Review of my Voodoo Amps Modded TSL-100 - Jemsite
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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-03-2003, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Va Beach, VA
Posts: 1,416
Review of my Voodoo Amps Modded TSL-100

I purchased a bone stock used TSL-100 Head a few months back and shipped to Voodoo Amps in NY for some modifications and I thought I should post the result here so you folks could get a feel for what this shop can and cannot do.

The TSL is a 3 channel amp with tons of features and that is why I chose it as a platform to build from, plus they are cheap used. In stock form the clean channel is the best thing going for this amp, which is surprising from a newer Marshall design. The crunch and lead channels were very buzzy and fizzy, no balls to the distorted tone. When cranked that did improve but it just wasn't good enough. After a lot of research and thinking, I sent the amp to Trace at Voodoo Amps.

Voodoo Amps policy is that you send them some songs that approximate the tones you are looking for and he does his best to match them. For my three channels I chose the following tones: Clean = Eric Johnson's Clean tone from "East Wes"; Crunch = Blues Saraceno's tone from "Girth" (Plaid); Lead = Petrucci's live tone on the SDOIT tour or the heaviest thing you can think of while still maintaining some character and depth.

In addition to these tone targets, I wanted the amp to be able to clean up at any gain setting by using my volume knob. Trace recommended that I also replace the Output Transformer with an Obsolete Electronics Transformer that is wound to different specs. With the circuit board modifications required and the new output transformer, my mods totalled $515 plus shipping to and from the shop.

After getting the amp back and sorting out some shipping damage issues (tubes and reverb pan) I've had it for several weeks now and have run it through its paces enough to share my opinion of the mods. The character of each tone I requested is present in each channel.

Clean channel
with a strat it is just glorious. This channel now breaks up a lot smoother than it did before when the gain is pegged and the mid shift is engaged...SRV all day long. Kind of a mix between a Fender Deluxe and Marshall JTM, bell like...it sounds magnificent. This channel was good before but now it is simply glorious. It is very open and smooth, not jangly at all unless you want it to be. Enormous amounts of low end available.

Crunch Channel
This channel was really buzzy before, I didn't like it at all. Part of my decision to have Trace mod this was that my situation is such that we can't play at really high volumes. This channel sounded like poo at any volume other than ear-bleeding-loud. Additionally there was not enough gain available. Those problems are long gone and the tone was improved ten fold. Gone is the buzziness and it has been replaced with some serious butt kicking wallop. More gain is available than before, so much that I normally leave it at about 2 o'clock. The tone is thick and with good pickups it just sings. The best part is that even with the gain pegged, just roll back the volume knob on the guitar and I've got a crystaline clean sound again. The sensitivity to playing dynamics is just astounding. The low end was tightened up significantly per my request because I use 7 string guitars. I have to be careful with the treble as it is pretty bright, but with the new tubes this improved considerably. It can go from clean to warm to punishing distortion all on this channel and by only using the volume knob on my guitar....amazing.

Lead Channel
Very similar to the Crunch channel, cleans up at any gain setting with the guitar volume being rolled back. Same tone and dynamic sensitivity, just more gain overall, which is a good thing. Tons of gain, tons. Harmonics are everywhere. For thick metal chording, this is mecca...every note can be heard. Amazingly for a Marshall, it sounds decent at even bedroom volumes. Turn the master up to 1 (VPR off) and it really opens up. Again, very thick and warm....no buzz to be found, no fizz. THe louder you go, the warmer it gets.

Just thought it was worth reviewing. I see a lot of folks here that give up on amps, Marshalls and Carvins in particular. For not a lot of jack, you can have Trace work out the kinks and get you just what you need. He mods other amps too, as well as makes his own. All together, I've put $1350 into this head, less than a new TSL in stock form, and it just slays everything I've either owned or played.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-03-2003, 01:52 PM
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: tulsa
Posts: 210
Wow that's really cool, thanks for the review. My Voodoo-modded JCM 800 will arrive today, and I'll let you all know how I like it.

Did he install the Hex circuit into yours or what?
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-03-2003, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Va Beach, VA
Posts: 1,416
No, he can't install his hex circuit without gutting the entire head due to space considerations. What he did was basically modify the existing circuit board to get as close as he could to the hex circuit design while still maintaining all the features and stuff....at least that's the way I understand it.

I've heard that his modded JCM 800s just kill....you're gonna go nuts when you plug it in.
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-03-2003, 08:54 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Morgan Hill, CA
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got a link to his site?
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-03-2003, 09:39 PM
EKG
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 2,284
Some cool mods available

www.voodooamps.com
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-05-2003, 12:32 AM
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 139
Wow, sounds amazing. I was considering sending Trace my TSL. You're review might have pushed me over the edge.

I have a Rivera TBR-1SL that I want him to mod. Wylde Bill just bought one used and already modded by Voodoo amps. I'd like to hear his thoughts on the mod.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-05-2003, 07:22 PM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Va Beach, VA
Posts: 1,416
I just really wanted an amp with its own voice and Trace was able to really massage this one into something special. It is still very very Marshall-ish, ie, it's not going to satisfy someone looking for it to sound like a Mesa (if I wanted that, I would've bought a Mesa). The crunch channel is very similar to Vai's tone on Alien Love Secrets, but like I said, it just smooths out beautifully.

There are tons of other reviews of his work on Harmony Central under Voodoo Amps if you care for some other references. He is extremely busy which is also an indication of his following.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 01-05-2003, 09:08 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Houston
Posts: 191
Check your mail Shane

What can I say? I like the amp. I really can't compare it to an unmodded TBR, as I don't have one. Comparing the TBR to my S120 isn't really fair either, they're different animals. The TBR also needs a few tubes swapped out (came w/ an 12AT7 in V1 for some reason).

I'm also not quite the tone hound that you guys are. I'm not chasing some ultimate tone that I hear in my head. I tweak 'til I find something I like, play it like that for several weeks, then change it entirely and find something else. I change my tone for inspiration, not 'cause I'm unsatisfied with it. I bought the TBR because it's more tweakable than the S-120, giving me some new options.

more later...
-bill
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blues saraceno , clean tone , distorted tone , eric johnson , fender deluxe , marshall jtm , rivera tbr , string guitars

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