Sunday, December 25, 2016

1954 Fender Princeton 5C2 amp. Lovely warm jazzy sound.

Here's an interesting amp. A 1954 5C2 Wide Panel tweed Fender Princeton.

This was an internet purchase what was serviced by the previous owner. I didn't take any before pictures but, the amp worked fine but the work was comically sloppy. I get a lot of work cleaning up poor jobs.

The other bits: this is a really great amp. It was loaded with a cheap Electro Harmonix 4 ohm speaker and a cheap Triode Electronics output transformer. Not bad stuff, but to my ears, it was rather flat and uninteresting. It was also loaded with Sprague Orange Drop 715 caps. No, no, no. Filter caps were decent quality but sloppily installed.

So I loaded it with Mojo Dijon caps, a 60's 8 ohm Jensen C8R (I effing love these speakers!) and a Mercury Magnetics '55 8 ohm tweed Princeton transformer.

C8R: Brown is Beautiful!!!

I come across these speakers on EBay all the time. Best lil' secret though I suppose if I get more readers everyone will want one. Not useful for Champs, these are 8 ohms. But for my GA-5 and old Magnatone Varsity, it's a match made in heaven. They were often used in organs as midrange drivers so they are usually in great shape. People played polka and church music through these babies, not blues and rock n roll!

Yes I know it's not an alnico speaker. I do love a good alnico but as someone who plays out live on tiny amps, I like the way these project and hold together. I like the clarity I get. Try one! Couldn't hurt!!!

Better interior though not final:

I replaced the original 250k 2 watt load resistors which were noisy with new carbon composition 2 watters. Also replaced the cathode bias resistor and power resistors, typically they drift far out over time and these were no exception.

This particular amp has one transitional feature. They were loaded with a 6SC7 tube, then a 6SL7. In this amp the socket had an adapter to put in a 9 pin miniature socket so it could be loaded with the more modern 12AX7. This was factory. And not unusual is the tube chart simply has the 6SL7 tube crossed out with a ball point pen and 12AX7 written in. Leo Fender liked to use whatever parts he had left over till they were gone. Very much in line with his practical sensibilities.

I took out the "meh" output transformer and loaded it with a classy Mercury Magnetics FTPO-55-8. From my research on these amps, they were 8 ohms. Better to not be lazy and use your off the shelf 4 ohm Champ transformer if you are going to get this right. Just my opinion. More expensive, yes, but totally worth it. The amp came to life after installing this and the Jensen speaker. Big, warm and round. I fell in love with it right away. With a Les Paul or a big Jazz Box it's heaven.

The Mercury transformer is bigger than what was in there, and I suspect the original may have been mounted to the speaker. But the good thing, there are some factory 'mystery' holes in the chassis that mounted diagonally the transformer mounted perfectly.

These are quite different than the more sought after late 50's 5F2 model. This one is a 5C2.

The preamp arrangement is radically different than a 5F2 or 5E2. Between the first and second stage in the preamp you have a 250k resistor connected to a 75k resistor that is going to ground. It's a bit like having a potentiometer in that spot and it's set to 1/4 volume. Just for fun I tried opening this up to see if I could get more gain. The amp simply became unstable and started motorboating. BUMP BUMP BUMP BUMP.......  I put the resistors back the way they were. Looking at the schematic this may work with an additional stage to the power supply, this sound typically happens when you have a bad filter cap or too little filtering. Could go to all that trouble or...simply accept this is the way this amp is and what it is is not a later one. Why not have an amp that plays cleaner? It has such a beautiful tone. For my style, it's perfect and I kind of want to build one just for me.

You can see the evolution in this amp going from the old 6SJ7 circuit, which has little gain, to the later rock n roll nasty later 50's 12AX7 version. It sits right in the middle of that evolution. The tone is more relaxed than a later version, but has a bit more punch than the earlier version. Right now the owner claims it's his favorite. I can see having one and feeling the same way. Great little rare gem!


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