Would you rather have Asian P2P or USA PCB?

gulliver

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,853
I once bought Fender Blues Deville guts on-the-cheap, with good intentions of rehousing. Yes, very cheap. It didn't fit in the box I had for it and I ended up selling everything, just as I bought it.
 

Fitzer

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,033
Fender uses the cheapest pc boards that i have seen.
The worst one I’ve seen was an American made Hot Rod Deluxe from the early 2000s. Had to rebuild the entire input jack section with jumper wires after previous owner tried to repair it himself and ruined all the traces.
 

71strat

Member
Messages
9,223
Hows about made in Mexico?? Though they dont make them anymore, which is a shame.

Fender Cyber Twin. Potential nightmare with the automatically turning knobs. Steve Winwood used/ toured/recorded with 2 of them for 16 years. Must be pretty reliable. His are the SE models. Second Edition. Second Edition other than more effects has an extensions speaker jack. I wish I had this. Mine is first edition. They also made this amp in a 4 x 12, and Head. Neil Schon used one and was just sold 6-8 months ago.
The only reason they discontinued these amps was because they were technically difficult to build, expensive to build, and expensive to sell, not to mention bad marketing.
The only bad thing about this amp is you have a limited ability to combine effects. It does take pedals well though, but one has to learn how to use the Gain, and Trim knobs, or its a mess.

But I bought one new in 2001 when they first came out, and it has basically my grab and go, practice, jamming amp ever since. I did swap out the 2 x 12ax7s last year with 2x NOS matched pair Mullard I61s, and 1 90w Celestion Cream, and 1x 150w Celestion Redback, though the original tubes, and speakers were still going strong when taken out. I used 2 speakers I had in 1 x 12s I was using with either a LTD ED Metropoulos GMP45 head, or 69 Dual Showman Rvb I had Blackfaced/ODS mod. The speakers worked great with both JTM45, and Dual Showman circuits in real life, so I loaded up the CT with 1 of each of the Cream/Redback.
CT also has 100% Analog signal path. Effects are modeled by Boss/Roland. The Delays are exceptionally good, and this is coming from someone that has some nice Delays. MOOG MF104MSD being one. The Reverbs are great, as is Compression. The amp is made to be gigged though, and to a point, the louder you play it, the better it sounds. It also takes pedals exceptionally well straight into the front of the amp, though you have to really learn to use the Trim/Gain knobs. Most presets have to much gain.

Most good P2P are generally more rugged, easily fixed, and generally the design, and construction methods of PCB have been associated with inferior sounding amps. Wrongly, or rightly so. Also one persons opinion of inferior, may be what someone else is looking for.

Also if one uses really good PCB/Traces ect, design methods, it will most probably be as expensive, or more expensive vs other methods. No such thing as a Cheap, Well Made amplifier.
PCB can also allow for more complex functioning, in a smaller area.

Also take into account for me, Id take a Handwired Germino, Metropoulos, Wallace, Hi tone, Park, Valvestorm, over most any other manufacturers because they make the amps I like. Especially JTM45/100-JTM45.





Matchless John Jorgensen (point-to-point using terminal strips)


Hiwatt DR504 (turret board)



Fender '65 Vibrolux Reverb (eyelet board)


What is a printed circuit board?

A printed circuit board is a piece of copper-clad phenolic or glass-epoxy board with portions of the copper etched off, leaving copper traces that connect the components together. The components are soldered to "pads" at the ends of the traces. This type of construction is well-suited to high-volume production, because the components can be auto-inserted by machines, and all connections can be soldered at once by passing the loaded board through a wave solder machine. Most of the cheaper modern amplifiers are PCB construction, including all new amps by Mesa Boogie, Peavey, Fender, Marshall, etc. Surprisingly enough, some very high priced "boutique" amplifiers, such as the Soldano SLO-100, are also PC board construction.
Soldano SLO-100 (PCB)




Peavey 5150 (PCB)


Okay, so which is better?

Either construction method can be good or bad, depending upon the way in which it is done. Neither is inherently good nor bad on their own.
Properly layed out, a point-to-point amplifier is a work of art, and is virtually indestructible. Improperly done, they are a veritable "rat's nest" of wires, impossible to troubleshoot. The main advantage to point-to-point is ease of maintenance and modification. Components are simply desoldered from their eyelets or terminal strips and new ones are put in their place. There is no disassembly of the unit, and the repair is quick and easy. The main disadvantage of point-to-point is the intensive labor needed to construct the amplifier. This is why it is only used by low-volume boutique manufacturers who have lower overhead costs, and whose amplifiers usually command a premium price that allows them to cover the cost of the extra labor involved.

Properly designed, a printed circuit board can be every bit as reliable as a good quality point-to-point board. However, most manufacturers do a very poor job of designing the PC board. They skimp on quality in order to lower costs, by doing such things as making the board single-sided, where the traces are only on one side, which means the pads tend to be rather flimsy, and usually pull up the first time a part is replaced. In addition, these types of boards tend to have solder joints that break loose very easily under vibration, as there is only a very poor mechanical connection on one side of the board. A proper PC board should be double-sided, with plated-through holes, which allows the parts to be soldered in much better. In addition, some manufacturers also skimp on the soldermask, which is an insulating coating (usually dark green, gold, or blue) that protects the bare copper traces from solder shorts and other unintentional short circuits. Some manufacturers even go as far as not providing a silkscreen, which is the ink layer that indicates the component reference designator as an aid to troubleshooting. The hallmark of a very cheaply built amplifier is one that uses single-sided boards with no soldermask and no silkscreen. Incredibly, some very high priced amplifiers use this type of PC board construction.

