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The Campy Forum

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vintage amps
  • Guys- Am I alone here? Does anyone buy a vintage amp that's hum free, equipped brand new tubes, that is biased perfectly with tight filter caps and a robust spanking speaker ?

    Because every time I've purchased an amp that was older then 25 years - it's required I spend at least $150 worth of fixes. So... I buy it, and bring it directly to the amp repairman. Certainly new tubes are a given.

    I know money doesn't grow on trees - but I still consider the investment of a vintage amp an intelligent one - and my amps and I usually live happily ever after.
  • I've seen plenty of vintage Fender amps for sale, witch still have original electrolytic capacitors with the premium price. Some people believe they sound better than fresh new caps for no reason. I did changed all of them right after I bought my '65 PR. :)
  • Jim,
    I have bought some vintage amps. in my experience, they either need "the works," or nothing at all.

    i recently scored 2 vibro champs, both from 1969. they are both completely original and untouched. they sound fantastic! but i do not turn them up nearly as loud as Jim.

    Previously i had a 1974 Super reverb also all original and untouched. it sounded great when I got it- and i barely used it at all, but one day the vibrato stopped working and the speakers started sounding farty and old. then I started getting volume drops. The amp would have been great to refurbish but I sold it.
  • Hi Jim,
    nice topic. I'd be curious to know in which particular aspects you think vintage amps differ from recent reissues. I refer particularly to the Fender blackface ones, such as the Princeton Reverb.
    Thanks!
  • I used a fender blues deluxe for a lesson yesterday and was impressed that the amp sounded really good!

    I will never ever forget plugging into a princeton for the first time at Jim's house for a guitar lesson! (and i think it was an orange reissue) and it sounded wonderful. The next day I was riding the train home hunting for a princeton on craigslist on my iphone and picked one up soon after.

    Many reissues sound nice! But there are some inherent issues with them that reveal themselves over time. The biggest flaw (and this is on MANY new amps, not just fender) is that the circuit board is printed rather than wired by hand.

    On old amps you have hand done turret board that makes repair work really simple. A component fails and you snip it out, sodder in a new one and it keeps going. On reissues if you ever run into such a problem it is VERY difficult to perform repairs on them.

    This is why the old ones hang around for SOOOOO long. All you have to do is replace to disposable components like caps and tubes and they just keep kickin.

    The cabinet and baffles are cheaper material on reissues and I have heard many complaints about rattling but never seen it in person. They also bias the amps cold so whenever you buy a new tube amp plan to at least adjust it to your preference.



  • No Jim, you are not alone. My last vintage purchase was a silverface champ that I bought on ebay. Worst sounding amp I ever heard. It cost me $100 to get it in shape. Sounds good now.
  • The only vintage amp I have bought to date is a 1964 Gibson GA17-RVT and all it needed was a 3 prong plug. I was prepared and actually expected to have to shell out more money to fix something, but the tech said everything looked great. Vintage amps are definitely an intelligent investment.
  • Jim, it sounds like you got yourself another amp. What did you get? :)
  • TomBLP - Hi Tom -no new amps! I spend enough keeping them working!
  • My experience has been similar to Campinout's. About 20 years ago, I scored a free 65 deluxe reverb that had sat in a storage unit, unplayed for decades. It sounded glorious when I first plugged in and played through it, but before too long it started failing in various ways. Since then it has seen regular maintenance and love. It still sounds great, but sometimes I feel like it's never reached the level of sweetness of those first few days I had it. Of course, that could be entirely mental and I'm just chasing the dragon of that first taste of a truly magnificent amp.
  • The guy who fixes all my stuff always tells me "high performance is high maintenance!" when I get sad about how often stuff needs adjusting, fixing etc.
  • I learned how to repair and maintain them. Love any high quality hand to point wired amp old or new. I have an ESR meter that tests how much caps leak. Older amps have electrolytic capacitors that usually need to be replaced. Sometimes I'm surprised but not very often!
  • Just wondering - with all the complaints regarding vintage amps and issues following the purchase, has anyone purchased one of Fender’s new Deluxe Reverb ‘64 Custom amps? It looks sweet, but at $2,499, I just wonder if one couldn’t pick up a real ‘64 Deluxe Reverb a bit cheaper and allocate time/money with a good amp tech to resolve any issues? A Ying/Yang question?
  • I have a 67 Princeton Reverb, which is the best sounding amp I have ever had. I also have a DRRI which I've modded and it sounds pretty darn good, but not as good as the Princeton. Well, I tried out the new 64 Deluxe in a music store and it sounds really good. Excellent vibrato and reverb and a nice full bell like tone with a bit of sweetness like a Princeton. I can definitely see the advantage it would have over a vintage Deluxe reliability wise. And to me it sounded better than any vintage Deluxe I ever played.
  • I really like those 65 Deluxe Reissue's. They aren't the end all by any means, but they have a nice warm sound and great scream.
  • I think the Reissues are good amps. I think the main reason vintage amps sound the way they do is the well-broken-in speaker. Of course, as electronic components age, their values drift, and that's a part of it, but I'll bet it you pulled a vintage Jensen out of a vintage Princeton Reverb, and put it into a new PRRI, it would get you 90% of that vintage sound. It's why I tend to like darker speakers in new amps.

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