The Mike Yankie Project
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And you thought the Valve Jr. Mercury Upgrade sounded amazing on a stock amp. Wait until you hear Mike Yankie's custom point-to-point version!
"I heard about the Valve Junior and people modding them last spring at the Dallas Guitar Show. I bought a couple and did some mods. Then I saw a GA-5 and decided to build a board.
"I had heard that Mercury Magnetics had a transformer kit, and finally ordered one. I couldn't see putting those nice transformers in a package that would still be seen as a $100 amp. I had a stainless steel chassis left over from some prototyping I was doing and decided to build a custom amp. I had already tried the GA-5 and Mini Z circuits with the Valve Junior and knew the modded Valve Junior circuit was better-sounding than those.
"I prepped the chassis and began building. The point-to-point layout ended up with a really short signal path, which I attribute to the touch response of this amp, more so than the board version.
"I took the amp to a buddy's house (Rushin Steele) and we started playing with mic placement, volume levels, etc. Sammy Colunga showed up and his jaw hit the floor when he started playing, he proceeded to bang out a few tracks [see sound samples below]. All were done on the fly, I'd tell him what pickup and sound I wanted, etc. The recording session was less than an hour. He has reserved the amp for an upcoming recording session.
"I am trying to break into the world of amp building. I have been building and selling tube amps for 2 years, due to a medical condition I can no longer do the telecom work that I used to do. I have been trying to find my niche in the amp business, and I think building custom amps for session players and collectors is it."
-- Mike Yankie
"The custom amp I built with the Valve Jr. kit is still blowing peoples' minds. Last week I went to a jam and let everybody play through it. One friend had his Matchless Lightning there and everybody liked the tone and distortion of the Mercury Upgrade amp better, the Matchless had more volume, but just didn't compare sound-wise. Yesterday I took the amp to Guitar Center in Austin, TX to see how it stacked up against the new Marshall hand-wired 18 watt, once again the Marshall had a bit more volume but the Mercury Upgrade amp sounded much better. The amp is really organic and has the touch response characteristics that only a few high end amps have. Just for fun, I plugged in one of the new Michael Kelly hybrid guitars, the tone was heavenly, it kind of reminded me of a nice Martin or Gibson running through a BFDR.
"Also, I have decided to have a booth at the Arlington, TX guitar show coming up Oct. 21 & 22. I will have a stock Valve Jr., a Mercury Magnetics equipped Valve Jr. and a few of the customs. BTW, I have decided to name the custom Mercury Magnetics equipped amp the MM5. I am also working on a 6V6 version which will be called the MM6, it has the more traditional American clean tone and doesn’t distort as much as the MM5. Anybody in the Dallas/Fortworth area that would like to test ride these amps are welcome to stop by my booth. My company name is Texas Tube Amplifier Company. I talked to the guitar show promoters this morning to see if there was going to be a demonstration room available, and yes there will. I will be near it.
"Anyway, just wanted to let you know that everybody is digging the amp and I know the transformers are a big part of it. Thanks for a great product. Your customer support is unsurpassed. And the ten year warranty is icing on the cake."
-- Mike Yankie
This just in:
Video demo of Mike's MM5 with Greg Germino at the helm. Check it out (note: 10 MB file download). Download MM5 Demo.
MP3 sound samples from Mike's Project:
Guitarist: Sammy Colunga
Recording Gear: All clips were recorded with a Studio Process C-1 room microphone and SM 57 off axis 8" from speaker on an Abelton Live 5 using a MOTU Traveler. The guitar is an '89 Fender US 52RI Tele with stock pups straight to amp using a George L cable. The speaker is a 1x12 cab loaded with a Celestion Blue G12.
Contact Mike Yankie at: Txtubeampman@aol.com
For more information, assistance, quotes
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