Vintage amps - too much hassle?

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teradaterada Frets: 533
Hi everyone,

I've been looking to get a DRRI, and what with the recent price increases I've been thinking about potentially just splashing out and treating myself to an original.

Is this a stupid idea? Are vintage amps really unreliable? What sort of things should I be asking/thinking about?

One I've had my eye on one that doesn't have an original speaker - is that a big deal?

As always, any thoughts much appreciated!




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  • strat84strat84 Frets: 71
    I don't think having the original speaker is that big of a deal. More often than not they get swapped out for a modern one (especially if being gigged) plus the seller will likely want top dollar if it has the original so there should be some wiggle room on the price ;-). I'm not sure if the early Blackface DR's came with a Jensen but late 60's early 70's usually have Oxford/Utah speakers which aren't really sort after. 

    Look out for original transformers/choke which can be dated from their codes, if the circuit is original and hasn't been modded and also if the caps that don't need replacing are still present. 

    I've had an old Deluxe Reverb for 7 years and a Super Reverb for 6. Had them both serviced by Marting at MJW which included new filter caps and a 3 core power lead. The Super was a bit of a mess when I bought it. Non-original, completely mismatched speakers. Chunks of tolex missing, jewel light smashed, faceplate dented all over.. sounded amazing though and was cheap ;-) The Deluxe was pretty much all original including the speaker and most of the RCA valves. I got that at a really great price as I didn't really know what I was buying then and just made an offer for what I thought it was worth.. Zero issues since I've had them both and they've been gigged quite a few times and played a lot at home! 

     Good luck! ;-)

     
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  • teradaterada Frets: 533
    strat84 said:
    I don't think having the original speaker is that big of a deal. More often than not they get swapped out for a modern one (especially if being gigged) plus the seller will likely want top dollar if it has the original so there should be some wiggle room on the price ;-). I'm not sure if the early Blackface DR's came with a Jensen but late 60's early 70's usually have Oxford/Utah speakers which aren't really sort after. 

    Look out for original transformers/choke which can be dated from their codes, if the circuit is original and hasn't been modded and also if the caps that don't need replacing are still present. 

    I've had an old Deluxe Reverb for 7 years and a Super Reverb for 6. Had them both serviced by Marting at MJW which included new filter caps and a 3 core power lead. The Super was a bit of a mess when I bought it. Non-original, completely mismatched speakers. Chunks of tolex missing, jewel light smashed, faceplate dented all over.. sounded amazing though and was cheap ;-) The Deluxe was pretty much all original including the speaker and most of the RCA valves. I got that at a really great price as I didn't really know what I was buying then and just made an offer for what I thought it was worth.. Zero issues since I've had them both and they've been gigged quite a few times and played a lot at home! 

     Good luck! ;-)

     

    Thanks for the info - really very much appreciated. The one I'm looking at has been retubed with GT's and I'm waiting for some gut shots, so not sure about the internals. The external condition is mint though and it is a 65 blackface.

    Do you have any idea what would be a good price for such an amp?
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  • strat84strat84 Frets: 71
    No problem ;-) I'm no expert but have picked up a few things since I bought mine. 

    Tubes aren't really a big deal. Try and get some pics of the transformers if you can and check the codes. I wouldn't be able to tell if it had been modded from a pic or otherwise but if it's a '65 it should have the blue molded caps if all original -

    http://i.imgur.com/ftmcE5V.jpg

    Price wise I'm not sure really. I've seen some good.deals come up and also some silly ones.. the silly ones sit for a long time ;-) It depends what you're willing to pay and if it's worth it compared to a clone or even the new '64 handwired version from Fender. Is there a price or is it down to.you to make an offer? 



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  • brooombrooom Frets: 180
    My 1966 deluxe reverb has been sitting for a long time, I don't think it's a silly deal at all. So either that theory is incorrect, or you could maybe tell me why it's incorrectly priced.
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  • strat84strat84 Frets: 71
    @brooom I don't know what your 1966 Deluxe Reverb is priced at or even where it is advertised?? I was referring to vintage Fender prices in general, not just Deluxe Reverbs. Sorry if you took it differently.

     There's a 1969 Deluxe Reverb for £2150 on Ebay that's been there for a while. Overpriced in my opinion. A Vibroverb for £5995, again overpriced. 

     Good luck with your sale
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  • brooombrooom Frets: 180
    Ok, so that's what I'm trying to say. You're assumption is incorrect. Some amps sit for a long time, for no particular reason. The demand just isn't there.

    I've had this particular one for sale, for a some good months now, with not a lot of interest. It is fully original, including speaker, and blue molded coupling caps. The only work done on it has been the electrolytic caps, which should be changed on most old amps.

    It's priced below the 1969 model you just mentioned. But yeah what I wanted to emphasize is that just because something has been for sale for some time, doesn't necessarily mean it's a shit deal.

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  • teradaterada Frets: 533
    edited June 10
    brooom said:
    Ok, so that's what I'm trying to say. You're assumption is incorrect. Some amps sit for a long time, for no particular reason. The demand just isn't there.

