anyway, with my current goal, it seems the most realistic product I can design and potentially get onto the commercial market is a signal conditioner that wipes out high order harmonics even and odd and wipes out 60-cycle hum and other RF noise whether it's getting into your single coils, your pedals, your wires or even into your humbuckers. One of the the specific things I achieved as a blindly experimenting amateur was my overdrive I designed from the ground up to replace my dissatisfactory tube screamer wiped out all the ground buzz but didn't significantly compromise the upper bandwidth range we still desire to hear, especially regarding even order harmonics. With these goals, I'm primarily focused on a full fledged preamp that will eventually get a power stage, and a signal conditioner to go on the effects loop to wipe out noise without signal compromise, and also get rid of the hiss, slosh, rasp and static-like sound of semiconductors so ever present in majority of digital and solid-state gear.