Thursday, June 18, 2015

1940's-50's Epiphone Zephyr. Oh, my, lawd this thing is awesome!

This was a fun project. I've only seen one before and it was destroyed, painted red and not worth the effort so I sold it. Now I wonder....

An absolutely beautiful amplifier. Very powerful voice and no I don't mean that in the volume way. It's not a rocker. It's like a Gibson Charlie Christian amp but just, fatter sounding. Even at low volume all of my notes are just round. If you buy one you don't want to go on blasting it. this amp is over 60 and has a special Rola field coil speaker. It's in great shape. If you blow that, you will never get a sound that is the same as this. How do I know an amp is really good? I test my amps with my trusty Esquire. One bridge pickup only. If there is a ton of low end then, I'm not craving another pickup. This amp has a lot of low end but isn't 'dark' sounding. It's just even. I'm a big fan of Epiphone guitars in general, and to me they outshine many Gibsons costing much more. This amp is no exception. Great tremolo too!

This amp sounded pretty good to me, customer said he played it and the more he played the quieter it got. It didn't hum but all the electrolytic caps were original. This was the problem! And another tech got in there and replaced all the signal caps with decent foil caps but none of the electrolytics. I think he was just lazy. They are a pain to get to! Most of them are on the opposite side of the tag board:

The main filter can, a dual 40uf 450 volt type I drilled the rivets out from the top and replaced with one of those ones you see in English amps:

I just used a couple of sheet metal screws to hold it in place. That's part of the fun of this job. I would not want to take the whole amp apart to get to this. Best to get creative and not suffer!

One of the coolest things about this amp is how modular it is. There are 4 connectors on it, a 4 pin, couple 5 pins and a 6 pin. They connect the speaker, preamp and choke network. These are designed with the service guy in mind.

I'm also a sucker for octal preamp tubes. This amp uses my favorites: the 6SJ7 pentode and the 6SN7 dual triode. It also uses a couple 6SN7 tubes for the tremolo circuit. You could build one with EF86 tubes and 12AU7 tubes but why? There are so many good NOS octal tubes around and the more modern miniatures are pricey. My favorite amp I built used 6SJ7 tubed going into a pair of 5881. Similar vibe to this amp and I don't worry about blasting it.

I also changed a bunch of load resistors, this reduced some crackly stuff. But overall once the electrolytic caps were changed the amp came alive. One to envy. Oh if I had a studio.....

The ultra simple control panel:

You were meant to sit behind this amp and either use a footswitch for the tremolo or the toggle switch on or off. Super cool. As a sax player I'm always on the wrong side of the horn to hear myself. This has the same concept. Suffer guitar players!!!!

And check it out. Even has the original cover! Amp had some water damage a long time ago that warped a wood panel on the bottom. I don't do woodwork myself but whatevs! It's making music now!

Here is the great Django Reinhardt playing through one. This amp was found in New Jersey, pic was taken in New York. Hmmmmm, just maybe I can fantasize this is the amp? Sure, why not!


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