Tube Amps : Hand-wired vs. PCB

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by TeleFunk Man, Sep 29, 2017.

  1. TeleFunk Man

    TeleFunk Man Tele-Afflicted

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    Hand wired amps wired on a Friday are less reliable than ones wired on a Monday. :)
     
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  2. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not in my experience, generally. Tons of PCB amps with cold solder joints. I saw a pic the other day of a Peavey that didn't have like 8 eyelets soldered, on the PCB, for the input jacks. Most PCB amps are trying to get pooped out as fast as possible for as cheap as possible. That's the issue. The high quality PCB amps are good, but in many cases, at that point, they're comparable to Hand wired stuff, pricewise.
     
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  3. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

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    Why do you think qc is better on PCBs? Not just better, but "a whole lot"? What do you know about the qc process they're using?
     
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  4. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

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    Ehhh, monday's not so good either. So hung over. Maybe try a wednesday amp.
     
  5. TeleFunk Man

    TeleFunk Man Tele-Afflicted

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    Non-unionized robots.
     
  6. TeleFunk Man

    TeleFunk Man Tele-Afflicted

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    Good point.
     
  7. scottser

    scottser Tele-Afflicted

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    I've got a p2p wired special 6 head and a laney cub head. Tonal difference is not really an issue as much as heat is. The cub feels hotter at the back and I'm more inclined to turn it off during breaks. The special 6 has a standby and there's no problem leaving it on for a couple of hours.
     
  8. alnicopu

    alnicopu Friend of Leo's

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    I think the issue can be with the "good enough" compromise of what it costs to manufacture a PCB vs. handwiring. What I mean by that is, whats the cheapest, best way to fabricate it, with the components required and arranged on the board, at a certain price point. You start thinking about how much hiss, hum or failure rate is acceptable in regards to cost. Thats your "margin". I work on PCB equipment with high voltages every day and they almost all show the weak areas a few years down the road. I have worked on more than a few, PCB amps where I had to bridge across burnt traces. They weren't bad amps, its just another thing you have to deal with on a repair with them.
     
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  9. King Fan

    King Fan Friend of Leo's

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    It's causation v. correlation, as several folks note above regarding cost / care / construction issues.

    PCB is associated (both in our minds and in 'average' reality) with cheap, mass-market, modeling (yeah, cheap, mass-market modeling), offshore, and, face it, modern. The circuits themselves don't change the sound, but all the above factors have. Typical modern cabs? Typical 'reissue' speakers? All the PCB amps down in the junky end of the store? This stuff isn't what you think of when you think hand-wired.

    There's no rule that drummers can't drive Porsches, but we just don't tend to think of them that way. :D
     
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  10. Wayne Alexander

    Wayne Alexander Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    There is much more difference between, for instance, the PCB 65 Deluxe Reverb and the handwired 64 one than the PCB vs eyelet board handwired construction. The latter has full sized components, different transformers, etc.

    In most cases cheaper PCB amps have different, lower quality caps, resistors, etc. than a handwired amp would, and in almost all cases handwired amps will have different, more expensive and higher quality transformers. You absolutely can hear a tone/response/complexity difference from different components.

    If you're comparing amps which use the same size/quality of components, same transformers, etc between wave-soldered PCB and eyelet or turretboard handwired construction (such as the 1973 Marshall 1987 50 watt amp which was handwired, versus the following year of the same amp that was made with high quality pcb) there isn't too much sonic difference, and probably little to no difference traceable to whether you've got traces or wires connecting the components.
     
  11. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

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    The problem with robots is they do whatever I tell them to.



    And, apparently they have trouble with wire.
     
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  12. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    This is still a matter of belief versus reality. It doesn't take any great skill to replace parts on a PCB based amp.


    Guitar amps and audiophile stuff are the only places where 'hand wired' gear is thought to be superior.

