Bill M died so where can I find his Blues Junior mod sets & site ???

Discussion in 'Amp Tech Center' started by thunderbaas, Jun 2, 2020.

  1. thunderbaas

    thunderbaas TDPRI Member

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    Hi there Fender geeks,bought me a Blues jr.III in januari. and I must say it is a nice amp,but sounding a bit "in a box" So after checking the internet ,everyone is raving about the wonderfull Bill M. mods. Which look verry promissing. Been checking his site occasionally and he had a lot of great info. And then the site vanished..............
    As I read on The Gear Page Bill M. died. Not only a great loss of knowledge about the Blues Junior,
    but also his mod sets & for instance Transformators are no longer available. So is there someone continuing his great work & if so where can you find this ??? I really hope that at least all the info from his
    site will still be availlable. And there must be a company that can make a profit out of selling Bill's kits I assume. If anyone can shine a light on this please let me know.
     
  2. Rumblur

    Rumblur Tele-Meister

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    I believe there are several people selling Bjr mod kits, copied from the BillM ideas. And there's a ton of Youtube videos about it. Before you invest/waste the time doing such invasive work I'd strongly suggest you find someone locally with a modded amp and seeing you like it. I think the term "boxy" is way overused for a tiny amp... a delay pedal, a reverb, or pulling it away from the wall a few feet will change the 'box-ation" more so than a few electronic components.
     
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  3. Stratandtele

    Stratandtele Tele-Meister

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    I had a blues junior, I think it was the second incarnation. I ordered the BILLM mod kit from his website. He was ill at the time, it took forever to get it, but I finally got the coveted BILLM mod kit straight from the originator. The mod doubles the capacitance of the first filter cap, changes some tone stack values, adds a bias pot for the power tubes, I did the presence control. The best part of the mod for me, was the adjustable bias for the power tubes. Any improvements in tone are purely subjective, but I found the changes to be underwhelming. Your opinion may vary. I also found that the blues junior is a great sounding, yet fragile amp. You have to remove the printed circuit board from the chassis to access the parts to be replaced. I found the board and most components to be of questionable quality. Plastic input jacks soldered directly to the board. The pots are also directly soldered to the board, and of questionable quality. Long story short, after doing the mod, I had nothing but trouble with the amp. I replaced nearly every pot, and both input jacks, the ribbon from the board to one of the power tubes failed. I got tired of fixing it, and sold it cheap. I don’t miss it. So, if you’d like some real world advice from someone who’s been there and done that, skip the mod. If your amp is functioning well, play it. There are plenty of great tones in a stock blues junior. Swapping out your speaker, and possibly cabinet for a finger joined solid pine cab may be a safer option. Just my opinion, whatever you do, I hope you enjoy the amp in good health.
     
  4. Stratandtele

    Stratandtele Tele-Meister

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  5. Zipslack

    Zipslack Tele-Meister

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    The best thing was changing the bias. Those tubes run extremely hot from the factory. Changing from 15W to 12W makes no discernible sound difference, but dramatically improves tube life.
     
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  6. Hatfield92

    Hatfield92 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    You’re already getting some good advice. I’m another former short term BJ owner. I had a highly skilled local tech do the tone stack mod for me. He also adjusted the bias.

    Long story short, it still sounded like a BJ. I traded mine for an Excelsior as soon as that opportunity arrived. I’ve since added a couple of more traditional fender amps.

    If you’re intent on holding onto the BJ, definitely get the bias adjusted. I also think the stock tubes are low quality, if memory serves. So you might want to get some better tubes in there as soon as possible.

    As far as the billm mods, I don’t know. I didn’t really hear a major difference. You’re likely to be able to adjust the sound more with a decent EQ pedal. Crank the bass way up. Scoop the mids. That can help minimize the boxiness you’re hearing.

    One more thing RE boxiness: if you’re using an OD pedal, avoid a TS-type overdrive. Those pedals feature a mid boost. That will simply exacerbate the “in a box” sound you’re experiencing. Seek out a “transparent” overdrive.
     
  7. Commodore 64

    Commodore 64 Friend of Leo's

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    https://fromelelectronics.com/products/bjr-mods

    I think the prices are ridiculous. Caps, resistors, OT, trimpot, if you want. You don't need a kit. But you might need a description of the mods to know what to do.

    PCB copper traces are wafer thin, so be quick and smart with soldering iron.

    Put a duct tape X on the grillcloth in front of the speaker. That might be all you need.
     
  8. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The more polite term is "passed on"
    I see you're from Netherlands so English may well not be your first language, so, this is just a word to the wise...
     
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  9. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    The site was maintained until fairly recently by his son, IIRC.

    The mods are popular and well documented all over the interwebz. In fact, I found the actual BillM site to lack good documentation of his work and mods. Better clarification can be found elsewhere. Just gotta google a lot.

    I traded for a BJIII in part with the goal to do some modding. After playing it a bit I liked the the amp enough as it is. I figured it wasn't worth the hassle to mod. It's a PCB amp. A good one. But overpriced new, IMO. Neither worth the money and time to invest in upgrading, nor worth the risk in messing up the PCB. Given my hamfistedness with an iron, I wasn't too confident I wouldn't do the latter. I sold it and bought a guitar. I have some p2p amps to tinker with when I get the bug.

