Trainwreck express Owners and clone owners.

VICOwner

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2,449
You does this build have an effects loop? If not have you ever done one and does it take away from the amp tone much?
No effects loop. The one clip is straight in and the other is pedalboard into front end of the amp. I don’t use effect loops. The pedalboard does “muffle” a Trainwreck and it also introduces more noise. These amps aren’t great as far as idle noise floor but once you’re playing the wonderful sounds outweigh the noise when resting.
 

VICOwner

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2,449
Any attempts to include an effects loop in a Trainwreck would indicate a complete lack of understanding of how this circuit works.
And really playing them other than straight in is less than optimal. They are remarkable. They also are usually at their best with Amperex Holland I65 12ax7 in the 3 sockets.
 
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2,192
I read on another furum that it's the Phase Inverter that's distorting in these amps (Express).. Is that true, or is it Power Tube clip??
 

hogy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
14,564
I read on another furum that it's the Phase Inverter that's distorting in these amps (Express).. Is that true, or is it Power Tube clip??

They are very finely tuned to clip in a defined order, and also saturate the output transformer in a way that rolls of highs with increasing overdrive. All of which is upended by inserting anything between preamp and output stage. Including, of course, both master volumes and effects loops of any kind.

Something interesting has happened over the last few years. Since the availability of circuit pictures and schematics, many hobby builders have concluded that this is a simple circuit that will turn out fine if painted by numbers. In fact, it's an incredibly complex system where just about every aspect has the be just right. Forget the fact that very little of what makes it tick can be deduced from pictures or schematics.

Since the originals are so rare and almost nobody has the opportunity to actually experience one in person, clones have become the default representation of what a "Trainwreck" supposedly sounds like. The problem is that almost none of them actually sound right.
 
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2,192
Meh.. I've watched plenty of pro vids of real Wrecks, and they sound like ass..
Twin sisters have the same DNA but never look exactly the same..
I'm sure a lot of clones are close enough.
 
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2,192
problem.jpg
 

kg*

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
321
What speakers are paired good with this amp. Im currently just plugged into the Creamback M-65 from a combo amp that I have. It sounds good to me but just seeing what everybody else is using. I want to eventually get 1x12 dedicated for this amp.
 
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donbarzini

Member
Messages
3,220
Since the originals are so rare and almost nobody has the opportunity to actually experience one in person, clones have become the default representation of what a "Trainwreck" supposedly sounds like. The problem is that almost none of them actually sound right.

Are there any express clones or circuits close enough out there that you can recommend to a male who would like to experience this phenomenon? Asking for a friend. PM if you wish.
 

ericb

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,787
Are there any express clones or circuits close enough out there that you can recommend to a male who would like to experience this phenomenon? Asking for a friend. PM if you wish.

Here's my take on it. I'm not Hogy, but I am a male who's played guitar a long time and owned a boatload of male amps. Every single one will be a little bit different unless they're made and tuned by a guitarist with a discerning ear and someone who 100% knows the cause/effect of every component in the circuit and the cause/effect of every placement of every component. I've only owned a few but would own more if I didn't have so many amps. As for why guys are paying 5000.00 for a certain clone vs 800.00 for another clone without trying the 800.00 amp first, your guess is as good as mine. Hopefully Hogy gives you an answer from his pov and experience.
p.s. don't rule out a Liverpool

Eric
 
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drbob1

Gold Supporting Member
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29,921
With all respect to HAD, it has to do with harmonics... When the preamp tubes in an amplifier distort, it tends to be more low, even order harmonics (being single ended output). The PI/Power tube section, because it's balanced, tends to more odd order harmonics. The transformer when it saturates doesn't change the spectrum of harmonics but tends to reduce treble overall. I'm sure there's more to it than that, but the bottom line is, if you can get all 3 stages to distort at the same time, you get this wonderful mix of low order even and odd harmonics without excessive treble or bass. That was Ken's genius. Can you get that same result by just plugging a bunch of components in? Experience suggests no, to balance the outputs of the various sections, you need to use the right caps and resistors for each build. Of course, changing tubes can mess with that, and Ken has specific tubes he supplied for each position. I forget the details, but it wasn't just "all Amperex" or "all Mullard".

