The Excelsior Lounge

Discussion in 'Amp Owners Clubs' started by drdos, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. marshman

    marshman Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well, my Exy never quite qualified as 'light', though the P15 I installed shaved a bit off the weight. Owl, why did you replace the baffle?

    I tricked one out for use with my acoustic bass guitar and installed an Altec 418B--the magnet alone weighs more than the entire stock speaker! I can still heft it with one hand (barely) if I have to, but I don't like to!

    I have a cabinet/furniture maker friend that owes me a favor, maybe I'll see if he can make me a pine cab for mine.

    I've started to see stock speakers showing up on ebay for sale--I gotta say I reckon $40 seems a bit rich.
     
  2. BluesOwl

    BluesOwl Tele-Holic

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    for a couple of reasons:

    I don't like particle board..and I guess I'm coming from a history of having various Fender products that use it.

    - my 71 super reverb had physical deterioration issues with the baffle, and with that era cab., you'd have to cut it out and replace. That put the 1st "bad taste in my mouth" re: part. board
    - 60's 2x12 F. cab. - much better with plywood baffle
    - in general, I've seen a lot of worn fender pb baffles with issues

    I don't like any amp cab. construction where the baffle is pulled forward for attachment. Sandwiched layers of grillcloth and tolex 'tween baffle and cab.
    Rather have the bare wood of the baffle screwed against a bare wood cleat, which is screwed to the cab.

    The excelsior baffle looks to be 1/2" (built up lip @ 3/4" for the exposed edge). Real crap fasteners (expected)

    So a benefit here is the plywood baffle with all that mounting support will handle the real heavy speaker.

    I'm confident there's a slight tonal benefit from the new baffle, but its co-mingled with the huge benefit of the new speaker and "proper"<sniff> tubes.

    and w/o the coincidence of the perfect Baldwin baffles I had, I probably wouldn't have done it.
     
  3. marshman

    marshman Poster Extraordinaire

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    My furniture-making acquaintance says that MDF is "better" for speaker cabinets because it absorbs less energy, allowing for maximum transfer of speaker energy to sound energy. I presume for stereo cabinets that sit untouched for ages that might make a difference, but for some reasons guitar players prefer pine and strong ply. Could be mojo or snake oil, but I never worried that a pine or ply cab would get beer spilled on it and begin to deteriorate or puff up like a sponge, like I used to with my HRDx.

    At any rate, if I do get him to build me a fresh cabinet, I will get the baffle 'upgraded' as well.

    I don't know about your tubes, but my RCA 6V6GTs smell awesome!
     
  4. BluesOwl

    BluesOwl Tele-Holic

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    I believe your friend is correct about mdf.

    I have another of the baldwin baffles if anybody wants it.
     
  5. tap4154

    tap4154 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    If you do a quick google search you will find a lot of confirmation that MDF is better than solid wood or ply for enclosures & baffles. OTOH, solid wood looks so nice :D
     
  6. nielsk

    nielsk Tele-Meister

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    I like my Excelsior a lot, but it is a bit hard on the old back... So I did a SC (Senior Citizen) mod using a shopping trolley.
    I like that mod even better than the BillM tone mod that I did.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. dragonfly66

    dragonfly66 Friend of Leo's

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    MDF weighs a ton in comparison to plywood. That would be my number one reason for using plywood for a portable amp. I thought MDF and particle board were one in the same, pressed wood, but apparently not. Found this on the internet:

     
  8. dragonfly66

    dragonfly66 Friend of Leo's

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    I hear you. With the pro version or a speaker upgrade that has a larger magnet it definitely becomes the opposite of the grab and go amp you hoped it would be.

    I like the look of the excelsior, but I like the sound better. One day I will attempt to build a pine cabinet with birch baffle like another member did.
     
  9. Abu Twangy

    Abu Twangy Friend of Leo's

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    Saving a few lbs would be nice.
     
  10. raneym305

    raneym305 TDPRI Member

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    "Uncle Doug" has a handful of great YouTube tutorials on building guitar amps (among other things). His videos are very in depth, and can be a bit long winded; however, he sounds like Ron Swanson (aka Nick Offerman), ESPECIALLY when he starts talking about woodworking, which makes it so much more interesting! Here's a link to his video on building a finger-jointed Pine Cabinet for a Fender Champ clone he built from scratch:

    I second Marshman's comment about the P15R shaving a few (critical) pounds off the amp.
     
  11. dragonfly66

    dragonfly66 Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you very much for the video link. I have watched some of his videos before. Great guy!
     
  12. MadJack

    MadJack Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    You friend is correct about MDF in the Home/mobile audio sense. As for guitars cabinets it can work well too. Where it makes a difference, aside from the weight, is certain types of wood resonate at different frequencies. The frequencies can be complimentary to the tone of the guitar, depending on the style and tone you are after. Cabinet design, size and whether it is open-back or closed-back and floating or fixed baffle will all influence the tone also.

    Look at the vintage Fender cabs/combos with their Pine cabs with open-backs and floating (one screw on each corner) baffle. It has that loose open sound. The wood used resonates complimentary tones to the Jensen/Oxford/CTS speakers used in them

    Compare that with a Marshall cab with it's 3/4" Birch plywood closed-back fixed baffle cab. The tone is more mid-range-y tighter and more focused. The wood resonates less, but what it does resonate is more mid-range focused.

    Modeling and solid state amps would do better (on the whole) with a MDF cab as it is more neutral sounding and the amp can shape the tone. There are exceptions of course, as if you or the amp maker are trying to focus on one style or tone from the amp, then they could use all or part of the other cabs styles components to help shape the tone more.

