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Thread: Peavey Bandit 65 mods, anyone have any good mods?

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Peavey Bandit 65 mods, anyone have any good mods?

    I just picked up an old 1984 Bandit 65 at a pawn broken for $50.00 out the door, got it home and it had a bad 4558 in it. Once fixed I noticed why I always hated the Bandit 65 but I know there is always a way to improve these amps. cap replacement is one way but I wanted to see if anyone ever modded one of these to sound much better?

    Slo

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    Old Timer soundguruman's Avatar
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    Waxing a garbage truck?

    You don't mod PVs to sound much better.
    You start with an amp worth modding.
    And that would be a tube amp. Not transistor.

    The most obvious thing is the speaker. The speakers in PVs don't sound any good.
    But installing a $150 speaker in a $50 amp is beyond what most people would do.

    No, I would not spend the money on capacitors, unless the caps are actually bad.

    But what I would do, is fix it and sell it.
    Then take that money and buy a tube amp.

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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    Well.... As my dad used to say, "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear", lol. But... if you are on a budget, try some pedals. It won't be a boutique amp no matter what you do. But if you are just jamming or playing clubs, you can make it usable. Crowds are much more forgiving than musicians. Or as SGM says. Sell it and get something you like. For cheap SS amps, I've been impressed with the modern Fender Frontman series lately. Not my favorite amp by any means, but I picked up 212R for $35 the other day. It's usable. 100 watts. Two 12 inch speakers. Spring reverb. As the saying goes. It doesn't suck.

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    Well, certainly the Peavey Bandit isn't quite in the same class as an original Fender Deluxe 5E3. Nevertheless, it's a dependable workhorse which takes pedals fairly well, and some folks seem to have rediscovered its usefulness. I think it got a bad rap for several reasons: 1) it's SS which has an auto-reflex action for too many people (ugg! SS!!) and 2) its a Peavey which gear snobs love to hate and 3) its distortion was the typical 1980's "bees buzzing in a box" sound when the Saturation was cranked way up (which was where we ALL turned it to!) IMHO this bad rap is unjustified.

    If all it needs is a couple of op-amps, and maybe a cap job, I say go for it. The schematic is in this thread: http://music-electronics-forum.com/t16210/
    A few bucks, and a couple of hours, to replace all the electrolytics would get it back up to a dependable level.

    As far as modifications, a better speaker may help, sometimes the Scorpions had a midrange honk to them. A good Eminence would be less than $100. One possible circuit component change may help: I've read the steel guitar guys say that in the first couple of gain stages in Peavey preamps, changing the 4558 opamp to a OPA2134 helps smooth it out a lot. Ordinarily I would not buy into the "opamp rolling" philosophy, but here there might be some logic, since the OPA2134 is a JFET and the 4558 was a BJT. I think U1 and U2 would be the two likely spots for improvements. (in my Peavey Classic VTX, it had a couple of bad opamps: I replaced them with NE5532 but while I was in there I did stick a couple of OPA2134's in its U1 and U2 locations, and it works fine) The Saturation is pretty smooth but I don't crank it all the way up these days, just getting a little dirt in there is usually all I seek. So for a couple of bucks, that would be a low-cost mod to try. Otherwise I'd just use NE5532's.

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundguruman View Post
    Waxing a garbage truck?

    You don't mod PVs to sound much better.
    You start with an amp worth modding.
    And that would be a tube amp. Not transistor.

    The most obvious thing is the speaker. The speakers in PVs don't sound any good.
    But installing a $150 speaker in a $50 amp is beyond what most people would do.

    No, I would not spend the money on capacitors, unless the caps are actually bad.

    But what I would do, is fix it and sell it.
    Then take that money and buy a tube amp.
    I actually have a few really good tube amps, one being a Marshall 50 watt non master full stack... The point is, making a really sucky amp actually sound good. LOL...

    I cleaned the amp up, then ran the gain channel clean and ran a boss ME-50 thru it, sounded pretty good for what it was. Also ran an old Ibanez distortion charger pedal on it and that sounded pretty darn good too.

    Any amp can serve a purpose for any style music whether it its a good tube amp or a SS amp as well. I sort of have the old nostalgia for the old peavey amps being that's all I could afford back in the early 80s when I was playing clubs. Those old Peavey amps are built like tanks too. I was looking for a electronic mod like maybe changing the dual op-amps out to better newer style dual op-amps or something like that. Some people actually get a kick moding all kinds of stuff, the Tim Taylor tool man way...

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nashvillebill View Post
    Well, certainly the Peavey Bandit isn't quite in the same class as an original Fender Deluxe 5E3. Nevertheless, it's a dependable workhorse which takes pedals fairly well, and some folks seem to have rediscovered its usefulness. I think it got a bad rap for several reasons: 1) it's SS which has an auto-reflex action for too many people (ugg! SS!!) and 2) its a Peavey which gear snobs love to hate and 3) its distortion was the typical 1980's "bees buzzing in a box" sound when the Saturation was cranked way up (which was where we ALL turned it to!) IMHO this bad rap is unjustified.