IIRC his testing cabinet was an Ampeg V4, which is an oversized 412. I think it was loaded with greenbacks, although I could be wrong.
 
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I can't remember if I knew what Ken used for preamp tubes..:beer
But these amps are real responsive to tube changes and will have a big effect on the final outcome..
 
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kg*

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I can't remember if I knew what Ken used for preamp tubes..:beer
But these amps are real responsive to tube changes and will have a big effect on the final outcome..
Excellent. I checked my amp it came with a mesa 12ax7 in v3 and V2. And a tung sol in V1. I swapped the tung sol for vintage Mullard. Defiantly sounds a little different. One day I think I’ll order some Amperex bugle boys. But I’m pretty happy for now.
 
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2,192
Yeah man.. Long Plates are almost universally better for everything. Find one that isn't microphonic for V1.
Turn up to a band volume and hit the tube with your finger nail..
It should make a dead klang and not a live resonating ping!..
 

kg*

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Messages
321
And really playing them other than straight in is less than optimal. They are remarkable. They also are usually at their best with Amperex Holland I65 12ax7 in the 3 sockets.
How important is it that the preamped tubes are “matched” in the express?
 

VICOwner

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Messages
2,449
How important is it that the preamped tubes are “matched” in the express?
Matched meaning all three tubes being the same like all Amperex or all Mullard? You really have to try different things to see what you like. I have lots of old 12ax7’s. I’ve got Mullard I61’s and I63’s, Amperex Bugle Boys and various labeled 12ax7’s, Tungsram 12ax7’s, Telefunken, RFT, Sylvania,RCA. I prefer Amperex and Tungsram in Trainwreck. A Mullard in a Trainwreck is a little glassy for me. Marshall have a lot more bottom end and the Mullard gives it a little more balance. A Trainwreck doesn’t have quite the frequency range of a Marshall and doesn’t need the upper end.
 
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I found this old paper from Myles.. He was free with his knowledge. Nice dude.

The most important tube in your amp? The Phase inverter!
Many people think that V1 (the first gain stage) is the most important tube in an amp. This is
true in some cases but not in all cases. V1 (usu ally the preamp tube closest to the input jack)
has the largest impact on your tone and gain but has less impact on your output distortion touch
dynamics and output stage distorti on than the phase inverter. The phase inverter is generally
the preamp tube that is the most close to your output tubes in most amps.
Let’s think about this for a moment. Today’s amps come in many “flavors”. There are three
basic amp topologies looking at things from one viewpoint.
• Non Master volume amplifiers
• Master volume amplifiers
• Channel switching amplifiers
In master volume amps we have pre and post phase inverter master vo lume controls. These
work differently but for this piece of writing I will put them in the same master volume category.
Rolling down the master does what? It allows the front end to be driven harder and thus we
hear our front end distort. At some point we ca n drive some amps so hard in the front end that
the tone becomes so compressed and distorted that even I can sound like a decent player! Your
mistakes are covered up in the mush and distortion of ti all. This distortion is passed down the
signal chain where it is reproduc ed and amplified by the output stage of the amp. This has
nothing to do with output stage distortion. This type of distortion is not touch sensitive. This
type of distortion is not something that most articulate players would favor for a sweet tone,
blues tone, or even classic rock tones. This is NOT what people refer to as the “brown sound”.
Channel switching amps. Many of these amps ha ve so much “junk” in the signal path that
hearing tube changes in V1 is a pretty hopeless endeavor. When you do hear a change it is
because the tube is closer to in dustry spec than another tube may have been. If you want to
hear different great tones from swapping out V1 th en listen to the tube under test in a more
classic amp design.
Channel switchers continued. I get calls and letters all the time where people have a “bonzo-3
channel gripmaster Mk III recto” or whatever. Many owners of these amps say: “the owner’s
manual says that V3 is used for the turbo ch annel” or whatever. Remember, V1 feeds
EVERYTHING else down the line, EVEN IN THESE AMPS. The “turbo channel” generally does not
use JUST V3. The chain is fed by V1. V1, even in multi channel amps is still the most important
tube in the TONE AND GAIN stage of most amps. If you want to change the ratio of preamp
tube distortion to output tube distortion then we change V1 in some cases. Going from a 12AX7
to a 5751 will reduce front end gain. Going do wn to a 12AY7 will reduce the front end gain
further and generally give one more clean headroom.
Back to the phase inverter. Taking a simple cl assis non-master volume amp (but this is the
same for master volume amps as well actually).
I will try to keep things simple here with a few basics. If you have questions on all the complex
versions feel free to contact me.
Fender Tolex era amps – These generally used a 12AT7 in the phase inverter.
Marshall type amps – These generally used a 12AX7 in the phase inverter.
There are many other differences in these amps but I will stick to the PI (phase inverter).

