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Amp "lifespans": Vox vs. Fender vs. Marshall
Old 28th November 2009
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Amp "lifespans": Vox vs. Fender vs. Marshall

I'm wanting to get out and gig on electric guitar again after some years of being mostly a home body. However, I've got an amp situation that I'd like to figure out.

Currently I own a Marshall JCM 2000 Dual Super Lead bought new in 2003 and a Fender Twin Reverb II bought, looked over, and re-tubed somewhere between 1998 and 2000. While I love the Marshall, it's broken down on me many times -- something my go-to Amp Doctor has chalked it up to Marshalls being notoriously "cantankerous ", which was news to me. The Fender has been almost exclusively a home amp and while I like it, it needs work right now and I'm not so in love with its sound that I want to commit to it being my gig-horse.

Playing through a few other amps, so far ears have chosen the modern Vox AC30. However, I'd like to know...

Not talking about tubes, but the amps in general, does anyone have experience with/an opinion on the gig-readiness/ruggedness of Vox, Fender, and Marshall amps at large? Sound is most important but breakdowns cost time and money. Thanks!
Old 28th November 2009
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Gretschman's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Marrshall

Ok , first of all , Marshall amp's are just poorly engineered .

They run the plate voltage higher than the tubes can take , the dumb tube sockets
are messed up and they use Chinese cheap tubes .

All you need to do is replace the tubes with the next size up , which can take a higher plate voltage . You may have to replace the tube sockets to fit the tubes . The tube holders will not work on every tube .

I spent 700.00 to retrofit a brand new anniversary head last year . It blew out those chinese kt-66's as soon as it powered up !!

As for road usage .

Buy a Furman power conditioner !! Clean voltage will extend the amps life and give you better performance .

I like the Reeves amps a lot .
Based on the original Hi-Watt amps , well made , good people , great tone .
Old 28th November 2009 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If you want a great Marshall sound with exceptional road worthiness, go
for a Reinhardt.

Amps

For custom Fender circuits, VVT Amps

For the glory of Hiwatt tones, Reeves Amps.

In the 15 watt Vox Category, The Magic Amps Brit MKII TB EF86
Old 5th December 2009 | Show parent
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
Ddjembe Mutombo's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
i have owned many many marshalls (800 2205, 6100, 900, 2000 dsl). I still own my 800 because it has the best drive I have heard. Recently it has been having minor reliability problems, but nothing serious. My 6100 was awesome for gigging. It was built like a tank and I could always rely on it. the 900 i had had some reliability issues and never gigged with it. I owned a 2000 during a period of time when I didn't gig, but the thing seemed to be very reliable.

Just like Sounds Great said, the standby switch is a must. the general rule of thumb is to let the amp be on standby for 1-2 minutes for powering up. Standbying when you are turning off isn't that important. I usually turn the amp on to stand by and do a real accurate tuneup, then I will power up. Then for turning off I will turn to standby, put my guitar away, clean up my instrument cables, then turn off.

Recently I have started gigging with an orange AD30htc or Rocker 30 (depends on the night). I bought them because they are extremely reliable and the sound like a hot rodded ac30 and jcm800.
Old 7th December 2009 | Show parent
  #5
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
It seems that cooling and air circulation would do a lot of good over the life span of any amp. I don't think I've ever seen or heard of a Vox, Fender or Marshall that had a fan inside, which is good if you plan to record. But I hate to think of what amps go through on hot summer days in a recording studio with no AC and shut doors. Not to mention whatever kind of rehearsal room most amps live in.

That said, there are some extremely quiet floor fans that would be up to the task. I have a little Vortex fan that I used to use behind my converter rack. In the low setting, it's quiet enough to forget that it's on, and it keeps a good breeze flowing.

I don't know that anyone has voluntarily done a fan vs. no fan test over the life of an amp, but it seems like a no-brainer since heat is probably the number 1 enemy of any amp (outside of poor design).
Old 7th December 2009 | Show parent
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
xhavepatiencex's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I have been playing out with my ac30cc2 for almost a year, I have had no problems.
Old 8th December 2009
  #7
Lives for gear
 
davet's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I've got a 66 Blackface Bassman that's pretty well used. I'm probably the upteenth owner. It's rugged, works great as a guitar amp. The layout of the board looks positively archaic compared to modern amps.

The up side is that's it's real easy to fix, lots of techs around that can work on them. A buddy of mine has a Reeves Custom 50. It's just a simple, single channel basic amp, build like a tank, killer sounding. I've had a bunch of modern switching amps, got rid of them is favor of the Bassman. Just keeping it simple, ya know? Turn it up to three, rock out!! thumbsup
DaveT
Old 8th December 2009
  #8
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
This feels like comparing apples to oranges to cherries - all delicious but different flavors.

