Problems with Hot Rod Devilles/Deluxes?

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by The P-Man, Feb 11, 2005.


  1. The P-Man

    The P-Man Member

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    Hi guys,

    For a number of reasons I am thinking of selling some of my more expensive equipment and picking up either a Hot Rod Deville or, most likely, a Deluxe. I've always liked the clean channels on these amps although the reports I've heard of their reliability are somewhat worrying. Could somebody give me a basic 'luddites' guide to the main issues with these amps, whether they are easily repaired, and advise whether its worth upgrading them (and how to) to increase said reliability. The amp will cost less than 1/4 of the gear I'll be selling so I'm not unrealistic to the prospect that it might need fixing at some stage.

    Thanks,

    Pete
     
  2. Reeek

    Reeek Member

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    I'm not a contemporary Fender expert but I've heard from Weber and other places that the speakers are amongst the weakest link.
     
  3. vagn

    vagn Guest

    Hello
    The problem with the newer reissues that ive played through was offen a metallic edge and a thin or flabby farty sound when boosted.
    Go for an old nonmaster and you offen have a warm thick sound that hits you right in the stomach, thats my adwise.
     
  4. tonezoneonline

    tonezoneonline Member

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    There are several problems with the Hot Rod series amps and most are easy fixes but will cost a few bucks.I think they are some of the best bang for the buck amps there is to begin with.
    As someone else mentioned,a speaker upgrade is one of the bets things you can do for the amp.They also have a major problem with the PCB mounted,plastic input jacks.These can be replaced with hard wired switchcraft jacks.Some had a problem with a couple of resistors in the 16V circuit that is an easy fix.
    There are others I have worked on with intermittent heat problems that are a bit tougher to troubleshoot and fix.These are all relatively minor things but can become frustrating if your amp
    has several of these problems.
     
  5. Hard2Hear

    Hard2Hear Member

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    I played a 4x10 tweed Blues Deville (the ones before the hot rod) on the road HARD for about 4 years. It traveled in a trailer with all the band gear thru hot and cold and I would leave it running from soundcheck to after the show for 3-4 nights a week. It never had a single problem. I went thru one set of tubes and had it rebiased then, but never had it in the shop for any other problems.

    It's one of those amps I sold to get better stuff, but I should not have. I haven't found another amp that did the SRV blues thing quite as well.

    H2H
     
  6. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Supporting Member

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    The best mod I made for my HR Deluxe was to sell it. For me, it was the worst amp I've ever owned. YMMV.

    Allan.
     
  7. dazco

    dazco Member

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    thats what i always thought, but some people really like em. I just can't figure out why unless the speaker is REALLY REALLY horrible beyond words. Because as bad as they sound to me i can't imagine any speaker making it better enough to like it much. I have a couple at my disposal every day and now and then i'll plug in to test something. But no matter what i do they just sound so thin and hard that i could honestly say they are probably one of the worse amps i've ever played.

    That said, maybe a speaker and the right tubes would make it a good amp. I just can't imagine it being better than average even then. My classic 30 sounded worlds better before i ever swapped the speaker and tubes. It's truly a mystery amp for me cuz i just can't imagine why anyone would like it. I actually prefer some of fender's SS amps !
     
  8. The P-Man

    The P-Man Member

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    Thanks everyone for the feedback. Sounds like the reliability issues are an acceptable risk given the cost of the amp. I'd be using the amp predominantly as a clean platform for my pedals (TMB, Rat, Fuzz Factory) so I'm not so concerned with the eq issues with all three channels. In fact, I think if Fender ditched the two drive channels, tightened up on some of these reliability/component issues and charged slightly less it would be great.

    Thanks,

    Pete
     
  9. dazco

    dazco Member

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    My bad......i should have mentioned i was talking about the distortion channel. And of course you said that too wasn't as good as a c30 to you. In any case, i wasn't talking clean, and in that case i too would say the fender is better. And while the point is moot, i modded my 30 and also changed tubes and speaker and at this point i don't think you'd choose the fender's clean over it. But again, just for the record....the fender clean is better than the C30 both stock. I still however can't understand the love of the HR's disto channel. As stock my ears find it intolerable. Kinda odd how this perticular amp evokes such widly varied feelings. One end of the spectrum to the other, and rarely anyone in-between !
     
