Fuchs ODS-50 SLX HT review (chassis just returned after hand tuning & mods)...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Deaj, Jul 11, 2008.

  1. Deaj

    Deaj Member

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    I've owned my Fuchs ODS-50 SLX 1x12 combo (EVM-12L) for about 3 years now and I decided some time ago that this is the last amp I'll ever have to buy. I've posted a couple reviews for this amp here on TGP in the past so I won't go too far into how I liked the amp before the updates, hand-tuning, and mods. I'll just say that this amp has served me better than any I'd owned prior - great cleans, great overdrive, great reverb, great effects loop, missing nothing.

    After talking / corresponding with Andy Fuchs, Scott Lerner, and other Fuchs ODS/TDS HT owners over couple of years I decided to have my ODS updated to latest SLX spec (mine is an early SLX - s/n: 0466), add the 4-button Artist foot switch, have the hand tuning option performed, and have some mods performed to increase the amps already impressive flexibility. I shipped the chassis off to Fuchs a few weeks ago to have the work done and received it back from Fuchs today. I've had several hours to play through it now, at volumes ranging from full output down to conversation level, and I have to say that it's a better amp in almost every regard! All work requested was performed and the results are more than worth the price.


    Hand Tuning (and circuit updates): I asked to have some traits improved/enhanced and for a slight change in response - improve note bloom, increase harmonic complexity (both of these traits were already strong suits for this amp but if improvement is available I'll take it), and make the amp feel a touch less stiff. Otherwise I asked that the amps stock voicing be left intact. These requests were met and the results are amazing! As great as the amp sounded when it left it came back much improved - I didn't think it possible to this extent. The highs have more detail and harmonic complexity - noticeable at any gain setting but the clean tones show it most dramatically. The lows have a touch more 'bounce' - a slight nudge towards Fender BF type response.

    The low frequencies are much improved with the overdrive engaged. There was never a problem in this regard before the updates/tuning but I now know what folks mean when they use the term 'chewy' to describe overdrive. The response has changed slightly with the overdrive engaged as a result and for the better. It seems to me that there's more available gain on tap as well.

    The clean tone of this amp is what initially drew me in - this is the foundation for the amps tone (the clean preamp is fed into the overdrive circuit). Although the clean tone needed no improvement it is improved. The top has more 'swirl' (I don't like using all of these cliché'ic superlatives but I have no other means of conveying this stuff) and, as requested, feels a touch less stiff. Notes bloom more readily than before even when the amps is set dead clean. The clean channel has always broken up nicely when pushed but this has been much improved as well. It behaves just like a great single channel non master volume amp should offering everything from pristine clean to full overdrive from the guitars volume. It sounds amazing!

    There are some changes to the controls: A pull pot has been added that offers two different frequencies for the Mid Boost. Another pull pot has been added to change the midrange cap in the tone stack - this seems to make the tone stack sound and behave more like a blackface Fender (my perception anyway - it does alter the voicing slightly, very useful!). The Bright switch is now a three-way toggle, one setting boosts highs more than the other. Finally, the OD Out is now a dedicated master volume for the OD mode, independent of the Master Volume (now dedicated to the clean mode). This makes it much easier to balance the output volume of each mode regardless of volume.


    Mods: I requested a few mods beyond the changes mentioned above.

    Pentode/Triode switch: When the switch is set to Triode output is reduced noticeably, the amp sounds a little darker, and the output stage breaks up more readily. It's a cool sound and one I'll definitely use - glad I had this done!

    Three-way power switch with 'Sag' mode (from the TDS): This mod was suggested to me by jspax7 here on TGP and, again, I'm really glad I had this added. The sag setting changes the feel of the amp giving it a response similar to what one would expect with a tube rectifier. I like both modes equally though (so far) I think I prefer the Sag setting.

    Fan speed switch (Full/Off/Half): I do a fair amount of low volume recording and the fan brings the ambient noise up a bit. The half speed setting provides plenty of cooling and is damn near silent.