    If all it needs is a couple of op-amps, and maybe a cap job, I say go for it. The schematic is in this thread: http://music-electronics-forum.com/t16210/
    A few bucks, and a couple of hours, to replace all the electrolytics would get it back up to a dependable level.



    As far as modifications, a better speaker may help, sometimes the Scorpions had a midrange honk to them. A good Eminence would be less than $100. One possible circuit component change may help: I've read the steel guitar guys say that in the first couple of gain stages in Peavey preamps, changing the 4558 opamp to a OPA2134 helps smooth it out a lot. Ordinarily I would not buy into the "opamp rolling" philosophy, but here there might be some logic, since the OPA2134 is a JFET and the 4558 was a BJT. I think U1 and U2 would be the two likely spots for improvements. (in my Peavey Classic VTX, it had a couple of bad opamps: I replaced them with NE5532 but while I was in there I did stick a couple of OPA2134's in its U1 and U2 locations, and it works fine) The Saturation is pretty smooth but I don't crank it all the way up these days, just getting a little dirt in there is usually all I seek. So for a couple of bucks, that would be a low-cost mod to try. Otherwise I'd just use NE5532's.
    Hey Nashvillebill,

    So did the OPA2134 make the distortion better than the bees in a can sound these are known for? or did you like the NE5532s better? By far this little amp doesn't come close to a good tube amp but I remember using a Bandit back around 82 to 84 in the clubs, sold it and got a Peavey Renown 2x12 which has the autotransformer to get the SS closer to a tube amp sound. That renown was a heck of a good workhorse, ran that thru a Marshall 4x12 with the 65 watt speakers which made the renown sound even better too.

    I just couldn't pass up a 50 dollar amp...lol.. Besides fixing it was fun too. Brings back memories of when I was in my 20s...

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    The Peavey Bandit65 might be the most reliable amp ever made!!! The clean sound is entirely useful and there are even some overdrive sounds that are useful. Up to modern standards? No way! But if you can use a Dbox for your clipping that amp will do you right for a long, long time. Basically... Don't ask it to be what it's not. It'll make a good clean tone and do it reliably. Add a distortion box and you've got a real club slave.

    Take this with a grain of salt. I cut my teeth on a Bandit65

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    "Never bet your life on somebody else doing their job." SoulFetish's good friend

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    "Back to the amp. It makes horrible sounds when I play my guitar thru it... because I suck at playing guitar." Mike6158

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    I really did not experiment with various op-amps: the amp (Classic VTX) had a bad op-amp or two when I got it, so I popped in the 5532's to replace the bad ones. I chose them because I had them on hand. I also had the OPA 2134's on hand (left over from a phono preamp build) so I said "hey what the heck, let's pop a couple of them in the first two spots" then buttoned 'er up and moved on with other projects.

    As far as reducing the buzzing-bees distortion: Perhaps the other op-amps helped--or perhaps it's because my expectations have changed, and I'm no longer after the ultra-high-gain sound, so I'm dialing back the Saturation to get more of a "slightly overdriven" blues/classic rock sound, rather than an all-out cranked distortion. Speaker changes have helped too. While the Scorpions aren't bad, in their own way, I'm going more for a smoother sound and I've had good luck with the Lil Texas neos.

    Have you posted on the ssguitar.com forum? Those guys have some interesting ideas, I don't hang out there much though.

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    Old Timer soundguruman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by olddawg View Post
    Well.... As my dad used to say, "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear", lol. But... if you are on a budget, try some pedals. It won't be a boutique amp no matter what you do. But if you are just jamming or playing clubs, you can make it usable. Crowds are much more forgiving than musicians. Or as SGM says. Sell it and get something you like. For cheap SS amps, I've been impressed with the modern Fender Frontman series lately. Not my favorite amp by any means, but I picked up 212R for $35 the other day. It's usable. 100 watts. Two 12 inch speakers. Spring reverb. As the saying goes. It doesn't suck.
    As far as solid state amps are concerned...
    Fender is surprisingly good sounding.
    And they seem to last just about forever.

    I was giving stage 100 a double take, because it sounded so good.

    Course, it don't sound as good as tube amp, but on a low budget, you could probably be challenged to find a better one.
    sounds much better than PV...and has a much better quality speaker.

    And both Fender and PV have good parts support.

    Line six is choice of Heavy Metal Monk.
    And also sounds quite good, if you like the digital modeling sound.
    But others say digital sounds sterile.
    And, if it breaks, it's disposable.

    I kinda like a Cyber Deluxe, as far as Digital goes for me.
    Surprisingly versatile...
    and this is the amp that the Chinese copied, to make a line six...

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    Reading on the net about the bandit amps I found there is actually a long thread on this particular amp on another site and a cult following too... Go figure, I think the Bandit 65 is considered a poor mans deluxe reverb in Nashville. Those guys like them for that country sound using a tele. I had one but never liked it in the early 80s but then again I got rid of it and never looked back. in the early 90s I picked up the 80 watt version with the teal stripe and used that for practice for a small while. It was pretty good.

