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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 1:09 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:06 am
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Location: Northwest Louisiana
This is an amp I decided to build to sell on e-bay during my retirement. My Son Greg is also a musician and contributed to the Cosmetic Design. It is simply a 1959 Fender Tweed 5E3 Deluxe circuit in a Hammond Chassis Lunchbox design. I always liked the old 50's PA heads with the perforated covers/cage, so that's why I went with that. I finally learned I couldn't compete with the prices on e-bay and retirement operation didn't go very far. My Son got the Prototype and the one you see here sold for a little more than the cost of parts. I love building amps but I got them running out my ears here at my house and being I can't sell them for a profit, my amp activities will be limited to maintaining what I got :blush:
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 9:50 am 
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Location: NYC
That looks nice. Very clean work.


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 11:10 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2003 4:58 am
Posts: 925
Location: Southern Indiana
Nice, and as you may know I build (or have built) amps too. You did an excellent job! I like to see that.

Mine looked like a stock tweed deluxe but I wound up straying quite a bit on the build. I wound up changing the preamp slightly and separated the common tone stack. So I ended up with an amp that looked like a deluxe, still sounded like one, but was a little more focused for guitar. I voiced one channel for single coil guitars and one for humbuckers (or normal and bright if you will) and also used a more modern speaker since new Jensen alnicos don't really sound like old ones and old ones won't hold up. It turned out well. Still had the good qualities of the tweed deluxe, voiced a little better, and had a bit more usable headroom too - plus you can run it full tilt all day long and not blow the speaker (I wound up standardizing on a weber).

When I started building them they were bringing big dollars and I could make a bit. Then several things happened:

1) Everybody started building amps
2) Chinese amps started flooding the market at $200-300-400 - some of them were terrible but some were not bad.
3) The economy went into the crapper

Between all of that you can't hardly even break even. My amps went from selling for more used than they did new (it happened a short while after I introduced them because it took me a long time to build them) to selling used for less than the parts. Furthermore, since they looked like a tweed deluxe, everyone thought they were a clone (even though I made it clear that they were not). Plus, after a few years there was no telling how much of my amp was stock and how much was not when they were being sold used. Many times a speaker would be changed, tubes were ALWAYS changed (even though I put good stuff in them), and sometimes someone's friend decided to mod the thing. So a few times I had them sent back to me to make them "stock" again and usually people could not believe how good they sounded.

Lately I have been concentrating repairs and to a lessor degree on minor mods (making the many Chinese amps out there sound better). But I am selective to try not to get into work that will result in major heartburn. I have recently been restoring more electras than I had for a while there too - but that will taper off for a little bit.

Good luck with your amp builds! Looks like some fine work there and something to be proud! I like the fact you use mallory's (or similar yellow or white polyester axis caps) because they "sound" right in a deluxe circuit. Always kills me when people (even experienced top end builders) use orange drops and their tweed circuit no longer sounds "tweed" - simple mistakes like that affect the tone a lot. You did exactly the right thing. Some people have a blind spot and think you always need to use sprague caps - this is a case where you should not! Yes, I am opinionated, but I listen to what I build and know good tone when I hear it.

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 6:53 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:06 am
Posts: 71
Location: Northwest Louisiana
Thanks Thorny

Glad to know that your also are an amp builder. I didn't get into willingly so to speak, I was drug into it screaming and kicking. A guy known on the internet as CASEY4s talked me into building my first Champ with very much reluctance on my part. He offered to make me a kit and then assist me as needed in putting it together. So I agreed and so he shipped me the pre-cut chassis, all the parts with a step by step assembly book. I built the cab myself, tolexed it and installed the chassis in about 2001. I must say even though I went into it reluctantly because of my lack of electronics experience, I was quite pleased at the results and began doing amp projects continuously to this day. He taught me to document everything, so I'm big on that as you can see on my pictures. First few years into it I did a lot of studying on tube amps but today only study when I need info on one particular thing or another. I have built a few scratch built amps for folks on request, restored some vintage amps and done a good bit of repairs. I'm suppose to have a Gallian Kruger Bass amp coming soon with a dead cooling fan. I would rather work on a vintage Fender any day.

Your Tweed deluxe sounds kind of like the one I built for Christian Gospel artist Randy Miller, I strayed from the 5E3 beaten path and as you separated the channels where they wouldn't interact and made two separate channels. One channel using the stock 5E3 tone stack and the other with no tone control but different cathode resistor/cap combinations with a volume control. He wanted it especially for use in his recording studio. So when I built the T-Deluxe in the above post, I wanted to build one true to the original circuit as much as possible to see what all the fuss was about. So attached is pictures of the RM(Randy Miller) Tweed Deluxe Plus head. I also latter built Randy a Carmen Gia clone from an old Baldwin Organ amp.
If you got any pictures of some of your builds I would like to see them. Platefire
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 8:18 pm 
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Location: Southern Indiana
I used a dual ganged pot for the tone control and so even though they shared the same knob, electronically each channel had a volume and a tone control to themselves. I split them - not entirely different than what the brown era deluxe - I should have looked at it first! It would have saved a lot of time and effort because the wheel was almost reinvented. I guess it just was the natural evolution. And yes, each channel was voiced separately too (like you stated). It made it punchier and livelier, and a little less wooly/woofy sounding. And the speaker - as I said, but there I went with a weber - somewhat a combination of a greenback crossed with a jensen C12N. What can I say, it worked. It was the "little boy" amp and was somewhere in between the tone of a tweed deluxe and a deluxe reverb. The blues boy amp is the same thing, but it had bigger transformers and 4x6V6s for power. I really like 6V6s. These things all looked like the tweed amps that inspired them, the controls were the same, same layout (but electronically different). You could even jumper the channels if you wanted more gain, just like the tweeds. These are great amps if you can find one unmolested.

