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Vintage Ampeg 8x10 distorts

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Detonation, Apr 23, 2006.


  1. Last weekend I tried my Ampeg 8x10 (I think it's from 1970) with my old SVT and at pretty low volumes (volume setting around 3) it started sounding very dirty (distortion). While the sound wasn't bad, I just want a clean tone at low volumes. I then tried it with a Mesa 400+ (to check if the head was the problem), but the same thing happened.

    Then I tried to connect the SVT to my two alumabass 4x10 cabs and it went just fine, clean sound at high volumes. Same for the Mesa.

    So, pretty positive it's the cab. Is it normal for these old cabs to distort so easily? I recall when I bought it (months ago, didn't have a chance to play it until now) it was way cleaner. I changed to connector on the cab to speakon (the jack input was making noises): would this be what happens if you connect the wires the wrong way around? I'm asking here and am not trying since it will be fairly cumbersome to do so, so I wanna know if this could be the problem.
     
  2. 8mmOD

    8mmOD

    Mar 20, 2005
    USA
    I endorse & use Tech 21 pedals, Eminence loaded cabs, EMG pickups, Jim Dunlop picks & Ernie Ball Strings, BC Rich Basses.
    Sounds like some or all of the speakers are in need of a re-cone. My guess is you were probably so excited about your new purchase that you didn't notice this when you first heard the cab.
     
  3. So this cannot be caused by the connector being connected the wrong way around?
     
  4. No
     
  5. 8mmOD

    8mmOD

    Mar 20, 2005
    USA
    I endorse & use Tech 21 pedals, Eminence loaded cabs, EMG pickups, Jim Dunlop picks & Ernie Ball Strings, BC Rich Basses.
    Sorry, I dont know, I have never hooked up a speakon connector backwards.

    But if the distortion is slightly "fuzzy" sounding, but the tone still sounds good, the speakers are tired.
     
  6. Hmm, I was already afraid so, I was pretty sure I connected the speakon connector properly.

    Funny, I did try the cab fairly extensively when I bought it and I played at high volumes (turned the svt up to 6) and it stayed very clean then. I might have it checked by a speaker repair guy then, thanks for the replies.
     
  7. did it have a ¼" connector orignially or one of the dreaded three prongs? Either way you only played with 2 wires when connectinf the speakon right?
    Most likely there are one or more dead or dying speakers. I know a number of guys around here that have or had those. I got tired of hauling mine up and down stairs. So I went to multiple boxes.
    The hard part is finding the correct 10" speaker. If I remember corectly they are somethig crazy like 32 ohms. and will cost about $150 each if you can find them. You may have to settle for an 8 ohm eminence and rig the wiring.
    While you are in there you might want to look at the condition of the wood and the acousitic batting.
     
  8. But from what I understood many people think these old cabs are better then what Ampeg makes today. So what the difference? The wood or the speakers? If it's the speakers, then throwing in the new Eminence speakers will change the original sound right? If I have them reconed, will they have their original sound back or will it sound (very) different?

    Also, $150 per speaker seems a bit steep, the entire cabinet can be had for less then $1000.
     
  9. 8mmOD

    8mmOD

    Mar 20, 2005
    USA
    I endorse & use Tech 21 pedals, Eminence loaded cabs, EMG pickups, Jim Dunlop picks & Ernie Ball Strings, BC Rich Basses.
    Q- But from what I understood many people think these old cabs are better then what Ampeg makes today. So what the difference? The wood or the speakers?

    A- Both

    Q- If it's the speakers, then throwing in the new Eminence speakers will change the original sound right?

    A- Yes, but FYI Ampeg still uses 32 ohm drivers in their 810 cabs.

    Q- If I have them reconed, will they have their original sound back or will it sound (very) different?

    A- If you have it re-coned to the original specs, the tone should be the same.

    Q- Also, $150 per speaker seems a bit steep, the entire cabinet can be had for less then $1000.

    A- You can get them re-coned (in the US) for about $50 or so. I have seen the vintage ones selling on ebay for anywhere from $50 to $100+. If I were personally selling a vintage SVT cab, I would part it out & sell off the speakers & box seperately.

    I am going to post more info in a few minutes that may be helpful.
     
  10. 8mmOD

    8mmOD

    Mar 20, 2005
    USA
    I endorse & use Tech 21 pedals, Eminence loaded cabs, EMG pickups, Jim Dunlop picks & Ernie Ball Strings, BC Rich Basses.
    OK. I recently replaced all of the original speakers in my Vintage SVT 810 with new 32 ohm Eminence (the same speakers used in the 810E cabs). I'd say about 1/2 of the original speakers needed to be re-coned & my choices were either pay for that, or get a set of the new speakers for free. It was an easy choice. I changed out the speakers two at a time and compared. With the amp set flat, it was easy to hear that the original speakers have a nice clear top end compared to the new speakers. The newer speakers were much darker sounding. However if I dialed in more high end on the amp, the original speakers sounded too bright & the newer speakers sounded fantastic. I wasn't able to make a fair comparison of the low end since my original speakers were fuzzy, but the replacements have solid, tight low end in that cab. I never gig with my amp flat, therefore I think the new speakers in the old cab sound great... very clear & punchy. Eventually I will get around to comparing the vintage cab with new speakers to a new SVT 810E... eventually. FYI, I am keeping the original set of speakers. Hope this helps.
     
