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BassBreaker 15 vs 5e3 Tweed Deluxe

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by anthrotony, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. anthrotony

    anthrotony Tele-Meister

    Age:
    60
    106
    Oct 23, 2017
    UK
    Hi everyone,

    Some of you know that I play a BB15 and am about to build a 5e3 clone.

    I've looked around but have found no comparisons between the 5e3 and the BB15, although a few people have commented that the cleans of the newer Fender are perhaps similar to those of the Tweed amps.

    Does anyone have actual experience with both amps? I have to assume that they really are nothing alike, but if, indeed, the 5e3's cleans and milder overdriven tones can be closely simulated on the BassBreaker, then I might consider changing my build plans for something quite different, perhaps a Blackface Princeton Reverb, or even a Brownface Princeton.

    I'd appreciate any comments you might have, although to be sure, any comparison would probably be more accurate if the 5e3 is not a vintage original!
     
  2. anthrotony

    anthrotony Tele-Meister

    Age:
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    106
    Oct 23, 2017
    UK
    Bump -- no thoughts?
     
  3. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Holic

    659
    Sep 26, 2015
    Maldon, England
    In what context will you be playing the 5e3? Not enough headroom for gigging, and too loud for home use.
     
  4. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    61
    Sep 2, 2016
    Houston, TX
    I haven’t played a 5e3 but I have heard them on many recordings, and it is high (at the top) on my wish list.

    I do own a BB15 though, and love it. As I understand it they are more brownface sounding than tweed, but cannot confirm that myself. It sounds closer to tweed than blackface to me, but like you hope to hear from someone who owns (or has owned) both as well.
     
  5. ce24

    ce24 Friend of Leo's

    Jan 26, 2008
    Idahoastan
    I gig mine...4 piece rock band..... How is it not a gigging machine?
     
    Piotr likes this.
  6. anthrotony

    anthrotony Tele-Meister

    Age:
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    106
    Oct 23, 2017
    UK
    Hey Uncle Daddy, I'm pretty sure you've been very helpful to me in the past, so thanks for chiming in here. The main use will be at home and playing at rehearsal volumes with some band mates. Absolutely a loud amp, got that. I've designed in to my build the very simple master volume and, in case I don't like that, I have a VVR circuit to build in as well. From my research between the two I would be able to get good tones at more reasonable volumes. Oh, both circuits are fully bypassable so the amp would maintain its "original" integrity.

    We are clearly in the same boat! But in my case, I already have all of the components to build the 5e3 with a few enhancements that can be bypassed out of the circuit to maintain integrity. But with these components I could quite easily build a brown face Princeton or a BF Princeton Reverb instead. I'm trying to get the best overall selection of tones available to me. So yes, that's why I was hoping someone had some realise experience to share. The BB15 -- sometimes I love it, sometimes not, but that could be when I'm not happy with my playing!!! I have a chronic illness which makes playing guitar not as easy as it used to be for me (I used to teach, but now I just strive to get good tones, at fairly pedestrian speeds!). I do also play through my old 1998 HotRod Deville 410 as well, and I enjoy that as a clean platform, but would never pretend that it gets close to blackface tones, and sure as hell doesn't get to tweeds without a good pedal in front of it.

    i think that Uncle Daddy was referring more to the 5e3's lack of clean headroom, which means that for many people, playing clean tones in a band setting would require them to mic the amp through the PA. On the other hand, getting into overdriven tones will develop a lot of sound pressure level! Hope you like your 5e3!!!

    Thanks everyone!!!
     
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  7. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Holic

    659
    Sep 26, 2015
    Maldon, England
    I've got two 5e3 amps (and a Tweed Super just for luck!), one that'll take 6L6s, and one stock. The 6L6 version also has a VVR fitted to the power section, and to be honest, it doesn't perform much like a regular 5e3 in that it's pretty difficult to get any kind of breakup at a low volume as the VVR restricts the power tubes. Still a nice sounding amp, but the bigger transformers give it way more headroom and not much of that 5e3 dirt.

    The other one I built to be the opposite, with a smaller output transformer as per the original, to give that earlier compression. I tried it with a Pre-phase inverter master volume, and that would get it into breakup territory that would keep the neighbours happy, but it sounded a bit thin without the full driving sound of the power section. Neither amps are particularly useful for home use, and in fact I tend to use the 2x10 Super more at home as the volume is much more controllable as a clean platform.

    Compared to the twin, both Deluxes sound small and boxy, much like a Champ with more volume. The Super sounds more like a real amplifier should, being way more versatile. It's been said that the deluxe is a one trick pony, and that's true enough if that's all you want the amp to do.

    Interestingly, I'm that bored of Deluxes I've just started on a blackface princeton reverb build.
     
  8. ce24

    ce24 Friend of Leo's

    Jan 26, 2008
    Idahoastan
    Go to any concert and the amps are mic'd... It's all about tone let the PA do the heavy lifting.... Plenty of clean in a 5e3 doing this.
     
