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Egnater Mod 50 Guitar Amp at Daryle's House

Egnater Mod 50

Egnater Mod 50

A rockin’ custom guitar amp with swappable modules for a flexible sound

Who is Bruce Egnater?

Before we begin on the the Egnater Mod 50 amp, let’s get some history on Bruce Egnater, for whom the amp is named.

Bruce is from the Detroit area and was a guitar player in the late 60’s and early 70’s, aspiring to be a rock star influenced by his love for Hendrix and Cream. Things did work out for Bruce to be a rock star, just not as a musician. Instead, he became a rock star in the amp field.

Bruce became more interested in gear and especially amps. He was always tinkering with amps and looking for different tones. Bruce first went to the University of Detroit Engineering School and also worked at Zoppi’s Music on 8 Mile Road in Sterling, Michigan. He was working on amps and set up their service department (Zoppi’s is not far from where I once lived, which is pretty cool). After graduating, he decided to open a repair shop in 1975 fixing and modifying amps. He was playing around with various amps to understand them because amps were a new fad as nobody really had a lot of in-depth knowledge of them. One day, Bruce combined a small Gibson amp with a Marshall head and discovered that he was finally heading in the direction he wanted. Bruce used a load resistor from the Gibson and took the signal from there and put it into the input of the Marshall. Word got out about what he was doing and soon became in demand. To this day, his amps are still a popular item to have.

What is the Egnater Mod 50?

The Mod 50 is a modular, tube guitar amp head that Egnater no longer has in their production line. It is still a popular item in the used market for around $1,400. Unlike most tube amps, what makes this unique is that it has modules that can be swapped out for different tones that the player wants. For this discussion, we will be looking at the TD (Twin Fender Deluxe), COD (California Overdrive), SL (Super Lead), and EG5 modules. There are other modules listed below that can be interchanged. The amp allows you to plug in any two modules at a time. Each module has two channels and its own Master and Gain knobs for each section of the module. They both share bass, middle, and treble. I have provided a link to the manual HERE.

Jimi Alan (Rockslide Studios, Bubba Grouch, and Damn the Torpedoes) helped us to review his Egnater Mod 50 to get a personal perspective of what this amp is all about.

MUSICXPLORER — Jimi, can you give us a run down of the amp?

Jimi — Sure, the Mod 50 is basically a 50 Watt Power Amp. It’s not a metal amp, and as you mentioned, it has interchangeable modules that have some flavor of a circuit from another amp, but they always have the Egnater touch to them, of course. I have the TD (Twin Fender Deluxe), COD (California Overdrive), SL (Marshall Plexi / Super Lead), and the EG 3/4 modules. The amp itself is very dynamic, very touch sensitive, and if you play gently, it cleans up really nice. If you dig in, it gets grittier. I typically don’t even use the full 50 Watts of the amp. I usually run it half power or 10 watts. This allows me to get a little more power tube saturation. The Head has 5881 tubes, which are based on the “American” type amps. The tubes are a little bit more compressed and don’t have as much bite as the smaller EL34 tubes that give you a British-sounding type amp. The amp can also use 6L6 tubes, as well as others. The Pre-amp and the modules use typical 12AX7 type tubes.

Does the amp have any built-in effects?

Jimi — The amp has no effects, and it doesn’t have reverb either. It is dry as a bone, so you need to get a pedal if you want any effects. The amp does have a serial and parallel effects loop.

What are serial and parallel effects loops?

Jimi — The effects loops basically run between the pre-amp and the power amp section. The serial loop breaks the path and inserts something, meaning it breaks the signal path, runs through the effect, and then returns to the circuit. The parallel loop does not mess with your tone as the serial loop does. It sort of splits the signal and it doesn’t break the signal as an insert. The parallel loop allows you to blend in the overall amount of effects, whereas, the serial loop, you need to carefully set the levels.

Getting back to the modules — what do you like about the modules you have?

Jimi — The Fender Twin has a bright, clean sound, while the Deluxe is warmer and breaks up more. What I love about the California Over Drive is the way the notes just sustain, especially when I turn it up. It’s a very “creamy” lead tone based on the Dumble ODS and Mesa Mark IIc. You can get some killer feedback and it’ll go on forever. The SL is based after the Marshall Super Lead. It’s a great sound for rhythm and lead guitar and has great medium gain. It can get pretty hairy too. Very British. The E/G 3/4 module is based off Bruce’s signature, Tone of Life amps, and channels three and four, respectively. It’s not a bright sounding module like the Twin, but a darker sounding module. The EG5 is a super high-gain module, and I relate it to the Soldano. Great gain with clarity.

The other cool thing about the modules is that you can also swap out the tubes, right?

