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I recently contacted a Marshall expert and original MArshall engineer from the glory days of Hendrix, Clapton ,etc., and and asked him to modify my Traynor YSR_1 into a Plexi. I was amazed at his responce. He advised against it. As a matter of fact, he advised against getting a Plexi at all. He said those were for arenas and auditoriums only. Anything else, he said, would be an excercise in futility. He said he would modify the Traynor, but it would be like turning, and I quote, a" V.W. into a big block chevy". He told me to get a Master model MKII, or a JCM 800 Marshall.. Both of those have Master volumes. Now I have been led to believe master volumes are for bedroom boys! I am calling on someone with experinece with the 50 watt Plexis to help me here and provide some expertise based on experience. I know the Traynor would sound great with a Fulltone or TS-9 pushing the front end. I seek advise from the amp Swami's on this forum
 

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Huh???

gerald guerrero said:
I recently contacted a Marshall expert and original MArshall engineer from the glory days of Hendrix, Clapton ,etc., and and asked him to modify my Traynor YSR_1 into a Plexi. I was amazed at his responce. He advised against it. As a matter of fact, he advised against getting a Plexi at all. He said those were for arenas and auditoriums only. Anything else, he said, would be an excercise in futility. He said he would modify the Traynor, but it would be like turning, and I quote, a" V.W. into a big block chevy". He told me to get a Master model MKII, or a JCM 800 Marshall.. Both of those have Master volumes. Now I have been led to believe master volumes are for bedroom boys! I am calling on someone with experinece with the 50 watt Plexis to help me here and provide some expertise based on experience. I know the Traynor would sound great with a Fulltone or TS-9 pushing the front end. I seek advise from the amp Swami's on this forum
I don't know where to start! (deep breath)

I dunno what kind of "expert" you were talking to but it sure sounds like he never even looked inside a Traynor! Maybe not that many ever made it all the way to Texas.

" V.W. into a big block chevy" ?? The YSR-1 runs the same output tubes and the same power level as a Plexi! It has a similar amount of gain available from the preamp, the major difference being it has a Baxandall type tone control stack more similar to that of an Ampeg than the typical Fender/Marshall setup. So both amps have the same "big block".

I've modded more old Traynors than I care to remember and actually am in the middle of a YSR-1 project for a player right now.

I don't understand why he would say that the old Plexi style amps were for arenas only and suggest a Mark II MV or a JCM800 when they all run the same power levels!

Maybe this fellow is a younger chap whose formative years were the 80's. That's when the world went all "Yngwie" and master volumes became the rage. You get a totally different kind of tone from a master volume. If that's his taste then fine, he's absolutely entitled to it. If he thinks that everyone else must follow his choice then frankly, who'd want him as a neighbour? Let's hope he doesn't start championing hiphop instead of guitar.

There are two totally separate and different types of distortion in the typical guitar amp. One is the preamp and the other is the power amp. Preamp distortion is more "fizzy" and "crunchy". The power amp when cranked up gives that warm, thick and "ballsy" distortion pioneered during the Golden Years of rock. Think Pete Townsend, Jimmy Page or even Pat Travers. MV's are for Dimebag Darryl clones, IMHO.

Master volumes by necessity are placed in circuit before the output tubes. They let you crank up the input volume (some makers call it "gain") and keep the MV low. This adds crunch while keeping the output volume down. Like most things in life, there's a hidden price. At that low MV setting you CAN'T get any power tube distortion! That MV is keeping the input signal to the EL-34's or whatever too low to let it happen.

That's why Angus Young and his brother only use non-MV Marshalls, "the older the better!". Getting their sound with a JCM series amp would be almost impossible. You can come closer if you leave the master volume on 10. That puts it mostly out of the circuit but the question then becomes: "Why have a MV at all?"

If your amp is too loud for the gig then you should have a lower power amp in your arsenal. Biggest mistake a player can make is to take in a 50 or 100 watt amp to a small club and tell himself "I'll just keep it below 3."

