18 Watt Lite II

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Kurzman, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

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    I recently bought an 18 Watt Lite II (Silvatone layout). The way I understood it, was that this was just like an 18 Watt but with only one channel.

    (I admit that I've never heard an 18 watt Marshall.)

    This thing sounds really anemic through several different speakers**. I had the correct impedance set. Compared to a Princeton Reverb, a Vox AC15, or an Orange AD 15 this thing sounds like a 5 watt practice amp. It's not even in the same universe as a Dr. Z Maz 18.

    Dimed with a Les Paul it does sound like a Marshall ('70's R&R crunch) but just not much of it.

    Does this sound right? I'd appreciate advice or opinions. Thanks.

    ** Closed back 8 ohm 15" Showman cab, open back 2X12 4 ohm Pro Reverb cab, 8 ohm open back 1 X 12 Red, White & Blue.
     
  2. chris_d

    chris_d Member

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    That doesn't sound quite right. The amp is definitely voiced to cut through, with a focus on the upper mids, but it should compare favorably to an AC15.

    Who built it? What transformers? Any "mods" done to the circuit? Pictures?

    I have built three with different transformers. One of those builds with a hammond 125E wasn't all that great(it was also my first build and there were lots of quirks due to the fact that it started out as a zenith hi-fi amp) but even that got quite a bit of distortion and plenty of bass for such a low watt amp. The other two i built with Ceriatone OTs and they sounded pretty great to me, plenty of lower mids.

    -chris
     
  3. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

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    [​IMG]

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    Here're the pics I got before I bought it. It has GDS trannys. It's supposed to have high quality parts. Sorry, I don't have any other pics of the guts.
     
  4. chris_d

    chris_d Member

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    Yeah, the GDS are Heyboers. They are also some of the most accurate 18w trannies available. Unless one is blown, that should not be the problem.

    That actually looks like a pretty nice build with good bits. Is that dual gang knob some sort of master volume?

    -chris
     
  5. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

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    Chris, thanks for the help so far. I will check out the pot tomorrow. The amp is at a buddy's place.
    I sold it to a guy yesterday (a week after I got it) but I think I'm going to give him his $$ back.
    When I got it I thought it was a little weak but didn't know for sure. My buddy said it was EXACTLY what he wanted, tried it out an bought it....now he says it's not cutting it. So I figure if both of us think it's under powered, then something must be wrong.
    I suppose the logical step is to go down to the music store and plug into a real Marshall 18 watter so I'll have something to compare it to.
    As it is now I'm not even sure you could use it with a drummer.
     
  6. chris_d

    chris_d Member

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    Hmm. After looking at it a bit more, you know, it looks like the Silvatone board layout, but there are a few things done differently, looks like some extra parts, as well. You might want to get in touch with the builder and see where he might have deviated from the silvatone arrangement.

    Is it a builder with much experience? Someone who has built more than this one amp? It is hard to tell without more/better pictures, but that looks like some changes were made, and certain parts appear to be wired quite differently from the one on Silvatone's site. Again, it is hard to tell from here, but it looks different to me. The volume and tone pots are swapped, there is that odd cap flying off of the tone control, and neither the volume or tone appear to be attached to the board in the same fashion as Silvatone's.

    Possibly some errors, or possibly the builder just wired things in a different fashion, maybe with different under-board wiring that i can't see from here. Who knows? Does the builder live far away from you? Would it be a pain to send it back for sorting out?

    Alternately, you might try heading to a local guitar center or someplace that has the reissue 1974x in stock and see if you can't get a point of reference to work from. Once it is sorted, your amp should sound way better than the reissue, but it would give you something to use as reference anyhow, to play through one that wasn't "sick".

    -chris
     
  7. chris_d

    chris_d Member

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    That doesn't sound right either. My 18w builds were all pretty loud. In a small practice space, i had to use dirt pedals(which i really don't like to do) just to get the volume down to play with a medium-heavy hitting drummer.

    I think there is probably something wrong with yours. Hopefully it is something simple and easily sorted.

