Crate vintage club owners

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by joolzriff, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. joolzriff

    joolzriff Member

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    what ones are the holy grail ones.....i see blondes and i see black tolex models...is there a year ect ect..
    alls i know is my friend has one to die for 50w EL84 driven but he dosnt know anything about it or its history and i would sure love to pick one up identical to this...its boutique tone i aint kidding....for the money cant be beat
     
  2. big mike

    big mike Moderator - EL34 Emeritas Staff Member

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    They're pretty much the same. Great amps. Did have SOME jack socket issues, but good all around solid amps for the most part.
     
  3. Hacksaw

    Hacksaw Time Warped Gold Supporting Member

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    I have the VC 50.. other than grounding issues.. and the jack thing like Big Mike said, its been good after a fix. I bought mine around 1995 and has the blond tolex. Sounds very good but likes to eat tubes on occasion.
     
  4. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    I don't know about holy grails, but I have two VC3112s of 1995 vintage. I had decided that I wanted to buy an amp with a 4xEL84 output stage and revoice and otherwise mod it to suit my purposes. I ended up picking the Crate model because, of the 4xEL84 amps I could identify, they were the most reasonably-priced, but still solid, amps available. Before buying the VCs, I checked out a new Palomino V32, but Crate had gone to less robust cabinetry, and I could actually see the panels flex when I picked it up.

    I ended up making several changes in the interest of better sound and improved reliability. The lead channel wouldn't clean up enough for me, and there is a voicing circuit in its signal path that has the effect of a relatively extreme high-boost shelving filter. I reduced the signal level early in the lead channel chain and defeated this voicing circuit. After my mods, there is still more gain available than I ever use, but you can get a nice Marshallesque clean from the lead channel in addition to a range of overdrive levels all the way from spongy crunch to screaming sustain.

    In the clean channel, there is a "bright" cap bypassing the volume pot. It's the equivalent to playing a Fender amp with the "Bright" switch on, which I never do, so I removed that cap. I also replaced the power and standby switches with better-quality ITT parts and relocated the main fuse from the circuit board to the rear of the chassis.

    The biggest head-scratcher I encountered with with these amps was an intermittent cutout/level drop, usually in the clean channel. This turns out to be caused by the footswitch jack, and it only happens if you don't have a footswitch plugged in. If it happens on the gig, just plug in the footswitch and it will be fine. The long term fix is to clean the switching contacts on the jack. The channel switching circuitry uses several optoisolator devices of the same sort that are used in tremolo circuits, and there is a little lag when you switch channels as a result of the turnoff time of these devices. It's not a problem for me, but you should know it's there before you spend your money on one.
     
  5. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

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    Huh? -my V32 cab is solid as any Crate cab. My VC50 head cab is solid but too heavy(very thick particle board)

    Interesting mods though. :AOK Bob
     
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  6. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    The rear panel is unquestionably thinner than the one used on the VC3112. When I picked up the one I tried out in guitar center, I could see the gap between the rear panel and the chassis changing.

    The 3112s are heavier than I like. I was looking for ~40lbs, and my 3112s are closer to 50. I also looked around for a 5212 schematic, because I was curious how St. Louis Music had decided to claim 50 watts for them. Everything I could find indicated that the two amps are the same, and that the only difference is the speakers (1x12 vs. 2x12). A couple of things are certain: you can only get ~34-35 watts from a 4xEL84 output stage - take a look at any EL84 data sheet to confirm - and the VC3112 is Class AB, not Class A.

    I love how my amps sound after modding. Because they're not my primary amplification, I probably won't pursue further mods. If I do, I'll replace the OTs, as the factory ones are pretty wimpy.
     
  7. orodgers

    orodgers Member

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    I have a Crate VC5212. It was the first "real" amp I purchased after getting into playing and gathering guitars a couple years ago. I picked it up used and played it for about 6 months until I purchased my Fender Deville 4X10. The plan was that I would sell the VC when I got the Fender, but that didn't happen. The sounds of each are so different that I couldn't bring myself to let it go. I still have it and play it. Great amp for the price. Actually, great amp period.

    Below is a picture of my VC and my 1952 ES-5.

    [​IMG]
     
  8. soulohio

    soulohio Member

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  9. orodgers

    orodgers Member

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    Thanks! I really like that picture too. The chair used in the picture is a folding banquet chair from the 1920's. It came out of a now out of business high end hotel in my town. I thought it looked kinda bluesy next to the amp and the guitar. Photography is one of my hobbies.
     
