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1975 Twin Reverb breaks up too quickly
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Jacob Zanin
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11th May 2013
Old 11th May 2013
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1975 Twin Reverb breaks up too quickly

Hi all, I have been reading this forum for a couple months and I decided to join. After getting so much information about analog recording and modding my TR, I decided it was time.

I bought a 1975 Twin Reverb about a year ago and have been working on it for the last couple months. Here are the things I have done with it so far:

1. All new or NOS preamp and power tubes.
2. Two new speakers, a Jensen C12K and a Weber Michigan.
3. Converted the bias balance pot to a bias adjust pot.
4. Removed the master volume circuitry.

My problem is that the speakers I purchased do not handle any breakup very well, especially the Weber Michigan. I bought this Silverface TR to get a nice clean sound and the amp starts to breakup at around 3.5-4 on the volume control. While I love how it sounds with the volume at about 2 or 3, I can't get loud enough for a gig without the breakup. I tried this amp with some other speakers and it sounded great, just not the cleans I am striving for.

So I emailed the guy I bought the amp from and it seems that he did a few mods to make it more like a blackface circuit. This is what he said:
"the resistors to ground were removed from the power tubes (gives you more headroom)... and the cap values in the preamps were changed to the blackface values, so it's voiced like the earlier Twins"
I was thinking that if I changed the circuit back to the silverface specs (while keeping the bias adjust and no master volume), that this might accomplish what I am trying to do. Any thoughts on this?
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11th May 2013
Old 11th May 2013
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I've never heard someone say their twin breaks up to early!! Think pigs are gonna fly:-)
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12th May 2013
Old 12th May 2013
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There is some other culprit - a blackfaced twin is still obscenely loud and shouldn't break up at 3-4. My showman is stock ab763 and breaks up nicely at 6-7.

Find a qualified Fender amp tech to look at the amp. Not sure why you removed the master volume - putting it full on does the same thing without changing any circuitry.
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12th May 2013
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Sounds like maybe some of the mods you made could be the culprit. My Twin cold be cranked to 10 and still sound clean.
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12th May 2013
Old 12th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tazman View Post
Sounds like maybe some of the mods you made could be the culprit. My Twin cold be cranked to 10 and still sound clean.
It sounded like this before all of the changes I made. If anything it sounds better than before, but still not clean.

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Originally Posted by nedorama View Post
Find a qualified Fender amp tech to look at the amp. Not sure why you removed the master volume - putting it full on does the same thing without changing any circuitry.
I like my gear to be as simple and elegant as possible. Since I always set the master at 10, I have no reason to keep it connected.
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12th May 2013
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Your amp is no longer a Fender Twin! The last thing they do is break up early!

First, before you do anything, put some new power tubes in. Almost dead power tubes give a very underpowered, distorted sound (I have a '67 Pro Reverb and it's happened to me.)

If that doesnt do it, you might have blown speakers, but my guess is the culprits are all the changes made by previous owner plus the removal of the Master pot.

If you want it to behave and sound like a Twin, you need a good tech and probably some $
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13th May 2013
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Again, given that the speakers you have in there are loud speakers, either something was done before you got it or your mods are exacerbating a problem. Take it to a qualified Fender amp tech and have him take a look at it. Sometimes even simple things like removing a master volume can have unintended results.
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13th May 2013
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I agree with everyone else. Something's up. I've played a lot of twins. Early breakup is not their hallmark by any stretch.
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13th May 2013
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Yup, either there's a mod doing this or the amp is broken, twins are clean throughout the whole volume sweep from deafening all the way through to death of medium sized rodents within 100 ft.
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13th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdme_sadie View Post
Yup, either there's a mod doing this or the amp is broken, twins are clean throughout the whole volume sweep from deafening all the way through to death of medium sized rodents within 100 ft.
Lol!!

Agreed -if it doesn't cut your head off with kindness -I mean cleanness - it is not a healthy Twin.
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14th May 2013
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I'd look at the Power Tubes And the Bias Adjust mod First.
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14th May 2013
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The power tubes and speakers are fine, I have tested them in other amps and they are both new. I guess I will try to undo the mods and see what happens.

