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FAQ

More FAQs: Mack guitar amp speaker cabs  -  Buying online from Mack Amps  -  Guitar amp design

 Heatseeker/Skyraider FAQ

Is the Heatseeker HS-18 or the Skyraider SR-15 right for me?

If you like pure, tube tone, warm sparkling cleans and lush overdrive then - YES!  There are many factors to consider when choosing an amp.  We made a handy chart to help you.  Which Mack amp is right for me?

Tone
What tubes are in the Heatseeker and Skyraider?  

We use JJ tubes: 2x12AX& and 2xEL84 (HS-18) or 2x6V6 (SR-15).

What does the clean tone sound like?  

The Heatseeker's EL84 power tubes with their upper-midrange emphasis produce cleans with lots of 'cluck and chime' - magic with single coils!  The Skyraider SR-15's 6V6 power tubes produce warm, balanced, sparkling cleans.

What does the overdriven tone sound like?

The Heatseeker's EL-84 power tubes produce an aggressive overdriven tone that we say sounds like 'Marshal meets Vox'.  The Skyraider SR-15's 6V6 power tubes create very warm, lush overdriven tones: 'Fender meets Vox'.

Playability
What's it like playing a HS-18 or SR-15?

All Mack amps are very responsive meaning that they are touch and signal level sensitive.  You can set the amp up so just by varying your pick attack you can morph from clean to overdrive.  Rolling off your guitar volume or volume pedal cleans the amp up beautifully no matter how much overdrive the amp is set for.  And, Mack's are 'fast' - notes seem to project from the speaker cab at lightning speedwhile reatining the warm tube tone Mack amp's are famous for.

Can I gig with a Heatseeker or Skyraider?

Yes!  There's plenty of volume to keep uo with a band.

Can I play a HS-18 or SR-15 at home?

Yes, but because these amps produce power tube overdrive, they have to be turned up to get into the OD sweet spot.  To get to that spot might be too loud for your home playing situation.  Not to worry, just plug in your favorite OD or distortion pedal, turn down the HS-18's or SR-15's volume to where you want it and stomp on the pedal for all the grind you need!

How loud is the Heatseeker and Skyraider?

They're loud!  Customers are always surprised at how loud these amps are, but they never loose their great tone.  How loud is that?  Well, a 50 watt amp is only about 3dB louder and that's on average the smallest amount of volume change a human can detect.  What?  Learn more about how guitar amp power relates to volume.

Front panel
What does the Hot/Burn/Melt switch do?

Gain and bass are increased as the switch is turned.  It's not a dramatic change like diming a distortion pedal, but it does change the voicing of the amp.  Many players use this to tune the amp to the guitar they are playing - Burn is usually best for humbuckers and Melt produces a huge sinlge coil tone.  Hot is magic with bluesy/jazzier tones.

What does the single tone control do?

It actually provides a bit of treble boost similar to a bright switch and it rolls off treble frequencies.  Set it at 12 o'clock for a flat frequency response.

Where's the standby switch?

With the power that is produced by any Mack amp, you would have to leave your amp on for weeks or months to see any sign of tube degrdation.  If it's unessceaary why include in the amp!

Rear panel
Why is there only 8 0hm speaker outputs?

You can plug any impedance or 'ohm' speaker cab in a Mack amp and you won't damage anything.  In fact, at power levels under 30-40 watts you should be able to do that with any well made amp - but don't do that without checking with your amp's manufcaturer first!  We know this statement is true because we conducted extensive testing all the way to running the amps at full volume with the speaker output jack shorted and without anything plugged in.  Voltages and currents mesured under those extreme conditions were well within the amp's safe operating limits.


Why are there two speaker outputs?

So you can plug two speaker cabs into your Heatseeker or Skyraider.  The impedance of either cab doesn't matter (see the above question and answer).

Design
How is the preamp designed?

All Mack amps have the first two preamp stages wired in parallel with one another instead of being wired in sreies or one after the other.  That gives more gain that a single stage, but somehwat less than two in series.  However, we like how it sounds and feels.  This is a design feature that make Mack amps different from almost all tube guitar amplifiers.

