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Restore Vintage Amps or Buy New?

Discussion in 'Amp Input - Normal or Bright' started by bgmacaw, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Strat-O-Master

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    I currently own a 1964 Champ and a 1973 Princeton Reverb. Both are in need of serious restoration work, beyond my limited DIY skills. Total restoration costs for them will be around $800 to $1000 according to estimates I've been given, depending on mods, new speakers, etc. I will also need to buy a reactive load box so that I can enjoy them when my wife is watching Real Housewives, record direct-in and such. That would put the total cost up to $1200 to $1400 or so. Of course, I wouldn't have to spend this all at once since I have a decent enough setup without these amps.

    The alternative I'm considering would be to buy a Tone King Gremlin instead for about the same amount. It has a built in attenuator and a line out, taking care of the volume situation. Plus, I could use my Sweetwater card to buy it interest free.

    Difficult choice. What would you do?
     
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  2. Duane_the_tub

    Duane_the_tub Strat-O-Master

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    I would sell the old amps and buy a new one. Though nice, those are replaceable models IMO. A new one gives you reliability, peace of mind and a better fit for your needs, by the sound of things (no pun intended).
     
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  3. Tsjackson

    Tsjackson Strat-O-Master

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    I’d stick with the old and do them one at a time.

    But I like old things. On a far lesser scale I just had a similar argument with myself over my 79 musicmaster bass amp, I was expecting a £200 repair bill and wasn’t sure if I should just sell it as is and buy a new blues jr or save up for a princeton or go for it.

    I love the amp, so I found a guy local to me who serviced and cleaned it and replaced all the electrolytic caps for £65!

    it’s never sounded better
     
  4. soulman969

    soulman969 Senior Stratmaster

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    Throwing curve balls eh? ;)

    Let's begin with you having a set up you can enjoy without the Champ and PR so is the TK Gremlin really a need or simply a want?

    My other question is would spending $800-$1000 on the two older amps make them worth that much more? Or would not doing it make them worth that much less if you were to sell them? There may be many buyers out there who could do the restoration work needed themselves for far less than it will cost you.

    If you're really attached to them I'd stick with the suggestion to have them done one at a time and keep them forever. If not and you won't take a huge hit on their price due to needing work sell them and be done with it. Use the proceeds to buy the Gremlin.

    Or since you can use Sweetwater's money for free use the proceeds on something else you want or pay off a debt. I love using 0% OPM whenever it's offered on something I need. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
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  5. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Dr. Stratster

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    How much are the repairs, versus what they're worth? That's the biggest question. If you can put 1,000 in, and make a few thousand on top of that, it'd be worth it.

    If not, I'd sell them as-is, and try new amps.

    Not a fan of putting in a lot of money into something that's worth only slightly more than the repairs.
     
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  6. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Strat-O-Master

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    My current setup is mostly modeling based although I have a Monoprice 5w that's OK although not as good as the Champ was. And, without any attenuation, it annoys my wife if I crank it. I've been thinking about a versatile tube based rig for a while since I really miss the PR. If I were to get them restored, the PR would be first since I have the Monoprice.

    I hate selling gear that I didn't buy specifically to flip and that I've had a long time. The few times I've done it, I've ended up regretting selling it. The vintage amps will probably be in my estate sale. So, I'm not concerned so much about resell value (my son might be though).
     
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  7. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon

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    I'd flog them and buy a modeller...
     
  8. Sarnodude

    Sarnodude Senior Stratmaster

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    I'll give you 200 for the champ.
     
  9. Miotch

    Miotch Senior Stratmaster

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    I'm in the camp of asking if it is financially worth it to spend that kind of money on them. In the end, I just decide what I really want and go that direction. Life is short. You can't take the amps with you. If I think I'd like a different amp better and it checked all my boxes, I'd got that direction. It would be a different story if you could refurbish the other amps for $200-$300. But you're talking serious cash to put in an amp.
     
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  10. Morf2540

    Morf2540 Senior Stratmaster

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    I'd buy the Tone King. You can sell your vintage amps as-is and get most of your money back. You would end up with a great amp with very little out of pocket.
     
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  11. soulman969

    soulman969 Senior Stratmaster

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    With some mods the Monoprice might be made a bit better. I had a Bugera v5 I upgraded with an Emi hemp cone speaker and better tubes and it was like a wholly different amp.

    Of course you'd still be stuck with no attenuator circuit which the Bugera does have. But even at 1w cranked through a more efficient speaker it would still probably annoy your bride. LOL

    Since you like to play with some amp gain if it was me I'd fix up the Princeton because it's a classic amp with great cleans that also takes pedals very well and I'd make that my heirloom amp.

    Then, since the Gremlin is most similar to the Champ and Monoprice as a low wattage amp you can crank without peeling the plaster off walls I'd sell the Champ to finance the Gremlin. But that's me and how I think.

    Wouldn't a '64 Champ be worth as much or more than the Gremlin?
     
  12. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Strat-O-Master

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    I did upgrade the tubes on it. I may do the speaker eventually. I did build a cabinet with a Eminence 620H to go with my Hotone Nano heads that sounds good.
     
  13. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member

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    i would sell the old stuff and buy the tone king.

    tone king sound quality is off the chart and their attenuator actually works.
    you would have a new amp with a warranty sporting modern features that sounds as good or better than the vintage amps.
    and a happier wife at tv time.
     
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  14. Gridlock

    Gridlock Strat-O-Master

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    Restore or sell them to me cheap!
     
  15. Mr. Lumbergh

    Mr. Lumbergh needs you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too.

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    Sell 'em to me and I'll do the restos. ;)
     
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  16. Handsome McClane

    Handsome McClane Strat-Talker

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    Owning old amps is kinda like owning old classic cars - you've gotta be able to do the work yourself or have the money to repair and maintain them. If you aren't comfortable with doing the work yourself, I'd sell them and get the new Tone King. I'm guessing you'll get a pretty penny for that Princeton in the condition it's in anyways.
     
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  17. Cali Dude

    Cali Dude Strat-Talker

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    I have had my Gremlin since May. It does give you a lot of sounds, and at manageable levels. The amp is actually 8 watts, not 5. The KT66 tube on this single ended amp sounds great. There are two channels. Black face is cleaner, and the Tweed channel is more overdriven. You can also get an ABY box, and have 3 channels. The attenuator works great for indoor quiet playing. There are 6 levels of attenuation from none, to -35 db. It's a cool amp, and can get loud without the attenuator.
     
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  18. Cali Dude

    Cali Dude Strat-Talker

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    Probably not. A blackface champ might be worth $1,000?? The Gremlin sells new for $1295. I just looked, and they are selling for over $1K
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
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  19. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Dr. Stratster

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    Yep, it costs 7x the price I paid for my amp, to repair OP's.

    Like with most new tech, you can replace it entirely, sometimes for a tiny fraction of the repair cost on the old ones. Just like TVs, Washers/Dryers, Refrigerators, etc.

    I see the validity of someone paying to maintain their old, nice equipment, but paying out a ton for amp maintenance isn't something I can ever see myself doing.
     
  20. soulman969

    soulman969 Senior Stratmaster

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    Yup, some are. Average MV seems to be between $750-$1000 depending on condition but the Pre-CBS '64 and '65 models are all over $1000 list..

    Even in need of work if one is otherwise well preserved it should be worth at least $600-$700. That's half the cost of the Gremlin.
     
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