    I've had this particular one for sale, for a some good months now, with not a lot of interest. It is fully original, including speaker, and blue molded coupling caps. The only work done on it has been the electrolytic caps, which should be changed on most old amps.

    It's priced below the 1969 model you just mentioned. But yeah what I wanted to emphasize is that just because something has been for sale for some time, doesn't necessarily mean it's a shit deal.

    Do you have a link to your one by any chance?
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  • BlacksheepBlacksheep Frets: 281
    You should be thinking about why you are potentially spending big bucks on a vintage amp. Over the years I’ve owned a 59 Bassman, three vintage blackface Fenders, a 68 Marshall and a 63 Vox. I could not honestly say any of them were ‘better’ than modern boutique versions. A/B an original 65 DR with a DRRI, preferably at decent volume with a band, and I would be very surprised if you could tell the difference. There is a ‘mojo’ boost with vintage gear, amps or guitars. But in terms of quality, the difference is negligible.

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  • brooombrooom Frets: 180
    I agree with @Blacksheep, being or having been, the owner of many old amps as well as boutique amps. If if you can find a good maker that you like, seriously give it a try. We live in an era where we have lots of options available to us. I love Magic amps, for example, I think their reproductions of old small fender combos are amazing. @RiftAmps ;here in the UK seems like a good option as well.
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  • BlacksheepBlacksheep Frets: 281
    Without wishing to start a bromance with @brooom  I have to echo this. The vintage obsession was sparked by the dearth of decent amps in the 80s. Marshall and Fender were turning out pale imitations of their classic era stuff. Mesa Boogie were much lauded but hard to get hold of in UK.
    Now guitarists are spoiled for choice. It’s actually quite hard to buy a completely crap amp. Although making them sound crap is as easy as ever. 
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  • richardhomerrichardhomer Frets: 18419
    Some of the very best amps I’ve ever played were not vintage, for example a Matchless DC30. 

    Same as with old guitars, there can be  originality and reliability issues that I’d rather not have to worry about.
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  • strat84strat84 Frets: 71
    I didn't claim that every vintage amp that sits unsold is a shit deal or priced silly.. I said some vintage amps are advertised at a silly price and these particular ones sit for a while, there's a difference. 
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  • brooombrooom Frets: 180
    edited June 11
    ahah, no worries dude, the word "some" will cover up your wrong assumption... anyway, not trying to give you a hard time. Ultimately for the OP, nothing like trying a couple of amps and deciding what you like best.

    I will agree with @strat84 that old fenders are usually pretty reliable, as they're really easy to do maintenance on. But you can easily get a new amp that sounds just as good.

    If we focus on blackface amps, more specifically. The only thing I found is sometimes a bit of in terms of matching the old ones is the reverb decay. For some reason the old reverb pans, just have a very characteristic decay that blends in with sound of the amp.

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  • HattigolHattigol Frets: 645
    terada said:

    Vintage amps - too much hassle?
    Yes.
    "Anybody can play. The note is only 20%. The attitude of the motherf*cker who plays it is  80%" - Miles Davis
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 8803
    Hattigol said:
    terada said:

    Vintage amps - too much hassle?
    Yes.
    No not really. I bought a couple of mid 60s Plexis back in the days when nobody wanted old single channel valve amps with no FX or even no FX loop. Most reliable and best behaved gear I ever bought.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • strtdvstrtdv Frets: 1167
    Vintage amps aren't too much hassle (most of the circuits are simple enough and they tend to be built in a way where maintenance isn't difficult), but I wouldn't pay a premium for one over a well made modern one.

    I have a 70s Orange and a modern MJW. Both are great amps and no hassle to own (other than the ridiculous weight of the Orange)
    Robot Lords of Tokyo, SMILE TASTE KITTENS!
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  • teradaterada Frets: 533
    Such great info, thanks to everyone.

    So after thinking about it overnight I think the best option is to get something newer but made to a very high standard. That way it should last me many many years with minimal fuss.

    I've put a (refundable) deposit down on one of the new 64 handwired Deluxe reverb reissues and that might be the way forward. Otherwise something by a small builder might be on the cards. Open to suggestions as always!
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  • peteripeteri Frets: 802

    My answer is always Carr, loved the Skylark I had (before I went modelling - guitar not a career change ;) )

    Wonderful build quality

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31629
    peteri said:

    My answer is always Carr, loved the Skylark I had (before I went modelling - guitar not a career change ;) )

    Wonderful build quality

    https://www.premierguitar.com/ext/resources/images/content/2014-10/Reviews/Carr-Skylark-Wiring-WEB.jpg
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • teradaterada Frets: 533
    ICBM said:
    peteri said:

    My answer is always Carr, loved the Skylark I had (before I went modelling - guitar not a career change ;) )

    Wonderful build quality

    https://www.premierguitar.com/ext/resources/images/content/2014-10/Reviews/Carr-Skylark-Wiring-WEB.jpg

    This is the circuit of the 64 handwired reissue. Any thoughts?



