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Unlucky ,or is fender amp quality rubbish

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by PeterVV, Aug 16, 2015.

  1. kavalero

    kavalero Tele-Meister

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    Recent Fender amps quality is nothing to do withe PCB or not ... Its their quality control (QC) that sucks!
     
  2. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    As I've said elsewhere, based on my experiences, I'm leery of Fender PCBs. In fact, any PCB, where the board catches the heat produced by the tubes. Those solder joints aren't meant to continually be flexed due to heat/cool expansion/contraction. Eventually they break. One at a bloody time.

    Then there's the ribbon cables that need to be bent to remove a board for work. They're not meant to withstand a lot of handling.

    Some models have PCB mounted tube sockets. Really?

    And then there's how all of it is stuffed in the chassis. Designed without service in mind.

    PCBs on their own aren't inherently bad. It's the whole design. The amps still sound good, but I don't expect them to last all that long compared to the much maligned "rat's nest" SFs.
     
  3. bparnell57

    bparnell57 Poster Extraordinaire

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    PCB's make complex amps possible. Sure you can have a hand wired three channel all tube amp with effects loop, tube rectifier, switchable output power/biasing, and rectifier, as well as tremolo and reverb, but it's close to impossible to make reliably quiet and consistent from amp to amp.

    Examples: Twin II's can be notoriously noisy if you move the wrong lead. A super champ is the same way. There's just so much gain on tap that a single mm of movement on one wire can add hum and hiss.

    Meanwhile, my Prosonic, which is running great almost 20 years after it was built, is all PCB based.

    Also, any skilled solderer that's fast and uses the right size iron won't damage a quality PCB.

    With any decent design, PCB's are truly better, and if they're easily accessible and removable with quality push on connectors on all wires, and not ribbon cables, I'll work on a PCB amp as readily as I'll work on a hand wired amp.
     
  4. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've experienced this with both my PCB Hiwatt (which I believe was made in 1982- older than your Prosonic :lol: ) and my hand wired ODS clone. It can happen with almost any amp, the trick is to run decent solid core wires, that dont move themselves, and then just running them in the right spots. That's actually one of the nice things about it, you can change the tone/character of an amp just by moving some wires. (I did some fine tuning of the OD 'channel' on my ODS, this way) With something like a PCB mounted tube, you're stuck with whatever way it's run from the factory, which may be less than ideal. Again, comes down to having quality parts, and designing things well. I think a lot of the cheaper PCB amps get lazy with that sort of stuff. Guys like Andy Fuchs (who uses high quality PCB's) is aware of stuff like this and uses that knowledge to make really high quality amps.
     
  5. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

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    Bingo. PCB's are quite strong and capable, good ones are far better than a turret board as far as durability is concerned in most, if not all, applications. Solder issues, heat issues, et cetera, are present in all poor/poorly designed builds. Like stated before, it's rare that a PCB itself is an issue and if everything around it is given proper treatment you will have an amp as durable and long lasting as anything hand wired. Just because it's not as often you see hand wired amps build like crap doesn't mean everyone needs to go blaming the existence of a PCB for any woes. It does appear the basic Twin Reverb Reissues and Bassmans have stood up to years of abuse quite well. But, I don't know too much about the other reissues.

    Heck, it's just an anecdote, but this 50 Watt EL84 ampeg of mine has all the drawbacks (surface mounted knobs, ribbon connectors, plastic jack) and will soon be 30 years old! No issues yet, very low noise, zero complaints. I crank it pretty often, the head has been dinged around a bit, but it's been in my possession for about 6 years now:

    [​IMG]

    I'd say it was one of my best buys at $200 bucks, but last week I picked up a 78 Pro Reverb for $300 :lol:
     
  6. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Well, you took my comment out of context, leaving out the major 'but'. The thing is, it doesn't matter how good PCBs can be, it's how good the amps that happen to be built with them ARE. In my opinion, the Fenders sound okay, but fail on overall quality, longevity, and maintainability.

    Liking or disliking a component without context (PCBs are great; PCBs suck) is like saying maple is great, without mentioning the guitar context. Neither has any greatness except in how it functions in context.

