US made amps... overseas voltages question

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by singing6string, Jun 27, 2008.

  1. singing6string

    singing6string Supporting Member

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    Anyone else out there have a US made amp & play in a counrty where a different voltage is supplied? I live in Australia & was thinking I might purchase a stepdown transformer to convert the voltages or possibly get my amp modded to accept Australian voltages. I would rather purchase a transformer & keep my amp all original but I was just wondering how others out there have gone about this same dilemma? Any suggestions especially from aussie players in the same boat would be much apprciated. Also would using a transformer affect the tone of my amp in any way?
     
  2. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    Don't know the technical details, but I do recall reading that the tone is affected if you take a 110v amp and put a transformer in it that is designed for 240v (as opposed to building an amp for 240v in the first place). The other aspect is, and again I don't understand the technicalities, that not only is US mains a different voltage, but it's also delivered with a different frequency (60 hertz in the US and 50 hertz here ... something like that). I recall that this can make a tonal difference too.

    No doubt an amp builder can chime in and confirm or deny that!

    By the way, if you're buying an amp from the US, if it's going to be brand new and it's not made by a mass producer, couldn't you just order it and specify the voltage and so forth when you order it? I was going down the same path not so long ago and asked a builder in the US if he could supply an amp built for use in Australia ... "no problem" was the answer.
     
  3. singing6string

    singing6string Supporting Member

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    The amp I am referring to with my question is a Goodsell amp & I bought it second hand from the United States. I did contact Richard regarding modding it for Australian voltages & he said he could do it for me free of charge as long as I organised shipping etc. It was just too much hassle & cost to do that but if I lived in the States I would have taken him up on the offer for sure. He is very good on customer service even if you have bought one of his amps second hand!
     
  4. AndrewSimon

    AndrewSimon Member

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    It most likely has a 240V tap on the transformer.... do you have a good local tech?

    :rolleyes:
     
  5. mezcalhead

    mezcalhead Member

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    I live in the UK at the moment (same voltage as Oz) and have a few old Fender amps that I play using a stepdown transformer. As far as I can tell they pretty much sound like they should although I've never heard them plugged into US 110V mains. When we move back to Oz I plan to keep using a transformer.

    I haven't altered them since they're old amps but I wouldn't hesitate to have it done to a new amp. Maybe the bloke from Goodsell would provide you with the necessary info and you could get it done locally?
     
  6. xroads

    xroads Member

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    Make sure the transformer is large enough in power (at least twice or 3 times what your amp consumes) so that it can handle the transient peak currents music equipment needs.
    I have been moving between US and Europe twice, and have a HIFI system and guitar amps that I had connected to transformers. Never had any problem soundwise.
    It can be a hassle though to carry around the transformer to gigs...
     
  7. singing6string

    singing6string Supporting Member

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    I do know a local guy who could probably do it for me but I was thinking it might be best to get him in contact with Richard to perform the necessary mods the way Richard would do it. One of my main reasons for keeping the amp all original is for resale if it ever came to that but I doubt it will after hearing the reviews on this amp. Keep the ideas coming! Especially in regards to people who use stepdown transformers.
     
  8. GreenTea

    GreenTea Member

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    I play a Super 17 in Europe. It has a 110/220 switch. But, that aside, I am consistently using a step down transformer (fm 220-->100) and playing my amp in 110 mode. No problems. None. I use a really good surge protector. I do not carry a b/u amp but do "haul" an old Tech 21 Sansamp pedal for direct-to-board just in case. I have a Custom Tones Ethos od that I will be trying this weekend through the main board (not to hijack the thread but am considering using both the Super 17 and the Ethos into board in tandem; we'll see). So, depending on the outcome, the Ethos could also serve as a b/u device. Since he offered, if you really wanted, you could just remove the chassis and send it to Ritchie for a fast mod and that would surely lighten the S&H price a bit. BTW, I got to gig in Sydney (and Townsville/Brisbane!) a few years ago. What an excellent and fabulous country!!!
     
  9. Paul Conway

    Paul Conway Member

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    A friend of mine had a step-down added to a Victoria, and it sounded wicked.

    Off-topic: Mezcalhead, did you see Swervedriver have reformed and are touring?
     
  10. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    I don't buy that stepdown transformers change the tone. It's BS. The input on the power transformer sees the correct voltage - that's the end of that. Obviously the stepdown transformer can't be some cheap piece of crap.
     
  11. macmax77

    macmax77 Supporting Member

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    the voltage in America is mostly 110, except for Argentina, Chile and a few other countries, but the rest of the continent seems to run on 110 volts.

    in Oceania and Europe is 220 if i recall well
     
  12. namron

    namron Member

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    One of my mates is using a transformer for his Fargen Blackbird and it sounds wicked. Just make sure it is a reliable transformer than can handle the load cos.
     
