Have a T/A 30 loaner; thinking about a DC-3. Advice please.

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dodger916
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Have a T/A 30 loaner; thinking about a DC-3. Advice please.

Post by dodger916 » Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:00 pm

Greetings.

I've always been a fan of Mark amps and earlier Boogies in general. I still own a C+ and Mark IV, but I've been tending toward smaller amps that don't need BIG volume to get The Sound, as the Marks are too loud for rehearsal and most gigs we do. I've been playing through an Orange Dual Terror for a couple of years, and the volume range (30/15/7 watts) is good for getting some power tube drive given my rehearsal and gig venue volume needs, but I miss the crisp articulation and flexibility of a Boogie. Plus, the Dual Terror is a bit limited in its tone palette, but it's great at what it does.

Wandering back into the "Boogie fold", I recently picked up a T/A 30 from a dealer on a 30 day trial. I loved it at first, but there seems to be a midrange honky-ness that's hard to dial out. It's starting to bother my ears. I'm wondering if the power tubes are shot, but there are no other audible indications of that. I tried different speakers (V30, C90, EV12L, MS-12), but the bloom is off the rose. So now given my recent attraction to EL84 amps and my long-standing admiration of older Boogies, I'm beginning to wonder about a DC-3. As a point of reference, I played a Studio 22+ a couple years ago that I thought sounded great. I play in a cover band that does mostly 80's and 90's dance stuff, with some country and classic rock throw in, so I need a pretty versatile amp, mostly rock-n-roll oriented. I like an articulate yet slightly crunchy rhythm sound; think early 80's Keith. I'm drawn to the DC because of the dual channels, and I'm hoping it it will have some vintage Boogie/Mark bite to it. The T/A has some great sounds, but it just seems a bit "sterile" to my ears. I never liked the F series or the Express series, even the new ones with the eq.

So, before I return the T/A 30 to the dealer, is there anyone out there who has experience with both the DC-3 and T/A 30. Or, has anyone else experienced the T/A honky-ness I'm experiencing? I will be posting this in the Transatlantic section as well.

Thanks again,

Frank

Mk IIA->C+ DRGX head "Cold Sweat" in GTS shell
1966 Fender Pro Reverb
DC-3 head
Orange Dual Terror
EVM loaded Thiele; MS-12 1/2 back
71 SG; 72 Tele; 76 White Strat; 77 LP Custom; 81 Goldtop; 05 Am Dlx Strat; 11 G0 plaintop

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Monsta-Tone
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Re: Have a T/A 30 loaner; thinking about a DC-3. Advice plea

Post by Monsta-Tone » Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:27 am

So far, I haven't really found anything that my DC-3 can't handle. I play anything from melodic clean, to bluesy pushed clean/grit with the EQ on, all the way up to balls out sustain for days crunchy distortion tones. I don't really play metal, but I'm pretty close.
The best thing about the older amps is that there is no muting or delay circuits built into them so channel switching is fast and noiseless. Plus, they are pretty easy to find. I was looking for a used Express Plus and had a hell of a time finding one for a decent price.

I would say that the DC-3 definitely has a little bit of the Mark thing going on, but not exactly. It has it's own voice that stands out in a crowd. Sort of like the one guy/girl at a comedy show whose laughter can be heard above everyone else. Not that it's louder than a Mark, Recto, TA, etc., just that it cuts through the mix like a Katana that is duct taped to a sledge hammer!

I use mine for quiet band practices, grab and go jams, and tiny gigs. I use my Rivera S120 for as much as I can though because it is stereo.
The Output Volume is a bit touchy and takes a little getting used to, but the DC-3 is great for everything from loud bedroom jamming up to medium size indoor gigs without a mic.
I would go for the DC, then use the money left over from the TA to get a nice used Strat or some great FX! If you get a good price on the DC (under $600 or so) you can always sell it if you don't like it.
Elvis said.......
Amp techs do get shocked. :shock:

dodger916
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Re: Have a T/A 30 loaner; thinking about a DC-3. Advice plea

Post by dodger916 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:28 am

Hi Andy.

