Talk to me about a 5A3 Tweed Deluxe

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by tjnies, Jan 17, 2019.

  1. tjnies

    tjnies Tele-Holic

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    I will admit knowing little about the TV-front tweed Deluxe amps, other than a very brief noodling on a used one at GC. I recall liking the sound.

    I have a friend / collector / seller that has offered me a mostly mint 5A3. I am unsure how it would work in just a home-noodler setting. I play a Telecaster, and prefer few to no pedals. Just want glorious sound.

    Are those octal preamp tubes difficult to find and what sort of price can I expect?

    Please also mention any other info I need to know before jumping in.
     
  2. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Home noodler setting - probably the ideal use for one of these. If you like the sound - just ensure it's safe in respect of three prong cord and serviced caps. They are lower volume and gain. Not as loud or pokey, smoother and woodier/smokier to me, but still have a great gritty snarl.

    I'm pretty sure tubes are available. Or there are close substitutes. You do have to pay attention to what's in there - as a small maker back Fender made many running changes that weren't always documented.

    Some tubes are getting rare - OTOH, a lot of preamp tubes appear pretty immortal.

     
  3. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Friend of Leo's

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    The pre amp tubes are being reproduced, and there is plenty of vintage stuff available.
    The old octal like 6SJ7 are getting more pricey because demand is high.
    If that amp is nearly mint and unmolested it could be worth some money.
    If it hasn’t been fired up in a long time, I wouldn’t plug it in and hope for the best, it needs a tech to slowly bring up the power until it eventually reaches its operating voltage. You hit those old caps with high voltage they may fail and cause all sorts of damage. Which would kill any value it had as a collectible.
    Good luck and post some pics if you get it.
     
  4. tjnies

    tjnies Tele-Holic

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    Thanks. The pics I have seen appear that the amp is at minimum very clean and at best mint. He says it still has all the straight slot screws.
    I haven’t asked about maintenance items, 3 prong etc, but am aware that if not done it goes straight to the tech.

    Price is no bargain (I guess), but I almost bought a mint 63 Champ for $2200, so this might be a reasonable buy.
     
  5. corn husk bag

    corn husk bag TDPRI Member

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    You will love it. Keep any parts that are replaced, even the old 2 prong cord. Great blues and old rock n roll amp. Get your ya yas out!
     
  6. scout2112

    scout2112 Tele-Holic

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    I have a 5E3 clone. It's a desert island amp that I would never consider selling.
     
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  7. tjnies

    tjnies Tele-Holic

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    Well, I texted the seller and asked about the maintenance items. He said it is 100% original. I commented I'd have to budget another couple hundred for updates.
    Then he suggested not touching it since it is so original, that it would devalue it somewhat.

    I decided to pass, as I have no interest in collecting (unless I get a huge bargain on something that is sure to bring a big return).
     
  8. L.A. Mike

    L.A. Mike Tele-Afflicted

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    Regarding updates to vintage amps:
    A lot of us old guys started playing on amps that only had 2 prong power cords. Most of us didn't get electrocuted. A few of us got shocked. We learned the one handed ground check between the guitar amp and the microphone. No big deal.
    I have a 50s Fender Deluxe and a '65 Super Reverb.
    They have been opened up and examined occasionally by a guitar amp builder/tech friend who always says "don't touch anything, it's fine".
    They both have original tubes, caps and speakers. They have been played a lot. Years of club working and road work.
    Beware of techs who want to work on your amp because "everybody says change the caps like you would change your oil."
    Could it be they are generating business for themselves? Nah!
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
  9. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Don't let the seller decide.
    Bone stock amps are only for people who don't want to play.
    Screw that.
    Get it serviced and keep the parts in a baggie...with the original handle.
    Mine is either a 5A or 5B3...there is very little difference in sound.
    It is an unbelievable sound from fat old Jazzy (Charlie Christian, Tiny Grimes), to more hairy (Seasick Steve should play one), up to about-to-explode Neil Young or Reignwolf...all at reasonable volume.
    The only thing it can't do is be loud enough to gig un-miced.
    Just buy it.
    There aren't a lot of parts in there, I bet you could get a good tech to service it right for $100.
    012.JPG 016.JPG 013.JPG 007.JPG
     
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  10. sleazy pot pie

    sleazy pot pie Tele-Afflicted

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    Does anyone make a clone of the 5a3? I listened to some YouTube videos after reading this thread and it seems like a cool amp.
     
  11. Mike Eskimo

    Mike Eskimo Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    All things being equal , as far as desirability is concerned , more people want a 5E3 than a 5A3.

    The time that any more than a select few folks want one of those amps with the octal preamp tubes is drawing to a close.

    To me that price seems high. Don’t pay extra for pristine tweed just to play it.

