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Thread: In over my head repairing 1964 Princeton Reverb

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    Question In over my head repairing 1964 Princeton Reverb

    I was recently given an amp which I think is a princeton reverb from the mid 60's (I think 64), but the reverb doesn't seem to be working and there's a small hole on the speaker cone. I've done some research online but I don't know anything about amps so most of what I've found is pretty confusing and I don't want to mess it up. Are these repairs something that I could do myself, or should I take it to a shop? Should I just sell it as-is and buy something else? I'm a total novice so any help is much appreciated. Thank you!

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    You've got what I'd think is a very valuable amp, and I agree, you don't want to mess it up. Since you say you're a total novice, I'd suggest you take it to a competent tech.

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    A small hole in the speaker, I wouldn't worry about it. Reverb no work? Sometimes it's as simple as re seating the plugs that send signal to and retrieve signal from the reverb tank, corrosion gets to them over time. Also if the plugs are reversed on the back of the amp, that will get you no reverb signal and all you need do is unplug the two, swap one for the other position & plug back in. Takes seconds, it's worth a try.

    Do you have a multi meter? You can get a cheap one for $10 to 40 at Harbor Freight or Radio Shack if you can find one that's still open. Any skills in soldering? It pays to have a good iron, the right kind of solder, and some basic tools. If there's any one most important thing to do in your Princeton, it's replace the bias filter capacitor. Age gets to them, and if yours fails it can cause wreckage that will cost a lot of bucks & headaches to overcome. If you want to learn, that's a good place to start. And if you think you're in over your head you could reach out for a friendly competent repair tech in your area. Lucky for you there's a tube dealer "Valve Queen" right down the road in London Ohio. Zing her an email info@valvequeen.com and I'll bet Laura can direct you to someone nearby who can help.

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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    I would, at least put some glue or silicone over the hole so it doesn't spread. Think of it as a bit of preventative maintenance- sort of like a stone chip in a windshield.

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    Step One: safety. If you are going to keep it for any length of time (and I sure would if someone GAVE me a 64 Princeton) then put a three-wire cord on it! Or have a competent tech do it for you.

    While I agree with all the advice above, I do not think this would be a good amp to learn on, IMHO. If it's a 1964, and is in excellent condition, not drilled and modded, and is fixed up and running, it's possibly worth a chunk. Probably not to <US> because we would just build one, but there are collectors! A couple mistakes from errant learning could send that value out the window...

    One question: is your question about the model of the amp, or the date of manufacture? "which I think is a princeton reverb from the mid 60's" If it's a Princeton Reverb, it'll say it right on the front...

    Justin

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    If it's a Princeton Reverb, it'll say it right on the front...
    And the serial number on the back panel will give us a big clue as to when it was made. There are other tells for this too.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    A 64 Princeton Reverb would be a VERY collectible amp. I've never known one to be given away Some pics would help. If it IS a 64 PR then it should be worked on by an experienced tech. Many things should be checked for safe operation in any amp that age and damage resulting in replacement of original parts would detriment it's value. Not to mention that there's some moral obligation to keep as many of those old amps around as we can because they aren't making any more of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSh View Post
    ... I don't know anything about amps... I don't want to mess it up. Are these repairs something that I could do myself, or should I take it to a shop? Should I just sell it as-is and buy something else? I'm a total novice ...
    1. If you play guitar (you don't mention that) keep the amp. It's a good one.
    2. The amp is valuable in today's market. Don't trash it.
    3. You don't have the skills to be sure you won't trash it.
    4. Take it to a competent tech. It's worth the money spent for repairs.
    5. Do your amp-repair learning on something less valuable.

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    Amazing!! Who would ever have guessed that someone who villified the evil rich people would begin happily accepting their millions in speaking fees!

    Oh, wait! That sounds familiar, somehow.

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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    I would, at least put some glue or silicone over the hole so it doesn't spread. Think of it as a bit of preventative maintenance- sort of like a stone chip in a windshield.
    A hole may be a sign that the speaker paper is deteriorating. If its a puncture hole... some thin contact cement, tissue paper, and a little spray paint will make it almost invisible.... BUT if you have no experience at all you may not be able to tell. Trying to "fix" a deteriorating speaker can do more harm than good. Better off shipping it off to Weber or some other reconer who will check the magnet and properly recone it.
    If it is an untouched 64, I would advise you taking the amp to a reputable tech that specializes in restorations. Ask lots of questions. Take lots of pictures.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Further... If it's the original speaker it might be a good idea to put a different speaker in the amp and eventually have the original re coned. An original speaker does wonders for a vintage amps value. Though using an old speaker is a good way to crap it out because the old hide glue gets brittle with age.

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    I've uploaded some pictures of the amp: http://imgur.com/a/hZoIf

    @xtian
    That's fair, if it's worth a good amount then I'll keep looking for someone in my area who can do the repairs. Thanks for the help!

