Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 - Peavey Delta Blues 115

Classic 50 head, with custom decal from a beer poster.
The last piece in the puzzle has been aquired.

About 12 years ago I owned a Peavey classic 50 head.
It was one of the nicest amps I'd ever owned. Unfortunately it had to be parted with as I was moving 700lm to a new city and the need for cash was greater than the need for a big valve amp.
I didn't have a speaker cab for it and it wasn't all that long after I'd injured the tendon membrane in my left hand and wasn't allowed to play guitar for a year. That was all a bit sucky and it left me ampless for a long time. I did have a BOS Gt-5, but it wasn't the same thing. So for years I'd regretted the unavoidable sale of the Classic 50 and have been trying to buy it back from the friend who I sold it to for the last 5 years. He won't budge. I've had a number of small amps in the years between then and now, but could never really justify spending a large sum of cash for an amp when a: I didn't have a car and later b: I didn't have a band.

I'd been planning on picking up a Classic 30 combo for a long time, but every time I'd found one, I had no spare cash. After getting the Mosrite a few weeks back I discovered that the classic series had two more amps in the line. The Classic 20 and the Classic Delta Blues. Since the 20 has no reverb, it was of no interest to me, as that directly affects my playing style. I like big gobs of reverb. I discovered the Delta was basically a Classic 30 with the addition of tremolo! Well, that was it. I was on a mission. I had to have a Delta Blues 115.

It didn't take long. I found two on ebay within a week of each other. One was in Brisbane and was a bit more than I wanted to spend, once couriers were factored in. Also i had no guarantee that it would have arrived in working order as the guy had not packing material. I let the auction go, only to find one for sale a mere two suburbs away!  I was the only bidder, so naturally I won the auction (all with the blessings of my dear lady). I took my $2 shop trolley along on the 109 tram and collected the amp. The guy I bought it from was really nice and we had a good old chat about amps and kids and whatnot. He even helped me tape the thing solidy to my trolley for the trip back home.

I got it on the tram in the opposite direction, fortunately it wasn't overcrowded and the trip up the hill took about 10 minutes. Not bad for peak hour.

It's not the heaviest am in the world, but I was glad to have the trolley as I had a half kilometer walk with it after the tram ride. Time was ticking and it seemed to take forever to get the thing home safely and fired up.
But get it home and fire it up I did.

I set it up in the middle of the lounge, switched it on and went for a cup o tea.
After letting it warm up a little while I was ready to play. I cracked out the Mosrite and got to playing.
The clean tone from the Delta Blues is big and rich and um.... I can't think of any other superlatives. suffice to say, it's particularly nice! Almost as good as the Classic 50 of old.

I've read a lot of reviews on the amp and have to agree about the dirty channel being a little disappointing.
Not so much disappointing, but not as inspiring as the clean channel. The lead channel has this bass cut which just makes the Delta Blues sound like and asthmatic bulldog. The amp has a 15 in cpeaker damn it, gimme some bass with my distortion. Fortunately it also seems to be a fairly simple mod to rectify that issue, if only one could overcome the fear of death at high voltage.

The reverb is pretty nice but is lacking a little. At maximum the reverb is just enough. But I want to gave the option to have far too much. Ok I can achieve this with an FX unit, but I don't always want to carry the m13 around. The schematic shows a simple 4558 opamp circuit which can be upgraded easily enough to get more gain and higher headroom. I've got some spare OPA2134's floating around which should take care of that rather nicely.

My last beef with the design of the amp is the tremolo, I've tread that there is a bit of a volume drop when it's engaged. It turns out that mine does it too. You can manage it if the depth knob is no more than 5, but then you don't have the full throb of a tube amp wit tremolo. The implementation is very basic, and I suspect it is to keep the cost down. It's much easier to create a tremolo effect via optical circuitry than it its to have a safe valve bias tremolo effect. 1/2 of the 4558 seems to be feeding the tremolo circuit and should prove fairly easy to correct for the slight volume drop.

I do plan to modify the amp some time down the track, but for now am happy as is and can augment it's function with an effects pedal or two.

The boost switch seems to get a lot of bad press. From my limited experience on the amp I kinda get it, but when I was playing my Jim Dunlop Octavio through the Delta Blues, the mid boost was actually quite beneficial in bringing out the dirt and octave up produced by that effect.  I've only used one pedal with it so far, but the Octavio sounds fantastic through this beast.

A couple of days after buy the amp I decided to try adding a master volume to the FX loop.
Worked a treat, I was now able to reduce the volume to something sensible for playing in a built up area.
I have my suspicions about the pot that I used, as the volume drop was a lot more than I had anticipated.
Since I broke one of the tabs off the pot this morning, I'll be getting a new one in there instead. Another option would be to use a rotary swtich with different values from 100k to 2.2m(which is supposed to be the return impedance).

I played around with it some more tonight, ran it on low volume, to keep the peace. The line 6 m13 really sounds great with this amp. I just went with it placed in the FX loop and discovered the reverb on the Line 6 is actually nicer than the real deal spring tank (go figure). This was mostly down to the level of noise the analogue version introduces.

After this I decided to run all of my guitars through the amp.

First up was the Surfcaster. It was light and cheerful, not particularly driven, which I found surprising. The lipstick pickup sounds great with this amp, as does each coil of the Seymour Duncan P-Rail.

Next was the Teisco Kadet. What has consistently been the quietest guitar on my other gear turned out to be a big fat tone machine! It sounds thick and powerful and its made of plywood!

The 3rd guitar I tried was the Guyatone LG127-t. Similarly beefy in tone to the Teisco, but it was a little quieter and the tone was more balanced than the others.

The 4th guitar... you guessed it was the Mosrite Ventures.
Very country. A lot more treble than the two vintage guitars, but thicker sounding by far than the Surfcaster.
I twanged away on it for ages, til the phone rang and I realised that my whole leg had gone to sleep when I went to answer it.

The amp does get very hot above the power valves. Too hot to touch. I think its normal, but could do with a little research. Overall the amp has excellent tone and volume, even with the mid range EHX valves on board.
In a year or so I might consider the mods and change the valves for better spec. I'm glad I bought back into the classic line. It's a great sounding amp, and with the right guitar, very fendery.


  1. Goodbye Valve Junior yes - not to worry if so

  2. Keeping my Jr's. Too nice to let go. Also, the delta has provision for an extension cab :)

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