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Old March 5th, 2013, 11:57 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Vintage tone: hype or no hype?

All right, before this topic goes moribound, I'll ask a question. Is vintage tone hype or not? Now, I'm not talking about the quality of the old amps, because being honest I doubt we'll see too many amps produced today running forty or fifty years from now. But the sound, the tone of these old amps - Marshalls, Fenders, Supros, whatever - are they really superior to amps made today.

Personally. I say no. I don't think there's anything mystical or magical about old amps. In other words, no mojo. New amps sound just as good - or bad - as the ones made back in the day. Just my $.02, for whatever that may be worth.

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Old March 5th, 2013, 12:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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In many cases....vintage tone....is running an old amp, with out-of-spec resistors and capacitors.
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Old March 5th, 2013, 12:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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i think most of the old amps when new sound better than the amps of today...unless you have an original recreation of an old tube amp.

i say this in comparison to mass produced amplifiers....just like they were in the old days..

also tubes are another consideration....no way todays tubes are as good as the old tubes when they are in original condition/new.....tubes are a biggie.

i think that an amp can be made today that is as good as an old one was in new condition......but most dont do it and it is very expensive...thats why i think a fender dual showman reverb is the best head out there for the money....even if it needs recapped ect....same for an old twin reverb if you are looking for a combo.

i think if you have metro amps make you a recreation of an original `1966 marshall jtm 45/100 with all original caps and MERREN exact repro transformers, choke, voltages ect...and all original nos tubes....i think you will have the same thing that it was originally. same with their 10,000 and 12,000 series plexis....

these amps are very expensive and no expense is spared which goes to show you what it takes to recreate a vintage hand wired marshall clone of yesteryear with all original parts and tubes.

i dont know what metro amps charges for original NOS tubes but i priced them and to retube a 66 marshall jtm 45/100 with all original tubes is 3000 US DOOLLARS.!!!!!!!

you can get him to use sozo caps and newer tubes and save substantially...but to me that is a compromise...especially on the tubes...

so yes i believe a new amp can be made as well and sound as good as the old 1's....but it cant be done on the cheap and also be as proven reliable as the vintage amps have proven to be.....

pcb can be made to be as good as ptp but not many manufacturers ( if any ) do this as it is time consuming and also very very expensive...ptp is also much easier to work on.
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Old March 5th, 2013, 02:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Vintage mojo? I've been messing with amps awhile now and tried alot of things to get that vintage tone. Trannys, resisters, capacitors, wire, tubes, speakers, wood, solder, pots, you name it I tried it.
It's in the grill cloth ! You have to get the old stuff. I just hauled three very heavy organ cabs home in the old Volvo wagan. Had to put the seat all the way forword to fit um in so I drove home with my nose on the windshield, my back hurts and the speakers weren't anything to brag about.

But I got vintage grill cloth !
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Old March 5th, 2013, 03:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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IF....you can handle a soldering iron, restoring an older amp is NOT that *expensive.
* Assuming that ALL the original iron is still good?
Electrolytic capacitors and metal/carbon film resistors are (usually) relatively inexpensive.
Even replacing the usually leaky paper coupling caps, can be done fairly cheaply, either with Mallory 150 or Sprague 716P (Orange Drop) film caps.
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Old March 5th, 2013, 03:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Tubes are a biggie. I just had my five year old DRRI completely re-tubed and now it roars.
The tech used JJ's as he always does. I wouldn't think of not changing them out every few years depending on how many hours you put on them.
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Old March 5th, 2013, 04:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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My vintage faves are 66 Gemini II and 66 Reverberocket. I haven't played any modern amp with that sound.

I have a Marsh Amps Big Texan that sounds every bit as good as any of the 6 vintage Vibroverbs I've played.

Depends on what the sound you're after...
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Old March 5th, 2013, 08:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You gotta love the old ones. Takes me to a different place. I get a rush when I find a cool old amp. I understand why guys like the new stuff. It's more reliable and I think in many cases the tone is just as good or better than vintage. There are some really cool new amps. I have a newer Vox that I love and I would like to have a new DRRI. I also have a 58 tweed Princeton that I am always rediscovering. The old ones do something to something to me that the new ones don't. I think alot of people feel this way about old stuff in general. I am a student of history and I find the history of amps (and many other things) very cool and interesting. But if you don't get it, that's fine too. Nothing wrong with liking what you like.
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Old March 5th, 2013, 11:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I has the vintage fingers....does that count
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Old March 5th, 2013, 11:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The hype is real. It's what amp makers strive for today. If anyone gets it, they'll take all the business and make all the money. Hasn't happened yet...
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Old March 6th, 2013, 08:50 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Hype for sure and in a big way. The fact is, the 'mass' production of guitars and amps today, are far superior with consistency and tighter tolerances, than from the good O'l days. The 'Hand wired' amps today, are very costly and for a good reason...they are going to even greater lengths than ever before, to ensure, that the amp is crafted with absolute perfection and consistency.

