Neale Amplification Custom Baxandall Tone Stack

Introduction

Having recently moved back to Adelaide (mid 2018), I’ve reconnected with a lot of old friends and fellow musicians. One such person is Andrew Neale. Andrew is a valve amplifier builder and repairer who I’ve known for over 10 years. We first met when I was looking for someone to service a Marshall JTM45 and we’ve kept in touch over the years. 

Recently, Andrew presented me with an amplifier to sample. The amp features a custom Baxandall tone stack Andrew has developed. I’m not an amp technician so I can’t tell you exactly how this works except to say, it’s amazingly simple and sounds fantastic. 

 

Tone Stack Info… 

The tone stack Andrew has developed is housed and accessed from a four way variable rotary switch. In addition to standard master bass and treble controls, the rotary switch reconfigures the voicing of the amplifier into four distinct modes, as follows:

  1. Jazz
  1. Scoop 
  1. Flat
  1. Sparkle

I should point out that this is not a channel switching amplifier. Rather, it’s an elegant single channel design that in conjunction with the four way rotary switch, offers incredible tonal versatility. 

Other features of the prototype amp include the following:

  • Hand-wired all valve preamp and power amp
  • 40 watt 6L6GT power amp, cathode bias, valve rectified (GZ34)
  • Master bass and treble EQ controls 
  • Master volume control
  • Hi and lo inputs
  • Dwell and mix controls for valve powered reverb circuit
  • Hand-built solid pine cabinet with dove-tail joints
  • Cabinet design features two front panels that act as a convenient guitar stand
  • Present configuration is loaded with a re-coned 15” JBL speaker
  • Future build would use the Weber 15” California speaker


 

Recording Setup Notes

The prototype Neale amplifier features a re-coned 15" JBL (a great speaker BTW) however, this is not nearly as common as other makes and models of guitar speakers. To keep the samples more accessible and in keeping with “what most guitar players know,” I unplugged this and ran the amp into a closed back Traynor 1X12 with a Celestion Vintage 30. The cabinet was close miked with an Audio Technica AT2035 large diaphragm condenser microphone. From here, the signal runs into a Yamaha MG12XU mixing desk and audio interface. I recorded on my Apple iMac using AVID Pro Tools 12 (2018.7) with 24 bit and 48kHz settings. 

The amplifier had the reverb turned to zero and the master bass and treble controls were set in the middle, i.e. twelve o’clock. I used the “hi” input. These settings were identical for all recorded samples. The volume wasn’t cranked either -- it was simply loud enough to record with in the same room. 

Lastly, each respective demo uses only one guitar. I do not use time or pitch correction when recording and this was no exception. There is no editing on the guitar parts, i.e. each track is a single take. If I made a mistake (which I did occasionally) I simply deleted the take and went again from the start of the piece. 




 

Sample #1 — Jazz, Scoop and Sparkle