Jimi — Yeah, the modules can be interchanged with different tubes that can give you different feel and tone. For instance, I currently have Groove tubes in the EG5, and for my SL module, I have Chinese 12X7’s. I have JJ’s running in the TD and COD. Bottom line is that you will get something slightly different out of every tube.

Do you like any of the other modules?

Jimi — I definitely want to get the Vox module. It just has “that” sound and gain.

Egnater COD and EG5 Guitar Amp Modules
The COD and EG5 Modules
Inside the Egnater COD Guitar Amp Module
An inside look at the COD Module

How did you come about having the Mod 50 as your main amp?

Jimi — I first had the Egnater Rebel and loved the tone of that amp. I soon as I tested it, I took the money out of my pocket and said, “It’s mine.” I then checked out the Renegade. The Mod 50 I have now was a fairly recent purchase, as I’d been looking for a long time. My Renegade took a shit on me at a gig. It literally caught on fire. Not a real fire, but smoke and fireworks. The area that my amp was in was dark, and I think it had something to do with the power, because the owner was messing with the lights, and all of sudden, I looked on the back wall where my amp was, and saw the flashing. It was like a Christmas Tree, Dude! I noticed a flash of light from the back wall where my amp was. I looked over and saw fireworks, sparks, and smoke everywhere. It was like a Christmas tree all lit up, but it wasn’t on fire. I mean it was smoking, and it was a lot of fireworks, but no actual fire. With that being down, it was motivation to really find and get the Mod 50.

That sounds pretty weird?

Jimi — I know, I’ll never forget it!

What drove you to like the amp?

Jimi — I love the fact the amp is a tinkerer’s amp, and the fact that you change modules and tubes. I also love the Egnater mid-range. There is something there that just really appeals to me.

Is there anything you do not like about the Mod 50?

Jimi — I don’t like that each module has to share the EQ (bass, middle, and treble). I am going to have Jaded Faith in Bordentown modify the modules. For example, for the twin side, maybe they’ll put another bass or boost knob. The other thing I don’t like is that the serial loop runs a hot signal, line level, to the effects. I recently picked up an Ebtech line level shifter to remedy that, though.

Egnater has discontinued making the amp, but it seems to still be popular on the used market?

Jimi — Yeah, they stopped making the amp in the early 2000’s to be more focused on a model that was more commercially viable. Used mod 50’s are hard to get. There is a new company called Synergy that is picking up where Bruce left off, and he had consulted with them when they started out. Synergy is now building new modules and amps and working with guys like Friedman and Metropolous. Some killer sounding stuff that is all compatible with the Mod series.

Other Modules:

  • B’Man (59 Fender Tweed Bassman)
  • SL2 (Hot-Rodded Marshall Super Lead)
  • VX (Vox AC-30)
  • ERect (Mesa-Boogie Dual/Triple Rectifier)

Thanks, Jimi, for helping out with the rundown of the Mod 50.

More Guitar Amp Sites:

The Sweetwater video interview with Bruce Egnater

Rockslide Studios in Andover, NJ

Jimi Alan — Rockslide Studios

Jimi Alan — Rockslide Studios

A comfortable demo shop in Andover, NJ

Jimi Alan, Owner and Engineer of Rockslide Studios

Jimi Alan, a skilled guitarist and engineer from New Jersey. Jimi’s primary focus is the lead guitarist for an original, favorite local New Jersey band, Bubba Grouch. He is also the lead guitarist for the highly recognized and popular Tom Petty tribute band, Damn the Torpedoes. Notwithstanding, he is also an engineer for his own Rockslide Studios that has been in existence for over 25 years. His high attention and good ear to detail has made him a talented engineer who has worked with a lot of musicians, including Chad Szeliga, a former member of Breaking Benjamin and the band Tantric.

MUSICXPLORER — Jimi, you are well known for being a focused guitar player. How did you come about wanting to be more involved in the engineering and recording side?

Jimi — In the beginning I just wanted to learn how to play songs and be able to play the songs right. As I got older, I became more interested in how the songs were created and to pick them apart. So I decided to look at Van Halen’s first record to try to understand how they got this glorious sound. Really, what better album to start with?

How did you go about starting the desire of recording?

Jimi — When I was 23, my wife bought me a Tascam Porta 01 (A four-track recorder that uses a standard cassette tape). I thought it was amazing, and I knew I really wanted to get into recording and engineering. I was learning how to use it in between doing gigs. I was getting a little more serious as time went on, and I started putting things together in my garage to use as a studio. I was learning this at my own pace and having a great time doing it. There was only so much I could do with Porta 01, so in 1996 I upgraded to the Tascam 6/88.

What is a 6/88?

Jimi — It is an 8 track cassette recorder with a 20 channel built-in mixer—it was was a good tool. I used it at the beginning, but still had the tape hiss thing that you don’t get in digital recording. The 6/88 was a complex machine to me and eventually I learned how to use it.

