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5E3 tone vs tweed champ

12/9/2004 12:09 AM
Brent Williams
5E3 tone vs tweed champ
Hi people, As I stated in the subject, I am curious what the sound difference is between the 5e3 and the tweed champ. I had a chance to play a mint 1960 tweed champ today for about an hour. I had the little sucker cranked through its internal speaker, and with the use of a rca adaptor I ran it through a variety of cabs. Tons 'o' squishy would be my explaination of the sound. A little bass heavy, with loss of note definition when it is up all the way. Great grind though. I am about to embark on my first amp. I am just curious how much different these amps sound. I have never personally played a 5e3. Thanks for everyones help and personal opinions. Brent Williams.
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12/10/2004 11:45 AM

Hi Brent,  
The 5E3 is known for its early breakup and dark sound, think Neil Young. But this doesn't preclude it from being able to create wonderful warm clean tones, great jazz tone. The Fender spec 5E3 circuit can tend to be bass heavy and what some call farty. This can be rememdied with the change of a few values here and there. They are very touch sensitive and have very singy sustain.  
In theory, the 5F1 Tweed Champ should be raunchier because of its class of operation (Class A) compared to the 5E3 (Class AB), but this is subjective. They both have great sounding distortion.  
Anyway, their are good kits for both of these amps available, so take your pick.
12/10/2004 3:05 PM

I think the main difference is that the Champ is a single ended amplifier which would tend to be rich in 2nd harmonic distortion. By comparison, the 5E3 is push-pull design and will be rich in 3rd harmonic distortion. They are both Class A to my knowledge.  
12/10/2004 4:17 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the 5E3 is class AB1 push/pull. Let's not get Class A and cathode biasing mixed up. Not all cathode biased amps are Class A. The 5F1 and 5E3 are both cathode biased, but the 5F1 is Class A single ended and the 5E3 is Class AB Push/Pull (has PI and 2 power tubes).
12/10/2004 5:15 PM
Bruce /Mission Amps

Yup, the 5E3 Deluxe is class AB, Champ is class A.  
The Deluxe is cathode biased too and they do run the power tubes pretty hot. Similar to where a class A 6V6 PA would be, at anywhere around 10w to 15w each depending on line voltage, B+ and power tube condition.  
But, the phase inverter has no trouble pushing the PA into class AB.  
12/11/2004 10:47 AM

So you are suggesting that because the phase inverter will cause the plate current to increase at high drive levels that this makes the 5E3 a class AB amp? If you look at the schematics for both amps they will yield about -19V grid to cathode. So from a plate dissipation point of view they both run at the same operating point (>10W Pdiss). I would think any properly designed amplifier would have a phase inverter or driver stage capable of overdriving the output stages without clipping. Thus, any amp could be pushed Class AB by that definition. But maybe this is where we are getting into semantics. Operating as a linear amplifier at say <5% THD, the plate current should remain constant and operation is still Class A. I'm sure this is what the original designers had in mind. But we as guitar players, volume on 12, THD > infinity, push it Class AB since the plate current will surely increase at these drive levels. Anyway, I'm just trying to understand it for my own edification. Thanks to everyone here for your input!  
12/11/2004 3:20 PM
Carl Gigun

If they run at -19 volts (I don't own one to see) that sounds too low for class A. Depends a lot on the chosen screen voltage of course, but I'd expect more like -13 for a class A 6V6. -19 is the book value for AB at 285V screen.  
I just switched a circuit I've been playing with from PP 6V6 to single ended. Haven't had time to tweak yet but the first difference I noticed upon firing it up and playing clean was the single ended mode had a more "present", detailed sound. I didn't have an appropriate transformer around so it's running through a monster 100w hammond, seems to work great. Distortion tweaking will follow, but probably not until after the holidays.  

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