63 VVRI: Initial Impressions

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Luthier Vandros, Jun 4, 2019.

  1. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Nice! That thing looks clean, clean, clean. Cleaner than mine, that's for sure.

    The '63 VVRi is one of the best out there, IMNSHO. The construction is good, the tone is spectacular.

    Funny thing is, they made about ten times the number of reissues as originals, before changing aesthetics and dirtying it up a bit to make the CVR. For a long time, the Custom Vibrolux Reverb was the longest run of production amps for Fender.

    I have also contemplated punching in another tube socket and trying a tube rectifier.... Until I started using Copper Caps in a couple other amps because I had a few problems with Rectifier tubes. LOL . I do, however, do need to do the adjustable bias mod when I get a workshop again. I did need to do the caps last year. Mine were starting to go.

    Welcome to the VVRI club!
     
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  2. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Right on Axis29.

    Ha, when I met the seller he mentioned researching the amp and a prolific poster about it with a huge stogie. I laughed out loud because I knew he was referring to you. I told him I had read every thread you posted about the amp when I was doing the same. Lots of outstanding knowledge here.

    In order to use a tube recto, there’s a small board that lies just above the space for the socket requiring a relo or hand-wiring. Otherwise, there’s a trick with a resistor and inductor, iirc, that can be used to dynamically simulate rectifier sag. I’ll think on the solution a bit, but I enjoy how the notes seem to percussively fire from the fretboard. What a fun amp to play.

    I’d love to do the bias pot mod, but need to research the implementation. I think the bias resistor is on the trem board up front. Not certain. Either way, the amp seems pretty spot on. No red-plating or harsh tones and the trem has a wide range of hypnotic tones. I have a bias probe that I need to hook up, so I can see what’s going on. All of my tools, well the amp stuff, is in storage at the moment.

    Cheers, all.
     
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  3. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Yeah, @Luthier Vandros I seem to have built up a tad bit of a reputation. My Momma always said, 'better to be known for something, rather than nothing!'

    My stuff is in storage right now (and I'm also recovering from knee replacement surgery), so nothing's gonna get done to mine for a while. But, it'll be fun to see what you find and what you decide to do.
     
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  4. gridlock

    gridlock Friend of Leo's

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    Congrats OP, your amp looks really clean.
    Very jealous. Wish that I kept mine.
     
  5. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Here’s to a speedy recovery brother.

    Gridlock, thanks. She’s got some love rash, but I dig it. Makes me feel like I can take her out to party.
     
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  6. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Alright, turns out that "spare" hole on the back of some 63 VVRIs is where my ground polarity switch is, so I'm going to rethink where to place the bias pot. I could technically compare the revised schematics against mine to properly remove the switch, but I think it could come in handy on rare occasions. Much less rare than my adjusting of the bias.
     
  7. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Some tube pron. More to come. Found a rare sleeve of early 60’s GE 12AX7s. Will take some shots of the others soon. Good evening, all.

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  8. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    The original owner’s manual. Pardon the lighting.


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  9. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I honestly don't think that switch is hooked up to anything... I'll have to see if I have any gut shot photos, or can find some. But, i think it's just a switch, hooked to nothing. The three prong cord makes it no longer useful.
     
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  10. dannyh

    dannyh Tele-Afflicted

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    That's a nice one, OP...way cleaner than mine. Kinda rare to see one with the original speakers these days. Somebody took good care of that amp.

    I did the bias pot mod and had the E-Caps replaced on mine (they were 27 years old...), but I left the rectifier alone. I've got several tube rect. amps and the quick response of the VV is kinda nice sometimes.

    As far as the RI vs an Orig, a buddy of mine has an original and we did a brief comparison one day, nothing too in depth, but for the most part the amps were similar enough for me. There was a definite difference like you'd find comparing any RI vs a 50 year old original, but the similarities were close enough, or were for me at least. I think the Vibroverb was a bit of a "transitional" model anyway, at least sonically. Compare a Vibroverb to a brown Super and you'll find the VV to lean a little more towards the blackface sound than the Super, at least IME.

    Doesn't matter really, the VVRI is a great amp on its own. Glad yours found an appreciative home.
     
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  11. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Electronic version of the owner's manual. On the fifth page, item B states:

    "GROUND SWITCH - The GROUND SWITCH is not functional, and is there to preserve the original appearance of the amplifier. The switch is not present in 100V, 230V, and 240V units"

    Funny how they preserved some appearance items, but not others (like RCA plugs for the reverb send/receive or the rectifier tube socket)
     
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  12. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    DannyH, that's a cool comparison. I bet there were differences in tone between any two originals back in the day.

    Axis, weird documentation. There are spade lugs on that circuit board that are intended for export use only, but there are wires connected there on mine.

