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Author Topic:  Building a Spring Reverb?
Mark Hershey


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 11:37 am     Reply with quote

I have Fender Showman with no spring reverb.

I was looking at a couple of kits Wave and the SurfyBear kit for an outboard tank. Any recommendations for a good reverb tank? Is it better to build or just buy one? Any one have any experience building one? Just wonder if it's pretty easy or a challenging thing to build.

Thanks!
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Michael Butler


From:
California, USA
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 11:56 am     Reply with quote

if you are good at building, then you may want to go that route. you'll need a reverb unit cabinet to house it in as well as the parts or prebuilt board plus the spring reverb itself. i've heard the surfybear is a good unit. i have not built one but i have built a tweed deluxe clone so i know a little about the topic. note that there are different spring reverbs- short, medium and long decay.

good luck.

play music!
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 12:49 pm     Reply with quote

I do amp tech work, have built a couple dozen amps and a few tube reverb units, own a vintage Fender Reverb unit - and honesty, I don't think it's worth building one.

Building a good tube unit requires a large cabinet for ventilation, a punched chassis, good tubes and fairly expensive transformers. For double the price of available kits without cabinet you can buy a used Fender reissue and get upgraded tubes. They aren't bad sounding units and are essentially the same as the inexpensive kits - but with a cabinet.

And fairly often there are Fender style outboard units built by small shops being sold on Reverb.com for less than $500. If they're hand wired units that's a bargain - it'd cost you close to that to build one yourself.

But if you want a prefab, complete unit for less money I prefer the Van Amps Sole Mate. It's a compact solid-state unit with a small spring unit inside, and sounds surprisingly good/warm for its size. They're found on eBay and Reverb for around $250-350. Even with my vintage Fender unit I keep one around.

As far as tanks themselves in amps and outboard units go there are options. They can be changed as long as you closely match the input and output impedance numbers of the current tank. The number and length of springs isn't "fixed".

Many players replace 2-spring tanks in Fender and other amps with 3-spring units; others replace crappy short, one-spring tanks with longer multiple-spring units, and the lousy-sounding short tanks in many Peavey amps with longer 3-spring units. Longer springs - when available - provide the most significant improvement. Again, as long as the impedance numbers are close and the unit will fit physically it'll work fine.

Several companies make tanks nowadays so Accutronics is not the only choice. Each manufacturer uses code numbers that indicate the input impedance, output impedance, spring length and number/types of springs.

But no matter what you use it's a good idea to keep some distance between the amp chassis and the reverb tank if you use a tube amp. The transformers can mess with the actions of the springs. That's why tanks are normally mounted in the bottom of combos and Fender used taller cabinets for their reverb heads.

I prefer outboard spring reverb to Fender-style internal spring reverb. Fender's internal circuit tends to work primarily on high frequencies, which sounds harsh and tinny to me. The outboard units - placed before amp input - process all frequencies with a resulting warmer, more full sound. The outboard units also don't need to be dialed in as high - they can be used more subtly and still give a perception of space.

That should be WAY more than you wanted to know!

Oh Well
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Mark Hershey


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 12:51 pm     Reply with quote

Michael Butler wrote:
if you are good at building, then you may want to go that route. you'll need a reverb unit cabinet to house it in as well as the parts or prebuilt board plus the spring reverb itself. i've heard the surfybear is a good unit. i have not built one but i have built a tweed deluxe clone so i know a little about the topic. note that there are different spring reverbs- short, medium and long decay.

good luck.

play music!


Thanks, I might just go for the Surfey Bear. It's prebuilt and costs around $300. I think the sound will get me in the ball park of what I'm after.
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Mark Hershey


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 12:54 pm     Reply with quote

Jim Sliff wrote:
I do amp tech work, have built a couple dozen amps and a few tube reverb units, own a vintage Fender Reverb unit - and honesty, I don't think it's worth building one.

Building a good tube unit requires a large cabinet for ventilation, a punched chassis, good tubes and fairly expensive transformers. For double the price of available kits without cabinet you can buy a used Fender reissue and get upgraded tubes. They aren't bad sounding units and are essentially the same as the inexpensive kits - but with a cabinet.

