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Completed my 5E3x2 - now modding too

2/27/2005 10:29 PM
Completed my 5E3x2 - now modding too
I just completed the base kit (except I don't have the sig speakers in yet, so am hooking to an external cab). Thank you Bruce, Twangman22, and others for your posts.  
I don't think I am looking to do all the same mods that twangman22 has, but I really like knowing about them enjoy knowing how each change affects the tone.  
My opinion the stock kit is WAY too distorted. The amp is mostly "done" by the time you hit 3 on the volume control. The amp has no clean headroom, and the distortion it not entirely pleasing (a little crackle in it).  
So far, I have done the following to the stock kit:  
- I changed the chinese 12AX7 in the first position to a Sovtek 12AY7.  
- I did the "paulc" phase inverter mod for 5E3s (seems to be fine for this as well).  
- I changed the phase inverter from a chinese 12AX7 to a JAN5751.  
Right now, the headroom is improved and the move into distortion more gradual and improved. I still have more playing tests to do, and I need to get my sig speakers in it.  
I have been considering the following mods:  
- I will probably move to the JJ 6V6s. I really don't like Chinese 6V6s. I have had excellent results with the JJs, and also good results with the EH 6V6s.  
- rewiring the tone control to be more of a sweep instead of a treble roll off. I was thinking more like one on the Dr. Z carmen ghia. It seems to be all sweet spots - very usable. I don't know the specifics or if it really is easily doable. I could use a schematic, a great detailed picture that I can blow up, or to get my hands on an amp. Someone know more information about this tone circuit? Amplifier Blueprinting site has some excellent shots of inside a ghia, but you can't make out the values or specific detail.  
- I thought about a choke mod - but I am not sure what that will do for me. My hope is that it will make the amp more dynamic.  
- I have thought of springing for the mercury magnetic trannies. He has some Jim Kelly model trannies for 4x6V6s that are supposedly the thing. I have bought other MM trannies and they did improve the sound of the amps I put them in - most recently a tweed deluxe was restored using one and it was great. Paul at MM said he has suggested a choke too. Again, I am not sure what to expect. Maybe I need to find Jim Kelly?  
What do you all think? Any advice or help is appreciated.  
Thanks in advance.  
2/28/2005 12:50 PM

Your issues are some of the same one's I've had with the stock kit. I play rockabilly and need a little more clean twang than most of the blues players who dig Deluxe's. The mods I did were mostly designed to get more clean headroom and dynamics. I'm really happy with the choke mod. As with any tweed Deluxe inpired circuit, you're still gonna have mostly dirt after 3 or so. Though I forgot to mention this, I placed carbon comp resistors at strategic places in the circuit where I felt tone would be most effected (phase inverter, etc.). I'm not gonna swear it made a huge differnce, but mine does have a really smooth "earthy" overdrive free of raspyness. All in all, I've found that tubes,speakers, and transformers seem to make the most differnce. I also switched the copper cap to a 5Y3.
2/28/2005 3:07 PM

More clean headroom? More like "some" clean headroom. I know tweed deluxes simply rip - but I mistakenly thought the 2nd set of power tubes would add a slight bit of clean headroom. It was a little harsh to me - again as some other have mentioned.  
If I recall right, you put a different output tranny and a choke right? I am debating the Mercury Magnetics tranny and choke - but I am trying other stuff before I go nuts on the expensive mods. Paul at MM has a Jim Kelly designed trannies for (4)6V6s, and Jim's stuff and MM both have excellent reputations. But I am also looking at the cost issues too. After all - I may consider building and selling some of these and need to control costs so I am not building these just to get my money back on them (or loose money).  
So with a 5Y3 copper cap, what voltage are you hitting the plates with? I may try that too. I don't want to stray away from 6V6s, but will likely put in JJs instead of the stock Chinese. Will that copper cap 5Y3 fry pushing (4)6V6s? I have carbon comps too, but so far the only one I have in there is the 2.2M one from the "PaulC" phase inverter mod.  
I want the end result to be my version of the circuit. I usually find out that if I am pleased - others are too. I certainly won't be happy unless I am pleased with the tone. So far it is better.  
I may even experiment with a linear taper pots in this circuit as well. It might work ok in these - anyone try one?  
I need to get my speakers in it - the signature alnicos have not arrived yet. I think they may distort even more - so that is another reason that I wanted some clean tone.  
Anyone know how the tone circuit in a Dr. Z Carmen Ghia is done? Or if there is another amp with a similar sweeping tone circuit and if I can be easily done in this amp?  
Thanks all.  
3/1/2005 6:57 AM