A good hybrid method, in my opinion, is to use a thick, 1/8" G10/FR-4 epoxy circuit board, but instead of just plated holes to mount the component leads in, turret terminals are mounted in the holes. If the board is manufacturing using heavy 2-oz double-sided copper, with plated-through holes, the turrets can be swaged in to allow a tight mechanical connection on the top and bottom pads, and then soldered to the bottom pads for absolutely reliable conductivity. This type of construction allows for extremely consistent wiring, a full ground plane on top of the board if desired, and ease of component removal or servicing or modification. Components can be soldered and desoldered from the turrets indefinitely without the possibility of lifting a circuit pad trace, because the swaged-in turret itself holds the top and bottom pads and inner plated-through core in place. In addition, a soldermask can be added to protect the traces, and a silkscreen can be added to allow easy identification of components during servicing. The disadvantage to this type of construction is that it is still time-consuming, and cannot be automated for machine-assembly, so it is not suitable for mass-produced amplifiers. It is also expensive to have the turret boards manufactured, so smaller companies may not be able to justify the added cost.




Aiken Invader MK I
(turret boad with full ground plane, soldermask, and silkscreen)



As to which is better, you can argue PTP may be the better choice from a repair/modification standpoint, however a properly designed PCB amplifier can be just as reliable, but slightly more difficult to work on if you are replacing individual components. Ignore the hype put forth by the "gurus" who claim PTP "sounds better" than PCB for various unsubstantiated and unprovable reasons. You will find many of them extolling the virtues of PTP, claiming PCB amps "rob tone", then, when they start making PCB amps to improve their profit margins, suddenly PCB amps no longer "rob tone". Make an informed decision on which to buy based on quality of construction, not hype.
 

Produktsumme

Funkensprühender Feuerregen
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
765
Yes, my Palmer Drei and HK Puretone are PCB -and immaculate, great amps.
My Havelstar 5881 is PTP and the neatest I've ever seen.
I second the HK Puretone. I acquired two combos and a head when they sold them off 2 years ago due to the cancellation of the line. Unbelievably direct amps. Put a Friedman Motor City Drive in front of it and you have all JTM45 goodness including the revered ghost notes.
 

DJ_61

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,300
Great time in history to ask a question loaded with prejudice. For educational purposes: Asia is not a country. And it may come as a surprise but for instance Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Indonesia have very little in common apart from being “Asian”.
 
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HotBluePlates

Member
Messages
10,288
I am fortunately at a point in life where I don't need things to be as cheap as possible for me to afford what I want. To that end, I'd rather pay more for something made in the US than something made elsewhere, if only to put money in American workers' pockets.

I also will pay significantly more for something that's a lifetime purchase that doesn't need replacing (or is actually economical to repair) than something that is disposable (or is uneconomical to repair so you pretty much have to throw it away).

- For example, I bought an expensive double-edged safety razor handle 7 years ago that cost 8-10 times a pack of disposable blades. The big reason was (even excellent) replacement blades are dirt-cheap. I bought what I thought at the time was a 9-year supply of blades (which still cost less than a year's worth of disposable blades). Turns out they last much longer than I expected, and I've probably got 20 year's of supply (cause real quality is cheaper in the long run).

- Bought some jeans from a company reviving the textile trade in a town that was gutted by jobs moving to cheaper Asian mills. The price was high but the quality is top-notch, and they do free repairs for life. So the long-term cost will be lower, though the initial quality already justified the price IMO.
I don't really care about "Asian vs US" though I'd like to send as little of my money as possible to China. Not for political reasons, but because I know they steal trade secrets from companies around the world to shortcut their way to a dominant economic position.

I don't really care about "P.C Board vs Handwired" but would prefer electronics that are repairable. It doesn't matter to me so much as I'd play either a vintage amp or one I built. However, I've seen low-cost modern amps on a serviceman's bench (for a minor issue) who had to tell his customer it would be cheaper to throw the amp in the trash because the labor time & cost to completely disassemble the amp to replace only 1 part needing replacement would exceed the price of buying the amp used (and maybe new). Some things shrink the cost of manufacturing & assembly to a degree that they raise the cost of disassembly & repair to the point of being uneconomical.
 
Messages
99
I have a THD Bivalve 30. It's a double parallel class A amp. It has a really thick circuit board. It sounds amazing and is almost indestructible. Depends on the company. No complaints with the design. Had the amp since they first came out with no problems.
 

teemuk

Member
Messages
3,156
Each and every technique can be used to build an extremely reliable and easily serviceable unit, or a pain-to-service reliability nightmare. It's all in finer details than simple PCB vs. PTP.

And concerning reliability, stuff we send to space has been all PC boards and surface mount components since about 1960's so it can't be that unreliable if built properly. These building methods are chosen over point-to-point largely because of their greater reliability, consistency, and easier serviceability because of their modularity (a rat's nest is anything but modular and easy to service or manufacture consistently).

Handwiring can be great but in general machines and automation make less errors and produce more consistent outcome than humans.

One can of course use automation as cutting costs procedure as well. But a handwiring assembly line may not be too far off from a sweatshop either, and a 1950's Fender plant with no heating and bathrooms for immigrant women employers working on low salary and assembling stuff pretty much on paint-by-numbers principle isn't exactly striking me as as ideal of times we wish to return to.
 
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aynirar27

Preferred Senior Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
31,814
Where are most of the parts made in an amp hand wired in the US?
 

Gig Young

Hey! 19! kizz off!!
Platinum Supporting Member
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5,490
as my bass player said, sometimes country of organ matters.
 




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