Another gearhead passes

There’s been a lot of justified attention paid to the recent passing of Les Paul, but another important music gearhead is now gone from the scene. Ted Weber died Friday.

Weber came to music with an engineer’s fascination in figuring out what made things work. He was best-known for his speakers — he had a whole line of repros of classic rock ‘n’ roll guitar speakers, with better build quality than the originals, and also had a few homebrew designs of his own. In addition, he also sold amplifier kits (!), speaker cabinets and electronic parts, among other products.

Ted served those of us who keep an instrument in one hand and a soldering iron in the other, and that’s a bigger crowd of folks than you might think.

Teresita, my Fender Tweed Deluxe clone, uses a Weber speaker of his own design. I also own one of his tweed-era Jensen speaker clones, which has a nasty grind all its own. The pine-and-white-Tolex cabinet that holds Teresita together is a Weber product. The rectifier in the amp, also from Ted, is a classic example of what Weber liked to do — it’s a solid-state rectifier that’s designed to emulate a tube, providing gradual warm-up to the power tubes and the “sag” that many harp players seek. It does that while being more reliable and using less power than its tube counterpart.

Ted ran his own computer message board and appeared to love nothing more than yakking back and forth with musicians about tone. He was big on dispelling myths — especially those about the “magic mojo” purportedly provided by overpriced, underperforming gear and parts. He put up with harp players in their personal search for tone — which is different in many ways than what a guitar player might want in an amp — and he could back up his claims with honest engineering.

Right now, Weber’s retail site features a graphic of a tombstone with a to-do list engraved on it. The items on that list:

— Build speakers for Jimi
— Lunch with Leo and Les
— Fix Lennon’s amp
— Dinner with Miles and Bird
— Make Heaven louder.

That’s a pretty good list. Weber was 58.


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