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HELP: About to give up on PRRI

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by markesquire, Dec 31, 2020.

  1. markesquire

    markesquire Tele-Afflicted

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    I bought a PRRI shortly after they came out (2008) and have really enjoyed it. It has everything I need, all in one spot: blackface tone, spring reverb, and bias-vary tremolo.

    But...two problems.

    Reverb. The reverb is weak - to get the amount of reverb I used to get on 2-3, I have to turn it to 10 (which causes lots of hum). The history is that several years ago, the reverb sounded weak, then failed. I took it to a Fender-approved tech, who replaced the reverb tank and inspected the amp, which he approved as all within spec. I got it back and the reverb worked but was still very weak. Since then, I’ve replaced the reverb tube, have ensured that the RCA plugs are in correctly, and have taken it back to the tech, who swears everything is as it should be.

    Tremolo. Also, it really bugs me that the tremolo isn’t very deep, and that even the slowest speed is still really fast (my Boss TR-2 speed is past noon when replicating the slowest speed on my PRRI).

    Should I just sell the PRRI and get something else? Is there some other fix for the reverb that I’m overlooking? I really don’t want to spend any more money on the amp when I could just sell it and try to find something else. Top choices would be a boutique version, or maybe a Vibro Champ (which I’m told has even deeper bias-vary trem, and I could get a high-quality spring reverb pedal that I could sculpt to match or go beyond the analog tank, and without any hum).
     
  2. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Friend of Leo's

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    Find another tech to see if it can be repaired. If not, sell it & get a hand wired PR amp. I'm not saying that the PRRI is a bad amp, but ease of repair/reliability isn't it's strong suit. :cool:
     
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  3. DeepDangler

    DeepDangler Tele-Meister

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    Sell it and get a Tone Master Deluxe Reverb. Same sound with solid state lightness and reliability.
     
  4. markesquire

    markesquire Tele-Afflicted

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    This is the OP.

    I refuse to take it back to a tech a third/fourth time because I’ve had no previous success and the money could make a good dent in a new purchase.

    I actually just played a Tone Master Twin Reverb yesterday which blew me away and prompted my question about the PRRI. But I’d miss bias-vary tremolo and I really wonder about the Tone Master reliability long-term, though my PRRI’s reliability hasn’t been perfect.

    Another option: just “settle” with my tweed champ clone (sounds amazing and is loud enough for my purposes) with pedals for reverb, tremolo. It lacks BF tone, but maybe an EQ pedal would imitate BF tones.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2020
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  5. Milspec

    Milspec Poster Extraordinaire

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    Outboard reverb unit...you will fall in love again.

    I have several amps from the '40's that seem a bit thin, but when plugged into an outboard reverb unit....magic time. I have never found a pedal do what the outboard can do.
     
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  6. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

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    Being a bias vary tremolo, its depth depends on how the tubes are biased. Cooling the bias some will make the tremolo stronger. I don't know if the reissue has a pot to adjust bias (the original doesn't), but it can be checked and adjusted by a tech. So that solves that.

    I don't know about your reverb.
     
  7. corliss1

    corliss1 Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    About the only thing you can do without a tech involved, which could be all it needs, is tube and tank swapping.
     
  8. 53Strat

    53Strat Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    So, when did you last change tubes.
    Reverb tanks go faulty you get no reverb. Low output on Trem and reverb suggests tube drivers need replacing and maybe others in the vibrato channel.

    But I second the suggestion to replace the amp with a Tonemaster. In this case a Deluxe Reverb will do what you want. But hey, why not a Twin. :D
     
  9. Turtleneck

    Turtleneck Tele-Holic

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    I had a Strymon Flint in front of a '64 Vibro Champ and it made magic sounds?

    Just sayin'?
     
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  10. soundchaser59

    soundchaser59 Tele-Afflicted

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    Having the wrong reverb tank will cause that weak sound. And it's very easy to mistake it if two or three tanks are very similar in spec and model number.
    Can you go somewhere to play another identical amp to see if it has the same problems? Or see if others with the same amp have the same tank?
    If you do discover the tank is wrong, they are cheap and easy to replace.
     
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  11. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Afflicted

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    Potential issues I would investigate:
    1. Lousy tech
    2. Wrong reverb tank
    3. Needs tubes
    4. Reverb cable is faulty
    5. Long shot: maybe a cap is failing
    6. Moon shot: reverb transformer has an issue (though if it failed I would expect a total failure)
    7. Reverb pot?
     
