Solo Dallas Schaffer Replica
The Solodallas Story
In 1975 American inventor Ken Schaffer created the first commercially available wireless system for electric guitar and bass. Little did he know he was also creating a circuit that would revolutionize the sound of rock and roll. A consummate perfectionist, Mr. Schaffer incorporated a few interactive circuits into his system to preserve the integrity of the wireless signal. Mirror image compressors and expanders were placed in the transmitters and receivers to increase the radio circuit’s dynamic range to over 100 DB. This was –35 dB greater than the theoretical maximum that had been previously achieved over any radio circuit. The receiver also featured a balanced DI and a ¼” headphone out with it’s own driver circuit.
Since many A list guitarists of the day preferred to run straight into their amps on stage rather than direct out to the console, they opted to use the 1/4” headphone out. It was upon using this output that they discovered the headphone driver could be used to boost the signal going into the front of their amps. The result was pure magic! The compressor, expander, boost, and line buffer enriched their signal with copious amounts of harmonic content and pushed their amps into heavenly saturation unlike anything they had ever heard. News traveled fast and soon Ken Schaffer’s wireless units became the system of choice for artists such as AC/DC, Aerosmith, America, The Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Black Sabbath, Blondie (Chris Stein), Bob Seger, Bob Weir , Bootsy Collins, Boston, Derringer, Earth Wind & Fire, Electric Light Orchestra, Fleetwood Mac, Foghat, Foreigner, Frank Zappa, The Grateful Dead (Jerry Garcia), Heart, Heatwave, Johnny Guitar Watson, Kansas, Kiss, L.T.D., Pat Travers, Peter Frampton, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd (Gilmour/Waters), Randy Bachman, The Rolling Stones (Richards/Wood), Stephen Stills, Steve Miller, Steven Van Zandt, Styx, The 5th Dimension, Thin Lizzy, Tom Petty (Mike Campbell), Todd Rungren, Eddie Van Halen, Yes, and ZZ Top.
Unfortunately the Schaffer wireless system was forced out of production in 1982, largely due to stricter FCC regulations on wireless technologies. Artists ranging from AC/DC to ZZ Top were soon required to abandon their secret weapon and the legendary "Schaffer Sound" slipped into obscurity.
It wasn’t until nearly 40 years later that renowned AC/DC aficionado Fil “Solodallas” Olivieri discovered a hidden gem while pouring over an old interview with Angus Young. When Angus, who’d always claimed he never used effects, was once again asked if he used any effects during the recording of AC/DC’s iconic Back in Black album he replied, “Only my Schaffer wireless system. Malcolm and I use the boost to push the front end of our amps”. What? Why had he never heard mention of this before? Mr. Olivieri scoured the globe to find one of these elusive 40 year old units. When it finally arrived he plugged his SG into the transmitter, ran the headphone output on the receiver into his Plexi, and turned up the headphone driver. The result… Instant Angus!
Fil knew he couldn’t keep this discovery a secret. A few demos later his community of 15,000 AC/DC freaks were all scrambling to get their hands on one of these magical Schaffer units. Unfortunately few had survived the decades. It was then that Fil decided to contact the original designer Ken Schaffer to request his permission to reproduce the original unit (minus the wireless function). Mr. Schaffer obliged and “The Schaffer Replica” was born. The recipient of unit #1 was Angus Young himself. A week later his longtime guitar tech Rick St. Pierre called at Angus’ urging to order two more Ken Schaffer Replica towers and three of the compact SoloBoost pedals featuring the same circuit. Thanks to the dedication of Ken Schaffer and Fil Olivieri, Angus finally got his tone back!
It appears the secret weapon that revolutionized the sound of rock and roll is back to do it all over again.
STORM or SCHAFFER REPLICA CLASSIC?
Which one should I get?
If you are wondering, here is the answer!
- THE SCHAFFER REPLICA CLASSIC has been our flagship pedal since it was released back in 2014. The TSR pedal was first conceived as the 'more affordable' version of our original 2014 Schaffer Replica line - which consisted of the limited edition GOLD TAG (100 numbered units signed by Ken Schaffer) and the PEDAL VERSION itself. The circuit of both versions was EXACTLY the same, except construction methods and components used (through hole vs. SMD).
Tone-wise, the TSR Classic is characterized by a very strong midrange and extra headroom thanks to its 12v power supply. It has only two controls - the input knob controls the TX10 transmitter circuit gain and the output knob controls the 63EX receiver gain.
The TSR Classic remains the same as the 2014 version. However, a few flaws of the original design were corrected since then - input and output jacks were reversed and arranged in right to left order to be more pedalboard compatible (like almost all other stompboxes in the market), and the circuit is now protected in case incorrect voltage/polarity power supplies are used.
- The STORM is from the same lineage as the original TSR pedal. In 2015, a new reverse-engineering of the SVDS was done and our discoveries were implemented in the all new 2016 product line - the Schaffer Replica EX Tower and the STORM. Like their predecessors, the Storm is the 'more affordable' version of the EX Tower. However, the Storm was designed to be completely user friendly.
It can be powered by 9v battery (which the TSR pedal could not) and also can be used with any good quality standard 9v power supply. It is housed in a smaller metal enclosure, so it saves a lot of pedalboard real estate.
Tone-wise, the STORM has a slightly flatter EQ response, which is actually more accurate to the original Schaffer-Vega sound. The Power knob controls the TX10 transmitter gain and the Storm knob controls the EX63 receiver gain. The real advantage of the Storm, though, is the SNAP knob, The snap controls the optical limiter, which is a component found in the TX10 transmitter that we (sadly) overlooked previously. This feature alone makes the STORM a lot more versatile - turning the snap control up will make your guitar respond quicker and 'bloom'. Off will make the sound a bit looser and some internal clipping (good clipping) will happen depending on how you set the other controls.
So, which one is the best?
Some users still love the stronger midrange of the TSR Classic (including us). It is still a great product, so we will keep manufacturing it.
The Storm, however, is closer in design and sound to the actual Schaffer-Vega Diversity System and people who want more authenticity might prefer it. The Storm also might have the edge for people who need a standard, user-friendly pedal. Also, the Storm is a little more affordable!
Which one will you choose?