  9. anthrotony

    anthrotony Tele-Meister

    Age:
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    Oct 23, 2017
    UK
    Indeed. Hence my original question about the "nature" of the clean tone. Very hard to find anything really useful online, so I've been trying to figure out how it differs from the clean tone of a BassBreaker 15. :)
     
  10. anthrotony

    anthrotony Tele-Meister

    Age:
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    106
    Oct 23, 2017
    UK
    Thanks Uncle Daddy,

    Sorry about taking a few hours to respond to your very helpful post, but I haven't looked at amp builds for about a year or so (international move and annoying chronic health issue), and so I'd forgotten all about the Tweed Super. I had to look into it. Sounds like a very nice amp, though obviously a lot louder than a 5e3. But if I understand you right, even so, it is still easier to dial in "better" "fuller" lower-volume tones. I was getting all excited about this new possibility, especially as I also have my concerns about what MV or VVR do the fullness of the tone of the 5e3, but then realised that my power and output (I have a 15W Hammond) trannies won't allow me to build the Super! Oh well.

    I guess my real issue right now, is that after playing my BassBreaker 15 for a couple of years, I can definitely say that its MV is very good, but of course the amp sounds thin when the volume is really lowered. So I try not to lower the volume that much, but that afore-mentioned health issue might also be influencing the way I perceive the cleans and edge-of-breakup Tones of the BB15. And not in a good way -- I find it more and more difficult to dial in a clean tone that really satisfies me. This is where I'm coming from when I mention that I fall back to using my HRDv which I just now find more pleasant. This is what's been making me question the value of building a 5e3 -- am I going to be equally as dissatisfied with its cleaner tones and more moderate volumes as I am with the BB15? I've never played a 5e3 and would like to actually hear for myself why there's so much mystique about it. Obviously I've heard loads of musicians use the amp, but that's not the same.

    And that's why I've been considering changing direction and building the Princeton Reverb. Without poring over the schematics, I think that most of the components I'm hoarding would be transferable to the alternative build. For sure, my trannies would be fine, and that's probably the most expensive part of a build. I wouldn't be able to use the VVR circuit I have, but I suspect that it's not really necessary, although I'm not quite sure how load the PR would be at edge-of-breakup tones, maybe still VERY loud!

    I'm going to spend some time looking at the PR schematics to see what's involved, but I'm leaning slightly towards doing that rather than the 5e3.
     
  11. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Holic

    659
    Sep 26, 2015
    Maldon, England
    "Louder" is an interesting concept when it comes to amps! Sure, my Super at 25-30 watts will be louder than the Deluxe at 12-15, but not twice as loud. The logarithmic factor requires that "twice as loud" required 10x the power (everything else being equal). I noticed this when I fitted the EC Tremolux power reduction into my Deluxe- at 1/4 power it barely made a dent in the volume. I changed the resistors down to 1/10th power, and that gave me about a 50% volume reduction, making the amp way more usable in the house. The biggest problem with the deluxe is the way the power is delivered. It goes from zero to "WILL YOU TURN THAT DOWN" with almost nothing in between, getting more compressed and saturated as you go round the dial. The Deluxe has been described as a dirt pedal with a 12" speaker, and that pretty much sums it up. The Super, on the other hand, delivers the goods much as you'd expect a more conventional amp to do, with the breakup and saturation much further round. It'll play as a whisper quiet clean practice amp in the house, and a fire breather in a bigger room.

    Weber is now doing a Super kit with TM&B, with a mid knob instead of a Presence control. I'm guessing this would make an excellent project. Tweed amps are notorious for heavy mids; being able to dial them down to give a more blackface scoop would essentially give you two amps in one, and be way more versatile than any Deluxe.
     
  12. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    59
    Mar 2, 2010
    Maine
    A 5e3 built well with top shelf parts might be a better amp than the BB15, but the BB15 might make a wider range of sounds.
    We don't know which you will like better.
    If you find the 5e3 gives you nothing you can't get from your BB15, turn it into a Proluxe.
    There are PT's that work for both so you'd just need to buy another OT.
    If you build a 5e3 with a Proluxe OT it will not be a 5e3, so you won't know what you missed.
    I may be wrong about the PT as well though, but I think there is a PT that will make a legit 5e3 and also provide enough current for a lower voltage Proluxe.
     
  13. anthrotony

    anthrotony Tele-Meister

    Age:
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    Oct 23, 2017
    UK
    Yes, the volume issue is well understood, thanks. 3W here or there, or even 10 watts different won't be huge (except perhaps in the headroom desired). I've not heard that description of a 5e3 (dirt pedal with 12" speaker), but if that is really the case, I'd get bored pretty quickly I guess.

    I have the parts necessary to add a dis-engageable BF mid-scoop switch to the 5e3 precisely because of the idea of having two amps in one, although some builders have commented that it messes with volume levels going between the two. I'm curious as to what the Super cleans sounds like. Still the more mid-heavy clean of the 5e3 or with more of the BF sparkle? At the end of the day, replacing an output transformer isn't such a big deal, although I'm not quite sure how the Super would react with a power transformer designed more for a 15W amp. Oh, also on the Super, how do you think it would change tonally with 2x12" or even a single 12" speaker? I can always run an amp like that through my 4x10" to get the tighter focus of the smaller speakers.
     
