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Discussion Starter #1
I have alway's wanted a JTM45,I now find myself in a position to pick one up,the problem is I'm not sure if I would be better off buying the re-issue,or a '63 all orig.I'm sure many here would opt for the orig model,but I have concerns about the reliability of such a old tube amp.Has anyone here played through a re-issue?If so how do they compare?The JTM45 was the perfect sounding head IMO,and not sure if the re-issue really captured that sound.Any input would help.
Thanks
Aaron
 

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Take the original and run!

aaron said:
I have alway's wanted a JTM45,I now find myself in a position to pick one up,the problem is I'm not sure if I would be better off buying the re-issue,or a '63 all orig.I'm sure many here would opt for the orig model,but I have concerns about the reliability of such a old tube amp.Has anyone here played through a re-issue?If so how do they compare?The JTM45 was the perfect sounding head IMO,and not sure if the re-issue really captured that sound.Any input would help.
Thanks
Aaron
Aaron, just by coincidence I have a re-issue BluesBreaker unit in my shop right now. This is basically a JTM45 put into a 2-12 combo. The customer had bought it after he had heard and played an original. He hasn't been happy with the re-issue at all!

Mind you, he was cursed with too good an ear. He hears things plainly that I have to listen hard to begin to notice. It's like with someone who has perfect pitch. A band might tune up relative to each other and most folks think it sounds fine. If you have perfect pitch it will grate on your ears.

Nonetheless, few re-issues ever sound exactly like the originals. The original factory that made the output transformer is likely now a parking lot. So the new version never is made the same, even if the company bears the same name. Transformer guys mostly understand power stuff and if they do understand audio they tend to be more hifi types than guitar players. They're not likely to thoroughly appreciate the construction methods and materials in the older model transformers, things that DO influence the tone!

So far he's replaced the speakers with ferociously expensive Celestion Alnicos and I've sourced a new after-market quality output transformer, yanked out the printed circuit board in favour of an oldfashioned solder eyelet board and upgraded caps and stuff. Oh, and a pair of those new TungSol 5881's, which are the only ones since the 60's I've heard that sound good. Those Sovtek ones that Fender started using ('cuz they're cheap!) suck the big pickle, IMHO.

As far as reliability, a good tube amp can theoretically be kept in service forever! The power supply filter caps slowly dry up. The odd amp has had no problems for over 30 years but for the most part after 10-15 years you're on borrowed time. The symptom is a loud, buzzy hum that slowly gets worse and worse. A cap job can run a bit over $100 but then you're good for another few decades!

It's like wipers and brake shoes - you expect to replace them once in a while.

Tubes will last the same in a new amp as an old one so there's no difference there.

Controls can get dirty inside and may need to be cleaned but even if they completely worn out (a rare event) they're not expensive to replace.

Other parts last and last, unless you have some catastophic failure that burns them out. Doesn't matter if the amp is old or new for that sort of thing. It's just luck, or lack of it.

If you can get an original at a good price, I say go for it!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply Bill.I have played through a orig jtm45 years ago and just fell in love with the clean yet powerfull tone.Angus Young must have played though one in the early years as all I could think was "man oh man I sound just like Angus".lol.I kinda figured there would be a few bad reviews on the re-issue as it is impossable to improve on such a unique sound,and next to impossable to re-create it!I agree having too good of a ear would do nothing but piss me off and perfect pitch would probally call for suicide!

The reliability qusetion stems from constantly being on the road and the type of abuse I generally put my gear through.Of course that's not to say I dont take care of my gear,but night after night of cranked guitar through a 40+year old head always concerns me(although I have never had a single problem with any other marshall tube head)
anyway's thanks Again for the Info
take Care
Aaron
 

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Small world...

aaron said:
Thanks for the reply Bill.I have played through a orig jtm45 years ago and just fell in love with the clean yet powerfull tone.Angus Young must have played though one in the early years as all I could think was "man oh man I sound just like Angus".lol.I kinda figured there would be a few bad reviews on the re-issue as it is impossable to improve on such a unique sound,and next to impossable to re-create it!I agree having too good of a ear would do nothing but piss me off and perfect pitch would probally call for suicide!

The reliability qusetion stems from constantly being on the road and the type of abuse I generally put my gear through.Of course that's not to say I dont take care of my gear,but night after night of cranked guitar through a 40+year old head always concerns me(although I have never had a single problem with any other marshall tube head)
anyway's thanks Again for the Info
take Care
Aaron

Canso, eh? My mother's family are all Macleans from Pictou and Antigonish.

Does that mean we're related?
 

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Just remembered...

aaron said:
The reliability qusetion stems from constantly being on the road and the type of abuse I generally put my gear through.Of course that's not to say I dont take care of my gear,but night after night of cranked guitar through a 40+year old head always concerns me(although I have never had a single problem with any other marshall tube head)
anyway's thanks Again for the Info
take Care
Aaron
Aaron, for roadworthiness give me a pre-80's amp anyday! Notice my signature message: "After the JCM800 it was all downhill".

The reason for that is older amps were hand wired with either direct tie strips or solder eyelet boards. Newer amps are usually printed circuit board wired.

Although it's certainly possible to design a pcb amp that is just as mechanically reliable as the older methods you rarely see one. The heating and cooling of the tubes makes all the zillions of little circuit board connections expand and contract. By the time you're a few years past warranty they start to go intermittent.

Why don't you see better printed circuit board wiring? I dunno. The boards tend to be thin and automated machine soldered. This may work with computer boards but as I said with the heat of tubes it's a different story. Maybe newer designers are young and more comfortable with solidstate transistor methods. Or maybe the "suits" are just saving money in production costs.

