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Upgraded my Marshall Bluesbreaker reissue...

Brandon

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2001
Messages
250
Hey Everyone,
This is my 2005 Marshall Bluesbreaker reissue. I absolutely love this amp. I used to own a completely stock bluesbreaker that I couldnt sell fast enough. The stock reissue was very boomy, even with the bass at 1 mind you, and would completely fart out at high volumes with almost zero articulation. I had it for about 2 weeks before I sold it.


I started reading about how some guys make a few changes that really bring out a whole new character to the bluesbreaker and gets it to sound a lot closer to the originals. So I decided to give it another go. I found a used bluesbreaker on ebay that was already converted to fit KT66's. It came with JJ power and pre amp tubes, even came with a Mullard tube but I'm not sure if it's NOS or not. I'm no expert when it comes to tubes but I read somewhere that these arent real KT66's so im eager to try out some gold lions or valve art KT66's at some point but these are fine for now. About a week after receiving the amp I took it to "The Tone Man" Don Butler who replaced all the iron with Mercury Magnetics transformers along with changing some of the signal caps to Sozo's. Also the stock 50x50 caps were switched to 16x16 and 32x32 caps.





The day that I dropped my amp of at Don's (chasis only) he mentioned how the grill cloth can also effect the tone and cut me a swatch of EC Collins bluesbreaker grill cloth. I took it home to compare against the stock and was instantly sold. As you can see in the pics it kind of makes you wonder what Marshall was thinking with using the grill cloth they do. The feel of the EC Collins grill cloth is rubbery in comparison to the stock material, which feels like cheap lawn furniture at best, in comparison. By putting your lips and blowing against the back of the stock and EC Collins grill gloth you can tell the difference. The stock stuff feels like you're blowing against a fly swatter where as the EC Collins stuff doesnt let the air flow through as easily which I feel really adds to the sweet compression I get from this amp. And as you can see in the pics the stock grill is see through and kinda feels like a potato sack. So again I made the hour and half trip back to Don's with the cab to be re-grilled as well.



Before I made the trip back I decided to go with a set of Celestion Alnico Blue speakers. I have always used greenbacks with all of my other Marshalls but decided to go with the blues to try and get closer to the Clapton bluesbreakers tone, and i'm happy I did. I couldnt resist the earlier breakup of the 15 watt Blues.



A few weeks later my amp was done and I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am with this amp. It sounds nothing like it did stock. The sound is much more clear and way more articulate. I know Marshalls arent know for their cleans but with this amp the cleans are exrtremely clear and have a rounder/softer more saturated feel.
This is my first amp with KT66's and it might be to early to say but I think I might even like them more than EL34's. Now for the good stuff. I was worried how the Alnico Blues would handle this amp being cranked up to 10. I know Vox AC30's are rated at 30 watts just like my Bluesbreaker and they don't have a problem being dimed but I also read that the Bluesbreaker puts out about 40-45 watts when at max volume. But I figured, "what the hell" and over the course of a few days kept playing the amp louder and louder. I wanted to make sure the speakers could handle it as I bought them brand new and wanted to give them some sort of a break in time.
The breakup on this amp is awesome. Between 1-3 the sound stays pretty clean. Between 4-7 is where the fun starts. Depending on how soft you pick the sound stays clean with a tiny bit of hair on it but the harder you dig in, the dirtier it gets. Really awesome for blues and kinda gives you a cool AC/DC tone. I noticed on the volume knob between 8-10 doesnt really get that much louder but gives you a very sweet natural compression and more sustain/gain. Even on 10 the amp stays clear and touch responsive. Definetly doesnt fart out or get boomy like my stock one did.
After all the changes/mods I did I'm totally satisfied and couldnt be happier with my tone. Whats also really cool is that im in it for a little less than what a new one costs. This Bluesbreaker aint goin nowhere!!!
 

J T

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Messages
10,307
:applaude

Great post!

Congrats on transforming your amp!

You got great parts in there now!
 

Beano Geno

Active member
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Mar 12, 2007
Messages
3,631
That's cool Brandon! Looks like you got yourself a keeper. :salude :2zone
 

timsmcm

Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2003
Messages
748
Yes You are doing good with that jtm/45 I love mine. And I think that the Eric Collins grill cloth Is worth the cost.
 

Brandon

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2001
Messages
250
thanks guys. I was a little hesitant about the grill cloth due to the cost but I really do hear a difference which really makes it worth it. Not to mention it looks killer.
Don had a Marshall 2061cx 2x12 in his shop that also had the EC Collins grill cloth that looked pretty bad ass as well.
 
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Mars Hall

Active member
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Nov 26, 2008
Messages
1,824
I also have modded my Bluesbreaker in a similar fashion. I dig using tremelo, so I found a guy (Wilder Amplification) that had wired a Bluesbreaker PTP board utilizing the Fender Blackface tremelo circuit. Really sounds great! The original tremelo was unusable do to noise induced by the circuit.

Other upgrades include, Metroamp OT and choke, original filter cap values(F&T), KT66 power tubes and Sozo Vintage Mustard caps. According to the guy at Scumback, the cones in my Greenbacks, that came with the amp, are the last of the good ones.

