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Old January 25th, 2009, 12:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Epiphone Blues Custom 30

Anyone have one of these? If so, how do they sound and what other amps does it compare to?

I might pick one of these up, so I thought I'd get some feedback first.

Thanks.

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Old January 25th, 2009, 01:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I have one. If you're used to Fender tube amps, you're in for a surprise -- quite different.

The Blues Custom has more treble on tap than ANY tube amp I've ever heard (except maybe my silverface Twin). There's not a whole lot of bass, either.

On paper, it seems like it should be just the nastiest, crappiest, most unusable amp ever. In practice, however, if you're willing to spend time dialing in the controls, there's lots of good sound in it.

I particular like playing it with a band, because it sits in the live mix nicely.

I can't say what the Blues Custom sounds "like," however, since I haven't heard anything else like it.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 02:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm pretty sure Brent Mason is playing one in this series. Sounds ok to me.

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Old January 25th, 2009, 03:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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forgive me if im mistaken but the amp in the clip looks like a epiphone valve special to me. epi amps seem very good to me. ive got a epi galaxie 25, very loud for 25w. mabe look at an ac30?
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Old January 25th, 2009, 04:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have one, and beep.click gives a good overview. For me, this amp "lives" on the 15w setting -- decently clean and effects friendly, and surprisingly loud. The 30w's much louder and grittier; pretty much impossible to clean up, and I've tried. The Lady Luck speakers are quite nice, and work well in the dual 12 setting. The reverb's very weak, and when you dial it up, tends to a spongy-ness. (Same thing on the So-Cal 50 I have.) So I don't even bother with it. I bought mine new a little over a year ago, but since the price jump, I'd probably hold out for a DRRI. Seen some good prices on used ones. In all, good amps, especially for blues and some strands of rock. Tonally, they lean toward a tweed Deluxe/Peavey Classic 30 hybrid, but lacking the mid-range punch of a C30, especially at high volumes.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 09:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the feed back everybody. I going to give one a test run this week, we'll see how it goes.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 10:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by telebluesrocker View Post
forgive me if im mistaken but the amp in the clip looks like a epiphone valve special to me. epi amps seem very good to me. ive got a epi galaxie 25, very loud for 25w. mabe look at an ac30?

I don't think it's a special.
The special is about the size of a tweed deluxe.
That amp looks bigger.
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Old January 29th, 2009, 04:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I've had mine since 2006.

After experimenting with numerous tubes, I settled on re-issue Tung Sol 5881's for the power section, the Tung Sol re-issue 12AX7's in V1, V2, and V4. V3 and V5 have NOS Sylvania 12AT7's (reverb). I replaced the poor Sovtek 5AR4 rectifier tube with an NOS JAN Philips 5AR4. After a number of hours of playing, the Lady Luck speakers broke in and the tone softened quite a bit. It's still a bright amp, but once you get used to the rather radical EQ settings you need to dial it in, the amp sounds really great.

Although the 15w single ended channel is probably the best tone, I find the A/B setting to be just as useful. I use both the clean and the overdrive channels. Again, I'll have the bass set at about 5 o'clock, the mid at about 8-10 o'clock, and the treble at about 1-2 o'clock to get the tone I like. Totally different as I said, but who cares as long as it works.

After much waiting and inquiring, some of the amp building and modding guru's have weighed in with some mods for the tone section in the BC 30's. I plan to try them out when I get a chance. Supposed to mellow out the brightness and make the EQ much more sensitive and usable.

It really is a very versatile amp, and with the mentioned mods, it could become even better. We'll see...
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Old January 30th, 2009, 05:26 AM   #9 (permalink)
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After experimenting with numerous tubes, I settled on re-issue Tung Sol 5881's for the power section
Many folks have noticed that this amp was designed for 5881 tubes, but a lot of them come with 6L6's. Maybe ALL of them come with 6L6's -- mine did.

Any idea what's going on there? Is it a tube life issue? Problems with current production (reissue) 5881's, that they can't take what this circuit dishes out? Maybe the 5881's run hotter (the amp already has a fan that runs constantly)?

I'm curious how it's working out for you, Bloozcat -- I bought a pair of those Tung Sol 5881's myself, and never got around to trying them.
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Old January 30th, 2009, 10:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Many folks have noticed that this amp was designed for 5881 tubes, but a lot of them come with 6L6's. Maybe ALL of them come with 6L6's -- mine did.

Any idea what's going on there? Is it a tube life issue? Problems with current production (reissue) 5881's, that they can't take what this circuit dishes out? Maybe the 5881's run hotter (the amp already has a fan that runs constantly)?

I'm curious how it's working out for you, Bloozcat -- I bought a pair of those Tung Sol 5881's myself, and never got around to trying them.
Well, there's a long story behind the power tubes in for this amp. For probably a year to a year and a half the amps were shipped with Sovtek "5881's", which aren't real 5881's at all. They are actually re-labled Russian Military 6pi33C tubes that were designed for some kind of electroserver application. By Russian definition this is a ruggedized version of a 6L6GC, but it doesn't compare directly to western definitions of that tube family. The lineage of that tube in American nomenclature would be 6L6, 6L6C, 5881/6L6WGB, 6L6GC, 7581(A), with a couple of other minor upgrades mixed in. The Russian tube is extremely robust with reports of them taking over 500VDC at the plate without frying. The main complaint about them is that their tone is somewhat sterile...which only exacerbates the BC 30's brightness issues. To further complicate and confuse the issue, Epiphone sent out advertisement that erroneously stated that the amps came with EL34 tubes. To my knowledge, no BC 30's ever shipped with EL34's, and in fact, it's been suggested by some that both power tube sockets would have to have been re-wired to take the EL34's (and there's also some question if the the OT can take EL34's). Then finally, the later versions shipped with 6L6GC's as they probably should have from the beginning.

