Tales From the Tonal Fringe, Continued: The Judybox Revival
Sometimes you stumble over something, and as you follow the trail, an entire new world is revealed. People who dig quirky guitar amps are no different, and that led me to the Judybox-partially because it's named after my wife. I decided I had to have one.
The story's quirky. The amps were developed by Al Nelson down in Austin, Texas about six years ago or so, and that's where you'll find most of them. A pretty big splash was made at the 2006 NAMM show which was held in Austin that year, and from what I read on TGP and other forums, the wheels started to come off the project soon after. Deposits were taken and whether they were returned or anyone got amps is anyone's guess.
Suffice it to say there were and are a lot of unhappy people in the Austin area who'd ordered amps and didn't get them.
There are stories of illness and mismanagement, a transfer to shadowy investors, some or all of the assembly being done in China, and that's pretty much where the story ends, in 2007.
The registered address of the business, 8804 Chisholm Lane, looks a lot like a residence with a stable out back. It's owned by a gentleman named Stanley Phillips and has been in his hands since 1972 according to the Travis County Assessor.
Entity Information: JUDYBOX, INC.
8804 CHISHOLM LN
AUSTIN, TX 78748-6378
Status: NOT IN GOOD STANDING
Registered Agent: AL NELSON
8804 CHISHOLM LANE
AUSTIN, TX 78748
Registered Agent Resignation Date:
State of Formation: TX
File Number: 0800639464
SOS Registration Date: April 10, 2006
Taxpayer Number: 32019547028
Well. What's the story on this orphan?
It's cathode biased, two channels each with its own volume, bass and treble, and reasonably well equipped although looking like it was done in a bit of a hurry. There are no identifying marks on the transformers which look a bit Asian. There are extra taps on the power transformer that could prove interesting.
The tube layout is conventional: 5AR4, 6L6GC, 6L6GC, 12AX7, 12AX7, 12AX7. The voltages are relatively low, with a B+ of only 369v and 309vAC on the legs of the power transformer. Some of the fitments are a little cheesy-the pilot light and power inlet socket are pretty much low grade schmutz plastic, and shot, but overall it looks pretty decent.
Sound wise, this amp does clean in a big way, and it's got a nice deep bass tone that's right for single coil pickups, particularly P90s. The original speaker's been replaced with a Celestion Super 65 that gets the job done well.
Where the story ends, I don't know. If you've got some information feel free to post a comment.
Since I wrote this piece I've been doing the work required to get this amp in serviceable condition and here's what's been done so far..
I replaced the pilot lamp assembly with a military surplus item that the original looked like it had been copied from, got rid of all the ceramic resistors except the cathode resistor, replaced the electrolytics with suitable replacement values, and went up to the hardware store for enough hardware to cook up proper standoffs. This required modifying a few holes and drilling others, but now the board is level, well supported and not preloaded at all.
When you think about it, the screen resistors and grid stoppers do not need to be 5w ceramics, and the dropping resistors do not need to be 10w. 7w and 5w ceramics. Fender did just fine for the last sixty years without that stuff. Plus, smaller resistors make for a cleaner installation and that's the look I'm going for.
Even as we speak the UPS man is supposed to be bringing me a new power socket to complete the job. Then, I can reassemble it and survey the grounding.
One interesting thing I found was the control pots-they're all linear, made by Cosmos Tokyo and very nice looking stuff. I shall try and find a source.