And fairly often there are Fender style outboard units built by small shops being sold on Reverb.com for less than $500. If they're hand wired units that's a bargain - it'd cost you close to that to build one yourself.

But if you want a prefab, complete unit for less money I prefer the Van Amps Sole Mate. It's a compact solid-state unit with a small spring unit inside, and sounds surprisingly good/warm for its size. They're found on eBay and Reverb for around $250-350. Even with my vintage Fender unit I keep one around.

As far as tanks themselves in amps and outboard units go there are options. They can be changed as long as you closely match the input and output impedance numbers of the current tank. The number and length of springs isn't "fixed".

Many players replace 2-spring tanks in Fender and other amps with 3-spring units; others replace crappy short, one-spring tanks with longer multiple-spring units, and the lousy-sounding short tanks in many Peavey amps with longer 3-spring units. Longer springs - when available - provide the most significant improvement. Again, as long as the impedance numbers are close and the unit will fit physically it'll work fine.

Several companies make tanks nowadays so Accutronics is not the only choice. Each manufacturer uses code numbers that indicate the input impedance, output impedance, spring length and number/types of springs.

But no matter what you use it's a good idea to keep some distance between the amp chassis and the reverb tank if you use a tube amp. The transformers can mess with the actions of the springs. That's why tanks are normally mounted in the bottom of combos and Fender used taller cabinets for their reverb heads.

I prefer outboard spring reverb to Fender-style internal spring reverb. Fender's internal circuit tends to work primarily on high frequencies, which sounds harsh and tinny to me. The outboard units - placed before amp input - process all frequencies with a resulting warmer, more full sound. The outboard units also don't need to be dialed in as high - they can be used more subtly and still give a perception of space.

That should be WAY more than you wanted to know!

Oh Well


That's amazing and helpful. I'm going to do my research on the option you listed above and will keep you posted on what I select.
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Mark Fowler


From:
Minnesota, USA
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 1:00 pm     Reply with quote

I would just go with an out board reverb or pedal reverb.

If you have a combo you can make a tube reverb that is screwed to the bottom of the chassis and add a tank but not worth it in my opinion.

Mark
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 1:23 pm     Reply with quote

Ken Fox builds one, you know. Very Happy
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 1:32 pm     Reply with quote

Adding spring reverb to an existing amp is very difficult. The existing power transformer normally can't handle the current draw of more tubes and a larger power transformer, a separate filament transformer, or both may be needed.

You also need room for what is essentially a small amp chassis that will not have tubes or transformers placed next to the speaker magnet(s). Existing amps rarely have room for additional tube sockets, and even if it did the lead dress (wiring) usually ends up causing all sorts of hum and parasitic oscillation issues.

The Surfeybear is a larger take on the Van Amps Solemate model. Pretty much identical with a longer tank. I've used both and - although I prefer long/3 spring tanks in every other circumstance - I think the Solemate is a warmer. more spacious sounding unit.

I've tested virtually dozens of reverb pedals and not one has sounded as good as the Fender outboard unit, clones of it and similar kits, the Surfybear, Solemate and a couple other solid-state/spring units I don't recall right now

And all that being said, most of the time (for pedal steel, lap steel and 6/12 string) I prefer two analog delay units set to subtle and different times/repeats. I can get a very full, warm, spacious sound with absolutely zero "sproing", tinnyness, washout etc etc. I learned that trick from Sneaky Pete, who also disliked amp combo spring reverb.

YMMV.....
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 1:35 pm     Reply with quote

These are really nice spring reverbs. Quite portable and very "Fendery."
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Mark Hershey


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 2:28 pm     Reply with quote

Jim Sliff wrote:
Adding spring reverb to an existing amp is very difficult. The existing power transformer normally can't handle the current draw of more tubes and a larger power transformer, a separate filament transformer, or both may be needed.

You also need room for what is essentially a small amp chassis that will not have tubes or transformers placed next to the speaker magnet(s). Existing amps rarely have room for additional tube sockets, and even if it did the lead dress (wiring) usually ends up causing all sorts of hum and parasitic oscillation issues.

The Surfeybear is a larger take on the Van Amps Solemate model. Pretty much identical with a longer tank. I've used both and - although I prefer long/3 spring tanks in every other circumstance - I think the Solemate is a warmer. more spacious sounding unit.

