Letter #1 —
In Hollywood, we call this part the backstory. Recently Miguel wrote from Spain with a question for Ira:
“A guy in a guitar store told me that you use Tone Bones in your amps. is that true? if it’s so, can I make you some questions about it? I’m just trying to fix some volume trouble with my 65 Twin Reverb in a so very small rehearsing room.”
Ira wrote back to say that though a Tone Bone sounds delicious, he had never heard of one, let alone used it. Perhaps Miguel was referring to a Yellow Jacket. More importantly, Ira realized he was out of his depth, and that it was time for another installment of Totally Gil (see Letters, Dec. 2003 for Gil’s first report). Here’s what Gil had to say:
There are three things that you can try to get your Twin sounding the way you want (in no particular order):
- By taking out either the 2 inner or the 2 outer power tubes, you will cut the power in half, giving you pretty much the same tone, but with half the power. Some amp techs say that you can harm the output transformer, since by taking out the 2 tubes you also change the impedance from 4 ohms to 8 ohms. But 95% of the amp techs that I know (myself included) feel that the output transformers are strong enough to handle a slight impedance mismatch. Your tubes may wear a bit faster, but your amp will be fine. If you want to cut the volume even more, try using just one of the speakers. Run a separate wire from each speaker. When you only use two tubes, use one speaker. When you put the other two tubes back in, plug the other speaker jack into the external speaker jack. By only using one of the speakers, and 2 of the output tubes, it will reverse the impedance mismatch, making the impedance correct again. Don’t forget the second speaker when you use all four tubes! I don’t think one stock speaker is gonna last long with the full output thru it.
- You could use a pair of Yellow Jackets. Tone Bones work the same as Yellow Jackets but are made by different manufacturer. Without getting too technical, the Yellow Jackets make it so your Twin can take a lower voltage tube (EL84) reducing the overall volume. The cool thing about Yellow Jackets are that you do not need to rebias the amp, just plug in the old 6L6′s without any further adjustments. Here is a link to more info on the Yellow Jackets.Note: If you notice in the link above, THD talks about leaving two of the tube sockets empty, putting them in the 95% category I mentioned in option #1.
- Finally, you could use a power attenuator. A power attenuator is placed in between the amp’s output jack and the speakers. It will act as a sponge soaking up all of the unwanted volume. It is great for getting a really good overdriven tube tone at a decent volume. See the link below:
On a recent trip to Mexico City for a Yo La Tengo show, the only amps that I had were 2 ’65 Twin Reverb Reissues . I tried the Yellow Jackets in them, but felt they made the amps break up too early. The volume I needed was impossible to get without the amps being too distorted, and I felt that they changed the tone a bit too much . So I took out two of the outer output tubes . I felt that the removal of the output tubes was the best possible option. It sounded much better than the Yellow Jackets. I was able to get the volume that I wanted without affecting the tone too much (and it wasn’t too loud, like Twins can be).
Letter #2 —
London, Paris, Stockholm, Munich — everybody’s talking about Gil Divine.
“The young guy who sets the stage and restrings, tunes, etc. guitars—What do his Hebrew tattoos say? I could read the ‘melech’ part, but after that my long-distant bar mitzvah lessons failed me.”
First off, Gil says he will never, repeat never, again play Cel-Ray Peuchre at Katz’s. He’s too sheepish about the whole incident to answer your question and our bar mitzvah lessons only rhyme with long-distant, so this is at best a rough paraphrase. But to the best of our ability Gil’s tattoos read (from top to bottom):
life’s a beach
mean people suck
Letter #3 —
Sorry, nothing to do with Gil in this one, a letter that requires no comment from us:
Every once in awhile, I’ll do a web search for ‘yo la tengo’ and see what happens. As your name is a common expression in Spanish, and made up of commonly-used spanish words, I sometimes stumble upon interesting results of my search. Here’s the most recent. (Its creator seems to be very fond–even reverential–in his/her descriptions of the photos, from what little I can tell):pobladores.lycos.es/channels/planeta_tierra/La_pagina_manga_de_yamao/area/63