    I don't have an opinion about PCBs. I don't care for the PCB amps I've encountered. Especially when there are perfectly viable, proven alternatives.
     
  7. milocj

    milocj Friend of Leo's

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    I think that two of the major points left out in this thread are of a pretty big concern.

    Since it was the DRRI that was brought up, I'll use that as an example. Its not Fender's top end, but it is among their better US made line (with a better PCB and layout than the Hot Rod series) and they sell a ton of them. I suspect that they're probably held to stricter idiot proofing than a boutique amp given they need tube guards so people don't burn themselves and different jacks or guards inside the plugs so people don't stick metal screwdrivers and poker's onto live circuits.

    With the huge amount they sell, I would bet that at least as many get their minor issues from shipping them all over the world, and the rest from having to do QC checks too fast along with sending them with the tubes installed (again, probably and idiot factor).

    Now lets take David Allen or some of the other small builders into consideration. How much do you think their costs would rise to produce as many amps for worldwide shipping as Fender makes of the RI series? They'd need more skilled help, bigger buildings, more quality control with the additional builders who aren't the owners or good friends, plus they'd have to weed out the employees that just phone it in everyday. Their costs would rise for insurance, workman's comp, unemployment insurance, etc. And I don't know about most small builders, but some of them won't sell outside the US because it requires ROHS certification and they won't build with lead free solder.

    Its easy to criticize, but when I got my first guitar and amp you had to save up quite awhile to buy quality. I know this doesn't apply to everybody on the board, but look how many cheaper guitars and amps many people own instead of one or two high quality instruments. A Telecaster or Les Paul was $900 and $1200 in 1981, and I think I paid about $600 for my Peavey Deuce in 1979 because it was a couple hundred cheaper than a Twin Reverb. Those are about the street prices of an American Standard Tele or a DRRI a few years ago...30 years later.

    On top of that, when somebody does make a quality product it seems that within the first five posts somebody chimes in with "I'd be all over that at about half the price" it doesn't excuse all the problems, but it's the biggest one a large company has to face. How many amps UK made amps can be bought for 900 pounds?
     
  8. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    +1;)
     
  9. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

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    A $1200 DRRI is maybe $200 in parts, & $1000 overhead

    FMIC is 1700 employees - it seems to me they are a big elephant who can't innovate, yet alone steer the amp department into a more quality oriented approach

    Look at the DRRI & HRD - these are the bread & butter at Fender amps. For nearly 25 years they couldn't do a single noteworthy improvement. It's all gimmicks. Like "yeah, put a jensen in there - people will appreciate it (regardless if the emi special design was better)

    THis inability of Fender to move, improve, change - is bothersome. It is almost soviet-like.
     
  10. vox Phantom

    vox Phantom Tele-Holic

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    Unlucky, or is Fender amp quality rubbish

    I had a Tone King Imperial and a Top Hat King Royale and
    now I'm looking for a new Amp. Traded the Top Hat for the
    Tone King. Then I sold the tone King I was taking a Test and
    needed the money to pay for it. I was talking to one of the
    owners of a local music store and he said the Tone King
    would be the better Amp to go with over the reissue Deluxe
    Reverb. So I asked why and he said the Tone King and the
    Top Hat are built better. I had A/B a reissue Deluxe Reverb
    and a Top Hat Super Club Deluxe and side by side the Fender
    could come come close to the Top Hat both Amps were used.
    It seems that Fender is relying on there name and just pushing
    there amps out the door. Use cheaper parts and charge more
    for there Amps. Quality control seems today to be a Big issue
    because they just don't care and the bottom line is (MONEY).
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2015
  11. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    IMO, +100000
     
  12. Telepi

    Telepi Friend of Leo's

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    Maybe my expectations are low? I think an American made Fender Amp is a great amp. Comparing them to a hand wired boutique amp that costs more is an apples to oranges comparison. I don't expect my SS22 to go 40 years without a problem. Most things don't last that long any way. I usually sell things off after a few years and am onto the next shiney thing.

    I'm curious as to how much money does it take to keep one of those "better" older Fender amps running after 40 years? A set of tubes will set you back a couple hundred dollars.
     