  10. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I am actually 'in between'. I don't love these amps, but I think they're OK and a fairly good platform for pedals. Not outstanding, but then they're not high-priced either.

    The distortion is OK if you dime (or whatever the word for '12' is.. dozen? :)) the mids, and run the bass and treble fairly low. The exact opposite of what you need for a good clean tone on it. That's why I do not get on with "multi channel" amps that are actually multi-mode, single-channel amps. I've never found one where the two sounds are dead right, through the same EQ settings... which is partly because the location of the tone stack within the circuit needs to be different too.

    I don't mind the stock C30 distortion, but it's hardly great IMO. Not quite good enough to justify buying a C30 over a HRD with the other drawbacks it has. That's stock - I'll have to take your word for it that yours sounds great, but I'm still surprised. The C30 sounds to me like a fairly small, fairly boxy, midrangy amp which you can actually hear is not very solid... IMO anyway - and I can't imagine circuit changes would really alter that. The HRD is substantially better built physically and you can hear it in the tone.

    I agree with P-Man, I think Fender should have put a tiny bit more into making it reliable, possibly at the expense of the "channel" switching (although that's still useful in a pinch, and is not responsible for the problems). The issues are actually quite minor really, and could easily have been spotted at the design stage by anyone with a little field experience. OTOH, everything costs money and I'm sure they are very tightly price-pointed, and most of the issues don't arise within the warranty period anyway. Still good value for money IMO.
     
  11. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    I owned a hot rod deluxe for awhile and I hated it. The amp may sound good but it just reeks of cheap, cheap, cheap quality. I replaced the speaker which helped but when you compare these amps side by side with say a Tone King or Carr the Fenders come off as veiled and rather lifeless harmonically. The speaker change made a big difference but what really pissed me off is when I would switch to the lead channel the reverb would go through the roof. What's the point of dialing the reverb so it sounds great on the clean channel only to have it overwhelm everything once you change channels? To me this is a major oversight on the part of Fender. When it comes down to it your going to get a used one $350 to 400 bucks, make all the changes you need to $75 to 300 depending on how elaborate you get (speaker up to rewiring the chassis). When your finally done you could of bought a used Carr or Tone King which would still sound better, heck you could by one of the Allen kits and build it yourself. Maybe you'll save $400, I guess it could make a diifference, it seems like guys spend $200 a pop on pedals all day long. It's just my opinion and everyone has their own path , it's just my take on it. I guess as long as you don't get into it and are sitting there 4 months later saying, "I wonder what I could do to make it sound more like my old amp?" you will have made the right decision.
     
  12. kingsxman

    kingsxman Silver Supporting Member

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    Pman, the Hot Rod Deluxe is a really solid amp. Its light and compact and has a much much fuller sound than the classic 30. I've owned both. I still own the Hot Rod. (along with a Super and a JCM 800). I used it exactly as your planning on using it: start with a clean sound and add pedals for overdrives. I used the 2nd channel as a volume boost for solos. It works really well for that since the overdrive on it isnt that great.

    heres the tricks:
    Replace the stock speaker. Its crap. Put in a Weber blue dog or a Vin 30. I'll give you a link that has sound clips of various speakers in a Hot Rod.
    Master volume: they put a linear pot in it instead of an audio taper pot. If your handy with electronics and soldering...this is something you can do yourself. Once again outlined in the link.
    Reverb mod: Theres a resistor you can clip to tame the rever. Once again see link.

    Overall, this amp takes pedals better than any other amp I own. Its has such a fat tone that it really brings out the individuality of each pedal you try. dont let all the "if it aint an Aiken its crap" guys steer you wrong. You dont have to spend $1500 for a decent gigging amp.
    Pick one up used ($425) and you'll always get your dough back out of it if you dont like it.

    Here's the link for all kinds of good info on this amp.
    http://studentweb.eku.edu/justin_holton/
     
  13. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    If people would stop refering to them as "channels", maybe the reason would be more obvious...

    The HRD is a single channel amp with (just barely) three modes.

    That's the simple reason everything about it, other than the tone in the clean mode, is a compromise - from the EQ to the relative volumes to the reverb level.

    Multi-channel amps have separate audio paths, and can largely avoid these problems. It's not a trivial distinction, and this is exactly why.
     
