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Solid State Lineage

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by father of fires, Sep 14, 2010.


  1. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    BALTIMORE CITY
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    I am a big DIY fan and I'm looking to learn a little more about transistor amp history. Mainly the evolution of amp designs.

    I have built a few tube and transistor circuits and I have noticed that tube amp history is well documented but, solid state history is almost nonexistent.

    Most of the tube amp circuits we see today are based on a few designs out of old RCA field guides and such. This has me wondering where did the original transistor amp designs come from? Is there a classic transistor application guide? I have seen excerpts from some but, I'm not sure if any particular one is worth searching out.

    Old school GKs, Sunns, Kustoms, ACC, etc had to come from somewhere but, they don't appear to have many similarities.

    Anyone have any insight?
     
  2. KramerBassFan

    KramerBassFan

    Jan 3, 2009
    Most stuff was more or less in house, or done by engineers from other big companies - i believe the GK guys came from Hewlett Packard?

    VOX designed their transistor stuff in house (before the Thomas Organ Debacle).

    Part of the reason is, nobody really cares.

    Transistors are used on a much larger scale, and aren't really viewed as a technology of a bygone era, such as tubes are. Remember, outside of the musical instrument field, and some radio, and Hi-fi, tubes are more or less extinct.

    That said, mostly the companies who survived on Solid State designs were the ones who did them well... who now is Gassing for a STANDEL? or Fender Solid State Bassman? ;)

    WEM and SUNN are two particularly successful companies when it comes to Solid State - check out their stuff. Peavey and KUSTOM as well. Trannys didn't help VOX.. but that was more of management and Marshall amplification than the fact their designs were bad. WEM somewhat invented the "huge racks of PA amps linked together as a PA system", instead of trying to use just a few huge monsters. And it worked out quite well for them.
     
  3. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    BALTIMORE CITY
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    Thanks. That's some good info.

    I guess what I'm asking is what was the building block that all of these engineers started from?

    Did they all just have a COMPLETE understanding of transistor theory so early on? Was everyone a genius?

    Were there guys that just copied brand X's application guide?

    Did they modify tube circuits for use with transistors?

    Maybe I'm alone but, I want to go back to the beginning so see how we got where we are today.
     
  4. KramerBassFan

    KramerBassFan

    Jan 3, 2009
    And STANDEL is a truly fascinating company, to me at least... even though i've never owned anything of theirs. Very cool company.

    Oh, not at ALL!

    Loads of companies sunk them selves or nearly did from absolutely wretched solid state designs.

    Fender had a line of Solid state stuff, and it nearly put them under the water. :bag: I've never seen one work... or even sound good. :bag:

    You can't really modify a tube circuit for transistors... but they almost did. For example, all the solid state amps that have output transformers and standbys. ;)

    And the brand X application guide? I don't know. Only a few companies got it right at first, and the tech slowly got better.

    Try building a 300w power amplifier out of Germanium transistors :eek: So silicon transistors certainly helped everyone out.

    Rickenbacker also "got it right" with their stuff, but that is more thanks to the genius that is Bob Rissi, than the boys at RIC... and don't tell anybody, but Bob also designed the fender solid state stuff.... second times a charm, eh.
     
  5. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    BALTIMORE CITY
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    Damn. I was hoping to open up a discussion but, you seemed to answer most of my queries. Thank you good sir.
     
  6. seamonkey

    seamonkey

    Aug 6, 2004
  7. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    BALTIMORE CITY
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
  8. father of fires

    father of fires Commercial User

    Nov 29, 2006
    BALTIMORE CITY
    Chief of Medicine at Damnation Audio
    Awesome. I would love some more old school engineers to chime in. This stuff fascinates the hell out of me.
     
  9. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Inactive

    See if a google search returns anything about Dan Meyer's Tiger amp series. These taught me a lot about the design of reliable complementary transistor amplifiers. Ended up designing and building a 200W/channel dual mono power amp in the Eighties. It still works perfectly all these years later.

    Paul
     
  10. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Mar 6, 2021

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