    4-Button Artist foot switch (GainBoost, MidBoost, Clean/OD, Reverb): This broadens the flexibility of the amp significantly for live use. I consider this a must-have option and would almost certainly have opted for it had I ordered my amp (purchased my amp as a stock item from a dealer). The interface at the amp and switch both is a standard modular RJ-45 (ethernet type) jack. Any 4-pair straight-thru ethernet cable may be used to connect the pedal to the amp. I like it!


    * The only thing that didn't work out well for me is the updated reverb circuit. Those folks who like traditional Fender type spring reverb would definitely dig the reverb circuit updates. I preferred the reverb before the updates - it had a shorter decay. This isn't a big deal for me as I use just a touch of reverb at very low mix level so the difference is very subtle for me. Update: Andy helped me out this morning with the information needed to revert back to the earlier spec. If I can ever stop playing I'll open it up and make the required change. Thanks Andy!!


    I am very happy with the finished product. It's a fantastic amp made better in almost every way. Thank you Andy Fuchs (and Co., and Scott Lerner) for a fantastic amp and for the wonderful customer service!

    :AOK
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2008
  2. jspax7

    jspax7 Member

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    Nice to hear you're happy with the amp. Sounds like you got the clean machine card too.

    I'd say the biggest improvement in my amp was the clean channel, except the OD sounds really great too, not to mention the Triode/Pentode and Sag. And the mid and gain boosts work so much better now. Actually, I really like the reverb too.

    I can honestly say that my amp bares little resemblance to the one I sent in.

    Having played a newer Fuchs ODS50 and several Brown Note D'Lites, (Bluesmaster's HRM's and non HRM's) I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for. Andy did a fine job of interpreting my vision, as the amp truly exceeded my expectations.

    Congrats!
     
  3. stratzrus

    stratzrus Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B Supporting Member

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    Sounds like a killer amp!

    Thanks for the detailed review.
     
  4. Deaj

    Deaj Member

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    I've had some more time to play this morning and I'm finding a wide array of tones that simply were not there prior to the upgrades. This amp is amazing!!

    :banana:banana:banana:banana:banana
     
  5. Deaj

    Deaj Member

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    Well, I changed the reverb back to original spec and changed the taper of the reverb pot to allow for more fine adjustment at lower settings - perfect! Save the 15 minutes I spent altering the reverb circuit I've been playing all day and I'm still finding sounds that weren't there before. I can't get over how great this thing sounds! If I could reach into my imagination and pull from it my ideal amp I couldn't have done this well.

    Thanks again Andy and ScottL! :dude
     
  6. jspax7

    jspax7 Member

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    What guitars are you playing through it? My "new" amp loves strats more than before. Of course that's what I asked for....

    Still great with humbuckers as well. To say it is much more versatile is an understatement.
     
  7. Deaj

    Deaj Member

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    I have two guitars - a late 80's PRS CE24 with HB sized P-90's and a homebrew USA Custom Guitars super strat with a L.Fralin Unbucker PAF in the bridge and L.Fralin Real 54's singles in the middle and neck. The amp responds wonderfully with both guitars and all pickup selections. I do notice that the strat single coils sound a touch better now than before the Fuchs upgrades.
     
  8. SoulToStrings

    SoulToStrings Member

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    Hey Deaj, good to hear about the Fuchs. It's a great amp that definately makes the amp shopping bug go away right?!

    I love mine also, and i am with you on the reverb too. Like that short decay.

    I don't have the artist footswitch yet, you are makin me want one! It would be good to add to the variety for gigs i'm sure.

    I think the fuchs sounds killer in lower volume settings as well. One thing I'll say to anyone considering a Fuchs is before you turn it on, be prepared to play for a WHILE. They are addictive & i know i'm not the only one that has this problem!

    www.soultostrings.com - Instrumental guitar CD's just released
     
  9. Deaj

    Deaj Member

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    It certainly did that for me! Glad you're diggin' yours. :) The reverb decay is set by a single resistor and may be tweaked easily - very cool!

