The early MkI models have an ILP 'black block' power amp module (HY200 or HY248) and should be avoided.
They can be identified by a black grille cloth with a white 'squared' check on it. Also, the MkII MosFet Powered' badge will not be seen at the lower right hand corner of the speaker grille.
We can RetroTone upgrade them, but WE CANNOT REPAIR THE POWER MODULE OR REPLACE IT if a fault develops at a later date inside the module!
"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
Please send in your Sessionettes for upgrade as soon as you like... we have extra techies working on them now!
Please follow the 'sending in instructions' in the left hand column... Thanks!
The original British 'grab-n-go' guitar amp!
Rejuvenate your Sessionette:75... get it 'RetroToned™'
Your Sessionette will come back to you sporting a tone that competes easily with any of the big name classic 1960s valve amps. Some customers have even commented... 'A RetroToned Sessionette is like a Deluxe Reverb on steroids!'
Loud enough for bigger gigs, fat classic American tone, channel switching,
Celestion speaker, smaller than a Fender Blues Junior and weighing in at only 16kg
RetroTone offers a credible alternative to the outright 'rock' amps and expensive 'repro-vintage' amps around in a modern portable & reliable format. Ideal for those many players, like me, who do not play wailing rock solos and, therefore, have little choice these days
SESSION is the exclusive home of 'Old-School American Tone'
using reliable valveless technology
Created by: Stewart Ward - Designing since 1967
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, Duette series or the valve Session 15:30 amps
Video of Dean Barnes using an early 1950s
Fender Broadcaster through the RetroTone amp!
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, heres 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 speakers 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, its not the output valves that bring this 'tone-effect', 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 speakers 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 and enriched harmonics in the amps tone creation!
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 youd like your Sessionette to sound like a bigger amp, then simply connect it to an extension speaker cabinet of 8 ohms impedance only.
Your Sessionette MUST be booked in with us before you send it! Just sending them in to us unannounced is causing a backlog of jobs!
Turn-around is approx four weeks from receipt - longer if a bank holiday or staff holiday closure is imminent.
The above is just an estimate. 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, but the cost of any other replacement parts and return carriage of £10.00 is extra. It's best to do the whole job at the same time whilst we have the circuit boards removed for servicing
For insurance purposes, Sessionettes are accepted by Award-Session for upgrading and/or servicing strictly on the basis that their value is limited to £80 plus the cost of any work carried out. We do not accept any liability for items sent to us by our customers which are lost or damaged in transit to us.
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
The above clip is of a pre RetroToned Sessionette... it has a middly/flat tone compared to the sparkle & warmth gained from the RetroTone upgrade
We don't get that many 'whole' amps to upgrade... usually just the chassis.
1984 Sessionette 112
Owner: Clifton Bass
1987 Sessionette 210
Owner: Chris Hobbs
1985 Sessionette 112
Owner: Dean Barnes
1984 Sessionette 112
Owner: Dean Barnes
Message from a customer...
I have bad news and good news!
On Tuesday at band practice our lead guitarist's Marshall Valvestate broke down (that's supposed to be the bad news but we know better).
The upshot of this is, that after a year or more of trying to turn him onto the Sessionette Retrotone, he took one of mine home. He has just rang and I've never heard him so excited. He said "I now know what I've been missing!"
So he's now after one for you to upgrade, and we will let you know when he's found one.
If in the meantime you have one to sell please let me know and I'll pass on the good news.