Have a burning question? Something you always wanted to know about music and audio, but were afraid to ask? Just ask Hartley.
Yes, Hartley Peavey is here to answer your queries and field your comments. Here is your chance to ask one of the most accomplished authorities in the biz to answer your questions on gear and technology. We'll pick the best for a recurring column right here in the Monitor.
Brian Tetreault Asked:
"Greetings Mr. Hartley Peavey. I've been using Peavey guitar amps since I started playing 13 years ago. My personal favorite is the 6505 - it's a monster! How do you keep your products so affordable for the working musician, and make them of such high quality? I've had my trusty 6505 212 combo for a few years and it has held up and I've had no problems with it at all. Thanks for having a company that builds quality products for prices working musicians can afford and (the most important thing) products that sound amazing. "
We have been building guitars and bass amps for a very long time (48 years). We have come to know the brands and ratings of components that deliver both reliability and performance. In addition we have developed manufacturing and quality assurance techniques that deliver. We make our own cabinets, chassis, and even our own speakers. Our competition often "farms out" much of the work and this results in a higher price and also a loss of quality control - Peavey is "vertically integrated", i.e. we put it together from the "ground up" so we maximize efficiency to minimize prices! All this is done in a family owned business - not a big corporation!
Jerry Schiebelhut Asked:
"Do you perform any hands-on wiring yourself anymore? With such great products (especially the TransTube amps), I get the feeling that you are very "hands on" in the R&D process."
I tinker with amplifiers all the time, but I don't do any hands-on wiring on the production lines anymore. Of course, at the beginning of the company in the mid-'60s, I was the only person on the line. I etched the circuit boards, I inserted the pots, I did the soldering, I did the final checkout, and I even put it in the box and hauled it out on the shipping dock for the trucks. Today, that's all handled by folks who specialize in that stuff, but I do get involved in the design and specification of the products themselves.
I built my first tube amp back in the '50s, way before most of the so-called "tube gurus" were born! I started the company in 1965, and that was well over 46 years ago. I've seen many people and many companies come and go in that time, but I have had the good fortune to be able to learn and grow, and watch other people's mistakes and try to avoid them. I've also learned from the mistakes we have made over the years. It's said that experience is the great teacher; if that's true, then I've been in the classroom longer than anybody out there. We made our first amplifier where one preamp was driving another preamp back in 1970, way before any other manufacturer had ever thought of that, in spite of the fact that some people are claiming to have invented it. In any case, what has kept my interest over the years is that every day I get to learn something. That is a cumulative phenomenon.
I guess one of the biggest assets Peavey has is that we've had over 46 years to EVOLVE under the same ownership, management and location. During that period of time, most of my competitors have changed owners, changed locations, changed management, etc. Not so at Peavey. We're still devoted to being the best company out there. Obviously, to be the best you have to be different ... and we are! One of the differences is that I am still head of the company after all these years. And we have provided a structure for a lot of people to grow, and a lot of musicians to grow, because we have always believed in giving value for money, while some of my competitors seem to want to charge what the market will bear. Peavey has never done it that way simply because that's not the way we think. Sadly, there are those people who believe the more you pay, the more you get—and unfortunately that's a rather simplistic outlook that pays no attention to the ownership of the company, the debt structure, location, whether they build their products entirely in their own facilities or farm out work, electronics, etc. At Peavey, we even make our own loudspeakers, and we are the only guitar amp company to do that on the planet, as far as I know.
In any case, we believe that Peavey is indeed a different kind of company, as hopefully this response to your question illustrates. Thanks for the support!
Eli Blackwell Asked:
"What does a phantom power switch do?"
Phantom power is a feature that a lot of professional and even semi-professional mixers have these days. This feature provides power for a microphone that uses an internal preamp, such as the Peavey® PVM™ 480 condenser microphone.
The concept of "phantom power" started way back before World War II with so-called "capacitor" microphones. A capacitor microphone had a vacuum tube and internal electronics that required a power source in order to work. Some of the capacitor microphones that you can buy now have a separate power supply, but most are still phantom-powered in that the power actually comes through the mic cable that plugs into the XLR connectors in the mixer or other piece of equipment. That's what phantom power is, and it's still used today with many pro-level microphones—mostly condenser-element mics.
Some mixers have a phantom power switch that you can use to cut the phantom power on or off. The switch is there because the cables that connect the mic to the input of the mixer or other equipment are balanced line cables, and when you apply voltage to them, they can become "microphonic." This happens because the voltage differential is impressed across the conductors of the cable, and if the conductors move inside the cable relative to each other, you sometimes get an unpleasant, "microphonic" noise. The advantage of having a phantom power switch is that you can cut off the power and eliminate the potential for microphonic noise when using a typical dynamic microphone that doesn't require a power source.
Gary Watkins Asked:
"Is Peavey planning on manufacturing a pedal steel guitar in the future, and why only one (Nashville 112) steel guitar amp at this time?"
People have been asking me to manufacture steel guitars for several decades now. There are several reasons that we haven't done it and I'll try to explain why below.
