Question about really well built amps

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by klasher, May 26, 2019.

  1. klasher

    klasher Tele-Holic

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    So I've had this experience twice now and wanted to see if you guys had input on it. The past few years I've had the opportunity to play a pretty bright tele through two amps made with really nice components. One was an amp built by a local amp repair guy who's customer paid him to build a fender style amp with every single component (electrical and otherwise) being the highest quality component they could possibly find. The second was yesterday when I played a tele through a Victoria 20112 amp, based on an old tweed deluxe circuit. In both cases, i had the tone wide open on bridge pickups that are normally considered very bright, and the high ends were smooth as butter and completely pleasant sounding. I could play through both those amps with the bridge pup on totally clean all day without any ear piercing high end at all. I then took that same tele and immediately unplugged it from the Vic and plugged it into a modern day Fender, and the high end was back, naturally requiring tone knob tweaking and eq adjusting.
    So my question is, is this super smooth delivery of the tele's high end inherent with a lot of the modern day boutique style amps (Carrs, Tone Kings, other Victorias, Lil Dawgs, etc)? Or does it really depend on the model?
    And please, let's stay away from "you need to learn how to work the tone knob..." responses. That's not the point of this post. The point is simply that it's interesting to me that there are amps out there that completely take away that need when playing tele's. And I'm curious as to why that is.
    Thanks!
     
  2. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    I think it is more in the speaker selection of those amps than anything else. I've had some amps that were like nails on the chalkboard until a speaker change made them fantastic. High end boutique builders will also use high end speakers...at least they should.
     
  3. Snfoilhat

    Snfoilhat Tele-Afflicted

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    Adding a little extra high frequency filtering to what is essentially an old Fender design is a great way to make your boutique amp run a little quieter and less prone to oscillation. But the component that has the most control over high end by far is the speaker. One of the major qualities that makes a speaker a guitar speaker is where the designer puts that high end frequency roll off.

    The 'quality' of the passive components is almost certainly contributing so little that you would never pick their contributions out in a blind test.

    Some of the boutique builders you mentioned are honest about doing Fender copies; some insist that they have innovated the circuits to add some value to their product. Unless you can show a schematic with a real and different filter system (like the conjunctive filter on some Dr. Z amps, which is older than Dr. Z, but at least different), then all you are hearing is a tweed-style amp in a high quality cabinet with a very well-chosen speaker. Those companies want your initial, plugged-a-tele-straight-in playing experience to be great.
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2019
  4. ronzhd

    ronzhd Tele-Holic

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    To my ears, with tube amps, the type circuit and speaker configurations etc... some are warmer than others. In my case I'm talking about a PRRI with a G10 gold and a 6G3 boutique amp with a Weber Vintage alnico 12. The PRRI is warmer, even with the Lollar pups on my Nash T63. So to your question I would say NO, it's not inherent to every boutique amp.
     
  5. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Define "highest quality" ... reason is that Quality is a shifty term due to over use and not specific enough. A Budweiser and McDonald's fries are "High Quality" in that they are very repeatable anywhere in the country you get them. "Rich Corinthian Leather" was very High Quality back in the 70s/80s when those old commercials told you so.

    Using 400volt caps instead of 200volt? Using brand X caps instead of Y? And what makes brand X caps so much better than Y?

    One player's "Warm and Smooth" is another player's "Muddy"; one player's "Harsh Ice Pick" is another player's "Clean and full of Dynamics".

    Those special amps you played can have different components selected for one end of their tolerance band to emphasize the darker tones -- basically a hard-wired EQ.

    .
     
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  6. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    while obviously we all hear things differently, to taste, I can say this. For my entire tenure ( over 40 years , still going ) I was a manufactured amp guy, Fender, PV, Music Man whatever. I never had an issue, had my favorite amps, tone was consistent.

    THEN, I recently grabbed a Dr Z Maz 38 head, Ok, it's a game changer overall. Same cabinets, same speakers. I'm not saying it's a better amp than XXX etc, what I am saying is I noticed a dramatic difference right out of the gate. This amp pretty much doesn't care where you set the knobs it just sounds pretty dang good regardless !

    Old Dog, learned new tricks evidently :)

    I still use a Blues Jr on very small rooms gigs and a Carvin 50 watt combo (Nomad ) , I still own a HR Deville 2 x 12, but for the outdoor shows and larger rooms, this Maz 38 is the ticket. I use it with either one or two 1 x 12 cabs.

    I've sold off my Fender 40 watt platform amps but can't part with the Deville. If I woke up one day and said to myself I better get another amp right away, it would be a Z Maz 18.
     
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  7. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    Speakers can make a huge difference. But some amps have architecture that is more compressed or warm for sure. On some amps turning down the treble doesn't get you the magic, it just makes the amp lifeless instead. One thing I've noticed is simple amps tend to have gutsy but overly bright sound with a very nice voice. A simple Blackface Deluxe without all the reverb stuff in the circuit is one of those amps. There is something magic about a one or two tube preamp circuit.
     
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  8. StrangerNY

    StrangerNY Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Same here, only with a Two Rock Studio Pro 35.

