Handwired amps! Hype?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Fred Rogers, Oct 13, 2014.

  1. Fred Rogers

    Fred Rogers Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a 1968 drip edge Fender Twin Reverb (blackface circuitry, not a 68 reissue) and I also own a Reissue Twin Reverb. The two amps sound great! Blindfolded you'd have a hard time hearing what amp sounds better.

    Because of this, I'll admit that I believed that handwired amps might be somewhat over hyped. I thought perhaps the pro hand wiring people are the techs working on these amps. They are easier to service than pcb, but there's probably not that much difference in sound between handwired vs pcb.

    Tonight I played my friend's brand new Deluxe Reverb and it sounded amazing! It wasn't a DRRI, it was a handwired DR from George Alessandro. I've seen these amps being sold on eBay. Alessandro takes most of the guts out of a brand new DRRI and replaces them with handwired parts and a new speaker. They are pricey, but now I'm thinking I want one.

    I'm a little envious because while I think my DRRI sounds great, his new amp could really sing. I want to do a side by side test with his amp and mine, but I'm not sure I'd like the results.

    I'm starting to think hand wiring really isn't just about easier service. I do think the reissues are great amps, but I believe there might be some extra magic found in those handwired circuits.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Telenut62

    Telenut62 Poster Extraordinaire

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    No magic, just better quality components.
     
  3. Cat MacKinnon

    Cat MacKinnon Friend of Leo's

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    I'd even go so far as to disagree with that, at least as a blanket statement. PCB amps can (and in many cases are) made with just as high-quality components as handwired; it all depends on what the manufacturer is willing to spend the money on and where they're willing to cut corners (whether good or bad.) Neither is an inherently "better" design, just a different way of doing the same thing, and it's up to the manufacturers to decide how much quality control they're going to put into the amp. Hand-wired amps allow for more human error in an individual amp, whereas PCB amps lend themselves to more error in a large batch of amps; both situations suck for consumers, but hopefully the manufacturer will catch them before they go out the door.
     
  4. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Amps that sound extraordinary, are no accident. They are designed & built by people who have obsessed over every part of the amp, no matter hot tiny a detail could be.

    USUALLY, amp builders that show this amount of obsession over the tone of their amps, go the PTP route. THere are some exceptions out there, (dumble, tone king, etc..) of some great reputable builders that have gone PCB, but this is a pretty small minority.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2014
  5. Cue Zephyr

    Cue Zephyr TDPRI Member

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    I think there's both good/bad PCB and good/bad hand-wired. Except it's a lot easier to make a bad PCB amp than a bad HW amp it seems.

    I'm sure that a good PCB amp can sound just as good as you have found. :)

    And that those who obsess over every little component (as stated in the previous post) generally don't use PCB.

    I do however have to agree with the servicability of HW amps, especially since I'm an amp newbie. ;)
     
  6. andyfromdenver

    andyfromdenver Friend of Leo's

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    Oh no it's happening again!!
    Lol.

    OP, he may have done some small tweaks? Or biased it differently, or used a nos preamp tube or many other things.

    We'd have to really dig in to see what's going on, and I'm not sure if you want to check bias and such.

    Maybe it's his crazy expensive Alessandro wire!! (Roll eyes googly eyed smilie)
     
  7. Abu Twangy

    Abu Twangy Friend of Leo's

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    The vintage eyelet and turret board amps which most people refer to as PTP were subject to more variability in construction than printed circuit board amps and the carbon composite resistors in the old amps had looser specs. Some old amps were very good and some were turkeys. No factory workers on the line were selecting components but building them out of parts ordered in large quantities.

    The newer boutique PCB and non-PCB amps are made with careful selection of the parts. Some companies selling lower end DIY kits use less expensive components. I'm not a believer in tonal advantage of a handwired circuit unless the parts are better spec'ed than in a PCB amp.
     
  8. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

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    I dont think PTP vs PCB "inherently" makes an amp sound better if its a 1:1 clone/reproduction. Its that most PTP "boutique" amps are either NOT 1:1 replications OR they are something different, however so slightly. Yes, PTP is easier to service, but more so, they're easier to FIX. Spill a beer on a PCB amp=fried. Expensive replacement parts. Spill a beer on a PTP amp=fixable.

    Take say a 1976 Deluxe Reverb. Mass produced in a poor QC era, not that old, not that rare. Then take a DRRI. Go up to 100 guitar players and say "You just won an amp. Pick." What one do you think everyone takes? Now, why? There's a reason for that.
     
  9. H. Mac

    H. Mac Friend of Leo's

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    I don't hear a difference based on wiring, either PCB or hand wired. It's like the vinyl wire v cloth wire debate.

    It's the circuit design and speaker set up that count.
     
  10. 6942

    6942 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I like to hand wire turret boards on my home brew amps.
    Easy to trouble shoot and service.
    Even easier to 'tweek-n'-mod' at a later date.
    NOTHING wrong with a PCB board, as long as it uses quality components and is assembled properly.
     
  11. Jared Purdy

    Jared Purdy Friend of Leo's

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    The never ending discussion. The question, replies and debates are also always the same. :eek:
     
  12. Crazy neddie

    Crazy neddie Tele-Meister

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    Without exception, I have never played a Reissue Fender amp that sounds anywhere near as good as a vintage one in good working order. Oh I wanted to believe they sound as good, and have even bought a few only to sell them after "tweaks and upgrades" only get you so close. I'm not saying the RI's are not good amps, they just do not sound like the vintage ones. Generally I find they are not as warm, not as harmonically rich, don't sustain as well and are generally much harsher sounding. Of course that's only my opinion.
     
  13. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    This gets discussed all the time but there is never any control over the psychology factor of playing a hand wired/vintage amp. Something OP alluded to with the blindfold comment. So ultimately a waste of time. Andyfromdenver has it right
     
  14. gwjensen

    gwjensen Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    Really good point.
     
  15. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Tele-Holic

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    If the ONLY selling point is point-to-point, then it's hype. There have been plenty of "hand wired" PTP circuits that were an absolute nightmare.

    Electrons do not know or care whether a circuit was PTP, turret board, printed circuit, hand soldered, wave soldered etc.

    What matters is good design, good circuit routing, good shielding and grounding, and good connections.
     
  16. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

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    I would offer that boutique builders start out building one off prototype which will be hand wired. There the mystique is established.

    I can't recall people raving about current Fender hand wired amps being much better than PCB amps.
     
  17. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I am assuming the same transformer set is used to convert the PCB amp to PTP. Then there should be little difference in sound if the same value components are used, and very important, the same tubes. The wire routing can cause crosstalk between circuits if not done properly, otherwise PTP is just easier to work on in a normal chassis. If the chassis has a removable bottom panel (like most home audio equipment) there is no real advantage to PTP.
     
  18. 68tele

    68tele Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Do the test blind, let us know the result.
     
  19. Johnny Cache

    Johnny Cache Former Member

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    What's really important is the quality of the parts and the care in building it. What I found in my DRRI were some shortcuts and lower valued components. For example: my '66 DR was built with 1/2 watt resistors for most the circuits, on my 2012 DRRI those same circuits have 1/4 watt resistors. Although that may not affect the signal or tone it may affect the reliability. So far no issues but will it last 40 years? I guess we'll find out.

    The truth is all the major amp companies are doing the same, some cheaper than others. Fender still builds some of the best production amps out there.
     
  20. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    And try each cabinet's speaker into the other amp,
     
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