Saturday, September 15, 2018

Fender Bullet Guitars

1981 Fender Bullet
The Fender Bullet guitar was designed in 1981 as a low cost student instrument to take the place of the Duo Sonic and Music Master.

1981 Ad For Bullet  Guitar
with 20 watt Harvard amp

Fender designer John Page put the original instrument together. The first models were made in Asia and shipped un-assembeld to the US.

However Fender did not think the work was up to par and produced the original 1981 guitars in the US putting to use left over parts from other guitars.

1981 Bullet
The original bodies were designed to resemble a smaller and thinner version of the Telecaster. The necks were Telecaster necks. The dual pickups were Mustang pickups which were positioned like the Duo Sonic.

That is the neck pickup was angled on the treble side and the bridge pickup was parallel to the bridge. The switch was a three position Stratocaster Switchcraft version. The two potentiometer knobs for volume and tone were black Stratocaster knobs.

Advertisement for Fender Bullet
They came in two colors and two versions. The color was either red or cream. Pickguards were either white or black. The Bullet Standard had an anodized steel pickguard with the distal lip behind the bridge raised at a 90% angle to anchor the strings.

Fender Bullet Deluxe
The Bullet Deluxe had a plastic pickguard and the strings went through the body. The bridge assembly was a barrel type and was adjusted by a screw for intonation and an allen wrench for height. The headstock decal had a 5 point star with a number 1 in the center.

I've seen them with rosewood and maple necks.

1982 Bullet S-3

In 1982-83 the guitar was redesigned to look like a slightly smaller version of the Stratocaster. The guitar came in several versions. The S-3 had 3 Mustang type pickups with white covers positioned in the normal Strat fashion and a five way blade switch.

1982 Bullet H-2

The H-2 had 2 Fender humbucker (that were actually Mustang pickups side to side. Alongside the 3 way blade switch were two pushbutton switches that enable coil tapping. The H-1 was similar, but only had one pickup near the bridge.

1982 Bullet Bass

A Bullet bass was also produced. It was a smaller bodied version of a Precision bass with Mustang bass pickups.

1982 Fender Bullet S-3

These guitars came in black, white, red or cream. The controls were volume and tone. The input was on the top where the second tone control would be found on a Stratocaster. These were hard tail instruments.

1981 Fender Bullet with case
The price for the instruments was $199 which included a molded Fender case. During this time there was also a set sold with a Fender Bullet and your choice of a Fender Champ tube amp or a Fender solid state amp.

1984 Squier Bullet
In 1984 Fender Bullets were produced in Japan under the Squire Bullet label. These came in several versions including a style similar to the 1981 and another that more closely resembled a Stratocaster that had a Strat style tremolo.

Although they are student instrument, in my opinion they are still great players and bargains. Particularly the 1981's which have Tele neck and Kluson tuners.

Jr. Brown had his original Guit-Steel made from Fender Bullet parts.

Click on the links under the pictures for sources.
© UniqueGuitar Publications

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Line Six Amplifiers

1978 Speak and Spell
Digital signal processing has been used in the audio field for some time. Perhaps its first usage in a consumer product was the Speak and Spell, which was developed by scientists working for Texas Instruments in 1976 as a toy to teach children to spell. This early device used a microprocessor DSP chip.

Since then digital signal processing technology has advanced by leaps and bound. It is used today in mobile phones,  video and audio equipment, even the computer your are viewing now. It’s use in the music industry has resulted in a dramatic change from recording music on magnetic audio tape to recording music on computers, making analog tape almost obsolete, (Though I think it still sounds great.)

Digital Signal Processing.
The use of a Digital Signal Processor with guitar effects, or amplifiers has virtually become the norm, though some players prefer analog devices.

It works when the electric guitar sends an analog signal to the DSP board, and the board converts it to a digital signal making the necessary modifications and adjustments to it to provide the desired effects. The user controls the selection of effects and their intensities through a graphical user interface, or GUI. Once the signal is processed, it is converted back to an analog signal and sent to a guitar amplifier for the user and others to hear.

From a historical prospective, guitar amplification came about in the 1930’s, when the guitar was part of the rhythm section of a big band, but could barely be heard above the horns and drums. Musicians and companies that produced guitars converted or modified radios, and public address systems of the day to be used as guitar amplifiers. Most of these early attempts only produced at most 10 watts of power. As early as 1928, the Stromberg-Voisenet Company was experimenting with guitar amplification.

