thanks for elaborating. I was already thinking about a tweed amp, to be honest. I just need something with a bit more headroom than a deluxe.
There are several european makers, I will ckeck them out for sure.
And I agree 100% that it is all in the hands, but gear is part of the fun, no? 😉
Yes gear is fun!! Very addicting. I work around the corner from a music store so I am always trying out the new toys.
Just one thing for thought on a Tweed Deluxe and the headroom issue. If you are getting a Tweed Deluxe from a private/boutique builder, you may not have the issue with the headroom that you are thinking. So I would try them out before you write it off, for 2 reason. One reason being is that a lot of these builders put more headroom into their design when they build them since this is a common complaint with people and the Tweed Deluxe. That and they usually tighten up the low end on them just a little as well. Help with the farting out issue that hinders some Original Deluxes. Of the big builders out now, Victoria is the only one that I can think of off hand making an exact copy of the Tweed Deluxe with no other modifications. Even the Fender Tweed Deluxe Reissue isn’t a true copy. Guys like Louis Electric, Top Hat, Tungsten, Clark, CeriaTone,and builders like that are putting more headroom into the amps. The second reason is changing the first preamp tube, like was mentioned before will increase headroom in an amp that you think needs just a little bit more. The only time this doesn’t work is if the amp already carries a 12AY7 because this is as low as you can go in that family. Most everyone though is putting the 12AX7 in their amps because it is what the majority of the public is looking for. All of the previously mentioned companies with a Deluxe style amp put a 12AX7 in the first slot.
One last thing on deciding on an amp. I would try everything that you could and use your ears and gut to decide. Try not to let what preconceptions you have about an amplifier make the decision for you before you try it. Sometimes what you think you are looking for is not the case. Sometimes people think they are needing Tweed when what they are wanting can be found in other things. There are many ways amp builders achieve a tone. You hear a lot of EL-84 will be brighter and more aggressive in breakup than a 6V6, or that EL-84 will give you a British tone instead of the American Tweed tone when you talk to people. This is not always true. I have played plenty of amps where it has 6V6’s and it is very harsh or sounds more like a Vox AC15. I have also played a lot of EL-84 amps that sound more warm and Tweed like than 6V6 amps, rather than a Vox AC15. The circuit and components inside the amp make the biggest effect on tone. The last thing, and probably the most important thing. Like we already agreed on, your playing is the biggest factor. We all play different and our playing will give us different results through a good amp. (what I mean by that is a good amp changes with how you play it, where cheaper amps create a sound and that is about all you really get. It is either louder or quieter.) So what I am getting at is we all produce a different EQ in how we play, some of us naturally play brighter or more mellow than others. So this will change what you might need in an amp to get the same effect as someone else. When I play Tommy’s amp under the same EQ settings I give off a very different tone than Tommy.
Gretschman brings up two real good points. Most amp builders now address the concerns of the modern world, that being headroom. Also we are dealing with new componentry and new transformers. Old amps have character not just because of the circuit, but in how the components have drifted from spec. My 50’s pro sounds great but my tweed deluxe clone is louder. The other point is that it is the meat under wire that impacts tone.
But Tommy your tweed deluxe clone from Kevin isn’t really a tweed deluxe clone.
Just being an ass here…
It’s a 25 watt 6L6 tweed deluxe that stays together just enough to not crumble apart. A ‘builders special’ sort of…and the vintage suitcase head cab adds mojo too.
I built a weber deluxe kit a while ago and they use 25 watt transformers (deluxe reverb transformers actually). So while not ‘clone’ accurate, gives just a little bit more than a regular deluxe. I’ve since modded the hell of mine with the intent to clean it up a little without losing any tweediness. I think tweed cleans are the best tones out there (or right on the edge of grit). I wanted to increase the volume of that tone. I did. I can elaborate on those details, but that is for another topic.
However a little bit louder, or more headroom deluxe style amp is achievable and out there…but there are many ways to skin a cat so know what you want it to do before you just start modding the circuit, or ponying up the bucks for an advertised ‘louder deluxe.’ Different builders do it differently.
Man some killer info in here, its great everyone takes the time to share what they know. I have to agree that if you want to sound like anyone particular its more in your playing than your gear yeah bla bla bla we have all heard that one before but having suitable gear to what your going for is definitely going to compliment all the hours you’ve spent wood shedding.
I see gear as subtle colors for your sound more than anything and there’s so many things you can add or do it just makes your head spin sometimes. You can definitely make more drastic changes to your sound by making subtle changes in your technique etc. Even changing the type of pick you use will probably make you sound more different than switching to a different guitar. I cant remember where I saw or read an interview with barney kessel talking about charlie christian but he said that charlie used one of those huge triangle picks like a bass pick and use predominantly all down strokes and held the thing with 2 fingers and anchored the free fingers against the pick guard. He said he locked them down there real tight and they never moved basically. Just the all down strokes alone is huge in his tone, so many people play his licks myself included and if you listen closely it doesn’t sounde like him really at all because of the picking. And wow I have gone on a rant again, this is what happens when I get over tired aha sorry fellas. As far as what we are actually talking about I have been gigging with my blues junior lately and really liking it and its stock as a rock. They are louder than you expect to I played in a large room last weekend and only had the thing on 4. Would probably struggle with a loud drummer but if your drummer is drowning out a 15 watt amp playing this kind of music they are definitely doin it wrong.