On a Day to day basis, technology will win out with regards to producing a superior product, than from the old days of 'hands on'. I will say again, if you want a 'hands on' guitar amp or even guitar, you will pay greatly for it, because of the painstaking task it will take to compete with modern technology and advancements.

Consider this...older cars and motorcycles, looked much nicer than todays rides, but they are No way better than todays rides with regards to reliability and performance. Don't let Nostalgia, override your better since of judgment

One other thing I might add...just because you can find more amps and guitars made today in the junk or for sell on Ebay or craigslist, is by No means and indication of less superiority from days gone by. We didn't have the internet for buying and selling in the old days. Also, it was a different mindset than todays generation of 'Product ownership'. Everything today, is easy come easy go... Values and appreciations have changed, especially in the face of modern technology.
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Old March 6th, 2013, 09:18 AM   #12 (permalink)
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When it comes to amps, the simpler the circuit, the better the sound. Most of the amps from the 1950s that sound good have simple circuits. Good tubes help, and bad tubes hurt.
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Old March 6th, 2013, 12:54 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Modern amp builders suffer from modern ideas of tone. OOO that bass is too flabby, not enough tight end, the highs aren't deep enough, I think I'll make it master volume with a drive channel as well. You'll never equal the old amps if you do that.
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Old March 6th, 2013, 01:03 PM   #14 (permalink)
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I loved my DRRI when I got it, best thing I'd ever heard. That got me interested in the vintage ones. The Silverface DR just blew away the DRRI.
I've since added Blackface, Brownface and built a couple of handwired amps.

The DRRI sits in the closet, and gets played a couple of days every 6 months or so just to keep the electrolytics from drying out.

Most amps produced today are made to make noise for a couple of years, then get thrown away.
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Old March 6th, 2013, 01:17 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Vintage circuits in new boxes work for me.
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Old March 6th, 2013, 01:30 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I should stay out of this one.

It has come to my attention that many musicians view amps as inscrutable boxes. Plug in one end, sound comes out the other. Many of 'em have no idea what happens in between and more to the point, a lot of 'em just don't care.

I'm constantly amazed how many musicians... even guys who work on amps... don't really know what's goin' on in there.

There is plenty of technology that might seem crude today but was the top of its game back in the day. Even stuff that seemed crude at the time but is still goin' all these years later. Things like the VW Bug, the '39-'82 Triumph motorcycle, any aircooled Porsche, the '86-'93 Suzuki GSXR, the classic motorcycle "Police" jacket, Levi jeans, Cove Shoe Cocroran WWII paratrooper boots, the Waring blender, the Hoover or Electrolux vacuum cleaner, the Fender Telecaster, the Fender Stratocaster, the '57-'60 Gibson Les Paul, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, any tweed Fender amp, any '60s Fender amp, any Marshall through JCM800, etc..


The old stuff was put together with good parts when those parts were current technology. Those old tubes, resistors and capacitors were the best we had. You know what? It's like tryin' to be Elvis all over again. We can't do any better today. Seriously. The old tubes, old sockets, fuse holders, knobs... all that stuff is killer quality. The end result is at least as good as the sum of its parts. I track down NOS 50+ year old sockets because the new ones suck by comparison. Some of the new parts are junk, not even usable. Same with tubes. NOS old ones are great. I've heard guys complain, "My amp ate three rectifiers in three weeks! What's wrong with it?" Well... while it may not be as good as the 1965 original it's trying to emulate it eats tubes because some of the new tubes are crap.


There's not a direct co-relation price to quality but try to buy a well preserved '50s Tele, Strat or Les Paul. Yeah, all those gullible rich people pay too much for those beat up old guitars. That's how rich people become rich, by just tossin' money at poor investments.


There are some killer bargains to be had in vintage amps right now. Almost any silverface Fender amp is cheap. I can't build anything like it for that money. They're selling for less than the sum of the parts. Take a 40 y.o. Twin Reverb, treat it to a cap job and a set of NOS tubes. That amp deserves it by now. Figure out what the amp cost new, divide that by how many years it's been a useful tool and you'll find it owes you nothing. If anything it's your turn to give a little back, thus the fresh tubes and cap job.


