Let's talk B-15s

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Let's talk B-15s

Postby randall » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:14 pm

I have had a 1966 B-15Nf for 25 years. I paid $75 for it. Back then I thought the square back speaker was cheesy so I put a big JBL E-140 in it. :hid: It was heavy as hell, and not loud enough to gig so it basically just stayed in my house for jams and practice. A couple of years ago I decided to yank the JBL and put in an Eminence. Shortly after that the power transformer shorted, so I had it rewound. It worked, but it sounded thin, so with the help of the very knowledgeable and gracious Jim McShane I really dug into the circuit and made some adjustments that brought the bias current and B+ voltage back to where they should be for this design. So now it is new speaker, power transformer, power supply, and bias supply. (For those who know, running at 21 to 22 watts dissapation). All new coupling caps, and almost all new resistors at higher rated wattage and lower tolerance. New grounded AC cord with Ground switch/cap gone. This amp is now factory fresh with the only exception being the output transformer (god help us).

OK, so here's the thing. It has totally challenged my idea of what a B-15N is supposed to sound like. I have only ever played through this one, but I always thought Motown, Jamerson, Babbit. This one wants to bite my head off now. Playing my Lakland Darkstar P thru it with amp Vol at 7 sounds more like a mini SVT. The rich overtones are plentiful and great fun, but is this how this amp is supposed to sound? Where is the Motown vibe?

To be fair, I realize my Dark Star Lakie is a little hotter than Jamerson's Jazz, and things do smooth out when I turn it down a bit. And I did see a Youtube demo on the Heritage RI B-15 that has both the '64 and the '66 set ups in the one amp. The '64 sounded more Motown and the '66 sounded more rock. Perhaps I need to learn to dial it in, but what say the B-15 owners?
Last edited by randall on Fri Oct 14, 2011 3:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby bigfatbass » Thu Oct 13, 2011 8:57 pm

I aws just playing through pbassplayer Mike's last night, using his 50yr old Fender. He puts a sansamp in between to add a little beef. Man it sounds good.


That is the extent of my B-15 knowledge. [smilie=music-smiley-005.gif]
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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby aussiemark » Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:13 pm

My SB-12 with a Jensen C12N speaker gets gritty pretty quick if I give it a hot signal (eg. Darkstar is a good example), but otherwise it is the creamy full Motown sound you mentioned. When the sound engineer reamped my tracks last year while I was recording on an album, he really cranked the input signal and he got it to sound like an overdriven SVT. So, I'd say the fliptop family are quite versatile depending on the signal you are giving them.
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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby harleyyy » Fri Oct 14, 2011 6:28 am

I still grin when I walk into the room and see this sucker. If I had to sell off gear, this would be the last in line. The new ones are Chinese and 5K ,no thanks. I believe I paid $1250 and bought a reissue dolly. Works perfect, and what everyone else knows about the tone is there.

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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby Freddels » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:27 am

harleyyy wrote:I still grin when I walk into the room and see this sucker. If I had to sell off gear, this would be the last in line. The new ones are Chinese and 5K ,no thanks. I believe I paid $1250 and bought a reissue dolly. Works perfect, and what everyone else knows about the tone is there.

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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby harleyyy » Fri Oct 14, 2011 8:30 am

Freddels wrote:
harleyyy wrote:
The new ones are hand built in the U.S.


Oh, that's why they are upwards around 5k. I wonder how many Chinese parts? Most new amps have Chinese components today, we know that. But the price was obviously set on novelty. If you're wanting one, get a real one I say.
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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby randall » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:28 am

Yes, but describe the sound? Mine being rebuilt is not what I expected it to be. It is fixed bias, and was way low from the factory until I changed the bias resistor to bring it up to 70% of rated output for the 6L6s. I was really looking for that tubby Motown sound, but it sounds more like a little SVT. What does yours sound like?
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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby Freddels » Fri Oct 14, 2011 9:47 am

It's pretty much impossible to build an amp without using Chinese parts. The new Heritage ones are a little different in that they have a switch b/w the '64 and '66.

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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby harleyyy » Fri Oct 14, 2011 10:37 am

Freddels wrote:It's pretty much impossible to build an amp without using Chinese parts.


Exactly Fred, except for in the mid 60's was my point, and they hold up pretty good. [smilie=grinning-smiley-003.gif]
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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby Freddels » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:02 am

harleyyy wrote:
Freddels wrote:It's pretty much impossible to build an amp without using Chinese parts.


Exactly Fred, except for in the mid 60's was my point, and they hold up pretty good. [smilie=grinning-smiley-003.gif]


That's b/c our gov't has given up on having any manufacturing in this country.
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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby harleyyy » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:04 am

Freddels wrote:
harleyyy wrote:
Freddels wrote:It's pretty much impossible to build an amp without using Chinese parts.


Exactly Fred, except for in the mid 60's was my point, and they hold up pretty good. [smilie=grinning-smiley-003.gif]


That's b/c our gov't has given up on having any manufacturing in this country.


And that's why I say scoop up the vintage Ampegs. Harley Davidson is opening an assembly plant in India. Glad mine is American, with minimal Chinese parts. [smilie=cool-smiley-031.gif]
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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby Paul DeLano » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:49 am

harleyyy wrote:Harley Davidson is opening an assembly plant in India


And Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen all build cars in the US. Who's the third world country now?

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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby Rhian Batson » Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:02 pm

I had a vintage blue tolex B15 for years and I would say that that recorded tubby tone IMO came from the mix down limitations more than the actual amp. I found the B15 to be quite bright and SVT or V4B like tonally if need be - in other words definitely an Ampeg [smilie=grinning-smiley-003.gif] If I wanted a more woofy tubby tone, I would drop the hi end bump the lows a bit and roll back the tone on the bass. I would get more buttery round tones this way a'la early Fender bassman amps. I too swapped out the square back speaker for an eminence which crisped up the tone a bit and improved the speed/reflex of the speaker so it didnt sound quite as flabby.

Maybe source an original square back speaker? IMHO as always YYMV.
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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby hmagman » Sun Oct 16, 2011 7:49 am

Paul DeLano wrote:
harleyyy wrote:Harley Davidson is opening an assembly plant in India


And Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen all build cars in the US. Who's the third world country now?

[smilie=coz.gif]

Paul

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Re: Let's talk B-15s

Postby jamie » Sun Oct 16, 2011 9:23 am

Have the post 1967 model.

A B-15 and a P Bass is a perfect match.

Haven't had the opportunity to play the older models.

JAMIE

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