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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Gear »

Permalink Brownface build?

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Weber used to sell a 6g13A kit (Vibrasonic) but no longer, I was really disappointed when I decided to get one only to find it was discontinued. They still have the layout, schematic and list of parts here

Hey all,

I really appreciate everyone's constructive input on this matter and do take each warning and caution seriously and graciously. Aside from the safety matter, I do hear you on the likely "lack of savings" issue as well.

My thought is that it's not simply an economic issue. It just seems way cooler to bring another Showman (type) amp into the world when there are so few extant. And I really dig the idea of having built my own gear.

While I have no experience either building or designing amps and am generally clueless when it comes to wiring, I also feel it is a surmountable task to overcome these deficiencies. A salient Robert Heinlein quote echos in my ears.

If I did decide to leap into the task, I would most likely seek to make additions to the Fender design. Tqi, I appreciate what you said about the blackface chassis being viable. I can tell the thought of this excites you, even if just a little! I had actually been thinking along similar lines: one of those silverface PA 100 or 135 monsters would provide all kinds of room and parts!

That Bandmaster posted is, I admit, also tempting. 40 watts might not be sufficient for the kind sonic surf slaughter I plan but perhaps it wouldn't be too involved a process to upgrade it with a Showman transformer and whatever little circuit differences there were? What would it cost to have a "Bandman" or "Showmaster" faceplace whipped up...?

Redfeather wrote:

What would it cost to have a "Bandman" or "Showmaster" faceplace whipped up...?

There are lots of ways to do it, but doing it right would probably be $150(screened on metal), doing it sufficiently would be like $75-100? None of these includes design.

Here are the step before you build.

1.) Price it out.
2.) Learn how to read a wiring diagram.
3.) Learn how to draw a wiring diagram if you want to make additions to the circuit
4.) Start practicing by wiring some instrument cables up, you need to learn to solder. And you need to learn how to solder well, how to remove solder, how to get solder to stick to larger metal objects without burning them out. And you need to learn how to strip as well, not the hardest.
5.) Then you can start buying. Perhaps just buy the circuit board first, that is the cheapest part.

Roger that, Jake. I wasn't entirely serious about the faceplate, as I'd probably want to do something a little less explicitly Fender, but I appreciate your input and particularly your list.

I have a whole lot of experience soldering but the rest is definitely a must. I also have access to a wealth of electronics knowledge in the form of a former co-worker who's an EE and tube radio guy. There would be plenty of research, study, and planning before anything was purchased.

Oh, and probably lots of annoying questions posted on web forums...

Redfeather wrote:

one of those silverface PA 100 or 135 monsters would provide all kinds of room and parts!

...please don't do that. A PA 100 or 135 is basically already a silverface Showman/Bassman power design with a different tone stack. You could convert it into a SF Showman without a huge amount of work, but there wouldn't be altogether much point. You'd never make it sound like a 6G14 brownface without destroying the chassis anyway, to fit the extra tubes. If you're just building a Silverface or Blackface circuit, you can buy a BF Twin kit, tweak a few capacitors and put it in a head - One AB763 Showman.

The reasons I suggested the Twin Reverb are:

  • It has holes for exactly six preamp and four power tube sockets, which is the right number for a Brownface showman.

  • Mojotone make an affordable predrilled chassis for it, designed to take the 100W Showman transformers.

  • They also make an affordable newbuild 'Blackface' cabinet for it that you could easily have recovered in 'blonde'.

You can build the entire thing non-destructively to 1962 spec, with all-new parts - and decorate it however you want.

Redfeather wrote:

That Bandmaster posted is, I admit, also tempting. 40 watts might not be sufficient for the kind sonic surf slaughter I plan but perhaps it wouldn't be too involved a process to upgrade it with a Showman transformer and whatever little circuit differences there were?

For one thing, you'd have to find somewhere to put the extra two 6L6 tubes.

Lets take a step back. You're running a Frontman 212R? Nice amp, I used to play with one a lot in the guitar store I 'worked at' for a while. In terms of actual volume, that bandmaster head is going to put out about the same amount of power as your Frontman, or near enough. Is that not enough?

If that isn't enough; you're also not yet working with a Valve amp; so something like a Silverface Showman or Bassman (or even a PA 100, if you find one cheap) is going to be a huge leap from what you're already running.

You'll also need to pick up some cabinets to run under an amp like that - if you choose wisely, you'll be keeping those cabinets if you ever decide to build, or buy a brownface Showman.

