Sunday, December 18, 2011

For some reason I started associating Decca with the early electrified blues, which is goofy, since Decca as a music label seems pretty main stream. Here's a Decca DMI-60 combo amplifier, perhaps we can get to the root of my misconceptions.

Nothing out of the ordinary, it's a small combo practice amp.

Sarcasm is evident here, but honestly, there's little else offered in terms of feature set. Cost of admission is a touch steep in my opinion, but clearly the thing didn't sell & wound up catching dust in the attic.

I'm really having a hard time not belaboring the obvious and running with that kernel of sarcasm planted above. I want to dissuade any one from concluding the sixty numeric in the model number has anything to do with output power; I'm guessing it has more to do with ever apparent line frequency hum. While I'm openly mocking this vintage tube amplifier, let's take a closer look at that strategically placed paint spot to the right.

Was this an attempt to conceal pertinent information, or a good old fashioned mishap? Like it or not, having seen the guts first hand, this amp does have an "American" feel to its construction.


Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

Which brings me back to my association to early electrified blues. Early blues evolved in a poor, downtrodden environment. We're talking melanin rich people living in apartheid era United States, who by and large had to exert Herculean effort to afford even the cheapest shit, like this amplifier on hand. The Lo-Fi counter movement in the digital era holds nothing on the original people who made trash sing. Anyway, with the press-board baffle, laughably small speaker and absolute hazard this amplifier embodies pretty much every facet of instrumentation I associate with the birth of electric blues music. I'm left with the impression they were shafted by the record companies too.

Something is missing here. Something important..

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out that "domestically produced vintage audio gear" does not automatically equate to quality, take that "vintage" label!

Also, that rubber band is structural. I added it in hopes of inducing a little reverb, should I actually go against my better judgement and revive this amplifier.

So, what we have going on here is a power transformer-less circuit, ala the "All American Five", though clearly only running three tubes. I'd also like to point out the non polarized flippable mains plug. This amp would not be my first choice for bath time guitar strumming.

Who needs a fuse? Fuses cost money. I guess that 100K resistor between floating ground and chassis ground (aka, your guitar strings or microphone shell) sort of counts as a safety measure. If I had the power of omnipotence, assessing an exact count of lives saved by 100K carbon comps would be the sort of thing I'd contemplate over my morning coffee, bolstered by the fact that I am far from omnipotent I must say that's something of an insult. 100,000 ohms, meditate on that.

So, I've taken to reacting to the presence of 35W4 or 50C5 in much the same way I react to someone else's fart. I realize they exist, and I have no control over that. However, I'm fully okay with cringing in their midst and wouldn't object to never seeing them again... unless the tubes are on a proper secondary of a transformer and the farts are dutifully expelling themselves in an internal combustion engine.

The 12AU6 however, has uses elsewhere. I recall plucking one to populate a Tektronix type CA plug in for a 545 scope. My immediate sense of values leans on parts extraction, there is that tiny idea however, that having a (safety modified) horrible POS amp on hand for recording weirdos has value too.

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