Sultone amp cabinet review

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by MVrider, Nov 28, 2005.

  1. MVrider

    MVrider Member

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    I received the Sultone cabinet last Monday while I was out of town and I promised to post a review for all those who followed the other threads on this subject (and for anyone else who might be interested in a review of this brand of custom-made hardwood cabinet).

    Note: This is a LONG review, but it's an expensive cabinet and I wanted to be thorough.

    First of all, a scary moment when I came home to find the package. It looked like a forklift had gone through the carton, YIKES!!!!! but luckily no damage inside. Phew!!!

    FWIW, I never ship UPS if I can avoid it.

    Now, on to the cabinet itself...

    The wood and workmanship are all first-rate. Maple is excellent quality. Perfectly straight. The corners are PERFECT!!! with NO gaps whatsoever in the seams and there are NO lips whatsoever where the pieces of wood meet. Perfect fit all around. Feels like it was molded in one piece.

    Too early to tell how the cabinet will hold up, but it all looks plenty sturdy. This cabinet is for a high-power Twin, and I will probably use a 15" JBL, so all that weight WILL test the construction! But again, it all looks first rate.

    Finish is a nice satin, but unfortunately some of the clear plastic that was used to wrap the cabinet adhered to the finish in afew spots on the back... I've got a note in to the maker to ask about taking it off without damaging the finish.

    Nice, fat rubber feet on the bottom for great cushioning.

    As stated above, the cabinet is for a tweed amp and depth-wise, tweed cabinets are usually shallower at the top than at the bottom. This one is only marginally so, with the result being the cabinet does not have the characteristic "angle" when viewed from the side. It almost looks straight - almost.

    The visual result is that you're not really sure if it was supposed to be straight or angled. It's almost "not straight enough to be straight and not angled enough to be angled"... If I had been made aware of the difference up front, I'd have gone for the typical Fender style...

    I ordered two baffles for the cabinet and both were included, one for a single 15" speaker and one for 2x12's... Speaker-mounting screws were also included, but not the standard reverse-mount machine screws which go into the baffle from the front and require nuts to secure the speakers. IMO, this is a bit of a problem as the wood screws make it difficult to properly torque the speaker.

    When you use the conventional system of reverse-mounted machine screw with nut, all the torque put on the nut holds the speaker. It's easy to tell just how much torque you have on the nut and how much you have on the speaker. That's important because overtightening a speaker can cause deformation of the speaker frame which may cause cone rub...

    When you're tightening wood screws into the wood baffle, much of the torque goes into driving the screw into the wood. It's impossible to tell how much torque is being used to fasten the screw into the wood and how much torque is being transferred to the frame of the speaker.

    Again, had I known something other than standard convention was going to be used, I definitely would have gone for typical Fender style...

    Now, on to the baffles themselves. Cosmetically great looking and the grill-cloth is well-secured.

    Virtually all the Fender amps that use a single fifteen have the hole offset to one side. This allows the weight of the speaker to counterbalance the weight of the transformer on the opposite side of the amp.

    The 15" baffle from Sultone has the speaker in the middle so there is no counterbalance to the power transformer. With the speaker right int he middle, there may also be a mounting problem with some speakers due to interference with the output transformer.

    Again, I assumed this would be laid out Fender-style as it was for a Fender-style amp and wasn't told otherwise, but had I known, I again would have gone for typical Fender-style methodology...

    I'll probably cut a new baffle myself, with an offset. I'll also install reverse-mounted machine screws at the same time.

    Along with the cabinet and baffles, I also ordered an optional cover with the amp and that also came in the package. I'd say it's comparable in weight and protection to the covers Fender sold with the blackface amps. It's good, but for a cabinet this nice looking, I'd definitely going to go with a TUKI or something like that for maximum protection...

    There was also one little oddity with respect to the cabinet itself. Tweed Twins, like tweed Bassman amps, utilize three chassis mounting screws. Obviously, there are three corresponding holes in the cabinet. But this cabinet was shipped with only two mounting holes...

    Perhaps this was done to allow for variances in chassis construction and the possibility that not all chassis have the "third hole" in exactly the same place. Fair enough. It's not a problem for me to drill the appropriate hole, but some buyers may not feel as confident in taking a drill to a brand-new cabinet. It would have been nice to have been notified of the decision. Others may benefit from instructions and/or drilling caveats.

    Bottom line.... It's a beautiful cabinet. For what it's worth, all my complaints have to do with items I can fix myself but I wish I didn't have to...
     
  2. MVrider

    MVrider Member

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    Got a call-back from Bill tonight regarding my concerns. Apparently, the plastic wrap stuck to the upper back panel (and fortunately ONLY to the upper back panel) in a few spots. If I can't get it off myself, he's offered to repair it for me.

