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Hiwatt - What up with them?

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/19/2022 at 9:12 AM, mars_hall said:

A lot of people think because an amp has a high wattage rating that you can't use it in a smaller situation and before modern, now technically ancient designs, that had some merit, depending on where in the power curve of the amp the end-user chose to get "his/her" sound.   Each stage of an amp is part of a system chain that colors the output of the guitar pickup each based on its gain, power source stability, and filtering.  The result you hear is a summation of the chain with a final filter, the speaker, cabinet, and where you place your ear relative to the sound wave.  Hiwatt, like big bottle audiophile Marantz amps, did not saturate the pickup output in the earlier stages of the chain, so you get a high fidelity signal all the way through.  Hiwatt used inefficient Fane speakers which when driven hard would break up and color the sound wave to give the characteristic sound.  Inefficient does not mean beshissen, but the power delivered to the speaker is not accurately seen in the output of the sound wave.  There is a unique coloration.

A big bottle amp, referring to the output tubes, sounds much different when run is a triode mode (less wattage) than pentode mode.  Take any amp with a power selection and compare what you hear at the different wattage settings.  You will likely prefer the full power setting because the others do not deliver the full fidelity of the initial part of the signal chain.  You hear something not quite as warm, with a part of the bloom missing.   The point is greater power leads to higher fidelity even when it is not cranked.

I came close to taking a plunge in the Hiwatt pool, but didn't want to fight a front end designed for clarity, one which lacked touch sensitivity.  Listen to the guy's clips of mainly the guitar without effects and you will hear it die early, no sustain, which is part guitar part feedback within the amp.  My experience, yours may be different.

Holy crap! Do you write for an audio magazine? 

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On 11/25/2022 at 8:03 AM, TalismanRich said:

Where the heck does she go to fire that puppy up?   You would almost need to have a barn somewhere, out away from town!  😉

Like in Plainwell, Michigan?

Edited by ElNumero
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On 11/22/2022 at 9:41 AM, Jim W said:

Gut shot! Haahhahah.


This is my gal's Custom 50



Overall view of Hiwatt Custom 50 chassis layout.jpg


Nice bedroom practice amp!

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/24/2022 at 11:59 AM, 212Mavguy said:

How about gassing for a new old amp?  Like a Heywhat 50w with fx loop from Nik at Ceriatone?  Or a HI-TONE unit made here in the USA also by hand with great parts and true to original tones..?  Monster time travel tone units for less than the vintage.

I'm with ya here Mav! When I saw the Roger Waters US and Them tour I heard some Hi Tones that sounded GREAT!!! As good as vintage to my ears. And yes, they were cranked in Nassau Coliseum!

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 Was looking thru my photos & noticed Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets tour this year had both Hiwatt and Hitone amps on stage. Lee Harris on the left with Hitone, and Gary Kemp stage right with the Hiwatts.

Stage left:


Stage right:


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It was fantastic. Gary Kemp singing gave sort of a 70s British punk rock vibe to those Syd Barret songs, which was very cool. He's a great guitar player too, as is Lee Harris.

Edited by bolero
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