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Wow- Crate VC3112

Prattacaster

Member
Messages
1,369
These may be old news to some but news to me. These are quality amplifiers for the modern era, pricing considered.

I have one in the shop right now that just needs a tune up; while playing thru it I noticed how good the tone was. It goes from a pretty decent fender clean to a super high gain marshallesque tone. The trannies are better than most modern amps, and the parts and design is equally as good.

I really wasnt expecting to see half the quality these amps have but I have to wonder is there any known common problems with these amps?

The only problem with the one I have is a runaway EL-84. Not surprising since these have a similar setup to an AC-30.
Here's a schematic:
http://www.freeinfosociety.com/electronics/schematics/audio/cratevc3112preamp.pdf

http://s1122.photobucket.com/albums/l530/Prattacaster/?action=view&current=cratevc3112poweramp.jpg

Any thoughts?
 

wall_of_sleep

Member
Messages
814
The opto-isolators gave a few people some issues.

There's a pretty epic thread about these somewhere buried in TGP. Even the designer dropped in to have a couple words.

I completely agree though. A lot of people despise Crate, but especially these amp and many of their other products have always been excellent for me.
 

NoBrakes

Member
Messages
2,800
I had a V32 Palomino 1x12 combo(same amp, different color). Really good sounding little amp... I found that it had a couple of sweet spots I liked but not much more... Mine was very loud... To close in size to my Mesa...otherwise I probably would have kept it.
 

bunuel

Member
Messages
1,027
These particular crates would get my vote for best us made bargain amp for the last 15 or so years. Hard on power tubes though.
 

Prairie Dawg

Member
Messages
1,928
I've got a Crate TV60-112 combo that sits here because nobody seems to believe that Crate ever made a good amp, which this is. Well. They'll just have to use it as my loaner amp. The Traynor's staying right here thank you.
 

cxx

Member
Messages
157
The VC3112 is one of my favorites. I had two blonde ones. These are different than the V series as they have two preamp channels, the clean based on Fender (early tonestack) and the overdrive based on the Marshall (cathode follower followed by tonestack). The clean channel provided some excellent tones from spanky funk to nice overdriven blackface fender. The overdrive channel worked best at modest levels of the gain knob.

They did seem to chew up power tubes, but most combo amps with cantilevered el84s running in a hot cathode biased arrangement tend to rattle those tubes pretty well.

The pcb construction with tube sockets on the board can be a problem. The stock "vintage series" speaker, a kind of greenback clone by eminence, is still one of my favorites.

I kept repairing them until I gave up and used the chassis and transformers for low voltage fender pro and plexi clones. Worked out great, although I still miss the originals.
 

dazco

Member
Messages
15,291
In bought one of those when they first came out and i was gigging very regularly. I gotta tell you, as much as i loved the tone at the time, and like you i really did, it was one of those amps that just failed miserably to cut right in a live mix. I used it for a few months and it ruined more gigs than i could afford. So i went back to a JCM 800 and it was like a breath of fresh air and a big sigh of relief. But funny thing about gear like that....set next to the JCM at home and A/B them and the crate sounded a lot better ! But If you gig then you know that scenario.
 

TimmyP

Member
Messages
2,488
When an amp isn't working in a mix, I usually find that it's owing to a lack of mids (which is where the music lives). I often encounter this to the extreme degree - a tone that sounds like a small kick drum and a bag of pissed off bees. Such a tone just disappears in a mix.
 

jcs

Member
Messages
8,093
I have an early 3112....its got that 'in your face' sort of Vox sound....i have a 71 Marshall Smallbox 50....to me the 3112 isn't a Marshall sound at all.

I also can't get a clean sound out of mine without dropping a 5751 or 12at7 in v1......too much gain otherwise.... plus the speaker in these is easily blown as these are powerful amps.

With the right tubes and thru the right speakers these amps can sound stellar....i would like to make a head out of mine.
 

NoBrakes

Member
Messages
2,800
When an amp isn't working in a mix, I usually find that it's owing to a lack of mids (which is where the music lives). I often encounter this to the extreme degree - a tone that sounds like a small kick drum and a bag of pissed off bees. Such a tone just disappears in a mix.
+1... Some of the worse stand alone tones sound great in a mix... My Mesa sounded bigger and fuller compared to my V32...
 

Jerry Glass

Member
Messages
870
The Vintage Club series really are excellent sounding amps. One has to wonder; if Crate had come out with these before all the disappointing offerings that preceeded (and followed) them, would they have a completely different reputation now?

The newer V series amps are NOT in the same league as the VC series.
 

rockon1

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
13,491
The Vintage Club series really are excellent sounding amps. One has to wonder; if Crate had come out with these before all the disappointing offerings that preceeded (and followed) them, would they have a completely different reputation now?

The newer V series amps are NOT in the same league as the VC series.
Maybe. I have a VC50 and a US made V32. The V32 is a better constructed amp. I think its the best constructed Crate Ive seen. Unlike my VC the V32 all the jacks are mounted off the main board. The circuit board components are soldered thru the board from top to bottom-not just on the bottom. The pots are much sturdier all metal construction. Its also a great sounding amp.

My VC is probably prettier though with its new housing.