    Regarding the older one with the scorpion speaker you actually have to push that speaker to get a better sound out of it but it is mid sounding, actually not a bad thing when trying to cut thru a band mix. Much better too than the scooped sound of the death metal players. Its funny but I see these on eBay all the time for cheap.

    I guess Hartley cant complain too much since he does build some affordable gear and look what he has done with his company that started in an old attic and now a multi billion dollar company...

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    The Peavey Bandit65 might be the most reliable amp ever made!!! The clean sound is entirely useful and there are even some overdrive sounds that are useful. Up to modern standards? No way! But if you can use a Dbox for your clipping that amp will do you right for a long, long time. Basically... Don't ask it to be what it's not. It'll make a good clean tone and do it reliably. Add a distortion box and you've got a real club slave.

    Take this with a grain of salt. I cut my teeth on a Bandit65
    Hey Chuck,

    I finally got to crank the Bandit up using my Boss ME50, I set up the gain channel clean and ran the Boss me50 thru that. Man that little amp actually sounds good for being a SS, big lows and LOUD....

    I guess these are definitely sleeper amps until more folks start to catch on and cause the EBay prices to go up... Maybe I should buy up all the under $100.00 Bandits and then stash until that happens...lol...

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    The Peavey Bandit65 might be the most reliable amp ever made!!! The clean sound is entirely useful and there are even some overdrive sounds that are useful. Up to modern standards? No way! But if you can use a Dbox for your clipping that amp will do you right for a long, long time. Basically... Don't ask it to be what it's not. It'll make a good clean tone and do it reliably. Add a distortion box and you've got a real club slave.

    Take this with a grain of salt. I cut my teeth on a Bandit65
    Um, PV bandit is somewhat reliable...but not as reliable as a Fender.
    It certainly does not achieve the most reliable...

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    Member Emeritus Forever Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Hey, I put a Bandit 130 on layaway at Guitar Center last year (it was $75.) I did pass on it because I really am running out of room for more amps.

    I used its baby brother- a 20 watt Studio Pro with a 12" Black Widow- when I was playing in the music ministry in the late 70's/early 80's. My 65 Pro Reverb was too loud and too temperamental; when I played it loud and hard and fast it would make a sound almost like water sloshing around... "in-di-gesssttt-ion" from those antacid commercials. Once I replaced the big filter caps it stopped doing that- but then again it might have had something to do with me setting the bias control to 11 since that gave me the loudest sound and best tone.

    I just found one of those Pepto-Bismol commercials from 1977...



    Steve

    P.S. I was planning on lowering the gain and smoothing out the signal in the OD channel in the Bandit as I have been doing with the 1990's design Fender SS amps to make them something I enjoy playing. (Usually the clean channel doesn't need much tweaking at all.)

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    Last edited by Steve A.; 02-14-2014 at 02:55 AM.

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    I guess we need to make sure the word gets out: those old Peavey amps are worthless and unreliable. Nobody should buy them. Spread the word, they aren't worth a dime. They're heavy and those pointy Peavey logos are ugly. Yep if you've got one to sell they aren't worth much.

    ..............(gotta keep those prices low so we can keep snagging those Peaveys cheap)

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundguruman View Post
    Um, PV bandit is somewhat reliable...but not as reliable as a Fender.
    It certainly does not achieve the most reliable...
    Well I think a Chevy isn't as reliable as a Ford! Oh, wait a minute... That statement was completely erroneous because I didn't specify what years/models I'm talking about?

    Your statement is too broad. Please, tell me what Fender amps are more reliable than the Peavey Bandit 65.?. Age not withstanding. Also, please tell me what qualifies your choice. Both regarding any lack of reliability for the Bandit 65 and whatever graces your choice possess. Remember, My choice is the Peavey Bandit 65 from the early 80's. I honestly wonder what's more reliable.

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Hey Steve,

    Did you mean a Peavey Special 130? I never seen a bandit 130 before... right now I have an 1982 Special that's 120 watts, then I got the Bandit 65 which is cool when I run my Boss ME50 thru it. I like Peavey amps even though I have a few Fender tube amps and a Marshall 1987X full stack to boot. I guess I sort of have G.A.S....lol I have owned too many SS and tube amps over many years, they were all good.

    Imho I think any amp can serve a purpose, heck it depends on what you can get out of it. After all Dime played on Cowboys from Hell with a Randall SS amp.

    I can bet that many folks used SS amps in recordings we hear on the radio. Didn't John Fogerty use a Kustom SS in some of his recordings? Brain May used a SS amp for some stuff too.

    I cant afford to be a snob to the SS realm when I used SS amps in clubs for years before affording a really good tube amp.

