Handwired vs PCB

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by muptup, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes There is one in my 2014 melody maker .Neat and uses push on connectors by the look of it .Ole Leo Gibson must be turnin in his grave .Its useless for game playing but sounds good if used as guitar .
     
  2. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

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    I think there is a difference between decent pcb construction and the one used in all the cheapest amps. I am NOT an expert of any thing electrical , but I just feel that there is a big difference between board mounted and wired tube sockets etc....

    My son uses an ENGL Screamer amp , and nothing could be worse when you look at it , pcb mounted sockets , even the output transformer is mounted directly to the pcb. Absolutely nothing feels solid about that amp apart from the cabinet. " Only " thing going for it is that he loves the sound of it , and if you go online and look for horror stories there arent that many....

    I have both an SRRI ( Super Reverb Reissue ) an original chassis from 65 in a Re-Issue cab , a 74 SF model , a 74 Bandmaster head ( almost the same as a Super head ) , reissue Jensens for 2 amps , plus 6 working oem CTS speakers.

    There is very little difference between them all , once they are setup with similar tubes , biased around the same and with similar speakers. BTW , according to many,many people online , Im supposed to hate the Reissue Jensens , but Im sorry , I just dont !

    Once the band starts playing with me , I can hardly hear a difference at all.

    AFAIK , all the reissue Fenders are made with wired tube sockets , and I have had no issues doing the same stuff to my SRRI that I have done to my older amps...

    If a total hack like me can buy a decent soldering iron and a solder sucker , and change out pots , resistors and so without hurting myself or the amp I think every so-called tech out there should be able to as well !
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2014
  3. ChordTherapy

    ChordTherapy TDPRI Member

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    Mesa Boogie would be the exception here.
     
  4. timmer114

    timmer114 Tele-Holic

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    I like my PCB board Traynor amp. It seems very robust and laid out well. Plenty of space between components, heavy traces and metal heat shields between the tubes and board. It's dead quiet and very toneful on the clean channel. (the gain channel is just a crappy design)

    I got to play a Tube Depot 5E3 kit that sounded excellent. This is a PCB board kit. Very heavy duty board, laid out well. Looks like it could survive a nuclear blast. It was one of the best sounding 5E3 builds I have heard, and I have played a lot of clones.

    I'm happy in that more than ever we have choices. There are so many boutique builders, (especially on this forum) that if I want to spend the money to get a quality PTP amp, I can. I also love that there are a lot of commercial amp manufacturers now making quality amps that are affordable. (I love that I can get a DRRI for $600 used. No its not the original 65 blackface, but its damn close for the money)

    That affordability comes with PCB mounted components, but there are amps that have PCB boards that I would trust any day of the week (Mesa) However I also know a guy that has a big name "BouTique" PTP amp, paid a ton of money for it, its been back to the builder 4 times in the last 2 years for component failure. In the end, both PTP and PCB have their places. I like that we can choose either.
     
  5. GwynG

    GwynG TDPRI Member

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    A Iphone is a different kettle of fish old chap. Hand wired amps DO sound better ! if a printed circuit board is well designed and manufactured like the ones that Mike Soldano or Blackstar ones that are very good. Handwired beats P.C.B based amps hands down ! PCB amps can suffer from strange oscillations only bats or dogs can hear, they are also affected by damp. The result being radio frequency interference, whistles and all sorts of strange noises and distortions, so handwired my friend is way to go ! Gwyn Davies ( Amplifierman ) Davies, Wrexham, North Wales, U.K .
     
  6. Revv23

    Revv23 Friend of Leo's

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    Just like there is good pcb design vs bad, there is good hand wired design vs bad. The only answer to this question is the classic response to any music question - it depends.
     
  7. Octorfunk

    Octorfunk Tele-Meister

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    It all depends on the design of the PCB. If it's a great design, then every single one produced is going to sound the same & sound great.

    If it's a poor design, then every single one produced is going to sound the same & sound poor.

    It's not a matter of better, worse, warm/sterile. We're simply referring to the manufacturing process involved.

    The PCB manufacturing process gives us consistency, and can pretty much guarantee the exact same result every time.

    Every time you buy a hand-wired amp you're rolling the dice and hoping the tech who assembled yours didn't overheat that contact or not quite make a solid connection. That doesn't mean that errors were made, but with the PTP process errors are a very real possibility. With PCB, if the design is solid, errors are not really going to be much of a possibility.
     
  8. Tatercaster

    Tatercaster Friend of Leo's

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    Having owned and modified one of the Delta Blues, I have to say that PCB construction sucks from the point of modifying an amp. It didn't take long before traces were popping off the board and I had to use jumper wires. :( In retrospect, I should have just sold it instead of using it as a lab rat.

    My Silvertones were great lab rats! True point to point wiring. It took a lot of time to completely rewire them, but i could change values of resistors and caps all I wanted to without having to worry about PCB integrity.
     
  9. Johnny Cache

    Johnny Cache Former Member

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    A well built amp is a well built amp no matter if it's PTP or PCB. What matters the most is the design, the components used and the quality of the construction. I'd rather have all PTP amps like the good old days, but even some of them had issues.
     
  10. Unadan

    Unadan Tele-Holic

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    I prefer handwired but it is easy to get caught up and focus on the minutiae when all that matters is: does it sound good?
     
  11. fabricator

    fabricator Tele-Meister

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    I've built and repaired quite a few amps. Just like guitars, there are a lot of different factors that have to be considered when designing an amp if you want it to sound good, be relatively easy to maintain, and hold up over time (which, all combined, make for a good amp). I think the biggest problem with many newer amps is that not all of these factors were considered during their design stage. For instance: I wouldn't gig with an amp that had pots, jacks, tube sockets, etc. soldered directly to the PCB. That's a proven design flaw, and it will fail on you - probably at a very inconvenient time.