  10. soulohio

    soulohio Member

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    yes it looks very bloozy and i noticed the chair. seems almost sacriledge to have that beeyootiful axe leaning on a crate amp, but I got a V16 and it is a good amp. i should modify it a bit...for everyone that missed this the first 3 times I posted...here is the word ond V mods from the designer:

    Dana, The amp will benefit from the output transformer swap. It would also benefit some tube swaps, perhaps lower gain dual triodes like 12AT7, 12AY7, would help to control and "round" out the sound. Try them in the first 2 positions. That amp has a lot of gain, and you could toss some of it away. Then if it is still not "thick" enough, you could clip out C3. You may or may not need it depending on the type of pickup used, single or humbucker....
    If you don’t want to change the tone too much you can clip out C38, that will lower the gain slightly and smooth out the tone without affecting the freqresp too much.
    Speaker will also make a big difference. It is the final tone filter in the equation. Find the one with the freqresp that matches with the sound you are looking for. Vintage 30's are bright and nasty in the 1.6KHz range, I would not recommend one of these. A greenback is excellent, but maybe a little short on the bottom. Perhaps a Tone tubby might fatten it the best? I dunno, experiment.
    Speaker - final freq response filter.
    Tubes/circuit mods - gain, frequency response and amplifier to pick "feel"
    Transformer - Dynamic response, clarity improvements, headroom, clipping characteristic.
    Good luck and remember the warranty is void!!!!
    Obeid


    and from Mercury magntics:


    Hi Dana,

    Thanks for contacting me at Mercury Magnetics.

    We can offer you a few different choices when it comes to an upgrade OT for your Crate amp. The ToneClone O20JM-L is the first one that comes to mind. This OT is cloned from the early Marshall 20 watt amp. It also used two EL84 tubes. It has 4-8-16 ohm secondary taps so it can be used with just about any speaker configuration. This is a real winner as an output transformer. All of my customers that have used this OT have commented about the wonderful tonality it brings to the amp.

    The next OT that I can suggest for you is the ToneClone VXO-15A-LM. This OT is cloned from the vintage Vox AC15 amp that also used two EL84 tubes. It also has 4-8-16 ohm taps and it is regarded as one of the finest outputs available.

    Either one of these OT's suggested above will be a HUGE tonal upgrade over the stock OT from the Crate amp. We have other options available to you. If you would like more suggestions, please give me a call and I'll be happy to help you over the phone.

    Installing an output transformer is not too difficult but the OT's I've suggested may have more secondary taps than your stock OT and this may require you to hook up an impedance selector switch. I'm not sure because I am not that familiar with your Crate amp.

    Best regards,

    Paul Patronete
    Mercury Magnetics
    818-998-7791
     
  11. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

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    Yes the rear panel is thinner but its really not part of the cab per say. It covers the amp chassis. I dont see why you couldnt get 50(48 watts) watts out of 4-12 watt tubes but no matter its more about sound. The V32 is definately different than the VC. 3 12AX7's vs 4 in the VC,cathode biased instead of fixed. The circuit boards,layout and components are different too. Between the two(I own both) the V32 is substantially better sounding. I rarely use my VC50 head but keep it around because its a pretty decent sounding tube head and good as a back up. I would like to make a lightweight box for it though since the pressboard is rediculously heavy. Bob
     
  12. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    Beg to differ. It makes a significant contribution to the rigidity of the whole structure. And the visible flexing of the Palomino enclosure when I picked it up was not a subtle thing. It may have been unique to the example I checked out, but it was definitely happening.

    12 Watts is the maximum plate dissipation, not the maximum output power. Maximum output power for two EL84s in Class AB operation is listed as 17 watts @4%THD with 300V B+. Four will give you 34 watts, possibly a few more at higher THD levels, but a claimed 50 watts stretches credibility. I agree that it's academic, but I'm always intrigued to see mis-specified parameters. Calling the VC3112 (or a Vox AC30, for that matter) "Class A" is another example of what I'm talking about. Both amps are textbook Class AB designs.

    The VC3112 is cathode biased via a single resistor for all four output tubes. The differences I said could not find were between the VC5212 and the VC3112. I know the Palomino is a different design.