Does anybody know how the hum balance pot in the back of the amp is wired? On my hum balance pot somebody added two resistors and I can't find any layouts that show how this pot is supposed to be wired. I attached a picture of mine and if you zoom in to the bottom right you can see this pot.
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1975 Twin Reverb breaks up too quickly-_ads9209.jpg  
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14th May 2013
Old 14th May 2013
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What plate voltage reading are you getting? What do you have the idle plate current set to? Is the OT original? What resistance readings are you getting on each side of the OT?
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15th May 2013
Old 15th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Porto View Post
What plate voltage reading are you getting? What do you have the idle plate current set to? Is the OT original? What resistance readings are you getting on each side of the OT?
I'm getting a plate voltage reading of 450V and the idle plate current is about 41mA. The OT is original, how do you measure the resistance of the OT?

*edit - The plate voltage is at 442V
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15th May 2013
Old 15th May 2013
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First post, couldn't resist...

What's the AC voltage? I've found, for Silverface amps, around 117vAC is a nice area to run a Fender. They were designed back when wall voltage was sub 120vAC. Chances are your wall voltage is a bit, or a lot, higher than 120.

The plate voltage is fine, the bias... it's a little on the warm side. Start around 32, or 30mA and play the amp while you adjust the bias. When you turn the bias down, you plates are going to go up a bit, keep that in mind.

So, to sum it up. VariAC... 117vAC, drop the idle down to around 30 to 32mA and take a listen.

Another trick... this is "old school... how to run an amp." Turn the volume of the amp up, above 7 is a good place to start. Turn the guitar down. Run the bass a lot lower than you think you'd like, no more than 3. Keep the treble up... over 8. Adjust the mid control to taste.
You'll have some glorious clean tone... I promise.
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15th May 2013
Old 15th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 58Roadrunner View Post
First post, couldn't resist...

What's the AC voltage? I've found, for Silverface amps, around 117vAC is a nice area to run a Fender. They were designed back when wall voltage was sub 120vAC. Chances are your wall voltage is a bit, or a lot, higher than 120.

The plate voltage is fine, the bias... it's a little on the warm side. Start around 32, or 30mA and play the amp while you adjust the bias. When you turn the bias down, you plates are going to go up a bit, keep that in mind.

So, to sum it up. VariAC... 117vAC, drop the idle down to around 30 to 32mA and take a listen.

Another trick... this is "old school... how to run an amp." Turn the volume of the amp up, above 7 is a good place to start. Turn the guitar down. Run the bass a lot lower than you think you'd like, no more than 3. Keep the treble up... over 8. Adjust the mid control to taste.
You'll have some glorious clean tone... I promise.
Hmm - I have 3 blackface Fender amps, and they run fine on 120vAC, but haven't tried them with a Variac. What's the sonic difference or other benefits?
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16th May 2013
Old 16th May 2013
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You may be getting the distortion prior to the power amp. What are your preamp and phase inverter tubes?

And what resistors to "ground"? AFAIK, Twin Reverbs never used a cathode resistor. Did he mean the screen grid (pin 4)? Those don't go to ground. Put them back. Or maybe he meant the grid resistors (pin 5). Same thing, put them back.

No matter what the amp is biased to, at 3-4 there is no way you're getting breakup from the speakers.
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16th May 2013
Old 16th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
You may be getting the distortion prior to the power amp. What are your preamp and phase inverter tubes?

And what resistors to "ground"? AFAIK, Twin Reverbs never used a cathode resistor. Did he mean the screen grid (pin 4)? Those don't go to ground. Put them back. Or maybe he meant the grid resistors (pin 5). Same thing, put them back.

No matter what the amp is biased to, at 3-4 there is no way you're getting breakup from the speakers.
It's definitely not the speakers breaking up. I am using the recommended 12ax7 and 12at7 tubes in the designated places, I bought them new from Doug's Tubes.

I don't know what he meant by resistors to ground, maybe he was confused since he owned many amps. The screen and grid resistors are still there, two of the tubes seem to have them replaced but with the original values. It seems maybe he did some funky wiring I just can't figure it out. I'll do a thorough check after work. Here is a picture of the power tubes.
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17th May 2013
Old 17th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob Zanin View Post
It's definitely not the speakers breaking up. I am using the recommended 12ax7 and 12at7 tubes in the designated places, I bought them new from Doug's Tubes.

I don't know what he meant by resistors to ground, maybe he was confused since he owned many amps. The screen and grid resistors are still there, two of the tubes seem to have them replaced but with the original values. It seems maybe he did some funky wiring I just can't figure it out. I'll do a thorough check after work. Here is a picture of the power tubes.
Yeah, he must have been confused about that.

Probably not the preamp tubes, then, although you never know. You might have a bad phase inverter. It's better to get one with matched sections, although they didn't exist when your amp was new.