  14. anthrotony

    anthrotony Tele-Meister

    Age:
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    Oct 23, 2017
    UK
    Thanks for this idea. Not one I'd thought about, so I'll go look into the Proluxe tone palettes!

    Interesting that you say a 5e3 with "top shelf parts" might be better than a BB15 -- my parts are all individually selected so that's not a problem but does this mean that you think a BB15 would be better than a "cheaper" 5e3 build?
     
  15. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Holic

    659
    Sep 26, 2015
    Maldon, England
    The cleans on the Super are much more chimey than anything the Deluxe manages. Both treble and bass controls add gain (in reality they lose it, so as you turn them back up things get thicker). Dial the bass right down and it's not really blackface mid-scooped, but instead it has a warmth that's hard not to like. The 2x10 and bigger cab adds a 3 dimensional swirl that the Deluxe can't ever compete with; it almost sounds like a touch of reverb. A 1x12 would give more speaker options; a 2x12 configuration wouldn't fit the standard cab. I happen to like the 2x10. More than enough bottom end, and the presence control can dial out any ice pickiness.

    There's a good demo of how the tone controls interact with the volume. See what happens around 2 mins in, with T&B around halfway up. The demo shows how progressive increases on the controls affect the distortion. Gives you a lot of variation.

     
    anthrotony likes this.
  16. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Age:
    59
    Mar 2, 2010
    Maine
    IDK if a BB15 is a better amp than a typical cheaper 5e3 build, but I'd say there are some pretty low quality 5e3 amps, some maybe cheap imports, and we had a thread a while back where a member bought one from a local builder on reverb which turned out to be a sadly poor quality build.

    Mostly I was trying to keep the circuit separated from the quality.
    The BB15 seems like it could be a great amp, is priced at a point where it could be good quality, has a real plywood cab, and I generally consider the '59 Bassman to be an "improvement" over the '59 Deluxe, even if I leave out the volume difference.
    I just like a TMB better than a single tone control (etc).

    WRT the volume of a Proluxe vs a Deluxe, what I'm missing in my 15-18w amps more than volume is clarity, punch, authoritatively clear bass, headroom, and a sort of ease of articulation as opposed to the strained small amp cranked thing.
    These differences being at the same volume, not running the bigger amp louder.

    Cranked small amps are cool too, I'm just getting a bit tired of that thing.
     
    anthrotony likes this.
  17. anthrotony

    anthrotony Tele-Meister

    Age:
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    106
    Oct 23, 2017
    UK
    Great overview and I'm pretty much in agreement. FWIW, despite some bad press, the BB15 is as well build as any other amp in that price bracket, and probably better than many. But I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about same volume but not running the bigger amp louder. I'm becoming quite sure that's why I still prefer the overall tone of the HRDv over the BB15 -- it's a 60W amp and I can't possibly ignore those 4 10" speakers...

    As for the cranked tones, I'm afraid I can't even remember what that was like -- 40+ years ago with Selmer T&B 50W and Marshall equivalent heads through 4x12 stacks that I sold for silly low money to get married :) But to be realistic, my particular health issue would make dining even a 15W amp pretty painful for me, so no loud band for me I'm afraid. But what is weird is that this same illness makes it so that any thin, or disharmonious, quiet music is even more painful for me -- I need a full, thick tone at a decent volume, and for some bizarre reason, it distracts me from the chronic headache pain that I live with all the time to the point that I don't notice it until I stop playing. Can you think of a better motivation to have the right amp, the right sound, and play? LOL!!!
     
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  18. anthrotony

    anthrotony Tele-Meister

    Age:
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    106
    Oct 23, 2017
    UK
    That's a very sweet sounding amp. As you have one, how loud would you guess the amp was in the room for that video? I do like that chime some of the time, but at other times I find myself looking for something thicker, creamier, which is why I think I was originally drawn to the Tweed Deluxe. Here is one of the vids that inspired me:



    Now obviously this is an original '56 model, so first of all, it's probably not 5e3 but perhaps 5d3? In any event, if a meticulous build would give me something in this range of tone, I think I would talk myself right back into continuing with my original project. Going down this particular rabbit hole always brings back up so many options!
     
  19. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Holic

    659
    Sep 26, 2015
    Maldon, England
    Any tweed amp is a great match for a strat or telecaster. You'd struggle to get those clean tones with even a moderate drummer though. Any kind of volume gets into breakup land.

    That Super sounds quite a bit thinner than mine, but the YouTube compression is bound to affect what you hear.

    I recon you need a Deluxe now, if for no other reason than to get it out of your system! As long as it's not your only amp.
     
    Ricky D. likes this.
  20. caspersvapors

    caspersvapors Tele-Meister

    219
    Nov 28, 2008
    CA
    Its a 5e3. 5d3 wouldve been the earlier wide panel version circa 1954
     
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