If you wanted an 'easy' starter amp mod to try, you could even have a go at modifying the Frontman - running the speaker cables to a jack socket on the chassis, then making a new speaker cable that plugs the internal speakers into that socket. That would mean you could also plug an external cabinet into that socket and reuse the Frontman while you build, or save up for a Valve amp. You wouldn't even need to touch the PCB either, which is good because that way fire and tears lay.

You're right that I've thought about this before. And Woody's comments about the 6G14 showman for bass are certainly encouraging me to think about it; after all, the chances of my finding a Brownface Showman or Surfer here are basically nil.

Jake has a very good idea: Don't commit till you've actually tried soldering and building the circuit board. Here's a seller with pre-made 6G14 eyelet boards that you could work with. You'll also need this: http://www.thetubestore.com/lib/thetubestore/schematics/Fender/Fender-Showman-6G14-Schematic.pdf the Showman circuit schematic and layout diagram. I have a giant one of these printed out and stuck to the wall of my study.

If you can build a complete and accurate circuit board of the amp, tested with a multimeter - then think about buying valves, transformers and finding something to put it in. Smile

Last edited: Mar 22, 2018 21:42:50

Tqi wrote:

Redfeather wrote:

one of those silverface PA 100 or 135 monsters would provide all kinds of room and parts!

...please don't do that. A PA 100 or 135 is basically already a silverface Showman/Bassman power design with a different tone stack. You could convert it into a SF Showman without a huge amount of work, but there wouldn't be altogether much point. You'd never make it sound like a 6G14 brownface without destroying the chassis anyway, to fit the extra tubes. If you're just building a Silverface or Blackface circuit, you can buy a BF Twin kit, tweak a few capacitors and put it in a head - One AB763 Showman.

The reasons I suggested the Twin Reverb are:

  • It has holes for exactly six preamp and four power tube sockets, which is the right number for a Brownface showman.

  • Mojotone make an affordable predrilled chassis for it, designed to take the 100W Showman transformers.

  • They also make an affordable newbuild 'Blackface' cabinet for it that you could easily have recovered in 'blonde'.

You can build the entire thing non-destructively to 1962 spec, with all-new parts - and decorate it however you want.

I've always wondered about this. Could a Blackface Twin be voiced similar to a Brownface Showman by modifying the tone stack? I don't have schematics handy, so I'm just blindly speculating, but there is a degree of commonality. I think the the transformers may be fairly different, however.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

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Dead Thread

synchro wrote:

I've always wondered about this. Could a Blackface Twin be voiced similar to a Brownface Showman by modifying the tone stack?

The Showman transformers are (I believe) bigger - but you'd certainly 'get away' with the stock ones well enough. But, in terms of what's in the chassis - the Twin is going to contain an AB763 circuit like the Blackface Showman, and that design is a two plus PI preamp similar to a 6G14A and can be modified to be...close. No, scratch that. I have no idea where I got that idea. The 6G14A is also full'o'toobs, and there's no such thing as a Blackface Twin without reverb so they'll all have six noval sockets anyway.

But I think what we're all talking about when we say 'Brownface' is the original 6G14. So, a 6G14 or 6G14A from a Twin Reverb. That takes six 7025's, instead of two 7025's and a 12AT7. So there's not really a way to do that, other than to build from scratch. Again, you could use the chassis, SS rectifier circuit and transformers from a Twin Reverb, which has the extra noval sockets - but you'd be entirely replacing the tone stack and circuitry. I guess if you did, you could probably fit a Surfy Bear in there to keep the reverb circuit working...

Edited because I am super stupid at 3am.

Last edited: Mar 22, 2018 22:33:41

Tqi, thanks for continuing to weigh in. I didn't realize the silverface PAs were so ill suited. I guess the size and high power rating dazzled me.

I do have a Frontman 212R but I don't actually use it. I've come to realize it's a very thin, bassless, and ill-suited thing for what I (we all) like. And the volume knob is like an angry pitbull. I got it for 80 bucks before I knew anything. I use a Carvin X100B running through a Bassman 50 cabinet with (2) D130s for serious duty and currently a SS Yamaha VR6000 for quick on-and-off jam sessions. I've been trying to figure out if the Carvin, which is fairly flexible, can actually be configured to sound something like a Fender but without direct comparison I just don't know. It's much, much more mid heavy than a Fender blackface and probably brownface as well. Considering its era and intended target (metal), its mid-heavy tone stack probably makes sense. I'm borrowing a Deluxe Reverb this weekend to do some trials just for curiosity's sake.

Anyway, the blackface chassis sounds like a good bet, short of fabricating my own. Although it would be cool to have some onboard reverb as well...

Wise choice of cab: check.

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