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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Princeton alternatives

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by etype, Aug 20, 2015.

  1. etype

    etype Tele-Holic

    Sep 23, 2014
    I love the look of that thing. Do you have a fabric cover for the speaker or is it fully exposed all the time?

  2. tjnies

    tjnies Tele-Holic

    Dec 14, 2009
    Latrobe PA
    I owned a Half Pint for a short time. Not that it's a bad amp by any means; nice reverb and tremolo, the Jupiter 12" sounded pretty good too.

    BUT. It stayed clean all the way up the volume. There was the extra-cost VVR on the back, which is supposed to allow you to dial up the Volume control to get gain, but at a lower speaker volume. But if there's no grind anyway, the VVR is not useful.

    Then one day in it refused to fire up. I changed out tubes etc but nothing. Luckily the shop had given me a 5-day review, and was gracious about returning it.

    It may have been something simple, so I am not knocking Milkman overall. It just didn't work for me, and seemed just too expensive at $2k. If I were going with that builder I'd get the Creamer, for not that much more money.

  3. jklotz

    jklotz Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 10, 2012
    Atlanta, GA
    Did you ever buy an amp? I had a PRRI, and sold it. I finally ended up with an Allen Chihuahua that I bought as a kit and assembled. I did 6L6's and a 1x10", and couldn't be happier. It's a great little amp, awesome blackface sounds, and has a master volume to get it distorted at reasonable volumes. That's with the preamp volume, but you also have the raw knob for more of a tweed type sound. Crank the preamp and the raw, and it gets really dirty. I love that little amp!

  4. etype

    etype Tele-Holic

    Sep 23, 2014
    Chihuahua is on the short list. Sent a PM to muchXS, but no response yet.

  5. wrathfuldeity

    wrathfuldeity Tele-Holic

    Apr 25, 2011
    Turdcaster, WA
    Thanks, diy winter project out of qtr sawn fir, floating 1/2" ply baffle, waffle grill and partial open back, its big open 3-d sounding with a hint of natural reverb. However with a reverb or delay pedal, the cab seems to give the pedal abit more dimension than just the pedal through a regular cab.


  6. PumpJockey

    PumpJockey Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Oct 12, 2010
    New Joisey
    Be patient. He's been on the road making deliveries.

  7. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

    Aug 14, 2004
    New England
    Oh, kewl!

    I scored a Fiesta Red chambered Warmoth Telemaster (they call it a "Jazzcaster") body when they had them on sale. Memorial day, maybe? Time sure flies!

  8. tjnies

    tjnies Tele-Holic

    Dec 14, 2009
    Latrobe PA
    He's being sequestered until he finishes my amp...

  9. FenderBender10

    FenderBender10 Tele-Holic

    Sep 18, 2015
    Pacific Northwest
    I've got a Vintage Sound "Vintage 20". It's a 20w BFPR clone with a bigger transformer, 12in speaker, mid control, and an extra reverb dwell control on the back. I absolutely LOVE it! Take pedals extremely well, breaks up oh so nicely at about 5-6 on the dial, and holds its own against the vintage PRs I've put it up against.
    For the price, that fender custom series Silverface sounds killer. I played one a few months ago and the breakup was quite pleasing. But it broke up a little too early for my tastes. I guess that's because I'm used to my bigger 20w Princeton...

  10. etype

    etype Tele-Holic

    Sep 23, 2014
    So I finally got time to go play a couple amps. Took off from work after lunch and headed to GC. They did not have either the 65 or 68 Princeton, but did have a 68 Deluxe Reverb. As I had been recommended that one (above somewhere) and read lots of good reviews, I thought I would try it out.

