Clone Builds That Intensionally Aren't.

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by arlum, Feb 28, 2020.

  1. arlum

    arlum Tele-Meister Gold Supporter

    Age:
    65
    Posts:
    330
    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2018
    Location:
    O'Fallon, MO
    I try not to complain or be negative so I'll just say this is something that doesn't sit well with me.
    Vintage amp prices are through the roof and, in many cases, are worth every penny. Because of this I've spent many years looking at builders who offer amp clones. I'm not talking about "new boutique" based on vintage builds. This isn't about Matchless, Badcat, Carr, Victoria, Bruno, etc. They build wonderful amps "based on" "vintage circuits they've either combined or worked with to create new amplifier offerings. They don't hide the fact that they're build uses a great deal of input from vintage designs. They offer a "new" amp build. This is about amps offered by current builders listed as Clones of specific vintage amps. To me a Clone is an exact replica of the original.

    I've noted a trend among current "Clone" build offerings that kind of makes me bite my tongue to keep from swearing. They advertise one or more "Clones" of specific Vintage Amp builds. A Tweed 5E3 Deluxe. A Blackface AB763 Deluxe Reverb. A Tweed 5E8A Low Power Twin. These are amps that have earned their place in amp history. They're not necessarily flawless but they were / are damn good enough to have a following willing to dig deep into their pockets to own one. I don't have pockets that deep. I'd love to buy a "cloned" version at a fair price. So I check out all "clone" offerings.
    So what's put the burr up my butt? A trend that's counter to the advertised offering.

    I'll build you an exact clone using the highest quality vintage parts. If vintage parts are no longer available I'll use current parts that are designed to be exact to the original parts specifications. No stone will be left unturned to make this amp identical to the original. Once achieved ........... I will then, after great thought and deliberation, make a few minor tweaks to improve upon the original.

    Through the grace of God, Buddha or whatever you do or don't believe in I'm glad I don't own, or would use, a gun.

    I'm sorry. I don't mean to be mean. I'd kick something if it wouldn't scratch the toe of my boot.

     
  2. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    10,362
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2003
    Location:
    northwest
    Well, technically you are correct I suppose.... but who cares? So you take a clone and mod it a bit. It's a modded clone I suppose. BTW, cloned organisms probably wont be "exact", because their brains have learned different things... Like identical twins.
     
    nojazzhere and Snfoilhat like this.
  3. D'tar

    D'tar Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,587
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2013
    Location:
    WNY
    "Replication in the spirit of"
    "Similar to the likes of"
    "Almost exactly"
    "With homage to the original"
    In close proximity to good enough
     
    Snfoilhat likes this.
  4. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    35,319
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Lubbock, TX
    Well, one can build a ‘clone’ of a schematic. However, one cannot build a true clone of an actual original example as it was on the day it was built because of the tolerance errors of the components.....and there is no way that those component values will all be what they were all of those years ago, ime. One can build a clone of an original amp IF one blueprints that amp for eacH component’s actual value....but because of drift in values it will not be what it was say in 1956...or whatever year the amp was built.
    This is what Buddy Guy had done to his favorite original 5F6A......it was dissected and blueprinted. Then, Butler built an exact clone of that particular amp it existed in that present day...not what it was in 195? Or 1960...whenever it was built.
    So, get a PT that will yield vintage schematic voltages. Measure every resistor and cap to match the schematic values. Put it together. Maybe use NOS tubes...with the power tubes sitting in the middle of the ‘grading’ range??? Then, see if you like it. IF a builder has the experience with that particular vintage amp, then the builder might think that something needs to move one way or another. Those builders are the really good ones. That is what is special about their work and results...they know what say a +/- 20% difference in a particular component’s value will do...and they can adjust things for a particular result. otherwise, one builds the schematic and hopes for the best, I suppose.
    I am not that builder...but through a little experience I can say that power supply resistors’ drift in an old amp can make or break the amp. Too much drift will render the amp useless, ime. A little bit??? Maybe the player likes it. It would be very interesting to see for example the blueprint of B. Guy’s cloned Bassman....and compare it to the schematic.
    At any rate.....IF I were to be paying for a clone of a schematic, the builder would have to assure me that any change from the schematic was needed...and exactly what that change would accomplish.
     
