Fender Amp Cabinet Material Question...

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by AxemanVR, Jun 22, 2018.

  1. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I am in the midst of restoring a '58 Twin. I have pulled and measured what's left of the original baffle and it was just a hair of 1/4". I was actually quite shocked by that. To replace it, I picked up some 1/4" Baltic Birch. I am a big fan fo light, thin baffles... Literally just enough structure to hold the speakers without failing. I've been using 1/2' cabinat grade plywood for baffles for years. THis'll be my first, really thin, like making me nervous thin, baffle. We'll see what happens!

    My '59 Bassman Ri is a plywood cabinet. Due to size, and 4 speakers, it really spreads the sound nicely. Very airy and open sounding... Also, not directional at all. My old DRRI was plywood as well. Although, I really don't remember what the baffle was made of... I know Fender's used MDF over the years for a lot of them.

    **Edit** I have a blank Princeton size baffle all built and ready if anybody needs it (free to whomever). I was gonna install it in my PRRI before I sold it. It had a 12" speaker, and I was thinking of going back to a 10"... But, never got around to it.
     
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  2. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Interesting!
    I was wondering if I recalled some reference to 1/4" thick baffles in Tweeds.

    So are you saying it's a fraction over 1/4" but not quite 5/16"?
    It's also worth noting that the quality of plywood back then was generally higher than what we get today, though (void free) Baltic Birch is still very good if the real thing and not a mislabeled cheaper grade.

    For some years I found AC fir to be very very nice quality and great for cabs, much better IMO than cabinet grade birch ply. But that quality had dropped to a point where many sheets are almost unusable, and I've complained to suppliers several times, bringing them pieces I'd milled for projects to demand they complain to their supplier. At least once they did switch to a different manufacturer because they were getting a "B face" on "A face" graded material.

    In addition to the baffle not sagging under the weight of the speakers, it needs to hold fasteners, and I'd presume you need the right screws to hold in the baffle, while not really being able to switch to tee nuts (longer than the thickness) which is my preferred method for new baffles, mostly because I've carelessly punched holes in a few speaker cones with the permanently installed stud screws.
     
  3. srolfeca

    srolfeca Tele-Meister

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    I'm pretty sure that cab materials matter less with a smaller box and lower-powered amp like a Princeton or a Champ.

    I read that when the Fender Custom Shop was working on a Bassman reissue for Clapton, they got the heads sounding identical, but couldn't fool him with repro cabs until they made a thin baffle out of old barn boards. That was supposedly in blind tests.

    That makes more sense to me, because you're talking about 4 tens hanging off the baffle, and a 6L6GT powered amp set on stun.

    I tested my 5E3 with a heavy birch plywood cab and a Celestion.

    It lost that Tweed amp resonance that almost sounds like a touch of reverb, but going from thin pine to heavy, braced marine plywood and a high-output Ceramic driver is a pretty extreme jump.
     
  4. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    Yeah, I stand corrected.

    I was thinking about thew rabbet joints they DO use and equating that with particle board.

    The cabinets are not finger jointed like the originals and rabbet joints are more susceptible to shrinkage and rattles.

    As far as "high end" goes, do you feel Fender's production line PCB reissues are "high end" when compared to their hand wired Pro Series or any other comparable amp?

    IMO that's not a debatable point at all. Thew Reissues are consumer-level production products.
     
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  5. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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  6. Telecastoff1

    Telecastoff1 Tele-Holic

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    My '95 Fender Custom Vibrasonic has a factory bolted-in plywood baffle. No mdf in this amp.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2018
  7. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Yup, I would say it was maybe 1/.4" with a decent layer of sanding sealer on both sides. Maybe between a 64th and a 32nd over. It is so much stiffer than today's plywood!

    Of course, today's 1/4" plywood isn't 1/4" thick either... It's thinner. The stuff I can get at regular lumber yards around here (like HD and Lowe's) is really crappy and is basically underlayment with a single ply in the middle and thin veneers on each skin. It's usually made of really soft, super fast growth crap from the Pacific Rim somewhere.

    I am actually impressed with how stiff the 1/4" Baltic Birch i purchased is. Crazy expensive, but I can make quite a few baffles and back panels out of that 5'x5' sheet. I am planning in using the old style Fender screw/studs with the stepped threads.
     
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  8. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    '
    So, I feel like I'm getting mixed messages here...

