Gilmore Jr. Tube Amp Kit

Gilmore Jr. From Guytronix

1/2 watt Gilmore Jr. from Guytronix

The Gilmore Jr. is a low-watt tube amp kit from Guytronix that has a well-deserved reputation among seekers of the ultimate guitar tone.

Since I am allergic to words such as “creamy”, “Crunchy break-up”, or Shimmering highs” and “Chime”, all I will say is that when you plug a guitar into this amp, that’s what you hear, THE GUITAR, not some audio engineer’s generic idea of a simulated Marshall Stack. The clean is really clean, string separation is all there, it’s very sensitive to articulation. As far as noise goes, this is one quiet amp, even at cranked up levels! When you turn it up most of the way, it will start to overdrive. There is a wide range of sounds available. It will put a smile on your face.

If you want outboard effects, you’ll need to add some stomp boxes, but the amp seems to like pedals, and has worked well with my Xotic EP Booster and an MXR Carbon Copy Delay. I’ll add some reverb sooner or later, but it isn’t as urgent a need as I had first thought.

The Gilmore Jr. is like a Tele in that it’s simple but non-forgiving. If you use sloppy fingering, it will come through, no hiding in the fuzz and fizz. But an amp that encourages precise playing can’t be all bad, especially when the sound is so excellent. I’d say ‘back to the woodshed’,  but I never left in the first place.

There are only two controls, volume and tone, but they work, and over the whole range, especially in conjunction with the guitar controls. The interplay between the amp volume and the pickup volume control seems to mimic the effect of a gain knob for instance. I suspect that a lot of the sound you get from this amp will come through finger articulation, attack etc. As the player responsible, the sound you get will be up to you!

Both the volume and tone controls, as well as the pickup selector switch on my mexi Tele (FSR, 2010?) came alive when I plugged into the Gilmore, and I am looking fwd to trying it with some other guitars.

The amp is a Gerhart design, a push-pull configuration with a two-stage pre-amp (12AX7) and a 6N1P dual triode for the power amp. I also got the Two-Watt mod which uses a ECC99 in a special base that Richard Guy puts together when he is in “watchmaker” mode.

The components are all of the highest quality; the custom-wound Mercury Magnetic transformers don’t skimp on iron, they have a reassuring weight, and make up a significant portion of the kit’s cost. The turret board is bomb-proof. Only the best caps and resistors are supplied. All you need to add is the solder and the soldering iron.

The kit is reasonably easy to build, the instructions that come with it are first rate, and if you follow the text, step by step, you should have no problems. There are a few tight spots to solder (tube sockets!) but once you are up to speed, it’s not that hard. If you do run into trouble, Richard’s legendary customer service will get you through any difficulties.

If you use the large circuit drawing on the back page as a guide (it’s really helpful) be aware that the power transformer pictured doesn’t show the dual primary windings that are now standard. The instructions on PAGE 16 do apply to the currently supplied dual winding model and clearly explain the AC power hook up. It’s just a matter of pairing up the two sets of input wires.

Green heater wires are arched above the signal wires

I am currently running the amp thru an Acoustic bass cab with two 15 ” speakers (8 ohm). It’s not the ideal set up for frequency response or resistance (the amp prefers 16 ohm but will run on 4 or 8 as well) but it still sounds fantastic, with a surprising amount of volume, even at 1/2 watt. I like the extra punch and headroom that the two-watt mod adds, but even straight up this is an impressive sounding amp.

( The above paragraph is old news now 12/24/12 see this ) for the current set-up.

I would say more but I am still learning how to run the thing, and am new to the world of tubes. Generic settings don’t really work, because this amp sees each guitar as an individual, and you need to play around with the controls (both amp and guitar) to get the sounds you like.

The amp is a little spendy, mainly because of the quality of the components used, but it is a solid value and I am very happy with it.

My guess is that it is super reliable, but since I built it, I know I can fix it too if I need to! The building part might seem a little intimidating, but once you get your soldering skills together, it’s a piece of cake, and rather enjoyable.

If you are a tone-ranger, the Gilmore Jr. is an excellent starting point, giving you a clean, three-dimensional sound that is loaded with even-order harmonics. Where you go with it from there is up to you and your fingers, as well as any effects you choose to add.

For me, it feels like the start of a long and rewarding quest, the final destination of which is yet unknown…

The bottom line: THIS AMP ROCKS!


About 6stringthing

10 fingers, two hands
This entry was posted in construction, Electric, Guitar and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.