I've tested virtually dozens of reverb pedals and not one has sounded as good as the Fender outboard unit, clones of it and similar kits, the Surfybear, Solemate and a couple other solid-state/spring units I don't recall right now

And all that being said, most of the time (for pedal steel, lap steel and 6/12 string) I prefer two analog delay units set to subtle and different times/repeats. I can get a very full, warm, spacious sound with absolutely zero "sproing", tinnyness, washout etc etc. I learned that trick from Sneaky Pete, who also disliked amp combo spring reverb.

YMMV.....


I agree, I've never had luck with a reverb pedal. To me the spring is worth the extra $$$ and hassle.

I have two analog delays and would love to have a go at the Sneaky Pete delay trick. Should I just set both to a one repeat slap?
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Mike Scaggs


From:
Nashville, TN
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 7:46 pm     Reply with quote

http://www.p2pamps.com/p2pamps-tube-reverb-0002/

Here is one I built and it was fantastic sounding. Plus they are fun to put together...
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
Philippines
Post Posted 1 Nov 2017 8:59 pm     Reply with quote

If it's a vintage Showman the value will go down modding it besides the difficulty mentioned converting.

Get a Showman Reverb save your Showman.
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Mark Hershey


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 2 Nov 2017 4:34 am     Reply with quote

Godfrey Arthur wrote:
If it's a vintage Showman the value will go down modding it besides the difficulty mentioned converting.

Get a Showman Reverb save your Showman.


This amp sounds good there’s no way I’m modifying it. Definitely going to go the outboard route.
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
Philippines
Post Posted 2 Nov 2017 5:02 am     Reply with quote

Mark Hershey wrote:
Godfrey Arthur wrote:
If it's a vintage Showman the value will go down modding it besides the difficulty mentioned converting.

Get a Showman Reverb save your Showman.


This amp sounds good there’s no way I’m modifying it. Definitely going to go the outboard route.


The older Accutronics tanks are the best over the new reissues.

Or try Gibbs:

You can find these on eBay come out of Hammond organs.





Or try Mojotone tanks.



Or Beltons:


Or Folded Line:




It will also depend on the pre amp circuit you use and if the impedances interface properly with the transformers in the tank.

Rather than reinventing the wheel trial and error unless you have copious money and time, try going with a ready made unit.


The Valve Train is all tube 6V6/12AX7 with custom made transformers.

I like the sound of this reverb, the trails are stable and clear and don't sound boingy like some others do.


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Mark Hershey


From:
New York, USA
Post Posted 2 Nov 2017 7:10 am     Reply with quote

What about the Wave kit?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnIGZEGyL-4

Would house it in a steel chasis.

https://www.modkitsdiy.com/kit/wave

I have some soldering skills, and I'm decent at following directions I just have no experience building a project like this.

The price is good $225.00 and of all the demos I looked at it sounded the best. Wondering also if I got stuck during the build if this is something a local amp tech with experience working on Fenders could be able to jump in and help if I get stuck. Even if it costs me some $$$ to have someone help build it, at the very least it would be an educational project. Thoughts?
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Steve Sycamore


From:
Sweden
Post Posted 2 Nov 2017 7:26 am     Reply with quote

Does anyone know the theory or technique behind the Dwell control? Is it an electronic damping circuit? A variable impedance? Or a gate or signal dynamics expansion?
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Godfrey Arthur


From:
Philippines
Post Posted 2 Nov 2017 7:40 am     Reply with quote

Mark Hershey wrote:
What about the Wave kit?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnIGZEGyL-4

Would house it in a steel chasis.

https://www.modkitsdiy.com/kit/wave

I have some soldering skills, and I'm decent at following directions I just have no experience building a project like this.

The price is good $225.00 and of all the demos I looked at it sounded the best. Wondering also if I got stuck during the build if this is something a local amp tech with experience working on Fenders could be able to jump in and help if I get stuck. Even if it costs me some $$$ to have someone help build it, at the very least it would be an educational project. Thoughts?


Sounds boingy to me.

Building a kit for fun of it is one thing, what the unit sounds like is another.

Which is your priority?

Sounds to me like you're doing Shakespear..to be or not to be; whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows sort of thing..