Back in 2006 when this amp first came out, I e-mailed Gibson with questions about the amp and it's circuit. Gibson's tech couldn't answer the questions, so he passed them on to the designer of the amp, Pyotr Belov (of Belov Custom Amps). We sent e-mails back and forth until Pyotr finally just asked for my phone number and a couple of minutes later he called me. If you do a search here on the Blues Custom 30, you'll see the longs thread(s) in which I described what happened. Another poster here lived close to Pyotr in California and he had some direct conversations with him as well.

Without reviewing everything that Pyotr passed on, here's the bottom line with tube selections for this amp: Any tube in the 6L6 family from the 5881/6L6WGB through the 7581(A) is suitable. Some questioned whether the 5881 Tung Sols (NOS and reissue) could handle the voltage without burning up quickly, but Pyotr assured me that they could. I've had the reissue TS 5881's in my amp for over a year and they're still going strong, so Pyotr was right. While we were on the phone Pyotr popped a pair of EL34's in the amp as well and the voltages and dissipation specs were all within usable norms. After hearing some misgivings from the amp guru's on the use of EL34's, I think I'll not try them unless/until I do the mods they suggest. I gotta' admit though, I'd love to see if this amp could produce some of that Marshally EL34 grind.

So, in conclusion I'd say try the TS 5881's if you have them. I found the TS 12AX7's to be the best fit for the pre-amp as well. Upgrading the rectifier made a difference also. I'm assuming that you've had the amp long enough that your Lady Luck speakers have sufficiently broken in...big difference in tone once they have. And "speaking" of speakers, I had tried this amp with Weber C12N's, Mojotone MP12RHD Alnico's, and Celestion G12H30's. Surprisingly to me, I have found that the Lady Lucks are voiced quite well for this amp...they're still in mine (now if I do that EL34 mod I'll just have to try those G12H30's again...).

Cheers
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Old August 12th, 2009, 09:20 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I've had mine for about a month; and I've been reluctant to write about it till now.

Finding a good sound has taken some time. Mine was an ex-demo model and came with Sovtek 5881s which didn't sound that great - I have since upgraded all the tubes except the Sovtek 5AR4 rectifier which seems to sound and feel better than the JJ replacement I purchased. I took out all 5 Chinese 12AX7Bs in the front end and put in some EHX 12AX7EHs - this certainly improved the quality of the gain structure a bit. I fiddled round with a 12AU7 in V1, the reverb driver V3 and the Phase Inverter V4 - not really worth the effort IMO - tended to make the sound anaemic - so I just stuck with 12AX7s in all positions. For the moment I have put in a pair of Sovtek 6L6WXT+s which are actually pretty good sounding tubes - infinitely superior to the 5881s anyway. I have contacted Gibson about what the output transformer on this amp can handle, as I really want to drop some KT-66s in and try and get a Bluesbreaker/JTM-45-type sound - and the sales rep I spoke to assured me that the BC-30 can handle the additional heater current draw of KT66s as compared with 6L6s. He even recommended using KT66Cs which I think are a tube manufactured by Groove Tubes. I'll probably pick up some Valve Art KT66s when I have the cash.

Tube issues aside, the amp can get some decent tones which are kind of in between American and British - but there is way too much top end available for me. I also run mine almost always in 30w mode because I get a rather loud 50 or 60 cycle hum in the 15w setting; although 15w sounds a tad sweeter.

I tend to run the tone controls in independent mode; interactive promotes more unwanted brightness - I dime the bass, scoop out nearly all the mids and have the treble on about 10 - 12 'o'clock - I turn the mid "contour" control on the dirty channel all the way up. This gives me a reasonably good eq balance between the clean and dirty channels. The midrange knob in the main eq stack adds a lot of ice-pickiness to the tone. Sucking the mids is the opposite of what I usually do on just about any other amp but it works well on this one and gets you closer to a Fender type of sound especially on the clean channel. Having said that - I think the amp is probably more Vox-like in tone, particularly on the dirty channel. You can certainly dial up Jimmy Page tones without too much effort. I usually like the reverb on about 12 - 3 'o' clock. Sounds cool - but nothing like classic Fender reverb unfortunately. The speakers sound good and are breaking in nicely.

The amp's tone does improve a little over time. It's good for blues, classic rock and country styles. I haven't found an OD pedal that works too well in the front yet but a non-true bypass wah seems to improve my tone on this amp - go figure. Analogue delays sound pretty cool.

Overall, I do believe that the amp will put out a sound that will sit well in a band mix. It takes some work and valve swapping and eq fiddling but there is something there and they do go for cheap. Oh yeah - start working out if you want to carry this thing up and down the stairs. This amp weighs a tonne.
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