For years, guitarists have been using AB boxes as a means to fulfill their ‘tonal desires’. AB boxes let them transition between two very different amplifiers to achieve very different tones. As most guitarists know, dual-amp set-ups are absolutely wonderful. But alas, it is not always convenient to carry two complete amps to a gig. This led us to look into speaker cabinet switching as a solution. Interestingly enough, Radial soon realized that using the same head and switching the speaker cabinets could produce all kinds of amazing tones. Best of all Cabbone has emerged into intuitive tool for the guitarist that is easy to use.
Although the concept of switching speaker cabinets seems pretty simple, one look inside the Cabbone and you will see that there is a lot more to making this work than a simple toggle switch. In fact the footswitch does not switch the signal at all, it sends a toggle command to a programmable timing chip that in turn, sets the whole switching process into action. Why not just a simple switch? Well… If it were that simple, there would be speaker switchers everywhere…
Let’s consider the big picture first… The Cabbone requires you to connect one speaker cable from the amplifier head, and connect two more speaker cables from the Cabbone to each of the two speaker cabinets. On a big stage, it is both impractical and inefficient to run long speaker cables to and from a pedal board. This means that we need some type of remote control.
Next problem: Amplifiers need to see a load or else they will self-destruct. This is most critical with tube amplifiers. When is use, if they do not have a speaker connected to them, all kinds of problems can develop including blowing the output transformer and significantly reducing tube lifespan.
Final challenge: Power handling and tone preservation. Switching the output of a 100W head is serious business! The power has to be ‘managed’ in such a way as to ensure the electrical contacts do not arc while ensuring the amp sees a speaker load even if disaster occurs. And of course messing with the tone is simply out of the question. With Cabbone… The show ‘will’ go on and it will sound right! Here’s how Radial does it:
The Cabbone is absolutely stuffed with components including two high performance relays. When you hit the Cabbone’s footswitch, it sends a change command to a programmable timing chip. This in turn sends a command to each of the relays turning one on and then moments later, turning the other off. The timed overlap ensures the amp sees a constant load, thus is protected from damage. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that the Cabbone’s power is shut off, a default ‘Safe Mode’ setting springs into action that connects the amp to speaker output No.1, providing your amp with a safety net of sorts. Smart.
Of course the other huge advantage to using a timed relay solution is that you can introduce a remote control to do the work of the footswitch. You transition from your open back 2x12” Jensens to your 4-12 Celestions and you begin to see the possibilities. This gets you thinking…. If I could have separate EQ and gain for each cabinet, this thing would really rock! So you try to use one foot to switch the Cabbone and your other foot to switch your amp channel, lose your balance, fall over and break the neck on your old Gibson SG Junior… Dang! There’s got to be a better way without having to resort to a complex MIDI set-up…
Radial calls it Slingshot. Slingshot is an easy to use remote control system that is based around simple footswitches and guitar cables. Just about any footswitch or MIDI control device can be connected to the Cabbone to remotely toggle the Cabbone’s speaker outputs. The Cabbone’s Slingshot circuit is equipped with both an input and an output. This means that you can use a footswitch on your pedal board to toggle the Cabbone’s speaker output and then have the Cabbone send a status change command to your guitar amp and have it switch channels at the same time. With a single foot action – two completely different worlds of tone emerge. Way cool!