    We also discussed the other issues addressed above. I learned that Fender offset the speakers in single-fifteen amp to keep the speaker farther away from the pre-amp tubes, NOT to balance the cabinet. So moving the speaker to balance the cab would actually move it closer to the preamp tubes and possibly cause some microphonics, hence the center-mount.

    As far as the mounting screws, we have a difference of opinion as to what works better, wood screws or reverse machine screws. I still prefer the machine screws for the reasons stated above.

    Bottom line: Would have liked some clearer communication/ input regarding the unanticipated changes and delivery delays, but it is a GREAT looking cabinet with SUPERB workmanship.
     
  3. sdgvintage

    sdgvintage Member

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    in regards to the 3rd mounting hole, I have enquired about getting clips from mercury for mounting. Their response was that the older transformer covers weren't as tough as the ones they are using today and therefore don't need a separate transformer mount on the cab. So it is very common place not to put a 3rd hole in the cab for mounting, in fact most cabinet makers probably don't put any mounting holes in their cabs at all before shipping.
     
  4. chedgeco

    chedgeco Member

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    MVRider,

    We need pics. I had the same wait issues with Bill but I still love my cab.

    Chris...

    Here is a pic:
    [​IMG]
     
  5. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    chedgeco - that cab is BEAUTIFUL! Looks like a work of art. I can't wait until mine arrives from Bill's shop. The man clearly does brilliant work. My cab is actually the inverse of yours... Maple with a mahogany center stripe, mahogany back panel, and oxblood grillcloth. What is the back panel made of on yours?

    MVrider - our differences, arguments, and unkind words aside, I'm glad you got your cab and that it sounds like you are mostly happy with it. Which woods and design (i.e. solid wood, center stripe, border stripes) did you chose? Please post pics if you can.

    I don't think there are any cabs out there that are as cosmetically pleasing as Bill's... That center stripe look just knocks me out.
     
  6. chedgeco

    chedgeco Member

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    G'OlPeachPhan,

    The back is the same Mahogany/Maple combination with an oval open back.

    Chris... :dude

    Pic of the back:
    [​IMG]

    For a size perspective here it is on stage:
    [​IMG]
     
  7. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    chedgeco - thanks for the additional pics. That cab is just like what I love about a physically attractive woman... looks as good from the rear as it does from the front! Very nice.

    As for your stage pic, I think that cab should be out front and center with a spotlight on it, rather the squeezed into the backline. j/k! ;)
     
  8. MVrider

    MVrider Member

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    That may work for most tweeds, but alas, most tweeds don't have transformers that weigh as much as those in a High-Power Twin. One of the screws is already pulling through the standard cabinet from all that weight.

    I may even use four screws for additional support if I can figure out how to make a support for the chassis.
     
  9. MVrider

    MVrider Member

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    I'll try to post some pics when I get it done, but it could be a while. I'll stop at the hardware store later today so I can pick up some screws for mounting the speaker. Then I've got to remove about 100 staples so I can drill the baffle, install the machine screws and re-staple the grillcloth. Once all that's done, I can put the baffle in the cabinet then install the chassis.

    If I decide to go with an offset speaker mount, I've got to go get some plywood and make a new baffle.

    Like I said, could be a while.
     
  10. sdgvintage

    sdgvintage Member

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    maybe block it in from the sides if its not too far. Other wise you may just need to drill that hole.
     
  11. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    I do not anticipate any issues with my cab, but I was also very specific about what would be needed to accomodate the chassis/speaker on my amp for everything to work properly. Chassis dimensions, mounting points, tube and transformer layout and the total dimensions/clearances needed to accomodate those items, control panel layout/clearances, best way to mount the speaker (front vs. rear and type of fasteners), vent locations, type of handle (I wanted a custom handle which was an upcharge), type of feet, etc. I also shipped my chassis to Bill just a short time ago as my cab was nearing completion to ensure proper fit and fastening. I figured this was a completely custom project requring exacting instructions to make sure I was satisfied with the end result, so I made sure up front that everything was going to be exactly as I wanted it. I took the time (a couple hours) to think through and detail everything, thus leaving nothing to assumption. Hopefully it will pay off with the end result.
     
  12. Srini

    Srini Guest

    My sentiments exactly - regarding the finish. The plastic in my case adhered to major portions of the top and was probably the cause of the splotchy look.

    I did not want to send it back and wait another six months.

    Personally, as nice as the cab is, it is not worth the hassle to me, and I would never order another cab from Sultone again.

    Srini
     
  13. sdgvintage

    sdgvintage Member

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    Maybe you can put some more tung oil on and it will clean up the splochtyness. Ask him which brand he used, you can get it at home depot or lowes.

