TURRET BOARD or PCB & WHY

Do You Prefer Turret Board or PCB


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Gene Ballzz

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Yeah, but if it ends up being your holy grail amp but can't be repaired because it's a crap PCB setup, then what?

When I find something I like, I prefer to keep it forever. Whether that's a PB and J sandwich from childhood or my wife, I don't want to be forced to find a substitute.

Even "a crap PCB setup" can almost always be repaired by a properly skilled tech. There are worse things than jumpering around a failed/vaporized trace! Of course, most "skilled techs" would prefer not to do such things, as those kinds of repairs can be VERY tedious and time consuming and most folks won't want to pay what such work is truly worth!
Just Sayin'
Gene
 

Matthews Guitars

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For amps going into (fairly) large scale production, I'd say PC boards are definitely the way to go. But go with premium grade boards, extra thickness, double sided, plated thru heavy traces, solder masked and legend screened with component locations and values. Maybe even add a few extra pads at critical locations to facilitate easier testing and modding. Try to make the PC board version as close to a turret board as is possible, using the SAME components, the same layout, and no compromises on PC board quality.

A high quality PC board build is VERY repairable. Avoid the usage of radial, PC board mounted electrolytic capacitors. Axial lead only.

For small scale production work, turret boards reign supreme. For a higher labor cost and price to the customer, of course.
 

Gunner64

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Just to be clear, I 'm not bashing pcb construction as less repairable than turret board construction, but The thing with repairing a pcb based amp, at least the Marshalls I have repaired, is you have to pull the board to get to the under side to remove components. With a Turret board everything's up top, and easier to access.
 

JBA

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Even "a crap PCB setup" can almost always be repaired by a properly skilled tech. There are worse things than jumpering around a failed/vaporized trace! Of course, most "skilled techs" would prefer not to do such things, as those kinds of repairs can be VERY tedious and time consuming and most folks won't want to pay what such work is truly worth!
Just Sayin'
Gene
Exactly! Over the years I’ve become pretty proficient at trace repairs and even have some tricks up my sleeve for through-hole repairs on multi layer board but the thing is.. its like planning to do a tire rotation and finding out you need to change a wheel bearing. :facepalm:
 

Matthews Guitars

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With plated thru double sided holes, particularly if they're just a bit oversized, it allows for easy component replacement from the top side of the board. No need to pull the board to replace parts. Mesa's boards are trace-on-top for that reason, serviceability, but they didn't go to extra heavy traces and plated thru holes.
 

johan.b

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Talking only marshall
From a player perspective: I don't think you can tell the difference between turret board and an ST1 board. The layout is practically the same so if there's a difference it's probably some component

From a repair mans perspective: it probably takes an extra 30 minutes to do the ST1 board correctly, removing pots and jacks to flip the board... seems it would benefit the repairman (?)

From a moders perspective:...I think you are probably the best one to answer that yourself...
J
 

1234_thumbwar

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I’ve never built or worked on an amp so I don’t feel I have much to really contribute other than saying what I feel has already been said millions of times it feels

Turret board is easier to work on and fix from what I hear but PCB hasn’t stopped people from modding an amp either.

I will not comment on whether there is a tonal difference
 

XTRXTR

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As a player I really liked the way the ST1 issue 202 was built on my 2204, It allowed me to learn. First setting the bias on new tubes and then later how to change bias resistors for different power tubes.

Later I did my first DIY by reusing a 2550 board and the iron and redesigning it into a straight 2204 on a rack mounted chassis.

Later still I built other 2204s in a rack mount using blank pcb boards (thru hole X axis with traces Y axis between the holes)

The point is an easy to follow board that allows players to learn if they choose to bias or mod.

If the ST1 was printed turret it would have been as easy to learn and perhaps easier to modify for biasing different tubes (KT88,6550,5881,EL34). I think there is value to that.

As a builder terminal strips and turrets allows combinations that can be laid out vertically on a wall or horizontally like usual.
 

saxon68

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As a user who has never done a mod, I’m perfectly fine with PCB, assuming good manufacturing methods are used.

I’ve had amps that had issues with bad ribbon cables (Pearce) and overheating issues, the ribbon cables were replaced free by the manufacturer, the overheating I used a fan.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had a turret amp.
 

NewReligion

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From a player perspective: I don't think you can tell the difference between turret board and an ST1 board. The layout is practically the same so if there's a difference it's probably some component

From a repair mans perspective: it probably takes an extra 30 minutes to do the ST1 board correctly, removing pots and jacks to flip the board... seems it would benefit the repairman (?)