    I did component level repairs on r.f. amps for many years. There wasn't a point-to-point or tag board based amp built past the 60s. The same is true of transmitters, mobile radios, broadband amps, you name it. Many mobile radios had tube PAs through the 70s, they were PCB based. Mobile radios are subjected to long term levels of vibration, power supply weirdness, and temperature extremes that no hand wired guitar amp would ever endure.

    There is no reason PCB gear has to be inferior to any other construction method. If you're buying junk, it's junk because whoever built it was incompetent, not because there is anything wrong with PCB based electronics. Guitar amps are laughably simple things compared to any transceiver or broadband amp.
     
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  13. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

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    The 'first' pcb's DID have problems with broken boards and intermittent traces because the pcb material was CHEAP single-ply phenolic, which cracked & broke easily, resulting in broken and intermittent traces which would fail miserably under vibration or thermal stress, ie: handling and playing! duh!

    Current pcb's are usually multi-ply fiber-glass reinforced poly with almost MIL-SPEC / NASA reliability.

    The TIMES (and materials) they have CHANGED over the years.
     
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  14. Danjabellza

    Danjabellza Friend of Leo's

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    Maybe QC wasn't the right term. I mean the more along the lines of consistency from one unit to the next. Fewer little nuances/variances in a PCB vs point to point. Then again those nuances and variances could mean mojo depending on how they effect the overall circuit.
     
  15. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    The good ones... Like a Bogner Shiva or Fuchs ODS, but as I mentioned, it seems most PCB amps (and Pedals) are trying to be produced as quickly and cheaply as possible, and there's still many of those flimsy PCB's around in modern gear.



    That may be all well and good but that doesn't stop, in fact, may encourage big manufactures to cheap out on boards and components. I dont have problem with PCB amps (See post #20)
    I have a problem with so many of them being poor quality. Even some of the pricier one's can be pretty cheaped out on, that bothers me a lot. Why would I got PCB when I can spend $200 more and get something with good components and lack of corner cutting? My other point was, most of the Quality PCB amps with quality boards and components often end up at comparable prices to some of the hand wired stuff.
     
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  16. bottlenecker

    bottlenecker Friend of Leo's

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    That sounds like an assumption you're making, not actual knowledge.
    I make things for a living, both by hand and by programming robots. Quality is a choice I make, no matter which method I'm using. The best quality is the thing I give the most of my human attention to.

    I'm not sure how much PCB stuff is actually populated by robots, since I know of a lot of gear that is not SMT, and is being soldered by people.

    Also, point to point is something else entirely, it is not synonymous with hand wired. There's no reason hand wired, point to point, or PCB can't be done well or badly.
     
  17. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Poor quality is not a function of an amp being PCB based, its a function of decisions being made by the manufacturer.

    These threads paint with a broad brush, 'handwired' good, PCB bad, and this is accepted as an inviolable truth. Only among musicians and audiophiles is this The Accepted Truth. As you note, there are good PCB amps. As I've pointed point out many times around here, 99.9% of the electronics of all perceived quality levels manufactured since the mid 60s or so are PCB based.

    I realize this is an unwinnable argument in this environment. I only hope that every once in a while that someone will read my insane ramblings and at least think for himself for a while.

    For what it's worth, my number one amp these days is a '73 silverface Twin. Not because it's a handwired amp, but because it's a stinkin' Twin for goodness' sake, and I like how it sounds.
     
  18. trep53

    trep53 TDPRI Member

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    If you want a tube amp, I'd think a hand wired amp is the way to go. I've seen too many of them look like a rats nest inside. The '64 Fender Custom Deluxe Reverb at $2499.00 is the example I could think of.

    Personally I like the new technology in PCB SS equipment, smaller, lighter and powerful.

    But it is all about the sound you like.
     
  19. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

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    PCB flatten the electrons as the apply pressure in the circuit. Wires allow the electrons to stay round.

    So the tone is fuller....

    Sorry. Just kidding.
     
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  20. Count

    Count Friend of Leo's

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    Having spent thirty plus years teaching people to solder I lean in preference towards soldering done by machines.
     
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