    Next time maybe pay the $30 to have his wife make you a cover ;)
     
  14. MVrider

    MVrider Member

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    I bought one of her covers along with the cabinet. The amp was wrapped in plastic and the cover was over that, so the cover didn't protect the cabinet from the plastic...

    And if the cover is placed over the cabinet without any plastic wrap and the finish is still a little fresh, I suppose there is no guarantee that the synthetic material inside the cover won't stick to the cabinet either...
     
  15. Srini

    Srini Guest

    I know what I need to do to fix it - it just shouldn't be necessary. And there ain't gonna be a next time.

    Srini
     
  16. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    Just curious as to whether you asekd Bill to fix this or make it right for you, and if so, what was his response?

    If you didn't ask him to make it right, I'm curious as to why you didn't as well.
     
  17. ericb

    ericb Silver Supporting Member

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    Dude, these guys are saying it took forever to get straight answers and to get their cabs and when they got them they had these slight problems.. THE LAST THING IN THE WORLD THEY WANT TO DO is send it back and wait all over again.... There, I tried to interpret the obvious. . I went thru this once with someone.. That's all .. I learned a valuable lesson and moved on .. SOunds to me , exactly what these guys are doing. My post has absolutely NOTHING to do with whether or not these are the prettiest or best sounding cabs in the world , as they might be, but the rest was just really obvious from the 2 threads the guys have posted on . Enjoy them , and make good music! ERIC
     
  18. G'OlPeachPhan

    G'OlPeachPhan Member

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    So my questions aren't valid? This is a DISCUSSION forum.

    My experience with Bill has been quite the opposite. My point has nothing to do with the cabs looking or sounding good either. It has everything to do with wanting to have all the information out on the table. I'm personally interested, and I think everyone reading here is entitled to push the discussion in directions that interest them.

    I for one don't leave anything to the obvious or to assumption... When you do that, things don't ever go exactly as you planned them to (such as custom cab design).

    I think it is perfectly reasonable to inquire about any pursued resolution to any issues that occurred, as it would be value to everyone reading. It seems to me that some of the issues in question occurred during transit (cabs could have been sitting in a 110 degree warehouse melting the plastic to the cab for all we know, and that's no fault of Bill's... or it could have been insufficient packaging), and the rest of the issues were as a result of a lack of communication (not faulting EITHER party here - communication is a two way street). That said, if resolution is not pursued, that is the fault of the customer, not Bill, and the issues then become the customers to deal with and should not negatively reflect on Bill.

    There is an underlying negative undertone that is clearly aimed at getting back at Bill for a delayed shipment of product. If you want to fault him for poor communication regarding shipment dates, fine. I'd say that's fair. I still don't agree with how that issues was handled on a public forum without first seeking adequate resolution with the man himself (again, in my opinion). The rest of it... Again, two sides to every story. The few negatives in this case are repeatedly being held as trump over the many positives.

    AGAIN, LET ME BE CLEAR: I have no affiliation with Bill. I have differing opinions on many issues in this matter, and I am ENTITLED to having those opinions, AND to posting about them... So don't come in here as the be-all, end-all authority on the topic. If you don't like it, TFB.

    I DO agree with you however on your most important point ericb... 'enjoy the cabs and make good music.'
     
  19. ericb

    ericb Silver Supporting Member

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    Hey just figured I'd paraphrase what they had said over and over again , as I figured they had already said it. I should've not gotten involved as surely that wasn't my place! You guys can resolve the rest I'm sure. 1 thing's for sure and they are beautiful products

    ERIC
     
  20. MVrider

    MVrider Member

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    Ridiculous. I never said the negatives outweighed the positives. I've laid out the facts regarding the transaction and I have the documentation to back them up.

    If Bill would like to dispute anything I've presented as fact, this is an open forum and he's welcome to do that if he so chooses.

    I've also posted a review (an opinion which includes positives and negatives) regarding the product. Nowhere on this forum did I make a recommendation as to anyone else's purchases.

    As for myself, I may order another cabinet from him and I may not. The product itself is solid.

    But let me make one thing perfectly clear - this is a discussion about the cabinet *I* paid for.

    Therefore, *I* am the customer in this case and *I* am the one who decides what level of customer service is acceptable and what is not. As far as changes to the standard design, I feel that I - the customer - should be notified of those changes and they should be approved by me in advance.

    Even if I *did* conclude that the negatives outweigh the positives, that would be perfectly within my prerogative as the *customer*.

    Out of courtesy to Bill, I will repeat myself. I would *not* rule out ordering another cabinet. They are extremely well made.
     

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