Some basic tube facts
• 12AX7
o Has a published spec gain of 100
o Has a publishes spec current output of 1.2 milliamps
• 12AT7
o Has a published spec gain of 60-70
o Has a published spec current output of 10. 0 milliamps (ten times that of the 12AX7
as a side note)
As a third example, a 5751 has a gain which is al most identical to the 12AT7 but it’s standing
current is 1.0 milliamps (about the same as the 12AX7). But, there is a third factor,
transconductance, to be considered. The 5751 has a transconductance of about 1200. A
12AX7 has a “TC” of about 1600 and a 12AT7 has a TC over 5000. These three tubes act quite
differently. A 5751 and 12AX7 are much more closely related than the 5751 and 12AT7.
We will stick to the basic 12AX7 and 12AT7.
When you push your amp hard it is not as much the output tubes distorting as it is the
phase inverter breaking down and distorting. We are talking output stage distortion here.
We are not talking about how you may have messed up the signal with pr eamp tube distortion
and compression already. The phase inverter may be the hardest worked tube in most
amps. I cannot begin to count the times when I ha ve found phase inverters that were long past
their service life. When you chan ge your output tubes change that phase inverter. At the least
change it every other output tube change.
Many folks think that when they want to have their amp have more clean headroom they can
insert a 12AT7 in place of the 12AX7. Very true. (By the way, the 12AT7 in a first gain stage is
an awful tone generator in a guit ar amp. If you want to drop front end gain use a 5751 (gain of
60-70) or a 12AY7 (gain of 40). The 12AY7 was the first gain stage in the classic Fender Tweed
Bassman, Deluxe, etc.
Going from a 12AX7 to a 12AT7 in the PI (phase inverter) will yield a change in output tube
distortion, touch, and output dynamics in most amps. Is this because the gain is lower in the
12AT7? 10% yes perhaps. The lower gain is a factor but the larger factors are:
• We have almost 10 times the current available to drive the output tubes before the phase
inverter starts to break down.
• We have a transconductance of 5500 vs 1600 of the 12AX7. Keeping this simple, it
means it takes a lot less input signal for a given output signal.
The output tubes are less important than many folks may think. Think about this. In the
Hi-Fi world there have been many amplifier design s. Some such as the Scott and Fisher lines
used EL-84 output tubes. McIntosh used 6L6 and 6550 / KT88 tubes. Dynaco and some British
amps used EL-34 tubes. All of these amps, wh en operated at the rated specs generally stated
that from 20-20,000 cycles at .5% di stortion or less they were consider ed “flat” by industry spec.
The output tube type had very little to do with anything. In guitar am ps we purposely push the
output tube beyond their design limits to make them distort. The difference between a Svetlana
6L6 and an RCA 6L6 is the difference in the way th e tube sounds when it is pushed beyond it’s
design limits. Being in the “tube business” this is not a grea t subject. What I am basically
saying here is: Before you go to a pricy output set of tubes and a possible need to rebias the
amp think about a simple phase inverter change. There are no amp adjustments necessary when
you change the phase inverter.