    Well, there was also a guy in the "bass alcove" playing pretty loud... loud enough that I could hardly think, let alone discern how the amp sounded. I figured he would take a break at some point... one of the GC staff even asked him to tun it down, but he didn't turn it down much. I am not sure of the GC etiquette, but I wandered a bit, checked out the used amps and guitars, some cases, guitar straps, etc. Eventually I just sat down and gave it a try and tuned it up pretty loud. Sounded good but the reverb didn't seem to be doing ANYTHING (but maybe it was just drowned out). The bass guy just kept on playing (same bass, same amp, same tune) and about an hour after getting there, I left.

    I was told that a M, T, or W morning was my best bet; so I went in today. Different GC, 68 and 65 Princeton as well as a 65 Deluxe Reverb were sitting there. Turns out, the reverb was out on both of the Princetons (the staff tried replacing tubes and swapping out foot switches, etc. to no avail). The 65 Deluxe Reverb worked, but at the volume I'd mostly be using, it was pretty similar sounding to the Princeton. I did like the 68 tone and they told me not to worry, that Fenders come with a 5 year warrantee, but by this time I was not feeling too excited out pulling out the credit card.

  11. unixfish

    unixfish Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 20, 2013
    Northeast Ohio, USA
    Yup - been there.

    The GC by me had a few nice amps I went to try out on my lunch break.

    A few beat up used amps - the one I wanted to try was not by an outlet. The power strip was under the display stand, so I pulled it around to the other side of the stand and did a plug swap with another amp. I didn't like the amp. On to look at the new stuff.

    The Twin Reverb hummed loudly - volume on, volume off, no matter what - same volume hum. The sales guy tried a few things to no avail.

    The DRRI was missing the fuse. Same guy told me someone was coming in and stealing amp fuses.

    There was a 68 Princeton Custom that had the speaker plugged into the wrong port, so almost no sound. Maybe it was in the foot pedal port, or maybe the external speaker port? I was going to go back to my car for my reading glasses, then though "[deleted] this, I'm going back to work."

    Why are brand new amps in such a disarray? I get that there are always jerks who dork up amps on the floor for fun, but someone should be going through these on occasion, right? I am not expecting all the guitars hanging on the wall to be in tune, but the amps should be in working order - or close to it.

    The credit card stayed warm in my wallet that day.

  12. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Jul 18, 2010
    Western Connecticut
    The reverb on the Princeton (even the reissue) is simply amazing. That, and the bias tremolo, and it's a very different amp than the Deluxe, IMO. They're both so sweet. Do try to play the PR with it's lush washy verb before making a decision.

  13. foundjoe

    foundjoe Tele-Holic

    Apr 28, 2013
    The reverb on these amps is not subtle, so you would know for sure if it's on or not, so I'm assuming the reverb on the Deluxe you played at the first GC was not working. That's really odd that you would find three different amps in two different stores with the reverb not working. Doesn't say much for Fender quality control, and even though these amps have a good warranty, you don't want to have to go through the hassle of repairs coming right out of the gate.

  14. etype

    etype Tele-Holic

    Sep 23, 2014
    I am sort of wondering if these could be floor model issues or if Fender really doesn't have any quality control. As much as I like a $900 price (for the 68 PRCR), the Gries Twelve (at $1300) has a 12" speaker and certainly better QC.

  15. etype

    etype Tele-Holic

    Sep 23, 2014
    I finally found a 68 Princeton Custom with a working reverb. I loved the clean tones, but loved them even more with the reverb set between 2-3. But the reliability issue nags at me (after 3 of 5 Fenders I checked out were not working properly). I have exchanged emails with MuchXS, Dave Gries (re: the 5) and David Allen (Re: the Chihuahua). I was in the process of trying to decide how important a built in spring reverb was (Catalinbread Topanga has become my pedal option) when I discovered the used Rivera Venus 3 option. I can find them used on the bay or Reverb for anywhere from $850-$1200. Very much like an Allen Chihuahua but with a 7w/15w switch. I like the idea of having the Chihuahua features and reverb but with a Gries 5 price.

    Anyone have any comments on how the Rivera would compare to a Champ type amp?