    In the very early time of my guitar and band playing I used Peavey SS amps at many party's and no one ever said, darn that was some sorry arsed guitar tone you got... It was a 1980 Peavey (the century) with a home made 2x12 cab using eminence generic 12s.

    besides I seen Brent mason playing a Peavey special and getting really cool tele tones from in it. Lots of Nashville guys like the Peavey amps.

    my first 4 amps when I started to play in Oct 1979, Univox U65RN for learning, then a Fender Tremolux 40 watt tube head with a 2x10 Fender cab, (Sunn Beta series 2x12 Horrible amp), and then the Peavey The Century 100 watt head with home made 2x12 cab. Then in 1982 I got a Peavey Bandit till 1984, in 85 I got my Peavey Renown amp. That was a good club workhorse. Its still out there somewhere being used...in 1986 I got a Marshall model 1987 50 watt non master head that was made in 72 or 73 with a Marshall late 60s 4x12 loaded with 30 watt celestion greenback if I remember correctly I paid the guy $250 for the rig but had to put a new power transformer in it and new tubes too. Awesome amp.

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    Member Emeritus Forever Steve A.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slobrain View Post
    Hey Steve, Did you mean a Peavey Special 130? I never seen a bandit 130 before...
    You are absolutely correct. I must hide my face behind this Help sign and say 100 Hail Mary's.

    Tube amps are great in the studio or a small bar where you can really hear the finer qualities. If everybody is playing loud people aren't going to notice the subtleties. If you are able to crank the tube amp loud enough for power tube distortion and that magical interaction between OT and output tubes and speaker, go for it!

    SS amps are easier to lug around and less likely to be stolen. And if they do get stolen you should be able to find something comparable for not too many bucks. And no need to worry about finding the perfect tubes for it.

    On the downside, most of the OD channels on SS amps are pretty lame- but you could say the same about a lot of the tube amps from Fender and Peavey! I only buy SS amps that have a nice sounding clean channel and use a pedal if I want some dirt.

    Steve

    P.S. Line 6 amps used to sound terrible if you were more than a few yards from the stage. What sounded so cool when you were right next to the amp would dissipate into mud as you got further away from it. "Whaddaya mean you didn't like the way my guitar sounded? I thought it sounded great!"

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve A. View Post
    Line 6 amps used to sound terrible if you were more than a few yards from the stage.
    Which was an upgrade to how they sounded up close! Now, with improvements they sound terrible from anywhere in the room

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    "Back to the amp. It makes horrible sounds when I play my guitar thru it... because I suck at playing guitar." Mike6158

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve A. View Post
    You are absolutely correct. I must hide my face behind this Help sign and say 100 Hail Mary's.

    Tube amps are great in the studio or a small bar where you can really hear the finer qualities. If everybody is playing loud people aren't going to notice the subtleties. If you are able to crank the tube amp loud enough for power tube distortion and that magical interaction between OT and output tubes and speaker, go for it!

    SS amps are easier to lug around and less likely to be stolen. And if they do get stolen you should be able to find something comparable for not too many bucks. And no need to worry about finding the perfect tubes for it.

    On the downside, most of the OD channels on SS amps are pretty lame- but you could say the same about a lot of the tube amps from Fender and Peavey! I only buy SS amps that have a nice sounding clean channel and use a pedal if I want some dirt.

    Steve

    P.S. Line 6 amps used to sound terrible if you were more than a few yards from the stage. What sounded so cool when you were right next to the amp would dissipate into mud as you got further away from it. "Whaddaya mean you didn't like the way my guitar sounded? I thought it sounded great!"
    I once opened up a small line 6 amp and the guts looked like a computer motherboard. I couldn't fix the issue... Steve I see you still have the Blue Guitar site up.. Good for you

    Too bad T-boy wont go back to the old Ampage format... I used to have a blast on the Ampage site in the late 90s, so many cool folks to talk shop with...

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    Hi, just found this thread and thought I'd share a few thoughts.

    I've just bought a used Bandit 65 (not even had it delivered yet) and have set to work planning mods. I like the Peavey clean tone so don't plan to do much there but agree with many that the distortion leaves a lot to be desired. Even in when it was first designed it sounded crappy among its peers.

    I've taken a look at the schematic for the amp that was provided in this thread:

    http://music-electronics-forum.com/t16210/

    and sketched out the gain/distortion stage in a simulation tool:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Gain Schematic.JPG 
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    Ignoring the diodes I have circled in red. This is pretty much as per the schematic with the saturation knob set to its minimum and the Lead Pre knob set to its max (so max distortion achievable with minimum saturation). I used this schematic to run a simulation of the circuit with a 1kHz sine wave input signal.

    The waveforms below give the actual output signal and an FFT showing the frequency content including harmonics out to 20kHz:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Stock Overdrive.JPG 
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    Looking at the signal this is an attempt to mimic overdrive rather than distortion where no signal clipping occurs but instead we see slew rate distortion. Essentially, gain is applied to small signals but not larger signal. It's a form of compression really. Seems quite neat until you check the FFT on the left. Basically, we are still seeing distortion totally dominated by odd order harmonics (3, 5, 7 etc). So, pretty noisy, not very musical and certainly nothing like the even order harmonics that you get from a nice Valve amp in break up.

