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  1. #1

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    First off I apologize for all the questions I've been asking since I joined. After a 10 year + hiatus from playing so many things have changed. I feel like I'm starting all over again.,There is such a great amount of collective knowledge in these forums I'm awestruck and learning an awful. So firstly thank you to all that have helped me out. And second thanks for being so kind to the new kid on the block. I really feel welcome here. If I could buy you all a drink of your choice I would! Thank you! This will be the last question for a bit.

    I have a chance to buy a late 70s Lab Series L5. I think BB King used them for awhile. Anyone using one for jazz? Thoughts and opinions on them most welcome! I hear parts are getting hard to find. I'm an electrical engineer so that doesn't concern me a ton.

    Love to hear what you experts think. Thanks again!


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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    It's a solid state amp loosely based on a Twin Reverb, so with built in spring reverb and even a built in compressor/limiter.

    I used to play in a venue that had one as the house amp and I managed to get good tones ou of it. Borrowed one once for a soul-gig. And one of my guitar teachers used one and I plugged in for lessons.

    In my memory it's a good amp with plenty of power and volume that produces decent cleans, certainly suitable for jazz that didn't strike me as particularly sweet or great sounding, but I had no trouble getting a good tone. As opposed to some amps that I come across and have a better name: Blues JR, Roland Jazz Chorus and Fender FM-series come to mind. I always struggle to get a good tone on those amps, so the Lab beats those easily imho.

  4. #3

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    100w 2x12 amp considered one of the best sounding solid state touring stage amps of it's day, very loud if needed, nice tone, meant to compete with a Roland JC 120 and Fender Twin Reverb. A hefty 60-70 pounds of amp.

  5. #4
    Wow great! Thank you both for the info. Sounds like an intriguing amplifier. Listened to a few YouTube clips and it sounds nice. Seems versatile.

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  6. #5

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    Say, I own one. The tone is great. It's indestructible. HEAVY.

  7. #6

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    Have you seen the schematic? If something breaks, sourcing components could be a chore. Maybe fun, though, if you like that kind of stuff.
    Attached Images Attached Images What Do You Know About Lab Series L5 Amps-screen-shot-2018-02-04-10-34-49-am-jpg 

  8. #7

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    Off the jazz topic, but this is also the amp that Ty Tabor used on several King’s X albums. No one could figure out how he was getting his tone for a long time because they all assumed he was using a tube amp.

  9. #8

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    Weren’t these actually made by Robert Moog in collaboration with Gibson?

  10. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Alder Statesman View Post
    Weren’t these actually made by Robert Moog in collaboration with Gibson?
    Yes it appears to be a moog/"Gibson joint venture. Good catch!

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  11. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by icr View Post
    Have you seen the schematic? If something breaks, sourcing components could be a chore. Maybe fun, though, if you like that kind of stuff.
    I'm not too worried about it. When I was younger I bought the inventory of two large electronics stores that were going out of business. I have bags and bags of parts that were built until about 1982.Then there's the wall of tubes in the basement. Several hundred NOS GE Electron, RCA etc. I think I probably have enough of those components to build new one. Otherwise circuit redesign time. Lol

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  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jp267 View Post
    I'm not too worried about it. When I was younger I bought the inventory of two large electronics stores that were going out of business. I have bags and bags of parts that were built until about 1982.Then there's the wall of tubes in the basement. Several hundred NOS GE Electron, RCA etc. I think I probably have enough of those components to build new one. Otherwise circuit redesign time. Lol

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    I had a Lab L3 that I got new back in the day. I did not have an archtop at the time and I did not have the amp long. I can say that it was very reliable for my College band. More so than most tube amps I have used on gigs since.

    I do solid-state HiFi repair, but but don't currently have any solid state guitar amps and have not had the opportunity to repair one. I once was going to get a broken L5 as a repair project, that is why I have the schematic.

    Other solid state amps I considered were Roland or Polytone, mostly because they are newer than the Lab L5.

    My current solid state setup is only for practice and involves a guitar preamp/multi-effects unit that goes to a mixing board and then to a 250W power amp and PA speakers. I found that sounds better than going through a guitar cabinet because I want the practice tracks (that are mixed with the guitar sound) to sound good.

  13. #12

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    There's been one around here on and off for ages and I've always been tempted to give it a test drive, but I already have enough ways to put myself in traction so until now I have left it alone. I'd hate to like it and hurt my back on the way home with it.
    Last edited by GNAPPI; 02-04-2018 at 02:15 PM.

  14. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by icr View Post
    I had a Lab L3 that I got new back in the day. I did not have an archtop at the time and I did not have the amp long. I can say that it was very reliable for my College band. More so than most tube amps I have used on gigs since.