    From Sweetwater
    Rivera Venus 3 Tube Combo Guitar Amplifier Features:
    *12AX7 and 6V6 tubes deliver the spongy sound of vintage American amplifiers
    *1 x 12" Celestion G12 Heritage speaker serves up warm bottom end and punchy mids
    *Adjustable, footswitchable gain boost lets you kick in the extra juice you need
    *Vintage switch lets you drop from 15 watts to 7 watts, achieving overdrive at lower volumes
    *Dial in lush and spacious dimensional effects with the built-in 3-spring Accutronics reverb
    *Middle EQ pull notch allows you to choose a more tweed or Blackface type of tone
    *Handcrafted in Burbank, California from the finest military-grade components and USA-made transformers

  16. RYAN1987M

    RYAN1987M Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

    Dec 5, 2013
    Woodstock, ON
    Can't say that I've heard of the Rivera until now - but, on paper, it sounds like a great amp.

    Either way, I'm excited for you to get an amp - I've had a lot of fun following this thread and I'm definitely curious to learn what you'll end up with.

    Without a doubt though, I'm happy to hear that you're likely avoiding Fender. I think it's indisputable that with either a Gries, an Allen, or a Rivera you'll be spending about what you'd spend on a new Princeton (maybe less, maybe a bit more) but you'll be getting something hand-built that will last a lifetime. And the value of the components in the Gries/Allen/Rivera will surely exceed what FMIC puts inside the modern Princeton.

    For what it's worth, I still love my Gries 5 immensely - it's the one for me!

  17. jonrpick

    jonrpick Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2014
    Marietta, GA
    E-Type... awesome name BTW, my Dad had a silver, early-60's coupe. ;)

    I didn't see it mentioned anywhere, so I'll ask: Is DIY/building your own an option? It's not as hard as you may think, and you'd get more amp for your money if you were willing to pick up the soldering iron and source your own parts.

    The knowledge gained by doing this is also worth more than any money saved.

    I did my first build last year. I'm planning a 2nd. At this point, I can safely say I'll never again buy a complete amp unless the price is highway robbery or it's something that just sounds so unbelievable that I can't imagine walking away from it.

    I really see a BF/SF Princeton (with or without reverb), upgraded with a bigger output transformer and a 12" speaker as being an end-all/be-all, gap-filler of an amp. Smaller and more portable than a BF/SF Deluxe, yet with close to the same volume on tap (if needed). That's essentially what you can get from Allen, but rolling your own has obvious perks.

    Get a cabinet maker (or a friend) to build a proper pine cabinet (Fender started using particle board in the 70's) and go from there. In the time since this thread began, you could've started the project, screwed up, come here for advice, fixed the screw-ups, and been playing a really nice amp. Just sayin'... ;)

  18. jonrpick

    jonrpick Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2014
    Marietta, GA
    Oh, and BTW... an Ampeg Jet J20 is essentially a Brown Princeton clone. They're no longer produced, but they're hand-wired and usually go for under $1000.

  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010
    Hmmm, the Rivera venus demo by Rivera himself on you tube sounds very flat and dull, not at all exceptional, and the fact that Rivera keeps calling it "class A" is kind of off putting, as I'm pretty sure it's not.
    If you're looking for lots of different distortion sounds, it may be the perfect amp for you, but IME extreme sound variation in an amp takes it away from best possible sound in favor of maximum possible versatility.
    And the versatility of the venus seems to be more distortion oriented, and less range of clean sounds oriented.
    The best you tube recorded clean sounds I've heard came from a muchXS Princeton, you might check out the Big_Bend demo 'round here somewhere, not sure if I can find it right now.
    I've always found that amps with the best sound don't have the most sounds, and amps with the most sounds seldom have the best sounds.
    Amps with the best sounds AND the most sounds tend to be the most expensive.
    You kind of get what you pay for in a guitar amp, decide what exactly you want and pay for THAT.

  20. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 2, 2010

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