who are you calling a tube?

cheapo 12ax7 valve/tube as removed from my Fender Champion 600

Actually, where I’m from, we call ’em valves.

I was getting a lot of noise (that is, unwanted noise) from my guitar amp, so on Nichol’s advice, I retubed it. How convenient that Encore had some Electro-Harmonix valves in stock (though I’m told that The Tube Store turns around orders quickly and cheaply). The Champion 600 only takes two tubes, a 12AX7 and a 6V6. They’re a bit like changing a fiddly lightbulb; the hardest parts were working out how to open the 6V6’s retainer (push down on the wings), how to open the 12AX7’s shield (push and twist – it’s a bayonet a bit like UK light bulbs), and how to seat the 12AX7 when the holder obscures most of the pins (the gap faces the middle of the amp on mine).

Result? Nice. Less noise (though a Tele’s bridge pickup at full volume into a valve amp won’t ever be clean). More fun. $25 well spent. Strange to think that I’m installing components which were getting a bit old hat when my dad first started in electronics.

you’re a tube, Leo …

I caved to the tone craving, and ended up buying a Fender Champion 600 all-tube combo amp. It’s nice; just the right volume level for the basement, and even dimed (or duodimed, since it goes up to 12) it’s unlikely to raise too many complaints.

But filling in the registration card was a problem. Tell me what’s wrong with this question:


Hint: it’s not the content …

Goodbye, Star Wars Tree

burnt-out mini mall, Kennedy & Eglinton
The mini-mall burned last night. Looks like the centre of the fire was the gift shop in the middle of the block. The rest of the block is pretty badly damaged, though. It looks like the place will have to be rebuilt — or replaced with a condo block, which seems to be the fate of shops in Scarborough.

I hope that noone was hurt.

So, goodbye Yoga’s, with your selection of teas and Sri Lankan groceries. Goodbye Star Milk, the mom, pop and smiley baby store with your VLT in back and dodgy videos over the drinks cooler. Goodbye Poondy Bread, purveyors of that which has paneity. Goodbye Amma, ace Sri Lankan takeout food shop, the place where I developed a taste for really spicy food.

But most of all, goodbye to the gift shop. Even though I never went in there, I’ll miss the sun-yellowed unsold toys in the window; the almost-Transformers and plastic racing cars.

One toy, unsold through two summers, perplexed me most. It was a cardboard tube wrapped in tinsel. Cardboard tags with pictures of Star Wars characters were attached to it with those nylon annoyances you get on new clothes. It resembled more a christmas decoration than a space weapon, which I think it was supposed to be. We called it the Star Wars Tree, and I’m guessing it wasn’t officially licensed from Lucasfilm.

It’s all gone now, washed away by the fire hoses.