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Build thread: leslie combo amp


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I've decided I want to build a guitar amplifier, similar to the old fender Vibratone, and leslie speaker cabinets.

So far I've brainstormed about what parts to use.

Seeing as I want it to be a tube amp, and leslie cabs tend to use smaller speakers, I'm thinking I'll use an epiphone valve junior combo amp for the speaker and tube bits. Plus, since they're easy to mod, I'll have my tonal options somewhat open.

 

BUT, I don't know what to do for a motor, or really most of of the intimacies of the inner workings of a leslie-type speaker cabinet.

 

So, what kinda advice can you guys give me?

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The Vibratone wasn't a guitar amp. It was a speaker cabinet with a rotating baffle. If you didn't have an amp, it did nothing. Also, the Leslie (other than the model 16, which was the Vibratone) had an amp ONLY, but no preamp, which you would need.

 

What kind of advice? Buy an old Vibratone, an old Leslie, a new Motion Sound, or a new Soundworks Rotary Wave. There's a lot of engineering involved in those boxes, so the chances of just throwing one together from scratch without any prior experience or knowledge and having it work and sound decent aren't really in your favor. You could certainly spend more in time and materials building one from scratch than you could buy one for.

 

If you feel that you MUST build one from scratch, read whatever material you can find on the subject, and buy an old one to fix, so you've got some understanding of them.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fender_Vibratone

http://www.nmia.com/~vrbass/vibratone/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leslie_speaker

http://www.theatreorgans.com/hammond/faq/mystery/mystery.html

 

It's a rather massive project, and I wish you luck with it.

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M-theory is correct....not as simple as it sounds! The 2 spead Leslies actually have dual armature windings on the motors and require a relay to switch speeds correctly. There is a guy on Ebay that sells the motor,drum and 8" speaker together removed from some organs......that would be a good cheap project to start with...but you still have to build the rest of the enclosure and wire it up correctly.

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Well' date=' when I can save 600+ bucks, and also have it be a combo istead of a cab, I'll do it.[/quote']

 

Well all I can say(and I own a Leslie 145 customized for use with guitar amps) just for the record...5 watts and an 8" speaker may be a little bit of a let down for the work involved IMHO.

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A Leslie cab, in a nutshell, is basically an amplified speaker cab with a down-firing woofer and a rotating baffle underneath that which reflects the tone horizontally while spinning. It also has a pair of rotating horn tweeters up top to do the same. The doppler effect of the baffle rotating toward you and away gave it a natural vibrato effect with a subtle phase shift, thanks to the slight speed difference between the tweeter and woofer baffle motors.

 

People originally bought 'em for Hammond organs, and I'm sure you're familiar with that growling spinning vibrato tone on a lot of everything, from Booker T & the MG's to Allman Brothers Band and on and on. They had two speeds, slow and fast. Hendrix used Leslies before Roger Meyer built the Univibe and gave him one. Univibe's are a whole lot lighter to carry than a big old Leslie cab. Much less prone to mechanical failure, too. Over the years, there has been an endless parade of pedals that try to cop the vibe, but nothing has ever really been able to come even close, cuz ya just gotta spin the speakers to get that real Leslie tone. Steve Ray Vaughn knew this, too, and you'll hear a Leslie on some of his studio stuff.

 

What woke me up was that the new guitar version is only 87 pounds! That's sorta doable. But I also noticed it's not even available till November, so it's probably arriving on the same slow boat from China with the Valve Seniors. More Chinese junk. Oh well, if you're looking to build a "real" Leslie, get a G37, and when it dies, you'll have all the hard to find parts to "build" one! Might have to search fleabay to get a couple of decent quality motors, grab a few tube sockets, and some terminal strips, slap in some righteous iron, and rock! =D>

 

Gil...

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Well, when I can save 600+ bucks, and also have it be a combo istead of a cab, I'll do it.

You can build this for $600 less than what you could buy a used Leslie or Vibratone for? I suppose if you consider your time worth nothing, you can find materials for next to nothing, and if were only comparing to shopping for something brand new, or paying top dollar for museum-quality vintage, you'd save that much building one, but the B3 players that I know of pick up used Leslie's for no more than a few hundred bucks.

 

That said, it should be an interesting project, and one that you'll undoubtedly learn a lot from. I still question the validity of it myself, but it's not me doing it, so that really doesn't matter. I hope it pans out for you as you expect it to.

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Here is what a vintage leslie 145 sounds like with 5 watts of valve jr power...not bad but no where near what 30 to 50 watts can do! http://s125.photobucket.com/albums/p64/layboomo/?action=view&current=leslie1.flv

 

having grown in Michigan in the 50's and 60's, having hung around Detroit and having seen Mitch Ryder & TDW a few times I LOVED IT BRO! Good stuff.

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having grown in Michigan in the 50's and 60's' date=' having hung around Detroit and having seen Mitch Ryder & TDW a few times I LOVED IT BRO! Good stuff.[/quote']

 

Hey thanks! Yeah playing through a leslie just makes you play certain stuff(well me anyway)....like the Detroit Wheels etc...etc... I've always liked them too!