I have pictures of some of the more conventional tweed looking variations on http://www.rivercityamps.com but they are just the tweed covered ones I started with - I didn't stay there (and the website is OLD and has not been updated). I have a bunch of other models on my photobucket page.

Here is one of the Trainwreck inspired ones I built - I think it is in Indianapolis somewhere - not sure. It has a zebra wood face.
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Here is another with a nice mahogany front panel - anyone recognize the guitar?
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Here is one of my lunchbox style amps, I used a weber chassis (long since unavailable - I must have been the only one that thought they were cool). The cab I built out of an old Cordovox keyboard electronics box! It was awesome! I had two alnico 10" webers in that cab and it weighed almost nothing - it was fantastic. The foo fighters bought one of these amps while on tour in Louisville - and it appeared at least one of their albums (same model amp head, not this specific one). I made a few of these back then. I still have the prototype.
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The next is an experiment trying to build a 1w amp - I basically did a tweed style circuit and a 12AT7 for the power tube! It really rocked! The cabinet was a re-purposed RCA lectern. It was hillarious because cranked it would give you singing feedback at a volume that just loud enough to keep someone from watching TV. I good friend that builds guitars in Texas bought it.
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Here is an old Vox AC30 style that I built for a guy, actually, we traded for a really nice Les Paul, the one I own today. He is a really good blues player in Salt Lake City. Awesome guy. I met him a while later when I visited there.
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Here is one of my "little boy" amps (my highly modified 5E3). This guy was playing for Sara Evans at the time. Really good guitar player that tours with a lot of people. He also had one of my Blues Boy Amps (a doubled-deluxe 4x6V6 version of the little boy circuit).
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Here is another with a beauty electra I wish I still had
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I liked this one too, although I only did two with a TV front because the tolex would shrink on that cabinet and expose seams so badly - so it is rare.
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Here is one I was proud of - I built it several times before I was happy enough with it. It was a 15w dual EL84 amp - simple circuit - that I put in a small chassis. I loved the way it sounded but really, the chassis was too small for me to do more of them - so I never built another. But it sounded GREAT when it was done. I was not happy with what I had to do to get the electronics to fit in there though. It was kind of stacked in there. It had a flamed cherry front panel that I loved. I bought the wood and waited for the right amp to put it on. This one was it.
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Here was my take on a Matchless. It was sold in Indianapolis.
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Here is a stylized photo of one of my buds playing one of my amps in the background. He used to work at Dean but I think he just moved over to a marketing and product design position with the company that does Michael Kelly, BC Rich and Kustom. He is a killer player, a good friend and I like the picture.
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Here are some nice guys I met doing a soundcheck after I worked on one their amps - a while ago, because that is Roberts Stadium and it is now replaced by a new one - lots of memories there. Now it is just a field! I guess this was around 2006. Anyone know what band that is?
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There are more, and there are a whole bunch I don't have pictures of, but not really selling them any longer. Just like you I couldn't make enough money to make it worthwhile. Initially I did pretty well but it didn't last - the economy and a zillion other amp makers put an end to that. So now I just worry about what I want to worry about. I still have one of the lunchbox models - and it is a wicked little beastie - it is just a little thing but packs more wallop than a 50w marshall - just plug one into a 4x12 cab and you'll see what I am talking about. Oh also, most of my cabinet work is NOT done by me - I don't have the skills or tools for that - so I can't take credit most of the time, and I usually would buy a standard chassis and build into that (usually). The faceplates are done in CAD and not too different from what Dr Z does for theirs (a good idea that holds up well). I had a friend help me with the CAD part. Anyhow, I wasted a lot of people's time. Sometimes I miss it, sometimes I don't :wink:

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 9:34 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:06 am
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Location: Northwest Louisiana
Wow! What fine amps you've built. Every last one looks like a work of art. I've seen "River City" somewhere before, just can't remember where---maybe on e-bay or somewhere else? Do you ever hang out at the Hoffman Amp Forum? I've been a regular there for years. Anyway Great Job! People have no idea how much work goes into those things. When you consider all the pre-planning and prep work required just to launch a new design, unless you sell a lot of amps you'll never recapture all your labor invested. So you got to love it! I use to work for the US Army as a civilian project manager for construction projects and we used Bentley Micro-Station drafting program. At one time if you were a licensed supported user, they would also provide a home version for your PC. So that's how I use to do my circuit and cab designs. As far a cabs, I think I've built four or five but wasn't able to do finger joints and just did butt joints---screwed and glued.

Sorry you amp building couldn't continue because you have a great product and skill. It has been mostly a very enjoyable and satisfying hobby with me and the Lunchbox was my only attempt to come up with a standardized version that I could easily produce over and over was the Lunch box 5E3. If it had ever got off the ground, I was hoping to sell one a month to supplement my retirement income. Repair work seems to come in spurts. So I don't worry about it and tinker with it when I get the urge.
Thanks for sharing---what a great bunch of amps you produced!! Platefire


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 10:29 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2003 4:58 am
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Location: Southern Indiana
Thank you - and like I said - yours are definitely fantastic. I'd be proud to have built those. And excellent CAD and circuitry documentation. I like what you did. Very nice. :up:

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