    -chris
     
  8. Unabender

    Unabender Member

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    The volume pot definetely looks like a dual gang pot - a 18 watter should NOT have that in place, but a regular pot. Someone has done serious rewiring to it.
     
  9. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

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    I'm going to refund my buddy's $$ and get the amp back. Then I'll take more pics and begin the "sussing out" process.
    The guy I bought it from said he A-B ed it with a reissue Marshall 18 watter and said it sounded better. So either he's a liar or something got josstled in shipping. There's no hisssing or crackling or weird noises...dead quiet.
    I just find it hard to believe this is the amp so many people love. Like I said, Les Paul in, Vol and tone dimed...sounds crunchy but at loud living room volume. With a Strat plugged in it's really weak.
    I appreciate the help. More later.
     
  10. 5E3

    5E3 Member

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    If you could find a wiring diagram for the original circuit layout, it wouldn't be too much trouble to verify the correct values and paths are used.
     
  11. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

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    Well, I got the amp back. I borrowed a friends handwired Marshall 1974X and ran them A-B through the speaker in the 1974 (15 ohm Celestion-the Lite II has a 16 ohm output).

    The 1974 is a nice sounding amp. The Lite II seems to have about 60-75% of what the Marshall has. The Lite II sounds ALMOST as good as the Marshall if the Lite II is dimed and the Marshall is on about 60%.

    The Lite II just lacks...I don't know, balls, bottom...something. Both vol. and tone have to be dimed to get a halfway decent sound.

    I installed ANOS Mullard 12ax7's, a NOS Sylvania EZ 81 and a NOS pair of TESLA EL84's (from KCA). Didn't hear much of a difference over the JJ's.

    Who would you recommend I send this to to be "adjusted"? To be honest I really don't want to put more than another $100 in this thing.
    Thanks in advance for tips or opinions.

    I'm not a member of 18watt.com.
     
  12. mockoman

    mockoman Member

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    Are you in the U.S.? S2amps (Steven Scott) built a killer 18w Lite for me,in a Pro Jr chassis. He could probably tell you what's up...
    I see in another post that he is going on vacation,till the end of March,I think.

    www.s2amps.com
     
  13. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

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    Yes, I'm in Va.
     
  14. chris_d

    chris_d Member

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    Why not sign up? That's the place for this kind of stuff.

    Without lots more detailed photos to make clear what is or isn't hooked up and how, i personally can't say where you should go next.

    I would say snap some pictures showing the wiring to the tubes and the controls, and as much of the board connections as possible, sign up at 18watt, and see what folks tell you.

    Like i said, at the very least it looks like there is some deviation from the Silvatone layout. It also looks like you have a master volume in there maybe. The 18watt is NOT an amp that works well with a master volume at all. Much of the characteristic sound is distortion from the el84 output tubes, if you lower the input to them with a master, that, in and of itself will make the amp sound weak and crappy.

    I suspect that much of the work needed to get your amp happy will consist of removing things and making sure that it is wired up in the correct, standard 18 watt way.

    -chris
     
  15. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

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    I've got it taken apart and I've snapped and uploaded ten good pics. Should I just list links or have the 10 pics post here (one is pretty large).
    I just don't want to break any rules.

    BTW, the work looks incredibly neat.
     
  16. guitarsnguns04

    guitarsnguns04 Member

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    If you dont want to mess with it and decide to sell it or whatever let me know. I am looking for a new little project to tweak on. Just shoot me a pm and a price and I will take your headache away. Or I will try to help you when I see the pics and the circuit layout.
     
  17. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

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    I hope it's OK to post all of these pics:

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  18. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

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    BTW, this is what the amp looks like. I've got $460 in it.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Scott Auld

    Scott Auld Staff Member

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    Kurzman, thanks for posting those pics. That is a SWEET amp.

    Hope you get it fixed and making you happy.

    S
     
  20. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

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    I had big plans for this. I've got a 2 X 12 Truetone cab ordered for it. Black tolex, white piping, red valence panel. I've got two Celestion Blues ready for the cabinet.
    But the amp just ain't cookin' and I'm not a tech guy. Pretty frustrating.
     

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