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Old June 19th, 2012, 10:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Inside the Fender Greta

Man, there are a LOT of gold screws to undo (and if you open yours, look *closely* at the small gold screws, because they need a fairly flat-nosed phillips or you'll strip 'em!). The top MDF panel is held on by wo screws underneath - you pull those, remove the panel, remove four wood screws holding the chassis to the base (which has a shield plate on it - another nice surprise, as is the layout details printed on the bottom of the amp) - then pull slightly back and the "Dagmar" knobs pop off and you have an easy time getting to the guts.

Top is a very heavy steel cover, painted inside & out. Chassis is aluminum (and heavier than most PCB amps I've worked on) with polymer tube sockets - not ceramic but not board mounted or cheap plastic as far as I could tell.

Components are more substantial and construction far more solid than most other inexpensive PCB's. You can pull most of the info off the pictures (if there's anything you want to know and can't decipher let me know - most of the parts are accessible. FWIW I did NOT note the pot values - sorry. I'll try to follow up on that later. They are full size Alphas stamped "2B2" with no other codes.

Not to be TOO "rah-rah", but I have already posted what I think about the sound (tremendous amp for touch players who crank their amps, pick lightly with super-heavy gage picks...I use a 4.2mm or 2mm...roll their guitar's controls back a bit and go from clean to distortion via pick attack and milking the controls; and through a 2x10 cabinet it's absolutely stunning) but this is one rock-solid amp as far as build quality. Heavy wires (no cheesy computer cables), decent pots/jacks/switch, heavier and higher-grade electrical components than almost any inexpensive amp I've ever had to work on, an actual choke - IMO Fender should be showing of the guts, because this is a lot more amp for $200 than most of the other similarly priced ones I've seen. One question had been raised about heat dissipation - I see NO problem, as the heavy-gage steel arch over the top has plenty of air space and will absorb/dissipate the small amount of heat generated by two 9-pin tubes.

Other general details:

Blue molded caps are .0082uf
brown caps - .022 400V
the two caps between the pots are a .01uf and 390pf
The big resistor is a 180 ohm/5W with a 22uf/50V cap
C7 is a 10uf/50V
C8 is a 2.2uf/50V
C9 22uf/50V
there's a small solid fuse - chassis marked "3A 250V", fuse marked 3A 125V
Filters are two 22uf/350V and one 47uf/350V - with a little surprise - a choke up top!
I tried to make sure the colors were clear so you could read the resistor color codes rather than me listing all of 'em!

Transformers are just marked with production codes; speaker code is pretty irrelevant (but the little sucker sounds good once it's broken in for 7 or 8 hours!)

The tubes are generic red-screen printed Chinese types; I'll be trying various tube substitutions (I have a good stock of 12AX7's, 5751's, 12AT7/6201's. Might try a few 12AY7's in the preamp, bu I want to be careful in the power amp section - the 12AT7 handles more current than similar types. If anyone knows beefy enough crossovers please post them (and save me from the RCA tube manual I've ben wearing out working on Gibsons lately!)






















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Old June 20th, 2012, 04:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Maybe a 12au7? I've seen it used in amps like this before.

Thanks for the gut shots and review!

-Dale
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Old June 20th, 2012, 06:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The 12AT7 /is/ an ECC81

And it is not a straight swap-out for an ECC82/12AU7 (different grid bias)

Probably best with the reasonably priced NOS available for these, avoiding new Chinese - Mesa, GT and TAD.
I was underwhelmed with Mullard ECC81, probably better with RFT or GE
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Old June 20th, 2012, 12:30 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Before you goes inside a Greta, you should be a licensed gynecologist.
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Old June 20th, 2012, 12:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Why does it have three transformers? Is one a choke? A choke would seem to be overkill in a little amp like that, but Fender was going for quirky, so who knows?
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Old June 20th, 2012, 12:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am impressed, Greta here I come!
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Old June 20th, 2012, 04:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Yep, it's a choke - and I was surprised, as it's not a cheap way to add extra filtering (caps and resistors are the usual budget method).

As far as tubes go - so far (I have a huge stash of NOS tubes) 've tried only diferent 12AT7/6201/ECC81's; a Sylvania, a Telefunken and an Amperex Bugle Boy. All 3 both increased the output, increased the headroom and the harmonics really opened up. The Amperex is the winner at this stage.

Interestingly, with the tube change the dynamics opened up the attack window quite a bit. A customer in for his 3-month fret dressing on his '83 PRS (he grips the neck like King Kong and picks harder than anyone I know!) plugged into it and without me saying a word just used his volume and tone control to clean it up and sustain notes.

My light picking with the power tube change gives me pinpoint control, but it was nice to see that a hard-picker could get clean, slightly-overdriven, violin-like sustain and extreme distortion all without touching a pedal or a knob on the amp.

