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My Last Amp Project For The Winter


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Well, it's been a great winter, even tho I HATE winter now. I shall move to Hawaii before too long I think. It's much more my style.

I haven't missed building guitars a single bit, everything's been put away for months now, but probably soon to return.

Anyway, I've sold 4-5 amps, bought an amp or two, recovered some cabinets, made a 1-15" extension cabinet, and have two amps off for modding right now.

But this amp project will probably be the last before guitar season resumes.

This might only be of interest to the geezers here, as it's not a death metal setup, but a SWEET setup it will be for sure. I posted this at another forum, and just pasted the contents here for your perusal.

I'm very exited about it myself. It'll RAWK, for geezer-rock and geezer blues anyway.

It's a bit long, but I have thought it out quite well I think, every possibility scrutinized by the Central Scrutinizer.



Troy, you have asked this question when I am right at the beginning of a new SFDR project, I'll spell it out, maybe you can take something from it. I have tried to think of all the details to make a great amp for my tastes, and I'm starting it within the next few days, I've thought out the details and options for a few weeks now, I think it should be a great amp.

1) A SFDR.

Ch.1 to be modded to -ballpark- Tweed

Bassman status.

Channel 2 to be standard BF modded SF with a

touch of added midrange.

3) Reverb tied to both channels.

4) Tremolo changed to cathode biased from

~The Opto-Bug~.

5) A 3-10 setup.

6) Cabinet to be made of 1/2" (Pine or Poplar)

NOT 3/4" as standard Fender combos.

7) Baffle to be made of 5/16" Baltic Birch, ala

the Tweed Bassman years, for a floating baffle


8) Speakers will be 2 CTS alnicos on the bottom

and probably a Weber P10Q on the top.

9) Amp to use Tung Sol 5881 power tubes.

That's the gist of it, and now here's the thoughts that went into it:

1) Modding the channels like this gives an obvious versatility to the amp, and you can use any standard A/B switcher to switch between channels with different pre-set settings.

2) Reverb and tremolo for obvious reasons. I 'might' not bring the reverb in, since tweeds didn't have reverb, we'll see, it's reversable anyway.

3) OK, the speaker choice. I had, as another alternative, thought about a 4-10 2-6V6 SFDR, basically a mini-Super. You can wire the speakers in a series/parallel setup to get 8 ohms out of a 4-10 setup.

But dividing 22W into 4 speakers I thought might not drive them hard enough to 'get the funk out of them', and using 3-10's in parallel gives you 2.7 ohms (rounded off) and using 5881 power tubes changes the load the OT wants to see to 4 ohms, and the old 3-10's were run just like this (I believe anyway) and I love 5881's, and they'll give a smidge more bass, not so ratty a breakup as 6V6's, more round and bold (a little anyway)

Speakers...I love CTS alnicos, but for me, they always need another speaker to help round out their one-dimensional tone. That tone is a GREAT dimension, but I like to spice it up. Others might just use 3 CTS alnicos. For me, I get the overdriven grunt of the CTS', and the focused bark of the Q, and Q's and Tweeds really go together well, they give the rounded tone of a tweed some cut and focus.

And, well we all know what a hump it is to haul around a 4-10 amp. Using a 3-10 allows me to save a few inches in overall height of the cab, and saving the added weight of the 4th speaker, and only having 3-10's will drive those 3 10's a little harder apiece.

So you get a bigger box, no more small-box 1-12" sound, but not an ungainly sized 4-10 combo box either...just right? hehehe...

Now let's talk about weight...

Here's where I thought the whole package comes together.

A SFDR chassis is a great weight to begin with.

Using 1/2" instead of 3/4" for the combo box.

A DR chassis is not as heavy as a Super, and I think 1/2" will be fine structurally, and the old Ampegs were 1/2" and they're holding up just fine.

Using 3-10's instead of 4-10's, one less speaker weight.

Using 5/16" baffle instead of something thicker (1/2" or even 3/4")

Thiss all adds up to a pretty substantial weight savings.

Now a few additional thoughts. I think 6V6's sound better with 10's than 12's (IMO, sorry Leo)

And I think 6L6's sound better with 12's.

