Carl’s Custom Amps Reverb Unit

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by dinomike77, Dec 20, 2018.

  1. clintj

    clintj Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,919
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2015
    Location:
    Idaho
    That's it right there. That ground wire from the mains cord needs a dedicated bolt. Anchoring other grounds to them is not technically against code, but it's not a great practice for long term durability. Transformers heat up and cool down and they have a lot of mass, both of which contribute to those nuts trying to work loose over time. Later CBS era amps that use them often have loose grounds from the fasteners loosening and corrosion under the wires where they meet the chassis.

    There's a couple of reasons code is written this way. One is a severe impact can rip a transformer free of a chassis. We're talking UPS Gorilla throwing packages level of impact here. The other worry is if someone replaces the transformer, there's a chance (Murphy's Law) that the safety ground may be forgotten when replacing the nuts. That's why a dedicated fastener is used. That ground is what will save your life if there's a fault that makes the chassis live.
     
    Cantbreak100guy likes this.
  2. SacDAve

    SacDAve Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    67
    Posts:
    6,905
    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2009
    Location:
    Rocklin Ca.
    This is how I do my PT wires, solder together/ shrink tube. I have this Amp torn apart right now, the ground to the PT lug will be changed. I'm not really concerned about it but might do a solder ground.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. bblumentritt

    bblumentritt Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

    Posts:
    1,783
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2012
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    dinomike77, Mojotone has some nice Reverb units.
     
    SacDAve likes this.
  4. Larmo63

    Larmo63 Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,923
    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2018
    Location:
    Timbuktu, Earth
    I have a Blonde 20 that Carl did for me. He is great to deal with, his wiring was top notch (looked lie an old h/w Fender.)

    My new Strymon Flint is all of the reverb and tremolo I'll ever need.
     
  5. dinomike77

    dinomike77 Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    288
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    I’m glad this thread could spark some discussion of safe amp-building practices. I’m sure that any hand built unit in the $800 to $1k range. Any other units that offer a bias-vary trem built in like the one from Carl’s? Honestly, my Flint is more than I’d ever need and I should just leave well enough alone. My GAS has subsided with the holidays since I even started this thread. I’m sure it’ll come back around in 3 months for my birthday, though!
     
  6. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    67
    Posts:
    9,383
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Location:
    Lawndale CA
    ^^^Yep. Trim them short, install heat shrink and heat until tightly sealed.

    I appreciate efforts by small outfits to produce hand-wired amps and tube effects at reasonable prices, but not at the expense of electronics knowledge.

    Non-compliant grounds; wire nuts; (IMO) sloppy lead dress with excessively/unnecessarily long loops of wire (commonly hum inducing; sometimes ultrasonic oscillation causing) and other construction methods that just don't seem quite up to the level of small makers each raises a level off concern; collectively I see it as quite problematic.

    One reason prices are higher from established companies - operating costs, which include things like product liability insurance...which requires compliance with certain electrical codes (and an additional set or export sales). And taking the time to ensure all materials suppliers also have sufficient liability insurance - one reason Weber Speakers were not used in Fender amps for many years (I'm not sure they are yet) is that they don't carry the insurance Fender requires of all suppliers. Because unusual things that have happened in other parts of the business is a fire caused by a piece of equipment - and every component supplier i sure to be named as a co-defendent.

    Warranties - and how long has a company been around? A "Lifetime warranty" from a builder that's been in existence for 6 months is essentially worthless (I'm not saying that's the case here). There are all sorts of business situations - technical support to legal support - that end up causing a high percentage of startups to fail.

    It's one thing to sell some amps locally by word of mouth - but running a business is another game altogether. They may be making great sounding, reliable...to a point...products. But I would ask for insurance certs and written warranties. And I certainly would not stock them in a music store without those, a financial statement and balance sheet.

    This may sound like major overkill, but I've seen a lot of players lose money over the years buying fairly expensive gear from companies that evaporated very quickly.

    Know what you're buying - and who you're buying it from. If it's not an established manufacturer and you don't have much technical knowledge run it past someone that does.

    Just my opinion - be cautious.
     
    Mr Ridesglide and Tenderfoot like this.
  7. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,880
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Yup, it sounds like major overkill to me at least. I have an amp from Carl and it has been excellent from day one...dead silent at idle going on 2 years now. I had a Fender hybrid tube amp with circuit boards go up in flames at year 3 and I mean literally flames. I am no electrician and I do value the information being passed along about grounding methods, but I think some of the criticism is a bit over the top. As a small business owner myself, I agree that insurance costs are a big part of operational costs and I am sure that small boutique builders like Carls Custom Amps carries business liability insurance just like any other business. I would be really surprised if he didn't, well, shocked actually to find any business operating without insurance.

    The OP is interested in a outboard reverb unit and based on customer satisfaction history, I believe it deserves a strong consideration over say a Fender RI or some 50 year old unit of questionable serviceability. The grounding concern was a valuable contribution (I will have to pull my chassis to check) and would be something any potential buyer should discuss prior to purchasing, but I don't think it deserves such strong condemnation as has been posted. Heck, I am sitting next to a POS Epiphone Electar amplifier that wears the UL statement yet was grounded with chewing gum wrappers and hummed worse than a fat kid with braces since new and that is a major vendor so I still support Carl's builds as being worth the money.
     
