Recommendations for tweed cleans

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nanamour
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Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by nanamour » Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:08 pm

Howdy all,

For the past few years my principal amp has been a mid 60s Ampeg Reverberocket 2 fitted with an old Celestion Blackback G12M. I love everything about it, especially it’s unique and dimensional reverb and trem. However, I mostly make clean, spacey sounds through an old Klemt Echolette tape echo (more or less straight in sans additional effects these days) and lately I’ve found myself wanting just a touch more headroom than I get from the Reverberocket at volume. I recently tried a friend’s 5F6a Bassman clone with my setup and fell in love with its tweed clean sounds...what a lovely, rounded sound, with even more glorious midrange content than the Ampeg!

It got the cogs turning about buying, or, more ideally, building, a high(er) powered tweed clone. I’d be keeping the Reverberocket, but it’d be nice to find what would essentially be a tweedy clean tape echo platform with a bit more power in the stable to compliment the Ampeg. From a less practical standpoint, I’ve also been wanting to do an amp build for a while, and I’m convincing myself that this could be a fun excuse to crack open the couple books on tube amp theory/design I have laying around for more than a peruse.

Thing is, I’m not looking for quite Bassman levels of volume (and ideally a good bit quieter); but I am concerned with retaining clean headroom at a fair helping of volume. *Ideally * I’d like to find something that could be capable of sounding decent at duplex/apartment levels while still having headroom at enough volume to keep up with an averageishly loud drummer (the Ampeg struggles a bit here), though I’m sure I’ll have to compromise on some piece of that puzzle.

So what should I be looking at here?
5F4 Super/5E5-aPro/5E7 Bandmaster family?
5E8-a low power Twin? 5E3 with an efficient speaker and +/- bigger iron?

Of these, the 5E3 is certainly the simplest DIY option, and the one with the most support out there in terms of kits, etc, but would the bigger narrow panel amps be a reasonable first build for someone going slowly and methodically?

Thanks for lending your wisdom!

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by redchapterjubilee » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:33 am

I love tweed amps. I have a couple and would love to add another one.

The 5E3 is a wonderful amp and I love mine. It was my gateway tweed. I bought mine already built by Carl’s Custom but my bandmate built his from a Boothill kit. It was his first build. It has nice cleans but there’s no way you can get over a drummer with mine dimed, let alone clean. My bandmate’s 5E3 is a touch “louder” as he has a more efficient Tone Tubby 40/40 in his compared to my alnico Weber. It is still not loud clean but his is better for our low volume band practice. Mine sounds better under mic for recording. You might be able to get your volume threshold where you are wanting with 6L6’s in a 5E3 a la Neil Young.

I also have a 5F6A, a ‘59 Bassman LTD chassis in a head cabinet. I run it through a 2x12 loaded with a Wizard and Cannabis Rex. My bandmate has one of the custom shop Bassbreakers and my rig is essentially a copy of it. If your band isn’t stupid loud then you will have cleans. My band is stupid loud but if I play my single coil guitars into it I can still hang volume-wise. With humbuckers I lose headroom but it’s a glorious sound. I record with it at home a lot these days with a Mass 100 to attenuate. It responds very well to attenuation. I know kits exist for the 5F6A but I don’t know how difficult the build is. Speaker choice and using 5881’s might pull some dB’s down on a Bassman build.

I’ve never played any of the other tweed circuits but I too have been curious about something “in-between” the 5E3 and 5F6A. Bandmaster, Pro, Super, etc. The hard part is finding one to play and judge for yourself. There’s tons of Deluxes and Bassmans out there but few of the in-between amps. And they aren’t cheap when you do find them. In your case building one would be ideal.
Last edited by redchapterjubilee on Thu Jun 06, 2019 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by øøøøøøø » Thu Jun 06, 2019 2:34 am

All of the amps you mentioned sound awesome.

But only a Bassman is a Bassman.

There's one big difference between all of the amps you listed and the 5F6-A. That is, the ones you listed all use a simple cathodyne phase inverter whereas the 5F6-A uses a long-tailed pair.

Does this really mean a whole lot? Well, yes and no. The overdrive character of the Bassman is distinct from the others (IMO generally "better") due in part to this.

However, if properly-balanced, this should not make worlds of difference in the clean operation.

I have a 5E7 bandmaster that I built myself about ten years ago. It does "the thing" you want in terms of clean tones, I feel.

In your case, I think the 5F4 Super might make you happy. The 5E7 is still a VERY loud amp. The 5F4 will likely be so, also, but perhaps closer to your desired world.

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by wproffitt » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:19 am

How loud are we talking, here? I built a 5E9 Tremolux a couple of summers ago. Even with the inefficient Weber AlNiCo speaker I have in there, it does not break up at band rehearsal volume when I play a guitar with single coils. Then again, it had a different phase inverter than any of the amps mentioned above, so who knows? What I’m getting at is that a 5E3 (it’s a similar circuit) may get you closer to your goal than you think, depending on band volume and amp settings. They do clean up if you use the right inputs, tone and volume settings, but if you have a heavy drummer, all bets are off. ;D

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by øøøøøøø » Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:35 am

Yeah, a 5E3 is plenty loud enough for lots of stuff, especially if you don't need it to be ultra ultra clean.

BUT I'm not sure it would have more headroom than an Ampeg Reverberocket 2.

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by nanamour » Thu Jun 06, 2019 5:35 am

Thanks for the insightful replies everyone; lots of great thoughts here to consider.
øøøøøøø wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:35 am
Yeah, a 5E3 is plenty loud enough for lots of stuff, especially if you don't need it to be ultra ultra clean.