    I don't believe that amps with PCB's inherently sound worse that PTP amps; however, I prefer the flexibility and ruggedness of a well-built point-to-point wired amp. I also build mine using turret lugs, which makes component replacement ridiculously easy (I really hate having to tear out half the chassis just to get access so I can swap a resistor on a PCB).
     
  12. chabby

    chabby Friend of Leo's

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    This is such a FQA that as a builder and amp addict - -

    I can sum it up real easy by saying handwired versus PCB is oxymoronic.

    First of all, there is not versus, if you are a home builder or repair person, It's simply one answer and no comparison in ANY possible way.

    1. Handwired and PTP construction, or even handwired terminal strip, or board construction is the only practical possibility, as well as superior in every possible way! So that's out of the way because, sonically and mechanically/maintenance/performance repairability is superior in the non PCB amp, there is no "versus" or comparability.
    The only reason to have a PCB board is to save money in mass producing and cost reduction in building either the highest quality amp you can for a price point, be it cheap or boutique money such as Bogner, a great amp company based on PCB boards. It saves money period, there is no design advantage except maybe space, you can crowd more circuitry possibly per SQ inch of chassis. The word "design" however just by it's inference in a technical sense, still renders no advantage, because that would mean that you can make a PCB board amp just as good, in all the different way I pointed out above and more - you can't.

    That said, the only reason then is for the MFG process, costs and simplifying MFG line, like with computers. The amp itself can bring no advantage whatsoever except maybe weight savings, but that's it. So, it can be logically driven that the only advantage is getting more features packed into a smaller space, at a cheaper price, but inferior product in every way - no matter how "good the PCB board is built" as Mr. Bogner likes to expound on.

    There just isn't one made that is better than heavy guage, high quality wires and mechanical components making it serviceable for just about 4ever, by even moderately talented techs. That's why Carr Amps and others leading the charge to quality, the price is high, but paid for durability, dependability, quality, and even sonic outcome, if great components, grounding systems. design talent and labor, labor and more labor and of course the highest quality parts that make sense to build for less than the price of a small car = pun intended. But in the long run, they are just better and there is no "versus". The argument would be 3k for a great simple last 4ever amp or 4K for a complicated channel switching bells and whistles that could be etched into a pedal. Or you can get some cheaply built PCB amps that sound gorgeous, until they break for cheap, but a huge repair bill, if it can be repaired, from tech. So the most of the best known PCB amp builder we all love and can afford, you can darn near blow on the board and burn out the metal trace, or protective covering. I learned all that at the school of hot solder irons, barely laid upon weld pads that stuck to the point of soldering iron-lol! Or watching hot tubes burn holes in the plastic and catch fire onj stage-lol!!! A red plating tube could catch almost any amp on fire if hot enough, without any fuses, or incorrect design of safety. But dollar for dollar the only PCB amps I'd ever get is for convenience and special applications. Like a modeling amp for Light weight recording/versatility. But with a good clean channel 50's-late 70's old tube amp, you can do all that too with a champ, deluxe and pedals, pods and other paraphernalia, plus own it 4ever, then watch it appreciate eventually. Just MHO
     
  13. bparnell57

    bparnell57 Poster Extraordinaire

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    My fender excelsior is a fine example of a nice PCB amp, with discreet pots, jacks mounted on a separate miniature PCB that could easily be replaced, and chassis mounted tube sockets, and a spacious PCB setup. Now, this is what makes a 300 dollar 12 watt amp with a 15 inch speaker with tremolo possible. Now, my vintage "bargain basement" airline widow-maker 2 watt amp is true point to point and I could never say it is not repairable. Every part is on it's own, held in place by tightly wrapped and soldered connections, and easily replaceable in minutes. That amp will last until the cardboard cab rots... Hahaha
     
  14. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Tele-Holic

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    Well, I bought my Mesa Boogie in 1991 and I assume it is a mixture of point to point and some circuit boards. It has been ridiculously reliable. The fact that it does not need tube biasing and that the tubes are easily accessible means that it hasn't needed anything that seems like maintenance. After sitting in a dusty area under the house for a few years I had to have some pots cleaned and a repair where one of the terminals on the FX loop had gummed up. It's done lots of gigs and never sounded better than today. It has a fabulous sound.



    My point is that I think some of the worries are imagined or exaggerated. Fear is a great marketing motivator and this thread would lead some to place an unnecessary premium on fully point to point wiring.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2014
  15. Cheshiergrin

    Cheshiergrin Tele-Holic

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    some amps are built to last, some are disposable. Would you fix a bad transformer in a Bugera? A 91 Mesa or a 75 Marshall have a lot more in common with a 57 Fender than they do with a Bugera. There were some bad PTP amps over the years too. That being said I love my 5e3 clone and think its hard to beat a simple hand wired circuit for pure tone. But "better" is subjective, that's more like an opinion.
     
  16. Tatercaster

    Tatercaster Friend of Leo's

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    It will last longer than the original cab! I had a Silvertone 1483 from eBay. The cab fell apart the day it arrived. Water damage. I rewired it (all point to point) and repainted the transformers, retubed it, cleaned the pots, and made a new cabinet out of poplar. I played it for a while, sold it, and AFAIK, it's still rockin' for somebody. :)
     
  17. robrob

    robrob Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    When I first saw the title and length of this thread I thought to myself, "I didn't think discussing religion was allowed on TDPRI."
     
  18. DaBender

    DaBender Tele-Afflicted

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    Cripes, just make the boards relatively inexpensive and easy to swap out for a replacement - maintenance issues solved!!!
     
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