In the future I look forward to installing the Eric Collins grillcloth.
100_0949.jpg
 

RonG

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May 22, 2003
Messages
183
I wonder what the Eric Collins grill cloth would do for a Marshall Class 5?
 

keef

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Joined
Jan 27, 2002
Messages
5,006
Whats also really cool is that im in it for a little less than what a new one costs.

Really? With a pair of Blues, new trannys, expensive grill cloth, new caps, plus tech hours...I guess you got the amp for free.
 

Stow

Active member
Joined
Nov 14, 2002
Messages
1,852
Looks great, when I had a BB combo I did the kindo fo the same things, vintage mullards in pre amp, GEG KT66s, Mullard Gz34 and few other internal changes.. sounded great!

Speakers were just stock greenbacks
 

Brandon

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2001
Messages
250
Mars Hall: very cool looking bluesbreaker. I think the ec Collins grillcloth would look killer against the white. That blackface tremolo must be a blast. I originally contacted Jon to mod my amp but he told me he was no longer offering the mod. I didn't mind as I don't use tremolo normally.

Keef: let's just say I got very lucky with the amp purchase. Tubes were already there along with one of the MM trannys. It was a real score :)

Stow: your YouTube clip was actually what inspired me to give it another go. There was no boominess coming out of that amp at all. Do you still own it?
 

kerryboy

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Joined
Jun 20, 2002
Messages
1,199
So in effect, its no longer bears any resemblence to a Marshall Bluesbreaker then.
 

Brandon

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2001
Messages
250
Well, it bears no resemblence to a stock reissue bluesbreaker, which in itself bears no resemblence to an original bluesbreaker. The mods I did gets it much closer to the original.
 

demundo

Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2001
Messages
712
brandon, your amp looks great! thanks for taking the time to post pictures. i have all the stuff to do those mods to mine, i just have to get my lazy ass in gear. lol thanks for the inspiration.
 

bigtomrodney

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Nov 7, 2009
Messages
1,448
I just got my Bluesbreaker at the start of December. I immediately killed the rectifier valve after only 20 minutes of light playing and two power cycles :wah

I wasn't immediately sure whether it was the rectifier or the power stage. I planned on upgrading to KT-66s anyway so I bought some 0.5A slow-blow fuses and the Valve Art (Shuguang) KT-66s and GZ34, along with 32x32uF and 16x16uF filter caps. I replaced the the rectifier and it worked fine, followed by the KT-66s and a rebias. It really sounds fantastic even at this stage!

I'm going to play it in a bit more this weekend and hopefully swap out the filter caps which is a bit more vintage, hopefully nice sounding and also should help the transformers out especially under the additional strain of the KT-66s.

Mercury Magnetics transformer upgrades too! NICE! So exactly how cheap was this amp anyway...those trannies probably cost as much as you paid for the amp :hee

I look forward to hearing any Bluesbreaker clips that any of you have to post and particularly details of mods or lack thereof. All I know is this is one of the best amps I've owned and right now it's sitting right beside my JMP Super Lead :wow
 

MK.II

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Jul 28, 2002
Messages
1,106
Looks great!....I'm sure it sounds real good too, beacause I also had all the same mods done to an '02 reissue Bluesbreaker, except for the gillcloth, since there was no Eddie Collins grillcloth available when I had mine. Besides the circuit corrections, KT66s and lowering the filtering, I had Marstran trannies and Red Fang speakers in mine. It sounded real good and had a better "feel" to it, way better than stock. I got tired of lugging it around to gigs though (too cumbersome), so I sold it. I have a reissue JTM45 head with the same mods, so I don't really miss the Bluesbreaker that much. I really thought about keeping it, but couldn't justify it.

Enjoy!! :)
 

Mars Hall

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Nov 26, 2008
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1,824
Mercury Magnetics transformer upgrades too! NICE! So exactly how cheap was this amp anyway...those trannies probably cost as much as you paid for the amp

There are other less expensive offers that provide equal or better tone than MM.

I've used Marstran in my jtm45ri. Brian Wallace has done extensive research in the field and has come up with faithful recreations of the original Marshall iron.

http://marstran.com/

For all of those who haven't heard, Gearge at Metroamp has made his transformers available direct through Heyboer!

http://forum.metroamp.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=34145
 

access

New member
Joined
Dec 3, 2001
Messages
1,625
I wonder what the Eric Collins grill cloth would do for a Marshall Class 5?

Increase the total amount invested in your amp nearly threefold.

......and get a comment or two from total strangers on an internet forum.
 

Mitchell

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Feb 20, 2002
Messages
3,012
I checked the wheat colored cloth on my British Racing Green Class 5 and it does'nt feel "rubbery" to me?
 

dtw576

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Feb 23, 2003
Messages
1,934
There are other less expensive offers that provide equal or better tone than MM.

I've used Marstran in my jtm45ri. Brian Wallace has done extensive research in the field and has come up with faithful recreations of the original Marshall iron.

http://marstran.com/
I also used Marstran iron, OT and PT (in my JTM45RI build back in September 2003) and Brian's transformers are killer. Puts right at 450 volts on my GEC KT66's just like my '65 Block Logo JTM45 with RS transformers did. Mine were some of the early ones he put out on the market IIRC so more than a few folks were wondering how they'd stack up against MM and some others. The jury is in IMHO and has been for some time. :salude
 
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