5e3 or Excelsior? (or something else entirely..?)

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Tailgates&Teles, Sep 24, 2013.

  1. Tailgates&Teles

    Tailgates&Teles TDPRI Member

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    I'm thinking about a small (~15w or less) tube amp (I'm on a budget... I really shouldn't spend more than about $3-400) to build or buy... With the styles of music I play I want something more American-sounding... I've been looking at either a 5e3 kit or one of the new(er) Fender Excelsior's...

    However, I don't know a whole lot about the Excelsior, other than spotty reviews I've seen and people elsewhere whining about the lack of knobs. I do like the multiple inputs and the simplicity of the controls. Can someone who owns or has used an Excelsior and a 5e3 tweed give me a general comparison of the two? I'm going to go see if I can demo one if my local shop has it, but I'm curious as to the tone differences as I can't A/B a tweed clone with it...

    Any advice or alternatives to these two is totally welcome!
     
  2. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I have a little experience with a 5e3 with a 15" speaker and a good bit with the Excelsior.

    Lance (LJHolland here on TDPRI) owns this particular 5e3. I believe it was a Weber kit. It is a good amp. Sounds like a Tweed amp. The volumes are very interactive. You really can fiddle with them to make them sound different. It's got cool crunch, that sounds right, it cranks too. I only had it in my possession for about a week or so and never got to really let it rip or play it live. I did not fall in love with it though.... Not sure why?

    I picked up and sold (Probably shoulda kept it, but I did a friend a favor) one of the original brown Excelsiors that already had the speaker (Legen 1518) and tube upgrades done. I loved this amp. Loved, loved, loved it. It sounds like a brown amp. The price is tough to beat on these. I did try the stock speaker back in it and was really surprised by home much more I liked the Legend. Although the Legend was much louder and much heavier. I found the Excelsior to be very touch sensitive and overdrive in a really fun, but very Marshally sounding way.

    For the money (299 these days?) the 'original' Excelsior is a great amp. Stock, I love them. With the speaker change it sounded incredible.

    5e3's have been around a while, and lots of folks love them. I don't think you can go wrong with them!

    Tough choice. glad I am not in that hot seat right now!
     
  3. marshman

    marshman Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well, I know that Excelsior club is getting pretty long, and I would imagine that the 5E3 club is also filled with info. None will be directly contrasted for you, but should give you an idea of what people that actually own them think of them. I'd suggenst that you check the 'amp owners club' section for more info.
     
  4. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I know of some experienced and knowledgeable folks who prefer the Excelsior over a 5e3
     
  5. purpletele

    purpletele Friend of Leo's

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    I haven't tried the Excelsior yet. They do look interesting.

    If you want to get into the 5E3 camp look for an old Gibson Ga-8 or Ginbsonette. I paid $175 for mine and they seem to top off at around $400. I put a 12 inch Jenson Mod in mine with room to spare. It' s a loud little amp, but it gets nasty at about noon.

    Here's some pics. There's a narrow panel version too. A lot of these era Gibsons are sleeper amps.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. strateles

    strateles Tele-Holic

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    I LOVE my original brown Exy, the only change was a tube swap and the tone pot mod, but the stock tubes werent that bad.

    I have played a friends 5e3 on numerous occasions and they are 2 totally dofferent beasts. I prefer the Exy if I had to choose.

    You can get both though. And wow, do they sound awesome in stereo. They contrast but compliment each other very well.

    You can pick up a used brown Exy (sometimes with tube upgrades) from the GC used site for $199. This would leave about 200 of your budget to start saving for a nice 5e3.

    So now you dont have to choose, have your cake and eat it too!
     
  7. TNO

    TNO Friend of Leo's

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    I much prefer the 5E3 over the Excelsior. I even did some mods and changed the speaker but the Ex just sounded harsh to me. The old Gibbies are very nice as well.
     
  8. telex76

    telex76 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Name them. If they really know anything about amps I'll put a smiley face on my post.
     
  9. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    i won't name specifically, but one very respected guy from over at the gretsch discussion page has said the sound of his excelsior has made him happier than any tweed ever has.
     
  10. Tailgates&Teles

    Tailgates&Teles TDPRI Member

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    The Gibsons do look interesting... I'll keep an eye out.

    I'll check the Amp clubs as well, for some reason I hadn't thought of that :rolleyes:

    I've heard the Ex is a bit harsher, and has less of the famous Fender cleans... But I did like the cleans I heard in a couple demo vids. I may just go ahead and spring for a used one, so I've got cash for a 5e3 circuit down the line... :D

    Thanks for the info, everybody.
     