Steel guitars have been around for quite awhile. Frankly, I never knew that much about steel guitars until I got involved with a guy named Julian Tharpe. Julian was a steel player for Ray Price (who was based in Texas). Julian was from Alabama and when Ray came off tour, Julian drove through Meridian to his home in Alabama and then back to Texas to begin Ray's next tour. One Saturday afternoon I was hard at work in my first little factory on 10th Avenue, when Julian came through the door wanting to know what amps I had that might be suitable for steel guitar. Frankly, I knew virtually nothing about steel guitar so I rolled my (then) biggest and best guitar amp out for Julian to try. I was amazed to see that Julian's MSA steel has two necks each having 10 strings and that with the pedals he could drop the bass strings down to the point that they were like a "limp noodle!" Julian quickly demonstrated to me that my "best amp" wasn't so good for steel. Julian was never one to "mince words," and he basically told me that my amp wasn't good enough for him to play! I kinda took this as a challenge and I started to try to learn as much as I could about steel guitar, and specifically about steel guitar amplification. This project brought me in contact with a number of steel guitar players, as well as a guy named Jim Evans who was designing tube type steel guitar amps. Our R&D program for our Session amplifier included a number of well respected steel players (in addition to Julian Tharpe). Through Maurice Anderson (MSA steel guitars) we met Curly Chalker, who was very active in this amp program along with Scotty DeWitt of Scotty's Music in St Louis. The final product that came from this very interesting program was our Session LTD and Nashville amplifiers.
We've been building steel guitars amplifiers since the early 70's, and Peavey has been the only major amp company to continuously build steel guitar amplifiers. A lot of steel players have asked me why my competitors don't do this, and the answer is pretty simple: no volume (numbers). The steel guitar market is relatively small, and as a result, the relatively small numbers sold is generally considered to be too few amplifiers for my competitors to get involved with. Over the decades there have been a few "boutique" steel amp companies that have come and gone, and ditto for steel guitar companies. Peavey has continued to make steel amplifiers just because other companies don't/won't. We even developed special Black Widow speakers for our larger steel amps because the available speakers from so-called "premium" speaker companies were totally inadequate to cover the extremely wide frequency range of a 10 string pedal steel guitar, especially when the low strings were as limp as a noodle. I'm not at all sure that making steel guitar amplifiers is worthwhile from a financial standpoint, but I still remember the huge amount of knowledge we got in dealing with trying to properly amplify steel guitar.
Currently we offer our Nashville 112, which essentially is an 80 watt amplifier with the Session preamp and a specially voiced 12" speaker. We will be introducing some new products for steel guitar in the near future. Stay tuned for some interesting developments in steel amplification, combining the very latest technology we have acquired (especially over the last 5 or 6 years).
Gary, a steel guitar is actually more of a "machine" than it is a musical instrument. Most music dealers do not understand steel guitar, and as a result won't stock them ... ditto, the strings and accessories for steel guitar. As far as I can tell, there are only a few very specialized steel guitar dealers in North America who actually know enough to set up and display steel guitars (and what specialized accessories are needed) because of the very specialized nature of the steel guitar. A pedal steel guitar is simply not something that is sold in quantity. This is probably one of the major reasons that most steel guitar companies have failed in the marketplace. Simply put, this is the reason "WHY" we have not gone into that end of the business. The small market for steel guitars and amplifiers is (unfortunately) a limiting factor, and Peavey probably wouldn't be involved in it at all if we were in business just for financial reasons. Peavey has been dedicated to the steel market for many years, just because we enjoy the challenge (not because we're making money at it). This is also the reason that most of the major amp companies don't make steel guitar amplifiers, and why many have ended up dropping their steel guitar amps after a few years of extremely low sales volume.
Peavey is the only company having the complete technology set to accomplish this, and we are confident that the results will be nothing short of phenomenal in a lightweight, easily portable package. Any previous steel amp will be a "toy" compared to this ... So keep the faith and stay tuned for more on this.
Mike Ockerts Asked:
"Hey Hartley!! Been a Peavey fan for a long time!!! So...... How do you get your beard so nicely trimmed? Thanks!!!"
Thanks for the note and the question! Early in my business, I was told that I looked "too young." So, in 1972, I grew a beard to cover up my "baby face." That was a LONG time ago! I'll probably keep the beard for another 10 years or so, and then shave it off so I'll look "lots younger"...That "baby face" is STILL under there (Ha)! I trim it myself with a handy little Oster "Performer" battery powered beard trimmer!
Incidentally, June 1st marks our 45th year in business. Hopefully, I can stick around for quite a few more years because I'm still learning something new every day, to make our products better, more efficient, a better value, etc, etc .
Thanks to the support of folks like yourself, we've been able to continue to grow for nearly half a century. Unlike most of our competitors we've stayed on track toward our goal of being the BEST company of our kind in the business. We're very fortunate to have had 45 years to "EVOLVE" under the SAME ownership, management, and location. This is in stark contrast to most of our larger competitors who have gone through numerous changes of ownership, changes in management, location, and modus operandi. If indeed experience IS "the great teacher," we've been in the "classroom" for more than 45 years and we're still learning! Thanks to our customers and supporters like you for allowing this to happen. Keep the faith and keep in touch.
Billy Stapleton Asked:
"Hello Hartley, Long time no see. Still playing 150 nights a year, can't stop. Playing an old Super 400 through a new Classic 30 1x12. Love the sound tone, response. I have modified it already so it has a standby switch, and my channel selector has an led in it. My real question is why you wire the circuit boards together with that brittle wire? Flexible cable would allow service without fear of breaking the hard wires AND they are known to be the Achilles heel of the design, as they break on their own from normal wear & tear. Thought you were rid of me years ago I bet. Much love my brother. PS. I had mine redone with flexible wire."
It has been a long time since we communicated, and I'm glad to hear that you're still at it, "picking and grinning" 150 nights a year. Also, I'm glad to hear that you're playing through one of my little Classic 30 112 amps. You said you modified it to have a standby switch. The reality is, we didn't put a standby switch on the Classics because it wasn't needed. You probably think I'm crazy for saying that, but I've found that a lot of players (and music dealers) really don't know why a standby switch is needed.
