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FAQ...

"Has Eric Clapton
Ever Used a SESSION
Transistor Amp?"

See Lee Dickson's interview here
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Looking for a 1980s Sessionette? Please check HERE
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Replacement SESSION badge/logos are available for your cabinet refit

Buy SESSION Badge: Price 4.75
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INSTRUCTION:
HOW TO REMOVE THE SESSIONETTE'S CHASSIS

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HOW TO SEND US YOUR SESSIONETTE CHASSIS

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Customer quote: "Musos out there, if you see a Sessionette amp for sale then do your self one hell of a favour, go buy it. I bought one a year ago and have had the Retro2 upgrade installed courtesy of Stewart Ward himself and he turned what was already a bloody good amp into an unbelievable amp, even by todays standards" - Mark Cockerill

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Click here for: A-S Workshop Restored Sessionettes

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The original British 'grab-n-go' guitar amp!

Rejuvenate your Sessionette:75... get it 'RetroToned™'

Loud enough for bigger gigs, fat classic American tone, channel switching,
Celestion speaker and smaller than a Fender Blues Junior!

 

RetroTone Upgrade for all Sessionette guitar amps

ALL 1981-1988 SESSIONETTES ARE NOW
UPGRADABLE TO 'RETROTONE' LEVEL

Fatter reverb tone and overall noise reduction mods now included FREE

Sorry, we are not able to upgrade ANY 1997 onward amps at the moment
NOT for the Rockette:30, Duettes or the valve Session 15:30 amps

Video of Dean Barnes using an early 1950s
Fender Broadcaster through the RetroTone amp!

Thanks guys!

Upgrade for the ever popular SESSIONETTE:75 MkI & MKII combos made between 1981 and 1988. The Sessionette was intended as an 'old school' sound right from its conception. But now, with vastly improved knowledge of solid state (SS) design techniques, the original designer, Stewart Ward, brings you the very latest in 'old school sound' coupled with the best of SS design and reliability

Here's a live audio clip of Stewart playing through his RetroTone amp featured in the videos above. No pedals... just his 1963 Telecaster (with original pickups) direct to amp. Recorded live by Simon Probyn at The Station Hotel, Andover:
Live RetroTone Blues Solo

Live Stop Messin Around Solo
Guitar used was a modified Epiphone 'WildKat' through the Sessionette 'RetroTone'. On this, Stewart does not use pedals or other effects... just the guitar to amp!

  • Most valve amps struggle to produce 'on-the-edge' breakup distortion of this quality

  • RetroTone™ delivers much bigger overall tone quality from this tiny amp. More bass, sparkle and sheer balls... all with legendary Sessionette portability and loudness!

  • Avoids the 'screech and fart' distortion associated with America's biggest amp maker! Ask yourself why so many HRDLXs & BDLXs are always for sale on eBay?

  • Brings increased range and new dimensional opportunities to your playing with: Mush free, whole neck soloing... not just the upper notes! Cut through the mix down at 6th string open E too. Listen Here

  • Chord work can be used to much greater effect with '1950s like' tonal properties. RetroTone™ banishes the 'low end' flab of modern expensive 'lust after' amps

  • 1950s tone with extra gain! More than enough distortion gain for any blues or country player when required

  • 'Monitor Level' control is converted to a 'Presence' control - fitted as part of the upgrade

  • No 'tooob amp' problems, or bills, or tone degradation from age and 'heat baked' components!

  • Only 16kg (35lbs) - They're ideal for 'jammers' and pro musicians! The perfect 'muscle' to power your favourite pedals!

  • RetroTone™ Upgrade developed by Stewart Ward (The Sessionman), creator of Session amps and pioneer of 'serious' solid state amps since in 1979. 100% British designed & built!


Here's what we do:

Firstly, we usually like to do this upgrade as part of a service. We must remove the main PCB in order to carry it out. After the general service has been completed, here’s what we'll do:

  • Channel A (Distortion) - Boost treble pre distortion. This expands the tone range and ‘pinch’ harmonics are increased by this too!

  • Channel B (Clean) - Added April 2012! - Boost bass in the clean preamp and 'control' the brightness, without losing 'timbre.'

  • Noise Reduction - New April 24 2013 Onward! - New HISS reduction mods for the DISTORTION & CLEAN channels. This is a significant improvement and makes the amp less likely to squeal at high gain/volume settings as well. No extra charge!

  • Add Presence Control - Added April 2012! - We convert the MONITOR LEVEL control on the amp's back panel into a PRESENCE control. It can be used to remove treble overtones of both Channel A & B which can culminate in a much smoother pleasing sound. It operates at different frequencies to the TREBLE control, so the two can be use to create far more interesting tones.

    The PRESENCEl is situated post Channel A & B and reverb, but pre FX Loop. The amp can now be swung between a bright or warm overall tonality as required. The MONITOR output is left intact and preset to maximum level.

