Other Amps

I bought a Deluxe Reverb RI

1

I haven't built an amp for ages because what with our Aussie dollar being worth nothing right now and work being slow I just can't afford it. But I just sold my last 5E3 and a little cash from it so bought a recent DRRI to work on as an alternative to building.

A DRRI is a bit of a strange amp for me to buy, because I've never actually liked them! I did gig for a year or two with a Super Reverb RI and remember it as being one of the best amps I have played for getting a good sound out of my Strat. And I have a really, really great Strat and it just doesn't sound very good though my main amp, my home-brew 5F4 1x12 with KT77s. I wanted a small BF amp, or at least something to use with my Strat - as well as my other guitars.

Right from the start I was quite surprised by this amp - it actually sounded better than the last one I tried. Still, it was a thinner sound than I wanted and the reverb sounded noisey and boingy. So I have changed a few things already and it's already starting to sound better and better - I'm beginning to really like it.

I've swapped out the stock 2-spring reverb pan for a 3-spring pan I happened to have - it's exactly the right size and sounds so much better. I put a .0022µF cap over the 220K resistor to ground at the reverb sockets and it seems to have helped reduce boinginess and noise - I found the mod here: https://robrobinette.com/AB... I also used a 12AY7 for the reverb driver and now the reverb sounds very good.

I redid the Vibrato channel tonestack with Sozo blues and silver mica - 250pF, .022µF and .1µF with the stock 100K slope resistor and a 10K treble resistor. So now the tonestack is the same as a SRRI with midrange on full. Clipped the bright cap. Now it sounds so much fuller but still very Fender. Apart from the drag of having to remove every knob to get at the little front panel PCB it's actually been surprisingly easy to work on.

And now it has a Celestion G12H in there. It's not necessarily better than the stock Jensen C12K but I'm more used to them. The biggest surprise has been what it sounds like with a Les Paul and the volume on 6 - it's the first time I have ever liked the sound of a breaking-up BF Fender amp. And t has made me want to do the normal channel with an even bigger treble resistor, a 500pF treble cap and two .022µF caps - I think it should roar!

This is a "slow and steady" project. If it keeps going this well I have plans to use a bigger power transformer and bigger tubes, so I may end up with a "stealth Deluxe" which is a lot louder than expected. Apparently the standard Mercury Magnetics upgrade power transformer would let me use EL34s... But so far this has been a great experiment. I'm enjoying it far more already than I thought I would.

I'll try to remember to take pics next time i'm inside.

2

Good to see you, Jimmy. And congratulations. A well set-up DR is a fine thing. I find it important that the tone is not overly scooped on these. My SFDR has even more mids than my 5E7 Bandmaster. But maybe my ears trick me since the 5E7 has both more bass and treble.

What's the major difference between the Celestion and the Jensen in the amp? Is it really the K in the Deluxe? The N with its 50W would be more than enough, is cheaper... and sounds better.

3

Hey Sascha! Yes it's a C12K 8ohm. I don't know much about Jensen speakers except I found that every time I replaced them the amp sounded better! Specifically in the Bassman RI, the SRRI and the Vibroking.

The differences between the G12H and the Jensen aren't huge but I would say that the G12H has a crisper tone with more midrange bark.

I remember my SRRI having a warmer sound than the DRRI did and getting rid of the bright cap helped a lot. I tried a few things, including smaller value slope resistors. While a 56K slope resistor did increase the mids it didn't sound particularly natural or musical to me. Perhaps counter-intuitively, reducing the mid cap from .047 to .022 did reduce the mid-scoop and really warmed it up. I left the bass cap at .1µF because I like the thump.

I have some F+T caps on the way so I can beef-up the filtering just a little to help the low-E stay twangy. My '59 VS Jet is loving this amp.

I wanted to try a Celestion Gold in it but the Gold has only 4 screw holes and the DRRI has 8 screws poking out. I'll have to work out how to remove four of those screws if I want to try the Gold in there, but so far the G12H creamback is sounding great. I'll probably try the Jensen again soon after the mods to see how it sounds, but I do like Celestions.

FWIW the '65 and '68 Deluxes appear to use the same PCB. The differences are very, very minor. I can convert my '65 into a '68 if I want but I'm having more fun doing my stuff. One thing I want to maintain is a stock look to the amp, so no extra knobs or switches.

4

Thanks, Jimmy!

I wanted to try a Celestion Gold in it but the Gold has only 4 screw holes and the DRRI has 8 screws poking out. I'll have to work out how to remove four of those screws if I want to try the Gold in there, but so far the G12H creamback is sounding great.

Can't you simply take off the grill (if the current ones are attached with velcro as the old ones) and take the screws out of the baffle from the front then?

FWIW the '65 and '68 Deluxes appear to use the same PCB. The differences are very, very minor. I can convert my '65 into a '68 if I want but I'm having more fun doing my stuff.

That's interesting since the 68 Vibrolux RI is said to be closer to the 63 Vibroverb than to its original design. But as there is no other DRRI version I know of it makes sense to use the same PCB.

