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Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by bluescube, Jul 27, 2006.
For $499 this seems to be a killer tube combo.
I haven't seen it actually offered by anyone yet. I know that Music 123 shows it on their website, but they didn't have any in stock.
I'm really interested in this amp as well. I own one of the Valve Jr. Heads that I love, so when I saw this one, my interest was peaked.
EDIT TO NOTE: My Mistake. It seems to have suddenly appeared on many sites as "in-stock". Great, now I have to find a way to justify yet another amp!
I just talked my Gibson A&R buddy and they just got one in at their LA showroom/office. I'm hoping to go down there Monday or Tuesday to demo it. If I do I'll post a review.
BTW, I heard mention today that Musicians Friend has them in stock now.
I'll be looking forward to your review, Andy.
I sat for about 10 minutes on the Musician's Friend site in a cold sweat, with my finger on the "add to cart" button. Finally, I stepped back from the edge...whew!
When I found out today, he said that he's has so many inquiries it may be gone to some celeb within days. Good chance it won't be there by mid week.
Well, I couldn't stand it, so I pulled the trigger on one yesterday. It should be here later this week. I need another amp like I need a hole in my head, but I've had my eye on this one since it was first announced. I've been happy with the quality of my simple little Valve Jr., so I thought I'd take a shot on this one. It sure covers a lot of bases as far as features goes. Next comes the big test...the tone.
I noticed something new in the specs for the amp that I didn't see before (but was looking for). It now states that the amp has DC filaments in the pre-amp circuit, which should result in quieter operation. I wonder if this had anything to do with the delay in getting this model to market? Perhaps they learned from the Valve Jr. head vs. the Valve Jr. combo that DC filaments are the better way to go.
Givbe us the lowdown when it comes and clips if you can. It's too much amp for me, I don't need a 2x12 in the bedroom but man, I still want one.
Friday, July 28, 2006
The Blues Custom 30 - Great Tone, Killer Looks And Superb Quality
Epiphone is pleased to announce the new Blues Custom 30 Guitar amplifier. Designed and engineered in the USA by Gibson, the amp features an ALL TUBE signal path and Tube Rectifier for the ultimate in pure tone. Check out these features:
Two distinct channels share the specially designed 3-Band EQ while the Overdrive Channel is equipped with an additional Mid control allowing the player to dial in that soulful sweet spot.
The 3-Band EQ is selectable between Independent and Interactive mode and the amp features a tube powered, transformer driven, spring Reverb.
The Blues Custom 30 offers the player both 30W Class AB (Pentode Mode) or 15Watts Class A (Triode Mode) at the flip of a switch.
A low noise fan was incorporated into the design to make sure the amp and tubes stay cool.
Multiple speaker output jacks give a variety of extension speaker cabinet options.
16GA steel chassis construction with folded and spot welded corners and a sturdy, 11-ply Birch cabinet with metal protective corners ensures this amp will hold up on any size tour.
When developing the Epiphone Blues Custom 30, speaker selection was one of our top priorities. For that task the Gibson USA Design Team turned to the experts at Eminence and the result is a completely new speaker called “Lady Luck”. This speaker was specially designed by Eminence to enhance the great tone and features of the Epiphone Blues Custom 30.
Well, it is Harmony Central...... the guy doesn't know what "class a" is all about. I guess that is to be expected from HC. Regardless, it was good to hear a user's remarks. The only thing that puzzles me, is he claims to be a "high gain" player and that Fender clean tone is "thin". I would disagree that Fender clean is "thin", clearly he doesn't know Fenders. Oh well....
What I really am curious about is the Eminence "Lady Luck" speakers. What are they? Specs? Similar to...?
He also says he wants to put in reissue TS 5881s. What's the plate voltage in this beast? Are 5881s really appropriate? Is the bias adjustable?
When it switches into what it calls "class A" mode, what is really going on? Switch from fixed to cathode bias? Is it really class a?
