Vibroverb '59 - Can it be built by novice?

Discussion in 'Shock Brother's DIY Amps' started by Engraver-60, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    OK, I'm nuts, but back in the day I had a real 1959 Fender Vibroverb. I dogged it out, cut the cabinet into a Dual Showman head height, and used the Jensen Concert 15" speaker in an Electro-Voice TB-1 Cabinet (2 x 15", double Bass Reflex Cabinet). Then I blew the amp out using it as a pre-amp into a 100 watt Traynor Bass amp. Man, I did not know what I had or how to use it. Finally after several TV repair shop failures, I found a guy in Detroit (Speedy Eddie Fortrell, on Gratiot Ave.) who used all Fender parts to resurrect that chassis into a 125 watt Master Pull Volume Twin Reverb. It could not be played at low volumes, though. Very loud.

    Pining for the fjords - I wish I had that amp back so I could learn to use it correctly. I have always wanted to build an amp (I used to live near a Heath Electronics Store in Detroit, and ogled their amp kit, 2x12 100 watter). Question is: With no experience other than knowing how to solder, or replace a tube socket, or a couple of resistors on occasions, could I get the schematics, and build that old Vibroverb?

    If so, how much would the equivalent parts, not counting speaker, cost?
     
  2. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire

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    My knowledge is a bit iffy, but didn't the Vibroverb come out in the '60s? I always thought it was Vibrolux in the '50s, Vibroverb after about '63 or so? Wait, then there's the Vibrasonic.... oh, my head hurts.

    Anyway, Weber has a kit for the 6G16 (Vibroverb) circuit, and there may be one somewhere for the 5F11 (Vibrolux), but both of those are fairly involved. Marsh makes a clone of the '59 Vibrolux for under a grand last I checked. You wouldn't beat too much off that price with a kit. It sounds like your skills are pretty similar to mine, and I wouldn't tackle anything that complicated on my first go-round. Oh, and BTW, the schematics for most Fender amps are available here:

    http://www.schematicheaven.com/

    General info on the amps is available here:

    http://www.ampwares.com/
     
  3. Gunny

    Gunny Tele-Holic

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    With no experience other than knowing how to solder, or replace a tube socket, or a couple of resistors on occasions

    I would think that you have just enough hands on experience to pull it off. There's places to get info on checking resistor and capacitor codes so you don't install the wrong component. Yeah, go for it!
     
  4. Tim Swartz

    Tim Swartz Friend of Leo's

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    Vibrosonic? Anyway, I would not recommend anything with a wiggle circuit for a first build. Start with a tweed Champ, Princeton or Deluxe.
     
  5. Tim Swartz

    Tim Swartz Friend of Leo's

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    "(Speedy Eddie Fortrell, on Gratiot Ave.)", I believe it was Fast Eddie... LOL
     
  6. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    Yep, it was definitely a 1959 Vibroverb, not 1963. It said Patented 1959 on the face panel.

    Yep, it might've been Fast Eddie Fortrell. Very cool dude. He worked on all of Bob Seger's stuff, and some of Ted Nugent's. He hated rock and roll, and when I asked him what was the best amp for guitar he said "Twin Reverb with 2 JBL's" So I promptly bought 2 JBL KC-120's from him (that he had just re-coned), and he went to work on the Twin conversion. He added 2 more power tubes, beefed up the transformers, robbed the reverb circuit to get the boost for the Master volume Pull switch, added a middle, and moved the tremolo controls to the rear of the chassis. So the faceplate was still stock. This guy was a devil witht he electronics and Stock Fender parts. He had taken the Funkadelic's bass player's old tweed bassman amp, and rigged it to blast out 200 watts. That assist took it back to Fender in CA and complained that it make some funny noise. When they plugged it in they freaked out. Seems at that time nobody knew how to supercharge the amps like this guy Eddie. Seems he may have been way in front of the curve.

    When I sold this thing some 20 years later in Fayetteville, NY, the guy there said he was going to restore it to it's original glory. He knew how to becasue he used to MAKE the Legend amplifiers (which I also had one I sold to him).

