A brief history
The original Schaffer-Vega Diversity System (SVDS) was conceived by Ken Schaffer around 1975, and it was the first reliably working and beautifully sounding wireless system for musicians or in general, stage performers. Previous, different sounding wireless microphone systems pre-dated the SVDS, and were manufactured by the Vega Corporation in California. However, their best system didn’t work too reliably (fade-outs, police and taxi dispatch calls!) and its sound was nothing to cherish especially at high decibel rock n’ roll sound levels. So Ken Schaffer added his own inventions and genius and the Schaffer-Vega was born.
The first prototypes saw light in 1976 and in 1977, full production was running. Many incredibly famous performers bought one (or two! Pink Floyd 20!) – at the time extremely expensive – including: AC/DC, Aerosmith, America,Bay City Rollers, Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Black Sabbath, Bob Seger, Bob Weir, Bob Welch, Bootsy Collins, Boston, Chic, Clarence Clemons, Derringer, Earth Wind & Fire, Electric Light Orchestra, Elvin Bishop, Fleetwood Mac, Foghat, Foreigner, Frank Zappa, Heart, Heatwave, Janis Ian, Johnny Guitar Watson, Kansas, Kiss, L.T.D., Mahogany Rush (Frank Marino), Mandre, Nektar, Pat Travers, Peter Frampton, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Randy Bachman, Rolling Stones, Rufus, Stephen Stills, Steve Miller, Steven Van Zandt, Styx, A Taste of Honey, Thin Lizzy, Tom Petty, Todd Rungren, Van Halen (Eddie), Yes, ZZ Top,The 5th Dimension, The Grateful Dead.
Naturally there are way more than these names, as a total of about 1000 units were manufactured and sold.
So, if one of your heroes is in this list, we recommend checking the period of time going between 1977 and 1981: likely, he/they were playing with an SVDS as well. The SVDS was actually used well beyond 1981 (year of cessation of production), as it was a very well built unit. Suffice to say that the author has still three perfectly working units. Two of these units were in fact cloned – their audio circuitry only was – to recreate as faithfully as possible the original sound of the Schaffer-Vega Diversity System.
It may sort of sound strange to you – dear reader – that a wireless units such as this one may be worthy of replication, and just an audio circuitry replication, too! Well, be aware of this, right here and now: the Schaffer-Vega Diversity System was successfully used by many artists of the magic era of the 1970s, and some of these artists even used the SVDS in the studio. It is really the case here with AC/DC lead guitar player Angus Young, who began using it from 1977 to at least 1984 (documented). Angus Young also used the Schaffer-Vega in the studio, recording with it all the solos and overdubbing some rhythm parts of the following AC/DC albums: Powerage, Highway To Hell, Back in Black, For Those About To Rock and Flick Of The Switch. Keep in mind that as of the time of this writing, the Album “Back in Black” is either number three or two of the most selling albums of all times. I think this can be an interesting conversation subject! Much of the lead tone of Angus Young from that very era is due to the Schaffer-Vega Diversity. In fact, the SVDS sported a clean boost, a compressor and an expander (companding) in its audio circuitry, allowing to further overdrive the amplifiers and adding a unique signature to the sound. As with all guitar effects or sound effects in general in the known universe, some will like it and some won’t. We won’t be pulling our hair off either way. We have tested the original Schaffer-Vega and its Replica extensively for two years and published many videos with it. We love what we have and have done, and truly hope you – all of you – will, too.
The Pedal Version
The Pedal Version is an SMD format miniaturized version of the above, packaged as a stomp box, and provides the same powerful sound to its user. It is not limited in number and we hope to be able to keep producing it for quite some time. It is priced USD 280 (VAT/Shipping not included).
- (2014-09-13) The Schaffer Replica Unboxing by GuitarPlayer
- (2014-12-08) Schaffer Replica from SoloDallas, demo by Pete Thorn by Peter Thorn
- (2015-07-20) SNAMM '15 - Solodallas Schaffer Replica Boost Demo by Premier Guitar
- (2016-02-17) Schaffer Replica pedal, demo by Pete Thorn/Vintage King by Peter Thorn