Lots of questions, no answers. Somebody ship me one and let me open it up, you'll get the straight scoop!
While I'm sitting around waiting for mine to get here (it arrives Saturday when I'll be out of town!), I thought I'd drop Eminence a line to ask about the Lady Luck speakers. Here's their reply:
Thank you for your inquiry. Eminence and Epiphone engineers collaborated to
develop the Lady Luck speaker specifically for the new line of Epiphone
Amplifiers. The development and testing of this speaker has been in process for
about two years. The speaker is a 16 ohm model and is rated for 70 watts RMS.
Each speaker sports a custom Epiphone/Eminence finish in Mustard Yellow along
with the Lady Luck label on the back. The speaker has a stamped steel frame, a
front rear sealing gasket, a 34 oz magnet, 1.75" voice coil, a full paper cone
with paper edge, and a cloth dust cap. This speaker has a sensitivity of 99dB
and a useable frequency range from 80Hz-5kHz. It has a very smooth response
from the low-end through the mid range. It also has a very nice top end sparkle.
The speaker was engineered to exhibit very warm, and smooth break-up modes. The
tonality of the amp is such that very little tonal coloration from the speaker
was desired. Consequently, the speaker was engineered to provide a subtle, yet
effective compliment to the amplifier.
Sr. Lab Technician
Eminence Speaker LLC
(502)845-5622 ext. 341
It sounds closer to a Celestion G12T75 than anything that Eminence currently offers. I hope I'm wrong. The G12T75 is my least favorite Celestion...too transparent and sterile for my tastes.
Interesting, thanks for that. Good size coil but medium size magnet. I suspect the cones are a bit on the thin and lightweight side. Cloth dustcap to help control the high end. The paper edge suggests more of an American voicing.
it came in a (slightly smaller) 2X10.
Two nights ago I replaced the tubes in mine with all NOS. It was too late to crank it up, so I just turned it on at low volume to make sure it worked. It did, so last night night I gave it a workout. The tubes I put in the amp are as follows:
Starting with the pre-amp tubes, V-1 got an RCA blackplate 12AX7A, V-2 got a BEL 12AX7 (Indian made Mullard Blackburn), V-3, V-4, and V-5 each got a GE 12AX7WA.
I replaced the puny Sovtek 5AR4 with a Philips 5AR4 that looks to be a third again the size of the Sovtek.
I replaced the miserable Sovtek "5881's" with a pair of Philips 6L6WGB's.
As delivered I found the amp to be trebly, bright, and ice picky on channel two, and pretty decent on channel one. The differences between the class A and class AB modes was not as pronounced as I had expected. The bass response overall was very disappointing.
Well, what a difference a re-tubing made! The amp has come to life now. It's still a little on the bright side, but the icepick to the ears is gone, and the bass is deeper, fuller, and a little more rounded, but with a very punchy quality to it. There isn't any dark, flabby, or muddy tones, just crisp bass notes that seem to jump from the amp.
The EQ is much more responsive now with the slightest of tweaks adding nuances to the tone. I think it's going to take a considerable amount of time to explore and catalog the various tonal subleties that are possible with this versatile amp. There is now a noticable difference between the class A and AB modes of the amp. The class A setting is very pick attack sensitive, and delivers some great tones at moderate to low volumes. In the AB mode this amp goes from crunchy to really sharp, edgy lead tones. The sustain is beautiful. I found myself playing with a much lighter touch on lead runs and the notes just seemed to flow out of the amp like a liquid.
I used two of my home made Strat clones and a re-wired Agile with Highorder humbuckers in it to test the amp out. These three guitars sound great through my 65 Bandmaster, my Ampeg V-2, my Crate VC 30, and my other Epiphone...the little Valve Jr. They sound just as good through this BC 30, but there is a very different quality to the tone of this amp. I was expecting something on the order of tweed or brownface tone with this amp, given it's tube configuration. While there is some of that on the clean channel, the OD channel reminded me more of an AC30 at times...like the difference between a broadsword and a rapier. The Strats sounded decent before the tube change, and a whole lot better now. The Agile LP sounds worlds apart with the new tubes as opposed to the OEM's. With just a little tweaking of the EQ, I was able to go from Allman Brothers tone to heavy AC/DC crunch. I even stumbled upon a little of that hollow/middy Jimmy Paige tone thrown in.
