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Mods to make my 5e3's distortion sound creamier (?)

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by The Guy, Aug 8, 2017.

  1. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Meister

    495
    Sep 15, 2016
    Guitarsphere
    VERY interesting! I did read that article a while back but I had forgotten it... Will definitely try that mod. Thanks for the link!

    Cheers
     

  2. No457 Snowy

    No457 Snowy Tele-Meister

    273
    May 27, 2011
    Australia
    I'd be very keen to hear how it goes when you do it. I have plans to do it but I haven't found a source locally (Australia) where I can get a suitable 680pF cap rated at 500 volts. I can get a 50 volt rated one but I'm not sure if that is suitable for a long term solution.
     

  3. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Meister

    495
    Sep 15, 2016
    Guitarsphere
    You don't need a high voltage cap there i believe... The voltage at the tone pot should be around 4VAC if you have a 12ax7 in v1, and around 2VAC with a 12ay7 in v1 also. So, any cap will do ;) if you need some caps you can always gut some old equipment.

    Will let you know how it goes with the mod, i think i have a 0005uf mica laying around somewhere.
     

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  5. No457 Snowy

    No457 Snowy Tele-Meister

    273
    May 27, 2011
    Australia
    Thanks. I finally managed to track down a local supplier and ordered 680pF Silver Mica 500V. Should do the trick nicely.
     

  6. cousinpaul

    cousinpaul Friend of Leo's

    Jun 19, 2009
    Nashville TN
    I'm not familiar with the tube you have in v1. Maybe a 12ay7 or 5751 would help.
     
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  7. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Meister

    495
    Sep 15, 2016
    Guitarsphere
    It's a 12ay7 just better, lower microphonics, rugged, etc... They're sort of topnotch 12ay7's ;)
     

  8. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    65
    Dec 23, 2009
    Rocklin Ca.
    I just did the Edge Mod on one of my 5E3's , the more I play the Amp the more I like it. I think swapping out the two 0.1 coupling caps with .022 caps is the key. It would be a simple mod to try it might be exactly what your looking for. I also changed the 250ohm resistor from a 5W to 8W. I'm also using a blue great speaker. On the mod it calls for a 12ax7 in V1 I found that to sound terrible I put the 12ay7 back in huge improvement. As for speaker break-in my Blue was used but what I've done is put a speaker random box and let the stereo do the break-in.
     
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  9. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Meister

    495
    Sep 15, 2016
    Guitarsphere
    That coupling cap swap will have to wait for my next 5e3 (I plan to build a few) I don't want to fiddle with the board circuit... it is so tidy right now, don't want to mess with that :)

    But as said, I will build some more and compare them face to face with different mods, it's going to be way better cos the "sound memory" isn't too long, right?... If I swap caps, in the meantime the recollection of how it did sound before the mod will go away, mostly, and I want to be able catch all the nuances of how the mods affect the tone. On the other hand I'm afraid that that mod will tighten up the bass, and I don't want to get rid of that loose boomy bass, I love the amp as it is in that regard.

    Besides, I did some experimenting fiddling with tone knobs and lowering the pickups, and let me tell you... I'm in tone heaven right now, even Jesus, Joseph and Mary ask me from time to time to play a bit so they can hear the tones ;)

    I'm glad that you're happy with the mod tho
     

  10. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    A true vintage Jensen P12P gives you everything you are looking for from that amp...beautiful huge cleans and smooth overdrive. A Weber Vintage Series Alnico might be as close to that as you will get.
     
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  11. Commodore 64

    Commodore 64 Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Age:
    41
    Mar 1, 2010
    Kent, OH
    So I'm not sure what you mean by the distortion being "coarse". The big 0.1uF coupling caps in the original circuit can lead to flubby, loose bass repsonse (some describe it as the 5E3 BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT). So the suggestion to switch to 0.022 throughout is often seen (and it's a good suggestion, it's what I use, too).

