Clone Builds That Intensionally Aren't.

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

  1. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I've owned literally tons of old amps and loved many of them, but I'd say they were all noisy and often had other issues that are fairly easily fixed without losing the good parts of the sound and feel.
    I suppose the buyer can choose for themselves how exact vs how updated and maybe improved they want?

    The '57 Deluxe I had in the early '90s was just way too mushy to be of much use to me, I could not hear it at all over my drummer, never mind with bass. Fine I suppose for a nice mature drummer in a nice quiet setting, but even alone I found it a little bucket of mush tossed over my playing. Had a fresh enough Celestion V30 and recent service so it wasn't an issue of worn out parts.
    I'm pretty certain there's room for a wide range of minor to major updates to this circuit that might make it a useful amp to me.
    Charming stock but really shouldn't be viewed as a God or a holy Cow to bow before and worship.

    Sold it to buy a '70 Super Lead 100 which is of course the polar opposite.
    Contrary to recordings made with these highly regarded amps, that first metal panel 100 of '69-'70 tends to be harsh and clean up to full brutally loud volume, and even with everything on 10 it doesn't really sound like most recordings unless you either use higher output pickups or boost it with a pedal or mods.
    That's why they were modded more often than they were left stock: the basic circuit had lots of room for improvement.
    In the next couple of years Marshall gained up the metal panel 4 input 100s and these clean Marshalls lack of dirt was forgotten or "fixed" by a tech.

    I've never played an original 18w Marshall but I have one clone that's stock but without trem, and two clones that are the popular TMB mod with an extra gain stage and three band eq instead of just vol and tone.

    The difference between the two is basically the original is good for not a whole lot while the TMB is versatile and great for almost any sounds you might need.

    I think we overlook the fact that so many "great vintage amps" were invariably modded or boosted on the great classic tracks we associate them with.
    Not all but an awful lot.
    If a great vintage distortion amp needs an OD pedal to give up the goods, is the amp really great stock?

    I had an early Park (Marshall) 45/50 with the bigger 50w transformers but still fitted with the tube rectifier.
    Total Holy Grail amp with hand bent aluminum chassis, impedance selector and voltage selector on the transformer bells, odd huge pots that must have been mil surplus, plexi panel of course and well over 500v on the plates.
    I was using it with a '72 4x12 loaded with original pulsonic cone G12M25s.

    After struggling for a few years with the harsh loud clang it produced (with an Esquire) I finally offered it to a vintage dealer who tested it with a TS pushing it. I was then still anti SS dirt with my "awesome vintage toob amps", and was a little surprised he used diodes for his Marshall dirt. Sounded great though, just not a sound the amp alone was capable of.

    I had and gigged Fender Tweed Bassman RI's too, pretty much the same issue with loud bright clean sound until cranked too loud for a bar. I found it fine to use clean in a bar, but it was really limited in practical use as an amp known for sweet breakup.
    I think some of the vintage amps that get dirty at lower volume actually have half blown speakers, worn out tubes, drifted components, bad filter caps, and unknown circuit changes added by techs over the years.

    I suppose you could argue that it's wrong to call a modded circuit a clone of the original circuit, but are a lot of builders really saying that?
    How might builders better refer to tweaked vintage circuits?
    A clone with mods is at least honest, you're not being lied too.
    Should they claim they sell their own designs?
    How much tweaking before a 5e3 is a different amp?
    That question does come up so it's nothing new to ask.
    There was a "builder" selling on Reverb and a member here bought his hand wired 5e3 clone only to open it up and find a Chinese piece of crap for his $700 or whatever the price was.
    Totally stock though AFAIK!
     
    Paul G. and muchxs like this.
  2. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    We're "worshipping" about five pounds of cow tonight. Got an enormous pot roast simmering away in the crock pot.

    :cool: :cool: :cool:

    :D :D :D
     
    Paul G. and telemnemonics like this.
  3. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Holy Cow I'll be there in a minute!