(before I forget, I cannot access the Document referenced in your "DC Mods - Revisited" thread)

Well, I won a DC-3 head on eBay at 5pm on Friday afternoon and received it less than 24 hours later, on Saturday morning! What better way to start a Saturday! It's very clean, and came with slipcover and footswitch. Anyway, I'm really digging it so far, playing it through an MS-12 loaded 1/2 back and EVM-loaded Thiele. I prefer it to the TA-30, as it feels more like a Mark and sounds more like what I'm after. The rhythm channel is beautiful and I feel no urge to mod it at this point. The lead channel is pure Boogie, but a bit dark for my taste. I haven't opened it up yet, so I don't know if it's been modded. I will DEFINITELY look into some of your mods:

1) There's an amazing amount of gain in the lead channel, too much for me really, so I'm considering reducing it and opening it up a bit, making it more of a crunchy rhythm/lead channel. I use the lead channel on my C+ as a tight but hard-driven rhythm channel.
2) I'd like to brighten and tighten the lead channel a bit (especially with a Les Paul), so I'll look at the "blanket removal" mod.
3) It has JJs power tubes, and no red plating, but while it's open I'm thinking about the bias mod.
4) Parts 1) and 2) of the reverb mod.
5) tonestack mod to brighten the lead channel?
6) seller said loop doesn't work, so I might as well do the loop mod!

I'm good with a soldering iron but have little experience working inside amps. Voodoo Amps is about 5 miles from me, so I might as well have Trace do the work.

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Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Frank

Mk IIA->C+ DRGX head "Cold Sweat" in GTS shell
1966 Fender Pro Reverb
DC-3 head
Orange Dual Terror
EVM loaded Thiele; MS-12 1/2 back
71 SG; 72 Tele; 76 White Strat; 77 LP Custom; 81 Goldtop; 05 Am Dlx Strat; 11 G0 plaintop

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Monsta-Tone
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Re: Have a T/A 30 loaner; thinking about a DC-3. Advice plea

Post by Monsta-Tone » Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:05 am

:D Hey Frank, nice amp! :D

PM me your email address and I'll send you the loop drawing. It's very simple.

As for the mods, Trace probably has some ideas too, but here is what I would do:
1. Lead channel gain - Try using the Master Volume higher and lower the Gain knob. If you crank the Master and use the Gain as the volume, it really gets some cool tones.
- if that doesn't do it for you, there is a world of stuff that Trace could do to tighten it up while lowering the gain
- There are two tone stacks, one if fixed and is placed where a Mark series amp would be, the other is adjustable and after most of the gain stages. Almost anything can be done to the tone stacks.
- I would try raising the value of the Slope Resistor in the fixed tone stack from 56k to 82k like the adjustable tone stack has. You could also lower the mess with the fixed tone stack's treble resistance.
2. The Blanket Mod doesn't work for the DC-3. Those parts are not in the Phase Inverter circuit to start with.
3. Loop Mod - definitely makes the loop more useable
4. Reverb Mod - You can make this amp go into Dick Dale territory if you want
5. Better Cleans - A lot can be done with this channel to make it warmer and more vibrant
6. Transformers - Depending on what your budget is, a Mercury Magnetics Power & Output transformer and adding a Choke, will turn this amp into a monster. It adds a lot of warmth, sparkle, and sustain.

The Loop not working could simply be a tube. V3b is the return buffer for the loop. You might try swapping a new tube in there to see if that helps.
Elvis said.......
Amp techs do get shocked. :shock:

dodger916
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Re: Have a T/A 30 loaner; thinking about a DC-3. Advice plea

Post by dodger916 » Sun Mar 16, 2014 1:03 pm

The only other times I can remember being truly impressed with Mesa amps was my first time on a Mark IV short combo and a Lonestar Classic in a 4x10 combo. This amp really rocks! A friend and I have a standing Sunday morning music hangout: we write, play whatever, or just b.s. I brought the amp with an MS-12 in half-back cab and I couldn't bring myself to add any effects...it was THAT complete straight-in! I was playing my 76 Strat (see below) that was recently refretted with stainless frets, and is otherwise a pretty bright guitar. All original, pickups are from 1976 (non-staggered poles) and now set medium low: bright guitar.