1941 Supro (National) amplifier
In 1941, Ralph Roberts, hired by the Electro String Company, was able to design a new form of circuitry to greatly improve that companies amplifiers. By 1949, Don Randall and Leo Fender had come up with the first 60 watt guitar amplifier; The Fender Super.

The First Transistor

It was in 1947 that the transistor was invented by Bell Laboratories. By 1954 this technology was applied to audio as first the first transistor radio was introduced by Texas Instruments.

1960's Kustom K-100
In 1961 Bob Crooks’ company, Standel, offered the first hybrid guitar amplifier to incorporate transistor design. Companies such as Kay, Burns, Gibson, and WEM and Vox of the UK followed suit with all transistor amps. Fender offered a line up of transistorized/solid state amps in 1966.

Two years earlier, in 1964, Charles “Bud” Ross introduced Kustom Amplifiers.

In my opinion, with the exception of Kustom, most of the transistor amplifiers of that era sounded thin and cold compared to tube amplifiers.

The first integrated circuit
It wasn’t until 1964 that the first integrated circuit or IC was implemented in analog audio. This shrunk the need for transistors to be wired on a board to all the circuitry being mounted on a tiny chip. These first chips, or integrated circuits, were fashioned from germanium. They were revolutionary but still had problems.

IC’s were later fashioned from the more durable and practical silicon. While most of us are still at the point of “tube vs. solid-state” there are many amp designers that differentiate between “integrated circuit vs. transistor circuits”, even though the transistors built into the IC chips.

The use of integrated circuits in guitar amplifiers has brought down their price considerably.  But the one factor in my opinion that has greatly improved their sound is the introduction of Digital Signal Processing.  Many companies use this technology, but in my opinion one company stands out; Line Six.

Marcus Ryle and Michel Doidic
Marcus Ryle, and Michel Doidic were acoustic engineers and designers that worked for the synthesizer manufacturer Oberheim. They co-founded their own company called Fast-Forward Design, and continued to contribute their skills to the Alesis Company, by designing the Alesis ADAT, and the Quadraverb, QuadraSynth, and Digidesign SampleCell.

By the late 1980’s they turned their sights to DSP based guitar products. The name Line 6 came about since the Fast-Forward Company only had 5 telephone lines, and at the time, the guitar business was being done in secret. They didn't want any of the clients that hired their services to know about this venture. So if their receptionist paged them and said, “their is a call on line 6”, this was code for them to stop any guitar or amp related sounds that could be overheard on the phone.

1996 Line 6  AxSys 212
The first marketable product was the Line 6 AxSys 212. The following year they came up with a “Floorboard” that was a foot controller for the AxSys, that included a volume pedal, and a wah pedal, as well as stomp style foot switches to turn off and on the various sounds. The AX2 was introduced in 1997 as an upgrade kit for AxSys 212 users.

1997 Line 6 Flextone

In that same year, Line 6 the introduced a new amp call the The Flextone.  This was a 60 watt amp, with a 12” speaker and a different layout that the AxSys models.

Line 6 Flextone
The next year, 1998. Line 6 had offered the Flextone, but upgraded the features to 100 watts with twin 10’ speakers. That same year they upgraded the original Flextone to the Flextone Plus. The Floorboard was compatible with it, and there was a separate stand-alone 1-12 cabinet that could be used as an addition.

In 1998 the Line 6 Flextone HD was also introduced. It had all the Flextone features, but in a 300 watt head. By 2000, the Flextone II was introduced. This amp included improved amp models with editing capabilities.

Flextone II HD

In 2001 Line 6 introduced the Flextone II HD. This was a stand alone stereo amplifier head that produced 100 watts per channel. It had dual outputs, and a flexible switching system for an effects loop.

In 2003 Line 6 produced the upgraded Flextone III, which included a 75 watt amp with a 12" speaker, that modeled 32 amps, and 16 cabinets, plus 12 different effects called the Flextone III.

Flextone III Plus

Another version called the Flextone III Plus included and extra power amp designed to power a separate speaker cabinet.

Flextone III XL

The Flextone III XL boosted the power up to 150 watts and had two 12" speakers. The company offered an optional foot switching system.

Line 6 Amp Farm

One of their most useful products was the Amp Farm, which was highly touted in guitar publications from it's creation in 1998.

This was a computer program for use with Digidesign Pro Tools audio workstations to use to create virtual amplifier and speaker sounds within a computer. This technology was put to use on many, many recordings.