The weird thing is that the screen and grid resistors that have been replaced aren't a pair. You've got old ones on one side, and new ones on the other. The originals had 10% tolerance, so the actual value isn't really critical. Still, I'd replace all of them and see what happens. It could be that when the one side burned out, the other also overheated, or has changed value significantly just through age. That could be the issue right there.

Otherwise, the wiring here looks normal. There's a different gauge between the heaters on the repaired tubes, but that won't affect anything.

The more I think about it, the more it sounds like the power section isn't operating in symmetry. Try pulling one pair of tubes (i.e. inner or outer), and then the other. If just one of those screen or grid resistors is flakey, then it should clean up. If it doesn't, then it could be that the old and new are significantly different, and I'd go ahead with replacing all of them.
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17th May 2013
Old 17th May 2013
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In the picture of my power tubes, the black and white wires from TR1 to the fuse and the on/off switch are wired differently than on the wiring diagram. Can anyone shed some light on this, does it even matter?
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17th May 2013
Old 17th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
The more I think about it, the more it sounds like the power section isn't operating in symmetry. Try pulling one pair of tubes (i.e. inner or outer), and then the other. If just one of those screen or grid resistors is flakey, then it should clean up. If it doesn't, then it could be that the old and new are significantly different, and I'd go ahead with replacing all of them.
I'll try that next, thanks.
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17th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob Zanin View Post
In the picture of my power tubes, the black and white wires from TR1 to the fuse and the on/off switch are wired differently than on the wiring diagram. Can anyone shed some light on this, does it even matter?
It won't matter.
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18th May 2013
Old 18th May 2013
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Originally Posted by kafka View Post
Probably not the preamp tubes, then, although you never know. You might have a bad phase inverter. It's better to get one with matched sections, although they didn't exist when your amp was new.
I do have matched sections in my phase inverter tube. I did just discover that the two resistors that go to the grid (pins 2 and 7) on the phase inverter were both replaced with 2M resistors. Now I have seen some schematics with 1M or 33K resistors, but never 2M in this spot. Maybe this could be a problem.
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18th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob Zanin View Post
I do have matched sections in my phase inverter tube. I did just discover that the two resistors that go to the grid (pins 2 and 7) on the phase inverter were both replaced with 2M resistors. Now I have seen some schematics with 1M or 33K resistors, but never 2M in this spot. Maybe this could be a problem.
Not likely. They're just used to provide grid bias reference voltage to the PI. As long as they're both equal and functional, 1M or 2M really won't make much difference in that application.

Once again, putting back the original values never hurts.
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18th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
Not likely. They're just used to provide grid bias reference voltage to the PI. As long as they're both equal and functional, 1M or 2M really won't make much difference in that application.
Well, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss this as not being the culprit, or at least having a noticeable effect on the sound. As you said, this resistor influences how the triode is biased, and therefore dictates how much current flows through the tube while sitting idle. the larger this resistor, the bigger voltage drop across it, and the more the Cathode goes negative relative to the grid. The tube becomes more sensitive, (more current flows through its cathode for a given grid voltage) and will affect the signal flow.
I wouldn't be surprised at all if this is the reason the previous owner put those resistors there. Either way, reverting back to 1Meg will definitely get you closer to the original sound, but you also have to ensure the proper tubes are there. 12AU7 or 12AY7 in the phase inverter, I can't remember but a phase inverter usually does have gain, so if a higher gain tube such as a 12AX7 (or 7025, mil-spec tube) has been installed, then yeah, the amp's gonna break up sooner.

How far along are you in reverting to original part values?

It would be interesting to hear a sound clip, too.

Quote:
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Once again, putting back the original values never hurts.
Yes. But first, get a schematic, they are all over the web!
cheers adn DONT GET ELECTROCUTED! DISCHARGE THE ELECTROLYTICS!
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18th May 2013
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Originally Posted by 2N1305 View Post
Well, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss this as not being the culprit, or at least having a noticeable effect on the sound. As you said, this resistor influences how the triode is biased, and therefore dictates how much current flows through the tube while sitting idle. the larger this resistor, the bigger voltage drop across it, and the more the Cathode goes negative relative to the grid. The tube becomes more sensitive, (more current flows through its cathode for a given grid voltage) and will affect the signal flow.
I wouldn't be surprised at all if this is the reason the previous owner put those resistors there. Either way, reverting back to 1Meg will definitely get you closer to the original sound, but you also have to ensure the proper tubes are there. 12AU7 or 12AY7 in the phase inverter, I can't remember but a phase inverter usually does have gain, so if a higher gain tube such as a 12AX7 (or 7025, mil-spec tube) has been installed, then yeah, the amp's gonna break up sooner.

