HIWATT : Hi... What ?

Discussion in 'Ampage Area' started by hcsterg, Jan 14, 2021.

  1. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    HIWATT : Hi... What ?

    Today, I came home with a little HIWATT CUSTOM 7 Combo - an absolute rarity : a few hundreds have been made by the HIWATT Custom Shop, Doncaster, UK, including all variants in color (black, red, white) and shape (combo, head)... :cool::cool::cool:

    I had an Hiwatt SA112 combo from the late 70s in the past (picture from the late 80s, scanned) :

    [​IMG]

    A great amp, that I probably shoudn't have never sold, but... :(

    "One day, I'll have an HIWATT again", I thought. And then appeared the little 7-watters model CUSTOM 7 in early 2010s, awfully costy :eek: (think 1800 Euros) and nearly impossible to obtain here in France (always stated "unavailable")... :confused:

    And then today, my local shop called me : "Came in, Guy : I have another item that may please you".

    Back home with the beast... How cute he is, along the rest of my bunch of amps... ;)

    [​IMG]

    OK : let's look closer... And came the first disappointment : hidden lower lettering due to msiplaced control panel (pic 1,2,3); grillcloth put à l'arrache (pic 4) and unstretched (pic 6): upper control panel angle broken and cruedly reglued (pic 5)...

    [​IMG]

    OK : let's listen to the tone now... And came the second disappointment : no bass, no brightness, ugly high-mid centered, poor efficiency of the Tone correctors ; nearly no overdrive except if you max the Gain control with the Boost engaged and max the Master Volume ; a moderate loudness that in no way evokes HIWATT legend... HaHaHa ! Not even worth to record any sample of that CUSTOM 7... :(

    Now add that the seller ask a price of 1000 Euros for it... If it had been a cosmetic perfect, flawless amp with a killer tone - as we can expect from a custom shop amp as they are stated - Then why not ?

    Here... No. Thank you. Definetly. Tomorrow the amp will be back to the music shop.

    For the SUPRO 1605R , I was really supsicious, and finally found a good surprise...
    For the HIWATT CUSTOM 7, I was really confident, and bitterly found a lousy junk...

    But it's me, OK ? :D

    A+!
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2021
  2. YouFellowRebels

    YouFellowRebels Gretschie

    335
    Jun 17, 2020
    Minnesota
    Looks like a blast!
     
  3. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    Well, I don't know if it can be called a "blast", but I wonder, @YouFellowRebels...

    For sure, it's a total disappointment - at least for me... :(:(:(

    Finish, Tone, Price : no good, no way ! I really wouldn't have supposed this from such a brand that I hold in so high regard... Unthinkable ! :confused:

    But again, it's me, OK ? :D

    A+!
     
  4. pmac11

    pmac11 Country Gent

    Mar 4, 2018
    Toronto, Ontario
    Hiwatt beside Supro.. were you hoping to be able to channel both Pete Townshend AND Keith Richards? :) Sorry the Hiwatt didn't work out.
     
    hcsterg likes this.
  5. stiv

    stiv Country Gent

    Sep 12, 2014
    Florence, Italy
    I’m an Hiwatt guy.
    To be honest, I never knew there was a Custom 7 available... I knew about the Custom 10, but not the 7.
    My newest Hiwatt was a mid 90s SA112 as well, one of those reissues made by Audio Brothers. After that, Hiwatt went through several dark times. First the acquisition by Fernandes, then the lawsuit from their UK dealer (Music Ground) that basically split the company in 2. I’m not really aware about who’s doing what in these days as I lost track a while ago (I’ve been a Hiwatt Forum member for long time) but stating that the quality control of those new Hiwatts has lost a step from their glorious past is an understatement. Don’t get me wrong, they sound ok (I played through a Classic Custom 100 not long ago) but... they’re just not those amps anymore. My ‘83 50 watt would blow them away on any given night, let alone my ‘69 CP103 or my ‘74 Custom 1oo (that I sold long time ago). Said that, I tried to buy a Studio Stage 40/20w during the March lockdown from a Florence guy. The price was ok, I had some money... but the amp wasn’t worth it. They’re simply too “boxy” compared to the old ones (even the 90s could get “boxy” if you play them dimed, because of the lone speaker and the fact that the cabinet it’s just too small for that sheer volume, but they play awesome clean... crystal clear, punchy, ballsy.) and generally, based on my experience, Hiwatts sound best through 4x12 speakers. There’s just too much power to release that even a good 2x12 could deal with. Marshall does it better to me, or Orange (in a different way).
    If you want to really try an Hiwatt that sounds like the old days and want to buy new, the only way it’s a brand called Hi-Tone. The guys who designed it were on Hiwatt Forums as well, and we’re really nerdy about everything related to real Hiwatt tone. They owned collector’s items, studies Signatures specs and mods, searched for the right part to reproduce the original Dave Reeves/Mark Huss plans, and their products are really out of this world.
    Other then that, Hiwatt today it’s a bit like Marshall: would you think a 2020 Super Lead could sound on par with a 70s one? I don’t think so. That doesn’t mean new Super Leads are bad, they’re just an ok clone of something that doesn’t exist anymore because it would be too expensive to build it.
    I’m all for judging with ears. My ears in recent times told me that if you want “that” Hiwatt sound you better save for some old mid ‘70 dinosaur. :D
     
    pmac11 and hcsterg like this.
  6. afire

    afire Country Gent

    Well, it is a Music Ground enterprise, so I guess disappointment can't be too shocking.
     