In real life we rarely get to the point of pushing our output tubes to their limits. Our front end is
going into distortion. Our phas e inverter is breaking down too. The ratio of this front end
distortion to phase inverter drive and breakdown is determined by amplifier design topology. You
cannot make a Marshall into a Fender no matter how many people tell you that this can be done.
Putting 6L6 tubes in a Marshall will NOT make it sound like a Fender either.
There are many 12AX7 types of tubes available. They are all different even though they are
supposed to have the same specs. Even when on e looks at the same tube type from the same
maker out of the same production run we find HUGE variances. +/- 50% off spec is common.
Most 12AX7s today show a current output of 0.6-0. 8 milliamps where 1.2 milliamps is expected.
You throw a 12AX7 in your PI slot with a 0.8mA output and you are 30% down on what the amp
can do right off the bat. Your amp is not as fu ll, tight, responsive, or just plain “powerful” or
dynamic. Many of today’s high production amps use the Sovtek 12AX7WA short plate as a
generic 12AX7. I have issues with these in the tone and gain stage but staying with the topic of
phase inverters, these are just awful (12AX7WA Sovtek) for the most part. In tests these show
very low standing current. The Ei long smooth plate also shows low standing current, even
though a long plate. Generally, large plate tubes will show higher standing current but this is not
always the case. The JJ ECC83S has the highes t standing current of any current production
tube. The JJ is a short plate tube. The JJ is an exception. You might think the JJ would be a
good PI. Not from my personal taste. The way the JJ breaks down is not as musical to my ear
in most amps and I do not care for the touch response and dynamics of the tube in the PI position
in most amps. What do I like? I lik e the Sovtek 12AX7LPS and the GT 12AX7M. The GT
12AX7M is also available as a matched phase inve rter from the SAG over at GT as the SAG-AX7-
MPI. There is also an SAG-AT7-MPI. I have talked about matched phase inverters in other
places prior to this piece of writing. The 12AX7M and 12AX7R2 (Sovtek 12AX7LPS) are both long
plate designs. In either case I check these for specs because in all cases there is a wide range of
variables from tube to tube and run to run in production.
There are a lot of great NOS tubes. They have advantages in the tone and gain stage but they
are not as available as production tubes made today. When you are on the road or on tour these
are harder to find. In the case of the phase inverter we do not want to stock a bunch of Mullards
or Telefunkens to burn up every output tube se t change. There are great current production
tubes that give us all we can ask for.
Other great phase inverters to consider are the 5751, 12AY7, and 12AU7.
The bottom line here is simple. The phase invert er is one of the most important tubes in your
amp and the hardest worked tube in the preamp section of your amp. It is how this tube breaks
down that provides your output stage distortion tone, character, and amp feel.
Myles S. Rose
www.guitaramplifierblueprinting.com
www.groovetubes.com
 

kg*

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
321
I found this old paper from Myles.. He was free with his knowledge. Nice dude.

