About this project
The Fryette Valvulator GP/DI is an all-tube low-power guitar amplifier, preamplifier, direct box, and all-around low-volume-playing solution. It is specifically designed to work in situations where you can't or don’t need to play loud, such as late-night playing and recording, headphone practicing, and recording straight into the board live. It is the first all-tube guitar amplifier designed to do that without any additional equipment, and a minimum of trouble.
- 1 Watt all-tube Amplifier with integrated reactive load
- Extremely broad tonal range, from clean to high gain
- Proprietary "cab section" for direct recording
- Built-in tube Direct Injection output, usable separately from or together with the amplifier
- Numerous inputs and outputs, for use in just about any situation
- Fully functional self-contained "Re-Amping" solution
What does it sound like?
The GP/DI is a single-channel amplifier. The preamp is based on the Fryette Deliverance Series, but has been specifically voiced for [even] more versatility in this ultra-low power tube amp. The preamp section uses three 12AX7 tubes and is switchable between three and four stages of gain. It is capable of just about any type of tone you can think of, from squeaky clean to classic rock to metal.
The power amp section is a one-tube design feeding a specially designed reactive load, so you can use it without a cabinet, or you can plug in a speaker cabinet and wail away. Even a very small amount of power through a typical guitar speaker can actually deliver some real volume! You can also plug that load directly into another power amp (or amplifier effect return) using the 'External Power Amp' output. The preamp and power amp are designed to work together to achieve the same sort of feel and dynamic control you would get out of one of our larger amps. That’s because it’s a real tube amp, just taken to the smallest level!
The Cab section controls a specially-designed post-amplifier dynamic voicing section (stay with us here) that allows you to shape the tone in "direct-to-board" recording and live situations. This post EQ feature only affects the 'Amp/Direct' output. It works through a purpose-built pre-emphasis / de-emphasis filter network - and don't worry, it is very easy to use! This filter is dynamic - unlike traditional "Cab/Speaker Simulators" it actually responds to your playing style and pick attack just like a typical full size guitar amplifier and speaker system.
There are two separate 'Direct' outputs. One is the main output, the level of which can be controlled from the front panel. It can be switched between Amp and Direct modes, so that you can leave it plugged into a single input on your board or audio interface and switch between using the GP/DI as a guitar amp or a direct box. The other output is a direct only output, referenced to line level (+4) and always at unity gain. This feature is based on our Valvulator I Vacuum Tube Buffer . So now, we have provided two discrete outputs allowing you to record the direct guitar simultaneously with the “amp”-lified signal, in case you want to re-amp the original unprocessed performance later.
Front and Back Panel Description
1) Front Panel Input - Plug in here.
2) Amp Voicing Switch - Sets the overall voicing of the amp; nomenclature not final!
3) Gain I - controls the sound, fattening the tone as you turn it up.
4) Gain II - dials in pure distortion without affecting tonality.
5) More/Less switch - selects between 3 and 4 stages of tube gain.
6) EQ Section (Treble/Middle/Bass) - The GP/DI's EQ has a wider range than most amplifiers.
7) Tight / Deep Switch - Selects power amp response for a tighter feel or more bass.
8) Tube Amp Master Volume - Sets the level of the preamp into the 1W power amp. This basically acts like a "third gain control" - turn it down to get behavior more like a traditional MV amp, up to get a more NMV feel. This also controls overall volume when using the Tube Amp Out on the back into a speaker cabinet.
9) Dynamics Control - Allows the user to dial in "power amp sag". The LED shows how and when the circuit is working.
10) Cab Section - Controls the sound of the Amp Out line output. This will get its own explanation soon.
11) Output Section - Lets you switch the Amp/Direct jack(s) between the DI signal and the Amp signal. The Output Level knob controls the output of the Amp/Direct line out, Pre Out, and Headphone Out.
12) Power Switch - With a pretty green LED, by user request!
13) Power In - Standard IEC input.
14) Ground Lift - To mitigate ground loops in complex setups.
15) Tube Amp Out - Use to connect the GP/DI to any standard guitar speaker cabinet. Has an impedance selector for use with a 4, 8 or 16 ohm cab.
16) Pre Out (unbalanced TS) - Use this output to feed an external power amp. Bypasses the "Cab Section" - you can use it with the Amp Out to send the Cab out to FOH while the Pre Out feeds a power amp and cabinet.
