How does a 70s SF Vibrolux Reverb compare to a new PRRI ?

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by OzShadow, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Tele-Afflicted

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    I think that one of the things that are underappreciated in these discussions is that if we talk about breakup, ANY tube amp is “too much” for home use. So, you’re ALWAYS gonna use your amp as a pedal platform and should mostly be concerned with how good it sounds clean at home volumes. That is, unless you have an insulated music room or unless your house is an isolated barn out in the country.

    I have a 5W 5F1 and if I “crank it up” at home the police will be at my door in a matter of minutes. Braking up a PRRI at home is a mad proposition for all of us who live in condos. Note also that volume-wise, a 15 watter on ten is not too far from a 30 watter on 10…

    So the relevant question is rather whether YOU prefer the sound of a small amp pushed a little more, or of a mid-sized amp that’s played pretty low on the dial (say 2-3).

    I compared PRRIs with DRRIs at conversation levels, and DRRIs with a Vibrolux and my Tremolux, as well as a 15W SCX2 with my Tremolux. Almost every time, to MY ears, the bigger amp sounded better. Very clean, and so in need of pedals to get dirt – but again, that’s the same proposition for a PRRI.

    Of course, my Tremolux (and your possible Vibrolux) give their best when pushed a bit, and IME it's lucky if between rehearsals and gigs I hit “6” on the dial a couple of times a year. Then it sounds GLORIOUS. But even at very low volume for home use, it sounds fab.

    I second what others said that a new PRRI is less hassle and less money because a vintage amp needs to be thoroughly checked and serviced. Ideally, you should have a trusted tech, and be able to show him pictures of the amp (including a gut shot) before you buy. But even so, in the longer run, the Vibrolux might be a better value by far. The price you mention is really at the low end of the spectrum, even assuming it’s late ‘70s and not in a perfect state.

    Whatever you do, you can’t go far wrong and I hope you enjoy your amp!
     
  2. nocastermike

    nocastermike Tele-Meister

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    The vibroluxe is vastly superior to the reissue princeton reverb. Better components all thru. I have 2 of them. A pre cbs model and a 1972 . i owned the PRRI as well. No comparison whatsoever in any category. Bear in mind that even a 5 watt tube amp can be too loud for home use only. If your gonna drop the coin get the real thing. They are not making them anymore.
     
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  3. OzShadow

    OzShadow Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I really like the blackface PRRI, but I did find a mid 1970s Siverface Princeton Reverb locally as well.

    Is this completely different from either Princeton Reissue? It has the Oxford speaker. Looks original. A bit over $1k.

    I really do not like to buy and sell. Hoping to get it right the first time.
     
  4. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I get where you are coming from @RadioFM74. At the same time, the PRRI can reach quieter volumes than the VR. Even clean.

    I'm in the camp that says both are terrible choices for home use only. OK, I guess I haven't strictly seen that camp yet and am probably being more blunt.

    There is a point on the volume dial on both before which they are starved, fizzy and not full frequency. If you are honest with yourselves, the point where you get past that into even decent clean tones is also a point where you likely can't hear the TV at the loudest volume you would ever turn the TV to, if you are playing the amp at the same time.

    So unless you want to mod either amp or your definition of home volume is very loud, pass on both. If you must get tube, get something in the .1-.5w range. Really. Preferably with a small, inefficient speaker. Otherwise get a small SS or modeling amp like the Champ 20 (which honestly is quite loud for home use) or MicroCube.
     
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  5. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Don't believe everything you read on the webz. It's the same circuit.
     
  6. caspersvapors

    caspersvapors Tele-Meister

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    I own both of those amps. If given the choice I would pick the Vibrolux with a doubt. I know people say that the Princeton is the perfect practice amp, and its definitely a convenient package, but the Vibrolux actually sounds better at low volumes. If you have only one amp the Vibrolux covers all your bases.
     
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  7. AJBaker

    AJBaker Friend of Leo's

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    The 6L6 2x10" combo is a great combination of power and portability, and owning a genuine old hand wired amp is a real pleasure (despite also being a pain to maintain).
     
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  8. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    Apples and oranges. Get the Vibrolux and you can keep it at home, or take it anywhere. Not so with the PRRI.
     
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  9. Mr.Ike

    Mr.Ike Tele-Meister

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    I have owned almost every Fender Bf/Sf amp. Currently I’m down to two. Blackface Vibrolux, and blackface Princeton. The Vibrolux reverb is my personal favorite, it does everything great, and nothing beats two 10,s.
    Yet, these are just others opinions. Go play it and see what you think is best advice interwebs can offer.
     
  10. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    If confined to just this criteria, as others have said, both are relatively poor choices.

    I really don't see the need to consider things like resale value, build quality, or how they might sound in a theoretical application that will never happen. Those are all unnecessary considerations, if keeping things within scope, IMO.

    If it's truly about getting great tones at home, even some of the little single-ended 5 watts or less stuff can get louder than is acceptable.
     
  11. theprofessor

    theprofessor Friend of Leo's

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    For home use only? Princeton Reverb. As others have said, those can get really loud, too. And it really depends on what kind of home you live in. People often cite "bedroom volume." What does that mean? Does that mean someone needs to be able to sleep next to you while you play through your amp?

