Hot Rod Deluxe III -- tame the harsh?

Tone Meister

Member
Messages
3,266
...I am curious if you guys think this is ice pick to you. Keep in mind the speaker is a Wizard. ...

That sounds pretty balanced to me, even if just a little flat sounding, but that's not a bad thing. The Wizard seems to tame that harshness pretty well. I mess around with these amps a good bit and have several speaker "favorites" but I've yet to try the Wizard.

The real proof is in the Drive channel. With some minor circuit tweaks, the right tubes that are biased just right, and a speaker selected for the player's tastes, these can sound down right incredible.
 
Messages
153
I agree, that sounds pretty smooth. Of course it's hard to tell from a recording playing over computer speakers.

What did you have the volume on, and bass/mid/treble/presence? I find that my amp gets harsh and spikey when the volume gets up around 6 (12:00). In the 3-4 range mine actually sounds good.

And what guitar/pickups are you using?
 

MJ Slaughter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,021
Treble 6, Mid , bass 4, presence 3. Clean channel volume around 4, gain channel drive at 8 and master about 5. The guitar used was my G&L Fallout with a JB in the bridge used for the gain channel and P90 in the neck for clean. In my haste I forgot to mention I have a slightly lower output tube , 5751, in the V1 position. Eurotubes suggested this to help get a little more out of the power tubes and not as much preamp gain. It's not drastic but I like the results so far. I'll more to report Sunday and if I record anything again it wouldn't be before Monday.

On a side note, these stupid rubber handles suck ass. I knew it was going to be a problem eventually but yesterday while moving the amp the handle broke and it fell about a foot. Fortunately my big toe broke the fall. Because the stock handle is about an inch shorter than all other good handles I can find I'll have to remount the hardware to accommodate the replacement I get.
 

Guitar Dave T

Member
Messages
10,762
The Hot Rod Deluxe is a good capable amp, great clean platform for pedals, etc., but like all A/B, fixed bias amps, you must adjust the bias to be compatible with the power tubes.

Think of it like tuning an older car with a carb.

And if you haven't replaced the tubes in a while, it's time - they wear out in any amp you play loud and distorted (pedals or not). Rule of thumb is rebias with new power tubes.

But ultimately you still might want to replace the amp if you're playing a lot of big rooms without proper FOH and monitor support for your amp. Hot Rod Deluxes are killer for average small clubs and large venues where you're micing the amp and able to channel something decent sounding back through the monitors for big stages. Otherwise, pushing them past a certain LOUD volume yields unmusical tones, regardless of tubes, speakers and extension cabinets - and having the amp off the ground where you lose any bass coupling affect small guitar amps are designed to leverage just makes it that much worse.

If you stay with that amp for smaller venues or better sound system support, the current production tubes I've found that work best and don't lose any brilliance are Electro Harmonix 12AX7's and Sovtek 6L6WXT+'s. The EH preamp tubes allow you to maintain the brilliant tone you like without harshness (JJ's are too dark for what you want, IMO) and the Sovtek power tubes are just good all-around tubes that clean up well and have a good interactive feel when overdriven (note: not to be confused with Sovtek 5881's, which are average at best). I wish Winged-C was still making 6L6's - these were also excellent power tubes for that amp - but they closed their factory sometime last year and what's left that's affordable are out-of-spec rejects.
 

bluesking55

Member
Messages
1,587
that cel stock speaker is great at lower volumes. v30 be great
retubed and set bias?

tell the drummer to chill.. give him a solo
 
Messages
153
Thanks man, I'll certainly keep the Hot Rod Deluxe for smaller venues and situations where I can keep the volume around 4 or less and the amp on the floor, with or without a mic. I do like the Fender cleans and OD pedals with this amp.

And thanks for the info about tubes, very helpful.

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who thinks this amp goes from very good to very bad when the volume gets loud enough. I was starting to think I must either be crazy or have a bad amp. But the more I scout it out on various boards and talk to people, the more I see others who have the same experience.