The most important tube in your amp? The Phase inverter!
Many people think that V1 (the first gain stage) is the most important tube in an amp. This is
true in some cases but not in all cases. V1 (usu ally the preamp tube closest to the input jack)
has the largest impact on your tone and gain but has less impact on your output distortion touch
dynamics and output stage distorti on than the phase inverter. The phase inverter is generally
the preamp tube that is the most close to your output tubes in most amps.
Let’s think about this for a moment. Today’s amps come in many “flavors”. There are three
basic amp topologies looking at things from one viewpoint.
• Non Master volume amplifiers
• Master volume amplifiers
• Channel switching amplifiers
In master volume amps we have pre and post phase inverter master vo lume controls. These
work differently but for this piece of writing I will put them in the same master volume category.
Rolling down the master does what? It allows the front end to be driven harder and thus we
hear our front end distort. At some point we ca n drive some amps so hard in the front end that
the tone becomes so compressed and distorted that even I can sound like a decent player! Your
mistakes are covered up in the mush and distortion of ti all. This distortion is passed down the
signal chain where it is reproduc ed and amplified by the output stage of the amp. This has
nothing to do with output stage distortion. This type of distortion is not touch sensitive. This
type of distortion is not something that most articulate players would favor for a sweet tone,
blues tone, or even classic rock tones. This is NOT what people refer to as the “brown sound”.
Channel switching amps. Many of these amps ha ve so much “junk” in the signal path that
hearing tube changes in V1 is a pretty hopeless endeavor. When you do hear a change it is
because the tube is closer to in dustry spec than another tube may have been. If you want to
hear different great tones from swapping out V1 th en listen to the tube under test in a more
classic amp design.
Channel switchers continued. I get calls and letters all the time where people have a “bonzo-3
channel gripmaster Mk III recto” or whatever. Many owners of these amps say: “the owner’s
manual says that V3 is used for the turbo ch annel” or whatever. Remember, V1 feeds
EVERYTHING else down the line, EVEN IN THESE AMPS. The “turbo channel” generally does not
use JUST V3. The chain is fed by V1. V1, even in multi channel amps is still the most important
tube in the TONE AND GAIN stage of most amps. If you want to change the ratio of preamp
tube distortion to output tube distortion then we change V1 in some cases. Going from a 12AX7
to a 5751 will reduce front end gain. Going do wn to a 12AY7 will reduce the front end gain
further and generally give one more clean headroom.
Back to the phase inverter. Taking a simple cl assis non-master volume amp (but this is the
same for master volume amps as well actually).
I will try to keep things simple here with a few basics. If you have questions on all the complex
versions feel free to contact me.
Fender Tolex era amps – These generally used a 12AT7 in the phase inverter.
Marshall type amps – These generally used a 12AX7 in the phase inverter.
There are many other differences in these amps but I will stick to the PI (phase inverter).

Some basic tube facts
• 12AX7
o Has a published spec gain of 100
o Has a publishes spec current output of 1.2 milliamps
• 12AT7
o Has a published spec gain of 60-70
o Has a published spec current output of 10. 0 milliamps (ten times that of the 12AX7
as a side note)
As a third example, a 5751 has a gain which is al most identical to the 12AT7 but it’s standing
current is 1.0 milliamps (about the same as the 12AX7). But, there is a third factor,
transconductance, to be considered. The 5751 has a transconductance of about 1200. A
12AX7 has a “TC” of about 1600 and a 12AT7 has a TC over 5000. These three tubes act quite
differently. A 5751 and 12AX7 are much more closely related than the 5751 and 12AT7.
We will stick to the basic 12AX7 and 12AT7.
When you push your amp hard it is not as much the output tubes distorting as it is the
phase inverter breaking down and distorting. We are talking output stage distortion here.
We are not talking about how you may have messed up the signal with pr eamp tube distortion
and compression already. The phase inverter may be the hardest worked tube in most
amps. I cannot begin to count the times when I ha ve found phase inverters that were long past
their service life. When you chan ge your output tubes change that phase inverter. At the least
change it every other output tube change.
Many folks think that when they want to have their amp have more clean headroom they can
insert a 12AT7 in place of the 12AX7. Very true. (By the way, the 12AT7 in a first gain stage is
an awful tone generator in a guit ar amp. If you want to drop front end gain use a 5751 (gain of
60-70) or a 12AY7 (gain of 40). The 12AY7 was the first gain stage in the classic Fender Tweed
Bassman, Deluxe, etc.
Going from a 12AX7 to a 12AT7 in the PI (phase inverter) will yield a change in output tube
distortion, touch, and output dynamics in most amps. Is this because the gain is lower in the
12AT7? 10% yes perhaps. The lower gain is a factor but the larger factors are:
• We have almost 10 times the current available to drive the output tubes before the phase
inverter starts to break down.
• We have a transconductance of 5500 vs 1600 of the 12AX7. Keeping this simple, it
means it takes a lot less input signal for a given output signal.
The output tubes are less important than many folks may think. Think about this. In the
Hi-Fi world there have been many amplifier design s. Some such as the Scott and Fisher lines
used EL-84 output tubes. McIntosh used 6L6 and 6550 / KT88 tubes. Dynaco and some British
amps used EL-34 tubes. All of these amps, wh en operated at the rated specs generally stated
that from 20-20,000 cycles at .5% di stortion or less they were consider ed “flat” by industry spec.
The output tube type had very little to do with anything. In guitar am ps we purposely push the
output tube beyond their design limits to make them distort. The difference between a Svetlana
6L6 and an RCA 6L6 is the difference in the way th e tube sounds when it is pushed beyond it’s
design limits. Being in the “tube business” this is not a grea t subject. What I am basically
saying here is: Before you go to a pricy output set of tubes and a possible need to rebias the
amp think about a simple phase inverter change. There are no amp adjustments necessary when
you change the phase inverter.