    I did find the schematic s last night, but there were 3 variations. Which one would be the best to persue?
     
  7. Natstrat79

    Natstrat79 Tele-Meister

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    If this amp was built in 1959 and it had a single 15" speaker then it was a Vibrosonic. Cut your teeth on something a little easier first. The Vibrosonic has a fairly complex vibrato circuit that I wouldn't recommend to the novice builder. Build one of the simple tweeds like the champ, princeton, or deluxe. You can always sell it on ebay for near what you have in it if you do a good job. Then over time work your way up to the Vibrosonic. I believe when the time comes weber might even have a kit for the Vibrosonic.
     
  8. Ben Harmless

    Ben Harmless Friend of Leo's

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    If you've changed tube sockets, (and it worked) then you can build an amp. The variable is really how well you can read schematics and construct a layout (which you might be able to find for that amp online). I say go for it. I didn't build a Champ first, I built a 50 watt Marshall master volume circuit, because that's what I wanted. I also knew that I might wind up spending a whole lot of time troubleshooting. That time was about an hour total, but I was prepared for a whole lot more - and your amp is even more complicated.

    Costs can be kept down if you can limit the number of orders you place. I managed to order from two places total, one of them twice. It still won't be cheap, but if you do it like I did, and source all the parts yourself, my wild ballpark figure would be around $800 for a functioning chassis with no cabinet or speaker.
     
  9. Natstrat79

    Natstrat79 Tele-Meister

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    The problem with this build though is that there isn't really a Vibrosonic kit. All of the parts would have to be sourced. This is a pretty complicated build for a novice to be sourcing parts for without really knowing what goes in to building an amp.
     
  10. sjhusting

    sjhusting Tele-Afflicted

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    6G16 Vibroverb has a 'normal' bias vary trem, not the 'harmonic' trem of some of the other browns. turretboards.com has a board for $25; that would at least make it easier.

    If you think you can do it, go for it. It's a little more complicated than most first builds, but it can be done. Just read up on the safety stuff first.

    steven
     
  11. marshman

    marshman Friend of Leo's

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    I highly recommend going "kit" for your first build...given your admitted skills, you'll probably save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run by ordering something that has all the parts you're gonna need right there in one place. I saved about $6 in parts by ordering around, and spent an extra $13 in shipping AND a $55 tech check cause I couldn't quite get the schematic supplied by the board dude to match up with the layout supplied by the tranny guy because they were using slightly different variations of the basic circuit. And it was a simple vol/tone arrangement at that, no vib/trem/TMB complications.

    The amp works now, and I STILL have a wicked hum that comes in around 7-8 on either pot, but maaaan, when you get it that high and actually PLAY, you hardly notice the hum.

    If you get a good kit with good instructions, it's not much different that puttin' together model airplanes (at least until you turn it on, then it can kill you)...if you 'order around', it'll make your life a lot simpler. Apparently, the hard part becomes finding the exact circuit you're after in a kit.

    Good Luck.
     
  12. OaklandA

    OaklandA Friend of Leo's

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    I've built one amp...a 5F1 Champ variant...and I'd say start with something like that first. Anything with trem & reverb is going to be a big bite to chew for a first time project by someone with limited electronics experience.

    I got a kit from stf-electronics. Great instructions and easy to do. I would do it again but I'd still do another tweed amp before venturing on to anything with trem & verb.
     
  13. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Then it was NOT a Vibroverb.

    As stated earlier, the 2x10 Vibroverb (brown tolex) came out in '63 (officially) as the first Fender amp with built-in Reverb. The '64 Vibroverb (black tolex, 1x15) is similar to the Super Reverb with a different OT , cabinet and speaker configuration (also it's one of my three favorite Fenders - the 62 Princeton and '62 Concert are the others).

    IF the amp you messed with had reverb, it was not built before late 1962 (then the first "63" Vibroverbs were made). The Vibrasonic came out in '59 - but did not have Reverb. The Vibrosonic (note the difference in spelling) came later in silverface form and as a 100-watt amp; essentially a Twin with a 15.

