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Thread: Best sounding SS amp you all have encountered?

  1. #71
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    Well, I recently added an "AC30SS" ( a mid '70s design proposed by Vox as a solid state version of the AC30 ) to my collection, and, though it doesn't sound like my 1964 TB ( neither I expected it to do so ) I have been pleasantly surprised by its warmth ( if compared to other SS designs ) and dynamics.

    I also opened it to inspect it and do some maintenance ( pots cleaning ), and I found it to be well built. The schematic is printed in black on the amp's chassis.

    This model has not been successful, ( it was a game lost from the start, as it's opponent was the "real" AC30 ) but I think this was by no means due to the way it sounded, but rather due by a "strategic" marketing error, because they proposed it as an AC30 while in fact it was not, maybe it could have been more successful under another name.....who knows?

    All I can say is it's a very sweet sounding amp, you would not say it's SS, most SS amps sound excessively clean, "dry" or even "harsh", but not this one.

    Best regards

    Bob

  2. #72
    Noodle of Reality Steve Conner's Avatar
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    Hello Voxrules,

    Any driver or output transformers in there?
    "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

  3. #73
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    Hi Steve,
    nope, no driver or output trannies, the output stage features two 2N3055
    driven by a complementary couple of BD537/538, the trem circuit sports a couple of FETs ( 2N3819 ), the preamp uses two RC4136, the schematic can be found here :

    http://www.voxamps.com/downloads/circuits/ac30ss.jpg

    As you will see it' s not a good scan; if you need a better image I' ll open mine again, take the chassis off and lay it directly on my scanner to get a decent quality scan.

    Best regards

    Bob

  4. #74
    Noodle of Reality Steve Conner's Avatar
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    No, it's OK, I've already seen the op-amps and run a mile
    "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

  5. #75
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    Well, I didn't know op-amps could scare you so much, Steve! Is this because of the way they sound or because they look like little spiders?

    I wouldn't be too hard on op-amps, even if we all LOVE tube amps sometimes we stumble upon some good sounding piece of Silicon.....this is one of these times IMHO ( after all, this is what this thread is all about ).

    Best regards

    Bob

  6. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by billybillybilly View Post
    there was a mid 70s company called 'road electronics' ... i think its what bud ross did after kustom . anyway , all solid state bass amps . the tone is very middle of the road so they also sound good with guitar . i have one , a combo with a 15 , that has no model name or anything identifying (other than 'road' on the front panel and a serial on the back) and i use it for guitar ... and people at the shows are allways asking me about it and saying it sound like tubes , and when i tell em its a 70s all ss bass amp they look at me like im an idiot .
    so anyway , im voting for the old 'Road' amps .
    i heard that one of their sales tactics was to hold a floor model about chest high , throw it on the ground , then plug it back in to show the customer it still works !
    i think their most popular model was the '440 bass' (which i have a schematic for if anyone needs/wants to see it) .
    one more thing , if anyone comes across one of those old 'road' amps and doesnt want it , please let me know , im allways on the hunt for the jokers !
    I just bought a Road 440 Bass, and found this thread in my search for info.

    On the back, it shows its origin as LA, not Kansas. It's working fine, is pretty light for the size and power, and seems that it will sound good on bass.

    Billy, I'd really appreciate a scan of the manual, schematics, whatever.

  7. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian H. View Post
    I just bought a Road 440 Bass, and found this thread in my search for info.

    On the back, it shows its origin as LA, not Kansas. It's working fine, is pretty light for the size and power, and seems that it will sound good on bass.

    Billy, I'd really appreciate a scan of the manual, schematics, whatever.

    hey Brian ,

    have you opened yours up yet ? it might still have the schematic inside like mine did ! does yours have the wooden sides ? geez i wish i had the manual . id like to see how they describe the 'effects' knob ... it seems to act as a compressor of sorts .

    anyway , shoot me a PM with your email and ill shoot ya the schematic and some pics . i suppose i should just post em somewhere since it seems to be the only one available .

    but , as far as the Kansas/LA thing , i believe they started in Kansas and ended up in the big city later on before finally being sold off to rickenbacker in the early 80's and then discontinued .

  8. #78
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    Hi Billy & Brian,

    back in the days I had a Road 220 bass amp. It failed at the first gig (blown output transistor, turned out to be a BD183 instead of the RCA 2N6259). It was still under warranty, so no problem. The catch was that I was the tech who did the warranty repairs for that particular shop
    Still got the service manual, including all schematics and layouts. If you need something, let me know.
    Sold the amp to a student last year, still sounds great. Never had a failure since that blown transistor.

