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Leo Fender: Amp design and harmonic content

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by theprofessor, Nov 18, 2020.

  1. theprofessor

    theprofessor Poster Extraordinaire

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    That's a great list. And you're absolutely right that what Leo was shooting for and what became "iconic" did not always coincide. I do think that lap steel was very important for Leo's sound. It's really what holds the whole sonic history together, from his early lap steel sets to the creation of the Telecaster, to the Telecaster's "perfection" in the Stratocaster (that's how I think Leo thought of it), all the way to amps like the Vibrasonic or other big 'ol, powerful amps equipped with 6L6's and JBL's.
     
  2. powerwagonjohn

    powerwagonjohn Tele-Meister

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    In spite of my 5E7 clone. I still have to go with my 62 Vibrolux, but just barely. It has a unique tone and versatility that my other amps lack. I hardly play my blackface anymore.
    Thanks john
     
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  3. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Tweed lemonade is easily the 5f8-a Twin. 80 watts of big, beautiful tweed 'cleans'. You know I can wax on poetically about it for months at a time, but I'll try not to.

    Brownface - The only direct experience I have is the '63 Vibroverb Reissue amp. I have a little bit of experience with the Ampeg J-20 (and really want more), which is supposedly a 6g3 circuit. I've had my VVRi since around 2008 or so, I think? It doesn't get played as much as it used to... But, it's still hanging around and probably sits in the cold, dead hands category. Although, a hand-wired version has been scratching the back of my brain for a while... But, I doubt I would tear apart my Fender. I'd probably build a new cabinet (part of what I love about building amps is building the cabinets). I would like more experience with some Brownface amps before formally certifying a vote. Although, I have heard ouse interesting things about the blond Twin, I would wager that your Showman guess is the correct lemonade answer.

    BF/SF - One of the favorite I've ever owned was the '74 Bassman 50. But, it definitely doesn't fit into the Leo's lemonade category. My '69 Vibrolux Reverb was a great amp. My '65 Deluxe Reverb Ri was another goody... and I've always loved Princetons. But, honestly the Showman or Twin Reverb are the lemonade sound. I've always loved playing through Twin Reverbs. But, I've not owned one.... yet.


    As for harmonic content, I am a more complex, complicated, crowded tone kinda guy. I am not a high gain player, but I want my cleans to have a bit of dirt and my dirt to have a bit of clean. The 5f8-a and 5f6-a circuits seem to be the perfect fit for me. A lot of big iron cleans, but enough hairiness to add complexity and give me some serious dynamic, touch sensitivity. I like being able to dig in just a touch and get hair... I like being able to lighten up a little and get warm, soft cleans. I like a slower, softer attack, that blooms. I also like playing with feedback... So, I need that middle harmonic content. I love playing the howl, walking the edge of the cliff into uncontrollable overwhelming wall of sound stuff. But, 90% of the time, I'm playing a kinda of early Jazz warm, soft, hairy clean sound. LOL
     
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  4. theprofessor

    theprofessor Poster Extraordinaire

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    Love it! Awesome answers!
     
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  5. Mike M

    Mike M Tele-Meister

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    I thought Leo Fender was a genius, when I only know about his guitars.

    As I've gotten older, I realize he was even more a genius in the amp area.

    A guy, who never played, designed and produced the best electric guitars and amps ever made. Go figure
     
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  6. powerwagonjohn

    powerwagonjohn Tele-Meister

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    I need to add a couple disclaimers to my earlier post after an evening of playing both amps. The 5E7 clone has a prescience knob and the interactive tone controls so I have to give a nod to the 5E7 for versatility. Plus I probably have not figured everything it has in it yet. The 62 Vibrolux seems to give tone I looking for sooner but then I have had that amp for a year and a half. I am a firm believer that different guitars work better than others with some amps. I spent last night playing my 2009 ES345, my 1973 Guild Starfire IV and my GSR Guild Starfire VI with spruce top and SD Seth Lover pickups. By the way MikeM, I have came to the same conclusion as you! Leo was an amazing guy!
    Thanks john
     
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  7. El Tele Lobo

    El Tele Lobo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I can't tell you anything about Leo's ideal lemonade sound, but I can tell you about mine. It's the 5F1 Champ circuit...but not as formatted. I have a clone of that circuit and love it, but the small cab and speaker don't do it justice. Put it in a solid-pine cab with a 12" ceramic speaker and it is ABSOLUTELY GLORIOUS. So there's that.