    Is there or isn't there any advantage to replacing a MFD baffle with a plywood baffle?

    Also, I've also considered that the small size of the cabinet may have something to do with it sounding a bit constrained as well... any thoughts on this as well?


    '
     
  9. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Weeeeeellll.... MDF is gonna be less 'lively'. So, a light plywood baffle could get rid of some of the boxy or woofiness.

    And, yes, the small cabinet size could also have something to do with it.

    Some folks say that the solid pine and thin baffles of the old Tweed era amps is part of the reason they require less reverb. I might be one of these folks. But, I have no science to back up my anecdotal evidence and opinion. o_O
     
  10. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    '
    Where did you get that Baltic birch plywood you mentioned earlier?


    '
     
  11. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I picked it up at a local hardwood supplier called Colonial Hardwoods. But, that's here in Virginia. I know you can order it online. I know Woodcraft carries it, but I have no idea if they have one near you?
     
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  12. BelairPlayer

    BelairPlayer Tele-Afflicted

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    I’ve said it before and will continue to say it. PTP is highly overrated. The electrons don’t care. They really don’t. A well made PCB (that’s the caveat, well made) will last as long as any PTP amp. I’ve seen some truly crappy PTP amps that I would not want to own.

    I know that opinion doesn’t jibe with folks who think you can squeeze fancy aural mojo out of PTP amps, but I’m sticking’ with it.

    I have several pieces of furniture built with good rabbet joints. None of it seems to be in danger of falling over. YMMV.
     
  13. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    It's great to have a mission in life but this thread isn't about wiring, it's about cabinetry.
    And the comparison made by @Silverface was between a lower quality amp and a higher quality amp.
    Further, none of the amps in the discussion are PTP wired.

    As far as the suggestion that there are high end amps with PCBs in them and that the electrons don't care, well, that's been well discussed.
    As you said, you've said it before.

    Hey, I repeat myself too!

    I prefer high end amps over low end amps!
     
  14. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Well, yeah. If nothing else, plywood will hold onto t-nuts better and will be resistant to cracking if you drop the cab. I've seen particle board baffles crack from the weight of the speaker bearing on them if the amp is dropped. Also, screws will hold tighter longer, and holes won't shed "crumbs" over time like particle board does. And, plywood doesn't swell if it gets wet like particle board.
     
  15. AxemanVR

    AxemanVR Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    '
    Thanks for that, but I meant "sonic" advantage to using plywood instead of particle board baffles...


    '
     
  16. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Understood. Loose speaker bolts, cracked or crumbly baffle ... not going to contribute to a good sound.

    But ... both baffles in perfect repair, I can't imagine any sonic difference in a combo amp. I've never heard any apparent difference in tone ... I think it's an internet idea with no evidence in reality. If players think the baffle resonates in some way that contributes to an audible improvement, that's delusional. IMO.
     
  17. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    I absolutely agree.

    PTP also gets thrown around improperly. VERY few amps are actually made PTP - most use eyelet or turret board construction, which are far closer to good quality PCB than they are close to many PTP amps.

    Now, back to the original cabinet material subject matter!
     
  18. InkStained

    InkStained Tele-Meister

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    The post cited below really isn't true. Please get off this web site and look at a specs page at the Fender web site, for example.

    We can argue about what "high end" means, but the DRRI -- not the hand-wired 64 but the classic reissue -- has a 7-Ply 5/8" birch plywood cabinet.

    Again, go to a specs page. None of this information is difficult to find.

    Please take what you read here with a grain of salt.

     
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  19. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    You'll get more out of a speaker swap than the case. Case design is meant to be dense and designed for cubic volume to match the speaker throw. If you are going to the trouble for baffle replacements and everything I'd suggest building a whole new case and move the parts over to that.

    Look up loudspeaker cabinet design for high end 'HiFi' stereos. Each speaker driver type has it's own requirements and calculations. Most guitar amp cases seem like they are thrown together with no regard for correct sizing and then they have that whole segment of 'open back' styling that completely ignores good loudspeaker design principles.


    https://www.diyaudioandvideo.com/Calculator/SpeakerBoxEnclosure/
    https://www.google.com/search?q=stereo+speaker+cabinet+design+calculator&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    If you read the WHOLE page I already answered that. My error. To repeat, I was thinking more about the corner joints than materials. And the corner joints are a major difference when it comes to long-term durability.
     
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