How is the power amp designed?

Nothing fancy - two tubes operating in Class A/B.  However, the overall amp design allows for the creation of only power tube overdrive.  That's the sound of rock and roll: warm, harmonic laden, 'crunchy' overdrive and distortion.  We like!

What class is the HS-18 and SR-15?

Class A/B.  Learn about the difference between Class A and Class A/B.

How are the tubes biased?

Every tube in a Mack amp is cathode biased, which is also called 'self' bias.  That's the way every preamp tube is biased in any tube amp, but the power tubes could be fixed biased.  We like cahtode bias because it's simple, requires fewer parts, and it allows owners to easily replace their power tubes without having to worry about biasing the new tubes - just pull out the old ones and stuff in the new ones!

Pedals - are the HS-18 and SR-15 pedal friendly?

Yes!  One of the great benefits of Mack amps' dynamics and signal level sensitivity is that they LOVE pedals!  In fact, our efficient design will cause you to, perhaos, for the first time hear what your guitar and pedals REALLY sound like!

Gem 2G FAQ

Is the Gem 2G right for me?

If you like pure, tube tone, warm sparkling cleans and lush overdrive then - YES!  There are many factors to consider when choosing an amp.  We made a handy chart to help you.  Which Mack amp is right for me?

Tone
What tubes are in the Gem 2G?  

1xJJ EL84 power tube and 1x6AC10 preamp tube.  The 6AC10 is a New-Old-Stock (NOS) tube, but unlike most of them the 6AC10 is readily available and actually less expensive than a good old 12AX7!  Why use the 6AC10?  Unlike a 12AX7 that has two tube sections in its bottle, the 6AC10 has three.  That allows us to really add a lot of tone flexibility and it helps keep the Gem tiny.

What does the clean tone sound like?

The Gem 2G is a true Class A tube amp so it produces very warm tone.  Cleans are beautiful!

What does the overdriven tone sound like?

Overdriven Class A tone is 'soft' or 'spongy'.  LOTS of hoarmnics and complexity.  It feels good to play and sounds great!

Playability
What's it like playing a Gem 2G?

Like all Mack amps, the Gem 2G is touch and signal level responsive, but it's true Class A configuration adds a tactile 'soft' texture to the dyanmics that only this type of amp can create.  The result is an amp that reacts lightning fast to pick dynamics, cleans up beautifully when guitar volume of volune pedal is rolled off and can ge adjusted to morph between clean and OD just by varying your pick attack.  And, the tone 'feels' good too!

Can I gig with a Gem 2G?

What?  How could you possibly gig with only 4 watts?  Well, if you mic the speaker cab you can play Wembley stadium with a Gem!  However, 'only' 4 watts can be damn loud plyaing through an efficient speaker(s).  Customers are ALWAYS surprised at just how loud 4 watts can be - while retaining all of the tone that Gem 2Gs are famous for.  You likely won't be able to keep uo with a maniac drummer, but lots of customers use their Gem 2G's for solo and small group gigs and many more use them for jamming with friends!

How loud is a Gem 2G?

Surprisingly loud!  See above question/answer.

Can I get good tone at real low volume?

4 watts can be surprisingly loud, but we designed a very effective power switching feature that reduces the Gem 2G's output power to only 0.4 watts - without changing its tone!  You can get beautiful cleans or power tube overdrive at bedroom volume levels.  Great for playing by yourself at home and playing along with recordings.  Learn more about how to get great tone at low volume.   

Can a Gem 2G drive a 2x12/10 or 4x12/10 speaker cabinet?

Yes!  How do we know?  The original Gem prototype was tested exclusively through a 4x12 cab!  The tiny, little Gem looked funny as hell on top of the big cabinet, but, man, did it sound good!  Remember to flash an evil smile as you plug your Gem 2G into 2x12 or 4x12 - and then watch your jamming buddies' or bandmates' jaws hit the floor when they hear how the little Gem 2G can drive a big cab!!

Front panel
What does the Output switch do?

It switches the Gem 2G's output power between 4 watts and 0.4 watts.

