1966 champ recapping necessary?

Discussion in 'Musical Instruments' started by Jcbluesman, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. Jcbluesman

    Jcbluesman Member

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    I bought a 66 champ recently. Insides look great. Cut the death cap and installed a grounded cord. The caps do look great but I've heard the caps need changing because of age, not condition or use. If I recap will I hear great differences or will I be wasting time and money. I tried a speaker upgrade and the original speaker went right back in. It is voiced perfectly for my hears and that speaker is what makes it sound like a champ. Thanks for info and input
     

     

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  2. ic-racer

    ic-racer Super Member

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    In my opinion all the tone of a vintage amp is in the speaker. I have a blackface champ and it has a can capacitor which I replaced about 20 years ago. I wish I still had the original speaker, mine came with no speaker. :(
    champ blackface.JPG
     
  3. Jcbluesman

    Jcbluesman Member

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    15499161737191050889272515394794.jpg
    Yeah, I agree. If I lost my speaker I'd have to hunt down an original if at all possible. Too me, the amp sounds just fine with the original caps. I tried for years to modify other amps to sound like a champ, then I finally got smart and hunted one down. Lol, live and learn. All the money I spent in my endeavors I could have easily bought one years ago.
     
  4. Ross6860

    Ross6860 AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Don't change anything on a vintage guitar amp if you like the sound, unless a repair is necessary.

    As those old components drift in value, the amp's tone can get "better", or get worse. That's why not all vintage amps of the same model do not sound the same. If you have a good one, leave it alone.

    Owner of a '55 Valco Supreme, 60's Silvertone, and '74 Champ. I've had a few others pass through my hands.
     
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  5. Jcbluesman

    Jcbluesman Member

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    Sound good to me. I'll leave her alone. She sings like a champ
     
  6. JohnMac

    JohnMac Addicted Member

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    About a year ago I got a '76 Vibro Champ. I replaced all of the caps and resistors. The voltages were pretty high so I installed a dropping resistor to bring them in line. When I got finished I wasn't happy with the tone. I ended up putting the original blue coupling caps back in and took the dropping resistor out and got back the sweet tone that it should have. I learned my lesson on that one and other than replacing the power supply and bias caps I'll leave the next vintage amp as original as possible.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019 at 2:59 PM

     

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  7. pilotputz

    pilotputz Super Member

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    So...I build and restore old guitar amps as a hobby. Anyway, one of the first things I learned when I started building amps is that coupling caps need time to burn in. When I first fire up a new amp it always sounds a little soggy to me. But after some hours of playtime the amp both stiffens up and gets more focused and darker in tone.
    Whenever I hear a story like the last post, I think they are hearing that too and instead of riding it out and letting the new caps burn in, they switch back to the old ones.
    On a unit that old, I think it's crazy not to at least replace the lytics. Truly, with them, it really is simply a matter of time.
    As far as coupling caps go, over the years I have learned that some types of caps just HAVE TO BE REPLACED while other types seem to hold up fairly well. With 50s amps you just have to replace the coupling caps. I have not ever one time found a Sprague bumblebee or an early Sprague Black Cat that was actually in spec...ever. Pyramids and Astrons are hit and miss. So much so, that I always replace them because I am lazy and I don't want to do repairs twice!
    At some point in the early 60s Fender switched to different caps. The blue caps with the white labels that designate their ratings are usually ok. Since your Champ is a 66 I'd bet that's what's in it. Personally, I'd probably leave them in there. But you really should replace the paper bias cap and the three big lytics.
    It'd be a real shame to damage an amp that's made it 52 years now for 20 bucks worth of caps.
    My two cents.
    Sorry if it sounded preachy!!
     
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  8. JohnMac

    JohnMac Addicted Member

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    I don't think anyone would find that preachy. Sounds like good advice based on experience.
     
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  9. toxcrusadr

    toxcrusadr Omelette au Fromage Subscriber

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    Agreed, the power supply electrolytics don't have direct effect on the sound since they are not in the signal path, but they sure are important to keeping the thing running, and if they fail, it's goodbye output tubes, or worse, transformers.
     
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  10. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    If there's a paper tubular cap in there, replace it. Pretty sure that's a bias cap. There is absolutely zero benefit to leaving the original in there.
     
  11. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    ^This. But for God's sake don't put Orange drops in there. There are reproduction Astron's available, among others.

    A long time ago, before I did my own work, I had someone work on a 61 Fender Deluxe amp that was crackling. Idiots never called me and just replaced every coupling cap with an Orange drop.

