Other Amps

Help me understand - Modern Fender amp comparison

26

" I can’t imagine B.B. King saying “wow I love the tone of these printed circuit boards!” "

For the record, PCBs don't have a "sound". I totally get the easier-to-repair, more-durable, line of thinking with handwired amps over PCBs... but the "handwired SOUNDS better" myth has been debunked. Of course people hear what they think they hear. And that's fine.

If I always had the $$, I'd always get handwired, for the reasons I just mentioned. But not for tone. Because it's not different... no different than 2 identical handwired amps are... it all comes down to component tolerances, for the most part, which still exists with handwired amps (as well a PCB amps).

27

Well, nit-pickinly technically, I understand it's a thing that the juxtaposition and distances of certain components from each other (whether PCD or chassis-wired) can in some instances make a difference in the performance and sound of those components - an electrical-field and crosstalk thing. (Real amp builders will clarify my confusion or straighten me out.)

Particularly in the early days of component-stuffing PCBs, components were likely to be in closer perhaps unfortunate locations to each other, with some degradation of performance resulting therefrom.

So it wasn't JUST because the guts were PCB-mounted - but because the format allowed tighter packing of components. (And much smaller components, which may or may not perform like their macro predecessors.)

So many devils, so many details.


And it's hard not to notice that, for an operation resting in peace, Fender has built and sold an awful lot of amps since 1980. Maybe they're all zombies.

28

I’ll be purchasing a post 1980 twin reverb as soon a I sell my blues jr! I’m only a zombie after 3 gimlets!

29

For most of us older farts that cut teeth on Ptp amps, things now, really aren't the same anymore.

Most of us have some or partial hearing loss, or are dang near deaf. Add the good old ringing in the ears, and hell yeah the new pcb amps don't sound as good as the old ones........at least that's what our memories tell us, cuz we can't hear anything like we used to.

30

Here’s what I like about any amp: I plug in, turn some knobs, and it sounds good to me, now, in my decrepit superannuated condition, for the music I want to play now.

I really don’t care if it has tubes, tiny auto-populated circuit boards, or digital code running in a computer.

The guys who created the heritage and traditions of electric guitar played through what there was at the time. If all the new stuff had been around then, they would’ve used it. The guitars they played reeked of a future they couldn’t wait to get to, and wanted to help usher in by making noises no one had heard before.

You did that by seeking out, embracing, and exploring the possibilities of the newest gear you could find.

Nostalgia and an essentially academic and preservative approach to the music have wildly skewed the perspectives of older guitarists like us.

That’s all fine. Just saying: tubes weren’t (and aren’t) holy. They’re just what there was, and one technology we can now choose from.

31

For most of us older farts that cut teeth on Ptp amps, things now, really aren't the same anymore.

Most of us have some or partial hearing loss, or are dang near deaf. Add the good old ringing in the ears, and hell yeah the new pcb amps don't sound as good as the old ones........at least that's what our memories tell us, cuz we can't hear anything like we used to.

– J(ust an old Cowboy)D

Now there is some honest truth. LOL

32

"Just saying: tubes weren’t (and aren’t) holy."

The hell you say!!!!!

33

The thing with a lot of current tube amps is that they're cheap, almost unbelievably cheap in some cases. And in order to pull that off, corners have to be cut. And that translates into reliability problems, repair-ability problems, and quite often, the sound of them.

I don't know a single tech who's happy to see a recent Vox amp or similar come in for service, and I don't know any who'll wholeheartedly recommend the cheaper end of the current amp spectrum to anyone who's planning to do some serious gigging and traveling with them. (and it's not just cheap amps - every single tech I know absolutely hates working on Mesa Boogie amps too..!)

My main amp these days is a boutique clone of a tweed Fender that I got used for less than what a Fender Deville goes for new over here, and it works great and refuses to develop any problems. Back when there was more club work and I made my living gigging, I mainly played silverface Fender amps, and I never had any serious problems or hefty repair bills with any of them.

