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Audio

The Perfect Storm: A Kickstarter for bass players looking for hand-crafted audio artistry

New York City audio designer/artist Blackie Pagano jumps on the crowdfunding platform to fund his bass guitar preamp, The Perfect Storm.

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The Perfect Storm's chassis is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, and the internal parts quality is first rate.

Blackie Pagano

For over 25 years Blackie Pagano has made his living repairing musical instrument amplifiers, but it's his art that really lights his fire. I last visited Pagano's shop in 2012, and wrote about his one-of-a-kind designs for musicians and audiophiles, but with the Perfect Storm bass guitar amp Kickstarter project he's upping the ante. He has to sell 10 amps to hit his Kickstarter goal, and he might make as many as 50 Perfect Storms.

Beyond that Pagano jokes he might get bored, and start to feel like he's working in a factory. He has no assistants. Pagano drills every hole, works with the metal and solders every wire. Each amp will be completely hand-crafted by Pagano in his tiny East Village workshop in New York City.

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Blackie Pagano with his Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar bass.

Steve Guttenberg/CNET

The Perfect Storm's chassis is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, and the first-rate internal parts quality includes polyester film and foil signal path capacitors, low ESR high-temperature long life power supply capacitors, non-inductive power supply resistors, carbon composition signal path resistors, Teflon tube sockets and silver solder. Right now there's just one Perfect Storm prototype, and I think it's gorgeous. I wish Pagano would make a home stereo preamp that looks like the Perfect Storm. I'd buy one in a New York minute!

Pagano is a bass player, and he really loves the sound of vintage amps, so for the Perfect Storm he credits the old Alembic bass preamp as part of his inspiration. The sound of the Perfect Storm is determined by the tone controls, and Pagano pointed out it's a high current design. That's why he went for the Russian made 6C45pi tube. Pagano says this little tube makes as much current as a power tube, so you can run long cables to the bass cabinet, and the Perfect Storm will work with any bass amp. The distortion characteristics are, as Pagano proudly puts it, "Pure second harmonic, even-order distortion, the sound is dimensional and holographic." You can listen to the Perfect Storm's sound samples here to get a hint of what the thing sounds like.

The Kickstarter price for the Perfect Storm is $1,495, and Pagano ships worldwide. When I wrote this blog he was well on his way to reaching his $17,000 funding goal, with about $9,000 pledged thus far.