    I haven't played a VC5212, so I can't speak to that. I could not have tolerated the sound of the Palomino I tried without modding it, and its lead channel had similar issues to the one in the VC3112. Too much gain, regardless of the control setting, and too thin. Given that mods were part of the picture, buying the older amp used made a lot more sense. When I gig with it other players can't believe that's what I'm using.
     
  13. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    Nice guitar. One of my guitars is a 1950 ES 150, which also came with a P90. I've owned it since 1976, and I've never gotten tired of it.
     
  14. Clutch21286

    Clutch21286 Member

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    I had a black VC5212, my buddie had the blonde version. His was clearly a better sounding amp. Have no idea why as I thought they were the same circuit. My .02
     
  15. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    That's just the way tube amps are. No two tube amps sound exactly alike, even two consecutive production examples of the same model. For that matter, retubing an amp with the same tubes it had before - even back in the 1960s and 70s, when you could still buy good tubes new - could make it sound like a different amp.

    I have two identical VC3112s, both with fresh tubes of the same brand. I've checked them both out thoroughly and done the same maintenance items and mods to both. They sound different enough that I can easily tell them apart, although they both sound very good. Comes with the territory....
     
  16. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

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    Not really. Ive taken the amp chassis out of the enclosure(have to to access the power tubes) and its very rigid. No reason to worry and no flexing.

    So it is -I stand corrected.

    Thats what the gain knob is for IMO however -different strokes. The V32 just sounds better to me. We all hear differently. Thin however is the last thing I would call my V32. Often I have a bit of difficulty dialing out the mids. Yeah I have the usual exterior mods-speaker,tubes but nothing internal. I rate the V32 as a great sounding amp regardless of price.Almost sounds like were talking about two different amps! lol! FWIW- I find it works great like a NMV amp with the gain around 10-11 oclock and the master way up. From marshally crunch to clean with a sweep of the guitars volume knob.Well thats just me.... However youve got me thinking maybe I should try some mods on my VC50. I havent been able to get it where I like it with just speakers or tubes. In fact I just tried running it thru a G12-65 and put some old Baldwin 6BQ5's in it to get it up to snuff but Im not happy with it yet. I dont want to change the gain though as I like a lot of gain available. Bob
     
  17. Jay Mitchell

    Jay Mitchell Member

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    It was irrelevant to which one sounded better as manufactured. Neither particularly suited my taste, and it didn't matter. I wasn't looking for plug 'n' play, I was looking for a suitable platform to use as a base to make the sounds I wanted to make. Mods were going to be in the picture regardless. Given that, the used amp was a better choice. It also had an additional gain stage in the lead channel, which never hurts. Had I done a direct A/B, I might well have disliked the V32 less than the VC3112, but it would have been academic.

    Speakers and tubes are the last things I change. Internal mods are the least expensive, take the least time, and yield the most predictable results. Until the basic voicing of all the tone-affecting circuits and the gain structure of the amp suits me, there's no way for me to make intelligent choices about tubes and speakers. And, if I can get the sound I want with the original speaker in place, why not? Tubes are a maintenance item, especially EL84s. Every time you change them, the amp's going to sound different, even if you use the same brand(s) of tubes that were in there before. So there's a certain crapshoot element there. One thing I did end up doing with the VC3112 preamps was to use Sovteks as phase inverters and JJs elsewhere. I didn't like the sound with JJs in the PI spots, but they're fine in the other positions.

    We are. There's no assurance that the amp I checked out would sound like the one you bought.

    My VC3112s had too much gain before the first volume control in the chain. IOW, it didn't matter how far down you turned the control, there was still obvious overdrive in the sound. And this was with a Strat that had relatively low-output vintage replica pickups. After fixing that, there is still a huge amount of gain remaining, more than in most similar amps I've played.
     
  18. bunuel

    bunuel Member

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    Along with the peavey classic 30, the vc3112 is one of the alltime great amps for the dinero. Plan on having some of the solder connections touched up as needed, but who cares, these are great-sounding steals!
     
  19. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

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    Tubes are an obsession to me not a maintenance item.lol! Ive got over 1000 old stock 12AX7's,5751's,12AT7's etc and a growing stash of 6BQ5's. Im counting on the amp to sound different when I change them. Want to talk about bark? Try a set of RCA 6BQ5's in your amp!
    :BEER Bob
     
  20. soulohio

    soulohio Member

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    can you help a brutha out?
     

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