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You can build this for $600 less than what you could buy a used Leslie or Vibratone for? I suppose if you consider your time worth nothing' date=' you can find materials for next to nothing, and if were only comparing to shopping for something brand new, or paying top dollar for museum-quality vintage, you'd save that much building one, but the B3 players that I know of pick up used Leslie's for no more than a few hundred bucks.

 

That said, it should be an interesting project, and one that you'll undoubtedly learn a lot from. I still question the validity of it myself, but it's not me doing it, so that really doesn't matter. I hope it pans out for you as you expect it to. [/quote']

 

Yeah... The gas to drive to miami to pick up a $400 leslie and take it back would make it $600.

Or atlanta, and I get lost ALOT in orlando. So those are out. Leslie speakers are made of furniture-grade hardwood, so are incredibly heavy, doubt I could get one shipped. Vibratones, seeing as they say "fender" on them, pretty much won't be had by me for under a grand. I don't live in a land of deals.

 

My time? Yeah, pretty much, look at my post count. And most materials, yeah, I've got "free ****/already lying around ****" to cover that.

 

I hope to learn quite a bit. I already have!

 

I hope it pans out as well

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Yeah... The gas to drive to miami to pick up a $400 leslie and take it back would make it $600.

Or atlanta' date=' and I get lost ALOT in orlando. So those are out. Leslie speakers are made of furniture-grade hardwood, so are incredibly heavy, doubt I could get one shipped. Vibratones, seeing as they say "fender" on them, pretty much won't be had by me for under a grand. I don't live in a land of deals.

 

My time? Yeah, pretty much, look at my post count. And most materials, yeah, I've got "free ****/already lying around ****" to cover that.

 

I hope to learn quite a bit. I already have!

 

I hope it pans out as well

[/quote']

 

Good luck it's fun stuff....Don't you hate this new word they plug in for ****! **** **** ****!:-/

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Well, if you can dig up a leslie motor for the rotating baffle, some good bearings for it, too, and make or scavenge a speaker cab, the rest... is the difficult part! Making a rotating baffle that'd balance well enough to not fly apart would be way beyond me.

 

Hey Layboomo! I never peeked inside the Leslie my dad kept in the spare bedroom when I was a kid, but you're sitting on one. How do they rig those baffles up? Is the motor on top of the lower frame support inside the baffle, or below it? And are those baffles made out of wood, metal, or some kind of plastic to save weight or what?

 

Gil...

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Well' date=' if you can dig up a leslie motor for the rotating baffle, some good bearings for it, too, and make or scavenge a speaker cab, the rest... is the difficult part! Making a rotating baffle that'd balance well enough to not fly apart would be way beyond me.

 

Hey Layboomo! I never peeked inside the Leslie my dad kept in the spare bedroom when I was a kid, but you're sitting on one. How do they rig those baffles up? Is the motor on top of the lower frame support inside the baffle, or below it? And are those baffles made out of wood, metal, or some kind of plastic to save weight or what?

 

Gil...[/quote']

 

It's actually a pretty cool little set up......The motors are dual armatures(2 windings on 1 shaft....1 for each speeed)and both motors are in the center section on special metal brackets the one for the speaker drum points down and the one for the horn points up. They are both belt driven and the one for the horn has a special tension arm on it. The drum is wood. The real magic (IMO)comes from both the horn and the drum speeding up and slowing down at different rates(something you don't get with just a drum type speaker like the fender). Clapton had the drivers in his replaced with JBL parts so he could really drive em hard......He still uses one live on "Badge". Mine still has the original Jensen drivers still going strong!

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Yeah, I'm with you there. The horns were definitely a key ingredient to the full mojo.

 

I'm really dying to crawl inside one and look around. Hey, wait a minute! If the motors are in the center section, does this mean they aren't down-firing woofers? Man is my memory getting twisted! Now I'm really confused. :D

 

Gil...

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Yeah' date=' I'm with you there. The horns were definitely a key ingredient to the full mojo.

 

I'm really dying to crawl inside one and look around. Hey, wait a minute! If the motors are in the center section, does this mean they aren't down-firing woofers? Man is my memory getting twisted! Now I'm really confused. :D

 

Gil...[/quote']

 

No you are right the woofer fires down into a drum....the center houses the woofer, horn driver and motors ...and the top is the horns. Look at this clip[...Clapton keeps his open for a more guitarish sound....if you put the center cover on it gets pretty bass heavy...which I like actually!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgSptNx19AI Hey I know this is off topic...but how about Gadd's drumming on that one? What a MOFO that guy is!

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Whew! Thanks for the confirmation on my Leslie reality check. I was beginning to wonder if senility was kicking in. Ahh! Maybe next week. =P~

 

Badge is one of my all time favorites, but I dunno about that version of it. The band is great and the drummer and bass are almost too freekin' tight not to be robots; but I doubt I would've loved that tune from the beginning had he been playing that strat in it way back when. It just doesn't sound quite right. Maybe it just needs the snap crackle pop of vinyl? ](*,)

 

Gil...

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