Below shows the gear used at the gig we did at the Carpenters Arms Mayfield
Top of stack, Torres British Invasion, 6V6GT output Valves with Jensen Speaker. Bottom of stack, Torres Royale 6L6 output Valves with Celestion Speaker. Both Amps have Valve rectifiers GZ34 giving that smooth roll off natural compression.
Guitar, handbuilt mahogany, maple top, Ibanez neck & Kent Armstrong Pickups
Nothing other than RAW power from the Torres British Invasion 25 Watt Valve Amplifier. No Effects !! No Revereb !! Just pure Music
"The Invasion's tones are very, very, well British - plugged into the low input, bell-like Vox flavoured chimes leap out of that 10" Jensen with surprising punch and the high input packs a considerable boost in gain for screaming, late sixties inspired lead tones. The treble control has exceptional range - backing this off and pulling the boost switches yielded a much darker, heavier distortion very reminiscent of Brian May or early Clapton, perhaps, with the tone changing character from vintage Vox to vintage Marshall, depending on which switches are pulled. The output stage starts to distort with the master at 10 o'clock, and after that the characteristic 'buttery' sound of a 6V6 driven into cutoff takes over, smoothing out the edges for a lead tone so fat and creamy you could float it on coffee. "Dan Torres is a well known American hot-rodder who has successfully turned a lifetime of amp experience into a range of kits that take the guesswork out of amplifier design - and at last, they're available in the U.K., thanks to Barry Vyse of Vyse ltd. The British Invasion is one of six intriguing preamplifier designs which can be mated to a range of power stages - in this case we have a straightforward valve rectified circuit based on a pair of 6V6's, but you can plump for anything up to an earth-moving hundred watter using either EL34's or 6L6's if you prefer. And, because we're talking kits here, you can decide whether a head or a combo is right for you - as you'll be making the cabinet too! The idea of taking a clapped-out amp and revamping it's circuit isn't new, but Torres have gone several steps further by providing the chassis and transformers, as well as making a lot of other hard-to-find parts readily available, such as the high voltage capacitors which are essential to valve designs - the Torres range includes top quality custom value Sprague 'orange drop' caps which you just won't find anywhere else, as well as push-pull pots, face plates, tweed or tolex coverings and grille cloths to cater for almost any design fancy. "Inside this diminutive but solid pine cabinet is a heavy duty, angled front steel chassis which holds an 'eyelet' board - a piece of phenolic with small brass rings punched into it at strategic points - into which all the components are fitted and soldered, with flying leads to valves, transformers and switchgear. It's a very traditional layout, and easier to understand than the more British 'tag board' style of point to point. The transformers sit on clever adaptor plates, which allow for a range of different types depending on your choice of output stage, and in this combo we have a 10" Jensen to move the air - one of several loudspeakers that Torres/Vyse recommend for their kits. All the parts are top quality, especially the smoothly damped pots and those custom capacitors - these are things that wouldn't be out of place on the most costly 'boutique' amps. "The British Invasion preamp is a disarmingly simple design with some typically 'boutique' features - a pair of inputs marked Normal and High gain lead to a volume and gain pot , followed by a clever bass mid and treble tone stack which includes a pair of push/pull switches - one for mid boost, and one for bass boost, all of which feeds a single master volume. This isn't a channel switching preamp - plugging into the normal gain jack lets you range from clean to mild bluesy breakup using the volume and master knobs; plugging into the high gain jack activates the gain knob too, driving an extra preamp stage for heavy distortion - also it's possible to raise or lower the amps power output within limits by substituting different valves in the phase inverter circuit. As this is a kit, one important part isn't in the chassis at all - it's the manual, and the step-by-step instructions are clear and easy to follow, laced with plenty of safety warnings and well laid out drawings. It's one thing to copy a circuit diagram, but to produce a great sounding amp is something else altogether, and Torres' manual is full of helpful hints and tips to remove most, if not all of the guesswork involved in tuning a circuit to audio perfection. Having said that, a novice is going to find that building a valve amp is a very steep learning curve....On the bright side, you can always entrust this work to Vyse, and let them create the amp of your choice from the available permutations, at an extra cost. "Real point to point wiring is a dying art - it's highly labour intensive and takes skill and experience to execute properly, which is why the price tags of some boutique amps are justifiably lofty. The Torres kits aren't cheap - quality rarely is - but if you can devote the time and concentration, you've got yourself a one-of-a-kind boutique amp which could (and should) last you forever, and think of the kudos plugging into an amp with 'Custom Made For ...' on it will give you at gigs/sessions, etc. Too many modern amps try to be all things to all players, and lose out on character and individuality as a result - with the Torres kits here's a way of getting it back again at a price that won't break the bank. If you're a real tone aficionado, then you have to check these out. Right then, where's my soldering iron?" NICK GUPPY, GUITARIST MAGAZINE AUG 2000, ISSUE 48
Last Updated: November 2010