I don't want to bore you with a lot of technical jargon, but an "old hand" like yourself probably knows some of the basics about vacuum tubes. Obviously, a tube works by having an "element" that heats up and emits electrons, but what most people don't know is that when the heater/filament of a tube is cold, it has very little resistance. In many modern amplifiers (including your Classic 30) the rectifier is solid state, which doesn't require any "warm up time." Even some tube rectifiers (such as a 5Y3 or 5U4) utilize what is called a "directly heated cathode." These begin supplying high voltage to the other tubes almost as fast as solid-state rectifiers do. In early amplifiers, directly heated cathodes were (more or less) the only things used, so a so-called "standby switch" was included to avoid applying the high voltage (B+) to the plates of the tubes BEFORE the tubes heated up.
When I try to explain this to musicians, they always ask me WHY it would be necessary NOT to apply high voltage until tubes reach normal operating temperature. The reason is pretty simple. If high voltage is applied to a tube (especially output tubes) before the tube reaches its normal operating temperature, a destructive process called "cathode stripping" occurs. In the "old days," designers simply used a switch to cut off the high voltage when the amp is turned on. Unfortunately, they chose to call this a "standby switch." Because of this name, most musicians believe that the "standby switch" is just a convenient way to cut off the amp during breaks and then have it "instantly available (i.e. with the tubes warmed up) when they come back on stage after break. Certainly, the so-called "standby switch" can be used for this, but it's really not good for the tubes to be operated for any considerable period without high voltage because this can cause another destructive phenomenon called "cathode poisoning."
Again, I don't want to bore you with a lot of technical stuff, but you should be aware that the main purpose of a "standby switch" was to prevent PREMATURE application of high voltage to the tubes when the amp is turned "on." The secondary use is to inactivate the amp for SHORT periods (not to exceed 10-15 minutes, to avoid cathode poisoning). It's important to remember that that "little orange glowing part" is what makes the tube work. The cathode is usually a small nickel tube or oval structure coated with a mixture of barium/strontium oxide. This stuff is the "magic elixir" that emits electrons, and if this coating is damaged in any way, the performance of the tube "drops like a rock." It's for this reason that most of the early tube amps used a "standby switch" to DELAY application of high voltage to the tubes until they were warmed up.
Your Peavey Classic amplifier incorporates a kind of "automatic" protection system to prevent the application of high voltages instantly when the amp is turned on. These are unique devices called "in-rush current limiters." They have a unique characteristic of having a fairly high resistance when cold and a very, very low resistance when warm. Because of this, they delay the full voltage being fed to the amplifier until the "in-rush current limiters" warm up to operating temperature. This "in-rush current limiter" AUTOMATICALLY performs the necessary "delay" in application of high voltage to the tubes. Because the warm-up characteristics of these "in-rush current limiters" are matched to the operating characteristics of the tubes, they AUTOMATICALLY perform the "proper" function of a "standby switch." This is basically "foolproof" since it works automatically to perform the "protective" function of a "standby switch."
Billy, you are a tech savvy guy and if you want to learn more about this, I wrote a white paper a few years back RE: the proper purpose and usage of standby switches. It's called "Standby ... For the Truth" and is readily accessible on our website at http://www.peavey.com/support/technotes/. Actually, I've written quite a few of these to help players understand some of the technicalities of guitars and amplifiers. Some of my competitors like to keep this kind of stuff secret so they can claim it's "magic" and that they are "magicians." In my 45 years in this business, I've encountered some novel design approaches, good and bad engineering, clever packaging and some science ... but never any magic! Remember, "magic" is that which we don't understand. I've spent a lifetime trying to explain that tonality, engineering, electronics, etc, is NOT magic. It is science, art, skill, and common sense. Of course, it's much easier and lots more profitable to "claim" that something is magic, but we all really know that it isn't. Most companies have their own techniques, tricks, and "secret mojo," but it AIN'T magic! That's why I wrote these papers so as to "evaporate" the very profound amount of "B.S." in the music and sound business.
Billy, you mentioned our use of solid wires to connect the Classic 30 circuit boards. We've been building these amplifiers since 1990, and have had very few complaints about this. We had originally planned to use so-called "ribbon cables." You should be aware that this cable also uses "solid wires"... and tiny ones at that! The 22-gauge plated copper that we use is reasonably flexible, but has proven to be significantly more durable than so-called "ribbon cables." Some care is necessary when servicing these amps (which fortunately is rarely needed) but our experiments show that these soft copper wires are good for numerous "flexures." You might be interested to know that most of the so-called "vintage" amplifiers were ALL wired with solid wire (even the same gauge that we use in the Classics). I will certainly take your advice to heart and see if we can find a stranded and more flexible substitute for the connector wires.
As you know, I build stuff to last. Having built my first amplifier back in 1957, I've always tried to learn from my mistakes and those of others. If experience is the "great teacher," then I've been "in the classroom" longer than anybody I know of in the amp business. As I have told you before, any time you have a question, comment, or critique please tell me. I listen because I care (hopefully it shows).
Billy it was great to hear from you. I appreciate your input and your continuing support. Keep the faith and keep in touch.
Jason Gilchrist Asked:
"I play only Peavey amps and guitars (HP Signature) because of the great value, quality and design. I also play Peavey because you still employ many people here America and you own the company. Can America continue to prosper as more of a "service" country than a manufacturing country? I know that is a loaded question. I just wanted your thoughts since you have seen a lot in the last 44 years of doing business. The "global" economy theory just doesn't seem to be working very well right now as I recently became unemployed."
Your question is certainly interesting, but it would probably take the Wisdom of Solomon and a huge book to explain it. Companies like Peavey would never be possible were it not for the freedoms that our forefathers created, fought for, and left us as their legacy. The U.S.A. has been one of the few places on Earth where outstanding efforts of individuals can result in true success stories not only for entrepreneurs, but for hundreds of thousands of people that they employ. In many ways, my company (Peavey) has been a kind of "Cinderella Story."