What did you learn from the Tascams at this point?

Jimi — I was getting better at recording. Both Tascam units gave gave me the ability to learn how to commit instruments to certain tracks. Bringing in instruments to the mixer and committing them to certain tracks, you will always lose something every time you mix, because you can only record so much at one time. You’re limited to only eight tracks to use to record on the 6/88. For example, if I recorded on tracks 1 through 6 and condensed them in stereo to tracks 7 and 8, I now lose two tracks to the committed mixed tracks 7 and 8 (this is called bouncing) and now I only have six tracks available for recording. Now that you have those committed tracks, all the original tracks are lost. One through 6 would be overwritten to record new tracks, and 7 and 8 would be the two mixed, committed tracks that are kept to continue with recording. Both of these Tascam units were my first real experience at multi-tracking.

So you were finally understanding what an engineer meant?

Jimi — Yeah, things were becoming more clear to me. Being an audio engineer is a totally different animal than setting up sound to do a show. An engineer isn’t always about getting the sounds. An engineer is a guy that can overcome the obstacles and rectify situations and make it work. I always had junk gear and wasn’t afraid to take things apart so that I could understand more. I really had the bug at this point and started hanging out with people who knew about recording. I continued to read and started to take some Online courses in studio engineering, and then one day, I decided to go to Showplace Studios and watch Ben Elliott do his magic.

Who is Ben Elliott and how did you meet him?

Jimi — Ben is the chief engineer and producer at Showplace Studios in Dover, NJ. I think I met Ben through an online course I had taken. One day I sort of invited myself into the studio and just watched him.

He had no Issues with that?

Jimi — I guess not. I just sat in the back of the room and watched and listened for about six months. It was fascinating. I watched Ben pick up a lot of the tiniest little things that an ordinary person would not catch.

Sounds like a cool dude? Did he teach you?

Jimi — Yeah, he is very cool. I wouldn’t say that Ben taught me in the normal sense of the word; but it got to the point where he would ask me things as a second person that was there just to ask a trusted ear. I took that real personal and felt that he could trust me. I then started to ask him questions and he asked me “Why don’t you go out and buy a cheap Pro Tools rig?” So I went and bought Pro Tools  (Version 5). I learned a lot over those six months with him.

What is Pro Tools?

Jimi — Pro Tools is a digital audio software program that you are able to use through a PC. It is made by Avid Technologies.

So this was your next step at becoming a better engineer? Were you doing any recording?

Jimi — Yes, I was learning Pro Tools. It was a new animal to me because it was using a computer with a mouse- it was point and click. I was just not used to using a mouse man. It was weird to me- it was digital, no sliders or knobs! I was used to the old-fashioned way of recording and mixing. Back then, Pro Tools was free and you just bought the hardware. I had to learn about routing the signal from the source to its destination and whatever devices it had to go through to get there- being preamps, compression, or an equalizer before it gets to that destination. I was getting pretty good with it after a few months.

I was also going to the open mic thing that Brian Yelinko was doing with Shari and Jenny Spiro around 1999-2000. One night I was watching this dude who was a singer/songwriter/guitarist. He was awesome man. His name was Ceiro Patty. I thought this guy would be great for me to record. I thought to myself, I wonder if I could be friends with this guy.

What happened?

Jimi — I just pitched it to him and said, “Dude, your shit is awesome, and I want to record you. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but I’d like to record you,” and he was like, “Cool, sure.” We met at my studio the next week. The studio was a makeshift situation at the time. We even had to use blankets to wrap them around to make it perform like a vocal booth. That was odd! We did a lot of live demos. It was the perfect thing to do as a starting point for recording. It only required two tracks because it was just recording guitar and vocals. It was a great learning experience and my first real stab at recording.

Where did you go from there?

Jimi — I decided I wanted to do more- I wanted to record my own stuff. I wanted to record myself playing all the instruments and learn more at the same time. My goal was for me to record myself doing everything. I upgraded to Pro Tools 7. I also wanted to get back to something physical I can control. I wanted to get back to twisting knobs and sliders- I didn’t want to use a mouse.

What instruments did you have to use?

Jimi — I first started with all my guitars and different amps that I had. I then moved onto the bass, piano, and later I bought a drum kit. I’ve always struggled with the bass. I can’t seem to always get the desired tone.

I know there are a lot of different ways to record guitars and amps. But drums, there are so many different pieces to a kit at any time. What did you do there?

Jimi — Drums are my favorite and the hardest because of the phase relationships. By phase relationship, I mean one microphone will be on, say the snare, and another microphone on the floor tom. It will pick up another different sound off the snare. The problem is, you’ve got a whole bunch of microphones that can pick up a different frequency of the snare; where the waves are also hitting the mic in a different time, where another different sound is coming out. So, you have to make sure where all those microphones are, and that you have all those phases worked out. I spent a lot of time recording with drums and microphones. After a few months, I finally learned what I needed and wanted to record a song.