    Wait, life got me by the throat an I'ma not makin' it...
    At least what's got me by the throat is mostly good stuff and I start every day right with a big bowl o' screaming electric guitar.

    My wife says Honey X and Babe Y and I say WHAT, I CAN"T HEAR YOU!
     
  4. Snfoilhat

    Snfoilhat Tele-Afflicted

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    I think people with education and experience have a lot of reason to feel pride and a kind of confidence in their process and their products. But the classic Fender designs are just not the product of meticulous engineering in the sense of the values of the parts being optimized. You don't need a first hand account like a diary of Leo or one of his contemporaries, you can just look at the work.

    Almost every resistor in a vintage Fender was from the E12 series. A builder chooses between any two values (say 82k and 100k) with a fairly large gap between them, either based on a generic circuit block provided in the RCA manual or by ear. Imagining that these values were optimized so precisely that to deviate from them somehow negatively impacts the sound of the amp is such a stretch.

    The generic audio circuits in amps are fairly useful and fairly stable across a huge envelope of component values -- just look at the circuits in the tube manuals. So anybody with a soldering iron can make almost any change or set of changes and, if they stay within that envelope and are lucky not to introduce some serious instability into the amp, that person is standing on just as solid ground as Fender. Does it actually sound better? Who knows? But we do know that a bunch of people use cues like the look of the amp and the expressions on other peoples' faces to decide whether they like something better. In that world, how much does optimizing matter? And if it doesn't matter that much, then a builder's experience and education are superfluous (until something goes wrong). Or they are just part of the marketing (4 out of 5 dentists (DMDs) agree!)

    To take it in the other direction, some perfectly stock Fender designs aren't even stable. Go to Guitar Store, turn the reverb on some PRs and DRs and VRs and SRs and TRs up to 10 and see if the circuit can even behave within the parameters of its own onboard controls. Some of them are going to howl.

    Small builders use the old Fender names to help communicate the broad category that an amp falls into, or its lineage, and they use the word clone to take advantage of Fender's brand without paying anything for it. People selling stuff sometimes are dishonest?
     
    D'tar and telemnemonics like this.
  5. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I learned in the late '80s to move the wires around in old Marshalls and listen for the noise level to change, where wire routing was pretty critical to noise but more haphazard in original production. Easy to hear how critical wire routing is.
    A lot of my old Marshalls had "Shirl" and "Mo" sigs on the inspection tag, and they were pretty consistent but also pretty noisy builds.
    I also only owned BF versions of Fender amps from 1980 to 1990, and the SF builds (except for the first cloth wired SFs) were really pretty terrible in wire routing. Also often had parasitic oscillation issues from the changed routing.

    Never played a boutique BF style amp but I've played Tweeds by Victoria Fender and Holland, plus original Hiwatts and boutique versions by Harry Joyce and seen the similar Reeves Hiwatt builds.

    The more critically build clones were easily and clearly better amps in terms of noise, and they often also sounded better at lower volume, which is maybe odd but it's what I heard.
    One Victoria was a 4x6L6 Bassman looking 4x10 combo with the similarly huge OT as the HPTT had.
    That amp compared to my Fender Bassman RI sounded fat and glorious at lower volume where the Fender with only 2x6L6 had to be turned up a lot more to sound sweet.
    Same with the Harry Joyce Hiwatt build, just beautiful fat singing clean sound at volume I could play in a guitar shop while they did business with other customers.
    That shop actually had a Fender Bassman RI at some point and in the same room it could not do the reasonable volume fat sweet sound of either of those double wattage hand built masterpieces.

    This was not that the "improved" versions sounded different, more that they did a better job of sounding like their forebears with less noise and at maybe a wider sweet spot.
    I did not turn them up to distorted levels though so it's possible they missed some of the early breakup thing. The Bassman didn't have that either though so XYZ...
     
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