I started Peavey back in 1965, the "Golden Age of conglomerates." Huge companies bought most of the family-owned music manufacturing companies during that time, and what usually happened is that prices doubled (or tripled) and quality went to hell. As I'm sure you know, music is all about "PASSION." When the "big money boys" come in and buy famous-name companies, it's been my observation that PASSION for PRODUCT, PERFORMANCE, and PEOPLE quickly gives way to PASSION for PROFIT!
When I started my company, I remembered what so many musicians and performers had told me: "I wish somebody would make great gear at a FAIR price." Well, I always have! A lot of people (like yourself) realized what we were doing. Sadly, many of people actually believe that the more they pay, the more they get. Arguably, that may be "true" SOMETIMES, but it is incredibly naïve to assume that PRICE alone can be the determining factor of quality, performance, reliability, etc. To use price alone as some kind of "benchmark" requires that you make the ridiculous assumption that ALL MANUFACTURERS are somehow the SAME. It's simply NOT so! A company's organizational structure, debt, stockholder dividends, whether or not they own their factories or lease them, and a host of other variables determine every aspect in the pricing of any product.
At Peavey, I'm still the CEO of the company after nearly 45 years. We own our factories, inventories, receivables, raw materials, etc. We don't pay dividends to the stockholder (me) and we don't have huge, hundred-million-dollar debt burdens that we have to pay interest on. In short, ALL companies ARE DIFFERENT, as is their pricing structure, and that's why PRICE is NOT a valid benchmark for determining how good a product is.
When I graduated from college back in 1965, I actually thought that I knew something. Little did I realize back then, but a college degree is little more than a "learner's permit." Believe me, I have learned a lot since I started this business! I had the good fortune to grow up in my dad's retail music shop and I had the opportunity to learn the music business from the "inside out," as opposed to from the outside in (as most of my competitors have had to do). Probably the biggest advantage that Peavey has had is that we have had nearly 45 years under the SAME OWNERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT to "EVOLVE" and grow, while most of our major competitors have suffered through multiple changes of ownership, "conglomeration," changes in management and location, etc. Not so at Peavey! The good news is that myself and my folks here at Peavey are STILL learning, growing, and applying our experience and expertise into new products, new methods, and new areas of interest. That's what STILL makes it FUN after all these years!
The issue of a global economy is a subject unto itself. It is a fact that the U.S.A. represents only about 4% of the world's population. Simply put, that means 96% of "potential customers" live OUTSIDE the U.S.A.! We've been actively involved in the export markets since 1972, and presently do business in more than 130 countries worldwide. I've had the opportunity to travel to many of those countries, and because of this, have been able to see what a wonderful land of opportunity the U.S.A. has been (up until recently). The only way that the U.S.A. has been able to encourage people to create products, technologies, companies, and build the highest standard of living in the world is by encouraging its citizens to "do well," to dare to be different, and to provide the INCENTIVE of being able to PROSPER.
I've personally witnessed what happens to countries when incentive is destroyed, where so-called "redistribution of wealth" is encouraged. Simply put, it doesn't work. Never has, never will. A free market economy is the ONLY system that allows the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish. Up until recently, the U.S.A. has had that, but sadly this seems to be changing today. This is troubling and puzzling to me since history has repeatedly taught us that Socialism simply doesn't work. Even most former Communist countries (with very few exceptions) have embraced this reality and have changed (at least) their "economic model." Those that haven't live in poverty and despair, yet many of our "leaders" ignore the "lessons of history" and apparently are trying to move us toward a Socialist environment. Like the great Spanish philosopher Santayana taught us, "Those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it." For Peavey's part, we're going to continue to do the best that we can, just as we have for more than four decades.
Jason, I apologize for maybe getting on a "soapbox" here, but Americans are dealing with the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression (most of it caused by the greed and corruption of a few people, as well as some extremely misguided members of our "leadership" (') in Washington). Keep the faith and keep in touch.
J.L. Nabors Asked:
"Hi Hartley! I've been a Peavey man since 1985,when I purchased a Patriot guitar & Envoy amp! I still have the guitar today along with a Studio Pro 112! My question is one of curiosity - the guitar is a 24 3/4 scale length with 23 frets! Why 23? Does it have to do with intonation? I love my Patriot, and it has aged gracefully but the 23 frets have always intrigued me, and nobody seems to have an answer for me! Thanks for your time, and dedication to a quality product!
Thanks for your note and your support over the years! You asked about why we would use 23 frets instead of the more often seen 22 and the lesser used 24 fret variations...The simple answer is, it depends on the guitar re: the size, shape, etc, etc. and the relative position of the pickups. In a few cases, there was simply a space to add an additional fret. This additional fret has nothing to do with intonation, since that is determined by the two "witness points" (i.e. bridge saddle and nut). We figured that one extra fret would add slightly more versatility than 22 frets, and slightly less than 24 frets. I guess what I'm trying to say re: the 23 fret setup is that...we COULD, so we DID!
As you know, Peavey always goes out of its way to be BETTER, and most of the time that means that we have to be "DIFFERENT." While many of our competitors are seemingly focused on "recreating the glories of the past," Peavey focuses on building the best we know how to do. Fortunately, our expertise has been growing exponentially for well over 44 years. I built my first amp when I was in the 10th grade (which was long before most of today's amp builders were born). If experience is the "great teacher," I've been "in school" a long, long time. Thanks to the support of folks like yourself, I haven't "flunked out" yet! Today, we cover the range from simple vacuum tube practice amps, to the most advanced digital modeling technology available with our Vypyr® modeling amps and our ReValver™ amp modeling software.