From a moders perspective:...I think you are probably the best one to answer that yourself...
J
Agreed completely.

I am an advocate of non coplanar layouts which lessons the possibility of crossover capacitance. This is evident buy the comparison of the JCM 800 2203 & 2204 vertical import vs the horizontal input. That is to say due to different PCB type trace layouts I for one can hear more midrange. Call me crazy lol, but more guitarist prefer the ST-ONE vertical input models.

I will offer both turret & PC Boards for those who care. Regardless both will still have additional true point to point work on sockets & some terminal strips in order to avoid any unwanted midrange. Keeps the signal very clear regardless of over driven gain levels. This has been part of the heart of my works fruition.

I will continue to work as I have one amp at a time using my techniques in layout in addition to using deca boxes at certain points for both resistance & capacitance. This allows me to fine tune the circuit to my ear and match voltages etc…

There will be many who disagree with my approach just as those who disagree with my continued approach to use a iPhone to record demo’s instead of the use of a SM57 for close mic.

With close mic after recording producing & mastering 4 albums I can make a B52AT sound like a BE100 or SLO.

I keep it real IMO. With the amp in the room I can compare the phone video with quality headphones to the sound in the room. Very realistic if done properly.

As suggested I could make a “production” but that is just exactly what it would be.

Thank you all for your inputs, it is very useful to me & very much appreciated.

Please continue to post your opinions on the turret vs PCB or any other subjects I opened up for discussion.

With over 500 high gain heavily modded Marshall’s out in the world I am pleased to have been helpful in assisting guitarists get closer to what they ask for.

Keep it come gentlemen & ladies (if applicable).

Kindest regards & total respect, David Hopkins
 

wakjob

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Turret boards are much more reliable and much easier to repair and tinker with. The problem with PCBs are that their leads are way too thin. They can easily get burnt out (oxidized) when you take a soldering iron to them and they crack easily at terminals.

Not 100% true across the board ( sorry for the bad pun :erk:).

Yeah, the 80's/90's Fender, Marshall, Peavey, Engl ( horrible boards & traces ) ... those mass production amps with ribbon cables, all garbage.
Take a look at the boards Friedman, Fryette, Soldano, ect... is using. Those will take tons of abuse and last a very long time.

Like mentioned above, keep the tube sockets and any component that gets really hot off the board and mount it to the chassis.

At this point I think we're beating a dead horse here. But that's forums. Circular conversations.
 

FleshOnGear

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Agreed completely.

I am an advocate of non coplanar layouts which lessons the possibility of crossover capacitance. This is evident buy the comparison of the JCM 800 2203 & 2204 vertical import vs the horizontal input. That is to say due to different PCB type trace layouts I for one can hear more midrange. Call me crazy lol, but more guitarist prefer the ST-ONE vertical input models.

I will offer both turret & PC Boards for those who care. Regardless both will still have additional true point to point work on sockets & some terminal strips in order to avoid any unwanted midrange. Keeps the signal very clear regardless of over driven gain levels. This has been part of the heart of my works fruition.

I will continue to work as I have one amp at a time using my techniques in layout in addition to using deca boxes at certain points for both resistance & capacitance. This allows me to fine tune the circuit to my ear and match voltages etc…

There will be many who disagree with my approach just as those who disagree with my continued approach to use a iPhone to record demo’s instead of the use of a SM57 for close mic.

With close mic after recording producing & mastering 4 albums I can make a B52AT sound like a BE100 or SLO.

I keep it real IMO. With the amp in the room I can compare the phone video with quality headphones to the sound in the room. Very realistic if done properly.

As suggested I could make a “production” but that is just exactly what it would be.

Thank you all for your inputs, it is very useful to me & very much appreciated.

Please continue to post your opinions on the turret vs PCB or any other subjects I opened up for discussion.

With over 500 high gain heavily modded Marshall’s out in the world I am pleased to have been helpful in assisting guitarists get closer to what they ask for.

Keep it come gentlemen & ladies (if applicable).

Kindest regards & total respect, David Hopkins
What is a coplanar layout? You’ve discussed non coplanar layouts before, but I don’t know what you mean by that. Just curious. Keep up the good work!
 

chocol8

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Are you building enough to do both? At low volume, how much per amp will a PCB save you/the buyer?
 