  12. DeepDangler

    DeepDangler Tele-Meister

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    The tone master should be more reliable than a tube amp. Solid state is practically bullet proof these days.

    If your amp works fine but the reverb and trem are broken, it would be cheaper to buy some good pedals to replace it. This might also be a good time to shop around and try some other amps out there with good built in effects. Maybe you’ll stumble on something you’ve overlooked in the past.
     
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  13. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I certainly wouldn't take it back to the SAME tech, but I feel both problems should be repairable. I am no amp tech, but I doubt it is or was the reverb tank. Probably a failing cap or transformer. Cleaned the pot? Are all the other tubes original? I would check the values of these two caps or perhaps look for a cold solder joint at the reverb in/out.

    2021-01-01_01h27_36.jpg



    Should be able to slow the tremolo with an additional or higher value resistor in the circuit. Not as easy on a PCB, but a competent tech should be able to do it - or yourself if you have some decent soldering skills.
     
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  14. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    The reverb driver in these amps is a 12AT7 and it's worked pretty hard. I'd try swapping that first. The fact it hums a lot turned up is a bit of a giveaway.
     
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  15. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    He asked about long term reliability. Short term compared to new cheap amps the solid state has the advantage of not having cheap tubes.
    Long term anything built by the big amp companies, that isn't hand wired is going to be in a dumpster sooner or later.
    Just the reality of building to a price point that allows the retail sale price in a store to stay in that below $1,500 range. Tube, digital or solid state doesn't matter when jacks and potentiometers are soldered to the board and not fastened to anything else. They'll last right up until they take a wack, then the fix often costs more than another new throw away amp.
    The dumpster behind my buddy's music store if full of cheaply built amps. Solid state stuff goes straight in, the tube stuff might get gutted and rebuilt.
     
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  16. Ghostdriver

    Ghostdriver Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    If reverb is really that important to your sound, maybe you should invest in one of these outboard units like other poster suggested, I used one in a surf band, you couldn't get a wetter sound !! Awesome...
    Expensive though thats the only downside

    m2miadtvhzkmkwmxwmp6.jpg
     
  17. DeepDangler

    DeepDangler Tele-Meister

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    That may be true for cheap solid state amps but the tone master isn’t a cheaply built solid state amp. Also, saying anything that isn’t hand wired won’t last is nonsense. There are 30+ year old Peavys, Rolands, and Fenders with PCBs that run fine. Either pots aren’t soldered directly to the board or they’re protected by the chassis design.

    Old tube amps are cheaper to fix due to simplicity of components and design but a hand wired unit comes at an entry price around 2 grand. At that cost, you could buy 2-3 brand new gigging amps built with PCBs, tube or solid state.
     
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  18. SnidelyWhiplash

    SnidelyWhiplash Friend of Leo's

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    Yes, & all three of those amps will eventually end up in a landfill. The three companies you mention, two are no longer building amps & Fenders history with SS isn't a good one, to say the least... :cool:
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2021
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  19. Phrygian77

    Phrygian77 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    First, you should take the tank out and make sure it's the correct one for that amp.
     
  20. mtglick

    mtglick TDPRI Member

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    This, mostly.

    If the tech didn't do anything other than switch tanks, and now the reverb is weak, but stable (meaning it's not getting worse), would first swap the tank with a known good unit. They're not all that expensive, and can be returned if needed. Factory tank seems to have been an Accutronics 4AB3C1B, but use the Mojotone cross-reference below to confirm the new tank is to spec.

    https://www.mojotone.com/kb-reverb-tanks/Reverb-Tank-Specifications

    If the tech inadvertently swapped in an equivalent to a 4AB1C1B--the 4th digit changed from a 3 (long decay) to a 1 (short decay), then as far as the circuit is concerned, everything would be to spec, but the decay time will be significantly shorter and you'll get less out of it. Less likely, but possible he also grabbed a tank with a lower output impedance, then end result of which would be the tank will sound less 'verby, and noisier at a given output level (and could also damage the amp). Easiest check is to get a new one and swap it out--takes about 10 minutes.

    Whilst doing so, I would also look at the reverb tank cable ends as well, make sure the tech didn't bend or damage the plug ends on either the cable or the tank--they're not super-durable, and I've, um, enthused the occasional RCA plug into unique shapes myself once or twice--a bent center pin on the plug end, or a broken solder point inside the tank shell could be the issue.
     
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