    I do solid-state HiFi repair, but but don't currently have any solid state guitar amps and have not had the opportunity to repair one. I once was going to get a broken L5 as a repair project, that is why I have the schematic.

    Other solid state amps I considered were Roland or Polytone, mostly because they are newer than the Lab L5.

    My current solid state setup is only for practice and involves a guitar preamp/multi-effects unit that goes to a mixing board and then to a 250W power amp and PA speakers. I found that sounds better than going through a guitar cabinet because I want the practice tracks (that are mixed with the guitar sound) to sound good.
    Thanks for the info and especially the schematic Super helpful! Really thinking of picking it up. There is also a mini brute 3 or 4? near me. Decisions decisions....

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  15. #14

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    I had an L5 for some time. I got rid of it in the Great Gear Purge of '13. If I had a bigger house, I would have kept it. I found it in a used/consignment gear shop here in the city. When I walked in, a young college Jazz student who worked there was playing an archtop through it. The sounds he was getting were incredible. I headed off to the bank for some cash (cash-only store) and bought it that day. Well worth it for the prices they can be had used.

  16. #15

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    I've got a cousin with four of them. On his next visit i'm going to try to talk him out of one. I used to work in a music store that sold them and was very impressed with them. I'm really impressed that they are still working.
    Last edited by citizenk74; 02-04-2018 at 04:54 PM. Reason: tYp0

  17. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74 View Post
    I've got a cousin with four of them. On his next visit i'm going to try to talk him out of one. I used to work in a music store that sold them and was very impressed with them. I'm really impressed that they are still working.
    Well if Robert Moog had anything to do with it the circuits are genius, but over engineered and unreliable. Maybe Gibson kept him in check.

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  18. #17

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    Here is a load of info, scroll to the bottom to read in depth about the lab series.
    L5 Preamp - Aion Electronics

  19. #18

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    played it back in the day

    definitely gibsons attempt at a fender twin reverb type amp...loud, clean...musicman was also in there with their ss/tube hybrids...and the ^ mentioned roland 120...

    they had bb king hawking them when they came out


    they are heavy...they have a lot goin on ...they are completely solid state...and they are now olde...thats a deadly combination...

    file next to thomas vox super beatles...

    good sounding but gonna have many archaic/hard to find parts ( now way out of spec) all these years later

    proceed with caution (esp if buying now!)

    cheers


  20. #19

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    Owned a L-9? Head at one time. Incredibly loud for sure, but a bit sterile sounding from my memory. It didn't stick around for long as I went back to tubes. Things have really changed for the better in SS amp land nowadays. Check out Quilter Amps.

  21. #20

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    I have one out in the garage. Still works OK but a little noisy. Loud. Heavy. Sounds pretty good overall but agree that when it breaks, it's off to the landfill.

  22. #21
    Thanks everyone lots of reading to do! I appreciate it What Do You Know About Lab Series L5 AmpsWhat Do You Know About Lab Series L5 Amps

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  23. #22

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    If one of those Polytones are from good vintage (pre late-80’s) it might be a simpler choice.

    Specially if You care about classic jazz tone and the weight.

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Herbie View Post
    If one of those Polytones are from good vintage (pre late-80’s) it might be a simpler choice.

    Specially if You care about classic jazz tone and the weight.
    Awesome thanks! It's Mini Brute IV and it's cheaper than the L5 which is a bonus!

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  25. #24

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    The Lab Series amps were made at MOOG, which was owned by Norlin at the time. So, they were marketed through Gibson dealers, as were the Gibson Road Series amps of the same vintage.

    Gibson used CTS speakers in the Lab Series amps. They were really quite nice speakers. FWIW, Polytone also used CTS, as did Ampeg, in that same era. All three brand amps sound delicious with those drivers.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jp267 View Post
    First off I apologize for all the questions I've been asking since I joined. After a 10 year + hiatus from playing so many things have changed. I feel like I'm starting all over again.,There is such a great amount of collective knowledge in these forums I'm awestruck and learning an awful. So firstly thank you to all that have helped me out. And second thanks for being so kind to the new kid on the block. I really feel welcome here. If I could buy you all a drink of your choice I would! Thank you! This will be the last question for a bit.

    I have a chance to buy a late 70s Lab Series L5. I think BB King used them for awhile. Anyone using one for jazz? Thoughts and opinions on them most welcome! I hear parts are getting hard to find. I'm an electrical engineer so that doesn't concern me a ton.

    Love to hear what you experts think. Thanks again!


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    Hi

    I know Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius uses/used one during a long time. When he performed with Pat Metheny at JazzBaltica 2003 in Germany the L5 was there. There are some videos at Youtube from this event where you’ll notice Wakenius amp in the background.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bbmaj7#5#9 View Post
    Hi

    I know Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius uses/used one during a long time. When he performed with Pat Metheny at JazzBaltica 2003 in Germany the L5 was there. There are some videos at Youtube from this event where you’ll notice Wakenius amp in the background.
    Ulf also played a $100 Les Paul copy forever, so maybe he isn’t into gear that much.