    Bye-bye tone. Bye bye happiness. Thing was so bright it could have lit up Madison Square Garden.
     
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  12. Jcbluesman

    Jcbluesman Member

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    Personally I don't know much about the inside of an amp. I can work on them after very much research and study. Some caps I can handlet but nothing major. I look into getting what you suggested done. I've got a soldering station and have reworked guitars. As long as it's not too technical I'm good. Hey thanks for your post, really helps
     
  13. Jcbluesman

    Jcbluesman Member

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    Yeah, that's what I don't want too. If a supposedly speaker upgrade change my amp like it did, I'm weary about messing with anything on the inside that would change its character
     
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  14. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    We aren't talking about capriciously replacing everything (something I would not advocate in all but the most dire case). We're talking about mitigating possible catastrophic failure. Lost bias can indeed propagate that outcome. Up to you, though. There is absolutely no advantage to leaving a cardboard-tube bias cap in there and plenty of evidence in favor of replacement.
     
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  15. valvenator

    valvenator curious bystander, serious procrastinator

    This doesn't make much sense to me unless:
    The caps were replaced with the wrong value. Even one could make a huge difference or...
    The originals had drifted so far that the replacements sounded way off in comparison.
    I wouldn't think the type of caps would make such a huge difference.
     
  16. baconbadge

    baconbadge AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The original blue “Ajax” molded caps are usually good and don’t need to be changed if you’re just playing at home or at rehearsals. Now if you’re going out on the road (which I doubt you’d be doing with a Champ) and need a 100% failproof amp, I’d probably replace coupling caps to ensure your power tubes don’t get funny on you. It really depends on how you’re using the amp. Electrolytic filter caps should definitely be changed... use Sprague Atoms. I think they’re worth the extra money. But hey, I’m an eccentric millionaire.
     
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  17. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    They were the proper values. Lots of instances where things we don't think would make such a huge difference turn out to make a difference.

    The orange drops might be fine in a blackface Fender for guys that like the scooped midrange of those amps. The brown tolex Fender amps have a different character. The Orange drops made the Deluxe sound "Glassy"; a sound that I simply do not want.
     
  18. valvenator

    valvenator curious bystander, serious procrastinator

    I think I understand better where you're coming from.
    Through personal experience I know it doesn't take a big difference to make or break the sound you're after.
    All those fine details can add up pretty quick.
     
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  19. pilotputz

    pilotputz Super Member

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    Hey Jcbluesman! I bet you've got the skill and knowhow to replace the electrolytics in your Champ. There are tons of photos and step by step instructions out there on the web. If you've got a soldering station you could easily handle the job.:thumbsup:

    I think UncleBingo is right on the money about some Orange Drops making a guitar amp too bright and glossy sounding.
    I blame the polypropylene caps like the 715 and 716 series. I MUCH prefer polyester caps in guitar amps. If I use ODs in a guitar amp they are either the 6PS series or the older 225 series: Both are polyester film. To me, they sound much more like what I expect a guitar amp to sound like: Warm and buttery when clean; gritty and sort of grainy when pushed with overdrive or light distortion.
     
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  20. PureQuill

    PureQuill AK Member Subscriber

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    Vintage amp tone is the sum of their parts...The speaker, the way the old wood in the cabinet resonates, the speaker baffle wood and construction, the drifting of old components, the way the transformer was wound all contribute to the sound of each particular amp....
    For me the magic in a lot of amps is in the iron....Once an original transformer goes belly up it will never sound the same.
    So I take care to protect my transformers.
    I have zero problem with replacing caps that might endanger the transformers.
    I have my amp guru go thru my vintage amps on a regular schedule. Sort of like going to the Dr. once a year for a check up. He makes sure my gear will out last me.
    A great tech will know what is prone to failure and have the correct parts to preserve the tone.

    I found this on the Fender website about the new 64 Deluxe Reverb hand wired Amp which tells me that Fender believes that capacitors definitely play a part in vintage tone.

    "Among the other specifications that harken back to the original Fender Blackface amps, Fender equipped the 20-watt ’64 Custom Deluxe Reverb with Pure Vintage Blue Tone capacitors, which were created to mimic the Astron capacitors used during that era, a solid-pine cabinet and a 12” Jensen C12Q ceramic speaker."

    If it was me I have the caps checked if the are good leave them if they are leaking or known to fail replace them with the closest thing you find to original.
    Enjoy your new amp ,Champs are one of my favorite recording amps.
    PQ
     
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