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Old December 21st, 2012, 08:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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My rant at Fender view on making amps

I bought a Pro Junior a week ago and was happy for a start - it is my first tube amp. And after two evenings it started to rattle. So for three evening I spent fixing rattling chassis. And it would be all love and peace (I really like the tone), but after screwing and unscrewing screws their head are quite worn out and one thread is damaged. I totally dont mind my work - I'm electrinics enginer and it was fun. But cheap parts are a real let down. Yeah, Fender saved less than $2 by choosing soft metal screws. In my country I paid about $600 for it. Why I did it? I don't know. I liked the weight and features, but also I thought Fender has more self respect and make this thing decent choise. I'm dissapointed. Maybe playing some weepy blues will help, but I make it official: new Fender ban for one year with possibility to prolong it. That was my rant, sorry if anyone offended, but I just could not keep it inside.

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Old December 21st, 2012, 08:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I had a 'no new Squier' ban when the Classic Vibe Series of guitars/bass was out for about 2 years before there was ever a left-handed model ... those are import units too.
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Old December 21st, 2012, 08:32 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Replace with strong hardware, blue loctite where necessary, and play till your fingers bleed.
If you like the amp sound, you won't need to buy for a year anyways...possibly longer if you start getting into swapping tubes and speakers and such.
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Old December 21st, 2012, 09:02 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Yep

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Originally Posted by chippertheripper View Post
Replace with strong hardware, blue loctite where necessary, and play till your fingers bleed.
If you like the amp sound, you won't need to buy for a year anyways...possibly longer if you start getting into swapping tubes and speakers and such.
point undestood. but Fender should realise, that customer don't want half DIY solution - take those $2 from us and save from work and additional expenses. but yeah, now I will play for years with that box for a long time maybe one day 4x12 extension cab will come along
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Old December 21st, 2012, 09:48 AM   #5 (permalink)
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If you don't like the Fender DIY aspect of their cheaper amps stay away from the Blues Jr. People are replacing most of the chassis and the speaker before it sounds half way decent And you're still left with a really crappy reverb tank. At least the Pro sounds good from the git go.
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Old December 21st, 2012, 10:28 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I've had cheap combos to very expensive combos - they all rattle - to one degree or another.

If you reply to this thread "Mine never rattle/buzz/vibrate !", well - just wait - it'll start next week...
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Old December 21st, 2012, 10:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I read recently that as far back as the early 70s, I think, the Dead road crew would make their Fender amps more road-worthy. I always wondered what that entailed. What would make sense with that, tube sockets? Surely they weren't going into the amps with soldering irons and replacing caps, were they? I wish I could remember where I read that. Possible a book on the Dead gear that was out a while back.
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Old December 21st, 2012, 10:42 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Mike Eskimo View Post
I've had cheap combos to very expensive combos - they all rattle - to one degree or another.

If you reply to this thread "Mine never rattle/buzz/vibrate !", well - just wait - it'll start next week...
I'm fine with a little buzz - tubes are still rattling a bit at some volume and particular note another thing is how much Fender brand is worth if they save $2 on screws but I feel better after starting this thread
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Old December 21st, 2012, 10:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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point undestood. but Fender should realise, that customer don't want half DIY solution -
As soon as Fender gets on board, please advise GM , Chrysler and Ford !

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Old December 21st, 2012, 11:32 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I found it was V1 (far right 12ax7) causing the rattling in my PJ. I had it turned on and would play a loud low note as I touched each tube with a pencil eraser, and touching V1 stopped the rattle. I replaced it with an old RCA 12ax7 I had laying around, and rattle has been gone for months.

Another source of rattle is if you have some of the cord folded up and laying inside the amp. Also sympathetic rattle occurring in an object nearby, which seems like it's coming from the amp. Take it into another room and see what happens.

Is the power tube retainer still on yours? If so, does it have grommets in it?




I haven't had problems with the PJ panel screws stripping, but they are very fine machine threads and you have to be very careful that you get them started correctly, or they can strip. Also make sure to use a good screwdriver of the right size (not saying you didn't, but some folks try to use a number 1 phillips to drive number 2 screws). And of course, do not use a power screwdriver. This is where you want to use a hand screwdriver. I like to use the ratcheting kind, so you can apply constant pressure as you turn it.
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Old December 21st, 2012, 12:46 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by tap4154 View Post
I found it was V1 (far right 12ax7) causing the rattling in my PJ. I had it turned on and would play a loud low note as I touched each tube with a pencil eraser, and touching V1 stopped the rattle. I replaced it with an old RCA 12ax7 I had laying around, and rattle has been gone for months.

