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Author Topic: Epic fails
Double D

Posts: 195
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Post Epic fails
on: August 16, 2012, 00:11
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Have you ever convinced yourself that your life would be better and your tone would sing in perfect harmony with the music of the spheres if you had a certain specific amplifier, just to get said product home (or worse yet) onstage and find out that it's a vastly overpriced boat anchor? Has your amp ever blown up in spectacular fashion at the worst possible time and place? Have you ever dropped your prized vintage amp down two flights or stairs right before a gig? Then we want to hear about it in juicy detail, so we can giggle at your expense, knowing all the while that we did some pretty stupid shi things in our time, too.

smgear

Posts: 170
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Post Re: Epic fails
on: August 16, 2012, 10:23
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offhand, I remember a friend in college being thrilled to get one of the higher end yamaha acoustics (probably around $600 at the time - a lot of money for us). He expressly didn't get a proper hard shell case because of the extra weight and was just using one of those cheap single ply cardboardish cases. About a week later he was handing it off (in the case) to someone and it dropped about 3 ft onto concrete. The guitar top split from the sides and binding for about an inch on the lower bow. It was still perfectly playable, but he couldn't bring himself to play it after that and stopped playing guitar all together.

mutz

Posts: 6
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Post Re: Epic fails
on: August 16, 2012, 14:46
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It must have been around 1980. I was 17 years old and a proud owner of a late 60s Vox AC30. On the way to one of our first gigs, the Vox dropped right out of the back door of my mother's Renault R4 on a heavily frequented intersection. Although I was shocked and embarassed, I quickly loaded the amp back into the car and drove to the venue, still shaking. When I hastily checked the Vox, it worked like a charm and continued to do so until I sold it a couple of years later (big regrets). The Renault broke down soon after that incident. So, what I learned is: British amps last much longer than French cars.

Double D

Posts: 195
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Post Re: Epic fails
on: August 16, 2012, 16:13
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Quote from mutz on August 16, 2012, 14:46
It must have been around 1980. I was 17 years old and a proud owner of a late 60s Vox AC30. On the way to one of our first gigs, the Vox dropped right out of the back door of my mother's Renault R4 on a heavily frequented intersection. Although I was shocked and embarassed, I quickly loaded the amp back into the car and drove to the venue, still shaking. When I hastily checked the Vox, it worked like a charm and continued to do so until I sold it a couple of years later (big regrets). The Renault broke down soon after that incident. So, what I learned is: British amps last much longer than French cars.

That. Is. AWESOME. Can we extrapolate something about French amps and British cars from all this?

bear

Posts: 153
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Post Re: Epic fails
on: August 16, 2012, 20:52
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There's a picture floating around lately of a Marshall half stack with the head mic'ed. Not so uncommon. When I saw the Bandmaster Reverb head I got at 16 in the shop the guy manning the place didn't know it was a head and not a combo so was puzzled that it wasn't working. I had already noticed so was surprised that he hadn't hooked it to a cab. Damn, I wish I had kept that thing.

Double D

Posts: 195
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Post Re: Epic fails
on: September 9, 2012, 00:53
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Back in the early nineties, I decided my inevitable ascendance to certified rock-God would be helped by the purchase of a Marshall half-stack, to replace the Musicman head/Yamaha 4x12 rig that I was using. Marshall's hot new product at the time was the JCM900 series. After convincing myself I liked it at the store (or at least, making myself believe I could find all the sweet spots later) I took a 50 watt non-reverb head and 4x12 cab home. And hated it. I tried to like it, hell, I was going to spend a year paying for it, but try as I might I could never get a sound out of that thing...I eventually traded it for a silverface Fender Twin that had a master volume mod- it blew up the first time I used it at. I gave the Twin to a friend in disgust, eager to leave that string of bad amplifier karma behind me. It took me quite a few more years to get a Fender Deluxe Reverb, an amp I should have been using all along.

mwseniff

Posts: 149
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Post Re: Epic fails
on: September 9, 2012, 06:17
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JCM900's can sound a lot better if you replace the output xfrmr with one from a JCM800 or plexi. Also almost every JCM900 I've ever had on my bench was biased in correctly and if they used anything but 5881's the feedback was on the wrong xfrmr tap which makes a huge difference. That being said the preamp was very different from other Marshalls it even had LEDs as clippers in the distortion channel, but I have heard some folks make JCM900s sound great.

As for your silverface Twin they are loud and clean but really need a blackface mod to open them up. There were also some Twins with ultralinear output transformers which sounded different but with a set of NOS 7581's (industrial 6L6's)and a rebias gave a very nice albeit clean tone ideal for FX pedal users. But in order to achieve any output distortion you would be deafened in a week. Some later SF Twins also had a very nasty distortion circuit that used reverb drive signal for distortion (the CBS engineers must have been a bunch of glue sniffers when they invented that idea).

As for your Deluxe they were a great design by Fender but you need good tubes for the 6V6's I prefer NOS but EH's and Tesla's are pretty good. Properly setting the output tube bias is critical to getting the best sound possible.

The Blues Jr can sound very good with some mods like putting in a Deluxe Reverb output xfrmr or better, put in Tesla EL84's, NOS first preamp tube and replace the spkr even a different Emminence like a BR-8 ohm or better can make it a real winner. Some customers also like having the negative feedback loop removed from the output amp. Those mods do more for the amp than any of the common preamp mods on the web IMHO.

smgear

Posts: 170
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Post Re: Epic fails
on: September 10, 2012, 15:43
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Quote from mwseniff on September 9, 2012, 06:17
The Blues Jr can sound very good with some mods like putting in a Deluxe Reverb output xfrmr or better, put in Tesla EL84's, NOS first preamp tube and replace the spkr even a different Emminence like a BR-8 ohm or better can make it a real winner. Some customers also like having the negative feedback loop removed from the output amp. Those mods do more for the amp than any of the common preamp mods on the web IMHO.

Very true, but it made me laugh. The problem with the mod mindset is that when you add up the time and parts costs, the final costs are often more than if you had just bought what you wanted up front. (if it exists in the market). It's part of the fun and I'm as guilty of it as the next guy, but sometimes it can be excessive.

bear

Posts: 153
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Post Re: Epic fails
on: September 10, 2012, 18:01
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The budgeting question is whether what you're keeping of the donor amp is worth more than a scratch parts build would have cost. The Mark Moyer mods for the Fender Vibrolux Custom are one of the most poorly kept secrets on the interwebs and bring an amp that comes up pretty cheap used up into contention with vintage models -- some caps and resistors, wires, reverb cables, a bias pot, and a 12AX7 aren't all that expensive to get there. But upgrading a poorly made Asian factory amp with new hand-wired turret boards (with all new components) and Mercury Magnetics transformers seems silly -- you're buying a thin chassis and an MDF box.

Double D

Posts: 195
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Post Re: Epic fails
on: September 10, 2012, 23:57
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I've owned two or three Blues Jr's over the years, and bagged 'em all out. They don't like the temperature extremes on offer to the travelling musician in winter in Canada. They could sound a whole lot better in a decent cabinet and better speaker, but that's why I have a Deluxe. I can rent a Deluxe almost anywhere in Canada, so I don't even have to bring my own. I'd love to have a gorgeous vintage amp or a boutique beauty, but I can't begin to afford one and would be hesitant to toss it in and out of the car in the carefree manner to which I'm accustomed. At the end of the day, all I want out of an amp is it to sound half- decent, feel okay and operate without excess blowing-upness.

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