    Having said that, I have a Lab Series L3 (60 watt, single channel with reverb) and it’s a very nice amp with lots of power, warm tone and not too heavy.
    Keith

  28. #27

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    I have several amps. I mainly play small Fender and Polytone amps.

    However, my big amp for jazz is a Lab Series L5 that I put a single JBL D130 15" speaker into.

    The L5 came with two great CTS 12" 16 ohm speakers for a 8 ohm load. So, an 8 ohm JBL D130 works great.

    Awesome amp for jazz and as loud as you ever need.

  29. #28

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    I have one of these that I am trying to off-load.. I am the original owner from the mid-70's or so..bought at Sam Ash on Long Island..

    If anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area is interested, pls contact me at drtrout@yahoo.com

    Thanks

    ScottWhat Do You Know About Lab Series L5 Amps-2014-10-26-15-31-41-jpg

  30. #29

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    A lot of Country guitarists love these amps because of the Compressor/Limiter built in it. I rmember the combos being quite heavy in weight.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by jads57 View Post
    A lot of Country guitarists love these amps because of the Compressor/Limiter built in it. I rmember the combos being quite heavy in weight.
    The music store I used to work at carried these. Great, if heavy, amp.

    I have a cousin who is a country player. He has five of them. Next time he visits I'm going to try to talk him out of one.
    Last edited by citizenk74; 09-01-2019 at 07:59 PM. Reason: cApitAliZatIon

  32. #31

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    Tried plugging my in again.. 100W squeal that shook the windows and was unaffected by any amp settings. Pets still haven't forgiven me. It's now in the local landfill waiting for some future archaeologist to sort out. Pity.

  33. #32

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    Spook400,

    Hope you pulled the CTS speakers first!

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    Spook400,

    Hope you pulled the CTS speakers first!
    If only I had known you wanted them...

  35. #34

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    I'm good. You could sell them though. Good jazz speakers.

  36. #35

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    I have a BB King owned Lab Series L5 that I purchased at auction. Still has the settings Mr. King had set up. As far as I can tell, the amp is stock, with the exception of a pair of 12" Peavey Black Widow Spiders, which were also installed while Mr. King owned it (these amps are somewhat notorious for blowing speakers).

    Mr. Used to use Fender Twins, dimed out. However, once the Lab Series came along, he switched to them, and stated that everytime he saw one, he'd buy it, as they were not easy to find. These amps were high end amps, and not for the faint of wallet. An L5 in those days cost approx. $2500.00 in today's dollars.

    A great, roadworthy, versatile amp. In my opinion, probably one of the best, if not the best, solid state amps.

  37. #36

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    Doghead,

    I agree. I love my Lab Series L5 amp...even if mine was not owned by the legend, B.B. King.

  38. #37

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    For anyone looking, this absolute beast is available up here north of the border;

    Lab Series L11 Head w/ 313A Cab - Spaceman Music

  39. #38

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    That's an awesome amp built by Moog.

  40. #39

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    Well, BB certainly sounded good with one. My experience with solid state amps of that era is that they are prone to reliability problems. I can't comment specifially on the L-5, but if you want one, go for it.

    Personally, I like old guitars and new amps. But that's beacuse I play gigs and need to have absolute confidence that the amp will make it through the night. Some of the best amps ever are being made today.

  41. #40

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    The l3 was my first decent amp. Bought it when i was 14, so thats 26 years ago. That amp has seen some serious abuse. When i played in a metal band some years later and had a sovtek mig 100 in a peavey 4x12 we used the l3 for vocals during rehearsals. Everything on 10 except the reverb and someone screaming through it for hours.
    Used it with my es-175 again couple of days ago and it sounds great.

  42. #41

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    Country great Ray Flacke used to use Labs. What Do You Know About Lab Series L5 Amps-ray-flacke-country-telecaster-virtuosity-square-600x446-jpg

  43. #42

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    I owned, and enjoyed, a 1979 Lab series L-5 for many years.
    The Lab Series L-5 is an excellent amp. However, size does matter.
    I traded it for a Schertler David last month.

  44. #43

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    My Lab Series L5 amp is still going strong. It sounds fantastic. It is Twin Reverb sized and heavy, though. It _rarely_ leaves the house. I'm just too lazy.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alder Statesman View Post
    Weren’t these actually made by Robert Moog in collaboration with Gibson?
    Yes. AND, Dan Pearce was part of the engineering team, then went on to start Pearce Engineering (Pearce amps).