Posted by: kubiakl | November 20, 2010

Amp Update

After hours and hours of research I’ve come to a conclusion:  people probably wasted a lot of money before Internet forums came along.

Apparently the reverb tank on the Fender Blues Jr. is a known weakness.  There’s a small part that snaps easily and renders it useless, but is an easy fix.  Without reading through forums or taking it into a shop and paying exorbitant fees I would have never known that.

There is a website devoted to Blues Jr. mods and run by a guy who has dedicated himself to the small 15w amp.  He also answers quite a few common questions that people have (like suggested tube replacements and how they will affect tone).

Bill M Audio

He details the repair process for the reverb tank, but I’m taking the other route – replacement.  Reverb tanks are fairly inexpensive and Mojo Musical Supply had a recommended replacement for $25.

Mojo Musical Supply

They also have a huge range of amplifier and guitar parts.  I went ahead and bought a bone nut to stick on my Epiphone Dot in addition to the reverb unit.  I’ll let you know how that replacement goes when I begin the process.

So here is where I stand right now:  I have a great clean amp that should soon have a working reverb.  With my overdrive pedals I can get a good slightly gritty sound and a decent low-fi blues fuzz.  I want a better drive sound though, preferably one that comes from a tube amp and not from changing pedals.

The Bugera V5 has some promising features but also some drawbacks.  Features:  5 watts, switchable to 1w or .1w (this allows for quiet playing while having it cranked to push the tubes), built-in reverb, and very inexpensive for a tube amp.

Now, the drawbacks:  the reverb is digital and many have said it sounds sterile.  When I tried it at Guitar Center it didn’t excite me (but again, that was in a room full of noise).  There also seems to be some quality control issues as many people have had problems with their Bugera amps.  And while I’ve heard claims that this was only an issue with the first run and the kinks have since been worked out it still makes me shy away a little.  Finally, I wasn’t terribly impressed by what I heard the other day – it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great.  I’m going to give it another shot on a day when GC isn’t packed full but it’s looking like the Bugera isn’t for me.

So now it’s back to searching and reading some more.  The things we do for our guitars, right?


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