How to get more distortion from amp?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by tw0409, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. tw0409

    tw0409 Member

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    I recently got my frenzel 5e3 dp3, a 25 watter, which has 3 - 12AX7, 2 - 6L6 and 1 - 5U4. (It has built in attenuator which I am using now as 7 watts only)

    BTW the amp sounds amazing when clean and it has extremely low noise.

    My question is how to get more amp distortion?...I turn the gain and master all the way up and it still sounds clean with very little break up. I really want to get some distortion from the amp but not pedals.

    Any idea on how to achieve this? Does changing tubes work? how?

    Thanks
     
  2. WaltC

    WaltC Member

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    turn the gain all the way up, the master down and the attenuator up and see what you get... (disclaimer, I'm not familiar with the Frenzel amp at all so I'm just guessing).
     
  3. dazco

    dazco Member

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    What preamp tubes? If any are 12AT7 or anything lower gain than a AX7, replace it with a AX7. In fact, find out which AX7's are highest gain and use all those whatever they may be. Someone here should be able to point you to some. There is a fairly wide gap between the lowest gain AX7's and the highest gain ones even those the X in 12AX7 is supposed to denote a certain gain factor. they are no where near all the same. Another way to get a huge boost, and IMO maybe the best way is to simply use a clean boost pedal. You said no distortion pedals, but a clean boost is nothing more than a pedal to jack up the signal strength and will overdrive the amp naturally giving pure tube distortion and nothing more.
    There are many simple circuit tweaks i'm sure if you are into that.
     
  4. TubeLuvr

    TubeLuvr Member

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    I have that same amp but w/o the attenuator.
    When I dime the master I can not dime the gain without getting too much distortion (bad sounding distortion).
    If you are having the problem at 6 or 12 watts I can't speak to that.
    You could change your power tubes to 6V6s. Frenzel recommends JJs.
    I have a pair of JJ 6V6s that I've run and there is very little headroom.
    Your output power will decrease with the 6V6s; about 15 watts instead of 25.
     
  5. CA_Dan

    CA_Dan Member

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    If it has a 12ay7 like stock fenders did, try a 12ax7. JJ 6v6s are a good suggestion too. If you are considering modifying it, you could cascade both triodes of V1 so you have a second gain stage instead of using half of V1 for each input.
     
  6. solitaire

    solitaire Senior Member

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    Do bear in mind that these amps were not designed to produce a lot of gain. Actually at the time they wanted as little distortion as possible.

    Going with 6V6:s or those EL84 adapters could be one way to to, but I would definitely advise pushing the amp harder, which either means more powerfull pickups or using a boost pedal.

    Possibly you could mod the input and what goes into that second AX7, but we're really one pre-amp short for a gain monster here.
     
  7. BigPapiFan

    BigPapiFan Member

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    Boost pedal? I use an Electro Harmonix LPD-1.
     
  8. tw0409

    tw0409 Member

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    Thanks guys. I guess having a clean boost is the way to go. It's really strange that with a boss BD2 cranked up all the way, all I get is volume increase but little saturation. When I use a solid state 10 watter, the BD2 just make really fuzz distortion.

    Frenzel amps have some serious headroom!
     
  9. GrungeMan

    GrungeMan Supporting Member

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    I'm sure these amps are great sounding but I never understood why they are called 5E3's?

    5E3's have 4 inputs, the 2-6V6 & 2-preamps deliver 12watts, controls are vol vol tone, volumes and tone are interactive, are known for their dirt more so than clean, they distort at 3 on the volume and after that it's find your sweet spot.

    Your description makes me think this sounds nothing like a 5E3.

    Grungy :confused:
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  10. TimmyP

    TimmyP Member

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    Odd that if both channels are WFO, there's no summing resistors. Cascading the channels sounds like a good idea. How does this sound? Disconnect the top of volume one (where it connects to the top of volume 2 and the tone wiper) and connect it instead to the grid of ch 2 (which you should disconnect from the input jacks). Any troubles with that? If you wanted, you could alter the switching jack connection on ch 2 so that it switched from having ch 1 connected to the grid (via the 68k) to having the jack connected (You'd want to disconnect the second jack.)
     
  11. zenas

    zenas Member

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    I hear you man.
    I think the OP should try a real 5e3 clone..
     
  12. phsyconoodler

    phsyconoodler Member

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    Quote:" a 25 watter, which has 3 - 12AX7, 2 - 6L6 and 1 - 5U4"

    Without knowing what he has done inside the amp to make it not distort,it would be hard to give recommendations.
    Hard to believe it won't break up when cranked.What guitar are you using?What pickups?Did you try another patch cord?
    I've build a few 6L6 5E3's and they growl pretty nicely,just louder.
     
  13. Prattacaster

    Prattacaster Member

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    I think this guy is on to something, it doesnt seem right that you cant get any distortion even with a pedal. Check or replace your cord, and check your guitar output jack for shorts. Maybe the input jack of the amp as well, clean and inspect for corrosion/cold solder.
     
  14. TubeLuvr

    TubeLuvr Member

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    Phsyconoodler & Prattacaster are right. From the OP description, something ain't right.
    Running full wattage, neg feedback off, dimed MV, gain above 5 you should be getting lots of distortion. This is no High-Gain Amp so if you are looking for that you have the wrong amp. There is no way this amp can be described as having 'very little break up' if all is right.
     
  15. tw0409

    tw0409 Member

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    Now I am getting some nice overdriven sound out of a boost pedal with some tweaking on master and gain knobs. I am pretty sure the amp is okay/nothing is wrong. The amp is like 2 weeks old so I am pretty sure it is built to be clean.

    I have not played a real 5E3 before so I have no idea how this one compare. For people who questioned...I play a strat with SD lil '59 neck, dimarzio cruiser middle, and SD JBJr bridge.
     
  16. zenas

    zenas Member

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    Well most of us will never play a real 5e3. But a clone of one put's out some distortion and if you run 12ax7s alot of it. Thay ain't a high gain Mesa type of thing but thay can rock. Niel Young uses them.

    I did play a real one it was in a store. The price was right but I was younger and dumber and 600 bucks was alot of money.
     

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