  8. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    67
    Posts:
    9,383
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Location:
    Lawndale CA
    In discussions with larger guitar & amp manufacturers at NAMM it was actually pretty stunning how many potential suppliers could only qualify for very low coverage and/or had carriers that wouldn't add majors (like Fender) as an "additional insured" (which is a standard practice). Many small specialty outfits like home-based hardware fabricators and guitar finishing shops carry no insurance - or even a business license. There are plenty of small finishers running "pirate" operations - I can tell you from experience that fire and other safety equipment requirements to pass insurance inspections are very expensive.

    I think in 2008 or so Fender required suppliers to carry $2MM in liability (that included fire, personal damages, business interruption etc etc, and many business liability policies don't automatically cover some - they turn out to be expensive riders). Some potential suppliers (I was told Weber was one) didn't didn't feel it was worth it to pay the hefty premiums for the limited amount of units they would be selling through them.

    But back to "Carl's": my mentioning of lead dress issues are opinions based on common noise sources ( that may not occur) and not hazards. But bolted primary ground tabs were pointed out by others as not complying with electrical codes, and wire nuts that others noted wore on some high voltage leads are considered poor practice by every tech I've ever known (even though some "budget" production amps commonly use them).

    My post was meant to summarize "typical" issues buyers should at least be aware of and included some mentioned in previous posts. It was not "accusatory" regarding Carl's products. If that impression was given it wasn't intended.
     
  9. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,880
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Insurance issues are always a problem in small business, I carry a 2 mil policy and was still forced to add supplemental in the event of a terrorist attack! That is the nature of the insurance industry these days, vampires that force you to pay hefty to play, but it also doesn't indicate the quality of the business itself...just how deep their pockets go and how willing they are to reach into them. No kidding, the very day that I created my LLC the local BBB came out to my shop and told me that if I didn't join they would bury me by telling all potential customers that I was not an ethical business. That cost me $1500 per year just to open my doors. After a couple of years I told them to jump in a lake. I just don't find the insurance issue important regarding the purchase of an amplifier from a small builder.

    I didn't mean to come off as a grump, as you and others made important observations, but I have had my business get beaten to nearly shutting down by internet smear compaigns and so I don't like it when a small business gets accused of being low quality or operating an illegal business. I shopped around for a month before settling on Carl after a couple of conversations and I ended up with a really great amplifier, so I think that stands for something. After-all, we all would consider Fender to have built some of the best amplifiers ever, yet they still had an issue with a "death cap" but nobody has ever called them out as having illegal practices. Wire nuts may not be the strongest design, but when was the last time you heard of an amp burning up or injuring someone as a result? I never have just like I have never run across anyone harmed by the "death cap" in Fender amps.

    There I go, taking this all personal again. It's late and I have to get up early to deliver mail in a wintery mix mainly due to my business being almost shut down for good. I built the business over 14 years and worked my butt off only to see it die due to internet claims by competitors that were all BS, but once out there can not be stopped. Small business ownership is really tough and I guess I am just supporting the little guy on this one as they all deserve some support these days.
     
  10. bparnell57

    bparnell57 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,972
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2014
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Carl's amps are on par with what anyone could make from a Weber kit. Average quality parts and average quality lead dress and soldering. They're great for the cash, but really I'd splurge and go with a build from Muchxs (formerly on here, now on TGP), Victoria, or others. Don't just go with the cheapest option.

    Personally for just a reverb unit, I'd say a Weber kit, Fender Reissue (PCB based), or Surfyverb, would be best.

    75% of boutique builders and kits fail to meet grounding code.

    Only boutique manufacturer with UL listed amps that I know of is Dr Z. To do that, they went with lead free solder, which is by nature, less reliable, and more of a hassle than its worth.

    Classic fenders are a much higher risk than any modern amp with a few code violations. You're much more likely to have an issue from cut insulation or your kid sticking a screwdriver in the tube sockets. Either way, they're safe enough.

    Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using TDPRI forum mobile app
     
  11. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Age:
    67
    Posts:
    9,383
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Location:
    Lawndale CA
    Holy crap! I'd expect that to be common in the L.A. area, but I've had or ben partners in 4 LLC's and the BBB never said boo! None of the tech shops or music stores locally (that I know) have ever had contact with them unless they initiated it - and then the BBB reaction was like "well, if we get any inquiries about you we might talk to you about joining". Weird. I guess there are huge regional differences!

    Nah, no worries. And again, I only mentioned a few technical points regarding Carl's - two as part of a summary and one I noticed, just as "awareness" things for those that aren't knowledgable on the technical end. I DID want to make a point about seeing many small product outfits of all types coming and going over the years, just so folks aren't looking just at "price" plus reports about sound.

    Personally I also support small manufacturers, buying very early from ZVex, Way Huge (the old one) Lovetone, Pull String, Hipshot, Pedaltrain, Holland amps (a late-on-board partner folded it - but it's going again.) and so on. When I could physically walk through NAMM my favorite place was the basement, where all the "new guys" had small booths or tabletops -I ended up buying cool stuff afterwards, and it's great to see some of them grow like mad!

    So I really wouldn't be afraid to buy one of Carl's amps or effects. The prices are good, much of the build quality looks great - and any "issues" are minor and easily rectified to me. Awareness is a key factor in my purchase decisions, though.
     
    Milspec likes this.
  12. Syrinx

    Syrinx Tele-Meister

    Age:
    55
    Posts:
    424
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2016
    Location:
    Champaign illinois
    Carl makes great amps and is easy to work with-tell him you dont want the wire nut, and he will shrink wrap it for you. While I agree with real world safety, I dont find issue with his builds.
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.


  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.