1999 Line 6 Spider 112

In 1999 Line 6 came out with a new amplifier; the Spider 112 with its distinctive red panel. This was a 50 watt amp with a 12” speaker. It had 6 amp models, and 7 effects models, and was compatible with the Line 6 Floorboard and was affordable.

1999 Line 6 Spider 210
That same year the Spider 210, with 2 10” speakers.

The following year, Line 6 came out with a stereo version of their Spider amp, called The Spider 212. This one had all the original features and pumped out 100 watts (50 watts per channel).

Line 6 Spider II
In 2003 the Spider series was upgraded to the Spider II. This included the Spider II 112 which produced 75 watts, and had 12 amp models, and 7 effects, all going to a 12" Celestion speaker.

The Spider II 210 had 120 watts of power with the same features as the 112 model, but going into twin 10" speakers.

This amp also came as the Spider II HD, which was a head.

The Spider II 212 had 150 watts of power going to two 12" Celestion speakers.

Line 6 Spider 111 15 watt
In 2006 the Line 6 classic Spider amplifiers were redesigned. The Spider III 15 was offered as the companies budget amp. This was a 15 watt mono amp with an 8” speaker.

It had on 4 amp models, a Smart Control FX, which allowed two effects to be used at the same time out of the choice of six effects. 

It also came with a built-in boost, and noise gate, tap tempo for the effects, a CD/MP3 input, headphone and direct output.

The Spider III 30 offered a similar format with a 30 watt output into a 12” speaker. The Spider III 75 was their 75 watt version, which offered 12 amp models, seven Smart Control FX three of which could be used simultaneously. It came with a 12”speaker and 200 presets.

That years Spider III 120 offered the same features in a 120 watt stereo amp (60 watts per side) in combo with two 10” Celestion speakers.

Spider III 150
The Spider III 150 was similar, but produced 150 watts (75 per channel) into two 12” Celestion Speaker.

The Spider III HD 75, and Spider III HD150 were head units.

Line 6 Spider 112 Valve
In 2007 Line 6 introduced the Spider 112 Valve, and the Spider 212 Valve. They had some help with the design from designer Reinhold Bogner, who created the preamp and power amp sections. Bogner went on to develop a relationship with those in charge of Line 6. They distributed his series of Bogner Alchemist amplifiers.

Line 6 Spider Jam

In 2008, the Spider Jam was offered. This was 75 watt, one 12" Spider amp, with the addition of well over 100 CD quality jam tracks. Included was a 24 minute on-board recorder.

Line 6 Micro Spider

This same year brought the Micro Spider; a 6.5 watt battery powered amp going into a 6.5" speaker. It had 4 amp models, plus an acoustic model, and 6 effects.

Line 6 Spider IV 112

2009 brought out a new series of Spider amps called the Spider IV series, going from 15 watts, to 150 watts with various speaker configurations.

Line 6 Valve MK II 112

The Spider Valve MkII amps came out that same year, with one 12" or two 12" speakers, and a head only model.

Line 5 Spider V
In 2016 Line 6 introduced the Spider V series in models that went from 15 watts to 240 watts, with various speaker arrangements.

The following year, 2017, Line 6 offered a head only stereo unit called the Spider V 240 HC. 

Line 6 Spider V 20

2018 brought the Spider V 20, which is a 20 watt amplifier, into an eight inch speaker. It had 16 preset sounds and 20 amplifier models, with the ability to utilize three effects simultaneously, It also had a USB outlet for recording and editing the sounds.

2001 Line 6 Vetta
In 2001 Line 6 came out with the Vetta amplifier, which was a 100 watt stereo amplifier with two 12" Celestion speakers. It had over 30 amplifier models, and 24 cabinet models, plus many effects. A separate speaker cabinet with two 12" Celestions was also offered, as was the FBV foot controller.

The next year, 2002, the Vetta HD was offered as a 200 watt head.

Line 6 FBV Shortboard

A new version of the FBV controller, called the Short Board was offered this year. This was slimmed down from the original FBV controller.

2003 LIne 6 Vetta II

The next year, 2003, the 150 watt Vetta II stereo amplifier was introduced. This amp had over 70 amp models, 27 cabinet models, and over 50 effects and many other features. This amp was also issued as the Vetta II HD;  head only.