    hcsterg likes this.
  7. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    Continuation... :D:D:D

    I went this evening to the music shop to return the amp : "If I see you coming back with the HIWATT CUSTOM 7, then it was no good, right ?" Yes, indeed...

    I explained that the Supro 1605R was louder and more overdriven than that amp, which have the same tube compliment as a Marshall Class 5 who sounded huge in comparison - I went to my local luthier pal who bought my Class 5 and we compared both amps : HaHaHa !

    So in my personal opinion, chances are that this HIWATT - reputedly guaranteed like new, barely used by the seller - is defective in a way or another : poor design from HIWATT, in need of repair or modded from seller's liar... o_Oo_Oo_O

    "OK" Said Frankie the shopkeeper, "We are not in a hurry anymore now for selling this rarity if there is a possible hidden issue in it (and not hidden too, IMHO !). Take it home again, take your time to check if there is something wrong. I must confess that I am also a bit surprised to see that this amp sounds constipated..."

    So the HIWATT C7 is back home, and will go on my bench for investigations...

    Wait and See ! ;)

    A+!
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2021
  8. Waxhead

    Waxhead Country Gent

    Aug 30, 2014
    Australia
    hmmm - So Freddie did not even bother to test this amp before he put it on sale for 1000 Euro ??
    Sounds very dodgy.

    but hey, its me :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2021
  9. stiv

    stiv Country Gent

    Sep 12, 2014
    Florence, Italy
    1000 Euros for a 7 watter ? Can’t be true. I’ve been asked 900 for a 20w, all point to point from early ‘00.
     
    Waxhead likes this.
  10. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    No, Frankie tested it indeed - it's a deposit- sale / consignment - finding it not amazing, but OK when fully cranked for a big crunch. I owned one HIWATT and repaired nearly a dozen of them, but I never saw any CUSTOM 7, so...

    The CUSTOM 7 was lauched at a 1700-1800E start price... So a price at 1000E for a so rare item in perfect working condition would have been unsurprising - but not my budget, for sure.

    Now that the amp is back, I'll open soon the hood and check "if the motor is a defective 6-in-line or a moped one"... :D

    So Wait and See ! ;)

    A+!
     
    pmac11, Outlaw and Waxhead like this.
  11. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    Verdict after a 1st check :

    - The amp is unmodded, completely original, by comparison with known factory pics.
    - Tubes are in correct condition.
    - All DC voltages are normal.
    - Date on speaker : 13 Dec. 2007.
    - the chassis has been poorly plated... :eek:

    Inside view of the chassis :

    [​IMG]

    Comparative sound test :

    Recording situation :

    [​IMG]

    1st test : HIWATT 7-Watter vs. SUPRO 6-Watter

    The HIWATT is fitted with a 10" speaker while the SUPRO has a 8" one.
    The HIWATT is roughly 2X the size of the SUPRO.
    First the HIWATT, then the SUPRO in alternance, bridge/mid/neck pickups.
    At the end, test in Master Volume overdiven mode.
    All Tones at noon.

    https://soundcloud.com/tubelectron/hc7-vs-1605r-16-01-2021mp3

    2nd test : HIWATT 7-Watter vs. GUILHEM Amplification VAL-KING 7-Watters

    The HIWATT is fitted with a 10" speaker while the VAL-KING has a 8" one.
    The HIWATT is more than 2X the size of the VAL-KING.
    First the HIWATT, then the VAL-KING in alternance, bridge/mid/neck pickups.
    All Tones at noon.

    https://soundcloud.com/tubelectron/hc7-vs-val-king-16-01-2021mp3

    3rd test : HIWATT 7-Watter vs. GUILHEM Amplification VAL-KING 7-Watters

    The HIWATT and the VAL-KING are both volume (and master volume if any) cranked at max.
    First the HIWATT, then the VAL-KING.
    All Tones at noon.

    https://soundcloud.com/tubelectron/hc7-vs-val-king-cranked-16-01-2021mp3

    I let you judge... o_Oo_Oo_O

    For me : still no way ! In any case, the HIWATT should have overshadowed the SUPRO and the VAL-KING... :D Nope. Unbelievable. A shame... Listening to it in reality makes it even more obvious... :(

    Tomorrow, I'll made a signal check with audio generator and scope, to clear definitely all things : I still can't believe it !;)

