1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

Rookie amp questions

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by JustABluesGuy, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    63
    Posts:
    3,019
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2016
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I'm new to tube amps as well as low wattage amps and have some rookie questions.

    I have Fender Greta, a two watt tube combo with a four inch speaker. I've enjoyed being able to dime it out as I have never been able to do this with my higher wattage amps.

    My ignorant questions.

    1. If I throw some boost and distortion pedals in front of a tiny dimed out amp with lots of gain, is it possible to damage the tubes and/or the speaker?

    I sometimes like the sound of and amp that sounds like it's about to blow. I don't want it "actually" blow! LOL!

    2. I hear people talking about speaker break up. Without a lot of experience speaker swapping with an amp how does one determine if they are hearing speaker breakup as opposed to tube distortion? Can that even be explained to someone who hasn't heard it? How far can speakers in general "break up" before they actually break.

    I would be very greatful for any feed back on this.

    I love my little Greta for practicing when volume is a problem. As far as I know it is almost impossible to find a replacement speaker for it that sounds the same. Some say that other speakers sound better, but just got it and I'm happy with the stock speaker so far and don't want to be "forced" to replace it though my own negligence.

    Am I just being a worry wort, or can I throw a DS-1,TS808 and a Klon clone at it all at once and just have at it?
     
  2. grolan1

    grolan1 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,667
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2010
    Location:
    Somewhere in the middle of the flippin country
    I had to goggle what a Fender Greta was... cool amp and with the matching 1x12, very cool.

    I way say you won't do near term damage to the tubes, but might cut some of there lifetime out (power tube) but nothing more than that. Many people dime their amps....

    As for the speaker, I am assuming since it's a new amp, with a new speaker it is made for the amp and can be played wide open if you wish, hitting it with any pedal you like. Worse case, I am sure a replacement speaker for that would cost very little if something did happen.

    Play it as you want and enjoy... time to stop worrying and start playing!
     
    JustABluesGuy and troy2003 like this.
  3. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    63
    Posts:
    3,019
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2016
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Thanks for the fast feedback!

    I bought the amp used, and as far as I have been able to find out, Fender doesn't stock ANY replacement parts for it. I might have to buy a second one for parts if I want to stay stock.

    I will try to relax a bit about it though. Thanks again!
     
  4. xafinity

    xafinity Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,910
    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2015
    Location:
    my Mom's basement
    Enjoy your Greta while you can. Soon enough you wll stumble in among the greta groupies where you will learn your little amp is crap if you dont spend 100s modding it.
    just kidding, its a big world.

    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/greta-group.364142/
     
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  5. troy2003

    troy2003 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    2,317
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2010
    Location:
    ?
    I agree-just play it. Maybe want to at least casually look for a replacement speaker for a great price to have as a spare. Not saying you'll damage you're speaker at all,I am just a "be prepared" kind of guy.
     
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  6. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    63
    Posts:
    3,019
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2016
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Oh yeah! I've already read a lot about mods of all kinds. I bought it because I liked the sound of it (in videos online).

    I bought it used online, and when it finally arrived the only problem I had with it was that it had a lot of hum and a little static intermittently.

    It's several years old so I ordered a replacement set of tubes and now it's really quiet and sounds great. I'm guessing the V1 tube was slightly microphonic.

    And this improvement was made with cheap Chinese tubes that virtually everyone says to avoid completely! I will probably do some more tube swapping and try some different types/brands, and I'm going to start looking at some cabs for use with it and other amps, but that's the extent of my plans.

    I'm sure tweaking and modding are fun hobbies, and can probably allow one to get some unique tones, but I'm not skilled in electronics and try to buy what I like, and like what I buy. Until I don't anymore!

    I've seen Gretas that have been mutilated, hacked, hot rodded, recabbed, etc.

    One person installed a replacement speaker that had a huge magnet on it (since bigger is always better, and the stock speaker has a small, weak magnet), and they had to hack away at the chassis to even get it in! Once they tested their "upgraded" speaker they didn't like the tone, and sudden they had a lot of noise.

    I'm guessing the noise was probably introduced by the powerful magnetic feild of the new speaker's HUGE magnet!

    People say the speaker is crap, but it was specially designed for that amp. It is supposed to have a quirky vintage feel and sound. The tubby noises that pass for bass response are part of it's quirky appeal to me.

    I don't "want" to make it sound like a Marshall half stack, or a Fender Twin (and it never will). I will try and get a touch more clean headroom and overall volume by changing the tubes. It's a great test bed for trying out different tubes since it doesn't need biasing.

    I was afraid that mine might arrive in a similar, heavily modded form, but I lucked out! I might sniff a few tubes, but all the pedal mods and such I have heard demonstrated were to my ears (on YouTube via cell of course, so...) all pretty subtle and in many cases inaudible to me. Any non-subtle changes beg the question, why buy the pedal in the first place if it requires a drastic chance to be "right"?

