Other Amps

Thoughts on Fender Tweed Deluxe clones

1

I just got into guitar playing and am looking for an amp. Initially I was thinking about one of the new Fenders but have read mixed reviews about them. Then I found a few guys that make clones of the classic Fender Deluxes from the 1950s. One is Carl's Custom Amps, another is Stami's and another is Magnatone or something like that. Any thoughts on these amps? They are in my price range (maybe with a bit of a stretch) but certainly look the business. I would love nothing more than to own a vintage Fender tweed but they are expensive and I have concerns about reliability, dinging and scuffing a vintage piece etc. I am just looking for an amp in the 15-25 watt range that I can afford and would be good for rockabilly with some 50s/60s rock n' roll thrown in for good measure.

2

Try as many amps as you can before you buy. We also have a couple of amp builders here on the GDP---Tavo Vega/Nocturne, Jer/DeLisle, and others.

Many of the tweed clones I've seen sound great, but are pricey as well. For an all around great basic amp, you can't do better than a Fender Deluxe Reverb. Great clean, takes pedals well, 22 watts, and they won't break the bank. As good a bang for the buck as you can find.

3

Actually these are good starter amps to build as they're fairly simple, if you have any ability with a soldering iron. My first build was a tweed deluxe, Wasn't my thing so I changed it to a tweed vibrolux, which also wasn't my thing so I sold it. That said I'd bet that the clones are probably every bit as good as an original. It's a simple amp in a pine, tweed covered cabinet. If I remember correctly these are more in the 12-15 watt range and without tonnes of clean headroom. What about a tweed super? If you can solder building your own could be fun. There are kits to be had for decent prices.

4

I am pretty good with my hands but have never soldered anything in my life. I would be afraid of messing it up. As for a Deluxe Reverb, I have looked into those but a silverface deluxe Reverb costs at least as much as the amps I am currently considering, plus they have the reliability/service issues I mentioned as well as my fear of damaging it. I would probably be moving whatever amp I get around quite a bit at some point for gigs and jamming sessions etc. Perhaps it is just me but I think a 40+ year old amp would be more prone to something giving out or knocked loose in transit etc. and since I probably wouldn't be able to fix it myself there is more money spent.

5

Building a tweed deluxe is doable even for unexperienced builders as long as the manual is ok. I bought a kit for a version with a little more headroom with an end stage with 2 6l6’s from Vyse amps in the uk with a clear manual, and a good soldier iron. It was great fun. I had to adjust some things sometimes, mistakes are most of the time reversable. I use it on gigs and rehearsals for 10 years already. Sound is great. Make sure you read about safety first: voltages are high.

6

I've also heard a tweed deluxe is the perfect "first build"... even easier than a Champ, because the Champ is so small it's a pretty tight space in there, compared to the Deluxe.

I've thought about building one too, but the kits aren't much less than some of the amps.

Check this out- it's the real deal, a 5E3 clone, sold by Walmart. Likely made in China, but I have read reviews from owners who say it's great. If I had the excess cash right now, I'd buy one myself... $900, complete amp (many kits don't ship with a speaker)

https://www.walmart.com/ip/...

7

I completed a Trinity Tweed Deluxe kit earlier this year. It was my second amp build, but it should have been my first. Instructions, labelled parts and pictures made it very straightforward (I finished it in a week!). I bought the version with the lacquered cab already done.

8

A tweed Deluxe sounds very different from a blackface. You might want to hear one before committing.

9

Proteus makes a good point. Great sound--maybe the most player/touch sensitive amp?-- but a tweed deluxe is very different than a blackface deluxe.

10

I completed a Trinity Tweed Deluxe kit earlier this year. It was my second amp build, but it should have been my first. Instructions, labelled parts and pictures made it very straightforward (I finished it in a week!). I bought the version with the lacquered cab already done.

– reverb11

I built a couple of Trinity amp kits . Great products and really good manual to help you along.

11

I own both, and both are great - tweed is very gritty, terrific blues and 'billy amp, lightweight and loud. Tough to keep clean at stage volume, but that's not an issue for me. There are loads of clones out there - I wouldn't get too stuck on a particular name brand, just play a bunch and keep your eyes open, and you will find something very affordable on the secondary market.

12

Y'know ... sometimes when in response to a question we go off on our experiences with various deep lineages and cultures of amps, having played for years or decades - each with our own pet hobby horses - we forget the original poster's situation.

