Saturday, November 25, 2006

Leila 5E3+ Tweed Deluxe

The Leila 5E3+ Tweed Deluxe. Based on a late 50's narrow panel Fender Tweed Deluxe 5E3. Stock circuit uses 1 12AY7, 1 12AX7, 2 6V6's, 1 5Y3 and a 12" alnico speaker to produce about 15-18 watts of power.
Controls included 2 channels with a volume control for each, 1 tone control, 4 inputs, power on/off and standby.
Modifications to the circuit included Bruce Collins's volume/tone mod to convert the volume/tone section over to brownface specs and make the volume control more useful.
Key sections of the circuit are also tweaked to loose some of the low end flubby-ness that this circuit produces.
Overall a great low-mid power amp.

Leila Custom 5E3-NY Tweed Deluxe

The Leila Custom 5E3-NY Tweed Deluxe. Based on a late 50's narrow panel Fender Deluxe 5E3. The stock circuit uses 1 12AY7 preamp tube, 1 12AX7 phase inverter tube, 2 6V6 power tubes, 1 5Y3 rectifier tube and 1 12" alnico speaker to produce about 15-18 watts of power. Controls include on/off toggle, standby toggle in place of the old ground switch, 2 channels with a volume control for each and 1 tone control.
I was contacted by a university professor on the east coast who was looking to capture Neil Young's tone. I beefed up the power rail to allow the use of 6L6 power tubes and upgraded the transformers. Tube compliment now includes 1 NOS GE 12AY7, 1 Electro-Harmonix 12AX7, 2 JJ 6L6's, and 1 JJ GZ34.
The results are fantastic. By far the most vocal amp I have ever played. A 22-watt output transformer and more efficient speaker give it a stronger voice than your run-of-the-mill 5E3 with more headroom and more volume.
Here is what the customer had to say about the amp:
"What I mean is "too bad" I didn't purchase your amp sooner...could've saved a bundle of $$$ by NOT buying my "other" amps...'65 DRRI, Blues Junior, Marshall AVT etc."
"I like the tone and power and could tell (right away!) that the "volume interaction" is superb...dirty vs. clean, with just a slight change in settings. The finish is BEAUTIFUL and it came through the shipping process unscathed!"

Leila 5F2A Custom Tweed Princeton

The Leila 5F2A Custom. Based on a late 50's narrow panel Fender Tweed Princeton 5F2A. I built this as a custom order for a music pastor in Canada who was looking for a small amp that could produce some grind at low enough sound levels to use in smaller rooms.
The stock circuit uses the same tube compliment as a Champ - 1 12AX7 preamp tube, 1 6V6 power tube, and one 5Y3 rectifier tube. Controls include on/off toggle, volume, and tone.

I added a negative feedback cut (boost switch) on a push-pull tone pot, switchable fixed/cathode bias switch, and beefed up the power rail for power tube swapping abilities. I also upgraded the stock 10" speaker to a Weber alnico 12" and installed everything into a larger 5E3 Tweed Deluxe cabinet to open up the sound even more. The negative feedback cut is a great mod for this circuit. When engaged, it adds quite a bit of volume, presence, and grit to the amp. With the two switchable mods, this became a very versatile low powered amplifier.

The correspondence I've had from the customer has been great. He has been using the amp a lot and just loves it. Here are some comments from him:

"I am so happy with how it sounds. I have obviously only had a chance to play it alone in my house (making my wife wince with the volume), but it is sounding exactly how I'd hoped. I am particularly impressed with the variation that you get between the two inputs - I am thinking of experimenting with an a/b switch that I have, running a channel into each input and switching them that way. "

"The pull-boost feature is awesome too. With that thing pulled the amp can become a real fire-breather real fast! Just the kind of tone / size / everything that I was hoping for. When I get the chance to gig with it a little bit I'll drop you another update.
Again, I am really really happy with it, Morgan. Thanks again for all the time and effort that you put into building this for me."

Leila 5F1 Cutom Tweed Champ

My first build. It's a copy of a late 50's narrow-panel Fender Champ amplifier.

The stock circuit uses 1 12AX7 preamp tube, 1 6V6 power tube, 1 5Y3 rectifier tube, and 1 8" speaker to produce about 5 watts of power.

I upgraded the transformers a bit so the amp can

handle running different power tubes like a 6L6. My favorite combination so far is an Electro-Harmonix 12AX7, Sovtek 6L6, and a Weber copper cap. The 6L6 produces a more even tone to my ears and the Weber copper cap helps keep the power transformer running cool.

I used a Weber cabinet, chassis, and a Weber alnico speaker. The cab is tinted with shellac and lacquer. Other parts include Hammond transformers, Switchcraft jacks, carbon comp resistors, and Sprague Orange Drop capacitors.

The sound is great. I usually played blackface Fenders in the past. This amp converted me to a tweed guy. The tone is midrange heavy, round, and thick. It is a great home amp with natural overdrive at reasonable levels. I believe that there is a place for this type of amp in every guitarist's set up and highly recommend obtaining one if you haven't already.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Leila Vintage Electronics

I moved to northern California a few years back and, because I didn't know anybody up here that played music, I sold my gigging amp. All I had left to play through was my "trusty" 1966 Fender Vibro Champ (8" speaker, 1 6V6, 1 5Y3, 2 12AX7's) which promptly died on me.

Since I wasn't about to buy a whole new amp for playing around the house, I decided that I would fix the little guy. After a few weeks of research, I ordered the parts, bought a soldering iron and quickly was the proud owner of a perfectly working vintage tube amp. I could not believe how much better the amp sounded after I overhauled it. It had become easily the best sounding amp that I ever owned.

I had to do more!

I began to buy broken amps off of eBay, fix them up and resell them. Among those were a 1959 Gibson GA-5T,
a 1958 Silvertone 1433,

a couple of Fender Musicmaster Bass amps,

a Valco made Gretsh,

and a few more that I never photographed.

I then finally built my own amp from scratch. Once I did that, I found it very difficult to go back to cleaning out 50 year-old dust bunnies from vintage amps.