17) Direct Out (XLR and Balanced TRS) - Can be used unbalanced. This is a dedicated DI out. It has no controls - it is always unity gain, so you can use it as a "bypass" for complex routing arrangements.
18) Amp/Direct Out (XLR and Balanced TRS) - Can be used unbalanced. This is the "main out" of the GP/DI. It gives you your choice of the Amp sound, Amp and Cab sound, or DI sound, all controllable from the front panel.
19) Aux In (Unbalanced XLR and TS) - we've provided the XLR in so that you don't have to go searching around for an XLR-to-TRS adapter in a busy studio situation. The front panel jack disables this input. Has a Line/Instrument level switch, which changes the input sensitivity to allow the GP/DI to process line level signals.
20) Headphone Out - The front panel Line Out Level knob controls the volume.
Using the GP/DI at low volume for practice or recording
Using the GP/DI with a "Modeler"
The GP/DI brings a lot to the table for modeling-amp users. Not only does the direct out provide you with a tube front end to feed your modeler with, which helps to make it feel more like a tube amp, but you get a fully-functional REAL tube amp to use in place of one of the models. You can, if you so choose, use either the GP/DI's Cab Section or the modeler's cab sims - or both. Using the GP/DI this way lets you use the GP/DI when you'd like, and the internal models when you like, just by switching presets.
Here's how you'd use it with the three most popular "top shelf" modelers:
Fractal Audio AXE-FX II
Plug your guitar into the GP/DI, then route the DIRECT Output to the front or back Input 1 of the Axe - they respond slightly differently, and it is entirely up to user preference. Then route the AMP/DIRECT Output to Input 2 on the back of the Axe. To use the GP/DI as an amp, replace the "Amp" and "Cab" blocks in a patch with an "FX Return" block, set your level, and that's that. If you prefer to use the Axe's cab model, simply route in a "Cab" block after the "FX Return" block and disable the GP/DI's internal sim. It is also possible to use both the internal cab sim AND the cabs in the Axe, but that routing gets pretty complicated - a full description will be provided in the GP/DI user manual, as well as in a video to be produced later.
Kemper PROFILING AMPLIFIER
With the Kemper, you are going to have to find some "raw cab" profiles (without the amp) - there are a few factory ones, and many are available online. The routing is similar to above - plug into the GP/DI, and route the DIRECT Out to Input 1 on the Kemper, then route AMP/DIRECT to the "FX Return". On the Kemper, the FX Return takes up one of your post-amp effects slots - unfortunate, but true - but is routed prior to the cabinet model. Then, create a patch without an amp and with or without a cab, and you are done!
Line 6 POD HD PRO/500 [X]
The Pod HD's don't have an "amp bypass" that doesn't bypass the cab. However, there is one model that is very close to flat - the "Flip Top Pre" model has very, very little coloration. Route the GP/DI's DIRECT Out to Input 1, and the AMP/DIRECT Out to the FX Return. Create a patch with the FX Loop coming before the amp model, and use "Flip Top Pre" as the model and whatever cab you'd like (optional if you'd prefer to use the GP/DI's Cab Section). That's about it!
The Add-Ons (NEW FOR 10/30!)
We decided to add some more options that people have been asking for. To add an add-on, simply increase your pledge amount by the amount of the add-on (so, $100 or $300, plus $20 for shipping for the cab) and we will register it as the add-on. There is no need to select a different option - we will be keeping track. DO NOT CANCEL YOUR EXISTING PLEDGE - ONLY ADD TO IT!
You will receive a survey at the end of the campaign which confirms your add-ons and gives us a chance to get shipping info and t-shirt sizes.
A whole lot of people asked us which cab would work best with the Valvulator GP/DI as a "bedroom and recording" amp. While the GPDI works great with any cabinet, we wanted to make something special for it. This is for all our customers looking for something more portable than our existing two-and-four-twelve cabs.
We're proud to introduce the Fryette R112 Recording Cabinet - a guitar speaker cabinet designed specifically to compliment a low powered amp at low volume, though it will work well with other amps. We’re putting a specially designed, low mass speaker into a compact, resonant cab for obtaining clean, mid-gain and overdriven guitar tones with punch and sustain down to whisper volumes. Here are the approximate technical specifications (not quite final yet, but close):
- Dimenensions: 20"/51cm Width, 16"/41cm Height, 10"/25cm Depth
- Weight: 15 pounds / 6.8kg
- Speaker: Medium-efficiency 12" speaker
- Power Handling: Up to 50 Watts
- Color: "Any customer can have [a cab in] any color that he wants so long as it is black" - Henry Ford
Not much to say about this one - get a very limited edition version of the GP/DI for helping us finish this campaign. Everyone who adds-on $100 will get the choice of Purple or Black. Also, everyone who adds to their pledge will get a custom serial number, and their GP/DI's will be personally signed by Steven Fryette.
