My weekend is already pretty booked -- taking care of my little guy (wife works almost around the clock this weekend!). But I can offer some suggestions on local beer joints, if you're interested.
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Ooh, looks nice Matt.
I've got a Racer 5 clone to bottle, if I get around to it this week.
Variac is just the trade name for a voltage attenuator, right? Variacs would include the THD Hot Plate, the Dr. Z. Airbrake, the Weber MASS, the Bad Cat Leash, and various others, right?
I think (and as someone who has not used either forgive me if I'm wrong) that we are talking about two very distinct devices employed for the same general end....
A Variac is used to drop the power voltage coming into the amps power supply, running the amp at what I guess would be lower wattage for earlier breakup at lower volumes. As mentioned, EVH was an early pioneer of this technique. I've heard that in general it is not recommended and can be very hard on amps....they aren't really designed to deal with that kind of trifling, but hey, it worked for EVH. I don't know anyone still using one of these myself.
An attenuator like those mentioned above are generally designed to be plugged in the signal chain between amp and cabinet, attenuating the volume on its way to the speaker. In this way, the amp is still running full bore, but its output is bled away and a lower volume is fed to the speaker.
Correct me if I am wrong, though, shan't be the first or last time.
I have a feeling that this is one of those discussions where we'll to agree to disagree.
From what I've read, the new SS amps do a great job of emulating tube amps, so now you can have your "characteristic" sound and have the reliability of SS.
Are you guys still listening to LP's, because they sound better?
Lets not forget all of the down sides to tubes, such as heat, weight, buzz and warm up time. Each to their own, but I'm living in the 21st century and I'll stick with SS.
Without Googleing it, I'd have to bet that tubes are getting hard to find or very expensive if you do find them.