    I'm on a dial-up connection (26.4Kbps - ouch!!) though this inconvenience is balanced against spending the weekend in the San Juan islands (life's rough, no?). I'll check out your link when I get back to the real world. :)
     
  10. SoulToStrings

    SoulToStrings Member

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    Deaj , I bet you are enjoying the island otherwise hehe.

    Do u have the fuchs with you? :)
    I hope to add the footswitch sometime soon. Look forware to u checkin my songs out. Keep in touch and enjoy your weekend in san juan
     
  11. Deaj

    Deaj Member

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    Very enjoyable, yes. :) Sadly I don't have a guitar with me this weekend.

    The Artist foot switch is definitely worth the time and money!

     
  12. Deaj

    Deaj Member

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    I'm back in the real world today and just got done checking out your site - very cool! Did you use the Fuchs to record any of the material on 'Soul To Strings? Nice playing and great tones too! :phones
     
  13. PierreL

    PierreL Supporting Member

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    Any advice how to change the reverb so that it's actually usable at settings past 9 o'clock ?
     
  14. SoulToStrings

    SoulToStrings Member

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    Hi again,
    Unfortunatley I aquired the fuchs amp a few days after the cd was mastered. You can bet it will be all over the new stuff I do.

    It has become the main amp for shows I can just plug and go.

    Thanks for your kind words glad u like the tones and tunes. A lot of the cd is dc-30 and twin with pedals. Naylor too.

    Thanks again!
    STS
    www.soultostrings.com
     
  15. scottl

    scottl Member

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    Try two things..... I use a 2.2K resistor feeding a 2K reverb pot. I am not sure what is in yours but this can have a huge effect on the sensativity of the reverb control.

    Also, I like the Accutronics "D" pan. You have the "E" pan. There is a bit more verb available with the E pan, but I find the D smoother and nicer. The letter is the second digit printed on the pan. For example, you probably have the 9E...... You can try 9D..........

     
  16. Deaj

    Deaj Member

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    Hi Scott,

    Regarding the 2.2k resistor value you refer to in your post - is this an increase or decrease in value from the stock resistor value (or are you suggesting adding a resistor before the reverb pot). If it's a change from stock value do you happen to know off hand what the stock value is?

    Thanks again Scott!
     
  17. scottl

    scottl Member

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    I can't say.... I have seen various size resistors and pots in my years.... 2.2K or 3.3K are two I have seen for sure. As for pots, I have seen 1K, 2K, and 5K (both linear and audio taper!) I think Andy has made changes both based on evolution and design tweaks. I prefer the 2.2K into 2K pot and D pan..... YMMV!

     
  18. Frank C

    Frank C Member

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    I've been wanting to do the HT and SLX on older OD100. Sounds like your happy you did it. I'm hoping to do it in the near future.
    Frank C www.myspace.com/matizo
     
  19. Deaj

    Deaj Member

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    Thanks again for the information Scott! I swapped the stock 2K linear pot for a 5K audio taper pot and this helped decrease sensitivity at lower settings. It used to be that I'd have to tweak the Reverb control to some specific setting just shy of 9 o'clock to get it just where I wanted it. Now any setting close to 9 o'clock works fine. I'll check to see what value resistor is feeding the reverb pot next time I have the chassis out for curiosity's sake.
     
  20. Deaj

    Deaj Member

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    I highly recommend both! I had the opportunity to compare a pre-SLX and an early SLX ODS-50 side by side while making the decision to buy my ODS, while quite similar (being the same core amp), the SLX amp was clearly an improvement over the pre-SLX. The latest updates and hand tuning have made significant improvements on that same early SLX ODS-50. You'll definitely dig the results! :)
     

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