Aug 092018

It’s been an incredibly hectic week on all fronts, and I feel like I’ve been sprinting to keep up!

The new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridge.

I’ve been writing up my listening impressions for the Positive Feedback review of the new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridge from Peter Ledermann, and you should see that review published in the next week or two. Another great cartridge by Peter Ledermann!

Still Audio EL84 integrated amplifier.

I’ve migrated the artisanal Still Audio EL84 integrated amplifier into my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre based system, and it’s a nice match and sounding mighty fine!

Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre system with Still Audio EL84 integrated amplifier.

The Still Audio EL84 integrated amplifier is next in my review queue after I finish up the review of the new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridge.

The Still Audio EL84 integrated amplifier is one fine artisanal amplifier at a very fair price!

This was quite an eventful week on the guitar front.

Friends John LaChapelle (left) & Larry Coryell (right) playing jazz. Photo by Dr. Kannan Krishnaswami.

Joan LaChapelle – wife of John LaChapelle, a legendary Pacific Northwest jazz guitarist, who is sadly no longer with us – recommended David Gitlen to me for continuing my studies in jazz guitar.

The photo below is of me, John LaChapelle, and Larry Coryell after their concert some years ago.

Left to right: Jeff, John LaChapelle, and Larry Coryell. It was a real treat meeting Larry after the concert!

As you might imagine, Joan’s bar is very high when it comes to jazz guitarists, and she really knows her stuff, so I contacted David after Joan’s recommendation to find out if he had an opening for a new student.

David took me on as a student! I had my first lesson on Tuesday with David, and I’m really, really, excited to be studying jazz guitar again.

David trained under Joe Pass and Jim Hall and is an amazing jazz guitarist, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be studying with him.

David pretty much blew me away playing “Satin Doll” by Duke Ellington, and made it look so easy (it’s not!).

See Joe Pass playing “Satin Doll” in the YouTube clip below.

In my own feeble but diligent way I’m working hard at improving my jazz guitar playing. I’ve been practicing “Satin Doll” this week, as well as learning all kinds of new stuff from David, and loving it!

When David saw my Collings he asked me if I just bought it, and I told him that I just bought it from Joe in Seattle at

David laughed and told me that he saw the Collings on Joe’s website. David and his wife were vacationing in Ellensburg over the weekend, and they were going to drive over to Seattle to check out the Collings when Joe opened on Monday, and buy it if he liked it. But then David saw that it was sold – I beat him to it by a few days – we both laughed about it!

David really liked the Collings and made it sing playing “Satin Doll”!

Collings Eastside LC Deluxe and Fender ’65 Princeton Reverb

I had a terrific day today with my buddy Ron Barbee and his wife Sumi. Guitars, guitar amps, audio, music, and Sumi fixed us an absolutely amazing lunch that was a celebration of wonderful flavors – thank you so much for such a great day, Ron & Sumi! I felt like I was taking part in a wonderful celebration of life & music, and the time went by so fast!

You’ve read about Ron before here at Jeff’s Place, and he is an amazing talent both in audio and the guitar.

My buddy Doc Leo loaned me his Eico HF-81 so I could give it a listen, but when I hooked it up to my Altec 832A Corona’s and powered it up it gave me a nasty shock as my arm brushed against it.

It’s always a bit of a thrill when you feel AC going through your body, so I shut it off real quick and lived to tell about it.

Ron tells me that happens with those old Eico’s occasionally, and he’s going to take a look at it to see what’s going on with it.

Vintage Eico HF-81 EL84 integrated amplifier sitting atop vintage Altec 832A Corona loudspeaker.

When I first got the ’65 Fender Princeton Reverb it sounded a little rough, but it really smoothed out and got sounding really good as it got some more run-in time on it.

Ron and I pulled apart my ’65 Fender Princeton Reverb guitar amp to take a look inside at the tube complement, and it turns out that all the tubes in it are Russian tubes produced for Groove Tube, and they actually sound really good. I don’t know what Russian brand they are … maybe Sovtek’s? 

Ron had a nice selection of vintage 12AX7 tubes: Telefunken’s, Sylvania’s, Mullard’s, and others. We listened to the Fender with the stock tube, a Sylvania, and a Mullard, in V1 position.

It turned out that all three of them sounded really nice in the Fender, and Ron advised me to run the stock tubes until they start getting ragged and then replace them all with some nice NOS tubes.

The Sylvania 12AX7WA was a mellow and laid back sounding tube overall, but still had a lot of clarity in 1st through 3rd strings, with a really smooth presentation in the bass strings, but perhaps a little too smooth in combination with the CannaRex speaker.

The Mullard 12AX7 had rich textured tones in the bass strings, and a pure bell-like presentation in the treble strings. I liked it a lot.