The reverb was very good as first reviewed, and is the pretty much the same now. Deep, lucious, dripping reverb tone that you can only get from a tube driven spring reverb. It does stop a little short of classic Fender reverb, but it's as close as any other to it (well, maybe not as close as Ampegs ).
It's a common notion that a rectifier tube has no bearing on an amps tone. It's just there to convert voltage. Where the difference is heard though, is in the sag and how it relates to the tone. The Philips 5AR4 that I used in place of the OEM Sovtek is as different as if I had gone from a solid state rectifier to tube.
Another thing that was and to a degree remains difficult to evaluate are the speakers. While I couldn't tell to what degree the speakers contributed to or detracted from the tone in the stock mode, I can now hear that the speakers are reproducing the rather versatile tonal ranges quite well. In all fairness, the speakers will need several more hours before they're broken in, but I have no qualms that they'll be up to the task. In fact, I believe that they are very well matched to this amps circuit.
I did make one change to the pre-amp line-up listed in my previous post. I put an NOS GE 5751 in the V-2 slot and moved the BEL 12AX7 to V-3, dropping one of the three remaining GE 12AX7's down to two (in V-3 and V-4). The GE 5751 did tame the OD just enough.
So, my earlier apprehension has decidedly changed to elation after testing the amp with it's new tube complement. Now I can't wait to get home to see what other tone I can squeeze out of this little jewel....
BTW: I'm still trying to get more information on this amps plate voltage and the voltage limits of the reissue Tung-Sol 5881's. If these two do turn out to be compatible, I'd surely like to try a pair. It still seems that those tubes and this amp would make a perfect match. More to come....
Cat, when you replaced the outputs, did you rebias? I really advise against "plug and pray".
I'm not surprised at the "trebly, icepick" comments. This seems to be the norm for most modern production amps, they're voiced that way at the factory. I guess the factories assume we all like LOADS of treble, and that we plan to be playing it with a LOT of gain and distortion. I don't know for sure, but I suspect there are "bright" caps in the circuit, that could be removed to tame down that high end.
Hopefully, the RI TS 5881s will work in that amp. Else, have you considered a pair of KT66? Since the thing is rated at only 30 Watts in the AB1 mode, I suspect the voltage is low, and the TS will work. I would still like to know what they really do when it's switched to the so-called "class a" mode. Did the amp come with a schemo?
Lastly, if you still want more bottom end and punch, there's always the Weber 12F150s.
Well, one of the great features of this amp is that it's cathode biased (self biasing). So there's no need to re-set the bias. This has been confirmed by the Epi people too. Strange though, I'm only used to this with my EL84 amps.
One BC 30 owner I spoke with said that he checked the plate voltage and it was 410 volts. I'm still considering that hearsay until I hear from Epi on this, but with the Sovtek "5881's" capable of handling up around 500 plate volts, this could possibly be true. But this is only a 30 watt amp. Others have reported less than stellar results using 6L6GC's as they are too cold and the amp stays very sterile. Another good sign for lower plate voltages and the possible use of the TS 5881's. The 6L6WGB's I've got in there now are much better than the stock Sovteks, but the reissue Tung-Sols are the one I really want to try in this baby.
Interestingly, as the speakers break in, the bass response is improving. And that's after only about 3-4 hours, so that's looking up. I have a 2X12 cabinet loaded with a pair of older Weber C12N's...the 25 watt versions. I haven't tried them out yet, perhaps tomorrow. And then there's the G12H30's too...
Tube Rectifiers don't affect tone ONLY in Class A circuits.
