Blue Voodoo 120

axpro

Member
Messages
628
Okay... putting on my flameproof suit....

I've been playing 20 years or so, owned some very nice vintage and modern amps, boutique, custom wired by me and a lot of crap.

Backstory: since my divorce, i (like many in my place) have MUCH less gear than i used to. I needed a cheap 100 watt head for a rock/metal band i am playing with, and found this local and cheap.

It's NOT a "Great" amp, but it's pretty workable. It's the modern BV120H with the mirror back of the head cab, to make it look fancy and pretty. The gain channel is too hissy, but it's got 5 stages without a cathode follower, it's trying way too hard, kinda like the earlier 5150 amps. With the gain under half and the treble dialed back a bit, it's pretty usable.

Part of it I am sure is that my cabinet is a Z-best 2x12. That cabinet could make anything sound thick and meaty.

So, question being, anyone tried any mods to these to tame it a little noise wise? Back when i had a 5150, I used to put a 12at7 or au7 in the first stage to dial back the gain a bit. From the schematics i have found, there isn't a bright cap or anything. Personally i'd like to notch back the brightness a big step. THe clean is sterile but usable, but if i could tame the gain a little, I think this would be a perfectly fine setup for at my practice space.

I am not looking for "HOW COULD YOU PLAY SUCH A PEICE OF *^&%$*^!!!" type comments, If i had my way i'd be using a Soldano again, but for $200 and a couple of pedals i wasn't going to use anytime soon, this should do nicely.

Just want to know if anyone has tried any tube swaps or "small mods" to tame it a bit. Not looking to gut it and rebuild, I have a 2203 clone that should be finished this month, just want some opinions on ideas to tame this wee beastie!
 

ericjohnschwab

Senior Member
Messages
1,591
You know one of my 1st bands I played in was with a guy who had a Blue Voodoo 120 head. Love those amps. 2 channel working class amps that deliver the rock and roll goods.
 

axpro

Member
Messages
628
It's not terrible.... it's cerainly not a vintage marshall or a Soldano, but it's doable. just trying to figure a simple mod or tube change to cut the hiss (and even the gain) a little bit.
 

Ampegasaur

Member
Messages
3,629
FJA and Trace from Voodoo do mods on them. They can be a good cheap platform to be transformed into a great amp. I am sure there is some people at Amp Garage that could help, and a choke would do wonders.
The stock 120 is not a favorite amp of mine, but people make them work. Marty Friedman made them work well in Megadeth. They did make some cabs that had Vintage 30s in them I can highly recommend. The regular ones are baltic birch, but the stock speakers are pretty awful.

The 300 is another story, that thing is a monster, and has a completely different tone and circuit than the 120. The transformers are from the Ampeg SVT 350 Watt head. Headroom galore, and the gain is bone crushing for metal. I love big Iron. The 120 was always a fuzzy gainy mess to me, the 300 is not fuzzy at all.
 

axpro

Member
Messages
628
The 120 isn't so bad, as long as the gain is under 1/2 and the treble is rolled back... and no presence. Lots of mid, a little bass and it's not too too bad.

Maybe new tubes will help, I just got the amp, it was used, and i have yet to pull it together.
 

rockon1

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,981
First things first I say! New amp to you?-change the tubes(if possible monetarily) and check the bias or at least check the bias. I bet with a few tweaks that amp could roar. I love cheap monsters! Bob
 

axpro

Member
Messages
628
Yeah, I will get brave this afternoon and see what tubes are in it... it could be interesting.... or very very scary!
 

rockon1

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,981
Some of my favorite amps are cheap as dirt! I play my Crate VC50 head over my Rivera and mesa a lot of the time. Hey I put some TLC and a couple of mods into this 179$ monster! The pre amp tubes cost(not me) as much as the amp. Dont let anyone tell you modern PCB amps dont 'benefit" from them. Bob


 

Zeegler

Member
Messages
2,659
You can get some decent sounds out of the BV, but you have to back WAY off on the gain to get rid of the fizz, and also keep in mind that they are not very loud for a 100 watt amp. Most 50 watt tube amps will bury a BV120 with little effort. I have no explanation for that, but it's the truth. :D
 

axpro

Member
Messages
628
The gain channel DOES seem a little low in volume... depsite all the gain stages, it seems to be quiet... the clean channel has way more volume. and yeah, once the gain gets over 11:00 it goes into fizz town. The kid who i bought it from "set it up" for me, and had the gain max'd the treble max'd and the middle scooped to zero.... he also claimed you needed a 10 band eq witha noise gate to "really play metal"

He asked me what sort of stuff my band played, I said it was more of a Motorhead vibe... He had NO idea who motorhead was....

