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Frenzel 5E3 - 5 Year Review

kleydj13

Member
Messages
1,608
I recently moved into a house and have a mancave where I can setup my gear and play a lot without worrying about upsetting wife/neighbors - and I've been really head over heals with my old love, a Frenzel 5E3 DPIII. I don't see too much fuss about these amps on the forum, so I decided to really detail my experience.

I initially discovered Frenzel through this forum actually. I was looking for a Fendery style amp in a head format and somebody mentioned his 5E3. Hand wired PTP in the US for $500!!! Woah, I was intruiged. I did some more research and eventually decided to take the plunge. The communication to and from Jim was top notch. Very quick responses and detailed answers to my questions. I settled on a DP III model with some upgrades including effects loop and fixed/cathode bias switch. I had solid communication from Jim through the build process and the amp was eventually delivered 3 weeks ahead of schedule.

My experience with the amp since the day I received it has been extremely positive. I primarily play at home and at church and set the Frenzel for a loud clean tone and use pedals. It is a fantastic amp for my purposes. Whenever I get the house to myself I crank it up and it really delivers for that rocking bassman/jtm tone too. What exactly this amp is, I'm not sure. I get the feeling its some mix of 5E3, Bassman, JTM, and some of Jim's personal touches. It kind of does all those things at the same time. It is very much an old school tube amp at its core. Its the kind of amp that doesn't really have a bad tone in it. It has a robust EQ section, but it never really strays that far from what it is.

Its the only amp I've owned that has grown on me. Features like the ability to swap in any octal tube, use the line out straight into an interface and apply a speaker cab IR for silent recording, and its consistency are really appreciated over a lifetime of ownership. The cleans are loud and fat. Somewhere between fat bassman, deluxe, and JTM. Tube choice and speaker selection are really allowed to shine through. The breakup and crunch tones are extremely pleasing. Very responsive to dynamics. Everything you've experienced with those classic tube amp circuits is deliverd in the Frenzel.

Compared to some of the other amps I've owned, I think the biggest downsides are such. It doesn't have as much of a 'sexy' factor compared to some others. It doesn't have a hotrodded gain channel. It doesn't have a bunch of switches that take you from Fender to Marshall to Vox. The steel cage isn't really that attractive. But man, for a $500 amp is really is a brutally straightforward tube amp experience. Built like a tank. Has just enough modern features to keep it relevant and avoid some old annoyances. But it doesn't have any of the modern clutter. A very pure tone. A very pure experience.

Frenzels are pretty interesting in their place in the market. They aren't high end sexy boutique amps. They don't have overwhelming features. They aren't exact replicas of favorite circuits. But man, my Frenzel has delivered. After 5 years I have absolutely no plans of selling this amp. And I have a laundry list of amps. This is the one that has stayed around for me.

If you appreciate quality hand made US built PTP amps and are on a budget I'd seriously give Jim a call. I am very happy I did. Remember, this is a glowing review after 5 years of use. The honeymoon is long over and I'm still loving it.

Clean:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMmfA7DW5qQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iehj_XnIGHI

Dirty

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2wjhJZHFEA
 

S. F. Sorrow

Member
Messages
8,027
Nice post.
Thanks for the vids. Your older clips helped deciding on buying a Frenzel. Decided on the Super Delxue 5E3 50watt. I play in a band that can get heavy at times and can be very 'powerful'. The Super Deluxe sure can rattle a room. The Normal (Fender) side is a bit too bassy for the 4x12's I generally use. Probably sounds better in a single speaker or stiffer sets. I really like the bright (Marshall) side.
Yeah the sexy thing. Ha! The old 50's utilitarian portable PA in a metal cage look. Actually it's great for practice. Knocks off several pounds of wood weight of a headshell.
Looks too small (almost like an expensive 50's toaster) on top of a 4x12 though.
Been putting it inside an old Vox Churchill headshell temporarily for the sexy look. In the process of customizing a headshell so the chassis can easily be removed.
Yes it is nice to crank an amp. Neighbors are about a city block away and the studio walls are old stone a foot and a half thick.

 

kleydj13

Member
Messages
1,608
The Normal (Fender) side is a bit too bassy for the 4x12's I generally use. Probably sounds better in a single speaker or stiffer sets. I really like the bright (Marshall) side.

Yeah, I also very much prefer the M side. The S side has quite a bit of bass and its very round. I like it with weaker single coils, but the M side is just a little more balanced to what my ear wants to hear.
Yeah I also prefer the M side. The F side has more bass and its very round. I dig it with single coils in a 1x12 with the Treble and Presence cranked though. Roll back the mids and it gets a little more blackfacey. The M side is hard to beat though. Very balanced with a bit more emphasis on the mids and upper mids. Takes pedals really well.


