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Soundgas (Grampian) Type 636 Update

Tony-Miln-Soundgas

WRITTEN BY: Tony Miln

UPLOADED: 26th Jun 2019

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UPDATE mid-Sept 2019 – we now have faceplates and cases for the first 10 sold units and are commencing the assembly. More news on that soon, but if you want to preorder one of the second batch of ten then you can find all the details here.

June 26 2019: Here we have some news on progress with preorders for the Soundgas Type 636. It’s an updated, studio-ready clone of the original Grampian Type 636 reverb unit – we have some available for sale.

The circuit design has been finalised for a couple of weeks now and we’ve been demoing the prototype, including at the Soundgas Roadshow event at Strongroom in London, where it was very favourably received. We’d already successfully recreated the behaviour of the original circuit, but I wanted us to make further changes to the mic preamp before signing it off.

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We have two Grampian Type 636s in the studio that I’ve owned for many years, one of which sounds very different to a standard 636. It gets a great deal of use due to its excessive overdrive which gets even gnarlier than regular units. Not only does it have the ‘wrong’ tank (an Accutronics) which sounds quite different (in a good way), as well as quite a bit of circuitry that’s been messed with, but the transformer in the mic preamp is a mysterious replacement. 

While we wanted our 636 to behave as closely to a regular Grampian as possible, I felt we’d be missing a trick if we couldn’t somehow incorporate some of this Frankenstein unit’s fabulous ‘wrongness’ into our design. To achieve this without sacrificing authenticity has taken a little extra time, and wouldn’t have been possible without those who have placed preorders: thanks are due to you – I trust you will all find it’s worth the wait. 

The end result is a unit that behaves exactly like the average 636 (they all sound quite different now) up to around 7.5 on the mic preamp control. That’s the point at which a regular Grampian would be at 10, but ours goes 2.5 louder; dirtier; gnarlier. Which is a Very Good Thing. For when too much isn’t quite enough, you still have some extra filth in the tank. 

We also decided at a late stage to add a direct output from the mic preamp section: we’d been testing the circuit in a pedal enclosure and found it quite pleasing so that will be as standard on the production units.

We are into the process of etching the circuit boards: once we’ve produced enough for the first ten units, they’ll be populated and we’ll begin assembly and testing. Given how much variation there can be between original 636s, and between individual vintage components, we are building the first batch together to ensure a reasonable degree of consistency. Each one will necessarily have its individual character, but all will behave as we’d expect and want from a vintage Type 636 (and beyond). And if your order is from the second batch, we’ll be building those hot on the heels of units 1-10. 

We have a supply of vintage Gibbs tanks and are investigating whether a twin tank upgrade (for different reverb flavour) is workable and/or desirable

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On the cosmetic front, we have our design – as sported on the prototype – and are working on the final materials for the faceplate. The case will be 19” rackmount.

We’ll report back with news and developments as they happen. We are still expecting to deliver the first units in September. 

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