My main gripe with so-called reissue amps is that they sound a lot less sweet than the originals when you turn them up to "blues" levels, to my ears anyway. But from what I see, that's not as much of a problem to most players these days, as the general trend is that a lot if not most guys set their amp to a basic clean tone and use it as a pedal platform. That's one of the things that explains the booming pedal market too, and the fact that pedals really have become a lot better in the last two decades.

34

"My main gripe with so-called reissue amps is that they sound a lot less sweet than the originals when you turn them up to "blues" levels, to my ears anyway."

I agree with this, but I think it's 90% due to an old speaker vs a new Jensen. Most people aren't fans of the new Jensens. And in some instances, like the Princeton Reverb: the '65 came with a C10N (if it had a Jensen in it), the new ones come with C10R. BIG difference. If you put a 50-year old C10N in a new PRRI, I'd bet money it would sound 95% the same as the vintage PR, the differences being made in things like component tolerance/drift, tube choice, and filter cap condition (on the vintage one).

35

New Jensens sound terrible to my old ears, even after break in. For new speakers, I much prefer Webers over the Jensens.

Sound closer to the real vintage Jensens of old.

36

"My main gripe with so-called reissue amps is that they sound a lot less sweet than the originals when you turn them up to "blues" levels, to my ears anyway."

I agree with this, but I think it's 90% due to an old speaker vs a new Jensen. Most people aren't fans of the new Jensens. And in some instances, like the Princeton Reverb: the '65 came with a C10N (if it had a Jensen in it), the new ones come with C10R. BIG difference. If you put a 50-year old C10N in a new PRRI, I'd bet money it would sound 95% the same as the vintage PR, the differences being made in things like component tolerance/drift, tube choice, and filter cap condition (on the vintage one).

– ruger9

speakers are a big part of how an amp sounds, but what you're saying about 95% hasn't been my experience. In my previous band, I played Super reverbs, early silverface amps, and I put new speakers in all of them because the old ones were just shot. Spent some time A/B'ing with a friend's reissue SR back then, and my friend, while he didn't expect it, ended up selling the reissue pretty soon after.

A good speaker helps any amp, old or new, and I do agree the Italian C10r is somewhat of an odd choice for a Princeton. The ceramic eminence 10" speakers Fender puts in Pro Jr's and 4X10 Devilles is probably as cheap, and sounds a lot better to my ears. (pretty great speaker to my ears, those cheap ceramic Fender 10's)

Anyway, whatever works for you. my experience with new cheaper production amps hasn't been great, sound and reliability-wise, and if you're patient and shop smart, a great, well built amp doesn't have to be crazy expensive.

37

Well, I've never argued the reliability angle. Just that 2 identical circuits, PCB vs HW, will sound 95% the same, all else being equal (component tolerance, age of filter caps, etc.)

That's part of the "magic" (and "horror") of old amps (and guitars for that matter)... they could be gold or they could be garbage. Depends on alot of factors. And how things age is certainly one. The one thing new production amps have going for them (doesn't matter if they are PCB or HW) is consistency. They all sound 95% the same, coming off the factory floor. As I'm sure the vintage ones did when they were new.

I've played both, and in both cases, the new stuff, good or bad, is at least consistent (quality control being taken out of the equation). Whereas the old stuff was a crap shoot. That's why people say, when describing one of their beloved vintage pieces, "it's a GOOD one."

I've got nothing against either, and I prefer neither, newer stuff is easier... it's available, it's affordable (in most cases), it works. Maybe the 65 DRRI will be "gold" in 50 years, who knows LOL.

38

My Princeton has the Greenback 30 (10") speaker and I have played it very little but a time or two when I did play it sometimes I could have sworn I got honking noises. Keep in mind I am always hearing noises and when I have a more experienced amp friend listen he never hears it and says my amps are fine. He has not heard this one.

I think mine has the particle board baffle which I hear can cause some unwanted sounds, in comparison to pine.

The next time I fire it up I'm going to listen for the honking and see if I am imagining things (I imagine things alot), if I'm not I might come back with a question or two.

Oh and what difference in sound does a 12" speaker make versus a 10", in general terms?

39

My Princeton has the Greenback 30 (10") speaker and I have played it very little but a time or two when I did play it sometimes I could have sworn I got honking noises. Keep in mind I am always hearing noises and when I have a more experienced amp friend listen he never hears it and says my amps are fine. He has not heard this one.

