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Esstee amps review
By Stefan Johansson for UGG.

Here's a introduktion to the Esstee amp by the builder himself, Stefan Johansson.

"The idea of building an amp came when I was looking for a "boutique" amp for myself. I've always been tinkering and repairing amps for people. Frankly I never understood why some people would tear out the inards of a fully functional old Marshall or Fender just to give it three chanels and lots of gain. After reading alot of artikles and checking out some internet sites, I came to the conclusion that it was just to heat up the old soldering iron and start experimenting.

Soundwise my amp is in the Vox/Marshall camp. If you checkout the schematic you'll see that it has a lot in common with a Vox AC-50. I redesigned the preamp though to get a "browner" sound. The amp is point to point wired, which is nothing special really. 20 years ago everything was PTP. You gain in easier service and durability compared to circuit boards. Some manufacturers say PTP sounds better, which in my experience might be true to some extent.

The controls on the front panel are: Gain, basscut, tone and master. Nothing strange really. The basscut was put there to be able to lower the bass if you want to dime the gain, preventing the amp from "farting out". The tone is a bit special. It works in the poweramp instead of the preamp. A bit like the cut controll on a AC-30. I did it because i like the Vox sound where you have the preamp on full blast in all frequences. The master is there due to pureley practical reasons. Even though I prefer not using it, it's better to cut back on the master than the gain. Designing it as a head instead of a combo is really just practical to: By having the chassi standing you avoid it getting to hot. You also avoid the tubes rattling to pieces causing unwanted noice( a problem I have with 6v6:s but is common in most other tubes aswell). Finally, you can always grabb the head and use a hired/borowed speakercab on gigs.

The tubes are: 2 ecc83 in the preamp. 2 el-34 in the poweramp, and a 5u4 rectifier. I did some experimenting with a gz-34 to get a better headroom but prefered the sound of the 5u4.

The speakercab contains a Celestion Blue and a Celestion Greenback. My idea was to get both better soundquality and soundlevels by using less efficient speakers. Using two different speakers is an idea a got from Matchless, and my box is as big as theirs ( the size of a AC-30). You can switch it between 4 and 16 Ohms."

Stefan Johansson

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