Back in the mid-70s, we instituted computer controlled machinery into the manufacturing of guitars. Back then, ALL my competitors said, "Peavey is crazy"...Unbelievably, 35 years later they're still saying, "Peavey is crazy!" This seems very strange, because after we proved that you could make guitar parts with computers, everybody began doing it and have been for a long, long time. I never cease to be amazed at many of the established companies who claim, "Peavey is crazy," and then copy our products, packaging, and methods of manufacturing...Go figure!
In any case, what keeps me interested in this music and sound business is the opportunity to learn, grow, and create new and innovative products. This is how we've managed to earn more patents (in our fields of endeavor) than all of our competitors combined. My original goal was to be the "BEST" and that hasn't changed. Of course, being the BEST, literally means you have to be DIFFERENT and we are! Hopefully, this response to your question is evidence of that. Keep the faith and keep in touch.
Orlando Mercado Asked:
"Thanks for all the wonderful instruments and equipment that you have offered working musicians throughout your career. I am particularly fond of the Classic Series guitar amplifiers, which prompts the following two questions.
How involved are you in the design of your amplifiers and which of them is your personal favorite?
Thanks for your comments. I much appreciate your recognition of the fact that we've always tried to build great gear for the musicians and sound men of the world at fair and reasonable prices. Sadly, many people apparently believe that "the more you pay the more you get." Thank God that is true only some of the time, and is never true with Peavey, simply because we DON'T price our gear at "what the market will bear." We price our equipment so as to make a fair and reasonable profit, and to pass along the very best equipment at the lowest price possible to our customers.
You mentioned our Classic® series of amplifiers, which are very unique in a number of ways. First of all, I am particularly fond of the sound of EL84 tubes. These tubes were developed in England during the early 50s as a competitor for the venerable 6V6 tube that was introduced by RCA in 1937 as an output tube for car radios. The 6V6 utilized an RCA patent, and is what engineers call a "beam-power tetrode." It requires much less drive voltage than its older brother (the 6L6) and has a lower heater current since it was primarily aimed at car radio output stages. The EL84 is not a beam-powered tetrode, but is a pentode (5 elements) that was specifically designed for what the British used to call "domestic hi-fi sets." The EL84's technical characteristics are somewhat similar to the American 6V6, but it also has unique characteristics that make it very interesting as an output tube for guitar amps.
Every technician and/or engineer always has "opinions" about which tube and/or tube configuration sounds best. My opinion is that EL84's generally have the best overload and distortion characteristics of any tube, better than the 6V6, EL34, 6L6, etc, etc. It's for this reason that I insisted that all of our Classic® amplifiers be designed around EL84 output tubes, as opposed to the usual 6L6 configuration. I believe that our EL84 powered output section is hugely responsible for the incredible sound and versatility of our Classic® series, especially when compared to competitors offerings utilizing either 6L6s, or in a very few cases, 6V6s. A quick listen to ours vs. theirs will quickly convince most players of this.
You asked which of our amplifiers is my personal favorite...That's easy. My personal favorite is our "Classic Delta Blues" amp. The reasons are fairly simple. First of all, the "Delta Blues™" IS powered by four EL84s, yielding a little over 30 watts into a specially designed (guitar voiced )15" speaker. Above, I described a few of the virtues of EL84s, but the fact is, EL84's still can sound "gritty" when driven into overload. Many people think that tubes "clip" with the waveform edges being "rounded"...That's not true. Tubes clip just as "squarely" as transistors do, albeit usually asymmetrically. Any "rounding" (smoothing) comes from the output transformer approaching saturation. As it does, the extremes of the frequency response drop off rapidly, thus pleasingly rounding off some of the "grit" and edge from the overdriven output tubes. Even with a properly designed output transformer that allow some of the above described effects, some of the grit can get through, and that's why I tend to prefer a 15" speaker that has been specially voiced for guitar. 15" speakers add a lot of "fullness" at the bottom, and because a 15 doesn't extend too far out at the top end, it tends to smooth out any residual "grittiness" from the overdriven output tubes.
Our "Delta Blues™" amp puts out about 30 watts, which is really not very much power, so it's fairly easy to "ride" the amp close to its maximum output. This can even be done by your playing technique, so that you just have to push the strings a little harder to drive the amp into that "chimey overload." The 15" speaker in the "Delta Blues™" smoothes out the high end, and the result is a "crunchy" overdrive sound with a "chimey" (not raspy) top end. When the output stage is in overload, additional harmonics are generated, which makes the 15" speaker SOUND like it has more top end than it actually does...Trust me, it's a "harmonic" thing!
In any case, the combination of the four EL84s, in a decent size enclosure, with a properly (guitar) voiced 15 produces an incredible Blues, Country/Rock kinda sound, which is what I grew up listening to. I was a Blues fan long before it was "cool" to like Blues. Many of the early Blues guys played through amps that had 15" speakers, so for me, the "Delta Blues™" wins hands down tonewise...It isn't the loudest, nor the most powerful one we build, but for me...for my sound...the "Delta Blues™" is as good as it gets, and it's as good as I've heard....Amen!
Cole Gaskins Asked:
"Hartley, simple question, why do you think Peavey doesn't get the credit it deserves in the resale market? I myself buy up all the used Peavey gear I can get my hands on while prices are low! For now! Thanks for some great gear!"
You asked an interesting question that I'm not sure I can fully answer since it involves feelings (perceptions) rather than facts and reality.
I'm sure you're aware, that Rock 'n' Roll (as we know it) began in the South and really started taking hold in the mid-50's. From about 1955 to the early 60's, so-called "Rock 'n' Roll" started out with a number of artists primarily from the South...for example: Elvis, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Ray Charles etc, etc. Rock 'n' Roll became a cultural phenomenon that swept our country. By the early 60's, Rock 'n' Roll/Pop music had somewhat "degenerated" with lots of "pretty boy singers" predominating the charts...In essence, Rock had become a little "stale" and the Motown sound was just getting started...Meanwhile, in England their musicians were profoundly influenced by American Rock 'n' Roll and they proceeded to "re-voice" American Rock. Thus, the so-called "British Invasion" started with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and a host of other British artists. Rock music exploded again with the "English sound."
