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Another 5e3 discussion

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by Marc Morfei, Mar 4, 2021.

  1. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I figure it's time for another 5e3 conversation. I got my first 5e3 about 6 months ago, and I was over the moon in love with it. So much in love that I sold my Princeton Reverb. That thick growl is just perfect. No pedals required, just crunch away. But lately I am getting frustrated. The low end is so loose and muddy, and even if I dime the tone I can't seem to EQ it any tighter. And there is so little headroom. It's great to get that amazing breakup at low volume, but you're kinda stuck with it, even when you roll down your guitar volume. I have an AY7 in V1, and a Jensen P12Q speaker.

    I am debating the various mods I have found, and I think I will give those a shot, probably starting with the coupling caps. (This one seems easy enough: https://www.mojotone.com/support/knowledge/5E3-Coupling-Cap-Mod)

    So my questions are two:
    1. How has everyone else dealt with these issues? Mod it? Just accept it?
    2. Is there some other amp that is kinda sorta in the general ballpark, in terms of great thick crunch at modest volume, but maybe with some more modern features and not so limited?

    Yes, I know the 5e3 is it's own thing and nothing else is the same. Just talkin' here....
     
  2. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Mine has a more efficient speaker, an old p12n, that tightens up the bass compared to other examples I’ve heard. A speaker swap will likely be your best first port of call- it will change the sound the most for the least impact.

    I have read good things about the coupling cap mod you talk about. I upped the first two filter caps in mine to 30uf, but there is some debate as to whether that really can tighten up low end- you may have better luck with the coupling caps. Mine sounds fine to my ears until it gets above 10, but I think that’s just standard 5e3 behavior.

    RobRob’s nfb mod might get you more where you want to be in terms of clarity, and will get you closer to a Princeton reverb sound.

    also, if you’re using humbuckers, it can get muddy real fast. It’s a dark circuit, and depending on the sound you’re after, the #2 input in the instrument channel might be the only acceptable input.

    but if you’re into crunchy alternatives, you may want to try a Marshall 18 watt if you haven’t already. I like to think of it as a British take on a 5e3- it’s similar in size and power, similar basic difficulty to build, and even can sound similar at certain settings. It’s an el-84 amp, but there are some circuits that swap 6v6s or even let you switch between tubes. The mojotone blackout British has really caught my eye recently- it’s a 6v6 powered TMB 18 watt. https://www.mojotone.com/Marketplace/BlackOut-British

    “TMB” means replacing the standard tremolo channel on the amp with a tone stack (Treble, Mid, Bass). this makes much more gain and can sound almost plexi like. The trade off is there isn’t much headroom, so the tweed cleans you’re used to won’t be there.

    best of luck, and sorry you aren’t bonding with yours- I go through periods myself where I’m like meh, but then there are times when I love it. It sounds best to me at 9-9-9 with no attenuator, which I unfortunately don’t get to do enough with kids in the house- and the attenuator makes it kind of sound like it’s locked inside a box full of pillowcases or something.
     
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  3. ArcticWhite

    ArcticWhite Tele-Afflicted

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    Ditto RobRob's NFB (negative feedback loop).
    I put a switched NFB on all of my homebrewed amps.
    Gives you two in one.
     
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  4. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    cutting bass on the 5e3 is the trick to getting it to be more versatile. try an EQ pedal with a low cut before it before you mod anything.

    for me these are the essential mods, the only ones i need, and luckily they are fairly simple:
    1. ditch the second channel. use that pot as a bass control (either G&L blend style directly after the first stage, or as a cap blend on the cathode of the first stage). a bass cut makes the amp so much more versatile. you could obviously just use an EQ before, but i just like it on the amp.
    2. put the second stage bypass cap on a switch. the NFB mod with a center "off" position does this (i personally don't need the NFB, it's kind of dull without a presence control, but may as well put it on there). that unbypassed stage cuts down on noise and tames the gain. but it still screams at the upper end of the range, you just don't get that fuzz pedal splat as much. this is where i run it 75% of the time.
    3. beef up the filter caps all to 22uF. on mine i think i used a 30uF on the first filter. add another filter for the input stage. it stiffens the amp up a tiny bit, but i mean, it's a cathode biased amp, it's still gonna squish like a MF'er. the added filtering makes the amp much quieter.
    I used a ceramic speaker with mine. An eminence 1258. it's pretty efficient, and it helps. I may get a 2x10 cab at some point instead though.

    the bonus mod, that i will be doing soon, since the 5e3 has headroom trouble - use the PT and the OT (with multiple taps) for a 5e5 to run a 5U4 and 6L6s in cathode bias like on the first version of the 5e5. that should increase the wattage to around 20 something watts. you lose some of the 5e3 sound when using 6v6s and 5y3, but it's not a bad compromise. worse to get stuck with an amp that can't ride clean over drums.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
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  5. jmp81sc

    jmp81sc Tele-Meister

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    Maybe the 6G3 Deluxe. Responds great to pick attack but is tighter than the 5E3.
     
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  6. KC

    KC Friend of Leo's

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    this is going to be an odd response, but see if you can find an Origin 20 combo to play with. You can dial in your desired level of crunch at any volume. The tone-shaping controls are super-versatile, TMB plus tilt & presence. With everything at noon it's pretty bright but it's super-easy to dial out all that high end. And if you can buy used, you can get your money back if you don't like it.