My current plan is to keep the HRDlx and get another amp for larger rooms where I need volume from the amp itself. I'd really like to find an amp (head+cab) that has the same 6L6 Fender voicing but keeps its tone at volume. Any ideas?

The Hot Rod Deluxe is a good capable amp, great clean platform for pedals, etc., but like all A/B, fixed bias amps, you must adjust the bias to be compatible with the power tubes.

Think of it like tuning an older car with a carb.

And if you haven't replaced the tubes in a while, it's time - they wear out in any amp you play loud and distorted (pedals or not). Rule of thumb is rebias with new power tubes.

But ultimately you still might want to replace the amp if you're playing a lot of big rooms without proper FOH and monitor support for your amp. Hot Rod Deluxes are killer for average small clubs and large venues where you're micing the amp and able to channel something decent sounding back through the monitors for big stages. Otherwise, pushing them past a certain LOUD volume yields unmusical tones, regardless of tubes, speakers and extension cabinets - and having the amp off the ground where you lose any bass coupling affect small guitar amps are designed to leverage just makes it that much worse.

If you stay with that amp for smaller venues or better sound system support, the current production tubes I've found that work best and don't lose any brilliance are Electro Harmonix 12AX7's and Sovtek 6L6WXT+'s. The EH preamp tubes allow you to maintain the brilliant tone you like without harshness (JJ's are too dark for what you want, IMO) and the Sovtek power tubes are just good all-around tubes that clean up well and have a good interactive feel when overdriven (note: not to be confused with Sovtek 5881's, which are average at best). I wish Winged-C was still making 6L6's - these were also excellent power tubes for that amp - but they closed their factory sometime last year and what's left that's affordable are out-of-spec rejects.
 
Messages
153
My amp sounds good with the volume at 4. It's when i get up around 6.5 (12:00) or more that it starts to sound harsh. Have you tried your at that volume?

The rubber handles on these amps suck. Mine split less than a year after I bought the amp and I'm pretty careful with it. On the positive side Fender sent me a replacement for free. But by then I'd already tied rope around the original braces... back and forth a few times and then wrapped around that a bunch of times. Looks like crap but much more comfortable on the hand, and it won't break!


Treble 6, Mid , bass 4, presence 3. Clean channel volume around 4, gain channel drive at 8 and master about 5. The guitar used was my G&L Fallout with a JB in the bridge used for the gain channel and P90 in the neck for clean. In my haste I forgot to mention I have a slightly lower output tube , 5751, in the V1 position. Eurotubes suggested this to help get a little more out of the power tubes and not as much preamp gain. It's not drastic but I like the results so far. I'll more to report Sunday and if I record anything again it wouldn't be before Monday.

On a side note, these stupid rubber handles suck ass. I knew it was going to be a problem eventually but yesterday while moving the amp the handle broke and it fell about a foot. Fortunately my big toe broke the fall. Because the stock handle is about an inch shorter than all other good handles I can find I'll have to remount the hardware to accommodate the replacement I get.
 

MJ Slaughter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,021
My amp sounds good with the volume at 4. It's when i get up around 6.5 (12:00) or more that it starts to sound harsh. Have you tried your at that volume?
For grins I did try it at 6 on the clean channel but it was far from clean. Very gritty it a way I don't like. Gain channel turned up loud sounds fine to me. If I needed that much more volume and clean headroom I'd use my Mesa for the gig. For the right gig and band rehearsals the amp is more than adequate for me. I like it much more than the Mustang III V2 I had for the same application.

Saturday I did a gig with the HRD, clean volume no more than 3, and it worked great. Plenty loud enough with room to get louder if I needed. We mic up even in smaller rooms so as long as my band mates can hear me it's fine. I didn't buy the amp with expectations of it giving me the headroom of a Twin or Mesa with 6L6s.
 

tbalon

Member
Messages
5
If you use reverb, try backing off the reverb and see if it is still shrill.