I did put an Allen Multi-Tap Bassman transformer in it. It's not too expensive, is interleaved on a paper bobbin, and is nice and heavy (heavier than the Weber). As far as the rectifier - let me clarify. I originally had the Weber WR4 in the amp that came with the kit. After about 8 hours of playing time, it quit (I need to send it back to Weber for a refund). I had a a real NOS RCA 5Y3 laying around and figured that since Bruce originally had a 5Y3 in the schematic, I'd try it. So far so good. It drops @50 volts vs. the @67 that the WR4 dropped. That cleans it up some too. To be honest, I haven't checked voltages since I put it in. I might take the back off and do that tonight.
3/1/2005 9:38 AM

I might also try a 5U4 - it will also drop 50 volts, but can take more current.
3/2/2005 10:31 AM
What guitar and pickups are you using? I built my 5e3x2 stock with exception of filter caps and play a Les Paul R4 (54 RI w/ P90s). I find mine, with the Sig 12s, like yours, gives it up about 3 on the volumes, but that's what they're "supposed" to do. With the amp set about 4 and the guitar rolled all the way back to 3, I get great cleans unless I dig into the strings (11-49). That causes a nice breakup. Of course if I want lots of hair I just roll on the P90s and it's gorgeous!  
I tried a Telefunken 12AT7 in V1 and it sweetened things up a bit. I couldn't tell much difference when I put a JJ ECC83 in V2.  
Next thing for mine is going to be a set of JJ or EH 6V6GTs.  
If you haven't, play around with your guitar's volumes, pickup and pole height. They made a difference for me and I think with these amps they shouldn't be overlooked as part of the tonal equation.  
3/2/2005 10:12 PM

I have several guitars. The ones that I have been using the most are a dean icon with dimarzios (medium output air norton in the bridge and a normal PAF output virtual PAF in the neck) and an Electra LP copy with a harmonic designs humbucker in the bridge and a stock potted neck pickup (very close to normal PAF output on both of these).  
I use a 12AY7 in the front end and it still distorts tremendously at 3 - just like a deluxe is supposed to. It is a LOT better with the 12AY7 - the best sound going with a NOS RCA, the second best with a NOS GE, and the 3rd is the 12AY7EH. I like them all better than a 12AX7 in V1.  
I put a 5751 in the phase inverter and that lightened things up a little bit too vs. the stock Chinese 12AX7. I also did the "paulc" mod to teh phase inverter. It is a little cleaner now.  
The guitars are properly set up (actually I have a stack of them) and they sound great through my other amps. I think the single coil pickups sound better than the buckers do when the amp has this much gain to it. The buckers don't clean up as well as with others even when your roll your guitar volume back.  
I have ordered a quad of JJ 6V6s for it - right now I am running the Chinese. My speakers are not in yet, so I am running it through other cabs. Right now I am trying it with a closed back 2x12 Celestion V30 setup. My signature speakers are backordered and won't be in for another week at least. This will no doubt be a more "in your face" tone with the closed back cab and V30s.  
I don't think you will hear much a difference in what you put in the phase inverter unless it is moderately stronger or weaker than the previous tube (my opinion). A strong JJ and Chinese would sound about the same. I weaker tube such as a 5751 should clean things up some, as should a 12AT7. You can even put a microphonic tube in the phase inverter position and be fine.  
I did change the caps values for V1 from .1, to .022, and later to .047 (where they are now).  
I think I am overly spoiled from some of my other amps.  
I am still considering trying:  
- a linear taper volume pot  
- a choke mod  
- mercury magnetic Jim Kelly (4) 6V6 output tranny replacement and possibly one of their chokes (but I would like to control the costs)  
- looking at other amps for inspiration, such as looking into the Dr.Z carmen ghia single tone control (anyone know how that thing is wired).  
- looking at other amps to see how they differ as well to understand better how differing designs affect the sound.  
Thanks all.

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