    Spin the saturation knob to the max and things get 'worse':

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Stock Distortion (Saturation at Full).JPG 
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    I say 'worse' because this is now just a classic distortion signal. Hard clipped top and bottom and totally dominated by the odd order harmonics again. This is actually okay if you are looking for a true distortion tone (it's more or less what the Boss Ds1 does). But it's a bit disappointing since, sonically, it's not really much different to to the tone with the saturation knob at its minimum.

    Are there any easy mods to fix this? probably yes. I should add that I hae not been able to try them out yet but below is my own plan for my used Bandit 65:

    Mods to the schematic:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Gain Schematic With Mods.JPG 
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    All I have done here is to add two additional diodes to the feedback section (at the top) and one to the hard clipping section (at the bottom). The aim is to produce asymmetrical clipping which accentuates the even order (more musical harmonics).

    What does it do?

    Overdrive (saturation at minimum):

    Click image for larger version. 

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    As you can see, the waveform is now asymmetrical about 0V and the result is that the dominant harmonics are now the 2nd and 4th, which are a lot easier on the ear. The dominance of these even order, lower frequency harmonics 'should' also lessen the buzzy wasps in a jar tone of the amp.

    Distortion (saturation at maximum):

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Again, asymmetrical waveform about 0V and greater even order harmonics. That said, it's meant to be a saturated tone so hard clipping is important so I have only added the one extra diode in order to maintain the 3rd and 5th order harmonics dominance.

    The diodes I have messed with are CR3 (three in place of one) and CR5 (two in place of one). You can just use the same 4148 diodes already in the design.

    Want to go further? Replace each silicon diode (CR3, 4, 5, 6) with a pair of germanium ones (like OA90s). Of course, to maintain the mods described above CR3 would be replaced with 6 series germanium diodes and CR5 with 4 series germanium diodes. Germanium diodes can/do make a difference in clipping circuits. I have used them to good effect n the hard clipping stage of my Boss DS1.

    Anyway, possibly a bit premature given that I have not completed the work yet but thought I would share.

    Cheers,

    iep

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    Last edited by iep; 11-28-2014 at 04:57 PM.

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Didn't look at all your images, my eyes hurt (what's wrong with black on white schematics? ) but :

    1) yes, unsymmetrical clipping sounds noticeably better than symmetrical, and is easy, so do it.
    Just don't get carried away, besides simulation check often with the Ear-O-Meter[tm]

    2) you have what you have, most (99.5%) "Internet Mods" are useless or destroy original sound.
    Do you really believe that an unexperienced noob sitting behind a keyboard will know better than the thousands of man-years accumulated at Fender, Peavey, etc.?
    Besides, they have some real heavyweight Guitar players hired testing stuff.

    I'm quite certain that when a product (by them, can't speak about others) gets on the Market, it's already the best that can be done , with those parts, within that budget.

    There's minor tweaking possible, such as cutting a little extra treble after a distortion stage that's perceived as buzzy, but you overdo it and it turns into mud.

    I know tons of Pro players, I mean those hired by a singer for a single show or a tour or to record, or to be part of a commercial group which has some dates sold, those who can read music on first sight and don't need to play a song 1000 times to learn it and play it well, (that's PRO in my book) who happily use a Bandit or a FenderFM212 or similar because they are light, robust, and being inexpensive means they don't have to worry that much.
    And in the event of a problem (not amp failure, but, say, dropping 10/15 feet from a plane cargo hatch onto the tarmac) they can be easily replaced.

    And guess what? .... they sound killer with any of those amps

    So I suggest you use that amp as a good platform, don't lose sleep about it, add as many pedals as you wish and enjoy

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    Hi,
    I appreciate your points and certainly agree that the amp is pretty good out of the box. I also agree that most of the best musicians (and probably especially the guitarists) that I have worked with are the ones with minimal kit but just know how to play properly.

    I would refute a couple of things though:

    1. It was the best that could be done with the amassed knowledge and available parts/budget at the time. But that time was 35 years ago. Quite a lot has been learned since then and there is absolutely room for improvement or at least update in this design. More significantly though, the 'fashionable' amp sound has changed. The Bandit 65 sounds as they intended at the time, high gain, more distortion than overdrive. A small update to an old design can can often help bring out new tones.

    2. When a product gets on the market there is no reason to believe it is the best that can be done with those parts on that budget. Instead those will be factors but so will other influences like market forces (what did the marketing team say it needed to sound like) and timescales (how many iterations of the design were allowed).

    3. It is true that many mods do little or, worse, degrade sound and that is kind of the basis of my post. A lot of hot air and voodoo gets spoken on forums (op-amp rolling etc) so I hoped that use of FFTs etc might help a few people understand what actually happens when modifications are made (rather than giving purely subjective thoughts on the audible results). And yes, at the end of the day you need to listen to it to but the sims show you what to expect and help you avoid spending time on blind alleys.

    The Bandit 65 is a great amp to modify because the basic design is solid and, well, basic. The distortion circuitry uses a nice simple combination of diodes in feedback for overdrive and for hard clipping on the output of the gain stage, it is easy to make small, effective mods to these. The PCB is also large and easy to work on and the chassis has plenty of space to add mini toggles to allow mods that can be switched in and out.

