Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

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oid
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Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by oid » Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:55 pm

Just put the bass VI strings back on my JazzMaster and needing a better amp for the low end, anyone have anything to say regarding how these amps handle the extra bass? There is one for a good price locally and I am tempted to go pick it up, it is in a shop that is very difficult to get an accurate idea of sound though, so it is hard to do much beyond confirming that it functions properly. Love the idea of having a 15 again, and love that it is a 2x6V6 with minimal controls, seems ideal, but how well does it handle the low end?

Edit: Not looking for it as a gigging amp, just playing at home, so does not need to produce clean bass at full volume or anything.
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Re: Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by mackerelmint » Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:48 pm

In my limited experience, they sound fine on bass. I think people on bass forums like to argue about this particular thing, but it's meant to be an amp that can handle different instruments and it's got a 15 inch speaker, so the fundamentals are there. I've heard a P bass through one and it sounded good to me. I don't think a VI is gonna be as boomy, so you should be fine.
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Re: Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by oid » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:22 pm

That is more or less what I was expecting/hoping, thanks.

Still curious to hear what anyone has to say if they have spent some time playing such a combination.
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Re: Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by oid » Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:01 pm

Ended up buying this thing. It is pretty great for BassVI, the bright dark switch is quite good for switching between bass sounds and guitar sounds with the VI. Have not opened it up yet to see if it is still stock, but I expect it is, tubes look to be China specials and not half bad, China has come a long ways in their tube manufacture. The stock speaker is pretty good, a tad shy in the bass but only a real issue when finger picking multiple voices, the low E tends to get lost, but it handles most chords rather well without getting muddy. It really can not handle VI or Bass at full volume, voice coil slams making the distortion quite ugly, but that is more or less what I expected and since I wanted this for cleanish sounds, not an issue. The distortion is quite pleasant though, as long as you do not push the speaker to hard.

Right now it has a noise issue, which some people seem to have issues with, so I will pop it open tonight and see whats up, likely throw in some new tubes, give it a full checkup.

Fun stuff, it really is like a big Champ, but more articulate.
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Re: Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by windmill » Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:31 pm

Thanks for posting this.

Glad you like it.

:)

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Re: Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by spilltray » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:34 pm

Really underrated amp. I love mine.

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Re: Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by oid » Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:27 am

Got the amp all cleaned up and gave it a full checkup, threw in a set of new tubes, great improvement over those tired old Chinese tubes, for somethings I prefer those stock tubes though, they gave a better bass sound, but the new ones are far more versatile. The stock speaker is a tad anemic at low volumes but sounds quite great once you start to push it abit, the amp and the speaker seem to be at their best when run right at the verge of distortion.

I think I may get a new speaker for it, but I will work with this one for a few months, see how it suits me once I learn it and the amp better.

Great amps, amazed they are still so cheap!
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Re: Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by Drewbertca » Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:13 am

I have the Surf Green Excelsior Pro and the Upgraded Speaker over the normal one made a huge difference in my opinion. I was able to try the Standard and the Pro versions side by side. I really wanted to like the less pricey one, but the oomph of the pro blew me away with my PSVI.

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Re: Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by oid » Fri Nov 16, 2018 2:14 am

I have been debating an speaker swap, right now my only real issue with the stock one is that I can not go full power with the VI, but I am not sure that is an issue for me and it certainly helps make good neighbors. I have been crunching the number for some mods these past few days, nothing drastic, just a few tweaks to extend its ability while keeping its character. It amazes me how little there has been done as far as modding these things go, just a half assed tone control and footswitch on the trem, the amp really does not need much, but I would expect more in 8 years, it is a great platform and has plenty of room for play.

For anyone doing a tone control mod on these things, replacing the 470K (R8) resistor in the tone stack with a pot really just gives you a treble trim, lets tweak the treble by about 12db if memory serves. If you instead replace the lower 22k resistor (R29) with a 50k audio taper pot you will be able to sweep everything a bit above 1k from +12db to -infinity. Going off memory on those numbers, but R29 is the one to make a pot, swapping R8 is completely based upon a misunderstanding on how the filter network functions. Replacing R8 with a pot would be good for those who are perfectly happy with the stock sound and just want a slight tweak to adjust for the room or band and do not feel a need for actual tone shaping.

I will start a thread soon covering the mods I make along with some that are not for me but likely useful for others.
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Re: Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by wproffitt » Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:09 pm

I’d like to know your thoughts on this as I’m considering one of these as a bass/bass vi practice amp.

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Re: Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by oid » Sat Nov 17, 2018 5:12 pm

wproffitt wrote:
Fri Nov 16, 2018 8:09 pm
I’d like to know your thoughts on this as I’m considering one of these as a bass/bass vi practice amp.
For me it is turning out to be a quite ideal amp for Bass VI and I can coax some quite nice bass tones out of my Bass VI converted AVRI JM, but it really seems to do better well rooted in the Bass VI realm than it does trying to impersonate bass or guitar. Some of that is me and the guitar though. It takes big Bass VI chords well and reproduces them almost as well as DI, the slightly weak bass response of the speaker helping out here.

The output transformer might be a tad small, but the stock speaker craps out with Bass/Bass VI before the transformer saturates so it does not hurt low frequency response. With an updated speaker it still may not be an issue since by the time the transformer saturates the amp will be well into distortion and the reduced bass response will help keep things from getting muddy. Likely a boon on Bass VI were chords are common, perhaps a negative on bass, depends on your style. The vanilla Excelsior with its Fender Special Design speaker gets you full clean volume and a decent amount of distortion before it starts having issues, so plenty of range for most people and plenty for a practice amp.

I suspect if you like the old 4x10 and 1x15 tube combos on bass you will like the Excelsior, if you want the deep bass of a big sealed well tuned cab, look elsewhere. The excelsior could be described as a bass Champ, it imposes much of the same limitations on bass frequencies as the Champ and its 8inch speaker impose on guitar and it responds to dynamics in much the same fashion.

Personally I would call this a Bass VI amp and not a guitar amp, it really plays to the strength of the Bass VI more than any amp I have used and pushes it more towards being its own instrument instead of something that can fake both guitar and bass parts. My only complaint is that it has too much treble even in the dark setting, but the JM is a bright instrument and I still have to pull the pickguard and swap the stock tone caps to ones more suited to BassVI. I am not a fan of this amp for guitar, not at all the 15" guitar sound I was expecting, but I am rather happy with that, a well spent $250.
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Re: Fender Excelsior and Bass VI/Baritone.

Post by wproffitt » Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:47 pm

Thanks for the thorough response! I’ll eithe lr be getting a bass or a bass vi as my next electric and am already considering ways to spend my money/efforts. If I go bass vi, this sounds like it could be a winner with a speaker swap. If I go full-on bass, I may do something foolish, like build a replica of an Ampeg B15. :)

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