the EBO CUSTOMS Del Rio
The 6V6 beam tetrode was developed in the 1930’s…you’d think that we’d have ‘em all figured out by now. Many of the standard applications of this tube date back decades. I’ve always loved ancient little Valcos and Gibsons, tweed Deluxes and Princetons, etc…great little studio pieces, generally low on horsepower. over the years, I’ve modded so many Princetons for people…everybody loves them, but they seem to run out of punch/headroom/power pretty quick, especially in a live setting.
in this spirit, I've long wished that I could capture some of the tone and feel of these amps with...more! I believed there was still a better mousetrap to be built.
With the Del Rio, I tried to “forget” the conventions of the “6V6 amp” and try a new approach to achieve “old” characteristics in a modern amp. I wanted the sweet/nasty midrange thickness without the low-end flabbiness and enough power and punch to hang in any live/touring scenario. An amp that is not a copy of anything, but still sounds and feels classic and familiar. Let’s also try to get all of that filthy overdrive, harmonic bloom and natural compression with virtually none of the hum and operating noise. Of course, we’ll have to make it look cool…
The Del Rio uses a true Class A 6V6 power section conservatively rated at 20 watts of output power. Due to the response and efficiency of this design, it is radically louder and more powerful-sounding than most comparably-rated amps. You (and perhaps your neighbors) will be shocked and amazed! it is tube-rectified (GZ34), with three 12AX7's handling all small-signal functions.
It features two distinctly-voiced inputs; “HOT” is chock full of thick, creamy, midrange goodness…think “Valco-zilla!” Nothing subtle about this one. To me, this input makes every LP sound a little more like "Pearly" (BFG’s hands not included!!!). very dynamic and responsive, guitar’s volume and tone knobs can work all kinds of clean-to-dirty magic!
“NOT” is voiced a little cleaner, brighter and snappier, more akin to some of Leo’s amps. Less mid girth and gain than the first input…more “chime” than “bark.” I didn’t call this a “Clean channel,” Although it does clean beautifully. by design, it also gives you an expanded “sweet spot” around the point of breakup, works really well with overdrive/boost/fuzz pedals. when pushed (or just cranked up a bit), it renders gorgeous overdriven tones without any loss of clarity or punch.
The Del Rio front panel controls are as straight-up as they come, with four interactive parameters; “GAIN”, “TONE” (a mid boost/cut control), “TOP” (high-freq sparkle/shimmer), and "REV" (reverb, more on that in a bit). I voiced these controls to provide a quick and totally useable range of tones. Put the knobs anywhere, you’ll find something you can work with.
The DEL RIO'S reverb circuit is something I'm especially proud of. at the request of my buddy EUGENE RICE, I was charged with building a custom "Eugene Green" combo with reverb in 2016. I didn't want to go the standard route, opting instead to dive down the rabbit hole & create a very unique circuit for this amp...electronically & mechanically, a total departure from the "standard" Fender/Hammond approach that almost everyone uses. the result is more akin to a large studio plate-type reverb...shimmery, complex & totally musical. the single control allows for any mix of Dry & wet signals, inluding 100% "wet." in a funny twist, my pal TOM BUKOVAC happened to plug in to Eugene's amp the day before I was set to ship it to L.A., and tried to talk me into selling it to him instead ("Life-Changing reverb" is tom's take-away quote!). I held firm, but agreed to build him another just like it...what began as an "experimental" one-off has henceforth become a standard feature. you gotta hear it to believe it...magical!
The Del Rio features custom-wound proprietary transformers specifically designed for this amp. I wish I could have used “stock” off-the-shelf transformers for this…would have saved me a ton of time and money. However, I required specific characteristics to make this thing do what I needed it to do which no existing products possessed. So, I had a bunch of them made to spec. They are large. Like, Twin large. Kinda nuts, I know. Whatever…they’re awesome.
Same goes for the chassis, which are also custom-engineered for this amp. I used heavy-gauge welded stainless steel, primarily for its strength (did I mention the large trannies?), as well as its conductive and magnetic characteristics. Again, what was I thinkin’? Ever tried bending/punching/drilling stainless? Forget about it. Fortunately, I have a friend at a fabrication firm in Nashville with Death Star-grade lasers…piece o’ cake!
our cabinets are old-timey finger-jointed pine, designed with specific tonal objectives in mind. The combo and extension cabinets are available in 1x12”, 2x10”, 1x15” and “Texas 12” configurations. After plowing thru dozens of cabinet and speaker combinations (new and old), Weber produced a great 12” for me that really took it over the top. they make ‘em by hand, to order, one at a time…my kinda guys. Weber is building my 10” and 15” speakers as well.
The Del rio is a study in duality. hi-fi/lo-fi, modern/classic, unique/familiar....a low-wattage amp that can still knock you on your ass.
I'm very proud of this one!