The Li’l Dawg 5E3 D-Lux

I’m often asked which amp would be my desert island amp and while I do love the 5F1 Champster a lot I would still have to say the 5E3 D-Lux would be the one I’d want to have with me. I do consider it to be a veritable “Tone Chameleon” as it can cover quite a broad spectrum of music styles, and it’s just a fun amp to play.

A lot of folks think of only Neil Young when you mention the 5E3 tweed Deluxe and while he has made it his own sound, I remind people that Stephen Stills also used a 5E3 tweed Deluxe during their time in the Buffalo Springfield to get some huge clean tone. Larry Carlton used the 5E3 tweed Deluxe for all of his work with Steely Dan as well, and Wes Montgomery was also known to use the 5E3 tweed Deluxe in the studio as well. Then when you add the fact that the amps were originally designed with the country player in mind who also used it for a “poor man’s PA”, you begin to see that there’s more to the amp than just overdrive. Speaking of the “poor man’s PA”, the amp channels were originally labeled instrument & microphone and the combo sat in front of the mic stand to prevent feedback when they were performing. That also explains why the controls were mounted in the rear & facing up which made them easier to adjust as needed.

So the next time you get a chance to play thru a 5E3 tweed Deluxe, whether it’s an original or a Li’l Dawg D-Lux I hope you’ll take the time to think about it’s 65+ years as a workhorse combo with a long & colorful history.

have fun

Tube Rolling in the Li’l Dawg 5E3 D-Lux

I’m often asked about which tubes can be used in my 5E3 D-Lux so I’ve put together the info in one spot for everyone and here it is.

You can swap any of the tubes out at any time in any order with the exception of the power tubes which need to be a matched pair. That’s what is referred to as “tube rolling” and it opens up a lot tonal possibilities.

Rectifiers you can try would be the 5Y3GT with the most sag & compression but also the lowest voltage which means less output. Then there’s the 5V4G which is a step up on voltage which would tighten up the feel of the amp as well as some increase in volume. Finally there’s the GZ34 which would give the amp the tightest feel as well as push the output up another notch.

Power tubes you can try would be the 6V6GT, 5881, or 6L6GC and they all have their benefits. The 6V6GT would be considered the darker of the three but it also has the early break-up and wonderful tone in my opinion. The 5881 is also known as a 6L6WGB and while it’s in the 6L6 family it does have some warm tone and a bit less output that the 6L6GC. The 6L6GC would have the most output but it’s also got a later break-up along with a bright & chimey tone to it.

You can try any 12A*7 or one of it’s variants in the pre-amp for different amounts of gain or tone too.

have fun

How to Bias a Wonderdawg

Biasing is simple to do and I’ll start with the formula first. There are two different voltages that you’ll be checking and your meter should be able to read both DCV (at least 500 VDC) & DCmV (200 mV DC) which are common to most digital meters. I also suggest using a clip on the ground lead so you only have to have one hand inside the chassis at a time.

There is a standard called maximum plate dissipation (MPD) and your power tubes should run somewhere between 50-70% MPD. In the case of the 6V6GT the MPD is 14 watts. So the formula goes as follows: 14 watts x 70% = 9.8 watts. Then 9.8 watts / plate voltage = bias in mV. So here’s an example of that with the plate voltage being 415 VDC. 9.8 / 415 = .0236 or 23.6 mV. You’ll find that as you adjust the bias to 23.6 mV you may see the plate voltage change as well, so you do the math again and after a couple times back & forth. Another aspect is if one tube draws more current than the other like 22mV & 25 mV, then you want to balance the bias in the middle between them.

So here is a pic of where your bias adjustment pot is located.

 bias adjustment pot

bias adjustment pot

Then the ground location.

ground location

ground location

Next is where you measure the plate voltage.

plate voltage

plate voltage

Now where to measure the bias on each power tube, and it’ll be measured on the 200mV scale between the tube socket and the resistor going to ground.

measure the bias on each power tube

measure the bias on each power tube


measure the bias on each power tube

measure the bias on each power tube

Now measuring the plate voltage.

Now measuring the plate voltage.

Now measuring the plate voltage.

Now measuring the bias voltage on each power tube.

Now measuring the bias voltage on each power tube.

Now measuring the bias voltage on each power tube.


