Blackie Pagano's Perfect Storm Bass Guitar Preamp

My friend and renowned tube polymath J.C Morrison says, "Blackie Pagano is sweet, smart, and has a devious sense of humor . . . (that I love). His work is reliable and he has years of experience keeping every imaginable band functioning in the gutted rock holes of NYC. Not only all that, but he is also a musician . . ."

1992: Back in the days of Don Garber's "Fi" at 30 Watts Street in New York, there existed a loose conglomerate of scruffy solderers that outsiders called "The New York Triode Mafia." They built experimental directly heated triode amps coupled to unconventional tapered-pipe, horn-loaded or open-baffle speakers. The inner circle "Scruffies" consisted of Garber, J.C. Morrison, Noriyasu Komuro, Tadataka Uchida, Steve Berger, myself, and Blackie Pagano (who we had to keep on the fringe because he had so much un-scruffy Lower East Side tattooed fashion).

When Fi closed, this little scene evolved into these international, annually convened, conventions of independent amp designers, called "New York Noise." Blackie (who had more of a Neat intelligence) was an important force in NY Noise. He brought a refined bespoke audio mindset to a group that fared better with steampunk soldering irons than steam laundry irons.

1996: What was NY Noise? Just imagine Japanese women in Kimonos playing music on cell phones driving walls of Marshall amps. Picture 3-watt amplifiers with six tubes and no chassis! Imagine a former Stanton Street bodega named Arlene's Grocery filled with oscilloscope readers and profligate hipsters giving each amp builder his (or her) 15 minutes of fame. As long as I can remember Blackie has been the New York tube audio equivalent of Jim Jarmusch or William Burroughs.

2015: And now look at him! Blackie just posted an original hand-built "bass guitar preamp" project called the "The Perfect Storm" on Kickstarter.

Blackie's bass guitar preamp is called Perfect Storm because it uses a readily available, inexpensive, super strong 10,000 hour, 6C45pi tube which was used in the MiG 25 and is rated," . . . to withstand constant vibrational forces of 15g at –45 °F to 160°F." The 6C45pi valve is designed to operate under apocalyptic doomsday conditions. It is immune to electro-magnetic shock waves and nuclear radiation. Its "perfect storm" of high gain, high current, and high transconductance assures the user that this is an extraordinary small-signal reproducer. When Blackie discovered the 6C45ip he grinned and thought, Ahhhh! . . . sensitive to preserve touch and dynamics but with the brute force of current behind it . . .this thing is THE PERFECT STORM for Bass!

Like J.C. says, "Blackie is a musician, he is one of my tribe—he has excellent ears and taste." I love and admire Blackie, and I know: everything he builds is built to last forever. Blackie always says, "I don't build for the landfill!" And while you are watching his Kickstarter video: scope out his hair and that rad ink on his neck!

You can follow Blackie Pagano here, here, and here.

Why are we writing about a musical instrument component? Because, as JA declares, "it's cool: Très cool!""

ken mac's picture

having Blackie close by on Ludlow Street where he worked on my Audio Note preamp in a jiffy, no questions asked. Even then mid 90s his designs were genius

monetschemist's picture

because his story is interesting, and it's related to why we're here if not exactly on the nose.

Thank you Mr. Reichert for broadening our horizons just a bit! More, please!