    I'm not claiming (or expecting) to be able to create a Valve amp killing sleeper, but if you're curious, go and buy one of these amps for really very little cash and have a bash at modifying it. Worst case you can revert back to stock if you don't like the changes but more likely you'll enjoy the process and learn a few things.You might even end up with a sound you prefer (I'm confident that this at least is possible).

    Cheers,

    iep

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    Supporting Member Jazz P Bass's Avatar
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    Quote:"
    The diodes I have messed with are CR3 (three in place of one) and CR5 (two in place of one). You can just use the same 4148 diodes already in the design."

    I believe that you may have mislabeled the diode in question.
    CR3 should read as 'CR4'.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Senior Member Silvertone Jockey's Avatar
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    Anyone else have any experience in switching the silicon diodes out for germanium in clipping circuits as suggested by iep? If so can you describe the effects on tone or distortion characteristics?

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Well, there is some sound change, basically gemanium has somewhat less defined clipping point/is lossy/both so waveform is somewhat more rounded and so less buzzy.

    Roughly, from roundest to "squarest",you can clip with:
    * germanium
    * silicon
    * Leds
    * back to back series Zeners

    I have not tried Schottkys or other exotic diodes, might be fun.

    So in a nutshell, using germaniums there it will be somewhat smoother, but be aware that level will be less; that might be a problem.

    Clipped squarewave will be around 700mV peak with silicon and less than half that (say 250 to 350 mV Pk) with Germaniums.

    A single Si diode one way and either 2 Ge in series the other way may be interesting, or all 3 Si .
    Let your ears be the judge, just remember to pamper the PCB, repeated desoldering can tear pads and track ends.

    If you are not sure and want to go back and forth, I suggest you crush old diodes with pliers, straighten legs as if they were soldering posts and solder new diodes there, so you don't mess with the actual soler pads.
    Ugly but functional.

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    Senior Member Silvertone Jockey's Avatar
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    Excellent! less buzzy is what I'm looking for. I will be performing these mods on a Classic VTX instead of a Bandit. And yes 'ugly but functional' is the plan. I was thinking of using dip switches paralleled up with the diode strings so I could selectivity short out individual diodes. Then I could leave in the Si's and add the Ge's all in series and quickly go back and forth by throwing the dip switches to short out the unwanted types. I also have obtained the "desirable" type of FET op-amps to experiment with those as well. Thanks for the great info JM!

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    Hi, I did eventually complete this work and actually did a whole load more to my Bandit 65. Good news is that they more or less used an identical preamp on many amps so these changes could (at your discretion) be used on the VTX. The final result was, to my ear, a real improvement on the original design. Cause I am a bit daft (and frankly obsessive) I even picked up a second Bandit 65 locally for 20 and used it to A/B the mods. Now I'm probably biased on this so I asked a couple of other guitarists to see what they thought and one went as far as to buy the un-modded amp from me in order to make similar changes himself.

    Of course, your mileage may vary but the mod list and original schematics schematics for reference are attached.

    Component, Change, Effect
    CR3, Single OA91, Assymetrical clipping of overdrive
    R5, 470 up to 680, Increases diode clipping to reduce 'railing' of next stage. Sims showed that for high output guitar pickups,the first stage had inadequate headroom without this mod.
    C6, Change to 330n, Additional Bass cut in full Sat mode which prevents the really buzzy breakup that occurs when the signal is reduced to a pure square wave. This was really prominenet with my Tele on the bass strings
    C5, Change to 15n, Move 'Bright' to slightly higher freq. his made the amp 'sparkle' rather than shout (IMHO).
    CR6, 1N4148 x2 series, Less harsh clipping (already implemented on the VTX)
    CR5, 1N4148 x2 series, Less harsh clipping (already implemented on the VTX)
    CR5, Parralel 100n cap shorting both dioeds to GND, Less high freq from distortion at full Sat. I used a panel mounted switch to select/de-select this feature). This really improved the Sat tone.
    C10, 1u, Not essential, just tightens up clean channel
    C11, 15n, Move 'Bright' to slightly higher freq. his made the amp 'sparkle' rather than shout (IMHO).
    C17, 180p, Slight 1kHz 'scoop'. Or 220pF for less 1kHz cut
    C18, 33n, More bass (post distortion stage)
    R18, 47mH and 470R, Series Ind and Res in parallel with R18 gives addition mid 'bump' at full gain
    C25, 20n, More high boost at full 'Presence'
    R46, 1k, More high boost at full 'Presence'
    C23, 10n, More high boost at full 'Presence'

    All these mods had an effect but I was particularly pleased with the 100nF short of the SAT clipping diodes, and improvements to the Presence and Bright controls.

    I also ultimately upgraded the speaker to a Jensen C12K (which is superb) but the sound was still hugely improved with the original Scorpion.

    I should add that playing around with alternative op-amps yielded no discernible results (to my ear).

    The mods sounded good with both my Tele 27 Custom RI and Gretsch P90 hollow body.

