Holy smokes its been FOREVER since I wrote a post….time to catch up!
The more savvy among you may have heard of a rare Marshall called a “Pig”. In the late 60s, Marshall’s very first foray into 200 watt amps was a unit called the Marshall 200. It utilized 4 KT88 tubes, and a very unique preamp not used by any other amp in the Marshall line. The 200 in this configuration only lasted about a year or so and was replaced with the more common Marshall Major which used a preamp much more akin to the other JMP amps at the time. The original 200s are rare. And theres really only one famous guitar player known for using them: Mick Ronson during his time with Bowie and The Spiders from Mars. The story goes that Ronno nicknamed it “The Pig” because of its large size.
The controls on a Pig were unique. The preamp circuitry actually separates the input signal into two paths, one filtered for increased treble and one for increased bass. Each path has a volume control associated with it to allow the player to turn up/down the highs and lows respectively. Following that there is a single master volume control to rein in the overall volume, and thats all you need! The amp had intrigued me for some time but no one really needs a 200 watt amp nowadays, so what I set out to do was capture the same tone but with a smaller output section. Instead of four KT88 output tubes, I went with two KT66 tubes to get it down to a much more reasonable 45-50 watts. Other than that the preamp is essentially stock the way Marshall made, with information culled from various schematic snippets, photos of original units, and the input of other experts. The result is the Balls Piglet!
No clips yet, but they’ll be coming soon. Sonically it nails the Ronson/Bowie sound!
Just getting the word out that theres another pedal swap coming up at MAIN DRAG MUSIC with a chance to win one of the new Ballsmasters! Main Drag is a *fantastic* store that has been so good to me over the years. Check em out!
It pleases the fuzz-gods when I get recorded clips of Balls pedals in action. This one just came in from Justin from the band Honeysmoke out of Charleston, SC. He’s using his Buzz Balls unit on their recording for “Gypsy Girl”. Its an awesome usage and a perfect reminder that there’s plenty of room for fuzz-tones outside of the heavy/psyche/stoner box. He’s told me that the track isnt finished yet, but it sounds absolutely killer to me. The Buzz Balls solo is great and happens at about the 1:50 mark in the track. Thanks, Justin!
As a reminder the Buzz Balls is currently on sale for $145. Get em direct through this site or at Main Drag Music in Brooklyn, NY!
Hey all, got some stuff on the shelves that needs to get on its way to make room for other new stuff, so i’ll be periodically posting some special deals. In this case its a deal on the last Uni-Balls units.
I’ve got two of these available; one normal and one misprint with a slightly crooked label. These are absolutely KILLER one knob germanium fuzzes built with a batch of Mullard OC59s. Compare to the Colorsound One-Knob Fuzz, Vox Distortion Booster, or DAM Meathead but with germanium transistor goodness and tuned special to my taste. The tuning is just slightly darker than what you get with the Colorsound box. The OC59s sound stellar. Nice, big and round, with a minimal amount of rasp. These guys are total stoner riff machines. Sprague/Vishay caps, IRC Carbon comps, Carling footswitch. One knob controlling output volume. $150 USD for the normal one, and $120 for the misprint. $10 domestic shipping, and if you want international shipping ill have to quote you.
Introducing the Balls Powerful Booster! What we have here is a recreation of the famous Colorsound Power Boost of the late sixties. The circuit provides a huge volume boost to push your amp into lush, smooth distortion. Coupled with the boost is a tone control circuit that allows for big booming bass, and bright, glassy highs. The tone control is a boost/cut type and leaving the controls in their middle positions results in a basically flat response. Turning each one down or up results in a respective cut or boost of that frequency. The Powerful Booster also uses the original 18V power supply using two 9V batteries to provide increased boost capability. There is also a normal external power jack to accept standard, center-negative pedal power. Using this jack, the Powerful Booster can be run off of a normal 9 volts, as one would with a standard pedal, and the only affect is a little bit less boost. One can also supply 18 volts using the jack, if a suitable 18 volt,center negative power supply is available.
Balls Powerful Boosters were built as part of a custom order for Tommy’s Guitar Shop in Everett, WA, where they will be in stock shortly.
When it rains it pours. Here’s a new, more official name to an old idea: the Balls BF-40. The concept here is a distilled down version of several Fender amps from the 60s, commonly known as the “blackface” amps because of their black control panels. This is a similar circuit to the bones of a Super or Twin reverb, but just one normal channel. Its clean and pretty through most of the control range but if you really jack it it’ll crunch up nicely. Essentially its a perfect clean amp to be used as is, or as a platform for pedalboard fanatics. It features normal high and low inputs, a volume control, and a full treble/middle/bass tone stack.
40W. 1x12AX7, 1x12AT7, 2x6L6GC. Fixed Bias with external test and control.
Introducing the Balls TF-40. This is my take on a classic “tweed” style circuit in the 40W range. The attempt here was to incorporate all the things that are definitive and characterizing of several tweed Fender amps like the Super, the Pro, and the Bandmaster. There is clean tone to be found here, but what most people want in a tweed is some of that classic crunchy grit a la Neil Young, Pete Townshend, and so many others. This guy has that grit in spades. It features normal high and low inputs, as well as a normal and bright channel that can be jumpered if you like. The tone stack is a characteristic 50’s style Fender one with Bass and Treble controls, as well as a Presence control. A master volume was added per the customer’s request, which is accessible from the rear of the amp.
40W. 1x12AY7, 2x12AX7, 2x6L6GC, 1x5U4GB. Fixed Bias with external test and control.