Scoring Central
X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! - Printable Version

+- Scoring Central (http://scoringcentral.mattiaswestlund.net)
+-- Forum: Miscellaneous (http://scoringcentral.mattiaswestlund.net/forumdisplay.php?fid=20)
+--- Forum: Off-topic (http://scoringcentral.mattiaswestlund.net/forumdisplay.php?fid=21)
+--- Thread: X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! (/showthread.php?tid=753)

Pages: 1 2 3


X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! - Mattias Westlund - 12-25-2019

I've had a lot of free time on my hand the last couple of days so I decided to get started on a project I've been thinking about for a while. Perhaps not a great fit for this forum, but I felt it would be fun to document the process.

Being a guitarist who doesn't gig and exclusively uses amp sims for recording, I own just a handful of small cheap amps for practicing or casual playing. Boutique tube amps are wasted on me, so stop rolling your eyes, amp snobs. Some of these amps I've gotten for free or super cheap over the years, a couple are non-functioning, and since they're practically worthless I might as well have some fun with them.

PART ONE

THE PARTS
First up is a 2006 Line 6 Spider III 15 combo that -- I kid you not -- I found lying face down in a snowdrift last winter. I guess someone in the neighborhood wasn't happy with their tone. Took it home, let it dry out and it works perfectly, except it's not a great-sounding amp.

[Image: ampmod_1.jpg]

The second one is a 1993 Squier 15 I pulled out of a dumpster once. It just crackles, hisses and spits and would need to be checked for loose solder joints and bad caps, which is more work than I am willing to spend on it.

[Image: ampmod_2.jpg]

Third one is a Crate TX-15, or more correctly the enclosure and speaker from a TX-15 that I picked up at a flea market for like $2 years ago. The amp part was missing when I got it. Never found a use for it, so it's just been sitting in the basement gathering dust.

[Image: ampmod_3.jpg]

THE PLAN
I'm going to 1) add a speaker output jack to the Spider amp so it can be used with an external cabinet, and 2) turn the Crate into a small angled cab that will project sound better than the forward-facing Spider. The latter will be done by 3) scavenging parts from the Squier amp, as it has a Fender speaker that I suspect is superior to the one in the Crate (the TX is a busking amp, not a proper guitar amp), and I will also use the handle, corner protectors and feet from the Squier, as those parts are either in bad shape or missing completely from the Crate.

WHY?
Why not? The Spider amp works, but I'm not too fond of the way it sounds, which I think in part is due to the speaker itself. The Squier and Crate are both useless as is, so why not Frankenstein them into something potentially useful?

HOW?
First of all, the Crate is going to need some thorough cleaning. The Tolex is grimy and who knows what busking adventures this thing's been on. I went over it with soapy water and a toothbrush and wiped it down with a rag. Major improvement!

[Image: ampmod_4.jpg]

[Image: ampmod_5.jpg]

Here you can clearly see the missing corner protectors and the ruined rubber feet.

[Image: ampmod_6.jpg]

[Image: ampmod_7.jpg]

Now it's time to remove the parts I need from the Squier. Here's the Speaker...

[Image: ampmod_8.jpg]

...and the corner protectors, feet, and handle.

[Image: ampmod_9.jpg]

This is the speaker that was in the Crate. Allegedly these were made by Eminence, but again, for electric guitar I trust a speaker that says Fender more than one from a busking amp.

[Image: ampmod_10.jpg]

Fender speaker mounted in the Crate...

[Image: ampmod_11.jpg]

...and front grill reattached.

[Image: ampmod_12.jpg]

Now on to the corners. I'm holding them in place with a bit of masking tape while I make new holes for the screws.

[Image: ampmod_13.jpg]

Feet are in place.

[Image: ampmod_14.jpg]

And corner protectors! They're not a 100% fit since the corner radius is ever so slighty different between the two amps, but it's only noticable at a very close inspection.

[Image: ampmod_15.jpg]

As for the handle, I decided to "capture" the hole spacing with a piece of paper. Not sure if this is the best way to go about it, but hey! I'm a guitarist, not a carpenter.

[Image: ampmod_16.jpg]

Carfully aligned the paper so I get the handle where I want it...

[Image: ampmod_17.jpg]

...and here we go! Almost sort of a vintage look to it now. Some silver grill cloth would look great, but since the enclosure wasn't designed for that I don't know how much work that would be. Maybe some other time.

[Image: ampmod_18.jpg]

Now on to the wiring. Sadly I don't have a switching jack and crimp terminals on hand (it's Christmas and all stores are closed!) so that will have to wait until part 2.

Stay tuned and happy holidays!

JUMP TO PART TWO


RE: X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! - Michael Willis - 12-25-2019

Fun project! I love making frankensteins out of old parts, although I haven't ever done anything with amps. I kind of feel like the brand name on the front should be replaced with something goofy to represent that it's a frankenstein creation.


RE: X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! - Mattias Westlund - 12-25-2019

(12-25-2019, 09:19 PM)Michael Willis Wrote: Fun project! I love making frankensteins out of old parts, although I haven't ever done anything with amps. I kind of feel like the brand name on the front should be replaced with something goofy to represent that it's a frankenstein creation.

That's true, and I agree that the Crate badge isn't fitting anymore. I don't have anything to replace it with though, except for a couple of Peavey badges, but that makes even less sense and I think they're too big.


RE: X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! - Samulis - 12-25-2019

Very cool project, and most welcome on this forum, I think. Smile

Looking forward to part 2!


RE: X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! - Mattias Westlund - 12-25-2019

(12-25-2019, 09:35 PM)Samulis Wrote: Very cool project, and most welcome on this forum, I think. Smile

Yeah, well, some are orchestral purists, personally I find it interesting reading about all sorts of music equipment (and DIY stuff in general).