Peavy Classic 30's and that early 90's Fender family of Blues Deluxe/Deville/Hot Rod amps are notorious for such problems. The last Blues Deluxe that came in was so bad I swear that when my cat walked across the rug in front of the amp you could hear the crackling from the vibration!

So the short answer to your question is that an older amp is likely MORE reliable!

I'm not saying that a '64 Twin or Traynor can't develop a bad or intermittent connection. It's just that with modern amps I see it all the time yet with the older amps I think I've seen it maybe twice in over 30 years...
 

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A budget option to the JTM45 is to track down an early Traynor YBA-1. They are basically the same amp. With a few simple mods they are REALLY close to the same amp. Some would say the Traynors are even better built in fact.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I had a old buddy(who is now picking with Hendrex)that used to say the JCM800 was the last of the great Amp's.He really got me into older amp's and for a while I collected older amp's,I had quite the collection at one time.It was during that time I had the oppertunity to play around with a JTM45.That was over 15 years ago and It seems things have come full circle.Today I made payment on a orig JTM45!The fellow I have bought it from had a son pass away 17 years ago and is just now able to get rid of his late son's gear.To be fair he had absolutly no idea of the value(i'm sure he has a different value attached to the amp)well I paid 50% more than what he was asking for the amp.I couldnt bring myself to "steal"it from him without letting him know what his son had.So he also "threw"in a guitar,what a shock when I saw a gibson hardshell case sitting beside the dusty old amp and cab!So to make a long story a little shorter the case contained a sweet little "Melody Maker"I havnt figured out the year yet but will get on cracking the code tonight!

The amp hasnt been plugged in in 17 years,any tips on what I shoulod do before I take it for a test drive?(ie.change the oil and spark plug's?)

I hesitate to devulge what I got this package for because I don't want people to think I ripped this poor old fella off!BUt I made a friend and even played him a few tunes on his linda manzer custom while having a coffee.
 

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Wow!!

aaron said:
I had a old buddy(who is now picking with Hendrex)that used to say the JCM800 was the last of the great Amp's.He really got me into older amp's and for a while I collected older amp's,I had quite the collection at one time.It was during that time I had the oppertunity to play around with a JTM45.That was over 15 years ago and It seems things have come full circle.Today I made payment on a orig JTM45!The fellow I have bought it from had a son pass away 17 years ago and is just now able to get rid of his late son's gear.To be fair he had absolutly no idea of the value(i'm sure he has a different value attached to the amp)well I paid 50% more than what he was asking for the amp.I couldnt bring myself to "steal"it from him without letting him know what his son had.So he also "threw"in a guitar,what a shock when I saw a gibson hardshell case sitting beside the dusty old amp and cab!So to make a long story a little shorter the case contained a sweet little "Melody Maker"I havnt figured out the year yet but will get on cracking the code tonight!

The amp hasnt been plugged in in 17 years,any tips on what I shoulod do before I take it for a test drive?(ie.change the oil and spark plug's?)

I hesitate to devulge what I got this package for because I don't want people to think I ripped this poor old fella off!BUt I made a friend and even played him a few tunes on his linda manzer custom while having a coffee.
Man oh man, what a fabulous score! The gods have smiled down on you!

There's a lot of mojo about firing up an old amp but I've found that either things have hung together or they haven't . That's why amps have fuses!

I do suggest that when you first turn it on leave it on standby for 5 minutes or so while you listen for booms or bangs and sniff for suspicious burning odors. Take a look at the tubes and see if they all appear to be lighting up ok.

When the amp is good and warm hit the standby with the volume all the way off. Again, listen for "scary" noises and if necessary kill the power. If everything seems ok (and it probably will be) then turn the volume up a bit to listen to the hiss of working tubes and to see if you've got any bad power supply hum from filter caps that have dried up over the years.

If you do have a bad power supply hum then you need to take the amp to a tech for a cap job. The amp will then likely be good for another few decades.

As I said, amps have fuses for good reasons. If the JTM blows a fuse then take it to a tech.

There's some mojo out there about using things like variacs to bring the voltage up slowly with an amp that's been stored for years but I fail to see the benefit. The only parts that might appreciate it are the filter caps and if they were gonna blow a slow turnon won't really help. They dry up whether the amp is being used or not and a slow initial turnon might save a fuse but if they blow that easily then they needed to be replaced anyway! Filter caps are like brake shoes or wiper blades. They aren't expected to last forever.

You're gonna have a whale of a lot of fun!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well I went to try the new old amp last night,nothing.No power at all,so I will be making a trip to get it fixed.
Oh well I'm sure it's not a major problem,but kinda was set on rockin last night,good things come to those who wait....I guess
Aaron
 

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aaron said:
... I hesitate to devulge what I got this package for because I don't want people to think I ripped this poor old fella off! But I made a friend and even played him a few tunes on his linda manzer custom while having a coffee.
Aaron, if he could afford to have Linda build him a guitar then money wasn't an issue. (And he obviously knows what's what when it comes to gear.) You showed real class explaining the amps true value and then offering to pay more. That's probably why he added the Melody Maker to the deal. I love to hear stories like this. I've known too many people, (grieving widows mostly) who get ripped off by greedy, thieving bastards who could easily afford to pay many times over full retail for the items. Somehow they get more satisfaction out of the deal if they can brag to their buddies about how little they paid, how much they got and how quickly they flipped the stuff. It happens with antiques, collectables, cars, motorcycles and everything in between.
When it's all said and done it doesn't matter what it costs to get the amp working. You'll end up with a great unit, a nice vintage guitar and will have made a new friend in the bargain. Good on-ya mate!
 
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