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2020
    muscmp and Lowerleftcoast like this.
  5. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

    Posts:
    21,714
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2011
    Location:
    Around
    There could still be some litigation going on somewhere, so covering themselves.

    Ceriotone so far is the best I have found or heard of. His operation is not in Europe or stateside
    so, they may be able to get around some of the marketing issues.
     
  6. FenderLover

    FenderLover Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,397
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Location:
    Minnesota
    "Clone" is becoming the new "transparent". It's a word that doesn't mean much, even though it has meaning itself. It's a word used to mean copy, and the degree of 'copy' has different levels of originality.

    To some degree, denying that improvements can be made to an old design after 50 years of technology and knowledge is a little silly. Old amps are cool, I have many, but I can build a better one. And I wouldn't call it a clone.
     
    jsnwhite619 and Wally like this.
  7. Bob Arbogast

    Bob Arbogast Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    1,665
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Location:
    Lowell, Michigan USA
    I guess my home-built Deluxe Reverb clone isn't really a clone.
    • It's a 2x10.
    • It runs a 5V4 rectifier.
    • Tone stack and oscillator values are tweaked.
    • The tremolo is bias-vary.
    • The normal channel is modeled after a 6G3 Deluxe.
    • And it has an amber-colored jewel.
    Oh well.

    But it's a great amp!

    :)
     
    cnlbb, GGardner and Wally like this.
  8. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    993
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2019
    Location:
    california
    I would say a true clone can't be done. The new caps and resistors have been improved over the years. Old stock and NOS resistors and caps will not act like when they were new. So, even if a builder stays true to the old schematic, the parts will not respond to the voltage swings the way they did back in the day. The best a builder can do is approximate how the amp would have sounded.
     
    GGardner and Wally like this.
  9. dogmeat

    dogmeat Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    69
    Posts:
    1,507
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2017
    Location:
    Alaska
    and put that death cap back in there too while we're at it
     
    Jlwctn, BobbyZ and muscmp like this.
  10. muscmp

    muscmp Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,629
    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Location:
    california
    dang, somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed!

    there is no such thing as a perfect clone as others have mentioned. do the best you can and mod it if you see fit. i've built three 5e3s with only one being the closest to a clone. the others i've modded because i wanted to and i use them. even clones of plants are not perfect.

    play music!
     
  11. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    13,129
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Location:
    New England
    I got in on the ground floor of the tweed Deluxe thing. About fifteen years ago a topic popped up on a now defunct forum.

    "What would you do to build the best 5E3 type?"

    So I set off to build the best 5E3 type. Along the way everyone and their dog jumped on the tweed Deluxe bandwagon. I got bored to the point I was ready to discontinue building tweed Deluxe types forever.

    Which would be a shame. I build some pretty good ones.

    But... I build hot rods. Same as I build hot rod bikes. Same as I build hot rod cars.

    When I say "bikes" I mean

    NO PEDALS!!!!

    Every so often I build up an old mountain bike for change of pace. I have a soft spot for vintage Specialized Rock Hoppers.

    I digress….

    I will put my tweed Deluxe type up against any other tweed Deluxe type on Planet Dirt. I'm confident my tweed Deluxe type will eat anyone else's tweed Deluxe for lunch and use its bones for toothpicks.

    That's

    Best build quality.

    Best attention to detail.

    Best tone.

    Best reliability.

    And likely a few other bests if I wanted to take inventory.

    While we're at it I work dirt cheap. It seems the stock market shaves off 2500 points every time I think of asking fair market value.

    :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

    Sucks 2 B U.

    Whatever you got... Bring it!
    If you want to kick something I suggest you wear your steel toe boots. I invite you to kick one of my 5E3 types. Steel toes or not, you will probably hurt yourself. Unless you're King Kong it's unlikely you'll do substantial damage to my amp.​
     
  12. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    993
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2019
    Location:
    california
    I build (extremely limited quantity). I find most people want "ups and extras". I am sure you can find a builder that has no problem with providing a request for a clone.

