Hi everybody! Several
of last week’s testimonials were by folks who had purchased modern
reproductions of classic amps. As folks
warm-up to the sound of vintage tube amps (sorry, couldn’t help the pun), both
Fender and Vox have re-issued some of their most sought after models. As long as we don’t get into a big discussion
on point-to-point hand wiring and stuff like that, I think we can all agree
that the modern repros are some pretty decent amps. The weak link, as is usually the case these
days, is that they cut corners on the speakers included with the amps. I want to start out with a testimonial that
emphasizes just what I’m talking about.
Jacob Pidduck's very cool Vox/Ric rig.
From Jacob Pidduck:
Hi, I recently managed to save for my
dream rig, a dream that I've had since I was 12, (now 38!) A Rickenbacker 330
and a Vox AC30, I wanted a British AC30 but unfortunately the only secondhand
one I could find in my price range was a 1982 model fitted with blue Vox
labeled Fane speakers which do not do this amp justice. So at this moment in time
I have just stumbled across your fantastic website whilst drooling over
replacement speakers that maybe I'll be able to afford by the time I'm 58. This
amp is crying out for a speaker upgrade!
Much of the magic of the original Vox AC30’s came from those
wonderful original Alnico Blues fitted inside them. The modern Blues are very good speakers, but
nowhere as sweet as an original 1960’s to early 70’s model. The new ones are more brittle and sterile
sounding. Our WGS Black & Blue Alnico is the closest
thing you’ll find to an original, never used Celestion Blue from 1969. These speakers will make your newer AC 30 (orAC15) sound like
the real deal. A little pricy, yes, but
look at it this way: You’ll end up with
an amp that sounds scarily close to an original AC30 with the original blues in
it ... for a lot less dough.
Fender’s modern repros are also crying out for speaker
upgrades that will meet or beat the speaker found in the originals. The Deluxe
Reverb reissue is a prime example.
Put a G12C in it, and you’ll hear what Leo intended a blackface Deluxe
to sound like.
Deluxe Reverb reissue
I’m going to end this blog with some comments from Mike
I decided to
purchase a Fender Super Sonic, which is a pretty powerful amp (maybe 50W I
think). The speaker that came in it was a Hellatone 30.
I played it
a few times at the house and then took it out to my next gig. After the amp
warms up, it starts giving a very loud and very obnoxious sound when played
aggressively. I sounded like speaker noise but was not sure.
I took it to
2 different amp techs that checked it out and could not find anything wrong.
Then finally the 2nd amp tech asked me if I knew that it only had a
30 watt speaker in it. At that point, I had no clue, since it was purchased as
a new amp, I figured it should have the correct matched speaker for the combo.
I really don’t know if this is the speaker that was supposed to be in the amp
or if somehow, they just put the wrong one in it. The amp tech said that the
speaker is more than likely the root of the problem.
So, from a
friend’s recommendation, I ordered a British Lead 80 speaker from Warehouse
Guitar Speakers. After installing it myself, I plugged the amp in and ... WOW!
This amp sounded better than ever before and after playing on it for a solid
hour, all noises were gone.
this amp a few times a week for months now ... Perfect. Never a noise. Never a quiver. Just tons and tons of tone
the amp was built to deliver. (Hey! That
I purchased another British Lead 80 and put it in my ‘70’s Music Man RD112
Fifty and again, the amp was a completely different sounding amp. All the "muddy" overtones and "floppy" bass response was gone. This had made a good amp
much better. (and much louder too).
I really like what Fender is trying to accomplish with the super-sonic,
but they have played around with several OEM speaker models, none of which do
the amp justice. It’s nice to hear that
the addition of a great speaker enables this amp deliver on it promise! Oh, and those old MusicMan amps are real gems, I think
they will be the next big thing in vintage amps. Some of them left the factory with really
great sounding speakers, and some did not, plus the years can be hard on a
speaker. Isn’t it cool that a simple
switch to a superior quality speaker can so totally transform an amp! Again, Leo would be proud.