In real life we rarely get to the point of pushing our output tubes to their limits. Our front end is
going into distortion. Our phas e inverter is breaking down too. The ratio of this front end
distortion to phase inverter drive and breakdown is determined by amplifier design topology. You
cannot make a Marshall into a Fender no matter how many people tell you that this can be done.
Putting 6L6 tubes in a Marshall will NOT make it sound like a Fender either.
There are many 12AX7 types of tubes available. They are all different even though they are
supposed to have the same specs. Even when on e looks at the same tube type from the same
maker out of the same production run we find HUGE variances. +/- 50% off spec is common.
Most 12AX7s today show a current output of 0.6-0. 8 milliamps where 1.2 milliamps is expected.
You throw a 12AX7 in your PI slot with a 0.8mA output and you are 30% down on what the amp
can do right off the bat. Your amp is not as fu ll, tight, responsive, or just plain “powerful” or
dynamic. Many of today’s high production amps use the Sovtek 12AX7WA short plate as a
generic 12AX7. I have issues with these in the tone and gain stage but staying with the topic of
phase inverters, these are just awful (12AX7WA Sovtek) for the most part. In tests these show
very low standing current. The Ei long smooth plate also shows low standing current, even
though a long plate. Generally, large plate tubes will show higher standing current but this is not
always the case. The JJ ECC83S has the highes t standing current of any current production
tube. The JJ is a short plate tube. The JJ is an exception. You might think the JJ would be a
good PI. Not from my personal taste. The way the JJ breaks down is not as musical to my ear
in most amps and I do not care for the touch response and dynamics of the tube in the PI position
in most amps. What do I like? I lik e the Sovtek 12AX7LPS and the GT 12AX7M. The GT
12AX7M is also available as a matched phase inve rter from the SAG over at GT as the SAG-AX7-
MPI. There is also an SAG-AT7-MPI. I have talked about matched phase inverters in other
places prior to this piece of writing. The 12AX7M and 12AX7R2 (Sovtek 12AX7LPS) are both long
plate designs. In either case I check these for specs because in all cases there is a wide range of
variables from tube to tube and run to run in production.
There are a lot of great NOS tubes. They have advantages in the tone and gain stage but they
are not as available as production tubes made today. When you are on the road or on tour these
are harder to find. In the case of the phase inverter we do not want to stock a bunch of Mullards
or Telefunkens to burn up every output tube se t change. There are great current production
tubes that give us all we can ask for.
Other great phase inverters to consider are the 5751, 12AY7, and 12AU7.
The bottom line here is simple. The phase invert er is one of the most important tubes in your
amp and the hardest worked tube in the preamp section of your amp. It is how this tube breaks
down that provides your output stage distortion tone, character, and amp feel.
Myles S. Rose
www.guitaramplifierblueprinting.com
www.groovetubes.com
So I swapped my good tube from position v1 to position V3. It actually made a pretty good difference. This amp is so cool, I’ve ordered some more vintage tubes.
 
Last edited:

Jackie Treehorn

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,340
That's very interesting. I wonder where the difference comes from. With the 2nF/150k coupling it really should be bright - that rolls off at 500Hz. It's like we've got the wrong schematic, or there's some magic difference in components...

it’s making the amp stable. If the amp is unstable it will be overly bright and harsh.
 




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