    PV Bandit 65.pdf

    Cheers,

    iep

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    Last edited by iep; 03-04-2015 at 05:40 PM.

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    In case you don't already have it:

    peavey_heritage_vtx.pdf

    Cheers,

    iep

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Hey IEP,

    Can you post a video of you playing thru the Bandit to show the sounds of it now? I would appreciate that. I feel these are sleepers. They just needed the right person to bring new life to them.

    Thanks

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    Senior Member Silvertone Jockey's Avatar
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    Many thanks for the update iep, and for doing the legwork as well your very informative and descriptive posts.

    Unfortunately my OP amp rolling ended badly as I managed to silence my VTX by plugging in only half of the legs of one of the OP amps which damaged something in the pre-amp when I powered it up. Haven't made time to dig my scope out to troubleshoot it yet, but looking forward to moving on to try your mods at some point after I repair it...........again

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iep View Post
    Hi, I did eventually complete this work and actually did a whole load more to my Bandit 65. Good news is that they more or less used an identical preamp on many amps so these changes could (at your discretion) be used on the VTX. The final result was, to my ear, a real improvement on the original design. Cause I am a bit daft (and frankly obsessive) I even picked up a second Bandit 65 locally for 20 and used it to A/B the mods. Now I'm probably biased on this so I asked a couple of other guitarists to see what they thought and one went as far as to buy the un-modded amp from me in order to make similar changes himself.

    Of course, your mileage may vary but the mod list and original schematics schematics for reference are attached.

    Component, Change, Effect
    CR3, Single OA91, Assymetrical clipping of overdrive
    R5, 470 up to 680, Increases diode clipping to reduce 'railing' of next stage. Sims showed that for high output guitar pickups,the first stage had inadequate headroom without this mod.
    C6, Change to 330n, Additional Bass cut in full Sat mode which prevents the really buzzy breakup that occurs when the signal is reduced to a pure square wave. This was really prominenet with my Tele on the bass strings
    C5, Change to 15n, Move 'Bright' to slightly higher freq. his made the amp 'sparkle' rather than shout (IMHO).
    CR6, 1N4148 x2 series, Less harsh clipping (already implemented on the VTX)
    CR5, 1N4148 x2 series, Less harsh clipping (already implemented on the VTX)
    CR5, Parralel 100n cap shorting both dioeds to GND, Less high freq from distortion at full Sat. I used a panel mounted switch to select/de-select this feature). This really improved the Sat tone.
    C10, 1u, Not essential, just tightens up clean channel
    C11, 15n, Move 'Bright' to slightly higher freq. his made the amp 'sparkle' rather than shout (IMHO).
    C17, 180p, Slight 1kHz 'scoop'. Or 220pF for less 1kHz cut
    C18, 33n, More bass (post distortion stage)
    R18, 47mH and 470R, Series Ind and Res in parallel with R18 gives addition mid 'bump' at full gain
    C25, 20n, More high boost at full 'Presence'
    R46, 1k, More high boost at full 'Presence'
    C23, 10n, More high boost at full 'Presence'

    All these mods had an effect but I was particularly pleased with the 100nF short of the SAT clipping diodes, and improvements to the Presence and Bright controls.

    I also ultimately upgraded the speaker to a Jensen C12K (which is superb) but the sound was still hugely improved with the original Scorpion.

    I should add that playing around with alternative op-amps yielded no discernible results (to my ear).

    The mods sounded good with both my Tele 27 Custom RI and Gretsch P90 hollow body.

    PV Bandit 65.pdf

    Cheers,

    iep
    I guess were in an age now that we can use a PC simulator program to actually help somewhat redesign certain amps to make them better. Not sure what the Peavey engineers were using back in the early 80s but This gives me hope for modding a few of my Peavey amps now.

    I do want to ask iep, what style music are you playing thru the Bandit 65? Reason I ask is that I'm more a rock and metal guy.

    Thanks

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    Hi Slobrain,
    I did try to make a recording using my iPhone when I had both the modded and original Bandits but the mic really isn't good enough to differentiate the tonal changes. You just end up hearing the room acoustic.

    I can try to give a better description of the overall change though.

    1. My aim was to get rid of the shouty/barky nature of the amp. I wanted more of a fender sparkle. I always thought the normal tone was a bit dull and the 'bright' setting was too harsh. Changes to the 'bright' setting were aimed at taming the mid and adding slightly more high frequency.

    2. Similarly, I usually found myself running the amp in 'normal' (non bright) with the presence set very high. So, I modded the presence control to have a bit more boost at maximum and (similar to bright mod) a little less high/mid boost.

    3. The use of asymmetrical diodes in the pre-gain circuit (not Sat circuit) worked with the mod to R5 increase their clipping effect. As I say, in stock format, it was possible to run this stage so the op-amp clipped which gives the nasty hard clipping distortion that no-one cares for. I like this tone for classic rock stuff. The addition of the Inductor and resistor in parallel with R18 served to give a mid bump at full pre-gain. This was an attempt to ape the mid boost of the tube screamer. Granted, the result is no tube screamer but it is better than stock.