    Cheers,
    Albert

  9. #79
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    Great!

    Thanks for jumping in, Albert!

    I pulled my 440 bass chassis out of the case to spray the pots. Talk about your wide open spaces! There's lots of room in that huge box. It's nice and clean still, and the only evidence of prior failure is an obviously changed bridge rectifier. It has a square package now, and there is an extra tapped mounting hole and sink grease residue from a TO case sort of device.

    Now, the big mystery- What are they doing with the effect control? It's a push-pull pot that I assumed was a FX return level control. Upon investigation, it became apparent that the input marked "effect" gets you into the 2nd channel of the amp (lead channel). Billy thought that the effect control might give compression. I did notice an increase in level with the knob turned clockwise. Pulling the knob out changes something as well. There isn't anything like an EFX loop provision for that knob to control.

    Also, why have a separate 5-band graphic EQ, available only to the 2nd channel? Each input already has separate 3-band tone controls. Maybe the line out is pre-graphic EQ?

    Sorry for pestering,
    Brian

  10. #80
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    Hi Brian,

    the "effects" circuit is an adjustable diode clipper, so the output level decreases when you turn it up. The pull switch adds a coil for some kind of midrange boost.
    The line out is "post-everything", just a voltage divider from the speaker output.
    The EQ was an add-on, some models didn't have it.

    The complete manual is a 1.74MB zip file, Billy already has it

    Cheers,
    Albert
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails road01.jpg  

  11. #81
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    Thanks again!
    I was going to waste huge time on the function of that knob (I did NOT just say that!).
    I printed the second channel preamp/effects schematics for my studying pleasure.

    Thanks again
    Brian

  12. #82
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    Oooohhhh

    Quote Originally Posted by Albert Kreuzer View Post
    ... the "effects" circuit is an adjustable diode clipper, so the output level decreases when you turn it up. The pull switch adds a coil for some kind of midrange boost ...

    yup , that makes sense , squish and clip .

    by the way , the info that .zip file is awesome !

  13. #83
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    Road Combo Amp 1X15

    Hey BillyBillyBilly,
    I recently acquired the amp above. It's a beast, but has some good tone. There are some issues with some fuzzy/farty sounds along with the regular sound though. I'm guessing it might need a cap job. I'm also perplexed by the "effects" knob. When I turn it up, the volume goes up as well with a little extra crunch. Would love to check out that zip file I saw mentioned in earlier posts. Any info would be appreciated.
    Cheers
    Kevin

  14. #84
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    hey ubiquity55 !

    the circuit in those is pretty simple . preamp module runs on 12vs so its easy enough to pull and test it alone to see if thats where the noise is coming from . i would check to make sure all the voltage rails are correct , that could lead to that wierd fuzzfart youre talking about . i havent looked into replacing those big filter caps yet . big blue Mallory cancaps - 50v@16000uf or something crazy like that right ? probably about $30-$40 each .
    anyway , shoot me your email address in a pm and ill get ya that info !
    also , the 'effects' knob is a sort of soft clipper . it seems to act (to me) like a bit of a compressor in that it makes it louder 2-5 and then less dynamic (squished) in the upper range 6-10 . i dont really use it though .
    glad to see there are still some of these things laying around !

  15. #85
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    Fender

    I have a early 90's fender priceton 112 65 watt combo. Great clean sound and distortion not bad for classic rock and blues. This thing rocks you cant turn the volume past 1 with driving yourself out of the room. Very crisp sound with a tubes warm feeling. best SS i ever had.

  16. #86
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    Fender Stage Lead 100

    This is the only real solid state I ever owned. I bought it new in 1985. I remember my parents being mad at me because I was going to college and they thought it was a waste of money. I liked the PA section a lot. The front end was OK clean. Plugging a tube preamp into the effects return sounded real sweet!
    Crate V33h, Peavey Classic 30h & 100h, Traynor YCV20WR

  17. #87
    Junior Member dustyoldamp's Avatar
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    my fave ss amp was/is a early 80's yamaha g100-112.

    sweet, sweet clean tones and the original speaker went great with the "overdrive" channel of the amp, quite celestion-like but i blew it out playing bass gigs through it.

    i replaced the speaker with a kendrick blackframe ten years ago and the amp hasn't sounded right since as far as the overdrive aspect goes.

    am planning on switching out the blackframe for something with more midrange to it so as to recapture the magic of he amp.