How far along are you in reverting to original part values?

It would be interesting to hear a sound clip, too.



Yes. But first, get a schematic, they are all over the web!
cheers adn DONT GET ELECTROCUTED! DISCHARGE THE ELECTROLYTICS!
Thanks for the advice, I got some good schematics and I always check the voltages and take all necessary precautions. It's good to post that anyway in case other people are trying to attempt this.

I just looked in the doghouse for the first time and the filter caps are almost 40 years old! The guy told me he had them changed and I assumed they would be new enough. But it seems he has told me things that he did to a different amp because this is the third thing he's told me that hasn't been true about this amp. I can't imagine if he sold this amp to somebody who was clueless as to how to fix it. I guess it's time to change the filter caps and the two resistors in there. Any recommendations for the caps?

I am going to assume that no caps have been changed, so what other caps inside the chassis should potentially be changed? Any resistors as well? I am already going to change the two resistors on each power tube.

Also, how do I check the transformers to make sure they are still operating fine?
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20th May 2013
Old 20th May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob Zanin View Post
Thanks for the advice, I got some good schematics and I always check the voltages and take all necessary precautions. It's good to post that anyway in case other people are trying to attempt this.

I just looked in the doghouse for the first time and the filter caps are almost 40 years old! The guy told me he had them changed and I assumed they would be new enough. But it seems he has told me things that he did to a different amp because this is the third thing he's told me that hasn't been true about this amp. I can't imagine if he sold this amp to somebody who was clueless as to how to fix it. I guess it's time to change the filter caps and the two resistors in there.
It's high time! vintage tone only goes so far until it stops giving tone or explodes...

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Originally Posted by Jacob Zanin View Post
Any recommendations for the caps?
No, except whatever you will find available at Antique electronics supply, commonly known as Tubesandmore.com (here's their capacitor page: Antique Electronic Supply )

I find no value in using high-grade audio capacitors, regular caps (Mallory and whatever they sell is usually fine). After all this isn't high-end audio...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob Zanin View Post
I am going to assume that no caps have been changed, so what other caps inside the chassis should potentially be changed? Any resistors as well? I am already going to change the two resistors on each power tube.

Also, how do I check the transformers to make sure they are still operating fine?
Usually the ceramic caps (low values, between the volume pots and tubes) last a long time, like, say 75 years. But all electrolytics should be changed, the cathode resistor bypass caps (25uF I believe) should be replaced with same value (well, it depends on how authentic you want to remain) and equal voltage or higher.

I'd say it's usually not necessary to check the transformers because you can tell if they're working if the amplifier works. Well enough to know there isn't an internal short somewhere. To get to the nitty-gritty,you can verify the windings with an ohmmeter but you should have a reference, meaning, knowing what the transformer's windings are supposed to measure... Or you can assume that if you read equal resistance values across each side of a centre tap, then it's OK.
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20th May 2013
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The purpose of the filter caps is to pass AC to ground post the rectifier, giving you a DC output from the power supply. The main symptom that your filter caps have gone bad is hum. I don't think it's likely to be the source of your problem. That said, it's a cheap reapair and easy on Fenders, so if you have time, it doesn't hurt to go ahead and do it. As 2N1305 said, just get some Mallory's. Just make sure you discharge the old ones before you touch them.

A lot of techs use a variac to power up the new caps slowly. This is the best practice, but it's not really 100% necessary.

And I agree with 2N1305 on the transformers. Your power transformer is undoubtedly good. The output transformer should be fine if resistance measures the same on both sides. Make sure you check that with the power off.
#29
20th May 2013
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Just below 10 my TRRI will start to break up a little. I have to be in the next county to use that though. Something is rotten.
#30
23rd May 2013
Old 23rd May 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2N1305 View Post
12AU7 or 12AY7 in the phase inverter, I can't remember but a phase inverter usually does have gain, so if a higher gain tube such as a 12AX7 (or 7025, mil-spec tube) has been installed, then yeah, the amp's gonna break up sooner.
Phase inverter on any twin reverb should be 12AT7. He may have installed a 12AX7/7025 to get more gain - the pre-cbs Fenders with the presence control used an AX in this position.

QUESTION - does the problem occur equally in both channels? I'm thinking there may be a bad cathode bypass cap (the 25mfd/25V electrolytics) causing the problem. On these amps this cap is usually a double cap unless it's been replaced.
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