The Valve Train reminds me a little of an EMT reverb plate used in studios, hence from a recording quality POV the Spring Thing doesn't sound like springs getting too springy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vb2Ye32r1YI





EMT 140 reverb plate



EMT plates at Abbey Road

But hey if the Wave Kit sounds good to you then go with that.

Here's a better demo clip of the Wave Kit:

https://youtu.be/fBmE5VxblzQ
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 2 Nov 2017 8:08 am     Reply with quote

I used to play through a Fender bass amp and their outboard reverb unit.
I sold both of them years ago but a couple of years back I bought the Fender reissued reverb unit, you might be able to find one.

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Godfrey Arthur


From:
Philippines
Post Posted 2 Nov 2017 1:48 pm     Reply with quote

Steve Sycamore wrote:
Does anyone know the theory or technique behind the Dwell control? Is it an electronic damping circuit? A variable impedance? Or a gate or signal dynamics expansion?


As far as function, the "dwell" is a reverb tank drive level.

I don't know the type of circuit this would fall under.

Some call it a reverb circuit master volume control

How much signal is sent to the tank/circuit.

It's a pot.

A dwell knob can be added to a circuit by removing a resistor and adding a pot, hence making it variable.

It is explained as "capacitive resistance."

The Reverb driver 1M grid leak works with the 500pF Reverb Filter cap to form a CR (capacitance-resistance) high pass filter with a corner freq of 318Hz (everything below 318Hz is cut). By replacing the 1M grid leak with a 1MA pot you will not only cut the amount of guitar signal entering the reverb driver as you turn down the Dwell pot but you will lower the CR corner freq as well which will allow more low freqs into the reverb circuit.







For a standalone reverb tank:



Reverb Drive Path

The first stage uses one half of the 12AT7 and provides a voltage gain. A voltage divider reduces the signal and then it is sent to the Dwell control (250K pot), which determines the amount of signal sent to the reverb drive circuit.

The reverb drive circuit consists of the second half of the 12AT7 preamp tube, a high-pass filter, a 6K6 power tube, and the reverb transformer.

The signal is amplified by the 12AT7 and sent through an RC high-pass filter which rolls off low frequencies below 300Hz.




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ShoBud The Pro 1
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Steve Sycamore


From:
Sweden
Post Posted 3 Nov 2017 12:46 am     Reply with quote

Excellent details, thanks Godfrey.
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Tim Marcus


From:
San Francisco, CA
Post Posted 3 Nov 2017 10:23 am     Reply with quote

the surfy bear sounds great. I have a friend who built one. Nice and quiet and has the correct tone and feel
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Mark Fowler


From:
Minnesota, USA
Post Posted 4 Nov 2017 5:03 am     Reply with quote

Mark Hershey wrote:
What about the Wave kit?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnIGZEGyL-4

Would house it in a steel chasis.

https://www.modkitsdiy.com/kit/wave

I have some soldering skills, and I'm decent at following directions I just have no experience building a project like this.

The price is good $225.00 and of all the demos I looked at it sounded the best. Wondering also if I got stuck during the build if this is something a local amp tech with experience working on Fenders could be able to jump in and help if I get stuck. Even if it costs me some $$$ to have someone help build it, at the very least it would be an educational project. Thoughts?


I'm an experienced builder so I didn't have any problems building the Wave reverb rack enclosure. I also, incorporated the lastest mods or improvements when I built it. It works very well and takes up a lot of room just like the old Tweed looking Fender stand alone units.

Guys like Henry from Redplate Amps used to build a small enclosure reverb unit that screwed to the inside of the combo cab and added reverb tank rather then put the reverb inside the existing amp.
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Bob Carlucci


From:
Candor, New York, USA
Post Posted 4 Nov 2017 12:21 pm     Reply with quote

20 years ago, I would have agreed with the majority opinion I am reading.. However, I have found the digital units these days SO good, and so trouble free that "real spring" reverbs and the costs and headaches involved are simply not worth the effort any longer... A floor stomp box unit that retails under $100 will give all the long warm reverb anyone could ever need, and if you A/B it with a spring unit, no one, even those old school types with "analog ears" will be able to tell the difference... bob
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