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Fender HRD and Bugera V22 unfair comparison

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by jakaj, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. jakaj

    jakaj Tele-Meister

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    I fully submit to the fact that these two are apples and oranges - HRD a reasonably priced 6l6 A class amp and BugeraV22 an EL84 cheap class A/B.

    But I felt that they are both amps for a money conscious musician, one getting far more credit than the other and I just wanted to put my two cents in.

    I have to admit, I have only played good amps when people let me use them - I own mediocre and low-price gear - I feel I can get away with it and focus on playing technique. I have played some good amps, but you don't really get to know an amp until you've spent a few nights with her, twiddling her knobs and so on.
    I am a 6l6 lover, because I like the bass response though I sometimes enjoy the overdriven el84 with it's chime. Hence my setup - a HRD - modded as you will see below, a nice all round Bugera V22 (she needs to be known well before she will sing for you) and a Laney VC-15 (really nice when pushed! - pretty much instant gratification until the drummer gets to the practice session, then clean headroom becomes a memory, though still clean, it now has gritt because the knob is at 10 and that's how she rolls).

    [​IMG]

    I also own some ss amps - but the pair I find most useful is my main man - HRD and my EL84 honey Bugera - somtimes I drive her hairy.



    Now this is our story:

    I hated the HRD initially for its harshness - then I 1)Changed valves, 2) rebiased (!) 3) mad the reverb mod, 4) tweaked the controls to my ear (not eyes) 5) built a 2x10 cab (jensen and legend) - and it is beautiful now sounds great clean and very nice when pushed in the gain channel by an overdrive - though Stevie Ray Vaughan it aint there - by no means bad OD though.

    Here is the result the emerald green 2x10 can and the black and ivory head below :) on the right behind the CV 50s
    [​IMG]
    The head and cab config looks a bit funny because the head is huge to accomodate the elongated shape - but at least no more vibrations are shaking the circuitry - I know have the head where I can see it to the side of the stage - and the cab completely separate on a stand - tilted! (By the way if you open up a slot of 1.5 inches on a closed back cab - there is just enough spill to retain high definition but get a more open sound - this is to my taste at least)



    Then I went back to my Bugera V22 (how do I ever get any work done?!), admitted it sounds good for the price range, though perhaps its A/B class lacking dynamics somewhat in comparison to the A class HRD. Tried using different speakers, but had to admit that the Bugera native speaker is actually really good (hlaf broken in as it was). Then I changed the valves in the Bugera - and the sound improved a bit, but not terribly. Then I almost gave up. But then it occurred to me:
    1) go to triode mode - this made a difference though it was not as edgy as before it was still sparkly.
    2) adjust the BIAS!!!! (seriously, bias your amps!) - the bias was so easy - it's right out there on the chassis, suddenly it really was a 22Watt tube monster in volume - and sparkly as you like (now presence became more useful)
    3) perhaps most importantly - There is a MASTER VOLUME! - therein lay the secret - the master all the way up (which was my go to up until then) gave me a boomy fenderish - HRD bass, but at bedroom levels I usually left the channel volume at about three - so I always felt the amp is great clean - perhaps a bit sparkless for an el84, and the overdrive channel was immediately more metal or even pop thick saturated OD - which has it's place but will bury the character of any guitar -

    Now by finding the right master volume to retain thickness in bass and opening up the channel volume past 5 or 6 suddenly a proper overdrive occured - and the clean was much more ... hmmm . ... well harmonic I guess.
    [​IMG]



    Verdict! - The HRD is still the better of the two - it is a class A amp and you can hear it. But the Bugera V22more than holds its own - in fact it is far more practical - I intend to gig the V22 more now - it is easier to carry (especially since my 22 Kg HRD combo became a 12 kg head and 18kg 2x10) the Bugera's extension speaker outs are much easier to reach and switchable between 4-8-12 Ohms - (should you want to add a monitor say for your drummer), the biasing is right there - I removed the plastic shield and can just pop new valves in and rebias on the go! It is also a looker. I have read plenty on longevity issues of HRDs as well and just because it says fender - I don't see a need to assume they never brake down (soldering of pots comes to mind here as well)- that said - the comparison was unfair to start with - HRDs are much more expensive than Bugera V22 or V55s - if I was a bit less money conscious I would buy a V55 and a Bugera 2x12 cab tomorrow, and gig that.

    Here is my little amp family:
    [​IMG]

    And in action when HRD was still whole (Bugera sits accross the room - underappreciated at the time and the stand was reserved for the Laney VC15 in a new dress - a deeper homemade pine cab with a 12" driver for better bass response - I think changing the fender special design = Eminence Legend for a Vintage 30 or a Jensen Chicago might do me good - any opinions?):
    [​IMG]

    And since this IS TDPRI - two teles hanging around :) -
    [​IMG]

    So these are my two cents on affordable gear :) simply put - tweak what you have - you can buy more if you want to - just don't forget to tweak :)

    What do you guys think - how has your tweaking ever changed your mind?
     
  2. RomanS

    RomanS Poster Extraordinaire

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    Sorry, but the HRD is not a class A amp, it's a push-pull class A/B design.
    Very few amps (except, by definition, single-ended ones) are really class A amps...

    But I like the color combo on the speaker cab you built!
     
  3. jakaj

    jakaj Tele-Meister

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    I stand corrected , - then I correct myself and say you can feel a more immediate fullness if you open up the HRD - the BUgera is a bit edgier and more concave :)
     
  4. jakaj

    jakaj Tele-Meister

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    Thanks :) I love the color combo myself - I should have made the head in the same way :) (also I used purely salvaged wood from the basement :))
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2012
  5. jakaj

    jakaj Tele-Meister

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    Update: I rebiased my HRD and my Bugera after a JJ retube - both amps are better than before - but the HRD has a depth and "subflowing" power! Though I am waiting for a C-Rex to see if the mids can be tamed. Bugera has a nice drive though, if you like SRV... :)
     
  6. jakaj

    jakaj Tele-Meister

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    Another update, I have started using TAD CZ El84 on the Bugera and TAD 6L6GT on the HRD, the HRD now has a cannabos rex, and has had it for a year or two - I don't think I'll change it out anytime soon. The Bugera V22 now stands atop my homemade pine 212 with Celestion Century Vintage neodymium speakers and the onboard Bugera speaker unplugged (too muddy, the century's just sound better on their own). Since I like the Bugera styling I will leave it in its cab, but am wondering about putting in a Jensen JCH12 70 - I found one locally for cheap. I will test the combination with the centurys and the jensen on its own. On the Bugera V22 (with the onboard speaker) presence was often open above 3 o'clock, with the neodymiums it's noonish and I think, since Jensen JCH 12 70 are supposed to be blackfacish, the presence will stay there even in a 3x12 configuration. WOndering, does anyone know if Jensen JCH12 70 is the same as CH12 70?
     
  7. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    As was already said, the HRD isn't class A. Unless it has only one output tube, there are only very very few class A amps on the market. I know Laney makes one with 5 EL34 tubes, but otherwise I can't think of any other of the top of my head. The AC30 for example is also an A/B amp.
     
  8. jakaj

    jakaj Tele-Meister

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    Yes, I did not correct the mistake in my text above, because it would make RomanS's comment about not being class A out of place. I fully understand my error now. Thank you for clarifying that though.
     
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