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My recent purchase of a Trainwreck clone got me reading, which got me experimenting. I used my MIM Strat with Fat 50’s set fairly low. This guitar is my beater, but has the “meat”.

I had to stop for the day because my ears were starting to shut down.

The tone of the amp as received, was too bright for my taste and did not fully match the nuances that I heard on YouTube and other sound clip sources. My reading kept telling me that the Wreck circuit responded well to vintage/NOS tubes.

I pulled the three JJ EC 83S tubes that came with it, and tried Sovtek. The JJ were too bright, the Sovtek were kind of dull, the mix of the two, JJ and Sovtek was meh.

Out came the last of my 1975 JAN 12AX7WA Sylvania USA stash.

In the past the JAN pre amp tubes either made a subtle difference, no difference, or were microphonic when tried in several amps that I own. So the JAN tubes went back in the box, or the tube that made a difference in V1 stayed in the amp.

I put a JAN tube in V1 and rolled the JJ and Sovteks. I was not impressed.

Finally, I put my last three JAN 12AX7WA tubes in the Wreck and it came tonally alive, rivalling, challenging, and destroying my thoughts and experiences with other amps. The cleans were now delightfully delicious, expressive, touch sensitive, that delivered nuances of tone, even from my clumsy hands. A slight roll of the guitar volume knob put me in new unheard territory, all the way to full Trainwreck Express roar. Quite similar to what I have been hearing in my demo searches, minus the brilliant playing technique and choice of music. The bright switch, OT switch, and resistor to choke switch show much more rewarding signs of tonal life. Even my fumbling, clumsy hands were finding a new mojo tone experience for my ears. I think that a much more experienced player that had the chops for this kind of amp, would have checked off all the boxes, lit the lights, rang the bells, put on the dog and pony show.

The microphonic thing was ever so slightly showing it’s head as I gave into the gain. I further rolled the tubes until it lessened, it was still intermittently there. I yanked the most microphonic tube and placed the best remaining two in V2 and V3. I had a single JAN 5751 from 1979 that I have never tried, and finally put it into V1. The tone and dynamics from the amp are now, more musical and simply gorgeous.

Half power, full power, PPIMV dimed, or tastefully used, with the Dr. Z Airbrake, without, all seems much more promising. I have lots to learn now, and more tubes to keep an eye out for. This truly is the one amp that I own that really responds to the older, hard to find tubes.

My reading said that the distortion of this amp is generated in the power transformer, then each gain stage thereafter, does it’s thing.

I still need to try humbucker, Mini hums, P90’s, and such, with the new pre amp tube compliment. The lower frequencies that were missing, have much improved. The shrillness that was originally, easily overachieved, is greatfully reduced, and converted to a more useful, musical range.

I am glad that I did my reading and had a stash of tubes to experiment with. The Trainwreck clone is on the way to being a better clone.
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