Yeah the sexy thing. Ha! The old 50's utilitarian portable PA in a metal cage look. Actually it's great for practice. Knocks off several pounds of wood weight of a headshell.
Looks too small (almost like an expensive 50's toaster) on top of a 4x12 though.
Been putting it inside an old Vox Churchill headshell temporarily for the sexy look. In the process of customizing a headshell so the chassis can easily be removed.
That's pretty sweet! To expound on the sexy thing, I actually really like that he offers the steel cages. It really helps drive the price down. I love that he gives you, the buyer, the option as to where to spend your money. If you're gigging and the durability is a factor, you can spend the extra money to get the traditional head. You can pick the upgrades that are important to you. And I've had lots of amps with lots of sexy features. Ultimately though the Frenzel has stayed. Its a workhorse. Great tone, extremely reliable, great price.
 

Geeze

Member
Messages
2,429
I have a Super Deluxe [love the 6V6's] and like you it grows on me very time I play it. Articulate clean or pushed and quiet. I am a tweak freak and the ability to go from 6V6 to KT120's without rebias - awesome.

I have been on been on a small amp hunt 5-10 watts [minimum 6V6] to build into a closed back combo. Most that I tried were noisy with any kind of gain. So I ordered one of Jim's Super Champs last week. It is voiced for Fender and into JCM800 territory. His attention to detail, customer service, prices and tone are awesome.

Russ
 

Lost_Cause

Member
Messages
2,027
I have had a deluxe Plus for about a year and I am extremely happy with it. It took me some time to find a speaker I really liked with it. I use a Kendrick Green frame which is a celestian type and sounds super. I am trying to find another cabinet to go with it. I had an eye on an ear candy 2x8 because I have two really nice Weber 8" alnicos that need a home. I had been playing a lot of acoustic but have been playing electric again more and more. he Frenzel is a great sounding amp. both channels. I have tried both vintage 6v6 and 6l6 tubes and they both sound great. I need a vintage set of EL34s to try them out as well. I am sure it will sound great as well.
 

JS635

Member
Messages
68
I've been subscribed to your YouTube channel for about a year or so now, really appreciate all of the great gear demos. I've long been interested in Frenzel amps, but so little information exists out there about them and, frankly, what does exist is somewhat mixed. Nice to hear someone who knows gear and is well past the honeymoon phase say nice things. I may look back into them now. Thanks again!
 

playthecray

Member
Messages
3,812
I am curious if anyone has experience with one of his non-Fender builds. He offers a sweet little 15 model which is Vox AC15 inspired. I am not a big fan of the retro vintage steel cage look. I would prefer a tolex offering or just the chassis. I can't seem to find any pictures of the wiring of his amps and there is no detail on the components used.
 
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yerbluesrob

Member
Messages
699
I've been looking at Frenzel's for a while too, I would love to try his AC15, but the steel cage thing throws me off. Call me superficial, but part of my love for a piece of equipment is the way it looks too. Maybe if I found a sweet tolex cab for it to live in someday I'll pull the trigger.
 

kleydj13

Member
Messages
1,608
I am not a big fan of the retro vintage steel cage look. I would prefer a tolex offering or just the chassis. I can't seem to find any pictures of the wiring of his amps and there is no detail on the components used.
He offers both options I believe. That type of flexibility and the affect it has on pricing is pretty sweet in my book.

I have some pics of the wiring in this album:

http://s822.photobucket.com/user/kleydj13/library/Frenzel 5E3 Deluxe Plus III

My DPIII has been a tank.

 

monkmiles

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,053
Yea man, Frenzels are a little under appreciated around these parts for some odd reason. I bought a used FM5E3-40 a couple months ago. It's a 40 watt version of the FM5E3 Deluxe Plus. I have been really enjoying it. I bought an Ear Candy 1x12 cabinet for it and put an Eminence Cannabis Rex in it. I just use the F channel as I am going for round, full cleans and mostly use it for jazz with my archtop. I've been putting a TC Hall of Fame Mini reverb pedal through the effects loop and it sounds great. Considering getting a smaller 1x8" cab for small jams now.

Has anyone tried swapping rectifiers in these? I have a 5Y3 I could try in place of the 5AR4 I have in it right now, though I'm not positive it's ok to swap them or how it might affect things (besides giving a little more sag).

Here's a pic and I have a thread here: https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/1518780



I settled on a DP III model with some upgrades including effects loop and fixed/cathode bias switch.
Mine has the cathode/fixed bias selector too as well as the effects loop. I've been using it on cathode bias mostly, but need to experiment more with both, how about you?
 




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