What does the preamp switch do?

It reconfigures the preamp to add tonal flexibility.  In the Hot position the first two preamp stages are in parallel - a Mack Amps tradition.  That pair feeds another, single, preamp stage.  In the Melt position, the parallel gain stages are put in series with one another resulting in all three gain stages being in series for maximum gain.  Use it as a Lead boost switch or to get maximum drive and distortion or to switch between clean and overdriven tones.  And, its' footswitchable too!

Where's the standby switch?

With the power that is produced by any Mack amp, you would have to leave your amp on for weeks or months to see any sign of tube degrdation.  If it's unessceaary why include in the amp!

Rear panel
Why is there only an 8 0hm speaker output?

You can plug any impedance or 'ohm' speaker cab in a Mack amp and you won't damage anything.  In fact, at power levels under 30-40 watts you should be able to do that with any well made amp - but don't do that without checking with your amp's manufcaturer first!  We know this statement is true because we conducted extensive testing all the way to running the amps at full volume with the speaker output jack shorted and without anything plugged in.  Voltages and currents mesured under those extreme conditions were well within the amp's safe operating limits.

What's the footswitch jack for?

It switches the preamp from the Hot to Melt settings.


Design
How is the preamp designed?

In the Hot position the first two preamp stages are in parallel - a Mack Amps tradition.  That pair feeds another, single, preamp stage.  In the Melt position, the parallel gain stages are put in series with one another resulting in all three gain stages being in series for maximum gain.  Use it as a Lead boost switch or to get maximum drive and distortion or to switch between clean and overdriven tones.  And, its' footswitchable too!

How is the power amp designed?

The Gem 2G is a 'single-ended' tube amp.

What class is the Gem 2G?

Class A.  Learn about the difference between Class A and Class A/B.

How are the tubes biased?

Every tube in a Mack amp is cathode biased, which is also called 'self' bias.  That's the way every preamp tube is biased in any tube amp, but the power tubes could be fixed biased.  We like cahtode bias because it's simple, requires fewer parts, and it allows owners to easily replace their power tubes without having to worry about biasing the new tubes - just pull out the old ones and stuff in the new ones!

Pedals - is the Gem 2G pedal friendly?

Yes!  One of the great benefits of Mack amps' dynamics and signal level sensitivity is that they LOVE pedals!  In fact, our efficient design will cause you to, perhaps, for the first time hear what your guitar and pedals REALLY sound like!  What makes a guitar amp pedal friendly?

GENERAL AMP PRODUCT FAQ

What's different about Mack amps?

Pure tone and affordability in a tube guitar amp hand made in Canada.  If you've been searching for YOUR tone, but couldn't justify paying the price of a typical boutique or vintage guiar amp, a Mack amp just might be what you've been searching for!

Why don't Mack amps cost the same as typical boutique guitar amps?

The founding principal of Mack Amps was to produce a hand made line of guitar amps with truly great tone at a price lower than typical boutique guitar amps.  We do that by using top quality, reliable components - but not trendy, mythical, nose bleed price components (we can't hear the tone difference that justifies the high prices), we build in batches so we can buy components in quantity at a relatively lower price and we run our company with minimum overhead.

What do Mack amps sound like?

We like power tube overdrive and distortion.  No Mack amp will ever generate thin, fizzy distortion in the preamp.  Turn it up and your Mack amp produces lush, harmonically laden overdrive.  Meanwhile, on the other end of the volume dial our efficient circuit design, single tone control and parrallel preamp stages create warm, beautiful clean tones and make our amps super dynamic: morph from cleand to OD by warying your pick attack, clean up beautifully by rolling down your guitar volume or volume pedal, feel the 'fast' note response.  Play a Mack amp and it might be the first time you've every heard what your guitars and pedals REALLY sound like!

What kind of music are Mack amps good for?

Rock, blues, country, jazz - even metal with the right pedal.  It's hard to find a musical genre that doesn't benefit from the tone created by a great tube guitar amp.   However, there are many factors to consider when choosing an amp.  We made a handy chart to help you.  Which Mack amp is right for me?

