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Author Topic:  Sarno Blackbox?
Craig Bailey


From:
Alabama, USA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 11:23 am     Reply with quote

Anyone using a Sarno Blackbox? If so, please share your experiences with us.

Thanks

Craig
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Eddie Freeman


From:
Natchez Mississippi
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 1:59 pm     B.b Reply with quote

Had one ,didn't hear that much difference. Now play over N400/ Fox intense mod, DD2, Sonic Max, HILTON VP
had that set up for years. and love it.
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Brooks Montgomery


From:
Idaho, USA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 2:14 pm     Reply with quote

Got one really like it. And I admit it is very subtle. And as Brad mentioned, let it warm up. He said he leaves his plugged in all the time.

It's like putting a tab of butter on a steak and letting it melt in.
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Mike Wheeler


From:
Delaware, Ohio, USA
Post Posted 8 Sep 2017 8:31 pm     Reply with quote

Agreed. Warm-up is critical to getting the most out of a BB. And, yes, it's subtle. I played through mine for about a month and started thinking...this thing doesn't seem to be all that great. So, I took it out of my signal chain. Boy oh boy was I wrong. My steel suddenly sounded sterile and flat. Put the BB back in the chain and the world was right again.

I won't be without it ever again. It really does sweeten the sound. Thanks again, Brad!!!
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Mack Quinney


From:
Texas, USA
Post Posted 9 Sep 2017 1:57 am     Reply with quote

I agree with Mike. I have one and use it all the time with my gig setup. I have a separate setup at home for practice. Both setups I am playing through a Digitech GSP 1101 pre amp with cab simulation direct to the exact same PA and then to my monitor mix with same speaker cab. Guitar is different, but same BL 705 pickup. I hear the difference between my stage setup with the black box and my practice setup without it. The black box adds that warmth in the signal. I completely agree with "butter on a steak".

I don't leave home without it. I love the sound of my gig setup. Practice setup is dry.
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Tommy Boswell


From:
Virginia, USA
Post Posted 9 Sep 2017 4:22 am     Reply with quote

I have Brad's older model of Black Box, that pre-dates Sarno Music Solutions. It has all the features of a new one, and makes a definite difference in front of my Peavey 400, sweetens up the tone and gives me an extra level of control with the Vari-Z. I prefer Brad's Freeloader when playing through a tube amp.
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Per Berner


From:
Skövde, Sweden
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 2:36 am     Reply with quote

I don't notice much difference when playing through my RI '65 Deluxe Reverb, but in front of my NV1000 it definitely adds a welcome dose of tube warmth. Subtle, yes, but nice!
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Brad Sarno


From:
St. Louis, MO USA
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 6:28 am     Reply with quote

One factor the Black Box offers that has really stood out in the many responses I've gotten from people over the years is its special ability to balance the low end with the high end. Many people with solid state rigs (no tubes) tend to struggle getting a clear sound on their low, wound strings and ALSO a sweet, smooth tone in the high registers, Hugheyland.

There's thing with solid state setups that makes the highs kind of hard, harsh, and glassy, so we tend to use our amp's EQ to mellow those highs and tame the harshness. But then we're left with very dull, dark low string tone. The tube in the Black Box does a really special thing in that it balances all the way up and down the spectrum; clear, shimmering low register tone and also sweet, smooth, UN-harsh highs.

I like to refer people to the Willie Nelson album 'You Don't Know Me - Songs of Cindy Walker". That's Buddy Emmons on steel. He did not like the cold, transistory tone of his little Peavey Nashville 112 amp. But when he added his Black Box to the setup he suddenly was very happy with it, and you can hear that Black Box + NV112 sound and how warm and smooth it is. That album is a nice example of what the Black Box does to a transistor rig. Notice how open and lush the midrange is, not dense or nasally "crowded" sounding.


B
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Brad Sarno


From:
St. Louis, MO USA
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 6:35 am     Reply with quote

And by far, THE most common response I've gotten and continue to get regarding the Black Box is that at first people think it's "subtle". It really is a clean device with no real EQ shaping, a hi-fi tube buffer. So people don't necessarily realize entirely what's happening. But when they get to a gig a few weeks after incorporating the Black Box and building a tone around the new setup and then realize they forgot to bring their Black Box, they say the tone is then awful without it, hard to play. Something about getting used to it, to the "feel" and the smooth treble and midrange just becomes normal.

But take it away suddenly, and people realize it really wasn't all that subtle after all.

B
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Pete Burak


From:
Portland, OR USA
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 7:40 am     Reply with quote

An easy way to A/B the BB is if you have a stereo setup.
Put the BB on one amp and not the other.
I use a Walker Stereo Steel, and you can put the BB in one effects loop, then run the effects levels at 100%, and hear the diff.
That is just to hear what it does.
Even if you can't hear it at all, that knowledge that you have a tube in your otherwise Solid State rig, as the song says... It's a good feeling to know.
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Brett Lanier


From:
Vermont
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 10:09 am     Reply with quote

I'm pretty used to the variance you get with a pot pedal, so I actually prefer putting the black box after the pedal and before the first effect box. Maybe something to try.