    But is that the best of the tweed era? I can't say...the only other tweed I've played was a '59 5E3 Deluxe. It was equally glorious...at least, at stage volume. But I have a feeling I'd like a tweed Super or Bandmaster even more. And then there's the Tremolux...which combines the gorgeous tremolo of the Vibrolux with the rich, fat tone of the Deluxe. I know it's utterly gluttonous to say so, but I really just want a whole harem of tweeds of every variety...I could live out the rest of my days as a joyful bachelor and the Future Mrs. Wolf...wherever she is...could never show up for all I care.

    Haven't played many brownface amps, but did own a '63 Vibroverb reissue that was probably the best non-tweed amp I've ever played. I doubt I could describe it better than @Fiesta Red did. It worked great with my strat, tele...even my howl-prone hollowbody archtop. Fender recently released a brown Deluxe Chris Stapleton model that I really like...though I think that's a modded circuit to some degree. If I recall though, @roknfnrol has a brownface Deluxe also that he's demoed with...and I liked his as well. So I guess that would be a second.

    I've never played a blackface or silverface amp I felt more than "meh" about. I played my first jams through blackface and silver face Deluxes, Princetons and Twins. Later I briefly owned a blackface Super Reverb. None of them did it for me...ever.

    But those TWEEDS! It was love at first note with those. I don't think I've ever heard a tweed I didn't like...except maybe the Bassman...although I haven't played one in many years...maybe I'd feel different now. That just seemed like a different sound though...more on the way to brownface, I guess. I've liked pretty much all the other tweeds I've heard, including the early-50s wide-panel and TV-front models.

    How do I feel about the harmonic content? If it's a tweed with a good speaker(s)...I'm LOVIN' it!
     
  8. JRapp

    JRapp Tele-Holic

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    I've had two hi-po Twins and a Victoria clone (which I won't discuss here because it had nothing in common sonically with a 50s tweed amp). The Twins do have the power but the headroom is limited by the P12N speaker. The 50s Jensen spec sheet states it has a rated capacity of 20 watts. So a 2 x 20 watt array will not retain a clean tone with an '80' watt amp and are very likely to fail. They were a little louder and had more mids than a 5F6A Bassman but started to break up at about 2 1/2 volume. Of course, you upgrade the speakers, and that headroom increases a bit. No one in those days played at the sort of volume you encounter at your local neighborhood sports bar today, so I'm sure it was a sort of attempt at a very clean amp.
     
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  9. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

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    Well, this is very romantic and appealing. I think the truth is a bit simpler.

    Leo Fender was looking for the clearest, cleanest, high fidelity sound. The move towards the midrange cut had to do with the fact that guitar pickups are heavy in mids. So, cut the mids and get a clear, full-fidelity sound.

    Louder, cleaner, better. Simple.

    Oh, and Batman wasn't complicated, he was just plain crazy.
     
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  10. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    Leo did some odd things for a guy looking for loud and clean. Like keeping tube rectifiers in so many amps in the blackface era. Also odd since tube rectifiers cost more than diodes, even in the 1960s and Leo was cheap, we know that from the internet. Funny he spent a buck or two more on power transformers with the extra 5 volt winding, not to mention the extra tube socket and labor to wire it all up.
    Makes me think, he wasn't strictly looking for loud, clean and cheap.

    My favorite Fender? A 75 SFTR, can't explain why, I just like the damned thing.
    In spite of what some less than knowledgeable folks say, Twin Reverbs actually have a built in function called a "volume control" and don't have to tear heads off. (ok that one has three of those but one's a master volume that stays full up)
     
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