He won't be able to keep it there. The amp will sound "lame-ass" and he'll not be able to resist cranking it up, not to become louder but just because the tone kinda sucks. By maybe the 3rd song of the 1st set he's in trouble. So he lets some salesguy talk him into a MV amp and immediately he can't get a classic rock tone. When he goes back to the store they con him into buying some kind of "POD 6! Guaranteed to sound exactly like any amp ever made!"

He could also have used a smaller speaker cab or done the old trick of turning a closed back cabinet backwards to the wall. Or bought a "Hot Plate Power Soaker".

Does a carpenter keep only one size of hammer or saw in his kit? You need the right sized tool for the job.

If the guitar player for "Marv and the Marvelettes" had been using a MV amp then Jake and Elwood would have left him to rot at that Holiday Inn gig... :(

There's a whole world out there of 20 watt Marshall-style amps to fill this need. Take in a 20 watt amp and run it on 8 or 9 and you get that power amp distortion that you were missing, without blowing out the walls.

Some boutique guys will build such amps even lower powered. I built one fellow a nice little 10 watt amp Plexi style. Paired with a single 12" Eminence speaker and it works just great in a small club. Often at a larger venue he'll just mike it.

That's my take on it, anyway. As I had said, we're all entitled to our own taste and you have to make your own choice. It just seemed to me from your post that your "expert" was giving you a rather narrow perspective.
 

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Thank you Wild bill. Contact me on a PM, please sir. Would you please modify my YSR-1 to the plexi circuit? volume be damned! Thats what Fulltone II's are for if its too loud. Anyhow, thats probably better than a master volume. I am anxious to get started. Contact me, my Traynor wants to go back home for a visit!
 

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gerald guerrero said:
Thank you Wild bill. Contact me on a PM, please sir. Would you please modify my YSR-1 to the plexi circuit? volume be damned! Thats what Fulltone II's are for if its too loud. Anyhow, thats probably better than a master volume. I am anxious to get started. Contact me, my Traynor wants to go back home for a visit!
I should be able to give you a review of the results of the YSR-1 conversion pretty soon. Bill's working on mine as we speak :smile:
 

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Wild Bill said:
I don't understand why he would say that the old Plexi style amps were for arenas only and suggest a Mark II MV or a JCM800 when they all run the same power levels!





Master volumes by necessity are placed in circuit before the output tubes. They let you crank up the input volume (some makers call it "gain") and keep the MV low. This adds crunch while keeping the output volume down. Like most things in life, there's a hidden price. At that low MV setting you CAN'T get any power tube distortion! That MV is keeping the input signal to the EL-34's or whatever too low to let it happen.

+1 what Bill said

I have a question tho.....What would be the ideal MV pre or post PI????
I have never found the MV on my JCM800 2203 to be very useful anyway? When I need to dim volume "cuz the neighbours are pounding on the front door":tongue: I just put my power soak in line....
D.
 

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There isn't one...

el84 said:
+1 what Bill said

I have a question tho.....What would be the ideal MV pre or post PI????
I have never found the MV on my JCM800 2203 to be very useful anyway? When I need to dim volume "cuz the neighbours are pounding on the front door":tongue: I just put my power soak in line....
D.
Again, it's all taste. Some guys feel that a post PI MV sounds better because it adds one more (and the very last) preamp tube before the power amp into the chain. Maybe so, it's up to them after all.

To me, it's still preamp distortion! Preamp tubes are voltage (or signal) amplifiers and it doesn't matter how many or how few of them you overdrive. They can't ever sound like the distortion of a strongly driven power amp, because a power amp deals with real current or power flow. This gives a totally different sound. Not to mention the added bliss of pumping big current pulses through the output transformer.

So if your question about an "ideal" MV means the best sounding, then again I throw it back to you as a matter of taste. If you meant which MV circuit would give you back some or all of that power amp distortion then the answer is simple:

NONE OF THEM!

I say again, all MV's work by reducing the signal BEFORE the power tubes. So it is impossible for those power tubes to give you that warm and thick distortion.