During the first Rock 'n' Roll boom, most of the companies making musical products were family owned: Leo Fender owned Fender, Bill Ludwig owned Ludwig, the Steinway family owned Steinway, etc, etc. The 1960's-1970's were the "Golden Age" of the "Conglomerates" in the USA. With the coming of the "British Invasion," music exploded again and most of the family owned music manufacturing firms in the US were taken over by conglomerates. Columbia Records Distributing (CBS) bought Fender, Thomas Organ bought Vox, The Norlan Corporation bought Gibson, etc, etc. This trend really was in "full swing" by 1965, which is the year I graduated from college and started Peavey Electronics.
When the conglomerates began to take over many of the larger (and more established) music companies an interesting process began. Prices went up rapidly and (in most cases) the QUALITY went DOWN. In only 2-3 years, many products DOUBLED in price. A Vox "Super Beatle" in the mid 60's was $1500. This is when gasoline was about 33¢ a gallon and a six-pack was a buck. Today, that price would be at least 10 times what it was then. $1,500 is incredible for a 100 watt solid state amp with four 12s and a horn tweeter in the mid-60's.
In looking at the "musical" marketplace in the 60's, I decided I would DO just what most every musician I've ever met eventually got around to saying, i.e."I wish some company would make GREAT gear at FAIR prices." This sounded like a pretty good plan to me, so I never did try to price my product based on "what the market would bear" (as did all of my competitors). I figured up the cost of my parts and components, the labor, and overhead; then added on what I thought was a "FAIR AND REASONABLE" profit. It just so happens that my product was priced at least 20-30% BELOW my "conglomerated competitors" who apparently thought that it was "okay" to make a huge gross margin!
As it turns out, Peavey was incredibly successful. We implemented the latest production technology, automated equipment, and the industry's best industrial design and packaging. The truth is, we did make a BETTER product for LESS because we didn't have the huge "BURDEN" of a CORPORATE "SUGAR DADDY" (spell conglomerate) to "feed." Amazingly, this is still true today! I still own my company, I still call the shots, and we do a lot of things that my "conglomerated competitors" are not willing (and sometimes not able) to do.
Here's where the "crux" of your question begins...Many people falsely believe that old adage that "you always get what you pay for." While this may be true in a few cases, it is definitely NOT the "universal case." To use PRICE ALONE as an "INDICATOR" of performance, quality, and reliability is a questionable practice...The only possible way that price could/would be a reliable indication, is to ASSUME that "ALL companies were the SAME" (I.e. same design, same corporate organization, debt structure, etc, etc)...Everybody knows (or should) that all companies are no more the SAME than all guitar players are the SAME...Actually it's both naive and incorrect to even consider such an irrational assumption.
In pricing any product, ALL "factors of production" must be considered. A company that has little or no debt can build equipment more efficiently than a company with hundreds of millions of dollars of debt, on which huge interest has to be paid, which is always passed through to the customer (who eventually pays it)! Such is NOT the case with Peavey, nor has it ever been! Ironically, for more than 44 years Peavey has, provided the best possible product, at fair and reasonable prices. Meanwhile, while most of our competitors have been sold, resold, conglomerated (or re-conglomerated) etc, etc.
So the crux of this issue, is that some people apparently believe (falsely) that Peavey, one of the very few companies that has consistently delivered quality products, fair prices, top performance, and unmatched reliability for over 44 years is somehow "not as good as other manufacturers." Why' Because they have CONSISTENTLY offered the musician world class products at REASONABLE PRICES instead of "charging what the market will bear"...Go figure!
Incredibly, a lot of intelligent people ardently believe that "the more you pay the more you get." When I ask people if they believe this adage, almost everybody says "yes"...UNTIL I ask them a very simple question..."Have you ever paid big $$ to go to a concert and the show sucked'" Almost everybody answers yes to that question, and then I simply ask if they felt they "got what they paid for." Interestingly, THE UNIVERSAL ANSWER IS ALWAYS NO! Then, I ask if they still believe that you ALWAYS get what you pay for," which is the exact same premise relating to price of Peavey vs. our competitors.
To me, the irony of all this is that Peavey has been giving musicians what they asked for, for over 44 years; yet somehow, some still consider Peavey to be "cheap" equipment, and therefore erroneously assume that our gear is "not as good" (or better) than the competition. Frankly, I built my first amplifier in the late 50's, which is BEFORE most of today's "amp gurus" were even born. If experience is the "great teacher," I've been "in school" LONGER than any of my major competitors. Over 44 years, we have earned well over 100 patents, which is more than most of our competitors combined (in our fields of endeavor). I guess what I'm saying, is that the "irony" is that I feel a little like the "Rodney Dangerfield" of the musical equipment market. I've often wondered if that would be the case if my company was based in California, New York, etc, etc. Peavey has won MOER product awards from industry trade magazines than any other in the fields we serve, and the good news is all this is STILL going on and I'm STILL involved EVERYDAY IN EVERY WAY! When I started my company back in 65, my goal was NOT to be the BIGGEST, NOT to be the most profitable, but to be the BEST! Obviously, you can't be "THE BEST" without being "DIFFERENT"! We are! Over the years, Peavey equipment has gotten better, better, and better. We even make our own loudspeakers, while most of our competitors are just "box stuffers"...It's the "DIFFERENCE" that counts!