I think next I'll wade through some 5751's and 12AY7's in the preamp slot and see where tat takes the gain structure.

Still can't get a farty bass sound, so I don't know what the problem was one other buyer was supposedly having.
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Old June 20th, 2012, 06:08 PM   #8 (permalink)
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i had the same farty problem with mine. i posted it in another thread on the greta with my pics and stuff.
I thought it was a blown speaker and had a major difference of opinion with the vendor.

2 weeks ago i was in chicago and stopped a music store and they told me they had multiple returns with the same issue. and they werent in a rush to restock it

i would guess you are lucky.. right now mine is mainly an orniment on the kitchen table.
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Old June 21st, 2012, 01:21 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I don't think I was lucky - I think there's a kind of polarized set of players. I think out of the countless students I've had (of all levels) 90% of the ones I had 5 years ago and earlier started out with their tone and volume controls turned all the way up, then adjusted whatever amp they were using to a workable voume level - very often leading to the "too much amp" syndrome of "big amp+ small room + guitar turned up/amp turned down = thin, weak tone and no dynamics.

It's changed quite a bit in the last 5 years, with many more players learning how to "play" their amp via the guitar controls and right-hand attack, pick grip, etc.

But I've found many "one amp players" or players releatively new to the Tele in particular (which is a very "in your face", unforgiving guitar) have a lot of trouble playing at home or in small clubs. Amp controls alone just don't cut it, and using pedals to try to compensate results in a different but still weak sound.

I'm NOT saying those who don't like the Greta are bad players. But I do think many just are not understanding that it's not a Deluxe Reverb or the "flavor of the month" club amp. It's a low-powered tool that caters to touch players - and honestly , I think if a lot of early-rejectors gave the thing another shot but changed their approach they might find it's quite a different amp than they thought.

Had another frind by this afternoon who tried it, and he sounded absolutely awful - at first. Ratty, grainy breakup and couldn't find a clean tone if it had handles. And sure enough, his guitar controls were dimed and he picked like a demon, never moving his right hand from a single locked-down position. I took a minute to explain the interaction of the guiar controls and suggested he try - just for fun - to lighten up on his picking and sure enough, he started to get the idea - it took some real concentration on his part, but after 10 minutes or so he was playing relatively clean and dialing in the sustain *after* the note was already "in process".

Then we plugged him into my BFDR, turned it up to 7, turned his guitar volume WAY down and his tone control rolled back about 20%. It took him a minute to adjust his picking and lighten up, but he "got it" pretty quickly and was really having fun "playing the amp".

IMO it's worth a try.

The other thing to think about - the amp ships with decent but not exactly great Chinese tubes. Plugging an Amperex 12AT7 in the power slot changed the whole tonal center - and later I went through a bunch of 12AX7, 5751 and 12AY7 tubes in the preamp socket - the eventual consensus was a Sylvania 5751 paired best with the Amperex.

I realize most players don't have these kinds of tubes just laying around - so we plugged in simple JJ 12AX7 and 12AT7's and they made a world of difference in headroom, volume and tightness, while retaining the touch sensitivity.

It's a TUBE amp. Changing tubes to revoice a tube amp is a natural thing to do, but not many seem to have even considered it (seems to run along with thinking it sounded bad out of the box - the speaker not broken in).

So I'll argue flat-out the point that it is not a BAD amp - it's just not the right amp for some players. Just like a Mesa Dual Rectifier or a Bogner Uberschall aren't really the best amps for me (and I've used them...) this little red spud isn't gong to work for everyone.

It's also a bit funny how boutique companies can come out with bizarre little products like this and they are applauded..and Fender steps outside the white lines (heavens! The Excelsior lacks a TONE CONTROL! What were they THINKING? - uh, look below your bridge, there's one there you probably don't touch) and the dart throwing starts.

Both these amps are fun, low price point tube amps that each serve a purpose - and neither one will fit every player. I have no need for an Excelsior - I have amps that fill that type of territory. But I *could* play it on a job and not complain one bit.

In fact, I think I'm going to take the Greta and a 2x10 out to the next club jam and see what happens. I already know it's loud enough.

Anyway,I'm not dissing anyone's opinions - opinions are fair. But not when stated as fact (i.e. "this product sucks" is not an opinion; "this thing just does NOT work for me" IS an opinion). However, I did want to suggest that even those with negative opinions might want to fool around with some of the suggestions I've made. You might find a different amp. You might not. You won't know, though, if you don't paint outside the lines a bit, maybe.