The real surprise was the stock Russian Groove Tube 12AX7, which was kind of in between the Sylvania and Mullard in voicing, but was hard to fault for its jazzy tone. I liked it a lot too.

I’m going to take Ron’s advice and just hang with the stock tubes until they need changing, then I’ll round up some nice NOS tube choices to replace them.

Mom with a Glen Miller and his orchestra album!

Unfortunately, I’ve got some bad news to share. My Mom’s recent CT scan showed lung cancer that has spread to both lungs, accompanied by enlarged lymph nodes. Not operable, and probably not treatable. She’s never been a smoker so it was a surprise.

Mom’s 93, and was very stoic about the news, and seems to be in relatively good spirits, but is not feeling all that great lately. Mom has elected not to treat it even if it were possible, as at age 93 she doesn’t want her remaining time to be miserable from treatments.

I think Mom’s handling the news better than I am. I support her in whatever she chooses to do, of course, but it’s a rough go, and I hope things go as good as possible for her.

As you might imagine, the pace of my audio writing may slow down a bit as I focus on my Mom and making sure things are as good for her as possible.

Anyways, all the best to you, and thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 7:57 pm

  18 Responses to “Jeff checking in … what’s coming up!”

  1. Jeff,

    Sorry to hear about your Mom. Hope she keeps up the good spirit. If Mom’s lived to a thousand that wouldn’t be long enough.

    God bless,


    • Hi Bill,

      Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it. You are so right, a thousand years wouldn’t be long enough!

      Kind regards,


  2. Hi Jeff
    Three years ago I lost my mom to alzheimers. I wasn‘t very close to her but as weird as it sounds, her illnes gave me an opportunity to rething my relationship towards her and spend a lot of time with her during her last few years and I‘ll be forever thankful for that. Make her your priority for the remaining time – I‘m sure you will. I wish you all the strength you can get.

    Best, Walter

    • Hi Walter,

      I’m glad you were able to spend more time with your Mom and build your relationship, that means a lot.

      That is the same sort of thing that has happened with me and my parents. I moved away from where my parents lived to go to school many years ago, and when I got out of school I moved somewhere else away from them. After that, the most I got to see of my Mom and Dad was visiting over the holidays for a few days per year.

      About 5 years ago, around age 90, their health suddenly declined and they couldn’t really take care of themselves any more. I moved them to where I live, got their house sold for them, etc., and I was able to spend more time with them in a week than I could in a year before they moved here.

      Dad passed a couple years back, but Mom has been hanging in there, although she’s had some significant health issues.

      I have noticed how our relationship has grown over the last few years, and I’m really thankful for the time we’ve had together.

      Thank you for excellent comment, Walter, I really appreciate it, and it is excellent advice.

      Kind regards,


  3. Sorry for your mom Jeff.

  4. Hello Jeff,

    So much sorry to hear about your mother! Bill wrote: ‘If Mom’s lived to a thousand (year) that wouldn’t be long enough’. I fully agree and I must confess these words brought my eyes to tears. I know your mother is very special for you, so these sad news has unfortunately a big impact in your life. I am sure you will take very much care of her! I wish you both the needed courage and energy to come to this difficult periode in your life.

    God bless you,


    • Hi Siedy,

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful message, I really appreciate it.

      It is a tough time for sure, but I’m thankful I’m able to be here for my Mom and to do the best for her I can.

      Kind regards,


  5. So sorry to hear about you Mom, Jeff.
    I really admire your Mom’s decision.
    Take care.
    Kind regards,

  6. Oh Jeff, my heart sunk when I read the news. I too am very sorry to hear about your mom’s health condition. I’ve read your blog for many years and have followed your happiness with your parents the whole time. Your stories with them have always put a smile on my face. May both of your spirits be high and the time spent together be even more full of love. Keep us informed.

    • Thank you for the kind words, Bobby, I really appreciate it. The last 5 years have been challenging for me emotionally while taking care of my parents, with both sadness at seeing their health decline and losing independence over their lives, as well as appreciating being able to spend more time with them and being able to make their lives as good as possible during that time.

      Kind regards,


  7. Hi Jeff,

    I’m so sorry to hear about you Mom.


  8. Sorry to hear the report about your mom. My wife is a cancer survivor and I can tell the treatment was very difficult for her, I can understand your mom electing not to treat it. Our prayers will be with you all.

  9. I’m sorry to hear about your mom Jeff. Shes blessed to have you. Not everyone has that kind of support. It occurs to me you might compose a little tune in her name. I bet she would really appreciate that.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Mike, appreciated.

      I did try composing a song to play for my Mom (and Dad) once, and my Mom got a good laugh out of my attempt! 😉

      Kind regards,


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