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Where the early solid state Fender amps that bad?

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  • #16
    Originally posted by galaxiex View Post



    Ya.... I didn't say I was seriously thinking about it...
    I thought maybe it was your sign. Or you needed this one to complete a whole set.

    "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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    • #17
      Fender had that JBL option on their amps. The Taurus amp I worked on was missing the JBL’s. Only reason I knew it came with JBL speakers was it had a JBL badge on the grill cloth. Someone put car speakers in the amp when I got it. I at least put some fender speakers back in the thing but not sure the amp was truly worth doing that. Perhaps it was for the fact that the amp was very rare and is a bit of Fender history.
      When the going gets weird... The weird turn pro!

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      • #18
        Originally posted by g1 View Post
        I thought maybe it was your sign. Or you needed this one to complete a whole set.
        Nah, I’m Aquarius so a little flaky....

        I see shiny objects and want them and then realize later not such a good idea.
        If it ain't broke I'll fix it until it is...
        I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous...

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        • #19
          Probably had the early solid-state design failures: thermal bias drift, outputs blowing at complex loads, inefficient short circuit protections. I also remember reading that Fender employees didn't clean the soldering machines frequently, which resulted to failing solder joints. So yes, flaky.

          And no, they were not like the tube amps with same model names. Nor they were intented to be. Fender totally wanted to improve upon that stuff and exploit the new technology, perhaps even obsolete the tube stuff completely. You will not find tube amps with e.g. active tone controls, preset responses (Bassman IIRC) or built-in distortion effects (Super Showman) from that era. The Super Showman system, which was the flagship of solid-state guitar amps of that short era, even featured a tube emulation and an oil can echo.

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          • #20
            I don't understand why the unverified stories about Fender Early 70's Solid-State Amps.
            For that time used modern silicon transistors 2N3053, 2N3772, 2N3391, 2N4037, F1175 (FET !!!) ... ...
            https://music-electronics-forum.com/forum/schematic-requests/35546-fender-early-70-s-solid-state-amp-schematics?t=34647

            Fender of that era was known per JBL speakers.
            https://pro.harman.com/insights/harman-pro/loud-and-clear-the-story-of-jbl-fender/

            First get acquainted with the documentation, and then develop your story ... ...
            It's All Over Now

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            • #21
              https://gitec-forum.de/wp-content/up...everb_pt_2.pdf
              - Own Opinions Only -

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              • #22
                Originally posted by teemuk View Post
                I also remember reading that Fender employees didn't clean the soldering machines frequently, which resulted to failing solder joints. So yes, flaky.
                Similar for early Acoustic and Peavey amps. I learned to search the solder side of the board for connections that had a "volcano" appearance, a cone with a small depression atop, and the component lead sticking through that, often not stuck to the solder. I blame this on assembly with corroded component leads, and these failures often featured a component lead with obvious grey, tan, brown surface. As long as nothing else suffered, like a domino-effect failure in a power amp, these were simple enough to fix. Except of course for having to remove the entire pcb along with a raft of pots stuck thru the front panel plus the associated reassembly. Store owners & I called these Peavey Syndrome and Acoustic Disease. Or was it Peavey Disease and Acoustic Syndrome. Whatever... Peavey eventually got better at making reliable pcb's and their business thrived. Acoustic, not so much. Fender, as long as they stuck to their knitting, making p2p tube amps, kept plugging along and we all have respect for them. That their early SS amps didn't sell well, also aren't much available on the second-hand market, indicates they were not accepted. Despite any theories to the contrary, if the product stinks, people find out and avoid it.

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                This isn't the future I signed up for.

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                • #24
                  I seem to remember that all of the Zodiac amps came with JBL speakers as standard equipment.

                  The earlier Solid State amps looked to me to try and compete with the Thomas Organ Vox amps. Fancy trim pieces, piping on the cabinets, shiny aluminum knobs. In other words, fancy trim with no real substance. The power amps were of the same design type as the TO Vox amps with the transformer coupled driver/phase splitter.

                  I used to see a lot of the early amps stripped of all of the speakers and hardware parts as they were the same things that were used on the black face amps. The speakers would all have the the correct 66-67 date codes and the handles and corners would match as well.

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                  • #25
                    Originally posted by 52 Bill View Post
                    Fancy trim pieces, piping on the cabinets, shiny aluminum knobs. In other words, fancy trim with no real substance.
                    I believe certain cosmetic appearance was fad of the times. IIRC, they actuallyvwon awards with the design and the heatsink cooling "chimney" was ahead of its time. Fender also invested a lot on these products. They took an embark into using whole new technology, had to hire employees who mastered it and had to develop completely new assembly lines. They would have not done it to something without "substance".
                    There were features in these amps that one did not typically find from tube amps of the era and all in all the designs are comparable to other similar solid-state products from JMI, Thomas Organ, Estey, Burns, etc.
                    Just because these amps are looked upon today doesn't mean that these products were considered poor in the days they were introduced. Solid-state was THE stuff and Fender seriously wanted to make such products. The reliability failures were unfortunate, who knows how much CBS/Fender would have revolutionised the business if they would have persisted on making solid state amps after the poor start. A tube emulation in a '69 SS amp is a remarkable feat in its own right and that current feedback is very copied topology today.

                    The power amps were of the same design type as the TO Vox amps with the transformer coupled driver/phase splitter.
                    It's just a basic design from transistor manuals that everyone used. By late 1960's it had also become totally old-fashioned, which is why Fender started to use newer power amp design with no interstage transformer in amps such as Super Showman system and Taurus. Thermal bias tracking is still in infant stage and not much thought is sacrificed to short circuit protection or driving complex reactive loads so the amp's were likely quite fragile on the road.

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                    • #26
                      Originally posted by teemuk View Post
                      Just because these amps are looked upon today doesn't mean that these products were considered poor in the days they were introduced. Solid-state was THE stuff and Fender seriously wanted to make such products.
                      I'm sure the shop I worked at was not the only one to have a (former) tube amp come in that had been completely gutted, and a solid state amp MacGyver'd in there. It was an 'upgrade' of a seemingly obsolete technology.
                      "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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                      • #27
                        Everybody wanted to switch over to solid state, not just guitar electronics, but all consumer electronics. The problem was in how the transformation was handled.

                        Fender's first line of solid state amps was unreliable, hard to service and didn't capture the sound that guitarists wanted, so they failed. The next line was better, and the next line was even better than that. Now no one would say that solid state amps are bad, they might have a preference for tube over solid state or vice versa, but each technology has its' good points as well as bad.

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                        • #28
                          I remember seeing one of those SP3100 Bassman amps up at Wallach's Music City in Hollywood (Sunset & Vine) back in 1967 or 1968. I plugged one of their Guild hollow body basses into it, can't remember what cabinet was connected. It worked, though nothing stood out as amazing about it. Smaller, lighter to carry.....ho hum. I've never been inside of one.
                          Logic is an organized way of going wrong with confidence

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                          • #29
                            I'm working on a '69-ish Ampeg solid state ST-25 Olympian, which had a corresponding tube amp model (Jupiter?) Looking at the 1969 price list the solid state amps were considerably more expensive that the tube counterparts, and didn't offer any additional features. Maybe the "you don't have to replace tubes" was the pitch? I guess the solid state amps where rated at 100W vs. 50W for the tube amps, perhaps that was another selling point. Apparently neither of them sold very well.
                            Last edited by glebert; 12-24-2020, 09:37 PM.

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                            • #30
                              In the 90's I had the Bassman (photo in post #9). It worked ok but the tone was nothing special. I quickly sold it.

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