About this blog

My name is Simon Allaway. I am British, but living with my wife and family in the USA, near Chicago. I’ve been playing guitar since the age of 9, and have a love for tube amplifier tone. This blog is all about my attempt to learn all about them.

In recent years my ambitions have stretched to building analog effects units. They have the advantage of being significantly cheaper to build than a tube amp, and the possibilities for tonal variation are enormous. Added to that it’s giving me the opportunity to learn some of the fundamentals of audio circuit design.

Oh and it’s tons of fun πŸ™‚


17 thoughts on “About this blog

  1. Paul says:

    Simon. Interesting blog. I just recently picked up an old kmd combo. my first venture into tubes. of course it isn’t working, kind of… i was doing a search using my problem, sound coming out when switched to standby but the sound fuzzes out and goes silent when switched to play, when i ran across your blog. I’m in oak park, so probably not too far from you.

    I thought maybe this would be a pretty simple problem to fix and I thought there’d be a million hits on this search, but i can literally find nothing.

    I do wonder if it might be do to the billion problems that this could potentially be.

    I’m looking for some guidance on where I might look to start to diagnose this issue, not in the amp itself, but where I might go/what I might read to figure out where to start to look for the problem. I was hoping it was something as simple as bad/old tubes or a dirty something or other. Not the case, so now I have to start digging.

    I’m on the verge of stripping this out and selling off pieces, but honestly, I’d rather use this as a learning experience and get the old dog up and running.

    thanks for your time and keep up the good work!

    • simonallaway says:

      Hi Paul,
      Thanks for the encouragement about the blog.
      The first thing I would do is a voltage check. I.e. hopefully you’ve got a schematic for your amp so you could power it up (without tubes) and check the voltages carefully with a DMM. If it is blowing fuses you probably want to fire it up with some kind of limiting device, such as a lamp in series with the main power supply. The voltages will give you a basic idea of where the amp is in terms of power.
      I highly recommend “How to Service Your Own Tube Amp” by Tom Mitchell. It has some great trouble-shooting flowcharts, and some good techniques on chasing down a problem.
      Good luck!

  2. pauric says:

    Simon, tangential question. The paint job you did on the od2 pedal, that hammerite red/black finish. Where and what is it? Is it available in the US?

    cheers! /pauric (pauric at pauric . net )

  3. Robert L. says:

    Because of your blog I have started my path towards my own pedal building hobby. I’ve always been a “how does it work, let’s take it apart person” but a recent tube screamer fetish has opened new doors. Thanks to you I am learning more and keeping my hands busy. Thanks so much.

    • simonallaway says:

      You got the word right…”fetish”. I recently watched a Joe Bonamassa video (the recent Black Country Communion DVD) where he states outright that everything about the guitar is an addiction to him. He still feels as excited to pick up a guitar as he did when he first got hooked. I love it πŸ™‚

      I’m glad my small efforts have inspired you to take it further yourself. Good luck to you, and let me hear how it all goes!

  4. Hey, email me. I have lots of lots of questions. jttaghon@gmail.com

  5. JD says:

    I have a clone of a SHO with two dials. I bought this. It has worked great as a boost for me over countless shows until one day it stopped. I saw that a component has fallen off (i have a picture) It is the black barrel with w flat site and three grey larger gauge connectors. These connectors sit in three smaller barrels in the PCB but Iamnot sire if I can solder that, can I??

    • simonallaway says:

      It sounds like the transistor has fallen out of its sockets. They are there so that you can swap transistors if you need to. Just bend the legs gently and slide the legs back into the sockets. They should hold without needing solder. Have a look at my post on the SHO for orientation. You can’t hurt anything, so go for it πŸ™‚

  6. Alex says:

    Simon, My name is Alex. I live in Western Kentucky and have been scouring the internet for YOU. Unrelated to this awesome blog, I believe now own a vehicle you used to own. my email is winnyb123@gmail.com please shoot me an email.

  7. Godfrey says:

    Hello! My name is Godfrey. I represent 3rd Power Amplification based out of Nashville.

    How can I get in contact with you about reviewing our handwired amps, hybrid-master(tm), and Triangle Cab technology?



    • simonallaway says:

      Hi Godfrey,
      I’ve been having a look at your amp technology….very intriguing. I’m especially interested to compare traditional cabs with your new Triangle Cabs. I’m available at simona@428wilson.com, so feel free to contact me there and perhaps we talk on the phone.



  8. Mart says:

    Interesting thread, is this blog still active?

    • simonallaway says:

      I haven’t had much spare time to post these days, but I am still very active. I’ve got a long list of projects to talk about πŸ™‚


      • Mart says:

        Hehe….great, as long as you are alive that’s good!;-) Nice gold top by the way, I have a 78 deluxe

      • simonallaway says:

        NIce! Mine’s the same vintage. The previous owner scratched the serial number, so I cannot be precise. But based on various details of construction I can only date mine to 75-77. I’m quite sure it would’ve had mini humbuckers, but someone retro-fitted P90s. I put Seymour Duncan stacked P90s in there as I despise RF noise. And I really need to replace the pots and wiring as it’s all quite scratchy and intermittent. A neverending story!

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