  18. #88
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    Crate, Behringer

    I'm a poor bottom-feeder that has come up with 2 cheap amps that I think sound great.

    My favorite is the Behringer AC-112 Vintager 60 watt combo. It does have a 12ax7 in the preamp (sovtec 12ax7lps, changed to new Tungsol), but is a virtualizer stereo efx engine in a 1x12 with a 70 watt Jensen.

    Next is a Crate Retrofex RFX200S 2x12 stereo combo, 2 x 70 watts stereo, or 2 x 100 watts with an extension cab.
    This amp can do anything. It's got beautiful JC-style stereo chorus, but lower noise. Gain and stupid gain channels, a bunch more efx, and a pair of celestion seventy/80's.

  19. #89
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    Well..If you are going to include modern modeling amps, I just picked up a Line 6 Spider 212 100w amp chassis. I got it super cheap so I figured what the hey. This thing blew me away. I mean it isn't a high end tube amp, but it is definitely versitile over a wide range of usable volumes, styles, and effects, a very good compromise. I am going to use the line out for recording. I'm still trying to locate some technical info on the foot controller since I can't bring myself to pay more for the controller than I did the amp. It definitely is a better sounding amp than the old Marshall Lead 100 MOSFET that I picked up a while back which truthfully isn't that bad. I still prefer my 18 watt EL84 clone but the Spider is usable and more appropriate for some situations.

  20. #90
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    Deja Vu

    The Behringer is probably a ripoff of a line 6. I'm losing brain cells trying to figure out the midi foot controller that I picked up for it. I'm fast approaching "Hell with it".

    If we're supposed to be limiting ourselves to old-school ss, we have an old Fender sidekick 15 Chorus that serves famously. Really quite decent.

    There are benefits to being easily pleased!

  21. #91
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    Probably the wordt sounding for clean but really cool for dry edgy overdrive tones with loots of bass ommpth is a 25 watt Traynor TS-25B with 1 15" spk. Rocks!...feedback swells and all !

  22. #92
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    Just a follow-up...
    I just scored a bargain on an Ibanez 7-string that I'll be flipping. That 3rd channel on the RFX200S- with the stupid gain, produces the most sinister sounds ever heard in our house. We now have to get out the tele and find our happy place! I'm worried that the house will develop cold spots, and evp's will be talking straight from hell through the amps.

    Anybody need a seriously dark chunka-chugga kind of guitar to frighten the neighbors (and maybe themselves)?

  23. #93
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    Smile SS amps

    Hmmm...I kinda liked my Lab Series 212 100w... with 2 12" speakers it really sang, but I never really could get the hard distortion I craved..still, it was indestructible! (sold it for, like, $100...shux..shoulda kept it!)

  24. #94
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    Hi all!

    Quote Originally Posted by RickyD View Post
    Anybody else play an Acoustic 150? That was a very
    powerful ss amp, super cleans. And the for bass players among us, I suggest a moment of silent respect for the Acoustic 370, which was the fattest baddest bass amp on the planet until the SVT came along.
    I actually play a Peavey T-60 drop tuned through an Acoustic 140 pretty regularly. It actually does cleans very nicely on a guitar...for most of the fretboard. It lacks a little bit of spice on high notes, as you might imagine. Luckily, I don't need those too often...

  25. #95
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    I had an Acoustic 135 (2X12 100 watt combo) back in the day. It didn't have any OD or distortion, but a decent reverb and tremolo. I used it for guitar for a while, then for keyboards. Even slaved a Fender Champ through it using a Peavey E.D.I. box. It was a reliable and versatile piece of gear. Other Acoustic users include Albert King, Mike Stern, and Spirit.
    Another great SS amp is the Peavey Special 130. The Saturation control, combined with the parametric midrange could produce some nice tubescreamer like OD.

  26. #96
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    I have the Road 440. I'd like to sell it if you're interested. I live in Ca and will only be here till the 29th of August. I live in Spain but I'm in Ca visiting my parents.

  27. #97
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    I have to tell you, the new ZT Lunchbox amps, one of which I now possess, sound so good for SS that I STILL can't wrap my head around it!