  13. homesick345

    homesick345 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Old tubes are also better, imho. My tube amps run on 40 years old GE & RCA tubes. Never had to change one. Ever.

    The only catch with old amps is to have access to a qualified, honest tech.
     
  14. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Tubes are consumables. Would you not buy a car because it'll need tires eventually? Modern tubes are crap compared to vintage, in terms of reliability. I've had plenty of stock RI Fender tubes fail. If you play your amp a lot, at decent volume, the power tubes wear out. Modern ones more quickly.

    Filter caps are also consumable, but the lifespan is over a decade. If they haven't been replaced on a SF, they're overdue. It's probably not an issue on a RI, because the amp probably won't last that long.

    I have a less than $1100 into my '69 Twin, including a partial retube (all new TAD power tubes), filter caps, plus a bunch of other optional stuff like upgraded signal caps, effects on both channels, normal ch tweed tone stack, etc. The amp should continue to run smoothly for the remainder of my lifetime.

    How much is a new RI Twin?
     
  15. waparker4

    waparker4 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    We shall see but I bet you're wrong.

    When my 12 year old DRRI which has had zero problems and sounds great needs new caps I'll be sure to come back to this thread to gloat. :cool:
     
  16. Jim Dep

    Jim Dep Friend of Leo's

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    QC standards are not consistent from one country to the next. Without singling out any one country in particular, what is acceptable as the norm in one country may not be up to snuff in another.

    For example, around 10 years ago, I ordered a desktop computer from Dell, it was shipped direct to me and there were scratches on the case. For what I paid for this, I wasn't happy and complained. I took pictures and emailed them along with my complaint. The country's CSR I was dealing with did not feel my complaint was valid, as
    he felt that scratches like this were normal and no big deal (His name was Peggy). Surprisingly to me, this was also the attitude of the US rep I spoke with. IOW's, I'm being told that my standards were unreasonable. I returned the PC and it took almost a year to get most of my money back..........very frustrating.

    What I discovered over time, this was part of a growing trend among many business's that used to have good reputations, all correlating with the outsourcing of business to foreign countries. So now our standards are too high? If we accept lower standards, then we have to hold ourselves accountable too, IMHO.

    Hold your ground. I had an annoying problem with Fender back in the late 70's when a neck on a new Fender Jazz bass warped within the 1st 6 months and they wouldn't replace it. Because it was a left handed bass, I also had to pay at least a hundred dollars more than retail and wait 6 months for it to be constructed. That was normal back then, but their failure to replace my warped neck really bugged me. It took a few years, but I caved in and went back to using Fender gear. In the mean time, I bad mouthed them at every opportunity.

    In contrast, my recent experience with Fender customer service was good.

    Question: Fender USA quality control examines their products shipped to them from other countries, right? Are they going to scrutinize foreign product as closely as American made? I'm sure this problem is widespread with companies across the board, not just Fender.
     
  17. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Okay :D
     
  18. Jimmy Dean

    Jimmy Dean Friend of Leo's

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    I had a Rumble 150 head 3 years ago that kept blowing the output diodes. Eventually they replaced the amp after a couple of trips to the local service center. By that time I was pretty frustrated. Took the new head & traded it in on an Eden WTX500 & haven't looked back. I will probably never by a new Fender amp again.
     
  19. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I'm pretty sure that most companies that outsource production specify acceptable minimum standards for all products branded under their name. For example, Fender may specify that components be within a certain tolerance with specific ratings, and circuit boards must meet a certain minimum thickness and such.
     
  20. mcabe

    mcabe Tele-Meister

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    I think this is a big contributor to the negativity about PCB amps. Mass produced amps are designed with a focus on reducing manufacturing costs with little regard to future servicing. It's easy to see how the design of some amps makes the manufacturing process easier, but when it comes time to replace a component, you need to disassemble the entire thing.

    That said, a well designed PCB amp with good quality components should sound every bit as good as a hand-wired amp with more consistent build quality to boot. Personally, I like the artistry and craftsmanship of hand-wired amps.
     
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