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Amps & Electronics

Amplifying Life

John Foyston,  January 21, 2007

The Oregonian


Doubtless there are excellent reasons why Niels Nielsen and members of the Valiant Vacuum Tube Collective sometimes wear fake-fur fezzes and affect Eastern Bloc accents, but after a couple of hours with him, you realize that this is a fine time to be a little less linear.

Niels J. Nielsen and the Vacuum Tube Collective

Amy Rose-Simpson, October 31, 2013

Corvallis Advocate


After spending a few days with Niels Nielson, I needed two things. Time to process the very powerful spirit I had just encountered and a larger word count. Rumors of Niels J. Nielson float around Corvallis like the adult version of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Some stories seem outlandish and at times certainly too extravagant to be real.

The Tube Collective

Jill Bourgeois, 10/15/07


There is a group of men who, when they are together, live in a strange world of their own. They wear matching leopard-skin fezzes, have fake Bulgarian names and feign Bulgarian accents. These men make guitar amplifiers, guitar amplifiers as odd as themselves. They meet in their garages and create these things out of old organ guts, suitcases, and whatever else they can find that amuses them. This club is called the Tube Collective and my dad is one of the members. This particular meeting was held at the garage of Niels Nielsen, founder and chief of the Tube Group. Dad and I arrived and were greeted by the open garage door emitting a warm yellow light. My breath rose in little white puffs and my sweatshirt, all of a sudden, felt very thin in the chilly night air.

The History of Bass Guitar Speaker Boxes

Niels "Petco" Nielsen


The earliest speaker boxes for bass use were simple cabinets with open backs, just like guitar speaker systems, but they contained many speakers (usually four 10”s) so as to divide the heavy work between them in the interests of not overloading them. Sealing off the back of the cabinet has the effect of markedly extending its bass response, so the next generation of bass cabinets were of the so-called “infinite baffle” type. As the sturdiness of the available speakers improved, fewer were necessary, so the first sealed-back bass speaker systems contained two 12” speakers.

Bo Gast Brings the Collective a Blown Up Amp for Diagnosis

General musings on tube physics and amp debugging by Niels "Petco" Nielsen


Bo's amp, a very stoutly built Bassman 70 from the 1970's, failed during use due to a fire inside the chassis and overheated output tubes. The fire may have been unrelated to the overheated tubes, but the overheating suggested a problem with what is called the BIAS SUPPLY. Normally this would cause a blown fuse, but in this case some bonehead had stuck a 15 amp car fuse in it instead of the 2.5 amp slo-blo fuse that the amp requires!! NOT GOOD. This led to a discussion of the three basic parts of a power supply and the three parts of the tube that are fed from the supply. I summarize these things below.

Electric Toad Mojo-Powered Steampunk Amplifier and Matching Bass Guitar

Niels "Petco" Nielsen


In regions of the world lacking in easily-extractable iron ore, steampunk traditions could not be expressed in boiler technology and had to rely upon less-conventional sources of power instead. For example, in the jungles of equatorial West Africa, various species of amphibians that generate electric shocks to stun their prey can be found. The indigenous peoples in these regions learned how to capture these animals, collect the electrical “mojo” from them, and then use it to furnish the power necessary to operate their machines.

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