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It sounded the way I think a Strat should. Bridge pup was bright but tamed (it runs wide-open as it's not connected to a tone pot...yet!). Very listenable. Mid and the 2 & 4 positions are my favorite with this Strat, and the sustain was perfect: not too much or too little. Rhythm was articulate yet "comforting" as a snuggy :) , but authoritative. But it was the "voicing" in both rhythm and lead (especially lead!) that made me not want to pack up my gear. My friend too. He recommended not changing anything, and I will exercise patience....begrudgingly...or at least until I run my LP through it. At home I thought the LP sounded a bit dark. It's a Guitar Center version of an "R0" Plaintop 1960 reissue ("G0"). Vintage impedances, but with pull-pots for coilsplitting each pup and phase reversal. Very cool guitar, and somewhere mid-stream in terms of eq voicing. I'll take it to rehearsal this week and see.

It is such a rush to (again) find an amp to bond with! No surprise to me that's it's a Mesa. I think this would sound fine through almost any speaker, but the recent bite from the G.A.S. bug has me wondering about a Warehouse Guitar ET-65. Voodoo sells them broken-in; Trace "buzzes" an amp through it overnight. :evil:

The TA has many great sounds, but it feels like I'm wrestling with the highs and especially the mids. The DC is definitely more in my blood, and so far, very much so.

Mk IIA->C+ DRGX head "Cold Sweat" in GTS shell
1966 Fender Pro Reverb
DC-3 head
Orange Dual Terror
EVM loaded Thiele; MS-12 1/2 back
71 SG; 72 Tele; 76 White Strat; 77 LP Custom; 81 Goldtop; 05 Am Dlx Strat; 11 G0 plaintop

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dodger916
Donating Member
Posts: 2396
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:18 pm
Location: Ithaca, NY...10 sq miles surrounded by reality!

Re: Have a T/A 30 loaner; thinking about a DC-3. Advice plea

Post by dodger916 » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:44 am

All I can say is this amp is freakin' amazing! All night long it continued to impress me...my bandmates too. There were many many moments in both channels, but especially Rhythm, where I thought the tone and feel were perfect. My LP has coil-tapped humbuckers, and it was happy in both humbucker and single coil modes. The buckers sounded full yet articulate (not dull), and the single coils really shined with a very "organic" vocal quality. It just sang! I'm running it through a Mesa 1/2 back with MS-12 and Thiele with EVM 12-L. And although I did restring my guitar before rehearsal, I honestly can't remember ever being this impressed with my own tone for the entire 3 hour rehearsal!

All I've done so far is install new power tubes (JJ's from Eurotubes as recommended on this Board), which run much cooler than the JJs it came with. I also installed a JJs ECC823 in V1 to tame the lead gain a bit (replacing a Mesa Russian). The first triode in the 823 is a 12AX7, while the second triode is a 12AT7 - very cool tube, and perfect for lowering the 1st lead gain stage while preserving the gain in the Rhythm channel. V2 now has a vintage ECC83 made in the Herleen Holland factory. These are among my favorite tubes as they tend to be bright, which I like. A good bright, not harsh at all. There's one of these in all my Mark amps. This tube really brightened and opened up the Lead channel with the reduced gain from the ECC823; exactly what I'd hoped. I tried a 5751 in V2, but I prefer the Holland tube. The rest are all Mesa Russian and Chinese...for now anyway. :D

I really can't see modding this amp beyond swapping the bias resistor, or installing a trim pot as described in other threads. I think a small (80mm x 80mm) AC cooling fan might be in order too. The good folks at Mesa recommended using one of those small clip-on desk fans; a pretty clever solution, but I'd rather have it on-board for convenience. The clip-on fan will get me through Saturday's gig.

The TA-30 went back to the dealer yesterday, but this amp ain't going anywhere for a loooong time! Thanks again to those who provided feedback, both now and in multiple reference threads.

Oh, and if anyone has a photo (or drawing) of the bias pot mod, it would be greatly appreciated.

Mk IIA->C+ DRGX head "Cold Sweat" in GTS shell
1966 Fender Pro Reverb
DC-3 head
Orange Dual Terror
EVM loaded Thiele; MS-12 1/2 back
71 SG; 72 Tele; 76 White Strat; 77 LP Custom; 81 Goldtop; 05 Am Dlx Strat; 11 G0 plaintop

Image

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