    You pretty much can't go wrong as far as tone goes! I mostly use a modeler with it, but for the 'pure' Tele gigs I'll just take the amp with a boost in front of it for leads. And it's got a 'contour' knob (which they've changed to 'Presence' on the newer ones) which takes the 'ice pick' right out if you dial it back.

    This amp does pretty much all I demand from it.

    - D
     
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  9. dan40

    dan40 Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't believe that the passive components would contribute to that much of a difference in tone. Speaker selection, tube selection and output transformer most likely contribute the most to the difference in sound.
     
  10. Fluddman

    Fluddman Tele-Meister

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    Genuine question here - I can understand how a speaker or output transformer can smooth the high frequencies but can tube selection really do it? How?

    Cheers
     
  11. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    have jtm45, jtm50, jmp50

    jym45 6l6 fender tranny..super fat & late break
    jtm50 black flag.. el34 SS & tube rec...big & full & very agressive as chan vol goes up
    jmp50 1987 now 2204 4 holer.el34..thump to leads that sustain forever

    Had my tech put them to specs & some gain values i favor, i just change amps for what is needed matched to specific pickups..dont remember last time i have touched my tone knobs ...greenbacks for classic....g12c for tight greenback & gt75/vintage X pattern for heavy. The art of matching your pups to your circuit & then what range you favor in speakers...makes it so simple ..so consistent
     
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  12. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I only Play Esquires or similar bridge pickup only guitars, and I never use the guitar tone control to tame the treble.
    I actually remove the tone control or just don't install one in a build.

    As various comments confirm, there are choices we make that get us the tones we like.
    Speakers are a huge part of it, but I use Red Fangs and Celestion Golds, which are bright speakers.
    Tubes do indeed influence the tone, and I have brighter and darker as well as clearer and less clear preamp and power tubes.

    One other thing is that vintage amps seem to me to have been less bright until the mid '60s when stage volumes demanded louder and brighter amps for bigger rooms full of meat.

    Marshall got a good deal brighter in '68 or so while I think Fender got brighter with the BF of '64.
    Of course many or most speakers from those years were also less bright toned, at least the samples I've used.

    The OP doesn't say which Fender amp circuit besides the Victoria 20112, but I'd guess it was pre BF?
    The OP also didn't say what that amp had for a tone stack and how it was set.
    Victoria does tend to ship amps that just plain sound great.

    But as far as high quality equaling less treble?
    No, I don't think that's fair.
    A good amp should have extra bass and treble (and mids) available, so we can dial in the tone we want, including with very dark guitars and very bright guitars.
    Still, I feel like the quality of trebl and the quantity of treble are not the same thing.

    So in that sense, I'd say yes: Better amps sound better!
     
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  13. klasher

    klasher Tele-Holic

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    I think this really sums up my experience playing those two amps (and to answer, I don't remember what circuit the first one was based around, but it had at least a treble and bass knob (maybe mids?) as well as volume and I think verb. Anyway, both those amps certainly had lots of treble on hand. They were very chimey, but in a really good way. Not the usual harsh ice pick, but really chimey and smooth high end. So much so there was no need to 'roll off the highs' with the tone knob at all. I wouldn't even have thought about it. Not that the highs weren't there, becasue they were. But they were there in a really silky kind of way, if that makes any sense.
     
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  14. dan40

    dan40 Tele-Afflicted

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    Certain preamp tubes do exhibit subtle sound differences. RFT ecc83's are well known to tame a brighter amp and vintage Mullard ecc83's have strong midrange quality to their sound. It's not drastic but it is there and you can use these attributes to fine tune your sound. Most boutique builders are not going to load their amps with NOS tubes because of supply issues but many of the customers will pay the extra money to use the best glass they can in a high end amp.
     
  15. DuckDodgers

    DuckDodgers Tele-Meister

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  16. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

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    The speaker is a big factor in the "smoothness" your talking about. So is the degree of "break in" the speaker has gotten.
     
  17. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you are talking tube brand, I think it's VERY minimal help in smoothing out highs. If you are talking about amp design and what type of output tube, that will do more. At least to some extent.
     
  18. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Some speakers have a large resonance and a rising impedance in the top end. With an amp with a large dampening factor the bass will be less resonant and the top end less pronounced as compared to an amp with a lower dampening factor. The NFB loop, or lack of, plays into this also. So from jack to transformer could be the same for each amp and the NFB loop being present will make the amp sound different, even when not running up into clipping. Some speakers like one kind of amp, another not so much.
     
  19. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    "high quality components" and "Fender *style* amp" are meaningless unless the specific circuit, transformers, voltages and parts values are defined.

    I could build the exact same circuit - say, a tweed Bandmaster clone - and while keeping all the specs within Fender's originally-specified 20% tolerance...but selecting SPECIFIC values at the outside edge of the range one way or the other - end up with one icepick-in-the-forehead amp and one mud-dwelling bullfrog - using the same speakers.

    And speakers make a HUGE difference, as noted above. As does cabinet type and construction. Lead dress can affect tone.

    So there's simply not enough information in the original post to compare the two - on paper. And "on paper" comparisons are shaky anyway - each specific example of a single amp model can vary, which is why it's difficult to buy amps by mail. IMO playing YOUR guitar(s) and effects through a specific amp is essential, which is why many players go through dozens of amps....and tweaks... before they find the ones that serve their purposes in every setting.
     
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