  11. Thanks for the info. I've mailed around a bit about reconing the old speaker and am awaiting the prices on the. Replacements are not easy to find in the Netherlands and since they're heavy it will be expensive to ship from the USA.

    The newer speakers also have a higher power rating right?
     
  12. Rickenbackerman

    Rickenbackerman

    Apr 17, 2001
    Laurel MD
    What vintage speakers do you have? Eminence or CTS?

    I have a '76 cab with reconed eminence squarebacks and an early 80's MTI cab with newer speakers, and my experience is exactly the opposite of yours. The older speakers are darker and louder than the new ones. The new ones have this icepick treble that sounds awful to me. I'm giving the newer speakers a little more time just in case they aren't fully broken in, but if the sounds doesn't change over the next few months, I'm pulling them and replacing them with some reconed old eminences.
     
  13. Jerrold Tiers

    Jerrold Tiers

    Nov 14, 2003
    St Louis
    Another possible cause of funky distortions is air leaks. With an older sealed cabinet that isn't unlikely, a joint may have cracked, etc.

    You should be able to SEE a speaker problem. A tear, fold, crease, etc.

    If nothing like that is obvious, play at a low level that just gets the distortion and listen all over the cabinet with your ear close to the cabinet. See if you can find a location where the noise seems to come from.

    Look for a crack or split in the wood, open glue joint, etc where the noise comes from See if you can feel air. If not it may be cabinet pieces rattling together due to broken glue.

    If it is near a speaker, look for tears, creases, etc. Check (carefully) for unobstructed movement of cone, and see if the leads to the cone are so loose that they could possibly be whipped around by cone movement and hit the cone. If you don't see any such problems, then look for air leaks around the speaker.

    My actual favorite tool for finding air leaks is a cigarette lighter. The flame shows any air movement clearly.

    But, there are some obvious hazards involved with that, and it may be better to use a strip of very light paper, or just feel the air movement with hand, etc.

    Air leaks cause the most amazing buzzing sounds, distortion, etc. You'd swear the amp had crossover notch or other bad problem.

    One overlooked "air leak" is the unused 1/4" jacks, if present. They can be really noisy. Yet another way Speakon jacks are better......
     
  14. gdavis400

    gdavis400

    Apr 24, 2006
    new york
    I have a question thats somewhat related to this topic. I was thinking of buying an Ampeg 810 cabinet without speakers and installing my own Bugera aluminum cone speakers in it. Would this be a good idea?
     
  15. 8mmOD

    8mmOD

    Mar 20, 2005
    USA
    I endorse & use Tech 21 pedals, Eminence loaded cabs, EMG pickups, Jim Dunlop picks & Ernie Ball Strings, BC Rich Basses.
    IMO, using any behringer product is never a good idea.

    Rickenbackerman- i wonder if its possible the MTI era cab design effected the tone? Did they change anything during that time? Are you MTIs speakers the newest stock 32 ohm Ampeg (Eminence)?

    My cab has '74s, the brown colored I guess CTS. But I also have some silver (i believe) '75s and they sound the same as the '74s to me. None of these have been reconed. The original ones were not necessarily louder in my cab, but they were definately more present sounding (with the amp set flat) than the new ones.

    I didn't at all encounter ice pick highs with the newer speakers & I definately feel more air moving than the originals... which I assume is because the old ones are well broken in. I am really happy with the results. I had even tried leaving the top four speakers stock, then just the top two, but in the end I thought the complete change out sounded better.

    Before I swapped out the speakers, I had talked to one of the techs at Eminence and he described the newer speakers something like this (i am paraphrasing). "They have a bit less high end than the originals, but who needs to worry about high end with an SVT" Basically he said the amp has high end to spare and you can just dial in a little more than you would with the original speakers... and that was exactly my observation.

    I will a/b my cab with a newer SVT 810E when I get a chance.

    Jerrold's craking me up... use a lighter- but try not to set the speaker on fire!!! :D :D :D
     
  16. Just a suggestion, when having a tech look at it, think of this: did it sound clean the last time you used it? did it get played at a nice loud relentless volume that last time?
    I ask these questions because I remember once at practice that I suddenly had my fifteen in a combo making buzzy distorted noises. Thinking I blew out the speaker and willing to get it replaced I quickly took it to my tech. Apparently it just got knocked around in a fashion and had been set in a "strange way" according to the tech, so it wasn't my fifteen that was blown, it just got knocked out of position and started buzzing against something
     
  17. Rickenbackerman

    Rickenbackerman

    Apr 17, 2001
    Laurel MD
    I don't think I stated what I meant clearly... I bought the MTI cab empty and loaded it with the newer eminence 100 watt speakers - the same ones used in the 810E.

    Yeah, the brown ones are likely CTS (with the Alnico magnet). The 70's eminence speakers have a large square silver ceramic magnet.

    I had my 70's eminences reconed by Ted Weber, so maybe he sprinkled some kind of magic dust on them before he shipped them out. :) To my ears, they are so much warmer, cleaner and louder than the newer speakers. The new ones aren't even in the same league.
     
  18. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    You very well may have connected something wrong, wiring one or more of the drivers out of phase would cause exactly the symptom you describe.
     
  19. I sincerely doubt it. If all he did was replace the input jack, and there is only one on an old SVT cab, then there is no way he could have screwed up the polarity of just one speaker.
     
  20. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    You wouldn't think so, but the problem occured immediately after he went into the box, and I don't believe in coincidences.
     

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