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Old June 21st, 2012, 06:08 AM   #10 (permalink)
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just fyi i am not a newbie. i have been playing since the late 60's.
you also assume that there can not be a bad batch of amps made in china.

i have a wide variety of amps, and yes even an excelsior and i love it.

and yes i have a few boxes of tubes,, been there done that with the greta. the one i have is a piece of junk, and i personally dont like your insinuation of my capabilities. or lack there of.

china can make bad batches of amps due to parts defects. guess that notion sllipped by you
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Old June 21st, 2012, 06:20 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Before you goes inside a Greta, you should be a licensed gynecologist.
"I'm not a gynecologist but I'm prepared to take a look".
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Old June 21st, 2012, 11:51 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Chris - I never said anything negative about "capabilities". I said there are different approaches/styles of playing and one method appears to work well with this amp.

I also mentioned in (I believe it was my first post in another thread) that the OP may have gotten a defective one. That happens often enough - I certainly "fix" enough new guitars, whether made in Asia, Mexico or the U.S.

I've played 3 and opened/performed tube swapping on mine, and all worked fine for me and everyone else I personally encountered - which is why I suggested 1) someone may have rceived a defective unit (in another thread), 2) a specific playing approach that I teach, which works (in this case) with the Gretas I've played and for others that have played those and in many other situations, and 3) tube swapping could be a solution to an apparently bad sounding unit.

The only things I may have noted that could sound negative were comments that statements made about a product were stated not as opinions, but as facts. All my comments were opinions about ways to approach the amp - not "All Gretas are flawless" or "if you can't get a good sound you don't know how to play". If it appeared that way I apologize - but it would be a case of misinterpretation, not a problem with what I posted. And there are, to be sure, some products certain players simply don't like for whatever the reason (i.e. there are some modeling amps I don't care for at all - but others like them, which is fine).

I hope that clarifies things.
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 01:13 AM   #13 (permalink)
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The brackets are used to clarify what comments or post you are addressing. They help maintain some clarity in long threads, or where one or more posters have taken the thread off-topic(as was the case here - this wasn't a review thread, it was an information thread).

As far as your insults, it's thospretty easy for you to proclaim innocence now that your post with dozens of quotes and your clear statement that you were purposely being sarcastic has been deleted.

And it's still apparent the line between fact and opinion is one you don't recognize.

Example of fact,opinion, and type of thread:

If you wanted to start an "I think the "twinge watt monster 200 is the only amp any one should ever use" great - that's a review and opinion thread.

But when someone starts a thread showing pics and technical details of a product, you're hijacking the thread when you make statements like (paraphrasing) "that product sucks". You're off topic and out of line...especially when you continue by attacking the OP who simply makes suggestions of how to make the amp possibly work better for you.

If you don't want the advice ignore it -or don't solicit it by posting off-topic "facts"(which is how you stated your opinions).

This is all board etiquette. Much can be found in the FAQ's.

It you want to respond, do so off-board through email. This thread will now return to the original subject - the interior, design and build quality.
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 05:02 AM   #14 (permalink)
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On a marketing level I think Fender was smart to name an amp with a girl's name. It helps some people to form a quick personal attachment and a need to defend her honor.

My experience is a little different.
The Greta brings back bad memories of when I couldn't afford a decent amp, so I had to plug into a SS table top radio instead and pretend. The tone was like nails on a chalkboard.

So when I think of the Greta, I get THIS image:






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Old June 23rd, 2012, 08:29 AM   #15 (permalink)
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i did not need to wake up to that picture jim. i think the picture has scar me for life.
p.s

do they make a good speaker in that size?

chris.
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 09:13 AM   #16 (permalink)
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sheesh Jim Dep...where'd you meet my ex?
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 09:16 AM   #17 (permalink)
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on another note...I'd REALLY like to run the Greta into the front end of my Excelsior as a pre-amp boost pedal sort of thing...I suspect Fender considered that as well as the Greta does have a tone control and line out to do just that, and that Excelsior has a LOT of oomph behind it with that 15" speaker
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 09:52 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Thanks for the post, looks solidly built.

Would you consider this a better first tube amp than say the Champ 600 ?

Just to give an indication of my level of sophistication, I only own a G-Dec 15 and a little Vox pathfinder 10 and am content with them. I play my Chinese Tele through headphones as often as I play through the amp speakers.

Don't own any pedals and don't at this point want to, my little 9 x 9 guitar room is jampacked already.
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 09:57 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Thanks for posting those great pics of the insides!
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Old June 23rd, 2012, 10:00 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Dep
On a marketing level I think Fender was smart to name an amp with a girl's name. It helps some people to form a quick personal attachment and a need to defend her honor.

My experience is a little different.
The Greta brings back bad memories of when I couldn't afford a decent amp, so I had to plug into a SS table top radio instead and pretend. The tone was like nails on a chalkboard.

So when I think of the Greta, I get THIS image:
+1
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