Fryette Amplification is the brainchild of Steven M. Fryette. He founded the company as VHT Amplification in 1989, and changed to the current name in 2009. For 25 years now we have been helping guitar players find the tone in their heads.
Steve Fryette has over 40 years experience in electronic engineering, vacuum tube application, musical instrument product design, and audio systems design and integration. He has designed, engineered, and produced the entire product line from PCB to metal fabrication. Prior to founding Fryette Amplification [as VHT] in 1989, he had over a decade of experience working for highly regarded amplifier repair businesses in the Los Angeles area. He has pioneered many innovations in his field including rack systems for guitarists, the widely adopted “Depth Control”, multi-channel amplifiers with comprehensive switching abilities, and the patented Dynamic Sensing Regulator for guitar power amplifiers.
Paul Schieffer is new to the Fryette team, but brings a lot to the table. His primary vocation is as an audio engineer and music producer, but he is also a serial entrepreneur with a background in marketing and product development. His experience as an audio engineer has been instrumental in the development of the GP/DI, and his experience in marketing made him the perfect person to help Steve bring this campaign to Kickstarter.
The Development Process
It all started with a conversation here about how to get great guitar sounds at low volume. We do this a lot. We’ve talked about doing lower-wattage amps before, but usually doing, say, an '18 Watt Deliverance' doesn't really solve the problem of being too loud in apartment settings. At some point in the conversation, it became apparent that "well, if you want quiet, why not go all the way down to 1 watt!?!"
After that conversation Paul sat down, wrote out a feature list, and did a faceplate mockup - and that was that. He worked out every feature that he thought the home/recording guitarist would need, and we figured out how to fit it all in one small box. Paul: “I’d been working on a ‘speaker simulator’ circuit for a while for use in my own studio. I’d been going about the process a bit differently than everyone else was, so when Steve and I started talking about the GP/DI, it seemed the perfect place to apply what I had learned.”
After Paul finished the initial conceptual stages, Steve drew out a schematic on the “Big Board” where new design concepts live or die. Then he and the team spent a few days building an initial prototype...
Right now we have initial prototypes built for the individual components that make up the GP/DI - the amplifier, the load, and the 'cab section'. Our next step will be to build the production “golden sample” combining all the individual elements. These will be completed within a couple of weeks of the start of the campaign. We will build three working prototypes using the final production specifications, to be completed by the end of the year. From there it is just a matter of getting the final details worked out - approving custom components and materials acquisition, and so on.
All About Fulfillment
By the end of this campaign, all development details will be well under way, from final product specifications to supply chain to production schedule. If we meet our campaign goal, fulfillment won't be a problem. We are a company with 25 years of history building amplifiers - while this product is the first of this type that we have built, from a production standpoint it isn't really any different from any other product we have ever released.
We will begin production immediately upon the completion of the final prototype and the successful completion of this campaign. Given the realities of lead times and production schedules, contributors can expect their units a couple of months after that - we are estimating February 2014 for the earliest contributors and March 2014 for later contributors.
Risks and challenges
Fryette is a respected amplifier builder with a history of well received and award winning designs. The GP/DI will have been built, tested and proven under the most demanding of conditions imaginable. It is being manufactured under the most stringent specifications with every step and operation being overseen or performed by experienced engineers.
Given the nature of the product, we do not foresee many challenges in fulfillment if our campaign is successfully funded. The only real risks involved are the usual risks of manufacturing - part availability and second-party component manufacturing delays are common issues, especially with the types of custom parts we use, such as transformers and potentiometers.
The custom transformers are being produced by trusted suppliers to our exacting specifications. The vacuum tubes have already been sourced, screened and pretested for this project. Finally, the initial tooling and engineering challenges have already been evaluated for feasibility and cost. In short, all of the usual manufacturing variables and potential challenges of a project of this scope have been anticipated, addressed and backed up to insure a smooth, successful completion.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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