All three amps have completely different sounds they are known for. Once you know what tone you want, that will narrow down your field. Of course, if you want all three...

If I were looking for a Fender, I'd get a BF or SF 40-watt, like the Bassman, Bandmaster, Tremolux, or a Deluxe Reverb. Don't get the reissues or the VM junk - these can be very reliable with minor servicing.

Vox - you may want a vintage Vox or the new series; you'll have to listen to the tone. A lot of people think that the Dr. Z Stang Ray or the Prescription nails that Vox tone, only better and they are a more roadworthy amp.

Best protection - at the minimum, get a padded cover, like the ones from D2F. Better would be to get an ATA case like the ones at audiopile.net and ensure it doesn't get bashed around.
Old 8th December 2009 | Show parent
  #9
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
There are so many different types of these three amp brands with varying build quality, different parts etc. it is impossible to make generalizations about which is more reliable. Much also depends on how the amp in question is used and taken care of.

The biggest problem is heat. This will determine the lifespan of electrolytic caps and tubes in particular, and has a bearing on the failure rate of the rest of the components as well.

As someone mentioned before, powering up the amp in standby mode (which warms up the filaments of the tubes before applying the high voltage) is beneficial because it prevents what is called "cathode stripping" of the tubes (in particular the output tubes). Cathode stripping can greatly shorten the life of a tube.

The design of a particular amp may cause stresses that lead to reduced reliability.
Some amps tend to run higher plate voltages and run tubes hotter. The extra heat may cause reduced reliability. However, in many cases (mainly the older amps) they used very conservatively rated components, probably offsetting the relaiability risks save for tubes and electrolytic caps. And , depending on where the output stage is biased, higher plate voltages don't always translate to reduced tube life or more heat. But in those cases where tubes are run "a little on the hot side" at increased plate voltages (and there are some newer amps where this is still being done) relaibility is going to be decreased. Not only reduced tube life but if a tube shorts under these conditions there is a greater risk of other failures as well. The take away from this is making sure that the output tubes are properly biased. This should be checked by a competent tech when changing tubes, or if the bias hasn't been checked for a while.

Last, the reliability of the tubes themselves may have great bearing on amp reliability. If a tube has a catastrophic short it is much more likely resistors are going to burn up, transormers fail,etc. Making sure you have tubes that have a good reputation for reliability as well as sounding good is good policy.

Bottom line, the care you take with the amp in keeping it cool and maintained may have a greater bearing on how well it holds up for you.
Old 12th December 2009 | Show parent
  #10
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
45 years young and still kicking ass.

Old 12th December 2009 | Show parent
  #11
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
That one yers?
Old 12th December 2009 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Yup!

This little wonder has turned out to be my favorite amp.

With some minor shop check over time and a new speaker, I've got about $850.00 into it.

All the caps still check good, so there was no reason to replace them for now
and she's dead studio quiet.

Also only weighs 34 pounds.
Old 12th December 2009 | Show parent
  #13
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
thumbsup Sounds real nice!
Old 12th December 2009 | Show parent
  #14
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I have a few well seasoned studio/stage musician friends who all drool when they
hear this amp, especially with single coils.

They all went out and bought Ampegs :-)

These clips were all done straight into the camera mic, so you can only imagine
what she might sound like through a Royer 121.

About a month after I purchased it, I let some friends borrow it for
a heavy week long rehearsal and a sold out show.

It was the easiest way to shake it down and also break in the new speaker.

Even so, if I were touring with vintage amps,
I'd want to have at least 2 of them to keep
in circulation between stage time and shop time.

I have just a few back up options.
Old 12th December 2009 | Show parent
  #15
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
It would be great to have an original R12R or a Gemini (which rarely show up on craigslist), but short of that I really dig what I hear in this PGS clip of the J-20. I'm getting one someday. This one does have a 121 in front.
Old 12th December 2009 | Show parent
  #16
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
There's a HUGE thread about the J-20 over at TGP
with upgrade and mod recommendations and lots of valuable input
from people who bought them when Sam Ash was blowing them out on sale.

Ampeg Blowout--PTP J20 for $299! - The Gear Page
Old 12th December 2009 | Show parent
  #17
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Damn, I wish I was hip to the J-20 when they were blasting them for $300! I'd buy one right now.

Thanks for the link. I'll be checking into what people do to make this amp sound even better, although it sounds great to me stock. People want to mod any and all amps these days.
Old 12th December 2009 | Show parent
  #18
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Every amp I own does something special to give me plenty of flexibility
matching tones to song ideas.

Right now that new amp that has all my attention is
Mike Moody's Magic Brit MKII TB EF86

The one amp missing from my stables is a great Vox build
and Mike does an exceptional job on these and his Z series Supro builds.

πŸ“ Reply

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