Tubes
Do I have to bias the tubes if I change them?  Can I change them myself?

You don't have to worry about biasing and you can change the tubes yourself if you want.  The power tubes in all Mack amps are cathode (self) biased.  Unplug the old tubes, plug in the new ones and play!

What kind of tubes can I use?

We use JJ tube except for the preamo tube in the Gem 2G that is a New Old Stock (NOS) 6AC10.

Design
What makes Mack amps sound good?

Efficient circuit design, uncluttered signal path, high quality components, good sounding tubes.

Why only one tone control?

Traditional treble/bass and treble/mid/bass tone controls suck gain and make it difficult to set the amp so you hear what the guitar really sounds like.  Learn more about why TB and TMB tone controls aren't the best things ever!

What ohm speaker can I plug into a Mack amp?

You can plug any impedance or 'ohm' speaker cab in a Mack amp and you won't damage anything.  In fact, at power levels under 30-40 watts you should be able to do that with any well made amp - but don't do that without checking with your amp's manufcaturer first!  We know this statement is true because we conducted extensive testing all the way to running the amps at full volume with the speaker output jack shorted and without anything plugged in.  Voltages and currents mesured under those extreme conditions were well within the amp's safe operating limits.

MACK AMPS SPEAKER FAQ

What's different about Mack speaker cabinets?

They're bigger than typical 1x12 and 1x10 cabs and they have a tuned port.  That results in a unique guitar speaker system that produces more bass and a bigger presence than tyapical cabs and, our customers tell us, that when they put a speaker from another cab into their Mack cab it sounds better: wider frequency response, better balance and overall more forward sound.

What kind of speakers can I have installed in my Mack Amps speaker cab?

You can order your Mack speaker cab with any Eminence or Celestion guitar speaker.  Or, you can order your cab without a speaker and supply your own.  You can even request a custom load - you tell us what speaker you want and we'll sell you a cab with it mounted and wired!

Can I buy a speaker cab without a speaker so I can use my own?

Yes!

How are Mack speaker cabs constructed?

We use finger joints that are super strong and we even inset the front baffle into the side panels for extra strength.   

What kind of materials are used in Mack speaker cabinets?

We use poplar for all of the panels in Mack speaker cabs.

BUYING ONLINE FROM MACK AMPS

What's Mack Amps all about?

How and where are Mack amps sold?  We sell online only unless you visit our Peachland, BC, Canada facility.

Can I play a Mack amp before I buy it?  If you visit our Peachland, BC,, Canada facility you can demo Mack amps.

What currency can I use to buy a Mack amp?  $CAD or $USD.

Is my satisfaction guaranteed?  Yes!  Mack Amps 100% Money Back Guarantee

What is the warranty?  Mack Amps 10 year warranty

Shipping
How are Mack amps shipped?  Canada Post  Learn more about Mack Amps shipping

What is the delivery time? Typically within 2-3 weeks of placing your order.

Can I track my Mack Amps shipment? Yes, when your Mack amp ships you will get an email notification with a tracking number.

Overseas customers - Can I buy A Mack Amp? Yes, but the transaction will be conducted in either $CAD or $USD.  Overseas Canada Post shipping fees including insurance will apply.

Support
What happens if i have a problem with my Mack amp?  First, call us.  Depending on what the problem is you can either ship it back to us to repair or we can work with your local repair person to get the job done.

How do I get my Mack amps repaired?  Ship it back to us or we can work with your local repair person to get it fixed.

Can I get support for my Mack amp over the phone?  Sure!  We love talking about amps, guitars, tone and gear.  And, we can help you troubleshoot problems with your Mack product.

GUITAR AMPLIFIER FAQ

When is a Class A amp not Class A?

How much power (watts) do I need in a guitar amplifier?

What is tube bias?

What is an effects loop and how does it work?

What impedance (ohm) speaker cab can I connect to my amp?

Are traditional guitar amp tone controls a good thing?

How do I get good tone at low volume?

How do I get good tone on stage?

What makes a guitar amp pedal friendly?

Why is a guitar amp's power supply important?

What is tube guitar amp voicing?


 
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