BUT I'm not sure it would have more headroom than an Ampeg Reverberocket 2.
Yeah, the idea of keeping things reasonably simple with a 5E3 really does appeal to me, but I’m just worried whether a Deluxe would give me the headroom I’m looking for.

I should have mentioned that complicating the situation is the fact that my always-on tape echo has a fair amount of its own gain going into the amp, so it’s like I have a low-gain boost pedal in front of whatever I plug into; I imagine that wouldn’t exactly help with the headroom I’d be getting from the E53. Immaculate cleans aren’t necessary, but I don’t want to be straying anywhere near Neil territory.

The 5F4 was kind of my mind’s front runner; it’s certainly louder than I really need, but it’d be nice to have a good bit of play in the volume knob before things start breaking up. Any thoughts on whether I’d be able to get any sort of reasonable sounds out of a tweed Super at sub-stage/practice space volumes?

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by øøøøøøø » Thu Jun 06, 2019 5:40 am

nanamour wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 5:35 am
Any thoughts on whether I’d be able to get any sort of reasonable sounds out of a tweed Super at sub-stage/practice space volumes?
You'll definitely get reasonable (even excellent) clean sounds.

As far as cranking the amp to make use of its natural overdrive, two things--

1) that will be quite loud with this amp
2) I never thought the overdrive on these amps was quite as rich and pleasant as the 5F6, nor quite as gnarly as the 5E3.

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by nanamour » Thu Jun 06, 2019 6:04 am

Clean is good! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by redchapterjubilee » Thu Jun 06, 2019 8:56 am

Maybe build a 5E3 with 6L6's or look at the Double Deluxe kit (4x6V6 vs. 2x6V6 might give you a touch more headroom). It is true that by manipulating the normal and bright controls against each other you can clean that amp up. In my experience the 5E3 just isn't a clean amp at band volume. Note that I am a bit of a neanderthal and I regularly gig at loud volumes.

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by garyfanclub » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:17 am

Don't really have any input on the tweed side of things; I don't own one of those (or a clone). But I do own the same Ampeg Reverberocket 2, and I'm also using it as my main gigging amp in NYC. Agree with everything you said, this thing sounds magical, and I haven't found a Fender that I like as much for my style of playing (60's garage rock, with some surfy/jazzy flourishes, some echo'y ambient stuff in there too)

Have you thought about dropping a higher efficiency speaker in your RR2? I've got a 50W Cannabis Rex in mine and it's a serious volume bump over what it came with (a 70's Utah recone?).

Plugged into the accordion input, I can barely get it to 9 'o clock on the volume before I'm drowning out the other guitar player in my band. Granted, we're not a thrash band, but not quiet either. This is also a way cheaper course of action than a new amp. Only drawback is it might be a little on the loud side for apartment playing (I use a Microcube and headphones for that).

Better yet, get another RR2 and have put a higher efficiency speaker in it. MORE AMPEG IS THE ANSWER!

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by nanamour » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:34 am

redchapterjubilee wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 8:56 am
Maybe build a 5E3 with 6L6's or look at the Double Deluxe kit (4x6V6 vs. 2x6V6 might give you a touch more headroom). It is true that by manipulating the normal and bright controls against each other you can clean that amp up. In my experience the 5E3 just isn't a clean amp at band volume. Note that I am a bit of a neanderthal and I regularly gig at loud volumes.
That’s a great call too; the 6L6 Deluxe route is an interesting idea, maybe with a second 12 dropped into in the mix. The Double Deluxe is a cool thought as well, but I would think I’d be running into a similar volume surplus as with as the Super at that point.

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by mbene085 » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:37 am

Go with a 5F6 based amp in head and cab format. Insert an attenuators between them for home use.

I agree that "only a 5F6 is a 5F6" and damn is it ever a beautiful circuit. It also has the headroom you want. The attenuator is the best compromise for getting a "clean and loud enough to play with a drummer" amp to sound good at bedroom volumes.

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by nanamour » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:48 am

garyfanclub wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:17 am
MORE AMPEG IS THE ANSWER!
Dropping a more efficient speaker into the RR2 was actually my first thought, but I’m pretty married to the greenback in there now, and I like that it’s inefficient enough that I can get some power into the tubes while playing at home without being evicted.

Getting a second RR2 to use for higher volume applications is a really tempting thought; that’s still run me less than half what a mid sized tweed build would set me back...buuut, I want to have another tonal palate to work with (as great as the Ampeg’s is). I’ll also freely admit that there’s a GAS justification component at play here, but I’ve been looking for an excuse to get into an amp build for some time now and this might be the ticket.

Then again, maybe now’s the time to start on a wall of RR and Gemini 2’s a la Neil Young’s live rig while the getting’s still good :w00t: :w00t: :w00t:

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by øøøøøøø » Thu Jun 06, 2019 10:07 am

There's also nothing stopping you from building a 5F6-A in a 2x10 cabinet.

That would be more in the world of "tweed Super" level-wise. Just make sure the speakers can handle the power output (or don't crank it all the way up and use 3 fuzz pedals for an hour)

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Re: Recommendations for tweed cleans

Post by Dollywitch » Thu Jun 06, 2019 11:17 am

it might help to get/build an amp with an effects loop if you're using a lot of delay. it's likely not just the fact that the amp is overdriving at volume, but also the fact that you're feeding the delay into both the pre amp and power amp which is going to muddy delays - an FX loop will allow you to drive the amp a bit more without it "sounding" as gritty(and allow you to use the added sustain of a bit of overdrive without it crapping up your delays) i know a lot of oldschool amp enthusiasts aren't fond of them but if you're doing a custom build there are options for some transparent ones.

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