    In particular, I was interested to see what the situation is with regard to the tremolo - and whether it is the digital version. 'the Guitar Magazine' say the following:

    "Fender has obliged by routing both channels through both the reverb and vibrato. To facilitate this, the opto-coupler tremolo circuit has been reconfigured to a Princeton Reverb-style circuit that modulates the bias of the power valves. The channel voicing has also been tweaked to emphasise the difference in tones, with a 50pF ‘bright cap’ providing a tad more sparkle on the second channel."

    Does this mean that it is digital or not?
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  • brooombrooom Frets: 180
    Definitely not digital... But if you're going to go the new route, I'd probably look at a @RiftAmps to build you a nice Deluxe Reverb, with the bonus of being a UK based company.

    If you really must go US, then the best replicas of blackface deluxe you can get in my not so humble opinion is going to be a Magic Amps.
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 1368
    terada said:
    ICBM said:
    peteri said:

    My answer is always Carr, loved the Skylark I had (before I went modelling - guitar not a career change ;) )

    Wonderful build quality

    https://www.premierguitar.com/ext/resources/images/content/2014-10/Reviews/Carr-Skylark-Wiring-WEB.jpg

    This is the circuit of the 64 handwired reissue. Any thoughts?



    In particular, I was interested to see what the situation is with regard to the tremolo - and whether it is the digital version. 'the Guitar Magazine' say the following:

    "Fender has obliged by routing both channels through both the reverb and vibrato. To facilitate this, the opto-coupler tremolo circuit has been reconfigured to a Princeton Reverb-style circuit that modulates the bias of the power valves. The channel voicing has also been tweaked to emphasise the difference in tones, with a 50pF ‘bright cap’ providing a tad more sparkle on the second channel."

    Does this mean that it is digital or not?
    It means it's not digital.

    The explanation is nonsence though; they have used bias mod tremolo because the optocoupler are not RoHS compliant!
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  • brooombrooom Frets: 180
    exactly, marketing bullshit about not being able to ship amps with the roach optocoupler. For better or worse, not only is that a deviation from the original circuit, it also leaves you without the normal (no effects) channel. Which some people do like, as it isn't fed into the reverb circuit and therefore sounds and responds different.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31629
    brooom said:
    exactly, marketing bullshit about not being able to ship amps with the roach optocoupler. For better or worse, not only is that a deviation from the original circuit, it also leaves you without the normal (no effects) channel. Which some people do like, as it isn't fed into the reverb circuit and therefore sounds and responds different.
    They could easily have done bias trem on one of the Vibrato channel preamp valves, like a Vibro Champ. Pretty stupid to change the overall functionality - they haven't changed the panel graphics to reflect it either.

    It would probably be relatively easy to modify it to that, given that it's one of the major advantages of a hard-wired circuit.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • StuartMac290StuartMac290 Frets: 566
    ICBM said:
    peteri said:

    My answer is always Carr, loved the Skylark I had (before I went modelling - guitar not a career change ;) )

    Wonderful build quality

    https://www.premierguitar.com/ext/resources/images/content/2014-10/Reviews/Carr-Skylark-Wiring-WEB.jpg
    Wow!
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  • gringopiggringopig Frets: 345
    edited June 11
    Don't forget Victory amps. Handbuilt in the UK and the V40 Deluxe combo might be a perfect choice...



    40W or 7W switchable. 2 6L6 with output section bias tremolo and valve reverb tank. Best of all it has an absolutely fantastic pre-amp section that overloads very nicely. You can also lift it unlike the lug to the left lol
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  • ChalkyChalky Frets: 5351
    brooom said:
    Ok, so that's what I'm trying to say. You're assumption is incorrect. Some amps sit for a long time, for no particular reason. The demand just isn't there.

    I've had this particular one for sale, for a some good months now, with not a lot of interest. It is fully original, including speaker, and blue molded coupling caps. The only work done on it has been the electrolytic caps, which should be changed on most old amps.

    It's priced below the 1969 model you just mentioned. But yeah what I wanted to emphasize is that just because something has been for sale for some time, doesn't necessarily mean it's a shit deal.

    Logically, if something doesn't sell while competing products do, then it is over-priced in that market.

    "Ya canna change the laws o' economics", as Scotty almost said....
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  • brooombrooom Frets: 180
    yes that is exactly what I'm trying to do.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 31629
    I have to say I find the amounts of money that some people seem to be willing to throw at ratty old amps quite puzzling.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • maw4neumaw4neu Frets: 180
    My 68 Vox AC30 has given me a number of challenges over the past year . . . I've often thought about selling it and buying a smaller modern hand wired amp . . . The thing is though, it sounds so good :-)  ( at the moment ) Vintage amps can be expensive to keep and are sometimes vulnerable, due to their age, in my humble opinion  . . . I sold my Cornell Romany Plus ( 1x12 ) when Id bought the AC30 and, on balance, the Cornell was the one to keep . . . Another one that got away :-( 
    Id just like to point out that, despite all the video and DNA evidence, it genuinely wasnt me, your Honour  ! 
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