  • Reverb - Modify the reverb circuitry to bring deeper 'lush' tones.

  • Power Amp - Fit Dynamic Feedback circuitry. This is a very important part of the modification process and is explained below:

Dynamic Feedback allows the speaker's cone(s) to add mechanically created harmonic rich overtones that are not generated in the signal delivered to the speaker’s terminals by the amplifier. It also increases the level of bass output.

What are the benefits? Well, you hear it all the time in a valve amp... or to be more accurate, an amplifier with an output transformer. The transformer's effect would still be heard if transistors were driving the output transformer! So, it’s not the output valves that bring this 'tone', it's a unique partnership between the transformer and speaker.

For example... with most valve amps, you often hear a huge increase in output when you play open low E on your guitar. This is due to the speaker’s natural cone resonance at around 80Hz. And with nearly all old design transistor amps, this speaker effect is heavilly suppressed by the low output impedance of the power amp. Making it sound cold and 'middle-y’... lacking sparkle or ‘chime’.

With the addition of Dynamic Feedback, many more harmonics are naturally created by the speaker's cone, allowing a unique edge to the tone when in overdrive. Dynamic Feedback mimics exactly what happens naturally in an amplifier equipped with an output transformer, allowing greater fluidity in the amp’s tone!

Comment - It is worth remembering that Sessionettes have very small speaker cabinets. This is great for lighter weight and convenient portability. But there is a trade off... less bass output! This can make pre-upgraded Sessionettes sound a little ‘clanky’ at times, so the upgrade described will greatly improve the bass performance. However, the Sessionette cannot ever sound like an amp built into a bigger speaker cabinet! If you’d like your Sessionette to sound like a bigger amp, then simply connect it to an extension speaker cabinet of 8 ohms impedance only.

Click here for: RetroTone™ User Guide

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Turn-around is approximately four - six weeks from receipt, not including weekends, bank holidays or holiday closures

We did not expect the RetroTone upgrade to be so popular, so you may want to arrange a backup amplifier if you are a gigging musician - sorry

  • Prices: Amplifiers in good condition - The price for the RetroTone™ Upgrade is £119.00 including general servicing, plus the cost of any other replacement parts and return carriage of £12.00. It's best to do it at the same time whilst we have the circuit boards removed for servicing

  • Prices: Amplifiers in poor condition - Sadly, because some Sessionettes sent to us are in very poor condition (DIY modifications and badly executed prior servicing), we may ask an additional fee to cover our extra costs in such cases. We will advise you, before proceeding, what this cost might be

  • We do not offer a DIY kit of the RetroTone™ Upgrade... it can only be done by us in our workshop. This is to help pay for the hundreds of hours over five years in development time to create RetroTone™. Sorry

  • Please click here for info on how to send your Sessionette to us

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'Pimped' your Session? Then why not send us a photo for our Customer's Session Amp Gallery?

See here

Dean Barnes &
The RetroTone Amp

Howard Sinclair using an original non-upgraded Sessionette

General Amps Repairs

For details and repair cost, please go to the SERVICES page of our website
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Recently RetroToned

We don't get that many 'whole' amps to upgrade... usually just the chassis.

Sessionette 210 1984 Sessionette 112
Owner: Clifton Bass

Sessionette 2101987 Sessionette 210
Owner: Chris Hobbs

Sessionette 2101985 Sessionette 112
Owner: Dean Barnes

Sessionette 2101984 Sessionette 112
Owner: Dean Barnes

 

FAQ

Some customers have been a little confused by the RetroTone upgrade... so here's a major pointer to what RetroTone is really all about.

Q: Hello, could you please let me know how the distortion channel responds to the Retrotone upgrade as all I can find are clean or country clips. I play blues rock and my Sessionette is too nasal for me. Sorry, but looking for a more "Marshally" lead tone. Would the upgrade help?

A: The RetroTone upgrade improves the Sessionette in many ways... and with a Les Paul, it is possible to get a 'Paul Kossoff' like sound.  But, as the name might suggest, the RetroTone upgrade is aimed at 'old school' blues, early R 'n' R, rockabilly and country sounds.

There are already any number of amplifiers that aspire to the Marshall sound... so there would be little point in us catering for that market.  The 1980s design Sessionette was never intended for the kind of music where the 'Marshall' sound is required.

We would not wish to mislead you, so, if you want the 'post seventies' Marshall sound, then we think it would be best you obtain a Marshall amp that will provide it in abundance.  Or, use a pedal with that kind of sound, in front of your Sessionette clean channel.

Comment: Not every guitar player likes or wants the modern Marshall sound, and it should be stressed that that sound is not appropriate for many types of music. So RetroTone offers a credible alternative in a modern portable format for those many players, like me, who have little choice these days.

Stewart Ward - Guitar Amp Designer 1967-present

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