Time to improve the tone of my primary stage amp, the Fender 65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue or DRRI.

—–Original Message—–
From: Richard Cleaver
Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2005 5:27 PM
To: ‘Mike Kropotkin’
Subject: RE: eWeb customer request!

Hi Mike,

Signal chain is usually a PRS Custom 24 -> Ernie Ball Volume -> Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor which loops the distortion/compression pedals (Analog Man Juicer, Analog Man modified Boss DS-1, Analog Man modified Ibanez TS-9) and out to a Voodoo Labs Chorus and a Line 6 DL-4 delay.

The amp has not been modified and runs with the Fender supplied Jensen speaker. The amp is very bright and to my ear it can be a bit strident. On stage I keep the amp volume set at 2.5/3, treble at 1, bass at 6 and reverb at 2.5. I use the TS-9 to overdrive the amp.

I would like a smoother tone from the amp. And a less strident or harsh tone when the amp is overdriven. The reverb is also a bit weak sounding. I do not use the vibrato at all.

Mike’s response:

—–Original Message—–
From: Mike Kropotkin
Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2005 5:44 PM
To: ‘Richard Cleaver’
Subject: RE: eWeb customer request!

Hi Richard:

The Jensen speaker is probably a big source of the harshness. Those speakers are VERY bright and generally sound horrible. I recommend something from like the C12N. Ask Ted.

For tubes, here’s what I recommend:

V1 and V5: You can keep what you’re using or use something inexpensive like the Ruby STR 7025 ($12 each)

V2 and V4 will be the big tone contributors. The RCA 12AX7A ($55) and Brimar CV4004 ($65) are great candidates. You can get one of each and swap them between V2 and V4 to see which positions you like best.

V3 and V6: Mullard CV4024 ($22 each)

6V6s: GEC 6V6Gs ($85 per pair) are excellent and should smooth things out.

5AR4: The rectifier may not change the tone much (though tons of my customers disagree) but a NOS 5AR4 can last a lifetime. Best deal is the JAN Philips (mislabeled 5V4GA) for $50.

Let me know if you have further questions.

Best Regards,
Mike Kropotkin
KCA NOS Tubes & Amp Repair/Modifications

I ordered the tubes from KCA. I also contacted Ted at Weber speakers. I have a bunch of tubes and a new speaker due to arrive in a week. We’ll see how much impact these changes will have on the amp. I have talked with a few guitar amp techs and they suggest the difference in tone is significant.


4 replies
  1. Rob Haskell
    Rob Haskell says:

    Hi, Richard, I am interested in your upgrade – have you received the tubes and or speaker yet?

    Are you going to try the upgrades independent of one another to see if improvement is noted in just the new speaker installatoin, or just the new tube installation?

    As I have a pair of original Fender Deluxes (a 1965 and 66), I am curious as to the sound enhancement….(although I don’t admit to my amps suffering from harshness or volume issues….). One of my amps, believe it or not, has the original speaker AND original tubes – never changed….should be gettting around to it in the NEXT 40 years. 🙂

  2. richard cleaver
    richard cleaver says:

    Hi Rob,

    KCA has shipped the tubes so I expect to receive them in sometime this week. Ted has started making the speaker. I suspect it will take another week before the speaker arrives.

    I have a couple of guitar techs that have highly recommended changing the stock tubes as well as going for a speaker mod. The amp is not vintage, and, unlike your two beauties, won’t be for another 40 years.

    I will be re-tubing first. And I will be on stage this week-end so I will have a chance to see what impact the tubes will have. I hope to track the amp in the studio before the tube changes and then again after the tube changes. Not quite a scientific test but enough to at least prevent memory lapses and potential buyer’s remorse.

    I will post the results on the blog.

  3. Rick LeGuerrier
    Rick LeGuerrier says:

    Hi Richard,
    So, what ever happened with your DRRI mods? I have one and am quite interested in your thoughts, particularly on the speaker change.


  4. Richard Cleaver
    Richard Cleaver says:

    Hi Rick,
    I can definitely recommend the changes. I did find that the change of tubes was far more dramatic to my ear over the change of speaker.

    The speaker needed some time to break in. At this point, I would say that the amp sounds more like an expensive boutique amp. Open, clean with rich overtones. The DRRI is not a heavy amp but, with the changes, it breaks up nicely with excellent overtones.

    I have a number of amps in the studio and I also have a number of players that bring their own rigs into the studio. The DRRI, with the change in tubes and speaker, is a great-sounding rig and voices exceptionally well when recorded. I did use the amp for live performances without issue although I am now playing with a Mesa Boogie LoneStar Special. The Mesa is also a great-sounding combo.



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