Amp Manufacturers: Watkins Content

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by drbob1, Aug 15, 2005.

  1. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    I have a Watkins Westminster-the 110 version of the Dominator (actually there are two Westminsters, but this is the two channel, tremelo version). It's rumored to be very similar to the Marshall 18w, but my example is quite a bit quieter than my 18w clone (running thru a pair of blues) with a sweet compression and distortion. It's much more useable for recording because it's conversational level. I'm wondering if it's inefficient transformers, or what exactly makes it quieter and whether anyone would consider building a clone? I think it'd sell well...
     
  2. Roccaforte Amps

    Roccaforte Amps Member

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    I built the prototype for Aircraft amplifiers that was originally going to be a Watkins/Wem Dominator. However, the person I did this for who owns the name decided to go with something more modern, and changed the name to Aircraft.
    He owns many different Watkins amps that I have serviced for him over the years, and my favorites are the Westminister
    and Joker (Joker being my number one favorite).
    The transformers have nothing to do with the amp being quiet, but everything to do with why every Watkins or Wem amp sounds so good.
    They're quiet because they don't run on very high voltages, so the preamps are not amplifying a bunch of noise.
    Supposedly Marshall used their circuit for the 18watt,
    but the Marshall 18 watt is no clone, there are many differences.
    Whats cool about the Joker besides its amazing tone, it has a mic boom stand that comes out of the top, and a built-in tape echo circuit that produces some really cool vibes.
     
  3. Old Fuzzface

    Old Fuzzface Member

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    Watkins Electronics is still going...

    WEM
     
  4. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    As someone who used to own two of their original amps (Clubman heads, I think), I hated the things - not enough pre-amp gain (well, I was very young).
    WEM PA's though were the bee's knee's!

    Charlie must be ancient, he seemed old in the early '70's......

    Best, Pete.
     
  5. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    I think Charlie's in his late 80s now, still answers his email. The guy who designed the new Dominator (channel switching) did it with Charlie's blessing but wasn't him.

    I've never seen a Joker, missed out on a really clean Dominator at Arlington, so when the chance to trade into this amp came up I went for it. Everyone that's played it has been realy happy with the workable volume, compression and sweetness. So, Doug, how do the aircraft amps compare with the originals?
     
  6. Steve Dallas

    Steve Dallas Supporting Member

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    I've never actually seen a 2 channel Westminster before. I have the schematic for a single channel tremolo model, but not the 2 channel. I imagine the second channel is the same as the one on the Dominator, but I would like to see a schematic to be sure.

    The amp is quieter because it uses ECL82s instead of EL84s. So, it is putting out somewhere around 10 Watts. Not a huge difference in output, but enough to be noticable. These are really neat little amps. I like them a lot and I do happen to clone them.

    The 18 Watt is indeed based on the Dominator. There are a few differences in the circuit. The most notable are that the Dominator runs at lower voltages and its output tubes are biased much cooler. That makes it quieter than the 18 and gives it a smoother overdrive. The Dominator is also much more heavily filtered than the 18 Watt. Both are absolutely killer amps IMHO.
     
  7. Roccaforte Amps

    Roccaforte Amps Member

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    I've never seen a Watkins amp with ECL82's.
    BTW, output tubes don't make an amp
    any quieter or noisy. Its all in the preamp.
    Doug
     
  8. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

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    I am here as you are here as you are me and we are
    I can't speak for s2amps, but I understood he was suggesting ECL82's were "quieter" as in "less volume/power" (10 watts compared to the EL84s producing 18 watts), not "less noise".
     
  9. Steve Dallas

    Steve Dallas Supporting Member

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  10. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    I researched this before the trade, and the two channel Westminster is indeed identical to the Dominator circuit including EL84s and 15w nominal output. It definitely isn't 15w in the same sense that a Princeton is 15w, but they're very good sounding watts at that, and very different from the 18w clones I've played. You'll not likely ever see one, but if you do, jump on it. Dominators are better known, more available, and well over $2k at guitar shows now...
     
  11. loverocker

    loverocker Member

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    The two channel WEM is common here in England. WEM put the exact same circuit into several packages, including the 'Custom 15'. They have the same funky control panel layout, the same cheap and nasty (but obviously durable enough for 30+ years) PCB, same iron, etc.

    They were also sold with other names - one was named something like "Mersey" to capitalise on the Liverpool music scene. I'll bet WEM badged some others for mail order houses, etc.

    I've had three, and seen many more. IMHO, it's Marshall doing the right thing and teaming the circuit up with great-sounding Celestions that made a good circuit sound great.

    BTW, the voltages in the WEMs I've had were not significantly lower than those in the 18W.

    BTW2, I've made an 18W Lite with WEM iron and it's was only as loud as the donor WEM. I could dig out the voltages I got, but IIRC, they were right in the ballpark for the 18Wer.

    BTW3, many fake 18Wers use salvaged WEM transformers, and I'm sure they also don't suffer from unduly low voltages, nor volume. Not when there's $5000+ at stake ;)
     
  12. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    so the aircraft is your design?

    if so, then, rockin' good job! i got to try ScottL's, and that little guy is a very fun amp. :cool:
     
  13. Roccaforte Amps

    Roccaforte Amps Member

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    My bad, I thought he was taking about noise, not volume.
     

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