    Prior to that, I like the old Mike Matthews Freedom Amp and Dirt Road special for rock tones, and the venerable JC-120 for the best clean tones ever next to a Twin Reverb. Overall favorite SS is the Tech 21 Trademark 60.
    John R. Frondelli
    dBm Pro Audio Services, New York, NY

    "Mediocre is the new 'Good' "

  28. #98
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    Roland JC-120

    The Roland JC-120 is hands down the best clean sound you can get from a solid-state amplifier. I bought my '70s pawn shop special for $165:

    For rock and metal, you have to drive it with one of those '80s processors that sounds so crappy on my tube amps. Fortunately, there are tons of those around these days for under $100.

  29. #99
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    From what I've gathered, there are a few different versions of the JC-120, are there any that are considered to be "better" than the others?
    -Mike

  30. #100
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    To be honest I don't know about the different versions. I know that mine was made sometime in the 70's. Both the chorus and reverb on this amp sound great, expecially when used together. This amp will go from 1 to 10 without really changing the sound, unlike my tube amps where you have to find the sweet spot to drive the power tubes to produce harmonics. I would assume that the re-issue version uses newer manufacturing technology, which is not always a bad thing. From my limited experience in electronics, I am finding that for newer products, a lot of the manufacturers are cutting corners on the capacitors, transformers and speakers.

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    I think the earlier JC-120s didn't have a variable control for the chorus so it's kinda full-on or off.
    I do know you could dial in the chorus on the JC-77s [I ran a pair for a while] which allowed you to get a more subtle sound, not fully "underwater."

  32. #102
    Supporting Member tubeswell's Avatar
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    Someone offered to swap a Roland JC120 for one of my tube amps earlier this year, but I couldn't bring myself to part with my amp for that.
    Building a better world (one tube amp at a time)

  33. #103
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    Quote Originally Posted by Baxtercat View Post
    I think the earlier JC-120s didn't have a variable control for the chorus so it's kinda full-on or off.
    I do know you could dial in the chorus on the JC-77s [I ran a pair for a while] which allowed you to get a more subtle sound, not fully "underwater."
    The JC-120’s have a switch labelled Vib/Off/Chorus, and the Speed and Depth potentiometer controls only work in the “Vibrato” mode. However, the “Chorus” feature was nothing but a Vibrato using fixed values for speed and depth.

    Later on, some JC-series amplifiers (including JC-120H) labelled the control more accurately: Chorus (Manual/Off/Fixed). The potentiometer controls (now labelled Rate and Depth) naturally worked only in manual mode while fixed mode had - surprise - fixed values.

    Both circuits were identical, only labelling in the front panel was different.

    The initial, somewhat confusing labelling still remains in the JC-120 combos. I think the reason for this is that some people believe that Vibrato and Chorus are different features and would get upset if either one was suddenly “removed”.

    Yes there are many versions of these amps. Since its a darn clean amp to begin with they all sound about the same. I think that you could spot some differences though assuming there was a change to A/B different versions. Some of those amps used (now obsolete) ICs in the preamp, some had discrete preamps, some had preamps based on OpAmps. The model of BBD chips and the chorus circuit has been revised few times, as well as the front panel switches (either rotary or rocker ones) and some of the features housed in the rear panel. There were also some minor differences that I can't remember from top of the head.

    I don't know about the newest versions but based on how widely alternate revisions of JC-120's seem to differ I wouldn't be surprised if the new ones had a digital chorus (after all, manufacturing of BBDs has been discontinued) and two 60W chip amps for power section.

  34. #104
    Junior Member BIGKAHUNA's Avatar
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    Best SS amp for me, hands down was the Peavey XXL Combo. Awesome practice amp with serviceable tone all the way around.

    I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the...I know I'll get hammered for this....Crate G40C. Dirt poor and trying survive in the 80's its all I had...actually mic'd it up and did a few shows at a hole in the wall bar. Ahhhh those were the days May I never re-live that again!

  35. #105
    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Wow,

    Who would have thunk this thread would would live as long as it has???

    Long live SS amps...

    BTW, my favorite SS amp right now is a older Fender Frontman 25R with the metal grill on the front. Its a decent amp if you run it thru a 2x12 cab with celestions and only play it at home in the bedroom... I also run a Ibanez Distortion charger pedal and a digidelay pedal on the clean channel though using a custom made strat.

    Good for just noodling. I don't know if it would work for a gig though since I do not gig anymore due to health problems.

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