Oh yeah I forgot to mention Kevin did wire a bigger transformer. Dan is right about the drummer. I think if a drummer is drowning out a blues junior they are playing too loud. I will say that my small amps work great as long as I’m the only harmony instrument, but as soon as I add another guitar player or piano, I lose definition with my pro. Grez could probably explain more about this, but it isn’t just about volume. The way the amp is EQ’d or speaker configuration and cab material make a difference. My ampro projector cab has a 1X12 Jenson I can choose to take the back of the cab on or off. When I take the back off I get sound reflecting from behind and it sounds fuller on stage, If I play outside I close the back up and it is more directional at least from my perspective. Anyway more things to confuse us more.
This is off topic but the volume issue made me thing of it. A quote that Otis Rush told my friend when they were playing together one time, that he loves to always say at a club. I love it. “Intensity comes from the Heart and not the Volume knob.” It is the truth. So many people think you need a lot of volume or overdrive to get that raunchy sound and sustain. Sean Costello could be one of the raunchiest, and intense sounding players I have heard, and then be whisper gentle. He was never loud in stage volume and I never saw him with a pedal. Always just plugged straight in. Also from what you read on people that played his guitar, or from Lollar talking about re-engineering his pickup for his lower wind P-90’s, his pickups were not very hot either. They all say they were on the weak side of Gibson P-90’s. Some people just know how to get that “Stank!”
Back on Topic. After seeing Tommy’s amp, and from what has been said about it on this forum like the tubes and transformer type, I would say that it is an adaption off of the circuit that was used for the Tweed Pros, Supers and Bandmasters. Cant’t be sure though not knowing what is under the hood, so I am going based on the tube choice and how it sounded hearing it in person. The Pro,Super, and Bandmaster were all the same amp and just used different speaker configurations. They were 25 watt rated, and used 5881 power tubes which are of the 6L6 family, used a bigger transformer, used a long-tail phase inverters which tighten things up and give more head room, and I believe they were fixed bias. This is a much different circuit than the Tweed Deluxe. The Deluxe was a short-tail phase inverter which tends to make things looser and more tactile and lead to an earlier breakup, and was cathode bias. A lot of these “Deluxes” that have been modded are a lot of times is Pro circuit with 6V6’s and a 12″ speaker. Sometimes they are what Craner referenced, a Deluxe circuit with 6L6’s. You do not see this as much though. At least from what I have seen. Being on the East Coast we see different builders that do not pop up on the West Coast’s Radar and vice versa, so tis may not be true there. Example here we do not hear the names of Nocturne, Vega or Kevin Nelson much, like the West Coast probably doesn’t hear the names of Little Walter, Samamp, or Oldfield amps much.
Two East Coast builders that make a killer sounding amps, that sound good playing in the veins we have been discussing are Oldfield amps out of his Tweed Series, and the Swart amps Space Tone Reverb. Giving what you mentioned wanting more headroom the Swart Atomic Space Tone, or AST would probably be the one that would be more up your alley. Same amp and tone, just more of it vs the Space Tone. Oldfield makes a killer amp. Everyone that plays mine loves it. I have a Honky Tonk Dlx which would be in the Tweed Deluxe vein. They are pretty well priced in the world of amps. I think it may now go for $1,500 for a combo, compared to the $2,000 or more that most of the amps in this same category go for. His other amps in the Tweed line are Bassman and Super type. I say type because they are not replicas. All of his amps are killer stuff. Very responsive.
From my memory and casual back ground knowledge of Kevin Nelson, he was the director of RD on Fender’s Eric Clapton line of amps. He had a heart attack and was forced to sort of retire. Now he builds amps out of his house. His resume is ridiculous. He’s worked for a dozen of the big name amp companies and even won ‘new amp design’ of the year one year at NAMM. He’s not just a ‘good amp builder’ working out of his house–he is ‘THE’ amp guy. Working out of his house affords him to be really competitive.
It would be inappropriate for me to reveal his pricing, cause 1, I don’t know it, and 2, that is his business. However I was picking up an amp for a friend (that I now have–cool conversion amp I’ll share in a minute) at his house about a year ago and he showed me an amp he had just finished and was trying to unload. It was his 20watt deluxe style circuit design housed in a combo cab (lacquered tweed) only a little bigger than a Fender reverb unit (maybe not but it was really small) with 2 10″ legend speakers–he offered it to me for $600.00
At that same trip he showed me a 200watt (8 6L6 tubes) amp that he was building for Ry Cooder. And a boost pedal for Tom Petty.
The conversion amp I’m talking about is this:
My friend had a blackface vibrochamp that didn’t work he bought it in the 80’s for 40 bucks. He finally decided it was time to do something with it and gave it to Kevin with only a max budget and told Kevin to do whatever he wanted.
The amp now looks like a vibro champ, but it is a 30 watt (2 6L6) master volume blackface style circuit with mid control and (no tremolo). It is a little boxy sounding since its such a small cabinet, but it is the loudest ‘small amp’ you ever heard. Seriously. A totally cosmetically looking 60’s vibrochamp that spits out 30 watts. It uses a blackface super power transformer and a vibrolux output transformer.
I think everyone who posts on this topic is required to take a digression turn…
I did not know all of that about Kevin. Pretty cool. Bruce Zinky and Paul Rivera are the 2 amp builders on their own now that used to work at Fender.
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