    A+!
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
  12. Londoner

    Londoner Gretschie

    117
    Dec 18, 2020
    UK
    You may find this interesting,
    Back in the day after trying a Hiwatt, decided to buy one. my Dad being in the trade phoned up Hiwatt, and asked if he sent me along, could I buy one wholesale direct.
    So armed with the address on the Kingston by-pass, just outside London, set off to buy it.
    So on finding the fast moving busy dual carriageway, drove up and down looking for the factory with no joy after about 5 or 6 attempts, it was just houses. So parked the car up and walked along the houses to the number I had.
    Knocked at the door to be greeted by Dave Reeves who took me through to his shed in the back garden. That was the factory! Did all the wiring himself.
    It was a great amp, but too loud for me in the end.
     
    stiv and hcsterg like this.
  13. montereyjack66

    montereyjack66 Country Gent

    Feb 29, 2012
    LA-ish
    Well, as an effort to hijack this thread, I thought I'd share a recent thrift store find. download (22).jpg Solid state Bulldog 30 r, probably 80s(?) Thirty fairly loud watts. Ten inch speaker. Fairly light but not frail. A great grab and go amp, and noise free so it records in a cooperative manner. The cleans are very nice, the dirt sounds ok but the mud doesn't (common for that era). The reverb was unexpectedly nice! Really! These are not that common but show up from time to time. I don't know that I'd pay what I've seen them going for, but if you stumble in to a good deal, go for it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2021
    stiv and hcsterg like this.
  14. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    How lucky you have been, @Londoner ! :cool:

    Yes. Dave Reeves really known its job, along with Harry Joyce. The design and construction of his amps are remarkable, even more because - like VOX - these were original designs, not a derived copy of Fender circuits.

    I hold justifiably in high regard and consideration HIWATT amps :rolleyes:... I saw coming in for service SA112, SA212, DR103, DR504, some slave amps and PAs that I don't remember the model number : all are great piece of engineering, undisputably.

    But about the CUSTOM 7, Mr Reeves would be litterally ashamed, I'm sure... :confused:

    A+!
     
  15. pmac11

    pmac11 Country Gent

    Mar 4, 2018
    Toronto, Ontario
    You sure your new Hiwatt 7 doesn't have a defective speaker?
     
  16. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    @pmac11 : yes, today I'll make some signal measurements and test some mods, for the fun :D - removable mods of course, since this amp is not mine. You're right : I'll check the speaker, which is very stiff, but I don't think it's a defective one...

    I will contact the seller :
    "I'll buy the HIWATT cab for 200E, and you keep the speaker and the chassis, OK ?" :cool:
    For sure he will be all right for such a deal ! :)
    No.:(
    Ha ! :D:D:D

    Wait and See !

    A+!
     
    pmac11 likes this.
  17. ALS57

    ALS57 Gretschie

    226
    Jun 17, 2019
    London
    I grew up Doncaster and remember Music ground really well in the 70's. The place to go at the time
     
    hcsterg likes this.
  18. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Gretschified

    Age:
    55
    Oct 18, 2015
    Germany
    Sorry to hear that the amp did not deliver.
    I used to own a 100 Custom model back in the early eighties. I remember that was incredibly well made. Pure electronics-porn inside.
    Sadly it was far too loud even for me. There was no crunch in it before the edge of deafness.
    So I sold it for way too little money.
    About ten years later my brother (a bassist) ringed me up and told me that he just bought an incredible amp.
    A Hiwatt Custom 100. When I saw it I immediately realised that it was my old amp! What a surprise. So it is back in the family and as an amp for bass it is a far better match then with a guitarplayer.
     
    hcsterg likes this.
  19. hcsterg

    hcsterg Friend of Fred

    Feb 13, 2012
    France
    Sure the old HIWATT amps are master pieces, @loudnlousy ! :cool:

    Here are the pictures of a 1977 DR103 on my bench, under test

    Compare the plating of the 2007 CUSTOM 7 chassis and its wiring, with the 1977 DR103 just below : LOL ! :D

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Look at the undistorted sine wave on the scope below, obtained at 440Hz sinus for 27.81VRMS output @ 8R resistive load, that is to say : (27.81)²/8 = 96.7WRMS of CLEAN tone for 100W announced : not a so common perofrmance ! And the mains was moreover low at that time : LOL ! :D

    [​IMG]

    Now look at the waveforms of the HIWATT CUSTOM 7 - at 440Hz sinus @16R resistive load. For 7W announced, no more than 1.2WRMS clean and 4.5WRMS fully cranked : LOL ! :D

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A total disappointment and shame for such a price and brand, to my eyes... :(

    If I had to buy this amp, I would only buy the cab, that's all ! :D

    A+!
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021
    loudnlousy likes this.
  20. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    fROMOHIO
    I landed on trying a Reeves built 50W clone as likely my highest percentage option when I got the bug to try a Hiwatt type amp a while back but eventually remembered that I already had too many amps before I wound up pulling the trigger on one.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.