Another source of rattle is if you have some of the cord folded up and laying inside the amp. Also sympathetic rattle occurring in an object nearby, which seems like it's coming from the amp. Take it into another room and see what happens.

Is the power tube retainer still on yours? If so, does it have grommets in it?




I haven't had problems with the PJ panel screws stripping, but they are very fine machine threads and you have to be very careful that you get them started correctly, or they can strip. Also make sure to use a good screwdriver of the right size (not saying you didn't, but some folks try to use a number 1 phillips to drive number 2 screws). And of course, do not use a power screwdriver. This is where you want to use a hand screwdriver. I like to use the ratcheting kind, so you can apply constant pressure as you turn it.
Thanks for info. You are very right - V1 is buzzing a bit. But that does not annoy me. It was metal chassis vibrating into cab that drove me nuts, but as true guitarist I inserted two picks to stop it and it stopped now playing and smiling- I hope no more issues
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Old December 21st, 2012, 01:46 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I read recently that as far back as the early 70s, I think, the Dead road crew would make their Fender amps more road-worthy. I always wondered what that entailed. What would make sense with that, tube sockets? Surely they weren't going into the amps with soldering irons and replacing caps, were they? I wish I could remember where I read that. Possible a book on the Dead gear that was out a while back.
Larry, I would think that the first thing they would have done would have been to install spring tube retainers on the octal tubes. Maybe they replaced the particle board baffleboards with better, stronger plywood? Or maybe they would have simply reinforced the board that was there in the case of the glued-in baffleboards?

AS for these inexpensively-built modern amps..... They are what they are. IF two guitar picks cured the rattling, then pull the chassis and install some rubber strips to quiten the rattle permanently....using proper tools so as not to bung up the screws. (I have never ruined a screw---with or without a powerdriver.) The PCB is inexpensively built with everything built into the PCB including the tube sockets.
AS for the "And you're still left with a really crappy reverb tank." observation by Randy, ime it isn't the tank but rather the solid state reverb circuit that yields the cold and harsh reverb signals. These are not all-tube amps.
All of the FEnder amps....and all other industry offerings in the same price range....are built the same way. IF you want better build quality, spend more money by buying Fener's Pro Series, Reissue series or Custom Shop amps....or other companies' offerings that are built with at least chassis mounted tube sockets and tube reverb circuits. OR...buy vintage.
I recently offered a fellow a certain Fender amp that was built in 1997...perfect cosmetic and operational condition. This amp is built better than the Pro SEries or the Reissue Series in that it has chassis mounted pots, jacks, and switches. IF Fender built this amp today, it would list at $3K or maybe a bit more and street price at $$1700-2000---my guess. He opted to pay almost as much for a new Blues Deluxe that has the cheap build that this Pro Jr. has. His loss. I am actually glad he didn't buy it. I had priced the amp before I looked at the chassis. I had thought that it was like the Reissues in that the front panel pots and jacks were on a PCB of theier own. I was amazed to see high-quality chassis mounted jacks, pots and switches....hardwired to the PCB. All of the back panel jacks and switches were high quality...no plastic housings....and chassis mounted, too.
The sonics of this amp are top-notch, to boot.....clean to tweed to high-gain...it does a lot of things very well.
The old saying holds true.....you get what you pay for.
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Old December 21st, 2012, 01:57 PM   #13 (permalink)
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As soon as Fender gets on board, please advise GM , Chrysler and Ford !

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It's the same manufacturing philosophy led by the same "bean counters" who like to point out that it's only $2 to the consumer but the way they see it it's $2 per unit x two million units = $4 mil so we just saved you enough money to cover our bonuses for the year.

I think this thought process is pretty universal and no matter how much we may complain it's not gonna change. The sales and marketing staff will never even consider bringing that one up. No CEO of CFO will ever believe a buyer will nit pick at that level before buying anything.

But that's not to say I don't agree that they couldn't do better. It's only to explain why it's highly unlikely they ever will.
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Old December 21st, 2012, 02:13 PM   #14 (permalink)
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with or without a powerdriver.
I use a screw gun daily in my work, but for what I consider more delicate work, like on an amp, I just prefer doing it by hand. When using a power driver you can slip and damage something, or strip the screw threads before you realize it. Going slower by hand, using a ratchet screwdriver with changeable/hardened bits, you can feel any increased resistance that happens if it's beginning to cross thread etc., and you maintain better control IMHO.

