“I was playing through the SE-5a last night. I’ve started playing quite a lot now as I actually have a gig looming (first for 15 years). I’m getting married next year and me and some old band mates are regrouping to make a row. It was all the excuse I needed to spend silly money on a 1974 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. Through the SE-5a it just sounds fabulous.
“I finally got round to getting a front panel (in a Hiwatt style) made. It sits in the box vacated years ago by a Dynacord Ref 600 combo. A horrible German valve amp that was possibly the worst piece of impulse buying I ever did. It had a clean channel so clean it could scrub the scum off surgical instruments and a dirty channel fit only for hardcore Norwegian death metal. And it kept blowing power valves. Useless. Still – the box came in handy – eventually. It currently has an old Elac 15w 12in speaker in it.”
Update: “I always knew I’d hot rod my SE-5a so I fitted three extra pre-amp valve sockets from the start, although I started building it in 2009 so it’s been a leisurely evolution.
“First I added spring reverb, then an extra cascode gain stage at the front end, switched via a relay. Finally, one of the VVR kits went in by far the best 20 quid I’ve spent on the amp. If anyone wants any more info on the mods I’ve made I’m happy to help, although I’m very far from an expert.”