    Anything that needs drastic modification was probably the wrong tool in the first place it seems to me.

    I hope I'm not starting something with my comments about modding being a hobby. I think it sounds like a great hobby personally, but my main hobby is playing guitar and I haven't had too much trouble finding tones I like without any modding so far.
     
  7. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,099
    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2012
    Location:
    SoCal
    I would build or purchase a 10" cab to play it through. It will change the sound dramatically, and then you will have two tonal options (internal 4" or extension 10").
     
    xafinity and JustABluesGuy like this.
  8. engineer

    engineer Tele-Meister

    Posts:
    234
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2013
    Location:
    Sweden
    1. No. It won't blow up.

    2. It will break up if you dime it, but it won't break.

    There are replacement speakers for it, but you will not need them. If you would like a different sound, change tubes or try an external speaker.
    There are many small and large to choose from depending on your sound preference.

    There was another thread here where someone had built a cab out of a wooden wine box. So the sky's the limit, really.
     
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  9. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    63
    Posts:
    3,019
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2016
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I like it stock. I don't plan on doing any major (irreversible) mods to it.

    I'm going to try some tube swapping with it for fun, and
    I am planning on getting an external cab or two. One vintage, or at least vintage "style" and one modern perhaps. I like to have options.

    I had read that Fender didn't make any replacement parts (like speakers) for the Greta. That was my main concern.

    Thanks for the feedback!
     
  10. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    9,794
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Location:
    Lawndale CA
    Great start with the Greta. Heck, I have TWO of them on end tables in my house! Changed the tubes to god ones, got the speakers broken in and they're awesome little practice amps and a great intro to tube amps and how they react.

    1. As already said, no you won't blow anything...just don't run a speaker output into the input!

    2. It takes some experience in most cases, but *generally* output stage saturation - which is not just the tubes, it involves the transformer, bias settings, specific tubes and more - is smoother and more controllable than speaker breakup, which (again, in *most* cases) is a bit "edgier", sometimes "ratty" sounding and harder to "mic" with your volume control or pick attack.

    There are plenty of exceptions depending on specific speakers and amps - and preamp gain is a wild card as well.
     
    JustABluesGuy likes this.
  11. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    63
    Posts:
    3,019
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2016
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Hi Troy, I will check around to see if replacements are available. If I can find a sweet deal it would be tempting to just buy second one. I can play them in stereo until (if) there are problems, and I will have plenty of parts between the two. Convincing my wife that that is a good idea is another thread!

    Thanks!
     
  12. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    63
    Posts:
    3,019
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2016
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    "Great start with the Greta. Heck, I have TWO of them on end tables in my house!"

    I'm red with envy!

    I had already bought a 1950's Zenith tabletop radio (with a phono input!) with the intention of basically turning it into a Greta, when I first saw the amp on YouTube. I know one can't "really" judge tone effectively with cheap earbuds and a smartphone, but I figure if it sounds good that way it probably sounds better in person. Recording engineers will usually listen to their mixes on crappy systems as well as reference monitors to see if the mix hold up there as well, so...

    Anyway, I was vindicated! I think it sounds great, and another vintage radio has been saved from an unskilled, amateur hacker!

    "a great intro to tube amps and how they react."

    Yeah, I WILL be playing around with them some. I was thinking about just making it a scream machine, but I don't really use a "lot" of gain (most of the time) even on solos.

    That being said I will try both but I'm going to try and gain some clean headroom and a touch more overall volume first. Then I'll go the other direction until it only squeals and feeds back uncontrollably!

    Do you have yours setup with different compliments or the same? Do you run them in stereo?

    "just don't run a speaker output into the input!"

    LOL! I'm not "quite" THAT amp ignorant, but I appreciate the heads up anyway!

    "speaker breakup, which (again, in *most* cases) is a bit "edgier", sometimes "ratty" sounding and harder to "mic" with your volume control or pick attack."

    I know it will take some experience to suss all the nuances out, but that description really helps! I'm assuming that speaker breakup is part of a more vintage sound (lower power capacity, smaller magnets, dry rotted paper cone!) and that less breakup would give a tighter, more "modern"
    sound?

    I'm pretty sure I'm over generalizing, but "in general" would that be fair to say?

    I'm more familiar with audiophile stereo equipment where speaker breakup and amp distortion are terrible things! : )

    I really appreciate all the advice. I realize that I will have to spend some time doing my own listening, but you've definately helped me understand what to listen for much better!

    Thanks again!
     
  13. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    63
    Posts:
    3,019
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2016
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I'm actually thinking about two cabs (for this and other amps). Maybe a vintage 10 and a modern 12? I like options!

    I don't have any speaker cabs right now, but I've played it through one of the speakers in a 2x12 cab and it did alter it dramatically.

    I'm not even sure I want to alter its tone that much. Just make it a bit louder with some real bass response. I really like the vintage tone it has as is, and don't want make it any "less" vintage sounding.

    Thanks much for the feedback!
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.