I am old
lol
 

axpro

Member
Messages
628
Using a Z-best 2x12 gives it a godlike "CHUNK" tone... a pretty non fizzy cabinet lol
 

axpro

Member
Messages
628
THeile ported 2x12 cabinet. currently has vintage 30's in it.... TONNES of low end.
 

rockon1

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,981
THeile ported 2x12 cabinet. currently has vintage 30's in it.... TONNES of low end.
I bet it does! Besides Im sure you dont want to mess with it. I recently loaded my Heritage G12-65's into my 2x12 and realised how much I like them in a 2x12 format.
Anyhow keep us posted. Do you have a bias probe? Bob
 

axpro

Member
Messages
628
So, a quick update.

Switched out the first preamp tube (stage 1 universal, stage 2 clean) with a Groove tubes ECC83s shortplate, and the cleans are a little less sterile. I really think a 5751 would work nicely here.

Put an old stock Westinghouse 12au7 in the position 2 tube (stage 2-3 of the gain channel) which REALLY hamstrings the gain level in this thing. but in a good way. With a 12ax7 it had WAY too much gain still, and when i tried a 12at7 it STILL had too much gain and hiss. the 12au7 has really backed off those 2 stages. This thing DOES have 5 gain stages for the dirty channel, so I am really messing with the designed gain structure, but truth be told, with the gain at max now, it has a touch more grit than it did with the gain at 5 before, but without the fizzyness. It works PERFECTLY for me. Even with an EMG equipped guitar, the gain channel was WAY WAY too noisy before. now it has a faint hiss, but the gain level maxes out just above JCM800 level. I gotta check with some of the tube gurus about the long term effect of using a 12au7, but it's pretty much where i want to be tone wise. just want to make sure it won't affect the amp long term. I find it easier to dail in different levels of gain, since now I can dial in from 1-10 and before i could go from 1-4 or 4 1/2

I am sure my neighbors are counting the hours till i drag it to my band's practice space.
 

rockon1

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,981
Using a 12AU7 is fine long term or short as long as you like the results! Bob
 

axpro

Member
Messages
628
Using a 12AU7 is fine long term or short as long as you like the results! Bob
yeah i figured so... same pinout... Just worried that the current draw difference might be an issue (or so I thought reading somewhere years ago)

It has turned this "Kinda-wannabe-metalhead Voodo" into a far more "Bluesy" creature...

NOW the Blue Voodoo name fits.
 
H

Hollywood_5150

The gain channel DOES seem a little low in volume... depsite all the gain stages, it seems to be quiet... the clean channel has way more volume. and yeah, once the gain gets over 11:00 it goes into fizz town. The kid who i bought it from "set it up" for me, and had the gain max'd the treble max'd and the middle scooped to zero.... he also claimed you needed a 10 band eq witha noise gate to "really play metal"

He asked me what sort of stuff my band played, I said it was more of a Motorhead vibe... He had NO idea who motorhead was....

I am old
lol

Oh good lord tell me your kidding, its not that your old it's that your substantially more intelligent. I cant stand kids like these I'm 16 and I love players like JLH and Jonny Lang etc. I want to stay posted on this. I've never really found a decent way to do the buy a cheap amp and mod the heck out of it route, you can get new transformers and chokes from mercury as well right?
 

Ampegasaur

Member
Messages
3,629
yeah i figured so... same pinout... Just worried that the current draw difference might be an issue (or so I thought reading somewhere years ago)

It has turned this "Kinda-wannabe-metalhead Voodo" into a far more "Bluesy" creature...

NOW the Blue Voodoo name fits.
Might want to try a good 12AY7 in that slot as well. A little more gain than the AU7, but not as sterrile sounding in my opinion. Just a thought.
 




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