Echoplex EP-3 Noise Question

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Jim Jones, Jul 31, 2008.

  1. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Member

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    Hi guys,

    I recently got my first Echoplex and have been loving getting the echo sounds of my musical heroes, Page, Walsh, et al. After playing with it a bit I'm wondering exactly how noisy the unit should be.

    I know that the "Echo Volume" pot is essentially a passive mixer between the echo and "straight" sounds. However I really can't dial the pot up any higher than "2" without introducing a pretty severe amount of hiss. Is this normal? I didn't expect the beasty to be dead quiet but this seems excessive. I ended up replacing the the bipolar transistors with some 2N3904's in an attempt to shotgun a remedy and I do believe it is slightly quieter but not by a lot.

    Any suggestions? Any insight would be much appreciated!

    Jim
     
  2. mike@switchback

    mike@switchback Supporting Member

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    Did you try adjusting the record level trim pot (between the sustain and volume controls)?
     
  3. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Member

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    Yes, I have adjusted the trimpot and it really doesn't do much of anything. Should it make a dramatic difference?

    Jim
     
  4. mike@switchback

    mike@switchback Supporting Member

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    It's been a long time since I tweaked mine but I do remember it being a noticeable difference. I use mine for normal amounts of echo and it's not objectionably hissy at all.

    Unfortunately the kids are sleeping otherwise I'd investigate right now, but going from memory, I would turn the echo volume up to 2.5-3 and then adjust the trim pot until the echo 'mix' was even between dry and echo. So in other words, in everyday usage, after tweaking it that way, I rarely venture above 1-2 on the volume knob.

    That's going strictly from memory so hopefully I've got that right. But if I'm remembering correctly, that's what I did to maximize the s/n, at least so much as you can between those two controls.
     
  5. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Member

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    Cool, thanks for that! I'll give it a go and see if that does the trick!

    Jim
     
  6. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

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    The things to check are simple. The heads need to be de-magnetized every now and then, that helps a lot. A fresh tape and head cleaning helps even more. I have an EP-3 and loaded a new tape from the recently departed Mr. Mike Battle, and it really quieted down the unit. So do the basic inexpensive maintenance yourself first, then maybe get it checked out. Mike's daughter helped me on the phone and maybe she still has tapes and belts to sell? Here is the number (330)877-1574. The company name is "tubeplex" and is in Ohio. Try www.tubeplex.com too.

    The amount of hiss is dependent on what sort of amp and speakers you are using with the Echoplex. If you have bright speakers you will get more hiss. I find that the the relatively low level hiss I get, is masked plenty when the guitar is actually being played.

    You might want to listen to Billy Cobham's seminal album "Spectrum". There are textbook baseline great echoplex effects there courtesy of Tommy Bolin, and that can give you an idea of what's expected and acceptable out of these things. Plus the record is just fantastic anyway, some of my favorite music certainly of that era.
     
  7. Jay Douglas

    Jay Douglas Member

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    This is inescapable with all echoplexes, in fact all useable settings for "echo Volume" are below 2 or sometimes around 1 (= to 8 oclock or 9 oclock postion wise)
    The thing to do is Max clockwise the record level set-screw (that little hole in the top of the unit) and you'll be able to get all your sounds in that small range (without the hum) because....they all make way too much noise after that point on a Tape echo, even the Fulltone TTE is that way.
     
  8. wingwalker

    wingwalker Fuzzy Guitars

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    It's hard to say w/o hearing your unit with my ears however mine is what I cinsider normal and there is a good amount of hiss around the same point on the level control.

    Here is the best advise I can give you...tweak the record level control, clean the heads and get a new tape...all those things will help but it is what it is and they come with some noise.

    I happen to think the trade off is worth it, I am still in love with the sound of my echoplex!
     
  9. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Member

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    Hey Mark,

    Yep, the first thing I did was demagnetize the heads and bulk erase the tape. It's a relatively new Fulltone one so I'm good there.

    After following the advice in a few of the posts here I think I'm in business. I was able to dial up the Record trim and dial down the Echo Volume and that virtually eliminated the hiss I was getting. If the narrow range of "useable" rotation on the Echo Volume is normal I guess there's nothing funky with my particular unit.

    For what it's worth the best way I can describe the background noise that was so prominent is by saying it sounded like you were blowing gently into a microphone. Sort of a white noise/wind type of thing.

    Thanks for all the help everybody!

    Jim
     
  10. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Member

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    Hi guys,

    I did some more work on my EP-3 and thought I'd update things in case others were having the same troubles.

    I was experiencing quite a nasty low frequency hum with the Sustain control turned down low when first firing up the EP that seemed to go away after a couple minutes of use. I figured a cap change would be a wise shotgun so I finally changed the electrolytics in the signal path (mostly emitter bypass caps IIRC). They all had 1977 date codes so I figured it couldn't hurt.

    Much to my surprise I didn't notice much in the way of improvement with background noise, etc. For some reason the trimpot on that "first" PCB started beckoning to me so I noted it's present position and started working it back and forth. The EP started to oscillate with the pot turned full CW and calm down when turned CCW. I shot the bugger with some contact cleaner, worked that in and then returned the wiper to it's original position. I don't know if the thing had oxidized or what but I think that was the root of my noise problems(!) I can actually turn the Echo Volume pot wherever and the noise floor isn't intolerable at all.

    I'll post back if my weirdness returns but I'm tickled friggin' pink at the moment. I'd never experienced any problems with those open frame trimpots before with older equipment but I have heard of the possibilty. Hopefully this will help anyone in a similar bind.

    Also, a note about tape. I don't know if the Fulltone tape cartridges I got with my EP were rewound with new tape by another owner or not... Regardless, the tape they were loaded with exhibited severe Sticky Shed Syndrome, (do a Google search, I'd never heard of it either :)) I thought my EP was fubared because the tape jammed to the point where the motor would stop. This is apparently symptomatic of a bunch of mastering tape manufactured in the latter days of tape. Don't use that stuff, you need lubricated tape. I have a bunch of reels 3M 807 mastering tape from when I was in radio college I was looking forward to using for EP carts but it's all junk unfortunately. Check out this list and avoid the nasties! http://recordist.com/ampex/docs/misc/sticky-shed.html

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2008
  11. Rockinrob86

    Rockinrob86 Supporting Member

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    I know this is an older thread, but I am wondering about the "normal" level of noise.

    Even with no tape installed, my echoplex has alot of hiss and noise, at any setting. I think I may need to look for drifting resistors (that is what I would think it was if this were an amp). Do these make some noise even with no tape?

    It is somewhat hard to switch the echo on and off because the noise increases so much
     
  12. tronus

    tronus Member

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    When I got my EP3 restored by orbitz it came back working great... However, I did noticed a lot of hiss above 2 on the knob. Luckily the delay mix is right where I want it around that level (2-3) so I am able to avoid the bulk of the hiss. I'm going to read this thread in more detail when I have time though to see if I can pick up some tips. Hope you figured it out!
     

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