The Masonette: We say goodbye once again to the Masonette. While being a favorite in the Germino amp line Greg's personal opinion of the Masonette was it lacked clean headroom in certain performance applications. There were number of requests also for a Bass voiced version of the Masonette which again the lack of clean headroom prevented the Masonette from being the right platform. While Greg pondered over exactly how to approach a replacement to this model sure enough a solution presented itself in the form of a Masonette customer sending an amp back where he needed a bit more headroom while keeping the feel of the amp and the overdriven sound intact.
A replacement OT was exactly what Greg thought was needed but it had to the right type and Greg wanted an OT that would allow more choices for different output tubes. Though several test transformers Greg was able to find a 30 watt OT with a primary impedance that allowed the use of any EL-34, 6L6GC/5881/KT-66 tube or 6V6's.
The 30 watt capacity gave the clean headroom that Greg felt was adequate while still allowing a smooth overdrive as volume was increased. It was very obvious from play testing that this was a great sounding OT and with the amp pushed there was only a modest volume increase compared to the smaller 18 watt OT of the Masonette.
Out of this experiment were born the new 30 Watt Club 40 and Lead 55LV: As opposed to introducing a revised Masonette, Greg has elected to offer the 30 watt output transformer as an option in both Lead 55LV and Club 40 models. This gives choices for 30 watt versions of both models with the same voicing that is known of the Lead 55LV lead circuit and Club 40 Bass circuit models.
There is no additional charge for the 30 watt OT. This OT along with the post phase inverter MV (if you really think its needed! yet another disclaimer of mine) will easily produce great tones at respectable volume levels.
Regarding the post phase inverter master volume..... Many were quite surprised when Greg began offering this option last year along with the reintroduction of the rectifier switch (applause!). Greg's personal disclaimer was that "I don't have an MV in my personal amp" and that while the PPIVMV was very effective at keeping the cranked sound of the amp intact, while knocking off the "edge" or "a few decibels" in live situations it does not lend itself to playing the amp at super low volumes like living room/bedroom levels and achieving the same exact tone of a cranked amp. It's a simple fact you really need to move some air to get convincing tones (yet another Greg Germino disclaimer!). It became more apparent as many amp orders went out of the shop with the new PPIVMV that folks may really need a different style of MV that was more suited to their "home" playing. Even if Greg is not a big fan of the MV, nearly all amps we deliverd had this option. It is clear that you cannot compare the sound with and without the MV, but it makes it nevertheless more userfriendly in our homes. In concerts or for recordings, you forget the MV and you play it loud!
A new amplifier model.... As Greg's thoughts went over the master volume question he was contacted by Mark Bishop of Marks Guitar Loft. They had several conversations about what pro players needed as well as the home musician and what would work best in both applications. Mark suggested sending Greg his 79 JMP Master Model to play and listen to. While skeptical at first, once Greg had the amp in his shop and played it he could only say it was without a doubt the best sounding Master Model 50 watter he had heard!
So, just to cut to the quick.... this year Mark and Greg will be working on the release of a Lead 50 Master model amplifier! This will be a hand wired amp on the same style turret board as used now with all the same high quality components found in other Germino models. The same transformers will be used as on Lead 55LV and Club 40 models. This will be a ss rectifier version only with the classic cascaded front end and Hi and Lo sensitivity vertical inputs. Voltages will be tweaked to best emulate Marks personal amp. And Greg does believe that Charlie Starr with Blackberry Smoke will be one of the first test pilots. www.blackberrysmoke.com
Plans are to make this model available by Spring 2015.