I only mention that in reference to your thinking about a 2-12 setup, which I just don't think will work with a 2-6V6 amp (not optimally anyway, but that's just my personal opinion)

Now the baffle.

Using the 5/16 BB in a floating baffle design is stealing from the Tweed amps in design, and I've been wanting to try this out on an amp project, and this project is a perfect candidate for a lightweight, floating baffle design, and besides giving the amp a tweedish flavor (remember Ch.1 mod) it saves weight too!

Well, that's about it, more than a mouthful, but maybe some part of this project will resonate with you and your ideas for your DR. I've turned this whole thing over in my head for a month or two now, looked at every option possible, and this is the final draft, it will be just as I described it.

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An ambitious and (IMHO) most worthy project! Personally, I'd use two 10s (one of each), but I'm seriously allergic to heavy combos, so that's just me. And I can testify that 1/2" pine will make a fine combo cabinet! I think that you're going to end up wanting to have tremolo and reverb available for both channels, so planning ahead for it is a good idea. I usually forget things like that until i want it and there's no knob for it! :D

What are you going to cover it with? I think a blues/twang monster like that would look great in chocolate tweed, with maybe oxblood grille cloth and gold piping, and a blackface panel! You'd sure turn some heads when you played it out! :D Major Honkytonk Hero vibe, no doubt!

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With all the weight savings in the other departments, I think even with the 3-10 it's going to be pretty easy to haul around.

And I really like 3-10's. One of my SFDR's is already a 2-10, but I think the bigger combo box yields a bit bigger sound, and I just dig 3-10's anyway.

I modded my old Magnatone M10 (stock 1-8" speaker and tweeter, 2-7189A's) to a 3-10 and it's a completely different amp now.

I am considering a tweed covering, the only reason I wouldn't is that everyone else has jumped on the Tweed bandwagon 'look' in the past few years, and I never follow the herd, I always have to do something different and piss some old Vintage Nazi off, hehehe.

What I had in mind was white tolex, gold sparkle grille, and have -all- the hardware brass-plated then lacquered over to protect it.

I did exactly this scheme with an old Twin Reverb and loved it, it was a real head-turner simply because no one has ever done something like that before (that I've seen anyway)

I have pics of that amp, but no hoster at the moment.

But Tweed might look fine too, I will admit that, and is more appropriate to the sound I had in mind for the amp. I've envisioned an early-years ZZ Top gnarly-grind tone from this setup (sort of) :D

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when i grow up i want to be just like you two..well, amp wise anyway. :D

drak, i can really relate to laying off guitar building for the winter..my shop is heated by an old wood burning stove and while it gets comfortable it's never quite warm enough. seems like the older i get the less i can take the cold. but i've got three projects left over from the fall that need finishing so i'm about ready to give it the old spring cleaning and get back to it.

your amp project sounds great. i'm trying to decide now between a bassman clone or a deluxe clone for my next (2nd) amp project and i'm sure you'll all be getting a couple of my usual questions.

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seems like the older i get the less i can take the cold.

The older I get, the more I like it! This is probably because I have lived in the desert for 28 years or so. It's hotter than Hades here in the summer! :D

Anyhow, I like the concept for the amp. There's nothin' like being able to build your own custom amp to your own specs! :D

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The high voltage makes transformers an evil necessity. That and all other components have to be rated at a much higher voltage as well. This stuff isn't used much anymore except in high-end audio and instrument amps. Makes it kinda pricey and it isn't worth it to a lot of people. Hence the popularity of solid-state amps. I have to admit, I use a TubeWorks 1160 more than any other amp I have even though it has tonal issues. Sometimes it just don't matter.

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Most GUITARISTS would pay the extra for a tube amp but there are a lot of them that are more of a GUITAR OWNER, such as myself. My Genz cost 5 times what my TubeWorks cost and is a better sounding beast, all the way around. Since I don't play guitar in front of people much, I tend to use the TW cause it's easy. That and the fact that when I DO use the Genz, I surprise myself. If I used it all the time I would get jaded in a hurry.

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