 

Slunderfungus

Member
Messages
381
:agreeI must agree with this last post. I loved the tone of my VC5212. It would burn through the powe tubes tho and eventually it got so hot that it started burning resistors and redplating the tubes. I still have the cab which is 3/4" birch plywood and a nice steel chassis which I used to make my plexi clone that my ex destroyed back in June when we were splitting up.

This said, I would love to get a 20 watt version and make it into a head and then put better pots and chassis mounted tube sockets. they are awesome tone monsters and well worth the upgrading to make them more reliable as a gigging amp. Specifically so tey will survive my teenage kids banging them around as that is what I plan on buying them when they start taking guitar more seriously.
 

cxx

Member
Messages
157
In bought one of those when they first came out and i was gigging very regularly. I gotta tell you, as much as i loved the tone at the time, and like you i really did, it was one of those amps that just failed miserably to cut right in a live mix. I used it for a few months and it ruined more gigs than i could afford. So i went back to a JCM 800 and it was like a breath of fresh air and a big sigh of relief. But funny thing about gear like that....set next to the JCM at home and A/B them and the crate sounded a lot better ! But If you gig then you know that scenario.
This was not my experience at all. Could be that our stage volumes were quieter. My 50 watt plexi clone was too loud, too directional and much less flexible. The guitar in our mix was probably a bit brighter than most bands do these days and filled in that frequency range nicely without interfering with bass or drums. A 30 watt el84 12" combo is not going to move as much air as a JCM 800 so if necessary, use two.
 

cxx

Member
Messages
157
I have an early 3112....its got that 'in your face' sort of Vox sound....i have a 71 Marshall Smallbox 50....to me the 3112 isn't a Marshall sound at all.

I also can't get a clean sound out of mine without dropping a 5751 or 12at7 in v1......too much gain otherwise.... plus the speaker in these is easily blown as these are powerful amps.

With the right tubes and thru the right speakers these amps can sound stellar....i would like to make a head out of mine.
Clean channel has two gain stages with a tone stack in between. Cleans are there but you can't turn it up past about 3. One of the differences between this channel and a fender is the size of the cap leading to the PI. The crate cap is larger letting more bass pass through so you have to keep the bass in check. After 3 on the volume it starts to crunch up. Could be the taper of the volume pot. Single coils help.
 

Prattacaster

Member
Messages
1,369
I have an early 3112....its got that 'in your face' sort of Vox sound....i have a 71 Marshall Smallbox 50....to me the 3112 isn't a Marshall sound at all.
If you take a look at the dirty preamp it is a JCM 800. The only difference is a single plate resistor value, a tweaked cathode resistor value for the 3rd gain stage, and a slightly different filter in-between the 3rd and 4th gain stage, but really this filter is very similar to the 470p/470k peak filter on the JCM800.

The is a extra gain stage on the front end compared to the JCM800, but it is a very marshalleque preamp for the dirty channel.

The differences you are hearing are in the power tube/section, which is more Vox AC30'ish.

I think these are incredible sounding amps when you put them in context of price and brand. It was very surprising to say the least.
 

dazco

Member
Messages
15,291
A 30 watt el84 12" combo is not going to move as much air as a JCM 800 so if necessary, use two.
Thats not it. I also used a peavey classic 30 1-12 4xEL34 also, and i bever had the same problem at all. As has been said, it's the mids. The crate had nice mids there weren't lacking necassarily, but i think they just weren't in the range needed to cut right.
 

Jay Mitchell

Member
Messages
5,513
I bought two of these for an average price of $200 each in 2007 and still have both of them. I removed the bright cap from the clean channel, reduced the signal level going into the first unique stage of the dirty channel (the two channels share the very first stage), and defeated the voicing circuit in the dirty channel. After those mods, I love how the amps sound. There's still a little too much gain for my taste in the dirt channel for HB-equipped guitars, and, as noted by others, the "clean" channel really isn't clean at higher levels. I've found this generally to be the case with EL84 amps, however.

The one reliability issue I encountered was with the contacts in the channel-select footswitch jack. They can become corroded and cause occasional signal dropouts due to intermittent switching of the optoisolators. When this happens, the quick fix is to plug in the footswitch. Cleaning the contacts seems to have eliminated the problem in my two examples. I also encountered a new tube - an E-H 12AX7 - that definitely didn't like the cathode-follower spot and failed within a half hour of use. I'm using JJs in all the preamp spots right now, with Sovteks in the phase splitter positions. I'm not a big fan of the reverb, but I believe a lot of that is the tanks. If I were using the amps more often, I'd probably look to upgrade those.

Because these amps are not part of my regular gigging setup, I can't speak to their long-term ruggedness. It comes as no suprise to me that the power tubes take a beating. That's another relatively common trait of EL84 amps. IMO there's no better deal to be had in small tube amps. I don't hesitate to gig with mine when they are called for, but I have two, so there is always a backup.
 

miamimart

Member
Messages
789
Jay,
Can you go into more depth as to the specific mods? I have one and find the overdrive channel to be just a hair too dirty and - as you said - this really applies to HB equipped guitars. The amp seems to be much happier with Strats or Teles but nevertheless, I'd still like to use the amp with my PRS DGT. Come to think of it I don't have a single regular HB equipped guitar. :rotflmao The DGT is different from regular ol' humbuckers and except for mini HB's, nope.
 






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