NonReverb mentioned a Deluxe Reverb. That amp has been voted "best all-around" time and time again over the years. It runs 15-20 watts (depending on if it's measured by a tech or soome suit in sales) into a single 12". You get great tone and speaker breakup at a modest volume level perfect for most small clubs or that can be miked for bigger venues. If you want more balls then they will light up nice with a Tube Screamer.

Still, there's just something special to me about a 50 watt Plexi style Marshall into a vintage (not the new Chinese!) speaker stack...running on "11"! :)
 

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Wild Bill said:
Again, it's all taste. Some guys feel that a post PI MV sounds better because it adds one more (and the very last) preamp tube before the power amp into the chain. Maybe so, it's up to them after all.

To me, it's still preamp distortion! Preamp tubes are voltage (or signal) amplifiers and it doesn't matter how many or how few of them you overdrive. They can't ever sound like the distortion of a strongly driven power amp, because a power amp deals with real current or power flow. This gives a totally different sound. Not to mention the added bliss of pumping big current pulses through the output transformer.

So if your question about an "ideal" MV means the best sounding, then again I throw it back to you as a matter of taste. If you meant which MV circuit would give you back some or all of that power amp distortion then the answer is simple:

NONE OF THEM!

I say again, all MV's work by reducing the signal BEFORE the power tubes. So it is impossible for those power tubes to give you that warm and thick distortion.

NonReverb mentioned a Deluxe Reverb. That amp has been voted "best all-around" time and time again over the years. It runs 15-20 watts (depending on if it's measured by a tech or soome suit in sales) into a single 12". You get great tone and speaker breakup at a modest volume level perfect for most small clubs or that can be miked for bigger venues. If you want more balls then they will light up nice with a Tube Screamer.

Still, there's just something special to me about a 50 watt Plexi style Marshall into a vintage (not the new Chinese!) speaker stack...running on "11"! :)
There's something else about the Deluxe Reverb which IMO contributes to it's popularity...the 6V6 power tubes. They have a rich and reponsive tone that
I feel, makes the amp more touch sensitive.
 

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Love them 6V6's!!

nonreverb said:
There's something else about the Deluxe Reverb which IMO contributes to it's popularity...the 6V6 power tubes. They have a rich and reponsive tone that
I feel, makes the amp more touch sensitive.
Absolutely! There's a good techie reason for this too.

6V6's are more sensitive than 6L6's in that they don't need as much drive to deliver full output. In effect, they are more sensitive for the same amount of gain from the preamp. Fender preamps are all virtually identical in most of the vintage models, whether they run 6L6's or 6V6's.

That's also why EL84's can sound so much like EL34's at only 20 watts or so. Similar sensitivities with needed input levels.

It's the gain along the chain that determines the "quickness" of an amp, among other factors. Vintage blues tends to slower notes with more sustain. That's the major reason why guys experiment with lower gain tubes in the 1st preamp position, like the 5751, 12AY7 and others. Hardcore is at the other extreme, with sometimes ridiculous numbers of 12AX7's. Or overdrive circuits like with Trainwrecks or Dumbles. These last two are famous for "touch" response and "pick attack".

To me, figuring out WHY different circuits show different effects on the tone is the fun and creative part! Getting to understand what's going on helps to zero in on tweaking an amp to a specific player's style much more quickly than just shooting randomly in the dark until you've gone through a mile of solder.

Best of all, it never stops! By now Marshalls have become almost boring after working with so many of them but there's always a country player or even someone exclusively acoustic who'll drop by and I'll have to stop and think and/or do a little research to achieve the required sound. I actually get more fun out of helping a guy who's style is not my regular cup of tea - I have to listen more and get more creative.

So many tones and so little time... :)
 

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Thanks wild bill. A brilliant analysis. Much indebted to you for that take on the matter, and helping me to learn more .Ive heard criticism of those Fuchs/Bogner/Mesa quadruple rectifier amps are criticised for taking the player out of the equation. Ive played a touch responsive amp, and its very exciting, but there comes a point where you want a balance - letting your fingers work the fretboard for the amp tone.
 