    I suggest you go check this website - then figure out what you REALLY have. Answers are being posted but no one knows what you have based on your description - an amp that never existed.

    The Fender Amp Field Guide:
    http://www.thevintagesound.com/ffg/

    If you haven't done enough research to even know what amp you have, I question the wisdom of making mods or building anything. There's a lot of specialized knowledge that goes into amp construction and mods, and Heathkit experience is relevant for soldering and basic electronics - but not amplifier voicing or construction. Knowing you need a .1uf capacitor is one thing - knowing what tonal changes are encountered using different types of .1uf capacitors is a whole different ballgame.

    I suggest finding a "boat anchor" hacked Fender of any kind - a Deluxe, Princeton, Super, Twin, whatever is cheapest - and using it as a test bed to learn how an amp works, what parts change the tone, how different parts act symbiotically, etc. But jumping into a build of an amp when you don't comprehend the differences in models and do not know the proper resources is unwise and VERY unsafe. The experience you mention does not say anything about safety - do you know how to properly discharge filter caps? Do you know when/why to replace them and with what?

    If not, you stand a good chance of electrocution - since you may not be aware that a turned-off, UNPLUGGED amp can, even after sitting for a month, KILL you - caps can store enough electricity to cause electrocution.

    I'm not trying to stop you from learning or trying to be insulting, but you simply do not appear have the knowledge or experience to be inside an amp chassis at all - much less try to build one. If you don't know the basic resources to use in amp identification you really need to start with VERY small projects - and read as much as possible about amp safety before ever LOOKING inside a chassis.
     
  14. Natstrat79

    Natstrat79 Tele-Meister

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    Amen!

    Clearly the original poster needs to do some serious homework. Building and repairing amps is serious business.
     
  15. Wayne Alexander

    Wayne Alexander Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Though it won't be identical to your old amp, the best kit supplier by far for first-quality blackface and brownface derived kits is Dave Allen. I'd suggest you build an Encore (has reverb, bias-wiggle tremolo, a "raw" control to increase grind by dialing out the tone stack, external bias jacks and a usable master volume but is otherwise electronically very similar to your old amp). Order it as a 1x15 combo kit. http://allenamps.com/encore.php Dave's kits come with EXTREMELY COMPREHENSIVE step by step instructions, photos, diagrams, illustrations, and tricks that an experienced builder knows and you don't. You'll end up with a first rate amp even if it's your first amp build. For a dirtier amp (like a Vibrolux) go with the stock TO35MT output transformer, if youwant a cleaner, tighter amp (like a Super) go with the TO40MT upgrade output transformer for more clean headroom. This amp can run 6V6's for dirtier tone and lower headroom or 6L6s for more headroom and later breakup. You cannot find a better amp for what you describe, this would kill any attempt you make to build one yourself.
     
  16. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    OK - I must've had a brain f*rt.

    It definitely WAS a Vibroverb, tremolo, internal spring reverb in the bottom of the case, with a single 15" Jensen Concert speaker. Black Tolex, bright switches, no middle, no master volume. Just like the Re-issue, but no rectifier switches. It did have those really cool tilt-back legs, and casters. No cover, but I did have Mom make one of "Naugahyde".
     

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  17. Natstrat79

    Natstrat79 Tele-Meister

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    Then it definitely wasn't a '59. Check out the fender field guide for more information
     
  18. can't-play

    can't-play TDPRI Member

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    To question in 1st post, You can build it, IF you have the time, patients,$$$$ and spose who won't miss you for the months your locked away in your basement soldering. I'm just finishing a Twin Reverb i started in Sept. It was my first amp project. not a kit and i was armed only with a Weber chassis layout, a Hoffman parts list and a soldering iron. TDPRI & el34world forums were a huge help. It works and sounds Great.
     
  19. DMichel123

    DMichel123 Tele-Meister

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    ok, then.... check ebay for a Bandmaster Reverb(If they can be had cheap anymore, you used to see loads of 'em for ~$150-$300) and stick it in a Mojo cab, or build a cab. Or build a Weber kit.
     
  20. Jerry J

    Jerry J Tele-Afflicted

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    +1 here!
     
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