    That, with a PI grid stopper should get you some pretty sweet distortion tones.
     

  12. D'tar

    D'tar Tele-Holic

    754
    Jan 11, 2013
    WNY
    With the pre-pimv you can take the edge off by rolling back from 12 to 10 on the pot, that's about where my MV stays if its not on full. I also installed 700pf tone cap which will stay in there. I will refrain from any more mods untill Im confident the whole circuit, speaker and all, are settled in. Ive been using it as a stage monitor to log some speaker break in.

    Your metal film resistors may be percieved as harshness also. You may consider replacing the PI plate load and tail resistors with carbon comp.

    This is all subjective and possibly irrelevant to your pursuit in sublime tonality! Good luck, its a never ending quest!
     
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  13. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Meister

    495
    Sep 15, 2016
    Guitarsphere
    Thanks for chiming in.... I have carbon film everywhere except for the dropping resistors, the power tubes grid stoppers, heater artificial center tap and those 1M input resistors.

    i'm not sure if some carbon comp in those places you note will make much of a difference... I'm planning in building a full "carbon-comped" 5e3 just to see if there is a difference. We'll see ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017

  14. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Meister

    495
    Sep 15, 2016
    Guitarsphere
    Yea... I will give a shot to one of those weber's 12a125a.

    A vintage jensen p12p might be pretty hard to find I think no?
     

  15. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Meister

    495
    Sep 15, 2016
    Guitarsphere
    Thing is.... I'm loving the BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT man! But if I could manage to get a BLOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAT instead it would be even awesomer ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017

  16. Jakeboy

    Jakeboy Tele-Holic

    950
    Jul 26, 2008
    Sedalia, MO
    Cool. Rock it!
     
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  17. Tootone

    Tootone TDPRI Member

    78
    Sep 4, 2015
    Perth WA
    Some non-technical thoughts....

    My experience with Celestion blues in an AC30 is very creamy/chewy with amp on full tilt. They are more "crunchy" at lower gain/volumes. The amp can be bright (ice-picky) without much effort especially on TrebleBoost channel. I dial it out by setting tone cut high and keeping treble around 2 oclock so not to loose mids and roll off a smidge of guitar tone pot. But can still be quite bright at lower vols. Heres the catch... the louder/gain-ier you set the amp, the blues start to shelve some of the high end and the speakers EQ becomes a dominant factor. Also as the amp saturates, the amp bass and treble become less dominant to the point you can turn them both down to zero, and reduce the tone cut to bring back top end. This is pretty much how Brian May does it... with a treble booster in front.
    Why is this relevant? Its a well publicised example of how broken in Celestion Blues sound... clean/chimy through throaty/gritty to creamy/thick/rounded.
    So what volume is the amp at when distortion is too "course"? Is the amp driving the speaker hard enough to send it to that creamy place? This may just be the nature of the beast... and more dependent on what's going in the front...

    Next example is Billy Gibbons... famous creamy tone through a 5E3 type circuit.
    Did you know he used boosters, ran the amps at full blast, turned down treble on guitar and amp... and here is the headshot... low gauge strings.
    If youve never tried it ... 09s (or better 08s) will provide tighter/creamier/smoother tone at high gain. Conversely thicker strings are less creamy... more crunchy. Who'd a thunk it?
    So it could also be the nature of your guitars pickups and strings... not the amp.

    EDIT: Forgot to get to the point...
    That smoother/creamier distortion, in my experience, is found at higher gain in valve amps. It may only be higher gain applied to certain frequency bands to sound smooth... eg mid bump or treble boost. In the gain heirarchy, sitting below creamy... is crunch. Sitting below crunch is overdrive and below that ... clean. I visualise crunch as course distortion, the onset of permanent clipping, without enough gain to cause the signal to flip and create higher even harmonics... the creamy/bloomy stuff.