    For the Excelsior, I would go with an open-back Pine cab with a floating baffle, as amps from it's supposed era were typically built that way.
     
  13. richey88

    richey88 Friend of Leo's

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    SC mod. LMAO!! (being on the verge of SC status myself). Great idea too!
     
  14. TTL_Wes

    TTL_Wes TDPRI Member

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    This thread is awesome.

    Ok so I bought my excelsior a few months ago (from a pawn shop :D) and I've had a chance to really dig in and get my solid opinion of it. Here it is: I love it and I want 2 lol

    Tone mod, bass knob mod, some preamp and power amp board mods, going to try the tremolo foots witch mod today (I'd like to try to put the speed knob on it too).

    It sounds great for my style (Psychedelic Anti Pop a la Flaming Lips, Tame Impala, Portugal the Man) and I love the way it sounds pushed to its max (even with the stock tubes and speaker) especially with reverb and chorus and a few overdrive/boost pedals. It sounds great with my Modern Player Tele and even better with my Epiphone ES-175 Premium. I plan on a second Exclsior with identical mods for stereo :D

    This thing through an avatar 4x12 cab borders on a religious experience and it can actually be heard over my drummer at that. Now that's impressive.

    I do have a question for you guys. I've yet to see a video of someone else cranking their excelsior to full output tube saturation like I do often...Mine gets a almost 'auto-phaser' sound out of the distortion. "Beeeyaaahhhow" is how I would put it in onomatopoeia lol. Not a problem, I actually love it. Does anyone else's do this when cranked?
     
  15. raneym305

    raneym305 TDPRI Member

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    Cranking It

    I actually haven't cranked my amp, all but maybe once or twice, the entire time I've owned it- and both of those times were with the stock tubes and speaker. I LOVE the overdrive tone you get from natural tube saturation; but I'm not a huge distortion buff, and there was nothing about the cranked tone that grabbed me.

    I'm currently running tubes and a speaker that are 55-60 years old and wouldn't dream of cranking them, but at one o' clock (just under 2/3 full volume) it can get pretty warm and dirty, and everything after sounds like a good, vintage Gibson "Maestro" Fuzz!
     
  16. tap4154

    tap4154 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I cranked mine once at home and played a few notes, then hit a power chord, and a second later the upstairs neighbor was banging in my ceiling :D

    For that second it sounded great! Normally I play it low volume and prefer playing clean anyway. IMO this amp does sound great at low volume, not thin at all, and still seems touch-sensitive. Just a great tone IMHO. I play it at about 12:00-2:00 volume and turn the guitar volume down to an apartment-acceptable level.
     
  17. nielsk

    nielsk Tele-Meister

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    same here. Also my electric-acoustic sounds right with this amp.
    Why do they call these things 'bedroom amps'? what bedrooms do these people have :confused:
     
  18. simonsp

    simonsp Friend of Leo's

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    That's exactly the way I use mine, it's just too loud to play with the guitar volume cranked, even with the amp set to 1. (it's a modded version and I think it's a lot louder than the stock model I played in a store).

    The most surprising aspect of the amp for me is that I get a very compressed sound from it even at low volumes, I had thought that amp compression kicked in when the valves were cooking but I get a very nice compressed sound at low volumes and the touch sensitivity you mention as well (tho' I think that may be a side effect of the sheer volume!).

    I'm going to have to rehouse it though, it's just too heavy for a grab n go amp.
     
  19. TTL_Wes

    TTL_Wes TDPRI Member

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    I'll see if I can get around to posting a clip today. This amp is going to be my go-to od/dist sound on our upcoming EP.

    Agreed about the weight, but it's still feels lighter than my peavey vypyr tube 60 (a surprisingly good sounding amp) which is good. And yea, most of the time I play with the volume about 12 or 1 like most of you guys seen to be doing to get good tone without earplugs, but as I live in a duplex and my neighbors are constantly blasting music as well..I'm afforded a unique opportunity to experiment at studio or live levels which took a lot of trial and error out of my 'tone finding' process haha :D When run through the 4x12, the crunch would make billy gibbons or josh homme weak in the knees lol

    The power amp board mods I did keep my ES-175 modded for coil split just under breakup levels at max volume in single coil mode. Very nice. But switch to humbucking or kick on my BD2 using it as a straight clean boost (or my modded ODB3 that now sounds like a Rat or TS) and it's straight back to that sweet nastiness haha. But like a lot of you have mentioned (and has become one of the positive characteristics of this amp) is the responsiveness even when cranked with all my feedback. I can see now how it would be a great acoustic electric amp as well while playing the ES through it.

    So what's everyone doing to combat tube rattle? Is it even an issue for your normal playing volume? For recording, I had to actually remove the power amp chassis and set it behind the amp on a small PA wedge. Completely stopped it :p
     
  20. wosinek

    wosinek TDPRI Member

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    The amp has a very nice breakup on full volume but too loud for apartment.
    I installed an inline Carl's Custom Speaker Soak which is adjustable.
    I mounted in the rear of the unit with velcro but it can also sit on top of the amp
    next to my fish and chips EQ. This allows me to drive the output tubes hard
    but adjust the volume to a comfortable level. Yes, it does roll off the highs some
    but I have the EQ to adjust if needed. I also use the EQ to roll off the bottom end
    if the stock speaker starts farting on bassy notes.
    Also have the tone mod installed and a new JJ 12AX7 in front end which helped.
    Still stock tubes and speaker but i also have an Avatar 2x12 bluesbreaker cab with a Swampthang and a Texas Heat and the amp sounds great ( although different) thru
    that cab.
     
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