    The schematic also shows the ground switch is able to toggle the ground's connection to either white or black PT primary lead. The white primary lead has a NTC thermistor connected in series.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  13. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

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    I remember them.from ads , but have never seen one here.
    I would snap it up if I came across one
     
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  14. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    ^ I'm hoping this serves as a good photo-documentary for others who stumble across this rare gem of an amp. Damn, what a great amp!

    Minor update. Went to the storage unit and rummaged through my parts bins.

    *I replaced the broken octal bear trap with one I found there and will use the one coming today to prophylactically replace the other.

    *I also hit on a stash of 22uf/500v F&T electrolytics, but looking at the original schem, I might consider downgrading these to 16uf/475s or 450s. If we look at the published variances for the filters, we can see potential swings of +/- 20% on some, so might be a moot point. If the variance swings to the right, the low end will be a bit stiffer than I'd ideally like. I find overfiltering really strips the feel from an amp and makes things more lifeless sounding. Just my personal experience.

    *This raises a question about that 47uf/350 on the main board of the RI. I wasn't able to find this one on the rail of the original's schem, but my precaffeinated eyes might be deceiving me.

    *I also hit on a small stash of surplus bias pots from previous builds. Blast, none of them are 10K, but I do have a 25K and 50K that I could use. The 50K is nice and compact. The 25K is a huge PEC locking pot. Of course, I do have a proper 10K pot incoming - in the interest of wasting money as I do on parts.

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    I wouldn't know what value resistor to use with these pots on hand, to be honest. My preference for octals to use with Fenders is the mighty Philips 6L6WGB, which others have found requires a 5K tail resistor along with the 10K pot to bring into range. Hopefully I'll have one of these resistors on hand, bu I have some digging to do.

    Edit: The following combo will give me a ton of range

    R58: 2.5K
    R59: The little blue 50KL pot in series with a 10K resistor
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
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  15. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I honestly think mine was unconnected... But, I still gotta go see if I snapped any pics (I don't think so).
     
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  16. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Alright. That 47uf/350 is feeding v5. I believe the originals have 5x16uf in the doghouse and nothing on the fishpaper.

    Can anyone confirm if my eyes are deceiving me? Does the RI have an extra stage of preamp filtering?

    Edit: It looks like the original 6g16 has v5 talking plate supply at node B along the rail. The RI doesn’t. Why is it using an extra filter? Why is it over twice the capacitance vs the original? Vibrato cap?

    I’m contemplating loosening up v5’s filtering. Im going to run 16uf caps under the doghouse per the original. Late night contemplations. This might restore the lost compression that the purists whine about. Less filtering for the screens and PI can help here, but that extra cap is perplexing me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
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  17. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Holic

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    Congrats on a great amp. I got one used from a friend not long after they came out. I'm starting to wonder if I'm the only one who never modded one of these. The speakers break up when pushed around 5 but I hardly play that loud anymore. Mine was been gently used for a weekly jam until a few years ago and still has the original tubes. I know it could sound better but it sounds pretty fine as is.

    Here are some shots I took today.

    63_VVRI_front.jpg
    63_VVRI_back.jpg
    63_VVRI_chassis.jpg
     
  18. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    She’s a beaut! You may be one of the few to not mod it, but that does not make you crazy for leaving her stock. Plenty of good sounds with the oem configuration.
     
  19. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    So, I decided not to install a bias pot for the time being. A little tweaking of R58/59 got me into the ~65% range, which sounds really sweet. My first resistor swap brought the mA down to ~22 per tube and the trem was popping to the beat of its rate. Very interesting learning experience. I believe I settled on -

    R58: 4.7K
    R59: 22K

    Another thought is that I'm missing the lo-fi quality of the reissue Oxfords. So counterintuitive considering the wealth of demoralizing barbs posted about them online. The Emmi GA10-SC64's are really good sounding drivers, but there's something about the Oxfords that have me tempted to swap them back in.

    Finally, the 16UF/475 filter caps are arriving today. I'll pop them in tomorrow and will update this thread with any observations if they are noteworthy.

    Anything else I attempt to do beyond this point won’t yield any real improvements in tone. It’ll be playing near the edge of that canyon I often fall into, where I improve something until it’s broken. Amp was excellent, if not biased cold, stock.

    Cheers and Happy Monday, gang.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
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  20. Luthier Vandros

    Luthier Vandros Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    The amount of reverb on hand in this amp is almost hilarious. The amount with the dial on 4 is ludicrous. It’s as though the resistor that controls the dwell is really letting the tail hang out there. Surprised by how quiet the circuit is in general. Even on 10 there’s just a hint of some feedback developing. I’ll know I did something wrong in life if I come back as a 12at7 reverb driver in a fender amp lol.

    Decided I prefer the Emmies best, so in they go tomorrow.

    Gnite!
     
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