You can also diffuse the sound. I used to put my amp on a milk crate, about a foot off the ground and then place a clear plexi panel about 18" in front of it. When you stood out in front, the amp was still loud and there was much less shrillness to the tone. The highs are simply not projected directly into your face. :)
 

Guitar Dave T

Member
Messages
10,762
If you use reverb, try backing off the reverb and see if it is still shrill.

You can also diffuse the sound. I used to put my amp on a milk crate, about a foot off the ground and then place a clear plexi panel about 18" in front of it. When you stood out in front, the amp was still loud and there was much less shrillness to the tone. The highs are simply not projected directly into your face. :)
Getting the amp up on a milk crate is a really good compromise. You're not getting the directional beaming in your face of using tilt-back legs, you are maintaining some of the amp-to-floor bass coupling, and you are getting a 1x12 combo high enough in the air to be heard much better than sitting it directly on the floor.
 

Rockerduck

Member
Messages
3,254
I use my Twin Reverb outdoors and in big rooms. My HRDLx is used in medium to smaller venues. My Deluxe Reverb is used for small venues too. You see, I've learned there is no singe amp that can do all.
 
Messages
153
I've been messing around with different guitars and settings. It's tough to know for sure because I can't really turn the volume up and play loud at home, but it seems like it's less of a problem with my LP than with my PRS. The PRS pickups are pretty bright.

If I turn the tone WAY down on the PRS (like to 2) and turn the volume down to about 6 it seems better.

I'm going to bring both guitars to our practice space Wed and see if the guitar makes a difference.

In the end though I think 4 may be about as loud as this amp can be set and sound good so I'm definitely thinking about something else for louder... Mesa express plus, or a used boutique head.
 
Messages
153
Just a few more thoughts on this. I tried other my LP at practice with volume up and had the same problem.

It doesn't seem to be the power tubes-- they look fine. No noise from them.

More research suggests that the stock G12P-80 is known to have this harsh/brittle property at volume. It isn't a great speaker.

It may be that the amp could be made to play at loud volume with a better speaker, and maybe with different tubes. Or maybe not, it would have to be tried.

I should say that I still think this amp sounds great clean at lower volumes. Very sweet clean.

But... I'd rather take that money and invest in an amp that's designed to play at louder volumes. So I'm looking for another amp....
 

Lullabies

Member
Messages
2,054
weird my Blues Deville sounds better as it is cranked.

this is radical but try it.

Turn your treble mids and bass to 0 and presence all the way up now crank the amp and use your pedals with the tone/treble up.

It worked getting me the best tone I could get out of my Deville. Weird settings but it seems to work. It may seem muddy at lower volumes but cranked it replaces the treble and sparkle naturally. I personally hate spiky highs and fizzy distortion sounds so doing this seemed to help me.
 
Last edited:
Messages
153
weird my Blues Deville sounds better as it is cranked.

this is radical but try it.

Turn your treble mids and bass to 0 and presence all the way up now crank the amp and use your pedals with the tone/treble up.

It worked getting me the best tone I could get out of my Deville. Weird settings but it seems to work. It may seem muddy at lower volumes but cranked it replaces the treble and sparkle naturally. I personally hate spiky highs and fizzy distortion sounds so doing this seemed to help me.
The Blues DeVille is a 4x10 isn't it? I would think that would sound really different. The problem with the Hot Rod Deluxe is that it's a 1x12 so it relies on that one speaker. I have the 1x12 extension cab too but that mostly adds bottom and mids and doesn't tame the ice-picky harshness.
 

elron hoover

Senior Member
Messages
2,132
My friend's HR Deville 4x10 sounded pretty ice-picky and obnoxious until he replaced the preamp tubes with 12au7's... totally did away with the harshness. I know you're dealing with a 1x12, but it's pretty cheap to try a few au7's.
 






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