Building and being the best is not easy, but after 44 years, that continues to be my company's and my personal goal. The good news is, "the fat lady sure as hell hasn't sung yet at Peavey! Meanwhile, history seems to be "repeating itself" because a whole new bunch of conglomerates, investment bankers, and/or "takeover artists" are once again buying up music and audio companies. The advantage is that I WAS THERE watching in the 60's and 70's, and I saw what happened. I feel reasonably certain that the end RESULT will be the SAME this time around...We'll see. In the meantime, please know that Peavey continues to set the pace re: tone, technology, reliability, etc, etc. all at fair (not cheap) prices. Keep the faith.
Nestor Katimbang Asked:
"In mid freq, why does 250hz seems to be the standard cut-off band?"
I really don't understand your question in a number of ways. 250 Hz is not "standard" in any way as far as a "notch" (that I assume is what you mean when you say "cut-off band"). Most guitar amplifiers do have a built in notch, which results from an "intersection" of a low frequency and high frequency boost. My experience has been that this "notch" is usually somewhere between 350 Hz and about double that. Some amplifiers are designed in such a way as to allow that "notch" to be swept over a considerable range. I recall only one manufacturer using a 250 Hz center point for their notch. It's very low, and would probably affect the "fullness" of the sound on the bottom end. The most common "tone stack" is actually a form of "notch filter" that yields the characteristic guitar sound; therefore, a slight variation of this is used by almost every major guitar amp manufacturer. 250 Hz is a little below what my experience has shown me to be most commonly used. One thing's for sure, nothing is "standard" with guitar amps!
Ken Kolberg Asked:
"American made Peavey amps of the past are known as the toughest, most road worthy amps in the world. Are the amps built out of country capable of living up to the high standards set by the American made amps?
I started building amplifiers in the late 50's. By the time I graduated from high school, I'd built quite a few amps for myself and my friends. This practice continued for most of my college career. In 1964, I decided that I wanted to build the best amps available. By the time I had graduated from college, many of the family owned music manufacturers had been bought out by huge companies like CBS, LTV, Norland, etc, etc. When I started Peavey 44 years ago (1965) I set out to do what every musician has always wished for..."good gear at fair prices"...That's what we've been doing since the company officially started June, 1 1965.
Good gear at fair prices was certainly a major objective, but another was building gear that was reliable. Some of my early amplifiers weren't as reliable as I'd hoped for, but by 1965, I had already had quite a few years of building amps under my belt. I used that experience with our first amplifiers, and every year since then, our experience has gotten better and better. One unique thing about Peavey is that we've had 44 years to EVOLVE and grow under the same ownership and management based on our own experience (as well as watching closely the techniques, circuitry, and approaches used by our competitors). Because Peavey is one of the few companies in our end of the music and sound business that has existed 44 years under the SAME OWNERSHIP and MANAGEMENT, we have the good fortune to remember history, so we've always tried to NOT make the same mistake twice. This also applies to closely observing our competitors and not making the same mistakes we've seen them make. This has resulted in Peavey having the most reliable gear available because we constantly utalize our unmatched record of experience. Interestingly, I built my first tube amp before many of the current crop of "amp gurus" were born! Yet, many of these guys claim to have some "magic"...Frankly, I doubt it. I've been in this business a long, long time and I've run into a lot of science & technology, quite a lot of technique (good and bad) and quite a bit of "art"...But NEVER any "magic." Strangely, guitar players (in particular) seem to believe in magic... I've NEVER encountered any "magic." I believe that what people don't understand they consider magic, but if you UNDERSTAND techniques and technologies, then it becomes SCIENCE.
You asked about the quality of our Chinese made gear. Early Chinese stuff was, frankly, not very good. The same was true re: Japanese goods and later Korean goods. Today, Japan makes high quality goods because they went through the "learning curve" with much of the techniques and technology "borrowed" from the USA, UK, and Europe; ditto the Koreans. For the last decade or so, China has been learning the same lessons and has progressed amazingly fast. Peavey was the LAST major manufacturer to move production of low and medium priced gear to China. We resisted that decision until it became clear that all of our competitors in those price ranges had already done so, and it was obvious that USA made gear simply could not compete pricewise with China made gear. When we finally got around to making that decision, we decided that we would design our products here, (including the packaging) and manufacture it in China using components we know and had experience with...This is in stark contrast to many of our competitors, who basically buy "off the shelf products" in China and merely change the faceplate or logo. Because Peavey designs all our products and the packaging (utilizing components that we know will work) our China made gear is apparently just as reliable as our US made gear. In spite of making a considerable amount of our low and medium priced gear in China, Peavey retains extensive manufacturing capabilities in the USA, including our recently opened 19th Street Custom Shop. All in all, we believe that our US based design, packaging, and component selection with Chinese manufacture is a good combination, which utilizes the best capabilities of our USA design team (and their vast experience) and our Chinese suppliers. Customers everywhere "claim" to want to purchase USA made product, but unfortunately, when confronted with American pricing, many opt for Chinese made goods. I suppose that's just a fact of life that has to be dealt with. In any case, I feel like we are offering the best product in every category, whether it's made in our extensive USA facilities or sourced in China (but designed in the USA).
Darryl Wilson Asked:
"Mr. Peavey...I'm just curious as to why,unlike gibson or fender peavey changes models so often as opposed to having a few models and simply making subtle changes?I seriously love peavey guitars but models like the vandenberg were discontinued only to be revisited.I would like to see the t-series updated.But that's just me.Thanks for your time..."
You asked why, unlike some of our competitors, Peavey has so many models as opposed to having fewer models with subtle changes.