  14. dazco

    dazco Member

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    I quite agree. But I still think it's a good amp stock for the money, but yes, compared to say a good JCM800 theres not much comparison. But trust me, mine sounds nothing like that. the congested middy distortion tone of the stock amp is gone after the mods i did, the EV12L and the GT mullard clones.

    It's been cathode biased, the input circuit is as a vintage amp, the tone stack caps are high quality and there are a few caps that i changed that helped a lot. I've owned 2 JCM800's, one being an exceptional sounding 82'. I prefer my C30 to the other 2 and while the one JCM that sounded exceptional did sound better, it absolutly fell short compared to the c30 onstage where it would get lost in the mix most of the nite. The C30, at least my modded one, is one of the best amps i ever had in that context. It cuts thru always, and more importantly the tone cuts thru, which few amps i ever had did well no matter how good they sounded solo. And because of that i'd even take it over my fav 800 unless i was using it at home only. (which of course would mean instant eviction)
     
  15. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    This is taken directly from Fender's website so don't blame me for my earlier comments.

    All Hot Rod Deluxe and Hot Rod Deville amps feature:
    • Three selectable channels (Normal, Drive and More Drive)
    • Gain and Master controls in Drive channel
    • Bright switch in Normal channel
    • FX loop
    • Fender long spring Reverb
    • Two 6L6 Groove Tube output tubes
    • Three 12AX7 preamp tubes
    • External speaker jack
    • Two-button Three-function footswitch for Channel select, Drive/More Drive select
    • Chrome panel with vintage pointer knobs
    • Internal Variable Bias control
    • Black textured vinyl with silver grille cloth


    If you notice Fender uses the references "channels", in the text. My Tone King is voiced by design so when you switch to the lead channel the reverb is not as prominent as the normal channel. This is a mark of superior design in my book and IMHO a huge oversight by Fender.
     
  16. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I know very well that Fender refer to them as three "channels". They're wrong, period. This is a problem not unique to Fender either.

    There is no technical or functional justification for calling them that. Electronically they share the same audio path (or "channel") for all the modes, therefore it is a single-channel amp. From a user's point of view they share the same EQ and reverb controls, so they can't be described as a multi-channel amp like that either.

    I'm not very familiar with the Tone Kings, but if they're anything like my Mesa DC-5 and Maverick - two completely separate audio paths, with different gain structure, EQ placement and reverb sends - then they are two-channel amps.


    Just another case of how an apparently useful term to describe something has been misused by marketers to the point where hardly anyone actually understands what it means any more :(.
     
  17. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey John,

    It's unfortunate many things are either misrepresented or just poorly described and the masses assume it to be the truth. I work for a power tool company and our marketing department always pushes "the speed of cut". This is some benchmark they like to use to say how good our products are and how much faster Marketing slogan here: (You the home owner will be able to get results). The problem is this, many materials require you to use lower speeds of cut, i.e. hardened metals. Take a hardened piece of steel and try to drill a whole through it using the highest speed the drill can operate on and see where that will get you. Most likely a box of burned up drill bits. But the Marketing guys still like to say our drill is faster or more amps or etc... It makes no sense to me. Being the Fender is a true single channel amp with additional gain stages I can now see why the reverb responded the way it did.
     
  18. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Exactly! Sorry, I hope I didn't come across as being picky with you personally.

    I am the Forum Pedant though, especially where I think it really matters - or more accurately, where it can easily confuse people who don't their kicks from reading a schematic :).
     
  19. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    No problem John, bust out a schematic and the world becomes a giant train wreck. I have to admit sometimes I have to kick myself in the ass for being a bonehead. Earlier this week I posted the new Tone King uses a Cannibas Rex speaker when it doesn't. It is a hemp cone but not a Cannibas Rex. +50% for me I was half right.

    If I would have been really familiar with the Fender circuit I would have said something differently, but in regard to the Fender I'm one of the brainwashed masses. I've got to go now, I see a flashing light down at the end of the hallway, oh no! thats just our Marketing department coming up with another great idea.:)
     
  20. rockinlespaul

    rockinlespaul Senior Member

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    Don't forget the cold solder joint problems. Mine was in the shop three times for it. I finally got it fixed right and gave it to a forum bro.
     

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