    So maybe all you need to do is...
    Crank the amp to full
    Turn down the amps tone to zero
    Treble boost your guitar signal into the amp
    Roll off the guitars tone control
    Use skinnier strings


    Food for thought.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017 at 6:01 AM
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  18. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Meister

    495
    Sep 15, 2016
    Guitarsphere
    Wow!! Seriously AWESOME info. Thanks a very big bunch. Will experiment with all this.

    Sounds like the "paradoxical intention", didn't thought about that at all... so, thanks again :)
     

  19. Tootone

    Tootone TDPRI Member

    78
    Sep 4, 2015
    Perth WA
    Worth a try before you go insane changing components and circuit design.
    There's a lot of "knowledge" these days on web and youtube regards cascading gain... which in effect is where I was heading. I understand (probably) your holy grail search is for creamy AMP TONE, and not external EFFECT generated tone. Im also guessing you have heard a specific example(s) of the tone you desire.
    But artists tone can be deceptive because they tended to keep their tone secrets.... secret.
    Internet has blown the lid off some not all.
    IRRC I read somewhere the famed Dumble OD special creamy distortion was due to solidstate FET preamplification infront of the valves... which was a bit of a WTF? moment for me. It was like the curtain being pulled back on the Wizard of Oz.
     

  20. The Guy

    The Guy Tele-Meister

    495
    Sep 15, 2016
    Guitarsphere
    To be honest, I'm not trying to copy someone else's tone... I just love the Deluxe's vibe, all I want is to de-edge it a little really, to get the sound that is in my head that I know I can get with this amp... somehow ;) But I've already got some really good tones that I'm very happy with.
     

  21. ocduff

    ocduff TDPRI Member

    42
    Nov 17, 2003
    USA
    My feeling is a 5E3 circuit is perfectly imperfect. Had it originally had all these "mods" folks are talking about, would anyone have ever said "that's a great sounding amp?"

    Leo used those .1 coupling caps because he designed that amp using 10 watt or so Jensen P12R with paper thin cones. Pop one of those in there and there is no blat.

    He was designing a budget minded amp that was professional and sounded big like larger amps.

    All these "mods" are not improvements. Make it as designed, with the correct value components and speakers and tubes (yes I understand cost considerations for many but a lesson is if you want good tone you have to pony up and a few hundred extra bucks could give you a lifetime of playing and listening pleasure).

    Lower your plate voltage below 360 volts with a 20 watt 100 ohm Resistor from rectifier to standby switch. Use carbon comps. Use warm sounding caps (Mallory, Sozo, Jupiter). Make sure it's working right. Use the correct tubes (not JJ 6V6S etc).

    Then evaluate the amp - in my opinion the 5E3 when done right is a gorgeous amp. It cannot be improved without drastic redesign. It has flaws - some are just too much for some of us. Either you can live with those or not but a lot of it is part of the charm (like the 3 saddle bridge on a Tele - install a 6 saddle and your intonation problems are solved but where did that funky clanky sustain and tone go?).

    So just get it all right - Carbon comps do sound warmer and I believe they are a necessity everywhere in these amps. But you will still get a fizz during overdrive - but it will be a smoother fizz.

    Also the Weber Blue Alnico is a much darker speaker - but it's too efficient for a 5E3. I think the Weber 12a125-O in 20 watt is where it's at (that's the one with 22 ribs I believe).

    Pop in some RCA 6V6GT (dark and chewy sounding - arguably best 6V6 made ((and yes I believe that's what original 5E3 were shipped with)). And give your jaw room to hit the floor.

    Basically, get it as Leo designed it and put it out. He knew what he was doing. None of these mods are "improvements", just "tweaks" and should be viewed as such. I'm not in the Leo is God camp but I'm definitely not in the "hey I improved Leo's design!" camp either.

    We talk about the 5E3 still because they sound effing great when set up right. You don't hear anyone talking about Gibson Lancers, etc.
     
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