This is a rather complex question to which there's no simple answer. However, I would ask you to consider that the companies you mentioned have not come out with a "commercially successful" NEW guitar in 35 years. At Peavey, we're always looking for a better product. Our products cover an extremely wide range of music and styles. Over our 44 years in business, we have earned approximately 180 patents around the world. We believe that this very unique in the music and sound business, and verifies our ongoing "quest to be the best." Apparently, our competitors are "satisfied" with designs that are over 40 years old... I'm not! Musical trends and artists "come and go," and since our products are designed for artists or particular music genres, our products also tend to "come and go." An example of this are the so-called "shaped guitars," which were the "in thing" during the 80's. They subsequently went out of style, and now we see evidence of so-called "shape guitars" coming back (history repeats itself).
Some people have asked me if Peavey has a "signature sound" in our amplifiers...The obvious answer is no. We make amplifiers for specific artists, and we make amplifiers for specific genres. For instance, our JSX products were designed with (and for) Joe Satriani. Our Delta Blues was designed primarily for Blues players. Our Nashville series was originally designed for a small, but very difficult application...Steel guitars. While many of our competitors seem to get in a "groove," we voice our products to please specific customers because no one "size or flavor fits all."
You mentioned that you would like to see the T series updated...That certainly would be possible, but if we did then it really wouldn't be the T series. Back in the 70's, people wanted very heavy guitars because they thought that the heavier body gave the guitar more sustain. Because of that, we made our guitars out of Northern Ash and the basses (with bigger bodies) out of Southern Ash. As a result, most of our T series guitars were fairly heavy, and a number of people over the years have mentioned that they love the guitar but hate the fact that it was so heavy. They either forgot (or didn't know) that these guitars made in the 70's and early 80's were designed for the customer of that period who wanted heavier guitars...That trend changed, and that's when we decided to discontinue the T series.
I'd guess that if we reintroduced those great guitars today (with their significantly heavier bodies than what people today expect) their "reception" would be marginal. Please know that musical instruments (like music itself) is not a "constant," but is constantly changing and moving in different directions...We're trying to follow those changes. We've been successful because we've been able to do that, whereas some of our major guitar competitors have failed repeatedly when trying to introduce "new" guitars. They stick with the tried and true, even though their major products were deigned many decades ago. What would happen if the automobile makers were still making 1954 Ford's or Chevy's in 2009' My guess is that they really wouldn't sell except to a few collectors.
To sum up, we design new amps and guitars because Peavey can. Some of our competitors have been very unsuccessful in trying to come up with anything other than their 50 year old designs, so they have basically stopped trying and some refer to their countless "reissues" as "new"! (''')...Peavey continues its quest for perfection and always will.
Mark Croft Asked:
"Hello, I have been using Peavey equipment since 1981 and I would like to ask, which piece of equipment did you find hardest to get from the drawing board into production and why?
Thanks for your support since '81! In our 44 years, we've designed an incredible number of guitar amps, bass amps, and sound systems. Peavey is one of the only companies that manufacture the entire "audio chain," from the microphone, through to guitar strings, and including speakers. We've faced design challenges most of our competitors (who don't build everything in the audio chain) have never seen. Doing it all gives us insight and understanding into the vital INTERFACE between the guitar, the amp, speaker, etc, etc. and lets us understand audio problems better than many of our competitors who only build one piece. We do it all; therefore, we have learned an incredible amount about the technologies and techniques of the interactions of the many "links" in the chain.
Generally speaking, the most difficult products are where we work with technology outside of Peavey. Virtually no single company on the planet has all the technology that extends across every possible field. This is true, especially in the digital age where there are numerous specialists whose expertise is in development of sounds, models, or applications such as in our MediaMatrix Digital Audio Network System...Perhaps the most difficult project we've done is bring to market MediaMatrix, which we introduced in 1993. This is an awesome software based digital networking system, having source code over 1 million lines! Think about that.
Recently, we worked very hard to bring to the market the most advanced modeling amp system out there. We call it the Vypyr. This was a 3 year program with many difficulties. We tried to utilize "appropriate technology," which means that if it was better to be accomplished digitally, we did; but if we could produce a better tonality using analog, we did. Frankly, one of the huge advantages of our Vypyr system is that it is a "COMBINATION" of the best of digital and best of analog! That's why it sounds so much better than the competition! With that said, I can tell you that it was an incredibly difficult project to meld two design teams (one digital, one analog) into a unified market changing design, which is what our Vypyr modeling amps have become. There've been many other difficult projects over the years, but as our expertise and experience has grown some aspects have become easier...On the other hand, the "EXPECTATION" of our customers has grown exponentially.
For many years, one of our most popular products was our Rage practice amp. This was a 15 watt amp, with an 8" speaker, a fairly small cabinet, and a somewhat basic feature set. Today, for the same price, we offer our Vypyr 15, which is also a 15 watt amp with an 8" speaker, but with an incredible set of analog and digital effects. The relative performance differential between our Rage and our Vypyr is enormous! The Rage was a basic 15 watt amplifier, and the Vypyr includes the best of the Rage (Transtube) plus incredible amp models, digital effects, etc, etc. and also includes LED indicators around each knob so you can tell where your settings are. Our competitors omit this vital point using just an "unlit" rotary encoder so you never know where the knob is set when changing programs or when you set the amps to begin with. Our "WYSIWYG" (What you see is what you get) costs more than competing systems, but is infinitely more user friendly.
Peavey has always offered the customer more "bang for the buck,' which we are able to do because Peavey is not controlled by some conglomerate, investment banking firm, or huge outstanding bank debt like most of its competitors. Peavey always has been a family owned enterprise whose focus has continued to push the "state of the art" for more than 44 years! As the expectations of our customers get higher, our challenge is to focus our experience and the best technology (be it analog or digital) toward getting even better performance, reliability, tonality, etc, etc. This quest continues today. In fact, that's what keeps me interested after well over 4 decades at the "helm" of Peavey.