Now measuring the bias voltage on each power tube.

Now measuring the bias voltage on each power tube.

That’s all there is to it, and it shouldn’t take any more than a couple of minutes to re-bias the amp when swapping the rectifier or power tubes.

The SuperMutt is here !!

I recently had a customer ask for a custom build that was very interesting, and after discussing how to put everything together in a nice looking package we were able to accomplish both the appearance as well as the tone & feel of the amp that he was hoping for.

What he wanted was a tweed circuit like the 5F4 Super but he needed a full tone stack like the 5F6A Bassman, and he wanted to keep the overall volume down some as well. So what we came up with was a hybrid circuit using the 5F6A pre-amp married to a 5F4 power section. With the output lowered to the 25 watt level the customer was also able to run either 6V6GT or 6L6GC tubes with a simple re-bias. The amp turned out great and it fits inside the 5F6A chassis like it was made for it. It also retained the nice feel & response of the 5F4 Super but had the added clarity & detail that the 5F6A pre-amp added to the mix.

chrome front

chrome rear

chrome interior

I mentioned this as a possible new amp to offer to another customer and he decided on the same amp but as a LunchBox head. He also thought the name that I first thought of calling it was appropriate so the SuperMutt is going to be the next amp from Li’l Dawg now.

LB front

LB rear

LB interior

The 5E8A DoubleDawg LunchBox head is here.

I’m always curious as to what someone might suggest for me to build for them, and the most recent request was for a 5E8A low power tweed Twin. What made this one unique was that he was looking for that circuit in a LunchBox head. After some planning it looked like it was a definite possibility so I committed to working up the build for him. The 5E8A DoubleDawg LunchBox is now a reality with the result being a very nice fit for the chassis and the circuit turned out to be “loud & proud” just like it should. So here’s the pics of the first 5E8A DoubleDawg LunchBox.

kevin's finished amp lfkevin's finished amp rrkevin's finished amp bottomkevin's finished amp frontkevin's finished amp rear

Tone controls & the “slice of pie” analogy

I’m often asked for expanded tone stacks on the smaller circuits like the 5F1 Champster, 5F2A Prince, or 5E3 Tweed Deluxe D-Lux that I offer that I think it’s about time for me to share my thoughts, and more specifically it would be why I choose to keep the amps as simple as possible.  I like to use simple word pictures when I can, and the analogy I use for tone is the time-proven pie chart which goes like this.

The whole pie is the absolute most tone that you have available to work with in any circuit, with each tone control being a slice out of the total pie.  While you get to choose where the slice is taken from with each tone control, I’m the one that determines how big the slice will actually be by the components I use.  Either way you look at it, there will be a loss in the available tone.

In my experience it’s usually the smaller amps that people mention when tone is the subject of conversation.  The amps included would be from companies like Fender, Gibson, Supro, Valco, etc. and most always had a simple passive tone knob if they had any tone control at all.  While most of us have owned amps with lots of knobs & switches, it’s quite often the simpler amps that we’re the fondest of.

Just my thoughts ……

 

 

Stereo power amp project

I recently had someone ask if I’d build a stereo power amp for him to use with his Sarno pre-amps & other gear, and since I had been interested in going that direction myself it was an easy decision for me.  Charlie lived nearby so he came by and tried my 5F6A TopDawg LunchBox prototype out which he really liked a lot, so that was the basis for the project.  One of the requirements for the power amp was that it be a rack mount unit which worked out nicely as it allowed me plenty of room to work with.   Continue reading

The interactive controls of the 5E3 D-Lux, and how to make them work for you.

The controls are very interactive and you can get lots of usable tone quickly.  I’ll give you the basic outline on the amp as it’s pretty simple.  Facing the back of the amp from left to right is switch, pilot light, tone, instrument volume, mic volume, hi/lo gain input (hi is the bottom & lo is the top), and the mic inputs (same as the instrument inputs). Continue reading

Amp chassis conversions

How many times have we all looked at a solid state amp that died on us and it wasn’t worth fixing to just have the same tone again?  Or we just got tired of the tone it offered and wanted something with tubes for a change?  Or even a recent production tube amp that gave it up big time and now what do you do with it?  A simple solution that I suggest to customers from time to time is to convert your old amp into something new.   Continue reading