Thoughts on Fender Excelsior?

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,777
Murfreesboro, TN
I have an opportunity to trade a guitar I'm not playing (Epiphone SG Pro) for a Fender Excelsior amp. I like the retro looks and I like having the deep low-end you usually get with a 15" speaker. Weird little amp with one of the inputs labeled "accordion."

I own 3 tube amps already, a Bassman (which is too loud to play with the wife home), a Supro Delta King, and a Bugera V5 Infinium. Don't really need another amp, but I don't need the guitar either.

Just want to know what y'all think of the amp.
 

Chipss36

Strat-O-Master
Oct 1, 2018
871
Texas
Never played one, I like the look of them, and like 15s.

have you played it with your guitars?

that should tell ya all you need to know.
 

guitarface

Most Honored Senior Member
Nov 11, 2012
8,771
New Jersey
I have an opportunity to trade a guitar I'm not playing (Epiphone SG Pro) for a Fender Excelsior amp. I like the retro looks and I like having the deep low-end you usually get with a 15" speaker. Weird little amp with one of the inputs labeled "accordion."

I own 3 tube amps already, a Bassman (which is too loud to play with the wife home), a Supro Delta King, and a Bugera V5 Infinium. Don't really need another amp, but I don't need the guitar either.

Just want to know what y'all think of the amp.

They were very popular when they came out. I played one in a store. I forget what prevented me from buying it. Mostly that I almost never pull the trigger on anything.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,777
Murfreesboro, TN
Congrats! We'll be needing pics and a review per forum rules!

Of course. Here you go.

Excelsior 1.jpg
excelsior 2.jpg
excelsior 3.jpg

This amp has been modded, it's got a tone knob in place of the bright/dark switch, the previous owner said he ordered a mod kit. I haven't opened it up to see what he used, but the knob doesn't match.

The amp sounds good. Best (to me) with the tone turned all the way down--it's a bright amp. I haven't really been able to push the volume at home (~12w is a lot with my wife home), but for clean playing it sounds good. I'm pleased with it, although I do think it would benefit from a master volume.
 

Twang Banger

Blues and Country pick'n
May 15, 2011
980
Raiford, FL
I had one of those once, never could get it to sound decent. I put an eminence 15 in it, tone control, etc. just nothing “lush” going on there! I traded it to a guy on CL for. Fender Bassbreaker and then sold that to get my money back out of the Excelsior. A few weeks later the same Excelsior showed up on CL … apparently I was not the only one who did not fall in love with it!

I am glad you seem to like it though.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,777
Murfreesboro, TN
I had one of those once, never could get it to sound decent. I put an eminence 15 in it, tone control, etc. just nothing “lush” going on there! I traded it to a guy on CL for. Fender Bassbreaker and then sold that to get my money back out of the Excelsior. A few weeks later the same Excelsior showed up on CL … apparently I was not the only one who did not fall in love with it!

I am glad you seem to like it though.
Honestly I'm already considering mods, reading schematics and such. It would really benefit from a master volume, I'm thinking a trainwreck style post phase inverter master volume.

I may also enlarge the phase inverter coupling caps, these are .01 and certainly cutting off some of the low e. I'd probably go up to .047 on those. I expect that to thicken up the sound quite a bit. There's a risk it'll get muddy at high volume, but I can still open the tone control to compensate.
 

tanta07

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 28, 2019
2,258
Colorado
Yours has already been modded. The original didn't have a tone knob, only a switch that could be flipped from "bright" to "dark" (and there was an in-between position you could find).

Since it's such a simple design already, maybe the biggest mod to make on an Excelsior would be a different speaker.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,777
Murfreesboro, TN
Yours has already been modded. The original didn't have a tone knob, only a switch that could be flipped from "bright" to "dark" (and there was an in-between position you could find).

Since it's such a simple design already, maybe the biggest mod to make on an Excelsior would be a different speaker.

A different speaker won't bring back the low end if it's blocked by coupling caps. And judging by the schematic, it is. With the tone knob all the way down, it should be equivalent to the Dark position on the switch. Assuming it uses the same value cap, which I haven't verified. But it's still a little thin, which is weird for an amp with a 15" speaker.

Also, it's usually cheaper to replace 2 caps than it is to replace a whole 15" speaker.
 

tanta07

Senior Stratmaster
Feb 28, 2019
2,258
Colorado
A different speaker won't bring back the low end if it's blocked by coupling caps. And judging by the schematic, it is. With the tone knob all the way down, it should be equivalent to the Dark position on the switch. Assuming it uses the same value cap, which I haven't verified. But it's still a little thin, which is weird for an amp with a 15" speaker.

Also, it's usually cheaper to replace 2 caps than it is to replace a whole 15" speaker.

Let me know how it goes. My Excelsior seems to be voiced differently- mine is pretty muddy and farty on the low end. I'm interested in mods that may balance things out.
 

El Gobernador

fezz parka
Apr 21, 2011
35,631
Nunyo, BZ
A different speaker won't bring back the low end if it's blocked by coupling caps. And judging by the schematic, it is. With the tone knob all the way down, it should be equivalent to the Dark position on the switch. Assuming it uses the same value cap, which I haven't verified. But it's still a little thin, which is weird for an amp with a 15" speaker.

Also, it's usually cheaper to replace 2 caps than it is to replace a whole 15" speaker.
Go to .1uF.
 

dirocyn

Most Honored Senior Member
Jan 20, 2018
6,777
Murfreesboro, TN
There's also a 0.022 uF ahead of the PI. Should that change too?

It depends what you want the amp to do. Some people want a tight bottom end, some people prefer it thick. The idea of reducing bass with the connecting caps is--there's not really any sound a guitar makes on purpose that's below 80Hz (the guitar's low e). Anything below that level is low frequency distortion that just muddies up the signal and makes things indistinct.

There's also a .047 after V1A. There are a few calculations about how bass gets cut by a connecting cap, ya have to plug in values for other things around the cap in the circuit. When I ran those numbers based on this amp's schematic, I found the .047 cuts about .01 dB at 80hz; the .022 cuts .03dB, and the .01s cut 1.5dB (which is surely noticeable). A .1uF cap in these locations will pass essentially everything above 40Hz.

I'm thinking .047 is big enough for most guitar applications although you'd surely want .1 connecting caps in a bass amp (where 40Hz is useful and important). The .022 does cut out a little of the useful bass, but I'm not messing with that one until I hear how it sounds replacing C1 & C3 (the .01s after the phase inverter). I will probably start there, if I want more bass out of it I'd swap the .022 for a .047 too.

'Course the cap assortment in my junkbox is not right (the ones in the amp appear to be polypropylene film (chicklets) and are rated 400v. So I'll have to place an order. They're about $1.00 apiece to order less than 10, and about $0.10 each if you order more than 150.
 


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