A good rectifier swap can do wonders in AB amps, though.
Another thing to consider is that Cathode biasing isn't necessarily free range to plug in any 8 pin tube into the socket - some fine tuning could serve a given tube more than others.
As much as I insanely hate those Epi Valve Juniors, I'm really interested in hearing/playing this Epihpne Blues custom 30 amp.
Thanks for sharing your review
I'm very curious to hear what your thoughts are on comparing them Eminence speakers with your other speakers...
It's cathode biased even in the class ab1 mode? If so, the 30 Watt number is suspect. Particularly if indeed the plate voltage is only 410. 6L6/5881 amps are not very efficient in cathode bias, totally unlike EL84s and 7591s which are much better suited to cathode bias. Does it have NFB? How much does the plate voltage on the outputs sag when it's putting out full power?
Consider, cathode biased wide panel tweeds with 6L6s only put out a (measured) 25 Watts at the onset of clipping, and their idle plate voltage was areound 430 or so. I measured the output of a Fargen 6L6 Blackbird at 28 Watts at the onset of clipping, and it's fixed bias, with about 410 on the plates at idle, and a lot of PS sag.
Sorry, but the numbers on the Epi just aren't adding up.
All legitimite questions Tremo...but without conclusive answers at this point. I haven't had the chassis out of the amp yet, and I'd be more than a little unsure of my skills as an amp tech in testing the circuit anyway. There was no schematic included with the amp, and I doubt that there is one on the chassis. I don't know about the negetive feedback, and the plate voltage figure of 410 volts was reported by another BC 30 owner over at FDP. I consider that figure to be hearsay until it can be confirmed. I too was a little puzzled about the cathode biasing with 6L6's, but apparently Epiphone was insistent that it is and that it's self biasing. I've never encountered this, but then again, I'm no amp guru by any means.
You're right about the numbers not adding up. Why choose a tube that can handle 500 plate volts for an amp that puts out 30 watts? 6V6's or EL84's seem better suited for this...or real 5881's that are rated at 360 volts @ 23 watts. Regarding the rated output of this amp: This would not be the first time that Epiphone released an amp as a "30" watt amp that really wasn't 30 watts. They did it with their Electar Tube 30 as well. One thing is sure here though. This amp is LOUD at whatever the rated output (in AB mode). It easily matches, and even surpasses my Crate Vintage Club 30 when run through a 2X12 cabinet.
There are a lot of unanswered questions yet with this amp. If I can ever get a schematic for this thing, I'd be happy to shoot you a copy for your perusal. I'm sure you could shed more light on some of these mysteries.
Eggzaktly, Cat. Still several unanswered questions, few if any real answers, and numbers that do not look to be adding up.
IMO, they went with Sovtek 5881 outputs because they're cheap, they're readily available and they're reliable. Not the best sounding tube, but probably the best for their production's bottom line. There is nothing "wrong" with using a 6L6 in that application, just you sacrifice a good deal of efficiency. EL34s would perhaps been a better choice, they "should" work better in cathode bias than a 6L6/5881. 7591s would have been an excellent choice. In fact, I bet you could have gotten more power out of them because of the higher effective plate to cathode voltage when used in cathode bias.
Cat, cathode biasing is self biasing, and it works unless the tubes are wacked out and very far off spec. I wonder how hot it is, and if it stays out of crossover distortion until after it hits clipping. The bias voltage rise can be clamped with zener diodes and that would help hold it out of crossover distortion.
Oh, BTW, 30 Watts out of a pair of 6V6s would *really* be pushing them hard and would require fixed bias. No way to get 30 Watts with cathode biased pair of 6V6 or EL84, and expect them to live for more than an hour or two.
I suspect Epi went with cathode biasing to make the amp compress and squish a lot, I guess they think that is a more "blues" sound. Just like they seem to think people like bright voicing. Oh well.....
I guess time will tell with these things. Enjoy!