5

the Gold has only 4 screw holes and the DRRI has 8 screws poking out

I'd drill holes in the speaker frame.

6

I'm reluctant to drill holes in the Gold. It could get messy!

Attaching the grill with velcro?? That doesn't sound very 1965. I'll check it out!

7

At least the Silverfaces and any reissues I played have the grill frame attached that way. Never had a Blackface but I'm pretty sure it's all the same.

8

If the cabinetry is period correct, there's no Velcro and the baffle is screwed to cleats on each side. You'd probably have to demount the grillcloth to get at the screw heads. Worst part of all that will be getting the grillcloth back on straight.

9

If the cabinetry is period correct, there's no Velcro and the baffle is screwed to cleats on each side. You'd probably have to demount the grillcloth to get at the screw heads. Worst part of all that will be getting the grillcloth back on straight.

– DaveH

Not much period correct on the RIs. I'm almost certain the grill is velcro attached. No idea when Fender started doing this but it's like that for decades. Might've been different when they came out in the '60s.

10

Not much period correct on the RIs. I'm almost certain the grill is velcro attached. No idea when Fender started doing this but it's like that for decades. Might've been different when they came out in the '60s.

– sascha

Fender went to screw-and-cleat baffles when they started putting the control panels in front and kept it that way until sometime in the '70s. IIRC the separate Velcro-attached grillcloth frame was part of the redesign where the actual speakerboard was permanently attached to the cab. Back in the day, the Deluxe and Princeton Reverbs were, like Fender Mustangs, regarded largely as entry-level student pieces with some of the good stuff standard on the professional-level instruments. I sold a lot of DR's(and Mustangs) to my guitar students.

11

I checked today and my DRRI has the traditional screwed in baffle with the grill cloth stapled all around. So no velcro I'm afraid. That's ok, the G12H sounds good.

Slowly been tinkering and changing a few things here and there. Still shocked at how good it's sounding. I think it's almost loud enough to play clean at a gig with the sorts of bands I play with but not quite. At home it's perfect - pretty loud! I wonder if running 6L6s with a SS rectifier would get it loud enough? A SS rectifier would eke out a little more voltage for the B+....

12

I checked today and my DRRI has the traditional screwed in baffle with the grill cloth stapled all around. So no velcro I'm afraid. That's ok, the G12H sounds good.

Slowly been tinkering and changing a few things here and there. Still shocked at how good it's sounding. I think it's almost loud enough to play clean at a gig with the sorts of bands I play with but not quite. At home it's perfect - pretty loud! I wonder if running 6L6s with a SS rectifier would get it loud enough? A SS rectifier would eke out a little more voltage for the B+....

– JimmyR

Jimmy, I think I'd look at installing a line out or investing in a good amp mic. It's certainly possible to fill any size venue just with a big-enough amp, but that generates lethal stage volume and sounds like an indistinct roar out front. IMO with the improvements in sound reinforcement technology, an amp's proper function has become that of a personal instrument monitor.

13

I'm really surprised to hear the grill is stapled and stand corrected.

14

I seem to remember a mod for blackface reverb Fenders involving a single jumper wire that allowed you to use reverb on both channels. It also put both channels in phase so you could put the same signal in both channels or run effects into the amp with wet and dry separate.

15

Actually most of the gigs I play (played?) have had my amp miked. I just need to hear myself over the drummer, and I always have my amp on a chair, stool or coke crates. In fact in one band I used to bring some furry leopard-skin fabric to wrap around the crates to make it look more slick. I completely agree that the amp should be used purely as an onstage monitor. I'm not one for playing too loud - been there, done that! That's why I have ended up with pedals for dirt - much more control over volume.

Guitarcapo there are a few ways to make both channels reverby. The way it's done in the Fender '68 DRRI is apparently the easiest but it does mean that the channels interact, perhaps more than we'd like. There's another way which keeps coupling caps between the mixers so the interaction is nullified. It's not that much more involved. I'm still debating whether to add reverb + tremolo to the Normal channel. It might be handy to have both channels in phase if I ever wanted to link them, but I'm not feeling the urge too much right now. I'm unlikely to use the trem much because it's not very good. If I was to rebuild the amp from scratch I would use bias-vary tremolo.

16

And I swapped the G12H out today to listen to the Jensen C10K again. I've been playing this amp every day so know what the G12H can do.

The Jensen appears to be kinda softer all-round. It's actually not night-and-day different, but the highs are definitely gentler and it has slightly less midrange. The bass is quite well defined - at least as soon as I use a dirt pedal. For clean sounds I think I would give the edge slightly to the Jensen.

The Celestion G12H Creamback has more mids and a crisper (some might say slightly harsher) top end, but i like it. The G12H has more bark to it and probably has the edge over the Jensen for dirt sounds. I think the Celestion will be going back in very soon!

Both speakers are brand new so I expect them to mellow with playing a little, in which case I think I will definitely prefer the Celestion. I can see why Fender use the Jensen as it sounds more "Fendery", but for what I do the Celestion will work better. The Celestion did sound a bit too harsh for about the first ten minutes but already it is better.


Register Sign in to join the conversation