    I guess I'm just leery of trying to mod the 5e3 into something it's not. You fell in love with that amp once upon a time -- why not hold on to it for those times when it's perfect & get something more versatile for the rest of the time.
     
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  7. Mayas caster

    Mayas caster Tele-Holic

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    I own a ‘56 Deluxe with the original speaker. The low end gets « loose » as you say, but frankly, it doesn’t affect me too much. The amp sounds so good that I don’t want to change its nature...
     
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  8. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

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    I picked up an external cabinet with a 12 inch Celestion V30. One of the Blues Deluxe cabs. I run it in the external cab jack. Now it has a richer low end and is definitely a little louder. Think it cost me $300. That and a reissue Reverb Tank from Fender and it's pretty much a killer combination. A 5E3 STACK!!! with a 10 and 12 speaker in parallel. Mine is a Mojo Kit, not sure others will accommodate the external speaker.
     
  9. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    I have a Mission 5e3, stock circuit. I use a parametric EQ pedal in front of it sometimes if the low end is getting flubby. Cutting it hard from about 80 Hz. down really firms it up.

    Scooping the mids gives it more of a black face flavor if you get the center freq and slope right.
     
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  10. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    Bruce Collins at Mission recommended getting to know the amp with the stock circuit before modifying and always having a specific goal in mind.

    I've considered adding a choke to the power supply to stiffen that up. Also the Paul C. Mod to convert to fixed bias. That would increase the output to around 18 watts and make it behave more like a brown Deluxe. I haven't done that because I like it too much as is.
     
  11. Jared Purdy

    Jared Purdy Friend of Leo's

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    I'm curious to know what your settings are? I get great cleans out of mine. Mind you, I'm not playing in a band, and I have a fairly light approach to the strings. I go back and forth between a LP and a Strat.

    When I first got mine, I watched that informative, brief video by Larry Carlton where he demonstrates the settings that he uses. I tried them, and they work exactly as he demonstrates. I pushed the tone past 4, which I believe is where he had it set, and while there's a modest amount more break up, it's definitely not in nasty territory. I did the same with the volume control, pushing it to 9. I generally keep the guitar plugged into Instrument Input 1.
     
  12. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I find that I need to use the bright channel, and need to have the tone rolled up pretty far, like 9. Actually I like the sound best with the tone wide open - it breathes in a certain way that sounds really good. But that's part of the reason I am losing headroom, since the tone seems to add quite a bit of gain. Cleans are good with the volume down, but once the volume gets up around 4 it's pretty snarly (in a good way). I'll look for that Larry Carlton video.
     
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  13. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Yes, I need to spend more time playing with the EQ pedal in front.
     
  14. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    That is an interesting comment. I have been wanting to hear the Origin. But there are none to be found anywhere. I have never seen one popup used around here. And GC does not stock them. I'll have to keep my eyes open to try that one.
     
  15. Jared Purdy

    Jared Purdy Friend of Leo's

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    To be fair, Carlton is using an original, stock 57 Deluxe. I have the tone controls on my guitars wide open. I don't notice a significant difference on the amp when the tone goes from 9 to max. I have used the jumpers, just as an experiment, and the biggest difference that I noticed was an increase in volume when it was plugged into Mic 1 and Instrument 2 with the guitar plugged into Instrument 1. I took out as I don't need the extra volume.

    I'm using a Fender 57 Custom Deluxe, and it's fitted with the stock, Eminence designed alnico speaker. There's likely some cap value differences and maybe some other differences, including the speaker between your's and the Fender. Here's Carlton's video:

     
  16. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Hey, you may want to check this one out as well. He does a great job of showing the interaction between channels. It starts at about 9:00.



    when he jumpers the channels, I was like that’s the sound I’m looking for! Why doesn’t mine sound like that??? I compared the video directly to my rig and it turned out... it does. My practice space has some bad acoustics and the bass can sound overpowering and muddy. I tilted the amp off the carpet and got the sound I was after with much less mud.

    you may also want to try plugging into input 2 with humbuckers- it attenuates the signal 6db and clears up the mud.
     
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  17. jimgchord

    jimgchord Tele-Afflicted

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    Lower value coupling caps help,
    But it kinda is what it is. People like to try and make it what its not.
     
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  18. Chicago Matt

    Chicago Matt Friend of Leo's

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    Changing the values of the coupling caps, and picking the right speaker has been the key for me. More mods and you start losing the character of the amp. The most headroom comes with a very efficient speaker, but the Weber 12A125A has worked the best for me, retaining the Tweed Deluxe sound and still plenty loud enough to work with a reasonable drummer. As you already know, turn the amp up and work your guitar's volume control to clean up. Still, it is what it is. But I love it and gig with it more than any other amp.

    FWIW, I plug into the Bright channel with its volume on 9, Normal channel volume on 6, and Tone on 9.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2021
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  19. jimgchord

    jimgchord Tele-Afflicted

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    This is good advice. Vol control on guitar is key.
     
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  20. JamesAM

    JamesAM Tele-Meister

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    Absolutely. I’ve found that even just turning the volume down to 9 on my Es-335 takes away a lot of the PI “ksshhh” distortion and cleans the sound up a ton.
     
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