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Gear Chat >> Soldano Amps >> XL mod on the HR series

XL mod on the HR series
Post by Sty1es on Feb 15th, 2004, 11:37am

Everytime I play my HR100+, I keep feeling that it lacks some low end. I really want to get the XL mod, because its supposed to cut a little mids and add low end, but I hear that it kills the tone. At this point, for my purposes (metal-ish) I think I pretty much need the XL mod, but I'd like to be able to switch it on and off. I've emailed about a week ago and havn't gotten a response yet. I've also considered sending it to Trace at Voodoo for a custom mod (maybe a variation of the XL and a scoop mod) or going to local guru Bruce Egnater, but I'm really not sure which one would be best...suggestions?

In the HR50 / SLO comparison clips, they sound really similar, and the HR has the XL mod. Thats swaying me even further...
Re: XL mod on the HR series
Post by Leonardo on Feb 15th, 2004, 11:46am

I was reading the Ask Mikey! Q & A Session on Musicians Hot Line and found some interesting stuff regarding the XL mod...

Different speakers will make a much larger difference in sound than different tubes, so I wouldn't bother switching to the KT66s. Second, have the XL bass boost removed, reduced, or made variable (which is what I would do if you're going to keep the mod). I'll go on record right now (and give all the online chat groups something to chew on) and say that the XL mod is not my favorite thing. I like the amp the way I originally designed it. A lot of people do like this mod, and that's why we offer it, but I personally can't stand it. And while I'll admit the XL bass boost can sound good at low volumes for some kinds of music, when pushed it becomes muddy. If you add treble to overcome the muddiness, it can get fuzzy. This is not as much of an issue on the 100-watt amps, and on these amps I think the added bass, in moderation, can be workable, which is why the Decatone and my new Avenger amp both have a "Depth" knob on them. The "Depth" knob is basically a variable XL mod. In the Hot Rod 50 Plus, the XL voicing also reduces midrange in the normal channel, so if you are happy with it that part of it (I'm not), it can be retained. If you're looking for a fat, crunchy rhythm sound in the normal channel, I'd definitely ditch the XL mid-cut. Feel free to give me or Bill a ring at (206) 781-4636 if you want to further discuss your options.

Re: XL mod on the HR series
Post by Sty1es on Feb 15th, 2004, 11:53am

Whoa, interesting! I just noticed that the serial number on my HR100 ends in an X....what does that mean?

Hopefully I'll get an email back this week. I'm interested to know what they have to say.
Re: XL mod on the HR series
Post by Leonardo on Feb 15th, 2004, 11:55am

I have no idea! Mine doesn't even have a serial number. huh
Re: XL mod on the HR series
Post by Sty1es on Feb 15th, 2004, 12:00pm

I just read through the Ask Mikey thing...he seems like he'd be a pretty cool guy! Honest too. Interesting that he'd put down something of his own design, you gotta respect that smiley
Re: XL mod on the HR series
Post by Leonardo on Feb 15th, 2004, 12:05pm

Yeah, seens like a nice guy. If I ever go to Seattle I'll pay a visit to the Soldano HQ. smiley

Re: XL mod on the HR series
Post by RMS on Feb 15th, 2004, 4:48pm

I'd be patient on a response from Soldano. They're moving, as I understand it. (There was a thread about them selling all the junk from their current space on the HC forum.) You may also have to call to get a response too. Most of these small companies seem to respond better to that than email.

Since Soldano is willing to do mods to their amps for their customers, I'd use them. I have a lot of respect for the other guys you mention, but in the case of a Soldano I wouldn't send it to either of them.

If you're handy with a soldering iron, you might just try installing the SLO depth mod. It's pretty simple and is variable. When it's rolled down to '0' it's just like the mod isn't even installed.
Re: XL mod on the HR series
Post by kingink on Feb 15th, 2004, 8:26pm

Styles, don't listen to what anyone says about the XL mod, even the Man himself. There's a lot to be said for it. Let your ears decide. Also, it only cuts the mids on the clean channel, so if you like the clean the way it is, you can just have the "XL" (the low end boost) added to the amp.

What kind of guitar are you using? What kind of pickups? What speaker cab and speakers? What preamp and power tubes are in your HR100+?

As Mike S. says in that Musician's Hotline column that Proudmore posted, speakers will make a huge difference, as will the speaker cabinet. Personally, I think the HRs sound best in cabs with no porting on the baffle and that are at least as deep as the Soldano cabs (14").

Okay, back to the XL mod. My guitars are all pretty trebly and I really like hot single coils, so for me, the XL mod works pretty well.
You definitely get more thump and beef than without the XL mod. I haven't had a huge problem with muddiness. I don't really turn the preamp volume past '5' either, so having more end in the circuit helps, since you get more lows and low mids as you crank the preamp volume.

Also, there's another mod that you might like, that I'm sure Mike would hate, but my local tech figured out. It involves changing the values on a coupling capacitor, which ends up lowering the frequency curve of the mid control. This mod also beefs up the tone.

The clean channel does suffer a bit, in that with the mid scoop it sounds thinner than without, though I still think you can get an interesting jangly crunch.

When I bought my HR100 off eBay, I called Soldano and Bill looked up the serial # for me and told me that my amp did not have the XL mod. So, a few weeks later I called back and asked them to send me instructions on how to do the mod myself.
They sent me a drawing and the parts. When I opened up the chassis, low and behold, it DID have the XL mod.

So in other words, that "X" on your serial number could indicate the mod, or it could not, only because, given how simple the mod is to do, whoever owned it before you could have removed or added it. Still, talking to Soldano would be a start.

Anyway, I don't think you need to go through Trace. Bruce Egnater or any competent tech should be able to do the mod. Soldano can send the tech a chassis drawing or give instructions over the phone.

Also, you can have the depth knob added, and that way you can dial in as much "XL" as you want.

Hope this helps.

Re: XL mod on the HR series
Post by Sty1es on Feb 16th, 2004, 12:13am

Thanks for your response, kingink! I am definatly going to have it done, and let my ears decide. I was just looking for some opinions, and I got them! My main guitar is an old PRS CE24, with an alder body, so it is pretty bright. In addition, I'm playing Marshall 1960 cabs, with V30s and G12T-75s in X patterns (a la Uberkab) so they add even more brightness! I love the voicing and the feel of the amp, but I'd like to add some more low end and make it a little tighter, thats why I've been considering KT-66s along with the mod. As far as mids go, there are PLENTY of mids available on tap in any Soldano, so even if there is a slight cut I can definately afford it.

I will most likely get the schems from the guys at Soldano and have Mr Egnater do it, mainly to cut costs for shipping, and also because Bruce does great work! I have a buddy who had him do work on his VHT and it ended up sounding great! Depth mod, here I come smiley