Old guitars and old amps are durable goods. They come from an era when things were built with pride. You weren't supposed to use up a man's labor and just toss it in the dump. Doesn't seem like a good idea when I put it in those terms, does it? This stuff was built to last. There is no reason a 40, 50 or 60 year old guitar and amp doesn't have another 40, 50 or 60 years of reliable service left in it.



Anything built today using the same parts, the same process and the same work ethic will perform like the vintage stuff used to when it was NEW.


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Old March 6th, 2013, 04:08 PM   #17 (permalink)
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[QUOTE=muchxs;4869397]I should stay out of this one.

It has come to my attention that many musicians view amps as inscrutable boxes. Plug in one end, sound comes out the other. Many of 'em have no idea what happens in between and more to the point, a lot of 'em just don't care.

I'm constantly amazed how many musicians... even guys who work on amps... don't really know what's goin' on in there.

There is plenty of technology that might seem crude today but was the top of its game back in the day. Even stuff that seemed crude at the time but is still goin' all these years later. Things like the VW Bug, the '39-'82 Triumph motorcycle, any aircooled Porsche, the '86-'93 Suzuki GSXR, the classic motorcycle "Police" jacket, Levi jeans, Cove Shoe Cocroran WWII paratrooper boots, the Waring blender, the Hoover or Electrolux vacuum cleaner, the Fender Telecaster, the Fender Stratocaster, the '57-'60 Gibson Les Paul, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, any tweed Fender amp, any '60s Fender amp, any Marshall through JCM800, etc..


The old stuff was put together with good parts when those parts were current technology. Those old tubes, resistors and capacitors were the best we had. You know what? It's like tryin' to be Elvis all over again. We can't do any better today. Seriously. The old tubes, old sockets, fuse holders, knobs... all that stuff is killer quality. The end result is at least as good as the sum of its parts. I track down NOS 50+ year old sockets because the new ones suck by comparison. Some of the new parts are junk, not even usable. Same with tubes. NOS old ones are great. I've heard guys complain, "My amp ate three rectifiers in three weeks! What's wrong with it?" Well... while it may not be as good as the 1965 original it's trying to emulate it eats tubes because some of the new tubes are crap.


There's not a direct co-relation price to quality but try to buy a well preserved '50s Tele, Strat or Les Paul. Yeah, all those gullible rich people pay too much for those beat up old guitars. That's how rich people become rich, by just tossin' money at poor investments.


There are some killer bargains to be had in vintage amps right now. Almost any silverface Fender amp is cheap. I can't build anything like it for that money. They're selling for less than the sum of the parts. Take a 40 y.o. Twin Reverb, treat it to a cap job and a set of NOS tubes. That amp deserves it by now. Figure out what the amp cost new, divide that by how many years it's been a useful tool and you'll find it owes you nothing. If anything it's your turn to give a little back, thus the fresh tubes and cap job.


Old guitars and old amps are durable goods. They come from an era when things were built with pride. You weren't supposed to use up a man's labor and just toss it in the dump. Doesn't seem like a good idea when I put it in those terms, does it? This stuff was built to last. There is no reason a 40, 50 or 60 year old guitar and amp doesn't have another 40, 50 or 60 years of reliable service left in it.



Anything built today using the same parts, the same process and the same work ethic will perform like the vintage stuff used to when it was NEW.

+20...couldnt agree more and really nothing to add....good components = a good product...any compromise and you have just that.....a compromise.....and dont get me wrong...there are good amps made today...even many of the reissues...but they are not the amps of old.

ive said the same thing about tubes...no way are they as good as yesteryear.. back then they were using them for everything..military....medical ect and had to be very durable ( durable goods just like you said ) and everything else that went with them had to be up to par too..i.e......sockets ect...just like you said...people depended on these parts for more than just amplifiers.

it amazes me too, when i see that people go through so many tubes so quickly... good tubes in an old amp that is up to spec will last a really really long time......

many things of today are not meant to last.....most mass produced amps are 1 of them..
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Old March 6th, 2013, 06:04 PM   #18 (permalink)
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No body will pay people to make decent components everyone wants amps to be $2.50. When you go to the effort and price a decent amp like muchxs says its cheaper to get a vintage one and pay one of the few people left on the planet to rebuild it and you are set. That's what life is now always building down to the cheapest price and throw it away when it goes wrong, there are a few people out there trying there best to do something different but its not enough to get decent components made....yet.
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Old March 6th, 2013, 06:46 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Vintage tubes can make a huge difference! I use Mullards in my modded blues jnr and it sounds great!!
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Old March 6th, 2013, 06:49 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Vintage tubes can make a huge difference! I use Mullards in my modded blues jnr and it sounds great!!
Am I sensing some irony, or....?
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