NewReligion

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Are you building enough to do both? At low volume, how much per amp will a PCB save you/the buyer?
Good questions. It will cost the same regardless. Just nice to offer a choice. Guitarists are often chasing tone. I wanted to get a feel for the preference of turret vs PCB. It is about what I thought it would be. The term Hand Wired seems to please most guys.

David
 

NewReligion

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What is a coplanar layout? You’ve discussed non coplanar layouts before, but I don’t know what you mean by that. Just curious. Keep up the good work!
Objects are coplanar if they lie in the same plane. We typically think of these objects as points or lines, or 2D shapes. Points, lines, or shapes are non-coplanarif they do not lie in the same plane. Collinear points lie on the same line. If points are collinear, they are also coplanar. However, coplanar points are not necessarily collinear.

To this end it minimizes any crossover capacitance resulting in unwanted mid range tones.

Relative but yet different, a guitarist asked John Suhr if he could build an amp that had the tone of using a certain diameter 20’ guitar cable when in fact he was using wireless on stage. John told him yes, he would roll up 20’ of that cable & place it between the input jack & first grid stage lol.

I ordered a heavy duty 20’ cable. Hated it as it killed a lot of the harmonics. In addition Friedman likes to use a .68uf cap off of the tip of the input jack to reduce RF, Cameron uses a .047uf resulting in a better more open tone. I take my time in layout & use a different approach if need be that acts as a gate trapping the RF. Everything I do is to ensure I have clarity with harmonic tone.

This is why I moved away from over drive pedals in the first place as the added hiss & killed the low end. It is a balance to be maintained. I trust my ears to deliver. Through placing components at certain intervals & different levels of height I am able to keep a very clear UN colored signal while still developing a very high gain tone that can, in my Ming have positive characteristics. Totally avoiding any blanketed tone one may get from some amps.

I hope this better helps you to understand my approach. Some guys will tell you I’m full of nonsense in addition to all capacitor types of the same value for example sound the same. I assure you this is not true to my ear. In fact I use certain material caps for different functions.

David Hopkins
 

C-4

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This is my thinking. I have both. Each will be hand populated. Giving a player an option is the goal here. I wanted to read how guitarists felt about each vs the other.

Thank you gentlemen.

David
I think it depends on the person building the amp as to whether or not I would prefer a turret board over a PCB populated board.

I was told and have read that in some cases a turret board which is not built cleanly will not sound as the intended design calls for, but I may be wrong here.

In your case NewReligion, I would trust you building me a turret or PCB board as your amps sound totally god-like to me.
 

NewReligion

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I think it depends on the person building the amp as to whether or not I would prefer a turret board over a PCB populated board.

I was told and have read that in some cases a turret board which is not built cleanly will not sound as the intended design calls for, but I may be wrong here.

In your case NewReligion, I would trust you building me a turret or PCB board as your amps sound totally god-like to me.

Well thank you, that is a very humbling compliment.

The debatable or argument if one prefers, is that with a proven PCB layout we get consistency especially in multi channel amps but I maintain it does little good if a builder is substituting component values, manufacturers & types on large scale productions. I build one at a time giving the amp my total attention.

David
 

chocol8

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Relative but yet different, a guitarist asked John Suhr if he could build an amp that had the tone of using a certain diameter 20’ guitar cable when in fact he was using wireless on stage. John told him yes, he would roll up 20’ of that cable & place it between the input jack & first grid stage lol.

That won't work. The output from the guitar is at a high impedance which combines with the capacitance of a 20 foot cable (around 50pf per foot typically) to creat a low pass filter with an audible roll off of the highs.

The wireless system is like having a buffer in the guitar or right after it. The receiver sends a low impedance signal to the amp, so even if there is 20 feet of cable to go through, there will be much less roll off of the high end. He would have to coil up 20 feet of cable between the guitar and the wireless transmitter.

Back on topic, if you can build the amp for the same price, and you are building both with care, I wouldn't expect any significant difference in tone and therefore I can't see why anyone would prefer the PCB version.

If you feel the PCB will allow you to run traces in a way the makes the amp quieter or otherwise better than a turret board, I would say build them all that way.
 

NewReligion

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I simply repeated what John Suhr had to say. But I certainly hear a difference when using a heavier cable. A lot of guys used wireless to get a bit more overdriven tones. I know my Sure system operates that way.

I prefer the turret board. But when a customer is given the option I can provide it.

David
 


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