    4. Series clipping diodes in the Sat circuit increase the output of the preamp at full Sat (as swing is limited to 1.4Vpk rather than 0.7Vpk). This still allows plenty of 'gain' but with a bit more of the original guitar tone to make it through as the waveform is less clipped. I fairness, PV worked this out for themselves in subsequent designs. I think the Bandit was among the first to use this pre-amp. The switched 100nF cap in parallel with the clipping diodes makes for a nice creamy tone at full sat rather than the nasty buzz tone.

    I don't think I have made a 'better' amp than the original. I.e. I am no smarter than any of the guys who did the original design. All I ave done is attempt to modify the tone for modern tastes. I'm pleased with the result. If the original design had been poor though, there was not way a few small changes like these would make so much of a difference.

    As for style of playing, I play rhythm guitar in an indie/rock band. Main guitar for this is my Gretsch hollow body with P90 pickups. That said, the changes I have made to the amp allow a nicer scooped tone if Presence is run high and the Sat tone is also much nicer so I reckon it would be an improvement for metal too.

    Hope that helps,

    iep

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    Member patlaw's Avatar
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    iep, where do you find OA90s? What other germanium diodes would be useful for this application? 1N34? 1N60? I shudder to think how many I threw away years ago. Then again, the current manufacturing processes for germanium semiconductors should cause them to be better parts than the old ones. That's the theory, anyway.

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Any germanium you can get will do.

    And I doubt any are made anymore, last batch (say, from 1980 something) will still last years or decades, given the level of consumption.

    So all should actually be NOS, even if not so labelled.

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    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iep View Post
    Hi Slobrain,
    I did try to make a recording using my iPhone when I had both the modded and original Bandits but the mic really isn't good enough to differentiate the tonal changes. You just end up hearing the room acoustic.

    I can try to give a better description of the overall change though.

    1. My aim was to get rid of the shouty/barky nature of the amp. I wanted more of a fender sparkle. I always thought the normal tone was a bit dull and the 'bright' setting was too harsh. Changes to the 'bright' setting were aimed at taming the mid and adding slightly more high frequency.

    2. Similarly, I usually found myself running the amp in 'normal' (non bright) with the presence set very high. So, I modded the presence control to have a bit more boost at maximum and (similar to bright mod) a little less high/mid boost.

    3. The use of asymmetrical diodes in the pre-gain circuit (not Sat circuit) worked with the mod to R5 increase their clipping effect. As I say, in stock format, it was possible to run this stage so the op-amp clipped which gives the nasty hard clipping distortion that no-one cares for. I like this tone for classic rock stuff. The addition of the Inductor and resistor in parallel with R18 served to give a mid bump at full pre-gain. This was an attempt to ape the mid boost of the tube screamer. Granted, the result is no tube screamer but it is better than stock.

    4. Series clipping diodes in the Sat circuit increase the output of the preamp at full Sat (as swing is limited to 1.4Vpk rather than 0.7Vpk). This still allows plenty of 'gain' but with a bit more of the original guitar tone to make it through as the waveform is less clipped. I fairness, PV worked this out for themselves in subsequent designs. I think the Bandit was among the first to use this pre-amp. The switched 100nF cap in parallel with the clipping diodes makes for a nice creamy tone at full sat rather than the nasty buzz tone.

    I don't think I have made a 'better' amp than the original. I.e. I am no smarter than any of the guys who did the original design. All I ave done is attempt to modify the tone for modern tastes. I'm pleased with the result. If the original design had been poor though, there was not way a few small changes like these would make so much of a difference.

    As for style of playing, I play rhythm guitar in an indie/rock band. Main guitar for this is my Gretsch hollow body with P90 pickups. That said, the changes I have made to the amp allow a nicer scooped tone if Presence is run high and the Sat tone is also much nicer so I reckon it would be an improvement for metal too.

    Hope that helps,

    iep
    Hey iep,

    Yes, I can understand trying to use a iphone or similar to record with... they are decent but not that good. I do want to thank you for the work you have done with the Bandit. I really wanted to finish getting my electronics degree back in 89 to do stuff like you have but sometimes things are just not in the cards. I do electronics repair but I don't know how to engineer circuits. I know tubes amps pretty darn good as I did a lot of modding back in the 90s but that was also with the help from the guys at the old Ampage forum. I built SLO 100 clones too and can build a tube amp.

    I think for what the bandit is its a good amp for any club use. even recording too. after all the tone one chooses to use is in the ears and the desired use. Heck, Tony Iommi used a small amp with a ripped speaker to record his lead on the song Paranoid...

    Over all I like to repurpose stuff when possible and I think there are a lot of good old amps that can be done with. All the new stuff coming out are just twists on old designs.. accept the modeling stuff which can be good or bad depending on the use. I find its mostly musicians that are critical to sounds. Back in my club days I used SS amps and tube amps and really no one in the bars or clubs ever really knew the difference except other guitarists.

    Cheers

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