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Bill you have keen insight regarding amplifiers! I would like to add the speaker/ output transformer dimension to this discussion as well. I have serviced many amps over the years and found that different speakers, particularly in amps such as Deluxes, can have a huge effect on the tone.
I don't think a lot of players realise this. The difference between a high powered ceramic speaker and a low power aLnico is like night and day tone wise. The output trannys are the other factor which determines a lot of the tone. The transformers in the Deluxe saturate fairly quickly which contributes to that nice overdriven sound. I read somwhere that Fender used output transformers that spec'd close to their power rating limits
in their earlier amps. If this is true, it explains why the early ones sounded good and, unfortunately, why I have seen a few of them with blown trannys.
 

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Interesting how a Deluxe Reverb and a Plexi can be mentioned in the same context.
I build 18 watt amps with EL-84's and 6V6's and that circuit is probably the best way to get 'plexi' like tones at less than ear splitting volumes.I would never try to get plexi tones out of a Deluxe Reverb!
Most guys who still like plexi's and 100 watt amps don't play in clubs.
I am also a big fan of the tones from a 2204(JCM800) master volume amp.I just punt the treble peaking circuit and they sound great at lower volume levels.
 

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Adicted to Tubes said:
Interesting how a Deluxe Reverb and a Plexi can be mentioned in the same context.
I build 18 watt amps with EL-84's and 6V6's and that circuit is probably the best way to get 'plexi' like tones at less than ear splitting volumes.I would never try to get plexi tones out of a Deluxe Reverb!
Most guys who still like plexi's and 100 watt amps don't play in clubs.
I am also a big fan of the tones from a 2204(JCM800) master volume amp.I just punt the treble peaking circuit and they sound great at lower volume levels.
Well, as for context we were talking responsiveness or "quickness". A DR and a "Plexi" can share this characteristic and still have a dramatically different sound. There are a host of factors involved, after all. No one implied that you could make them sound exactly the same. Conan O'Brian and George "Snufflupagus" from CBC's "The Hour" share being Canadian and being talk show hosts but frankly, Conan is cool and George sucks...

And yeah, you can do a million mods for the 2204 and get great sounds that satisfy a legion of folk's tastes. But you still will have zip-all in the way of power amp distortion and to many ears your sound will have something missing. That's the reason so many cover bands that do classic rock have a "smaltzy" sound. Instead of having a ballsy "live off the floor" sound they come across with a "car radio" mix.

If you're young enough to have never heard "the real thing" then you have no point of comparison to know what you're missing. It may still sound great to you but it IS different! Like the punk version of Sinatra's "My Way" it can be great to hear but is totally unique from the original.

Don't mistake me, I'm not saying that MV amps can't sound good. It's all taste and as a tech it's my business to give the customer what he wants and NOT what I personally like!

It's just that there IS a difference and that's why I've written these posts, to explain why.
 

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Wild Bill said:
. Conan O'Brian and George "Snufflupagus" from CBC's "The Hour" share being Canadian and being talk show hosts but frankly, Conan is cool and George sucks...
Although it would be nice to claim Conan as our own, he was born in Brookline Massachusetts. :D Unfortunately, I can't think of a decent Canadian talk show host for your analogy.
 

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Scottone said:
Although it would be nice to claim Conan as our own, he was born in Brookline Massachusetts. :D Unfortunately, I can't think of a decent Canadian talk show host for your analogy.
Mike Bullard? (Duck and run) :wink: :wink: :wink:
 

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Point taken.
I also recently built a 2204 'Dual' amp for a local musician and he used EL34's in one side and KT66's in the other and played them both at the same time.HUGE!
He also got the 'noise' prod from his bandmates and now uses 6V6's in the side he had EL-34's in before.All in all a great blend of tones.The 2204 can sound great at club levels and even has some great clean tones in it if you take two seconds to turn some knobs.With 6V6's it is not as loud and still crunches away happily.The master and pre-amp gain can be very useful.Try cranking the master up and feeding in the pre-amp for some power tube like distortion at lower levels.
Those knobs can turn both ways.
 
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