    The way I think about home volume, I think a Princeton Reverb is fine. I love the tonality of a Princeton Reverb more than any other Fender tonal flavor so far. BUT I almost always find myself gravitating toward amps with more horsepower, because I think they just sound better in the room. Even when cranked or even with a 12" speaker, a Princeton Reverb sounds "small." It sounds great, but small. Better with a Deluxe Reverb output transformer, but still small.

    In related news, what MilwMark says is absolutely correct:
    So while I'd likely prefer the SF Vibrolux Reverb myself, you'd need to be prepared to turn it up a bit to really get the tone as full and clear as it should be. With my SF Deluxe Reverb and a Les Paul with P-90's, that's about 3.5 on the volume knob. With my low-wind single-coil Teles, it's about 4-4.5 on the volume. And that's not quiet.

    In short, whenever I play guitar, my family gets annoyed. If they're not annoyed, it doesn't sound very good.

    But circling back: for home use only, and in relation to your description, I'd absolutely choose a Princeton Reverb and just turn it up until it sounds good. That will work, as long as you don't live in a town-home or an apartment.
     
  12. bblumentritt

    bblumentritt Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

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    The Vibrolux is 40W, the PRRI 15W.
    Two 10" speakers vs. one.
    Different phase splitter, different tremolo.

    Th VR is louder and cleaner.
    The PRRI is smaller an lighter.

    For home use only, the PRRI seems to fit the bill better.

    I just built a small amp in a PR chassis and cab for a guy who plays in a duo, and the Blues Jr he was using to play live was still too loud.
     
  13. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Can we end this conversation about bedroom amps?
    No amp on earth gives satisfying distortion at bedroom volume, period.
    If you get a tiny amp and get it to overdrive a tiny speaker, it's going to sound like a freakin' mosquito.
    The thing that put's some hair on the tone and sounds like an overdriven amp (preamp AND output stages) and a pushed speaker, is a well- voiced pedal...maybe one with speaker emulation.
    There...now your VR, TR, Pro Reverb, VV....is a bedroom amp and a gigger.
     
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  14. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    My experience is diametrically opposed to this.
     
  15. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Do tell!
     
  16. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I can’t get a “gig” amp quiet enough to play at home. They all start to make non choked clean sounds at REALLY loud TV volumes in my experience. And even at those volumes the speaker is not producing full frequencies.

    I’ve had much better results with a MicroCube. Until I lucked into a JCM-1c. Which can do amazing tones at TV volumes on the O.1w setting. So great I also tracked down a JMP-1c for cleaner sounds. The JCM sounds like a cranked one through a 412 at those levels. Amazing.
     
  17. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Old silver face Fenders above 22 W are getting harder and harder to get rid of.

    I cannot even fathom paying anywhere around $1000 for the PCBPRRI .

    Do you want to spend the best $700 or $800 that you ever spent? Get a non-reverb Silverface Princeton .

    THE mini Twin - especially with a mid pot added in the back.

    Then buy the best version of your favorite dirt pedal- and you are in heaven.

    Bedroom volume ?

    I don’t even know what that means.

    If you and your partner can’t drown out a 5F1 then neither of you know what the hell you’re doing...:eek:
     
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  18. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Oh, and given the choice between my current favorite amp and a 70s Vibrolux reverb or a reissue PCB Princeton reverb – I’d take my 66 Ampeg Gemini 1 over either of them all day long. And it cost me $190 .

    And it has tons of break up at reasonable volume with the original speaker.
     
  19. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

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    Own both. The Vibrolux is going to provide more low end push. The PRRI is clean up to about 7 on the dial then it just goes fuzzy.

    The thing about old Vibrolux amps is that no two are going to sound the same. They were one of the most popular band amps out there during the 70s and 80s and so you find them in varying degrees of beat up. Tonally they can be all over the map depending on if they were modded or the age of the filter caps. I've heard some that sounded terrible initially and broke up way down the volume dial. So note, if the Vibrolux has not had the caps upgraded, you might not be hearing the amp at it's best. Plan on about a $300 tech bill that comes with the amp. Once restored however, it's an extremely versatile amp for low volume or high volume usage.

    The PRRI, I have a vintage 70s version, is a sweet amp as well. They did a good job with the modern version and it's probably a better home amp, depending on the space you play it in. If you do ever play in a band situation, it's going to have a hard time keeping up with a loud drummer or other musicians. The Vibrolux would have more headroom for sure.

    All said the Vibrolux is my favorite amp of any amp but if playing out is not your interest, the PRRI for sure.
     
  20. Hatfield92

    Hatfield92 Tele-Meister

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    I owned a late 70s VR for a couple of years. Sold it maybe four years ago. When I bought it, it sounded compressed, funky and ... well, like it probably needed a little tune up.

    Took it to a tech recommended by a local working musician... and the guy basically ruined the amp. It came back insanely loud. And ice pick city. New transformers, new everything. There was no warmth to speak of. It was just terrible.

    I currently own a 79 DR. It’s also insanely loud (100-plus dB speaker), but it has that rich Fender tone lacking in the VR I had for a while.

    Moral of the story: when you gamble on an old amp, you need to have someone who REALLY knows how to work on them. Even if it’s a reputable music store, the guys in the shop don’t always know how to make these old amps sing.
     
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