    I don't think BJrs are worth taking to a tech for modding. Not bad build quality for a cheap amp. But not great, either. I don't think they sound boxy, per se. But the cheap MDF cab is heavy and dead sounding. Spend the money on a nice solid wood cab before modding the circuit, IMO. But even that isn't worth it. It's still a cheap PCB amp in the end.

    BJrs are good for what they are built to do. Better to spend the dough on another amp if it doesn't check enough boxes, IMO.
     
  10. thunderbaas

    thunderbaas TDPRI Member

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    Thank you all for these wise words. Though quite handy with a soldering Iron. After building & modding several pedals. My conclusion is to keep this one untouched,considering the weak PCB & overall build.. Indeed the best tone to me is Treble & Bass nearly full open and Mids at nearly zero. And if I would sell it again an unmodded one might sell better. Found the Fromel site allready & totally agree. Ridiculous prices indeed. The so called "Recap" kit costs you over $40 dollars for under $20 dollar worth of capacitors:eek: Maybe a Celestion Greenback 12 " might be an option. Great speaker indeed (to my ears),with my ENGL fireball I use a verry old cabinet (London City a long gone Dutch brand that mainly copied the first Marshalls) with
    4 original old time Green backs. They sound awesome. So maybe this BJr is the first step towards a Blackface Twin....... And as for the "pased" away of course it is passed,just a matter of typing too quick Blowtorch;)
     
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  11. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Greenback will NOT help with the boxiness. Likely it will sound more boxy with a greenback. You need a more efficient speaker with more low end to reduce boxiness. Mine was a tweed BJ with the Jensen C12. I thought it complemented the amp well. Definitely helped keep it in the Fender vein tonewise more than a Greenback would, as well.

    I put a Greenback in my DSL20CR combo. It was a mistake. Horribly boxy. It's now in a larger 1X12 pine cab, and sounds MUCH better with the DSL plugged into the cab.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
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  12. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    I liked Billm's mods and employed several in my amp. I did the tone stack, power stiffening and the new output transformer. This is a great amp that too often gets confused for a Fender amp. So people foist Fender expectations on it when it's really trying to be something else. It's not built to be fat and tubby, it wants to be sparkly and open. It's not an AC-15 amp, but I think it's closer to that spectrum then the classic 6V6 architecture.

    I'm a total stranger and no reason to take my advice, so here's my advice:
    1. Get the new output transformer. It's cheap, plug and play and its one thing you can do to open up the range of sounds.
    2. Build or buy a new, larger cabinet for the amp. It is inside a dead MDF box right now and no amount of modifications to the circuit is going to make the MDF behave differently. I'd recommend pine, but I actually used plywood and it was just fine. I built mine to generally a Fender Deluxe dimensions and it made a world of difference. You don't need new speakers, you don't need to voice the amp circuit any differently (which is what many of the BillM mods were really doing) you just need the cabinet to become an active player in what's pushing through the speaker.
    I am a heretic in that I think the BillM mods are nice, but they don't really transform that amplifier in a meaningful way. You can actually test this theory right now if you've got a larger amplifier or some other speaker cab that you could plug into. Everything this amp is trying to do is being undermined by the small neutral and dead MDF cabinet.
     
  13. KPAE

    KPAE TDPRI Member

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    I modified a Blues Jr with one of Doug Hoffman's rebuild kits, it turned out great! Completely replaces the tube socket and component boards, outstanding quality. Sounds good too!
     
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  14. saltyseadog

    saltyseadog Tele-Meister

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    I agree, I did the BillM mods about 14yrs ago and was very pleased with it but the rebuild I did last year with a Bandmaster sized tweeded pine cabinet with the addition of two Patriot 820H speakers alongside the original 12" Eminence has made it into a different sounding beast alltogether. https://www.tdpri.com/threads/fender-blues-junior-club.166192/page-69
     
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  15. Kevin Wolfe

    Kevin Wolfe Tele-Meister

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    You beat me to it. Lots of BJ info on that site.
     
  16. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm doing that very thing from scratch, inspired by another guy on this forum @galaxiex who did a very cool turret board version. My project is coming off the back burner this summer and I'm looking forward to completing it. It's essentially a gig-worthy EL84 BJ that isn't such a maintenance nightmare.

    There is also more than a couple of one-tube reverb circuits that you could add to Doug Hoffman's version if you are so inclined.
     
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  17. SlideGuy123

    SlideGuy123 Tele-Meister

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    Just adding one more experience: I did the power stiffening and tone stack mods on my 2001 cream board about 15 years ago, and where I actually heard the difference was in the tone knobs. Previously, the bass and mid pots didn't do a whole lot, but after, it was very obvious that they had a wider range of adjustment.

    Later I swapped in a Texas Heat, which made a big difference - a much fuller, less ice-picky sound. For all I know, I could have just done the speaker swap, but I hopped on the mod bandwagon. I still gig with it (when we played sketchy places) and I bring it as a backup amp.
     
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