    As someone who has owned a real ‘57 5E3 Deluxe, I’d never own another one , but I would own a clone of one. And in my opinion, a clone of a 5A3 wouldn’t come anywhere close to $2200.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
  12. scout2112

    scout2112 Tele-Holic

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    There's lots of outfits making and selling clones. Lil' Dawg Amps is a highly recommended builder and is reasonably priced. Cheapest I've seen is Sound of the Shoals Guitar Amplifiers, but I have no idea the quality.
     
  13. sleazy pot pie

    sleazy pot pie Tele-Afflicted

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    So what is the tonal difference between the 5a3 and the 5e3?
    It looks like the 5a3 has 3 inputs vs 4 on the 5e3 and then the pre amp tubes are different a 12ax7 and 12ay7 in the 5e3 vs two 6sc7 ( which are new to me) in the 5a3
     
  14. tjnies

    tjnies Tele-Holic

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    Not sure if there is some confusing of posts, but I was the one who said I was considering a mint Champ @ $2200. No one mentioned that price for a repro tweed 5A3.

    The clean-to-mint 5A3 Deluxe in question was a good bit more than that. But based on research, my offered price was well within reason for its condition and year. I questioned altering an "untouched parts" amp which perhaps results in a great amp but worth less. All said, I consider the going-forward value of every amp I own. While it may only sell when my estate is auctioned, it is still something I think about.

    As for condition, I will pay a fair price for a really nice example of a desired amp. I'd truly love a nice tweed Vibrolux with appropriate OE parts for a sub-$3k price tag. But these days you see nothing but altered amps, re-tweeds, etc and still want mint prices. No thanks.
     
  15. keithb7

    keithb7 Friend of Leo's

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    Sigh...Another 5A3 thread. They are awesome. I covet.
    Maybe I need to quit whining about it and do something.

    The whole mint/stock/collectable thing is somewhat annoying. Maybe I should just build one. A clone. Find a ratty old low power speaker and crank the damn thing to the moon. Devil may care what happens to it. It’ll sound 95% there. Guaranteed. The tube sniffers be damned!

    I’m moving more amp stuff out of here yet. Then I’ll decide what project to take on next. Buy one or build one. I have learned that I have no need for any tweed bigger than a Deluxe.
     
  16. thegeezer

    thegeezer Tele-Afflicted

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    If you want it and the price is right for you, buy it.

    Best amp purchase of my life was a ‘54 5d3. I use it constantly. At home, at gigs, you name it. You only go around once.

    I’d love an octal tube Deluxe. That honk!

    Replace what actually needs to be replaced as it needs it.

    They were meant to be played not stared at.
     
  17. peteb

    peteb Friend of Leo's

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    The 5A3 is grid leak bias on the first stage. That’s more break up, and a distinctive old school sound.
     
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  18. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

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    Also the 5a3 has paraphase PI, which adds gain compared to the 5e3's cathodyne PI, but the 5e3 has two gain stages before the PI vs the 5a3's 1. Add the different chatacter of the octal preamp tubes and you have two completely different amps!

    Someone mentioned lil dawg and a couple of other builders earlier, none of which make a 5a3 clone as far as i can tell. I don't know of any commercial 5a3 clones out there (though I'm sure there is one somewhere).

    Damn, now i want to build a 5a3...
     
  19. keithb7

    keithb7 Friend of Leo's

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    We just have to order all the parts a assemble it ourselves. Not too big of a deal I don’t think. Only concern I have is finding a proper chrome chassis. Anyone know where one might be offered?
     
  20. Nickfl

    Nickfl Tele-Afflicted

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    Depends on how "proper" you need it to be... I think if I build one I'll just bend one myself out of sheet metal. I've kind of had this idea stuck in my head this afternoon and I dug out a radio pull, field coil speaker with a PP 6k6 OT riveted to it that I remembered I had. So now I'm thinking about using that (and its matching PT, assuming I still have it) to make a sort of "best of" design drawing from the different octal deluxe circuits, with 6k6 power tubes for a sort of "2/3 power" octal deluxe. I think I may use a 6sl7 as V1 so I can do one input channel grid leak and one cathode bias and then go for a 6sc7 for the paraphase PI, since I've got a few laying around. Since I've already gotten pretty far from an authentic reproduction with the 6k6 power section and dual input styles, I may go for something more Gibson like in the cab design...

    If you want a more authentic look, I have seen 3 input tweed chassis around somewhere. I think maybe weber had them at one point, but I don't know if they had octal preamp tube knockouts... You could try zachmdhunter on ebay, I don't know if they do custom layouts, but its only a small deviation from a 5e3 chassis so it wouldn't be that big of an ask.

    Edit: Looks like Weber has a 5c3 chassis, that was probably what I was thinking of. That would work if you were ok with having the 4 input jack holes instead of a more authentic 3.
     
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