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Mercury Magnetics Transformers


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#1 tbonesullivan

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 01:43 PM

So, as I was dropping off my Hamer Newport for a fret job and once-over, I noticed they had some pamphlets for mercury magnetics transformer upgrades. I read the thing, and I felt like I'd just read some of the marketting BS about EMG pickups. MM goes pretty far into basically saying that most likely your amp from any manufacturer has crappy transformers that are resulting in crappy sound, and that you'll never get great sounds without trannies from Mercury Magnetics. They even claim "Far more than tubes, speakers or other amp components, the transformers establish the platform for shaping your amp's unique sound."

Now, is it just me, or does this seem like a buncha bull? I mean, I have hard that companies like Marshall and Fender aren't making trannies like they use to, but the claims that MM makes seem pretty unreal to me. Has anyone here had the MM upgrades performed on their amps, and did they suddenly have an amp that can ooze tone like nothing else?
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#2 Steiner

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 02:44 PM

I went through the MM upgrade on an Epi Valve Jr. amp not too long ago. We used Hammond trannies and MM's wiring suggestions; made a big difference!

The Soldanos I have, used MM in the past and switched a few years back when MM decided to pull the Gibby "lifestyle: thing. I have 3 Decatones, 2 w/ MM and 1 w/ De Young (SLO) Trannies. Not a big difference unless you set them to breathe fire at high volumes. Speakers have a larger affect in the volumes I normally utilize. I've not heard the new tranny in the Soldanos though I would venture to think Mike Soldano wouldn't change his signature sound.

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#3 Thundersteel

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 02:57 PM

Probably not any more outrageous than these claims:



24K Gold Plated Audio Grade Outlet for $150. It is supposed to make your home stereo sound better than your generic $1 outlet from the hardware store.

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The same goes for this $80 plug. From their website: "If you are searching for a simple way to make a big improvement in your audio or home theater system, look no further."

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#4 tbonesullivan

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 03:23 PM

I went through the MM upgrade on an Epi Valve Jr. amp not too long ago. We used Hammond trannies and MM's wiring suggestions; made a big difference!

Well, the Epi Valve jrs are budget amps made with budget components. Replacing them with solid components will cause an instant improvement.

I was just looking at the DSL and TSL improved transformers, and they are literally TWICE the size of the stock trannies, at least for the input transformer. Also have to be the biggest transformer I've ever seen. They also have a whole article about how rusty transformers are better than clean ones...
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#5 GuitArtMan

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 03:23 PM

I had MM transformers installed in my Vox AC15H1TV. The work was done by Don "Tone Man" Butler. He took a already great sounding amp and bumped it up a notch imho. Was it worth it? Hard to say really. There are so many variables in the "tone chain" and Don did other mods on the amp at the same. I definitely think the amp sounds better, but it's mot like getting a completely different amp back. I also have a MM OT in my '69 Marshall that sounds absolutely awesome: much better than the Hammond OT it replaced. The Hammond sounded congested in the mids, the MM cuts trough with authority. That said, I tend to think the transducers are where one should look to upgrade first: pickups and speakers. This are what turn your sound into electrical signals and then turn those electrical signals back into sound. These should be looked at first.
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#6 Steiner

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 05:14 PM

Well, the Epi Valve jrs are budget amps made with budget components. Replacing them with solid components will cause an instant improvement.



That was the contrast I was shooting. It may be worth while for cheaper amps. Usually the higher-end amps are designed around the transformers.

One truth I always held was that the heavier the iron, the better the sound. I have a relatively lightweight Budda, Britton II, and Vox that sound quite delicious. Go figure :occasion15:

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#7 GuitArtMan

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 09:23 PM

That was the contrast I was shooting. It may be worth while for cheaper amps. Usually the higher-end amps are designed around the transformers.

One truth I always held was that the heavier the iron, the better the sound. I have a relatively lightweight Budda, Britton II, and Vox that sound quite delicious. Go figure :mad:

The first Marshall 18 and 20 watt RIs were known for blowing OTs as were some of the Vox RIs. MM and Heyboer offer high quality replacements that will take a beating and keep on rockin'!
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#8 tulk1

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Posted 13 July 2010 - 09:26 PM

I have MMs in my Tweed Super. And that amp is ....... well ... Super!! I'd love to put them in my AC30, too. The Carmen Ghia, on the other hand, is built around a Hammond transformer, so probably no joy there in swapping. Then again, it's built for that tranny.

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#9 212Mavguy

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 12:03 AM

I know it's truth.

Best sounding amp I have has one in it. It's a Radiospares type from the MM Axiom series in my Siegmund Blues Breaker head, it is currently running all VOS tubes, including the Emitron smoked glass kt66's that are the holy grail of kt66's. The very first Marshall JTM45's used that transformer, but the high cost forced a change in the choice for production later. A year or so ago I saw one of those vintage Radiospares OT's go for over 450 bucks on eBay, they are the holy grail for beanotone addicts.

How many of you have actually smelled the solder fumes from sitting down at your bench and swapping out the OT in one of your amps? Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Pain in the butt compared to the ease of swapping out tubes and speaker cabs!