  13. lukeII

    lukeII Supporting Member

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    For vintage stuff I can understand using a stepdown transformer but for my modern amps isn't it just easier to contact the manufacturer with the serial number of the amp and buy the correct 220/240 transformer (if needed from him).

    I've been surprised by a number of people in France buying US amps and then sticking just a regular 220 transformer in the amp; this seems foolish to me because I've always understood that the transformer is a big part of the tone that comes out of the circuit.
     
  14. Leak

    Leak Member

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    I live in Iceland and I bought a 2007 Bogner Shiva from the US. Fortunately the power transformer had a universal primary so I was able to rewire it for 230V. Remember that if you replace the power transformer you should use a fuse with a lower rating. Also be sure to check if there are any protective devices (130V varistor in my Shiva) wired to the transformer primary. They will blow if you apply too high a voltage and need to be replaced with devices with a higher rating.

    When I first got the amp I used a variac to lower the voltage to 118V which is the rated voltage for this amp. I measured the B+ first while using the variac and again after I had done the rewiring. The B+ was the same in both cases so it should not affect the tone of the Shiva in any way.
     
  15. Steven

    Steven Member

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    I bought a Badcat with a 110 volt PT. I contacted Badcat and they told me that the PT could be wired for 230 volts but they where forbidden to give any info on how to do it becourse of their european distributors. On the other hand if the PT can be wired for different voltages any qualified tech can fix it so I took it to my local amp tech and he wired it for 230 volts. I didnt like the idea of having to haul around a stepdown trafo.
     
  16. JimmyR

    JimmyR Member

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    It depends on the amp. I have a couple of Badcat amps that have had a dual primary on the power tranny so it was a simple matter to rewire them to Aussie voltages. The US amps are generally built for 120V these days, not 110. 110V was a long time ago! The Badcat trannies have two 120V primaries running in parallel, so if you wire them in series you get 240V (2x 120V). 240 or 220 - it doesn't make too much difference. Here where I live the "240V" can be 230 or 250 depending on the time of day.

    Amps like Victoria, Fender etc it is pretty easy to buy a 240V P/T for and not difficult for a tech to install - I taught myself how to a few years ago. Takes probably a 1/2 hour or so depending on the amp. The main thing is that the tranny you use should be the right one - correct B+, filament voltage and current ratings, etc. A tranny designed for 6L6s might struggle with EL34s as they draw more filament current.

    Anyway, it's not so difficult and no your tone won't suffer if you do your (very simple!) research. When people talk about "the transformer being part of the amp's soul" blah blah blah they generally mean the OUTPUT tranny, not power tranny. You don't have to change the output tranny.

    When Fender started exporting to Australia in the 60s they didn't build a 240V version just for us. I don't know if it was the importers or Fender, but a lot of amps in those days were fitted with a step-down tranny before sale here. The extra tranny was bolted into the back of the cab and hard-wired into the amp's "on-off" switch.

    BTW some of the top-end Fender amps have multi-tap P/Ts in them ready to be rewired to whatever voltage. The Vibroking and Tonemaster did. Amps like the Super Reverb RI can have the P/T replaced with a Mojo or MM P/T. It can be cheaper to buy a used or heavily discounted new SRRI from the US, air freight it to Australia and fit a new P/T than to buy one new here!
     
  17. AlexF

    AlexF Member

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    yep always contact the maker, very often the taps are there for different voltages, all you need is the details for rewiring them.
    Al
     
  18. Old Fuzzface

    Old Fuzzface Member

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    Modern amp designs will most likely have transformers with two primary windings that are wired in parallel for 120V supplies (US) or in series for 230V supplies (Europe etc). Re-wiring such a unit will be simple for a tech. Probably the only other change that will be required will be to alter the value of the primary fuse(s).

    For a vintage amp, you might decide to use an external transformer to avoid ruining the resale value of the amp but for modern amps it's best to get them converted to local power. That way no-one can accidentally plug it in to the wrong voltage and smoke it. You may be infiringing local safety regulations by using an old amp with an external transformer so check first, especially if you plan to use it for any public performance.

    The transformer that will impact on the sound of a valve/tube amp is the output tranformer, not the mains transformer that we're talking about here.
     
  19. Fred Duojet

    Fred Duojet Member

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    Realize that this thread if old, but I once took my tweed deluxe to Ireland and used a voltage converter/transformer from a brand I found on amazon called Acupwr. They don't come in the black boxes and they look like plain old transformers (painted red). Was recommended by an amp builder friend.
     
  20. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    Some have international power supplies, others can be built for International use on request, special ordered.
     

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