Also the black box is an absolute wonder worker for lessening feedback when plugging acoustic instruments into guitar amps.
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Tony Glassman


From:
The Great Northwest
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 10:37 am     Reply with quote

I tried the BB twice....for a month each time. I concluded that while there was a subtle benefit to tone, it wasn't sufficient to justify hauling around the additional weight.
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Brooks Montgomery


From:
Idaho, USA
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 11:49 am     Reply with quote

Tony Glassman wrote:
I tried the BB twice....for a month each time. I concluded that while there was a subtle benefit to tone, it wasn't sufficient to justify hauling around the additional weight.


Sarno BB only weighs as much as a bottle of Tennessee whiskey Very Happy
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Tony Glassman


From:
The Great Northwest
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 1:21 pm     Reply with quote

Brooks Montgomery wrote:
Tony Glassman wrote:
I tried the BB twice....for a month each time. I concluded that while there was a subtle benefit to tone, it wasn't sufficient to justify hauling around the additional weight.


Sarno BB only weighs as much as a bottle of Tennessee whiskey Very Happy


Yep......a half-gallon
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Brooks Montgomery


From:
Idaho, USA
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 2:02 pm     Reply with quote

Tony Glassman wrote:
Brooks Montgomery wrote:
Tony Glassman wrote:
I tried the BB twice....for a month each time. I concluded that while there was a subtle benefit to tone, it wasn't sufficient to justify hauling around the additional weight.


Sarno BB only weighs as much as a bottle of Tennessee whiskey Very Happy


Yep......a half-gallon


No, no , no. . .no.
Sarno BB= 3 lbs.
Jack Daniels 750 ml bottle full= 3 lbs.

for weight equal to a half gallon of tennessee whiskey , you can buy some more cool Sarno pedals. so you got that going for you.
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Danny Letz


From:
Old Glory,Texas, USA 79540
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 3:59 pm     Reply with quote

Sounds like the voice of experience, except my Black Box still weighs 3 lbs a quiting time.
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Brooks Montgomery


From:
Idaho, USA
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 4:31 pm     Reply with quote

Danny Letz wrote:
Sounds like the voice of experience, except my Black Box still weighs 3 lbs a quiting time.

You see, it's also a designated driver Laughing
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Len Amaral


From:
Rehoboth,MA 02769
Post Posted 11 Sep 2017 4:40 pm     Reply with quote

I have and still do use BB with different instruments including steel. It's a cool tool and I have had them for years.
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Nathan Gray


From:
Ontario, Canada
Post Posted 12 Sep 2017 4:11 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
And as Brad mentioned, let it warm up. He said he leaves his plugged in all the time.


Interesting....any idea how long the BB needs warm up to perform at its optimal? It's a wonderfully mysterious unit. I've been very happy with mine.
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Brad Sarno


From:
St. Louis, MO USA
Post Posted 12 Sep 2017 5:30 am     Reply with quote

Nathan Gray wrote:
....any idea how long the BB needs warm up to perform at its optimal? It's a wonderfully mysterious unit. I've been very happy with mine.


The tube is running and passing audio in about 15 seconds after power-up. After 5 minutes it's warmed over and is pretty close to being there. But after 20 minutes it seems that the entire circuit has reached temperature and has stabilized and the tube has reached its optimal tone zone.

A brand new tube may need to run for a few dozen hours before it's settled in and shaken off some of that crisper "new tube" top end harder midrange. These changes are subtle, but they can be heard.

B
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Tom Campbell


From:
Houston, Texas, USA
Post Posted 12 Sep 2017 9:59 am     Reply with quote

Of all the gismos and gadgets I've had over the years the Black Box and the L'Izzy remain...the rest are long gone!!!
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Dennis Anderson


From:
Connecticut, USA
Post Posted 14 Sep 2017 9:09 am     Reply with quote

The Black Box is subtle... but significant. Improved warmth, clarity, and quieter as well. Lap Steel brought me to this forum, but I mainly play jazz with archtop guitars (Gibson and Heritage) and I have found pristine clean warm rich jazz tone using Black Box, Sarno V8 Octal Tube Preamp, Jay Ganz Straight Ahead Power Amp into a high end jazz speaker cabinet (Buscarino 1x8). It's just the BEST tone I've found.., and I think the BB is a big part of that. I've found that the Steel Guitar wisdom transfers extremely well for archtop guitar.
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Peter Leavenworth


From:
New Hampshire, USA
Post Posted 14 Sep 2017 2:46 pm     Reply with quote

What I like about the Black Box is both it's gentle compression and the bass/ treble tweak achieved with the variance knob. As mentioned above, I use the BB with acoustic instruments where the compression adds clarity and, yes, subtle definition that I miss without it. In fact I have two so I can not be without at rehearsals.
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Paul Sutherland


From:
Placerville, California
Post Posted 14 Sep 2017 4:00 pm     Reply with quote

This is a superb sounding mini rack. Simple, light and does everything I want. Just add a powered speaker cab.



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Danny Letz


From:
Old Glory,Texas, USA 79540
Post Posted 14 Sep 2017 4:09 pm     Reply with quote

One of my racks is identical to that except I use a PA 200 Stewart amp and a esp 15 c speaker.
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