Have you done demo recordings for other musicians?

Jimi — I have done a lot, and still do demos for people, some have come out really well. One of the last demos I did was for this dude, Casey Honig and his friend Chad Szeliga (Breaking Benjamin, Black Label Society, and Scott Stapp). I also do demos for kids who can’t afford studio time and are intimidated. It’s a real pleasure to see their faces light up after we have finished doing a recording.

How did you hook up with Casey and Chad?

Jimi — I ran into Casey at a gig one night and we talked about recording and then we hooked up at my studio. Casey brought Chad over to play drums. Chad is a phenomenal drummer who had a lot of great ideas. It was an awesome session. I think Chad is now with Black Star Riders. We did Casey’s whole record here. Their stuff was very emotional and powerful. It was real good, but I think they wanted something more edgy than I could do. I’m also old school and don’t use headphones as most engineers do. I go with my ear, and I like the open air in the room.

How is it working with the kids?

Jimi — I love working with them. I usually have them load in on Friday and plan it out. Saturday we record, and if they want to, they can practice. Sunday we go through the mix and make them sound good. The kids are still learning and make mistakes so I clean the tracks up, rerecord parts if we need to, then give them the finished product, and watch their faces light up. I want to give them the best thing I can give them, because they are still learning and it makes them happy.

What do you enjoy the most out of recording?

Jimi — I love recording a full band. The one thing I dislike the most is editing. I’d rather have people record live.

I hear ya, too much editing makes it sound manufactured, and not real or organic.

Jimi — Yeah, it’s not real. I could make a record with me doing all the instruments, but what fun is that? When I’m recording for people, I have a lot of them say, “Hey, you can fix that right? You have Pro Tools. We screwed this part up.” I often tell them, “Yeah, I could I guess, but just play it as if you’re in a live band.”

Do you advertise?

Jimi — I do have my website, but it’s really word of mouth and friends. I never advertise and have never called this a professional studio. The studio is not a real studio. I’d really call it a demo shop.

How did you come up with the name Rockslide Studios?

Jimi — It’s a real cool name isn’t it? We were drinking some beers out in my backyard one day and were looking at the giant rock slide that’s back there and we thought that would be a real cool name for the studio.

How would you descibe your studio in three words?

Jimi — Comfortable Demo Shop, beacuse that is exactly what it is. It’s a great comfortable place for people to come.

Thanks Jimi for taking the time to discuss what it takes to be an engineer and your personal history with it.

We will catch up with Jimi in the Bubba Grouch interview coming soon.

Taylor 114CE and 524CE Acoustic-Electric Guitars

Taylor 114CE & 524CE Guitars

Taylor 114CE & 524CE Guitars

Beautiful, natural-sounding acoustic-electric instruments with the “wow” factor

The Taylor 114CE

The 114CE guitar is of the Grand Auditorium shape that has a Venetian cutaway allowing your hand to get to the upper frets. Designed by Bob Taylor in 1994, the shape of a grand auditorium guitar is wider than a dreadnought. (A dreadnought, a large bodied guitar shape, is named after the British battleship HMS Dreadnought). It was developed in 1916 and manufactured by C.F. Martin. The lower bout has a skinnier waist and forward bout that makes it a very comfortable guitar to play. My 114CE is laminated walnut on the back and the sides, with a solid sitka spruce top. The pickup is behind the saddle and has piezo-electric sensors. The guitar is powered by Taylor’s Expression System 2 (ES2).

Overall, with Taylor’s custom-designed pre-amp, the result is a natural acoustic sound with incredible range. The pickup also has a switch for feedback control, which is located on the pre-amp board inside the soundhole.

The Taylor 524CE

Right off the bat, this guitar is just amazingly beautiful. You can’t deny that. The sound quality is amazing, and I will explain how this is a little later. The cost is much higher than the 100 series and for good reason – they start at around $2800 brand new. Look around on EBay as I did, and you can get a great used one for around $1700. I bought mine from a reputable guitar store in Florida who has a great feedback history. I am extremely happy for making this purchase. When it arrived, it was in a beautiful hard case and was even in tune!!

The 524CE is a dark, rich-grained mahogany (a stronger wood) with a Venetian cutaway in the Grand Auditorium style, the same as the 114CE. Because of the fine mahogany wood, combined with the V-class bracing, when playing the 524CE, the sound that emanates from the guitar is unique, long-lasting and more beautiful than the 114CE because of the resonating tone. When you play the 114CE and then play the 524CE, a genuine appreciation for the 524CE will give you the wow factor.

A demonstration of the Taylor 524CE (by Tom Culbertson)

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