  11. leebman

    leebman Tele-Meister

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    I've owned 5e3s and an excelsior but not at the same time, I liked the excelsior the fifteen really pushes some air the limited controls depend on how you use your guitar, you might have to learn to use your tone control and volume pot a little more than 90% of people are used to. The 5e3 offers something extra the many combinations of interactions of volumes and tone mean you should be able to dial in everything you want.
    My story on this ends with this round up I used to own a 5e3 bought an excelsior that just gave me the taste for a proper tweed style amp again I bought a Gibson GA14 a close relative of the 5e3 with a 10 inch speaker.
     
  12. TNO

    TNO Friend of Leo's

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    Man, I wish I'd never let my GA-14 go.
     
  13. tele salivas

    tele salivas Poster Extraordinaire

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    Sure , a well built amp is a well built amp, doesn't mean that somebody is going to like the sound coming out of it.

    5e3's are great, a sweet classic sound, but I prefer Excelsior. I wouldn't trade mine for anything else in that wattage range. I am not that knowledgeable, but I've got 30 years experience playing out and recording, as if that matters. All it means is that I have developed some notions of what I like to hear. Nobody knows anything, we're musicians! If we knew something we'd be on some tropical isle, instead of wondering what the hell on some discussion board. Mike Campbell apparently couldn't decide either, so he uses a Tweed Deluxe, a Princeton, and an Excelsior in his rig.
    :p
     
  14. tele salivas

    tele salivas Poster Extraordinaire

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    There are some great old Gibsons to be had for reasonable money right now. I don't think this is going to last long if we keep bringing them up.:lol:
     
  15. purpletele

    purpletele Friend of Leo's

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    The thought has crossed my mind.

    The bubble burst on Vintage Gibson amps, but it looks like they're making a slow comeback. Compared to comparable vintage amps, they're a bargain, and I still see them pop up on Craigslist for players prices.
     
  16. Tailgates&Teles

    Tailgates&Teles TDPRI Member

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    I'll definitely keep an eye out on CL for a Gibby, too! "I'll have.... One of each" :D Although I've spent a decent amount of time in the past looking for amps there... I'm not sure there's many of em up for sale in my area. Still definitely worth a shot.

    Any of these amps does sound great for what I'm looking for. I'm really considering the Ex at this point, partially because I like that it has mic input/circuit... Then again, I don't really know what I'm doing :rolleyes:
     
  17. t-luxe

    t-luxe Tele-Afflicted

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    Take your guitar to the nearest Guitar Center and try both.

    I currently own both amps and like them very much. If I had to sell one , It'd be the Exy. I just like the big fat cleans, touch sensitivity, (and the OD tones) on the tweed better-so many options with jumping channels, cranking the un-used channel, using the tone control like a gain control, etc.
    I don't much care for the OD on the Exy( but a clean boost or transparent overdrive really makes her sing), the cleans are very good, and its just got a great Funky vibe that's hard to pin-point. If you can only spend $300, its a no-brainer.
    If you can live with a Hybrid, I'd say Super Champ XD or X2. 2x6V6, 15 watts, Master Volume, really great Fender BF cleans on ch. 1, and enough different amp models(the Over-Driven Tweed is my favorite) and built-in effects to keep you interested.
     
  18. Tailgates&Teles

    Tailgates&Teles TDPRI Member

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    Nearest GC is hours away... Just mom 'n pop shops out here :p but I am planning on trying out the Ex within a couple of days. Just fishing for ideas, sound, and alternatives at this point...

    While I'd prefer an amp without models 'n such, I'll have a look at those as well. I'm kind of leaning towards an amp without the SS models and stuff, so that in the future if I wanna mod the amp, well... :D
     
  19. t-luxe

    t-luxe Tele-Afflicted

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    Well, you'll probably want something hand-wired and easy to work on then.
    Check out the VHT Special Six. Blackface and Tweed both in one box.

    Still, check out the XD/X2 if you get a chance. The all tube power section gives it a great warm tone and feel despite the DSP preamp.
     
  20. Tailgates&Teles

    Tailgates&Teles TDPRI Member

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    I've look at the 6 as well... Modder's dream :)

    Demo'd an Ex a couple of hours ago. Loved it. I'll have to see if I can get my hands on a 6, maybe tomorrow.
     
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