Peavey Backstage Plus still rockin’

IMG_3282-300 I bought this amp from my brother a long time ago for $50, quickly blew the speaker which I replaced, but then left it languishing in the basement after concentrating more on acoustic music. Now that one of the kids has an electric guitar I’ve found myself playing my Gibson SG more often as well but it didn’t take long to figure out that the acoustic Marshall amp I normally use with the Ovation for gigs just doesn’t cut it for electric guitar. I brought up the old (1987 vintage) Peavey amp to test it out. The pots were really “crackly”, ie: turning the main volume knob with the amp powered up would elicit a terrible scratchy electrical noise as it changed the volume. Some of the other knobs were similarly affected.

IMG_3274-300I removed the pre-amp by taking out the four black screws on the top of the case (I put the case down before taking them all the way out in case the pre-amp would fall down), undid a screw on the inside which holds a clip which helps route signal wire to the pre-amp so I could remove the pre-amp and place it on top of the case so I could see the circuit board. I got some contact cleaner (DeoxIT G5), took a cloth and laid it over the board, then I sprayed the cleaner into the little access holes on the pots (image from an online tutorial because I forgot to take a picture). pots I set the kids to the task of turning the knobs about 100 times left and right, reassembled the pre-amp into the case, and waited about 2 hours for the spray to dry before powering it up again.

All the crackly noises are gone, the pots increase and decrease settings noiselessly and frankly, for what it is, this old Peavey sounds awesome with my SG going through an analog Pigtronix Aria DisNortion [Sic] pedal. I liked the Aria better than the Ibanez TS-9 that I originally wanted.

Recent status and projects update

Its been a long time since I’ve written about anything here! There are a couple reasons, not the least of which is that I hurt myself and developed some kind of tendinitis. This was probably because I ignored some early warning signs and kept mountain biking despite pain and weakness in my elbows. Its been over a month of no riding at all and I’m still not 100%, and sort of afraid of going out and aggravating it so I’m going to give it a little more time. Writing and playing music have suffered as well as biking.

Pressures at work, and far too many hobbies and interests have also relegated writing to the back burner of late. Regarding the former, its probably best if I don’t go into any details here but suffice to say there has been some measurable increase in stress but am still gainfully employed so can’t complain too loudly anyway. As to the latter, I’ve got a bunch of things I meant to write about and haven’t as yet. I’ll list some of them here in the hope that I’ll get around to writing about them eventually.

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Creating the Book of Song

What is the Book of Song?

In late 2008 I was getting tired of lugging around the thick three ring binder that held all the songs my little troupe of folk musicians had learned up to that point. Over time the lyrics to the songs we did, complete with chords and sometimes with some of the history behind the tunes had been stuck into a binder. The separate sheets had ended up in plastic sheet protectors, and I’d gone so far as to create a table of contents page just so I could actually find a specific song in what had become a huge tome of tunes. This meant I had to pencil in page numbers on each page and keep the pages in order in the binder. The book had grown to several hundreds of pages thick and was ornamented here and there with artwork I (and others) had drawn, it included some sheet music for melody lines to the less well known songs or instrumental pieces which were included in haphazard fashion but the thing was growing too darn heavy, and keeping up with the Table of Contents was a pain. We each had our own books that had grown in similar fashion so we wouldn’t have to look on with each other when we got together. The different books might have notes specific to the part we played, sometimes things were crossed out or alternate keys were scribbled in. It was hard to mark up the sheets since they were in sheet protectors – if something changed you had to take them out first which was a pain. I decided that I’d compile and lay out a complete “Book of Song” with all our notes which we could print using an online print service (I’m a fan of so we could each have a nice professional looking bound copy. This would also serve as a sort of “yearbook” marking all the tunes we knew to that point. Its now many years later and the time has come to make a new Book with tunes learned since the last volume was created and this time I wanted to do it all with free software if I could. This is the story of how I created these two song books. Warning: this is a LONG post.

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True tempered guitar necks

Last year I posted here about why its not really possible to get a guitar in tune. I heard from a friend today about tru-temperment fret boards which may actually make it possible! Some anecdotal posts in guitar forums indicate that you can play barre chords all the way up the neck with one of these and remain perfectly in tune.

In (somewhat related) readings during lunch today I also found this site and I remembered another conversation with some friends recently about the difference between a 440Hz A and 442Hz A. Can you hear the difference between 440Hz and 442Hz?

Even if you can’t discriminate the difference between them when playing them one after another, if you play them simultaneously you’ll notice the interference pattern (listen for a waa waa waa sound). This is another way I was taught to tune an electric guitar – while playing a harmonic note on the 12th fret of the lower string, play a harmonic on the 5th fret of the higher string and listen for the interference pattern and tune until the waa waa slows down and disappears. (I’m not at a guitar right now and while my fingers would remember the right frets, my mind doesn’t so if thats not right please correct).

Marshall AS50D in my future

I’ve been looking into getting a new amp to replace the old Peavey Backstage Plus that I’ve been “making do” with for almost 20 years. The old 35W Peavey looks like a 1987 model. I got it from my brother for pretty cheap sometime around then, and a few years back I replaced the original speaker with a 9″ Pyle Driver, but it worked well for a looong time. Recently I’ve been getting some buzzing sounds from it and the knobs need a serious dose of tuna-lube, and I decided it was finally time to retire it.

The hunt
I started looking for amps a couple months back and got some really good information from my buddy Todd of the Trespassengers and I immediately ignored it all. Well, that’s not true, as you’ll see. One of the things he suggested was that I look at the Mackie SRM450s which I did.
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