Of course, I completely understand that for you, as an amp pro, using a power driver on them is second nature and saves a lot of time, and you probably use a small one, with low rpm.

Main thing is using a good and proper-sized bit, and not rushing it.
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Old December 21st, 2012, 02:58 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Fender in the 50's and 60's were professional grade products marketed to professional musicians or someone with serious aspirations to be one. A Dual Showman or a Twin Reverb with JBL's cost as much as a decent used car.

The garage band boom changed all that. Pre CBS, Fender was what we'd call a boutique amp company. From that point on changes in the amps were made either for marketing or profit margin considerations. For the most part, Fender amps are not in the "quality amp" market. The more "professional" products exist as "halo" products to keep the Fender Mystique alive, as I don't perceive Fender makes much money on these, but I'm just guessing. I've looked under the hood of a Fender 5E3, and the workmanship is on a par with what some of the boutique builders are doing, (albeit at a lower price in most cases) so they are capable of making amp's built to the highest standards.

Even the reissue series amps are really "Mid Priced" products, save for the handwired ones.

But a company the size of Fender has to be able to market products to the masses.

Now, the Pro Jr. is one of the least expensive "all tube" amps you can buy in it's power range, with only an amp like the Kustom Defender being any less expensive. Enter "15 watt Tube Combo" in E-bay's search (ordered by price, highest first) and see how far you scroll down before "Fender" comes up.
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Old December 22nd, 2012, 09:16 AM   #16 (permalink)
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There was a time when Fender made high quality equipment for pros. Now they make low end garbage.

Sad but true.
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Old December 22nd, 2012, 10:24 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Fender isn't the only company that uses that type of (poor) construction. The Marshall 2000 DSL 401 comes to mind... Tubes mounted directly on a flimsy circuit board; even worse they were mounted under it so where is the heat going to go? Up! Oh, look, they included a fan to blow the heat where? So the board can get convection going and cook evenly I guess. This is no JCM800 2203 type construction going on here!

Ever see the inside of a Crate Blue Voodoo 120H? All of the controls are mounted directly to the main PCB. At least they put the power tubes sockets on a daughter board, but the preamp tube sockets are still on the main board. Hit one of those control knobs hard moving it, and its not going to be a fun day to repair.

I know they have to make them to a certain price point, but these type of issues are a major turn off in an amp. How much labor is really saved by putting the tube sockets on the board itself? How many dollars are saved by not at least having a second PCB for the controls, or better yet mounting them to the chassis? I know its a little bit of soldering to make them that way, but if they are already being made in China/Korea/Next Cheap Labor Source -- how much does it really change the bottom line? How much more does it cost to use a thicker PCB? Or in the case of Bugera (an amp I own, love, and know is disposable) ...was it really cheaper to save .55 per amp and deal with the cost of returns, and warranty repairs than to do it right the first time? Or to leave off a $1 heat sink?
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Old December 22nd, 2012, 11:24 AM   #18 (permalink)
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It's not just a Fender thing. Many industries now espouse lean manufacture where they constantly strive to reduce cost in a product - particularly when talking wbout volume manufacure. As someone noted, if you can reduce the cost of an individual product by 2 cents you are makings a huge saving over the entire output which can then be fed back to your investors....
The lower volume guys trading on perceived quality can afford to put the most expensive components in 'cos people will pay for it. Nobody would drop that kind of cash on a bog standard Pro Junior....
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Old December 22nd, 2012, 12:33 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Mike Eskimo View Post
I've had cheap combos to very expensive combos - they all rattle - to one degree or another.

If you reply to this thread "Mine never rattle/buzz/vibrate !", well - just wait - it'll start next week...
My Mesa/Boogie Lonestar Special and Swart AST Master didn't rattle.
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Old December 22nd, 2012, 12:53 PM   #20 (permalink)
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My Mesa/Boogie Lonestar Special and Swart AST Master didn't rattle.
Then you're not playing loud enough!

With time, stuff loosens up. Every amp will, at some point start to rattle, if you keep it long enough. You can become a fanatic about it applying locktite to every nut and screw, or start to recognise noises and periodically tighten things that you know lossen up. It's a bit like owning an older motorcycle.
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