RE: X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! - Michael Willis - 12-26-2019

(12-25-2019, 09:25 PM)Mattias Westlund Wrote: I don't have anything to replace it with though, except for a couple of Peavey badges, but that makes even less sense and I think they're too big.

Understood, I was just thinking that if you happened to know somebody who can operate a CNC machine, it would be funny to make one that says WESTLUND or something like that to indicate that you cobbled it together from spare parts.


RE: X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! - Mattias Westlund - 01-26-2020

PART TWO

OK, I now have everything I need plus a free evening to work on it, so let's get this little project finished.

[Image: ampmod_19.jpg]

Here are the insides of the Spider. Not much going on in there (unsurprisingly, as it's a modeling amp) which is lucky for me as I don't have to worry about the output jack getting in the way of anything.

[Image: ampmod_20.jpg]

Plenty of real estate in the back so I'm going to put it right here:

[Image: ampmod_21.jpg]

Hole drilled! I had to go over it with a round file since the jack is slightly thicker than my largest drill bit, but thankfully the casing is aluminum so it was just a couple of minutes' work.

[Image: ampmod_22.jpg]

The speaker wires coming from the PCB can easily be disconnected, which makes wiring everything together a breeze. I'm just going to snip off the terminals, strip the wires and solder them to the proper pins on the jack.

[Image: ampmod_23.jpg]

Like so:

[Image: ampmod_24.jpg]

Now I need to make a new pair of wires that go from the jack down to the Spider's internal speaker. I'm using a length of leftover speaker wire here, the rest of which will be used for the cable between amp and cab. For a high-wattage amp and big cab I would use heavier gauge wire but for this little thing, it's fine.

[Image: ampmod_25.jpg]

Terminals attached and wires soldered to the jack.

[Image: ampmod_26.jpg]

Here's the jack fitted...

[Image: ampmod_27.jpg]

[Image: ampmod_28.jpg]

...and here's the amp put back together, new speaker wires connected to the speaker.

[Image: ampmod_29.jpg]

Final step! I guess I could put a jack on the cab as well, allowing me to use whatever speaker cable I like between amp and cabinet. But I can't think of any good way of mounting a jack to the Crate (it's open-backed) and I'm not crazy about the idea of having a jack dangling from the back of the speaker. So went ahead and made a speaker cable with a 1/4" TS plug on one end and terminals on the other.

[Image: ampmod_30.jpg]

And here are the combo and cabinet hooked up and ready to rock!

[Image: ampmod_31.jpg]

[Image: ampmod_32.jpg]

Everything works perfectly as far as I can tell. When the external cab is plugged in, the internal speaker is switched off. Sound-wise, I'm noticing a distinct lack of low end in the Crate cab, which likely has something to do with its back being wide open. I might have to do something about that eventually, but right now I'm pretty happy with how this turned out. Overall, the cab definitely sounds nicer than the Spider's built-in speaker, and projects sound much better.

So... success, I guess?


RE: X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! - Samulis - 01-26-2020

If putting the back on the cab doesn't fix the missing lows, it might be an issue with an impedance mismatch.

Nice looking installation by the way, looks nice and tidy (especially compared to what it would look like if I tried it!).


RE: X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! - Nayrb - 01-26-2020

Cool project! Back in high school we all had Crate amps because they were cheap. We were told by our elders that it stood for "Can't Really Afford the Equipment," which was totally true. Thinking of getting rid of that Rage 158 I got when I was ten and replacing it with a Vypyr (or something) at some point, so I don't have to plug into my computer every time I want to play guitar on something that sounds decent.

Hilarious that you found that Spider out in the snow Big Grin


RE: X-Mas Amp Mod 2019! - Mattias Westlund - 01-27-2020

(01-26-2020, 09:22 PM)Samulis Wrote: If putting the back on the cab doesn't fix the missing lows, it might be an issue with an impedance mismatch.

The amp is 4 ohms and the speaker cab is 8 so it should be fine, only a bit less loud than running the internal speaker. I think the speaker is just voiced differently, plus of course the open back.

(01-26-2020, 09:22 PM)Samulis Wrote: Nice looking installation by the way, looks nice and tidy (especially compared to what it would look like if I tried it!).

Haha, thanks! If I had posted this on youtube though, people would be lining up around the block to remark on my soldering skills and inform me that I'm doing everything wrong xD


(01-26-2020, 11:16 PM)Nayrb Wrote: Cool project! Back in high school we all had Crate amps because they were cheap. We were told by our elders that it stood for "Can't Really Afford the Equipment," which was totally true.

They're not that bad though, are they? Been ages since I played a proper Crate amp, but I remember them having some pretty nice-sounding stuff, at least for high gain. Maybe they have gone out of business? Can't recall seeing a Crate amp in music stores for many years.

(01-26-2020, 11:16 PM)Nayrb Wrote: Thinking of getting rid of that Rage 158 I got when I was ten and replacing it with a Vypyr (or something) at some point, so I don't have to plug into my computer every time I want to play guitar on something that sounds decent.

Yeah, there should be plenty of options better than the Rage. For low-volume home playing I can recommend a Roland Cube or the Yamaha THR amps. The Boss Katanas sound really great too, but I have never played one myself, only heard them being demoed.


(01-26-2020, 11:16 PM)Nayrb Wrote: Hilarious that you found that Spider out in the snow Big Grin

It is. I was taking out the trash one morning and saw a black shape sticking out of the snow. I was like, "WTF, is that a guitar amp... ?!" Completely surreal.