2006 LowDown LD150

In 2006 a new series of bass amps were introduced. The LowDown LD150 featured five classic bass amp models, 36 programmable presets, 5 synth bass models, compression, into a 12” speaker. The amp produced 150 watts and had other features.

The LowDown LD175 was an enhanced version with similar electronics, but it produced 175 watts into a 15” speaker and a hi-frequency horn.

LowDown LD300
The LowDown LD300 was the companies 300 watt version. The LowDown Studio 110 came out this year as a 75 watt bass amp with a 10” speaker, meant especially for recording. It featured 4 bass amp models, a synth bass emulator, opto-compression and four programmable presets. Included was a XLR direct output, preamp and headphone outputs, as well as a CD/MP3 input. 2

2008 LowDown LD 15

2008 brought us the LowDown LD 15; a 15 watt bass amp with an 8" speaker that had 4 bass amp models, 3 effects, plus other features.

2010 Line 6 DT50 212

In 2010 Line 6 introduced a new series of tube based amplifiers known as the DT50 series, with one 12" speaker, two 12" speaker, or as a head and a separate speaker cabinet with four 12" spearkers.. Speakers were made by Celestion.

Line 5 DT25 112

The next year, 2011, Line 6 offered the 25 watt DT25. This came with modeling effects, twin EL34 power tubes, and a 12" Celestion slpeaker. This was also offered as a separate head and speaker cabinet with a 12" speaker.

On December 20th, of 2013 Line 6 was acquired by the Yamaha Corporation in an agreement that provided benefits for the original company and founders, as well as Yamaha. Under the contractual guidelines Line 6 would remain a wholly owned subsidiary.

In 2014 Line 6 introduced a new line up of perhaps their most advanced DSP amplifiers to date; The Amplifi series.

Line 6 Amplifi 75
The Amplifi 75 is a 75 watt model that includes four presets over 75 built in amp models and 100+ via a FBV Shortboard device.. Its Bluetooth wireless capability allows for streaming music through this amplifier from a computer or mobile device. The IOS/Android TM mobile app allows from remote control of a huge selection of a cloud based library of  preset tones.

Amplifi 75 speaker system

The speaker system is most unique. This amp comes with an eight inch custom speaker plus two mid range frequency drivers, and two high range frequency drivers. The Amplifi series amps all come with stereo capability.

The Amplifi 150 is a 150 watt version of the Amplifi series. It comes with a 12" Celestion speaker plus two mid frequency and two high frequency drivers, and all the accouterments found on the 75 watt model.

Line 6 Amplifi FX 100
The Amplifi FX 100 is a floor unit that contains all the DSP models, and the effects found on the Amplifi series amplifiers, but it has the capability to be plugged into an amplifier, of a P.Al system.

Line 6 Amplifi 30

In 2016 Line 6 introduced a smaller version of the Amplifi series. This was a 30 watt Amplifi, which came in a compact cabinet. In it were housed four 2.5" speakers, four onboard presets, plus the ability to access 200 different tones, and the same the bluetooth capability of the larger versions.

Line 5 Firehawk 1500 & (speakers)
In 2015 Line 6 introduced their most powerful combo amplifier; The Firehawk 1500 put a 1500 watt stereo amplifier into a combo unit.

The cabinet housed six speakers, which included a 12' sub-woofer, two 5.5" stereo coaxial drivers, and two 1 x 1" high frequency compression drivers. It had four preset locations, plus the ability to access 200 amplifier and cabinet models. Plus 128 built-in presets, plus Bluetooth capability via the Line 6 app.

Line 6 Spider III - $39.99
Now for the bad news and the good news. In researching Line 6 amplifiers, and similar amplifiers manufactured by other companies, although Line 6 amplifiers are well built, most of the older models do not retain their value. I've seen Line 6 Spider III amplifiers selling for as little as $40.

Line 6 Flextone II - $149.99

I have run across Flextone II selling for $150.

Line 6 Vetta II 300 $449.00

The Vetta amps seem to fair better. I ran across a 2003 Vetta III was selling for $450.

Now for the good news. Even the Line 6 Spider III that was going for $40 was a little road worn, but the electronics, and speaker are in great shape.  Some of these Line 6 amps come with Celestion speakers. So in the secondary market Line amps are excellent bargains.

Spider Classic 15 1x8" - $99.99

The current Line 6 Classic Spider 15 watt, makes a great practice amplifier and the street price for a new one is only $100.

Click on the links under the pictures for sources. Click on the links in the text for further information.
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