GumboKing is a bass player who just bought his first electric guitar. Doesn't know a chord or a lick on guitar yet. I'm guessing he's not deeply versed in the arcana of one amp type vs another. It goes without saying he's at least months, if not years, away from honing in on "his" tone. Even if he knows what he likes (and he hasn't been very specific about that), it's by no means a slam-dunk that if he gets a famous amp to go with his famous guitar in order to achieve a particular famous tone... he'll actually get that tone.

I wonder if he wouldn't be better advised to get, horror of horrors, a modeling amp of some description. For less than half the cost of a clone of a any vintage amp, he can have the whole smorgasbord of amp types to play around with. The models won't be exact - though they've gotten pretty good - but they'll be good enough to help him choose the "real" amp in which he finds his voice. Buying a clone - or a "real thing" - of any amp right now will lock him in not only to the virtues but also the limitations of that amp, at exactly the time, as an amp beginner, that he's least equipped to make comparative judgments.

Short of buying one of each - a tweed, a blackface, a Vox, a Marshall, a this, a that - a modeler from Line6, the Fender Mustang, the Boss Katana, one of the Vox offerings will give him the next best way to explore amp tones. With no tubes, caps, transformers, or other variable vintage idiosyncrasies to deal with while he's learning to simply play the guitar.

In addition to which, he'll get the benefit of all the built-in effects to play with and discover how (or if) to use. And because those amps deliver something like the recorded tone of the amps they emulate, a beginning player sounds better sooner than when faced with the raw (reverbless, in the case of a tweed) reality of a naked amp. Sounding better is rewarding - and motivating.

There just aren't many beginning guitar players who know exactly what they want in an amp - because they can't know how they sound playing the guitar until they've learned to actually do it. How many of us are now playing through what we thought would be our preferred amp when we started playing?

And esPECially if you're not sure what amp you want, it makes sense to spend less. 200.00 - 400.00 gets you a lot of modeling horsepower, and can provide an economical (if somewhat virtual) education in amp variety and choice.

Or so it seems to me.

13

Wise words Tim. I often wonder how many guitarists here have actually had the chance to play ALL the legendary amps at stage volume or record with them. Buying a reputable amp with Sims and effects? Loads o fun. And you learn a bit about what the originals are all about.

There's folks that'll read this and say 'no way will it sound as good'....well go sit in the corner big a guitar shop with an AC30 on minimal volume and see how much fun that is.....not.

14

I agree with Proteus and Vince. I went this route and like having the variety while still determining if there is one must have amp out there.

15

There's folks that'll read this and say 'no way will it sound as good'....well go sit in the corner big a guitar shop with an AC30 on minimal volume and see how much fun that is.....not.

Oh, I know. Tar and feathers await. Modelers "sound processed." They don't "respond like a real amp." (Maybe true, partly true, maybe not.) But most of us (maybe all of us) were first inspired to play guitar by recorded music. And every guitar on every record ever made has been "processed" - even the barest minimal gear needed to capture a guitar on tape (or in digits) changes its tone a bit. And in the 50s and 60s studios HAD to compress signal "artificially" or it could never have been squeezed into the grooves of records.

Those are the sounds that inspired us. Modelers often capture a "processed" sound (see footnote), like you're playing the studio. That's not all bad, especially for a beginning guitarist - because it sounds better. There's a lifetime of practice, effort, and experience in making a guitar straight into an amp sound great - and even then, as you suggest, it often requires cranking the amps to a point where they're working at least a little (if not a lot) hard. Even a 5-watt amp is too loud for most significant others, homes, and neighborhoods.

And our man is going to make a lot of noisy noise on his way to learning the guitar. A decent modeler lets him make that noise at levels down to a whisper (or through headphones) - and get something like the tone the modeled amp makes at full roar (if its full roar could be contained at that room-friendly volume). It's more like turning down recorded music to sub-conversational volume: you still hear the guitar and amp sounding like they sounded loud. Except NOT loud. Whereas when you turn a naked amp down to almost nothing, it no longer sounds like itself.

Buyt when you get a chance to crank the modeler...it gets loud, too. It's just that it gets quiet and can still sound like a cranked amp.