    Now as to a fair price... for a small builder, the cost of quality parts in these amps is not cheap. When you add in a fair price for "skilled" labor, sticker shock is inevitable.

    The guitarist that got this one liked the "ups and extras".
    DSCN1319.JPG DSCN1316.JPG
     
    RodeoTex and gobi_grey like this.
  13. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    13,129
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Location:
    New England
    Way I figure it 90% of musicians don't know what's inside their amps. We might hear from the remaining 10% who can read a schematic. Maybe 10% of those are in denial of half a century of technological advancement between then and now. Maybe they can read a schematic. It's easy to insist everything is per the schematic.

    Next layer are wannabe technicians who think splicing a list of features together is easy and prototypes will play nice the first try.

    "Any time you tell me anything is easy... go do it one hundred times. Then it will either be easy (through practice) or you'll know better."

    We're technicians. 90% of us know what's going on inside our amps, part by part.

    Factor in the offshore bootleggers who are leading the race to the bottom. While we're at it we might as well factor in the 25% tariff on imported electronics parts that's supposed to help us compete in global markets. The offshore bootleggers I mentioned aren't paying a premium for their parts. The price of my resistors doubled. I looked up vintage Fender style circuit board eyelets previously a nickel each. They tripled.
     
    telemnemonics likes this.
  14. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    993
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2019
    Location:
    california
    Same here. I was "thinking" of trying to get a fair price on the current batch. The stock market took a wild hit. What's up with that?
    I'm right there with ya. Competition in this market ain't fair. All that keeps me in this game is some people value my cobbling.
     
  15. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Posts:
    10,362
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2003
    Location:
    northwest
    OK then, Let's just call the Clown Builds....:lol:
     
    zephyrR1 likes this.
  16. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,672
    Joined:
    May 24, 2010
    Location:
    Canada
    I do clown builds. I take the schematic and put it in front of a fun house mirror.
     
  17. LightningPhil

    LightningPhil Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    288
    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2018
    Location:
    Nottingham, UK
    I mess with everything. It would be interesting to have an original amp kicking about, but it would feel terrified and hide behind the others.
     
    muchxs likes this.
  18. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

    Posts:
    13,129
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Location:
    New England
    Refer to my "Do something one hundred times." statement above. You've got to be creeping up on a hundred builds by now.

    Even better, they're combinations of all sorts of things. That tells you PDQ what's going to play nice and what isn't.

    Through pure serendipity I got to play a more or less stock 5E3 I built a few years ago and an admittedly less stock 5E3 that's a fresh build. The new one kills the old one, no contest and no comparison.

    Another musician said the new build was four times louder than the old one, same cabinet, same speaker, same tubes, even. I won't claim four times louder but it is easily twice as loud.

    I'd like to go toe to toe with a 5E3x2 or a Proluxe. I don't mind being the "underdog". Twice as loud is still twice as loud.

    Same tubes. Same speaker.

    :cool: :cool: :cool:
     
    telemnemonics and LightningPhil like this.
  19. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,672
    Joined:
    May 24, 2010
    Location:
    Canada
    Nowhere near 100, I just am a good learner. I ask questions.
     
  20. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,029
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    In my life I've played a number of vintage Marshall amplifiers in the mid-to-high double digits. While basically similar, I have to say no two of them sounded exactly the same. Less so with Fenders, but I've owned an all original Vibrolux Reverb that was a dog, whereas most of those amps are amazing little screamers.

    Tolerances, "equivalent" parts, modern wall current, availability of NOS tubes (yes, there's one thing I guarantee they don't make like they used to), all mean an exact duplicate of a vintage amp is a goal, but not an actual destination. Ken Fischer wouldn't make an amp until he got a good set of NOS tubes gathered for the build.

    I like clone amps for the exact reason you can use them without fear, mod them without guilt, without destroying history.
     
    koolaide and muchxs like this.
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.