I think mine has the particle board baffle which I hear can cause some unwanted sounds, in comparison to pine.

The next time I fire it up I'm going to listen for the honking and see if I am imagining things (I imagine things alot), if I'm not I might come back with a question or two.

Oh and what difference in sound does a 12" speaker make versus a 10", in general terms?

– Mr_Christopher

I have the same issue with mine, its like a honking rattling sound when I play low notes and its worse the louder I turn it up

40

I didn't read all the comments, but I didn't see anything on manufacturing numbers. Spend $100k tooling up for production and the 1st unit costs 100k. When you make the next one, they're 50k each. It's not a perfect explanation, but you get the idea. I bet they make a lot more Blues Deluxes than Princetons.

41

I've repaired countless valve and solid state amplifiers over the past 4 decades. I've seen the development of the technology from the inside. Personally I prefer amplifiers built around the 6L6GC Beam Tetrode output tubes, with the 12AX7/12AT7 preamp audio run. This includes many of our favorite early Fender amplifiers.

I've noted some amplifier technology below, for those who may interested.

Full valve (tube) chassis mounted, handwired sets are simple basic electronics, and therefore very easy for a technician to repair. There is easy access to all components.

There are a few variations of solid state configurations in guitar amplifiers. IIRC they are as follows:

Solid state power supply rectifier amps, that maintain the full audio run, with chassis mounted vacuum tubes. The solid state diodes, in the rectifier have far greater stability and longer life than diode tubes. The rectifier converts the 110/220 volts AC input to the DC voltage used to operate the set. These are also one of the most technician friendly amplifiers.

Hybrid amps, all the pre-amp stages circuitry are solid state, and the outputs are vacuum tubes. These amps still maintain many of the characteristics of a tube amp, with solid state pre-amp stages reliability. These often have PCB mounted output tubes (later models), though earlier models have the tubes mounted on a separate sub-chassis.

Full solid state early models used full sized components, soldered directly to a circuit board and had wiring underneath. Mid-later models used PCB's (Printed Circuit Boards) and full size components, while modern solid state amps incorporate intigrated circuits in the design.

What makes a PCB more difficult to repair is that they often have lacquer coats applied to them, or even worse epoxy! The repair technician needs to remove the coating around the solder joints before anything else can be done (including troubleshooting). This is extremely difficult if epoxy was used. Also the traces and pads are very thin and easily damaged if the technician is too aggressive removing the lacquer/epoxy, or the soldering iron tip is too hot.

A quick explanation of what a Printed Circuit Board is, and how it's made. I think most of us have seen a PCB, it's usually a thin sheet of fiberglass, that has metal (usually copper) traces and small circular pads. The traces take the place of wires and electronic components are soldered to the pads, either into a small hole drilled into the pad, or directly onto the surface.

It is called a Printed Circuit Board because it has the appearance of the traces and pads being "printed" onto the board. In reality, the board begins as a fully copper clad board, either one or two sided. An etch resistant mask is applied to the copper, it looks exactly the same as the traces and pads will appear, on the finished board. The board is then acid etch dipped, the etch dissolves all of the exposed copper, the dissolved copper is later reclaimed from the etch using electricity. The mask is sanded away to expose the the copper underneath. I've actually used this process at home, electronics suppliers often sell DIY kits for making PCB's.

42

Well designed PC boards don't sound bad, but there are lots of modern tube guitar amps with poorly designed printed circuit boards that sound awful. Modern Fender amps are exellent examples of how not to do it.

43

New Jensens sound terrible to my old ears, even after break in. For new speakers, I much prefer Webers over the Jensens.

Sound closer to the real vintage Jensens of old.

– J(ust an old Cowboy)D

Modern C12N's sound wonderful. I don't care for the others, but C12N's sound wonderful.

44

Modern C12N's sound wonderful. I don't care for the others, but C12N's sound wonderful.

– Billy Zoom

I wonder why Jensen doesn't make C10N reissues???

45

The Jensen MOD speakers sound really good.


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