After using three different OT's in the same amp that were greatly different from each other, I have to say that the OT made a bigger difference in the basic tone than tubes and speakers! I'm NOT backing down on this one! With that said, I'm not so naive that to think that a given amp will respond dramatically or even very noticeably in that amp's basic tone iiiiiif the MM replacement is a clone of the original.

The Mercury line includes clones of vintage transformers as well as the no holds barred, unfettered designs found in their Axiom series. A great example is the way oversized single ended OT found in Siegmund's one watt Muddy Buddy. Chris spec'ed it out and the Mercury crew builds 'em just for him.

#10 TalismanRich

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 07:52 AM

I've always wondered why guitar amps use the square transformers, instead of the toroidal ones. Lots of audio amps, that pump out lots of current and lots of power, use toroidal transformers (my Bryston amp does).

Are there any amp folks on here who might have insight to this?

On another note, I saw in the Mercury Mag ad in Vintage Guitar this month and they are offering to help restore any amp that was in the Nashville flood, in some cases, for free. They'll draw out any water and then reseal the iron. That says a lot about a company's ethics.

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#11 kbp810

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 06:58 PM

Probably not any more outrageous than these claims:



24K Gold Plated Audio Grade Outlet for $150. It is supposed to make your home stereo sound better than your generic $1 outlet from the hardware store.

Posted Image


The same goes for this $80 plug. From their website: "If you are searching for a simple way to make a big improvement in your audio or home theater system, look no further."

Posted Image


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#12 212Mavguy

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 07:14 PM

I've always wondered why guitar amps use the square transformers, instead of the toroidal ones. Lots of audio amps, that pump out lots of current and lots of power, use toroidal transformers (my Bryston amp does).

Are there any amp folks on here who might have insight to this?

On another note, I saw in the Mercury Mag ad in Vintage Guitar this month and they are offering to help restore any amp that was in the Nashville flood, in some cases, for free. They'll draw out any water and then reseal the iron. That says a lot about a company's ethics.


Good question! My one off boutique TST 6094 custom has one, it has enough capacity to run a 100 watt Marshall. That amp is currently biased at about 75% max plate dissipation for the pair of Bendix 6094's for 18 watts. After running for an hour that toroidal main tranny is barely warm, it's loafing. There is a lot of follow the herd mentality in amp builders. Right now Ed is moving to another state, so his amp building is on hold for another month or two. But if you'd like to see some interesting pics, check out www.toadsucktones.com, particularly the amp he did up for Nancy Wilson.

#13 barrymclark

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 07:40 PM

One truth I always held was that the heavier the iron, the better the sound.

I have a Vox combo that is about 90lbs or so. My arthritic knees absolutely hate it. But my ears apparently wear the pants in that relationship. It sounds SO good.

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#14 212Mavguy

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 07:53 PM

lookee dat new guitar in the avatar!

Schweet, Barry! I DO like her!

I like big iron, too! Your knees, my sciatica. Glad I have that inversion table.

#15 111518

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 08:46 PM

One truth I always held was that the heavier the iron, the better the sound.


I don't claim to know much about merc mags, but I do remember that when I started working in a guitar shop in the 60s, the first thing the old guys would do to an amp was to pick it up --to test the iron, and I guess the speaker mag as well. If you think about it, the big difference in silvertones, etc. vs. the fenders and other quality amps of the time, which often used the same tubes and even similar basic circuits, were the chokes and transformers.

Another bit of evidence about the importance of transformers: when I started investigating having Fuchs do an amp mod, his site listed the amps he would use as a foundation for his overdrive supreme rebuild --all based on the quality of the iron.

#16 212Mavguy

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 08:52 PM

I don't claim to know much about merc mags, but I do remember that when I started working in a guitar shop in the 60s, the first thing the old guys would do to an amp was to pick it up --to test the iron, and I guess the speaker mag as well. If you think about it, the big difference in silvertones, etc. vs. the fenders and other quality amps of the time, which often used the same tubes and even similar basic circuits, were the chokes and transformers.

Another bit of evidence about the importance of transformers: when I started investigating having Fuchs do an amp mod, his site listed the amps he would use as a foundation for his overdrive supreme rebuild --all based on the quality of the iron.


Right iron! :headbang: Ever see how dinky the output trannies are on the 6l6 Silvertones compared to other 6l6 amps?

#17 111518

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 09:12 PM

I don't claim to know much about merc mags, but I do remember that when I started working in a guitar shop in the 60s, the first thing the old guys would do to an amp was to pick it up --to test the iron,


Whoops, typo here. I was young when I started working in the shop, but that should have read "70's."

#18 6ringing

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Posted 16 July 2010 - 09:54 PM

I've been building amps for over 10 years now, and I can tell you that MM trannys are aboslutely top notch! They usually are a big upgrade for an amp unless you've already got some great trannys in there (then it'll usually be a lesser jump up in tone). But they are that good.

#19 wingnut1

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 09:44 PM

MM trannies are good, but very expensive. You don't have to spend MM money to have great sound from your amp. Heyboer makes great iron, Magnetic Components makes great iron and Weber has great iron. You need to match the iron up to what you want out of the amp. Do you want the amp to sound like a vintage amp or do you want more power, low end, etc... to choose the iron that is going to make you amp sound like you want it to.

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Posted 17 July 2010 - 10:27 PM

Anything guitar related is hype. Except practice and playing.
Its a hungry market driven by mystique and bs.