Thursday, January 8, 2009

Al Chesis' Custom Harp Amp

Last week I played at a blues jam hosted by blues harp heavyweight Al Chesis and the Delta Sonics. Al is a monster harp guy, the best in Denver by far, and his harp rig is very cool.

He plays what looks to be an old tweed Bassman clone, but it sounds way better than any Bassman I’ve ever heard. It is actually a custom amp tweaked mostly by my buddy Bruce Collins of
Mission Amps.

It’s a Mojo bassman cab with a custom 3x10 baffle. Speakers are two old Weber VST P10Rs on the bottom and a Jensen reissue P10R on top. This amp has some BIG tranny iron: A low-voltage 50-watt PT and 45-watt Super Reverb-sized OT. We are talking HONK, Baby!

Here’s the cool part: Al can run the amp with two 6V6, 6L6, or KT66 power tubes. The night I played it Al was using two 6V6s and a 5Y3 rectifier, making about 14 watts. The tone was warm and dark and fat, like the biggest fucking blackface Fender Princeton you’ve ever hear. It was not gritty, but SMOOOOTH…..

Al plays an old JT-30 crystal mic. He gets incredible tone with this rig, and I liked the way I sounded too. It had plenty of punch to carry the small rowdy club. Feedback was never an issue. But bar fights were. It was a very fun night.

Sorry I don’t have any sound clips; I’ll record the amp later and add links here.


Anonymous said...

The Super Reverb OT trick was told to me by one of Kenny "Blue" Ray's amp techs. I was considering a 5E5 or 5F4 build, and he said, "Whatever you do, drop a SR tranny in it." Then proceeded to tell me why... big huevos.

Anonymous said...

I was at that Jam and also got a chance to play some harp through Al's rig. I've also heard that amp at a larger venue - Caledonia's, on the patio. It's even better in the open air environment. A real tribute to Bruce's amp building prowess. Of course, Al's chops have more than a little to do with the great sound as well.

Rick Davis said...

Hey Rich-

I saw your set; great blues licks and great tone.

Al's amp has a pretty unique sound, kinda dark and punchy. He says it is his signature sound. You're right though... Al Chesis attacks the harp and gets immense tone. Great player...

Bruce Collins said...

I just happened to have been there that night (it was Lil Al's birthday party night)... let me tell you all that both Rick and Rich were in the fray, cuttin' heads and killing too!
Mission Amps