Fender Tube RI Amps

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by jumpnblues, May 8, 2020.

  1. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Afflicted

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    Here in the UK you can't get after market service items for Fender amps. Crack a board or burn some traces, you are on your own. If a new amp goes **** up in the warranty period, it gets replaced and the original goes in the dumper.

    i'm not going to pay that kind of money for something that's built down to the lowest price. I roll my own now, less outlay, repairable, and I get the pleasure of playing through something I made. My PR clone still came.in at under half of what Fender want for the 64 Custom.
     
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  2. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Friend of Leo's

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    IME it’s not risky. You can always get a bad one of course but that applies to anything. I have a German car from a brand with a solid reputation for reliability. Just out of warranty, a very expensive part died on me without warning. Bang, 700€. Would I say “don’t buy cars”?

    In the realm of amps, my experience is actually the reverse of what you’re saying.

    SS amps and hybrid-technology amps seem subject to faster obsolescence. My very recent Mustang still works, but Fender has stopped supporting the software that makes up for 25% of its usability. My old SCX2 had repeated problems with an USB port. I have a nice little Jazzkat around but since the company died, and left behind no schematics, if it ever breaks down it will be for the landfill.

    Tube amps with well-known schematics and available parts (basically all Fender production from the early 50s onward is included) are potentially eternal.

    I have a 64 Fender head, and – granted – I had to factor in servicing when I bought it. It’s never given me a problem and I’m just now wondering when I should start thinking of replacing electrolytic caps as routine maintenance. My handwired 5F1 clone was very badly assembled when I bought it and sounded like sh1t (my fault for taking the risk of buying a kit assembled by an amateur). But I am friendly with a good tech, and for little expense (in the vicinity of 100$) he disassembled it and reassembled it, upgrading some parts, and tweaking the parts layout so as to minimize noise. Now it’s built for the next century… it’ll still be going when I am long gone.

    Heck, I even have a ’46 tube amp with hard-to-find tubes, a field-coil speaker and rudimentary circuits. That’s a more adventurous proposition, and I have admittedly put a bit more money in it than I’d have liked – but that’s because I am a 40s-50s jazz nut. And it works, and it sounds unique!

    PCB tube amps seem to be an in-between. Techs service them all the time, only it’s a bit more difficult so DIY is ruled out except for the pros amongst us. Plus, on less expensive ones, parts and builds are not as solid and reliable. Still, many early 90s RIs out there sound good and are still going strong.

    So, if you feel you’d like a tube amp, don’t be deterred by risks. Weight, volume, etc… are all considerations. A Quilter head goes in the pocket of your gig-bag. But risks, not really. Just my .02 €!
     
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  3. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I have owed both old BF amps and now own a ‘68 CDR and it sounds great.
     
  4. fasteddie42

    fasteddie42 Tele-Afflicted

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    I've had zero issues with any fender amps.
     
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  5. Alter

    Alter Tele-Meister

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    Reissues and vintage amps sound a lot different. Comes down to what you prefer, how important tone is to you, and what you can afford (or find)..
     
  6. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    If you are employed, do you also tell your employer to value your time at £0?
     
  7. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Afflicted

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    No. I offset the difference in my labour rates against the power of bulk buying. I'm guessing it costs a manufacturer a lot less to procure the parts to build each amp than I paid for a kit.

    Of course, what I'm not paying for is a huge marketing and distribution machine, or shareholder dividends. All that stuff must equal cost cutting in the manufacturing process, hence the landfill products so many companies seem to make nowadays.
     
  8. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    I service guitars and amps.

    The Fender RI's do not suffer from the very high incidence of burnt traces that the Hot Rods do. But:

    1. They do have common failures of cable connectors and the circuit board with "directly soldered" pots.

    2. And are horrendously problematic to maintain & service. One *slightly* scratchy pot, minor mod related to pots and many of the connected components - or problem with any of them - requires removing ALL knobs, ALL pot nuts & washers, and removing ALL of them along with the circuit board...

    ...all the while hoping there are no heat-hardened joints on the board/pot assembly, that you don't bend any of the pot tabs during removal - then dealing with the same junk during reassembly.:mad:

    In my experience they fail more often (and I repair more of them) than any of the hand wired models.

    I also charge more for any common service other than simple tube replacements and biasn (and service on any back-panel items with similar construction.

    Personally, I would avoid them from a service aspect.

    As a player I dislike the "dead" cabinets that have little or no resonance nor the poor quality "Jensen" (in name only) speaker. IMO a SF amp with a mediocre Utah would sound better.

    Hope that helps!
     
  9. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

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    The 65 reissues are very fine amps. I do prefer the 68 custom line, though, for what it’s worth.
     
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  10. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I was lucky enough to have 2 BFRi's of the same model to play with one had issues the other not at all. This just tells me that it's a QC issue at the point of manufacture .
    Once I finished the repair the Twin RI sounded brand new, as for the comments about disassembly I just finished a repair to a Mesa express 5:50 and it was a total tear down to flip the board over talk about cold soldered connections burnt wires and sloppy detail so this does happen how ever the sound of the amp was great.
     
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