(As I've been reminded too many times on this forum, since I usually play at room volume, rarely getting my 20-30 watters above 3, I don't really understand how amps behave when they're cranked. I take exception to that, as I've been playing for 50 years and wasn't always a cranky old bastid in a basement, but I get the point. Amps (especially tube amps) behave very differently at different volumes. And almost no one buys an amp for the tone it makes at, say, 1.5 on the dial.)

Futhermo, even when Famous Guys were recording Famous Tracks and getting Huge Recorded Sounds with Tiny Tube Amps (Page with a little Supro, Clapton with a Fender Champ, etc)...guaranteed they were still louder in the studio than our student guitarist's housemates are going to want to hear. Even IF our student guitarist WAS Page or Clapton.

I once had the experience of hearing Jeff Beck "programming" his tones into the Fender Mustang modeling amp. I was 6 feet away from him, and heard the amp at something less than living room volume.

I would have known I was hearing Jeff Beck even if I hadn't seen him in the room. Given his licks, those tones sounded "just like the record."

Just saying.

And in fact, that's another argument for the modeler. GumboKing mentions rockabilly and 50s-60s rock & roll. Once he gets the requisite tube amp we gear junkies enable him into, he's going to need reverb (if it's not in the amp), and delay (at least slapback), and likely an overdrive or boost to get that tone at low volume. Each one of those purchases will be an adventure in self-education and consumer choice confusion.

But with a modeler, it's all built in. Dial up the "rockabilly" setting, and he'll get something at least in the ballpark. (Which can almost always be tweaked to get closer.) How much more motivating when you're learning new parts to have the equipment (even if "virtual") to sound something like the real thing?


  • FOOTNOTE: Modelers - and especially the Kemper Profiling amp - don't have to sound processed. The best modelers (L6 Helix, for instance) and the Kemper can sound just as raw and real as the "real" thing - and have fooled tube amp aficionados/worshippers in blind playing tests.
16

Y'know ... sometimes when in response to a question we go off on our experiences with various deep lineages and cultures of amps, having played for years or decades - each with our own pet hobby horses - we forget the original poster's situation.

GumboKing is a bass player who just bought his first electric guitar. Doesn't know a chord or a lick on guitar yet. I'm guessing he's not deeply versed in the arcana of one amp type vs another. It goes without saying he's at least months, if not years, away from honing in on "his" tone. Even if he knows what he likes (and he hasn't been very specific about that), it's by no means a slam-dunk that if he gets a famous amp to go with his famous guitar in order to achieve a particular famous tone... he'll actually get that tone.

I wonder if he wouldn't be better advised to get, horror of horrors, a modeling amp of some description. For less than half the cost of a clone of a any vintage amp, he can have the whole smorgasbord of amp types to play around with. The models won't be exact - though they've gotten pretty good - but they'll be good enough to help him choose the "real" amp in which he finds his voice. Buying a clone - or a "real thing" - of any amp right now will lock him in not only to the virtues but also the limitations of that amp, at exactly the time, as an amp beginner, that he's least equipped to make comparative judgments.

Short of buying one of each - a tweed, a blackface, a Vox, a Marshall, a this, a that - a modeler from Line6, the Fender Mustang, the Boss Katana, one of the Vox offerings will give him the next best way to explore amp tones. With no tubes, caps, transformers, or other variable vintage idiosyncrasies to deal with while he's learning to simply play the guitar.

In addition to which, he'll get the benefit of all the built-in effects to play with and discover how (or if) to use. And because those amps deliver something like the recorded tone of the amps they emulate, a beginning player sounds better sooner than when faced with the raw (reverbless, in the case of a tweed) reality of a naked amp. Sounding better is rewarding - and motivating.

There just aren't many beginning guitar players who know exactly what they want in an amp - because they can't know how they sound playing the guitar until they've learned to actually do it. How many of us are now playing through what we thought would be our preferred amp when we started playing?

And esPECially if you're not sure what amp you want, it makes sense to spend less. 200.00 - 400.00 gets you a lot of modeling horsepower, and can provide an economical (if somewhat virtual) education in amp variety and choice.

Or so it seems to me.