    @Leo_Gnardo
    I switched the plugs but got no sound from the reverb, but when I switched them back again the reverb seems to be working, so thank you! I have very basic soldering skills but I'd probably prefer trusting someone else to do it, so I'll definitely check out value queen.

    @The Dude
    If I were looking to sell the amp should would it be worth it to do this or should I let the buyer decide?

    @Justin Thomas
    The amp is in okay condition but there's some rust on the metal, some of the cloth staples on the front are coming off, and there was a small speaker wired to it for some reason which a friend took off for me. Should I try to fix up any of this before selling it?
    Fair point, it's definitely a Princeton Reverb.

    @Leo_Gnardo
    I've added a picture of what I think is the serial number.

    @Chuck H
    My boss found out the value of it afterward, but he insists that I should keep it or any money from it for myself . I've included some pictures which should hopefully help identify the year. Should I take it to a shop or just look for an enthusiast who can take a look at it?

    @R.G.
    This is all good advice, thank you. I play some but I think the value of it could be better spent getting myself a better guitar or other equipment, so I'll try to sell it.

    @olddawg
    After looking at it again it looks more like a ~1 inch tear. Any advice on how to find a good tech?

    @Chuck H
    I'll definitely consider getting it re coned if I find a good restorer who can do it.

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    Last edited by MSh; 05-11-2017 at 01:46 AM.

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    Supporting Member eschertron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSh View Post
    @xtian
    That's fair, if it's worth a good amount then I'll keep looking for someone in my area who can do the repairs. Thanks for the help!
    In the Cincinatti/Dayton/Columbus spread? Good techs shouldn't be hard to find. Bad techs, even easier!

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSh View Post
    @xtian
    That's fair, if it's worth a good amount then I'll keep looking for someone in my area who can do the repairs. Thanks for the help!
    One last time, from #3 ^^^ - Lucky for you there's a tube dealer "Valve Queen" right down the road in London Ohio. Zing her an email info@valvequeen.com and I'll bet Laura can direct you to someone nearby who can help.

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    Yes, I'll definitely contact her.

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    I'm not sure what happened to my reply (I may just not be able to see it), but Leo_Gnardo's suggestion worked and the reverb is working! I posted pictures at Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet. Thanks everyone, I appreciate the help!

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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    Thanks for the pics! That's a groovy old amp. To my knowledge, I've never seen a Magnavox speaker in a Fender product. Of course that doesn't mean it isn't so. Also, it looks cobbled in there with wire nuts and questionable mounting. I wouldn't worry about the "vintageness" of that speaker. Despite the amp being working, it wouldn't hurt to have a competent tech give it a good once over. As mentioned, it should have a grounded cord installed and the death cap removed. Probably needs pots/switches cleaned and other typical maintenance. All things aside, you were awful lucky to have that given to you! I wish I had friends who would drop off a free Princeton every now and again.

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    Last edited by The Dude; 05-11-2017 at 02:32 AM.
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    Thanks for the info! That's good to know, and I'll definitely try to have a tech check it out and do some cleanup. Cheers!

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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    I should add, I didn't mean to say that the speaker isn't "worthy". It might be a great sounding speaker. If it is in decent shape (aside from the small hole), there's no reason you can't fix it and use it. You may, however, want to make sure it's the proper impedance.

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    Old Timer Tom Phillips's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MSh View Post
    I was recently given an amp which I think is a princeton reverb from the mid 60's (I think 64)...
    Wow! Can you introduce us to the person who would give you such an amp?

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    I should add, I didn't mean to say that the speaker isn't "worthy". It might be a great sounding speaker. If it is in decent shape (aside from the small hole), there's no reason you can't fix it and use it. You may, however, want to make sure it's the proper impedance.
    The tube chart date code sez it's a 1965. The grill cloth has been removed and badly repositioned, probably when the speaker was replaced. I hope that the internal parts have been treated better than the speaker.

    In any case, it could be a valuable amp and should be treated with respect, much like the person that gave it to you. Not many people give away $1000 amps.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    What they said ^^^

    The Magnavox isn't original. Some of their old speakers do sound very good for guitar though, if not very efficient. Fix the hole and use it. Not only is the grill cloth pulling loose in areas, something looks off about the color. It may not be original either. If it IS (a Fender expert would know better) it's in good shape and should be put back on properly. The reverb bag looks to be a bigger than stock sheet of vinyl rolled around the reverb tank. So the tank may not be original either. NBD there since the old tanks are almost all microphonic now anyway and replacements are cheap. A lot of evidence of poor storage you can see in rust on the trim and even the chassis. I recently worked on a late 70's Fender in similar condition and there was nothing wrong with the board, pots, jacks or components. I hope your Princeton is the same. If you don't worry about the cosmetics for now and just want to play it I'm hopeful that a good tech could have you up and running safely without too much trouble. It might be worth noting that the 1965 Princeton Reverb was one model Fender decided to "re issue". VERY nice score. Enjoy it

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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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