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Where the early solid state Fender amps that bad?

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  • Where the early solid state Fender amps that bad?

    I don't think I have ever seen an early Fender solid state amp in real life and only very rarely seen one for sale. I have heard horror stories about how unreliable these amps were. Has anyone worked on one or played through one?

  • #2
    I'd say that they were as reliable as the old Thomas Organ Vox amps were. You probably see fewer of them because they didn't sell very well.

    I have a few of them, a Deluxe Reverb and a Super Reverb and a PA head. They don't sound like the tube versions and are not very service friendly. They are built with an early version of fiberglass pc boards that seem to have been designed by a TV set manufacturer that didn't understand that a guitar amp was moved, dropped, vibrated, etc.

    Early Kustom amps were better made, so were Acoustic Control amps and generally they sounded better too.

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    • #3
      *Were...... (My spelling and grammar skills have become worse.)

      I could be wrong but believe a few amp manufacturers had problems transitioning from tube to solid state.

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      • #4
        How early?

        I have a Fender London Reverb that's pretty awesome.
        --
        I build and repair guitar amps
        http://amps.monkeymatic.com

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        • #5
          Originally posted by xtian View Post
          How early?

          I have a Fender London Reverb that's pretty awesome.
          They are referring to the zodiac and other late 60’s & early 70’s Solid state amps. The London Reverb was early 80’s and was a great sounding amp for sure.

          I always reference Stratopastor site for information on these amps.

          https://www.stratopastor.org.uk/stra...tefenders.html

          Edit: of course the previous posts didn’t mention the Zodiac amps but they are cut of the same cloth.
          When the going gets weird... The weird turn pro!

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          • #6
            Similar question here. In decades of repair, I've seen maybe one or two 60's Fender solid state amps if that. So long ago I have no recollection. Maybe that's a good thing. In any case did the 60's SS Fenders use germanium or silicon transistors/diodes etc? I know early Vox SS amps did, making them a further PIA to service. Among other reasons...

            80's Fender SS amps like the London did OK to some extent, at least the simpler ones. One customer had a heavyweight 1x12 combo called "Showman". Felt like a boxful of sledge hammers when you picked it up. It was constantly having problems with dodgy controls and multipin connectors. IMHO too complex for its own good, 9 or 10 band graphic EQ and all. Of course no repair could be done without unassing the entire PC board, feh! Made my day when its owner finally ditched it and concentrated on good ol' tube Fenders.
            This isn't the future I signed up for.

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            • #7
              Don't recall on the guitar amps, but earlier Rhodes Piano amps used germanium. Fender even issued a notice on how to convert them to silicon.
              Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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              • #8
                Yeah I am not sure if the outputs are germanium. I worked on a Taurus amp and the output was doing great. All the small capacitors spewed up electrolyte all over the huge preamp board. Cleaned up the mess and amp sounded good. A year later we found a buyer for the amp but upon inspection it did not pass signal. One small electro had given up and after replacing it sounded good again. At that point I pulled out the many electrolytics and replaced them, as I should have from the beginning.

                The best feature on those amps was the JBL speakers which are probably missing from them all by now.
                When the going gets weird... The weird turn pro!

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                • #9
                  Yes I am referring to the Zodiac series and ones that look like the picture. Click image for larger version

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                  • #10
                    Oh, I forgot about Germanium transistors. I asked an EE friend of mine why old Musicman amps were solid state preamp and tube output. His response was that they had not perfected output transistors and tubes were more reliable.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DrGonz78 View Post
                      The best feature on those amps was the JBL speakers which are probably missing from them all by now.
                      Wasn't aware of the JBL connection. From now on I'll be alert to find any of these relics. As if I need more speakers...

                      Meanwhile, I recently scored a metric shit ton of Ge xtors, and plan to offer some in our flea market.You friendly MEF folks will get first crack at 'em. Signal & output. Gotta get 'em organized first. That's a deep winter project for sure. Watch this space... or that one.

                      This isn't the future I signed up for.

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                      • #12
                        Here's a Fender Scorpio on flea bay...

                        I'm tempted.... for no earthly logical reason....

                        https://www.ebay.ca/itm/Vintage-1969...97.m4902.l9144

                        If it ain't broke I'll fix it until it is...
                        I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous...

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                        • #13
                          Shipping alone (to Canada) is worth about double what I value the amp at.
                          "Everything is better with a tube. I have a customer with an all-tube pacemaker. His heartbeat is steady, reassuring and dependable, not like a modern heartbeat. And if it goes wrong he can fix it himself. You can't do that with SMD." - Mick Bailey

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                          • #14
                            Sorry, but I have no earthly idea why someone would pay 600 bucks for one of those.
                            "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by The Dude View Post
                              Sorry, but I have no earthly idea why someone would pay 600 bucks for one of those.
                              Originally posted by g1 View Post
                              Shipping alone (to Canada) is worth about double what I value the amp at.
                              Ya.... I didn't say I was seriously thinking about it...

                              I'm sure it won't be hard to say "Pass" on this one....
                              If it ain't broke I'll fix it until it is...
                              I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous...

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