Sunday, March 5, 2017

Need For Tweed

This 1952 5B5 wide panel Fender Pro showed up a while ago in the hands of a pal, and it has been making the rounds hereabouts for a while now.

It's reputed to have come from Minnesota which seems logical given that it has an ink stamp inside that says it came from Torp's Music Center in St. Paul, which by the way still exists, so it's said. It went from a seller in Minneapolis in a trade for other  gear to a guitar trader who I know who always has the shorts, and then to a smallish music shop owner, and then to another guitar trader I know, and then to  this pal.

In any event my friend was feeling the pinch as his business-which is schlepping pianos and tuning them-has been kind of slow lately so I figured I had a chance to take it out of circulation more or less permanently and let it be known that if it ever came up for sale again I'd like a shot at it.

It wasn't long in coming. A bit of road testing and hoss trading and I had it, and it cost me a home built 5F4 Super clone-which was quite nice if I do say so myself, a Pro Junior that I had acquired in another trade, $1000 cash, and assumption of a $300 debt which I will pay off next week. If I decide I need another  5F4 clone or a Pro Junior I can always build one or buy one.

I may have paid a little too much but there's no down side to vintage tweed amps, and there just aren't that many around these days especially in this shape. I am pretty sure it was recovered but it was a very good job if that's the case. The chrome panel and graphics are in good shape with little rust, and the innards seem to be all original. The Astron power supply capacitors have a little leakage but I have to think long and hard about changing them.

As usual the 6SC7 preamp tubes are prone to noisiness and general bad behavior, so I did a little plugging and tapping to find some quiet ones in my collection. I ended up with two glass Tung Sol originals rebranded as National Electronics and a RCA commercial metal 6SC7.

Some internal shots will be forthcoming as I have to remove the rear panel and encapsulate the asbestos pad on the upper panel. Here's what one on a tweed Deluxe looks like.

I take this stuff seriously because friable asbestos is hazardous stuff. My method is to mask off the asbestos pad and give it two or three coats of clear matte finish lacquer, which will soak in and stabilize the pad without changing the appearance too awful much.

When I get that done I'll past some more gut shots as I know that tweed enthusiasts will be interested in seeing inside an all original tweed Pro.

Soundwise, it plays well, and has no odd noises. The tone is good and it suits a Telecaster well.


I had a chance to remove the back panel today and treat the  exposed asbestos with a couple generous coats of clear lacquer, so while I was doing that, I took some voltages. Here they are.

AC 380-0-380
B+ 432 v dc
V5 plate 426 screen 357
V4 plate 426 screen 357

V3 plates 189
V2 plates 69
V1 plates 64

I'm a little surprised at the voltages so I'll be investigating the dropping and plate resistor values when I decide to do a recap job.

Here are the gut shots as advertised.

In the meantime I'll replace the rear panel and think real hard about how much I'm going to do here.

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