– Proteus

A great post Tim to return to the OP's statement regarding not playing guitar yet, which is the root of the post, as opposed to what's the perfect amp to chase an as-yet-not-known tone. The suggestion to get a modelling amp is a good one. Because our OP isn't yet a player, I suggest he bring a friend who is a good player with him to a big store and try out a few modelling amps. I've tried playing through a few cheaper versions and wouldn't take some home if they gave it to me free. Now having said that, I own a terrific one, Fender's Super Champ X2. However there's 2 versions of that amp, and they both share the same electronic guts. The difference and it's huge, is the combo has a 10" speaker whereas the separate head and cab stack has an upgraded 12" Celestion. The electronics are a tube/SS combination. This is a very versatile amp with terrific tone and is 15 watts. Perfect for home and suitable for smaller venues. As you mentioned, it has multiple amp 'voices' as well as the popular effects. The head/cab version costs more but is worth it. I picked up this version several years back in a private sale paying half price. It was never used, the seller having moved to smaller premises and not needing it.

This amp replaced previous Champ versions which all had 10" speakers and is a major improvement IMO.

17

The Champ is a good one. I kept mentioning the Mustang...which may or may not be a thing by now, and I don't know how it compares. Vox has pretty good modelers, the Boss Katana is from all reports a rip-snorter, and the most recent Line6 stuff is awfully good.

In fact, I recently took the un-speaker-compensated outputs from my L6 Pod 2.0 (15 years old) directly into the power amp inputs of my Classic 30s and promptly lost 4 hours to sonic adventures. I'd tried the same POD direct out into the PA system 10 years ago, and been less than enthralled. But running it through actual guitar speakers brought it to life in a way that astonished me. I didn't feel like I was playing recordings of amps. I felt like I was playing...you know...electric guitar through a whole series of amps.

(Likewise virtual effect/amp rigs in the iOS (or, I assume, Android) environments can sound mighty real when properly amplified. And you'd have a hard time spending more than 100.00 on all the iOS rigs out there. But the POD or iOS "solutions" require appropriate amplification, and are arguably more complicated than an all-in-one integrated modeling amp.)

18

Y'know ... sometimes when in response to a question we go off on our experiences with various deep lineages and cultures of amps, having played for years or decades - each with our own pet hobby horses - we forget the original poster's situation.

Or maybe we were just responding to his question, which was "any thoughts on tweed deluxe clones?" :)

19

Or you can go this route, a very low priced American made tube amp with Reverb, and you can always take off that hideous "Peavey" lightening bolt Logo. Half the Fun of getting new gear is the research and the hunt.

https://losangeles.craigsli...

(The Reverb tank replacement is an easy fix)

$200 for a tried and true, and well regarded amp is not a big investment for a new Guitarist who hasnt really discovered what his needs or sound are.

If youre like any guitarist I know, and I know many, You will cycle thru many amps in your time. Some will come and go, some will stay and others will be huge regrets.

Good Luck!

20

That's a great deal on a C30, and I think it's a great amp. Of course I'm wrong, but I still think so.

21

Or maybe we were just responding to his question, which was "any thoughts on tweed deluxe clones?" :)

Of course. I was just bringing in context from his other recent posts. All information (assuming it's actually factual) is good information. I was suggesting a different approach.

22

Thanks for all the advice guys. I went the modeling amp route and just ordered a Yamaha THR5 off ebay. Apparently a good, and cheap, alternative to what I was initially looking for. $179 delivered to my door is pretty hard to beat.

23

Manny those Peavy sound great. I had that one once but not sure where the one was made in the link you gave. The one I had I bought used at Guitar Center in Pasadena (CA) and it was an older one made in the USA. It really sounded great but I like to buy and sell equipment and try other equipment when I can so I sold it and got something else. Your suggestion for that amp is a good one and for $200 that's a great deal.

24

I never had a Classic 30, but I did have a Delta Blues and a Classic 50-410.. the C50-410 was a beast. Sounded incredible.... very Bassman-like... when you cranked up that clean channel. But it was so loud as to be unusable in that application. the dirty channel was nice, but it was nothing like cranking the clean channel (and then adding an OD on top).

I sold it... one of my few cases of seller's remorse, but it was too loud and too heavy to be practical for my uses.

25

GumboKing, sounds like you made a good choice there. I had the good fortune many years ago when I was looking for a new amp to experiment with a friend's Line6. He was going in the military and left it with me for safe keeping until he knew where he was going to be stationed after basic. Since this meant it would be in my care for a few months, and he told me to go ahead and use it, I got the privilege of being able to hear quite a sampling of different amp sounds. I have a hard time believing you'll ever regret the purchase, and have fun finding your sound!


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