Friday, October 24, 2008

Weber 5F2H Harp Amp


Here is my most recent acquisition: A Weber 5F2H Harp Amp. This amp is sold as a kit by Ted Weber, but this example is already professionally built with a few interesting upgrades.

The 5F2H is basically a clone of a 1950s Fender Tweed Princeton amp that has been hot-rodded for harp. Instead of 5 watts from a single 6V6 power tube, the 5F2H produces 15 watts from a KT66 tube (one of the 6L6 family) and a bigger output transformer. It is a single-ended Class A tone monster.



This amp differs from the stock Weber kit in several ways. The input tube is a beautiful NOS RCA Blackplate 5751, my all-time favorite preamp tube for harp. The rectifier is a solid state Weber Copper Cap WZ34 in place of the glass tube. These Copper Caps have all the sag and tone of the tube, but are much quieter and will last the life of the amp.

The biggest upgrade is the cabinet, a 5E3 (Fender Tweed Deluxe) with a 12-inch speaker. The Pro Junior is pictured next to the 5F2H for size reference. Check out that snakeskin tolex. I’m not sure I’m cool enough for that…



When I got the amp it had a nice old Mojotone MP12R alnico speaker, which is a very good guitar speaker; a knockoff of the Jensen vintage alnicos. However, I don’t care for the sound of the Jensen alnico as the only speaker in a harp amp. They can sound great combined with other speakers in a multi-speaker cab, but by themselves they sound too bright and harsh for my tastes. I’ve removed the speaker (it is for sale) and I’ve ordered a Weber 12F125-O with the H dustcap.

The amp cab, speaker, and chassis had a few alignment issues when I got it (the KT66 tube touched the speaker magnet, for example) but the switch to the ceramic speaker will help, and I’ll tweak things when I re-assemble the amp. Also, I need to devise a way to brace the chassis from the bottom or sides. It is too heavy to be held in place only by two bolts in the top of the amp.

I didn’t play it much before tearing it apart, but I did do an A-B comparison with my project Fender Pro Junior amp. They seemed to have about the same volume; the 5F2H was a little fuller, it made the Pro Jr sound a bit boxy. I’m looking forward to putting it all carefully back together with an excellent harp speaker and thrashing it out. I’ll post a full review with sound clips next week.


UPDATE 11/06/08: Here is a shot of the reassembled amp with the Weber 12F125-O speaker. You’ll notice I swapped a coke-bottle 5V4 tube for the Copper Cap solid-state rectifier. I also added finish washers to the mounting screw on both back panels, and lock washers to the chassis mounting bolts. Everything is tight and squared away now.


The ceramic speaker gave me a little more room for the KT66 tube. The mounting holes for the chassis are slotted, so I slid it as far as I could toward the baffle. When I got the amp the big tube was crammed between the alnico magnet and the back panel, actually touching both. Now it runs free…

This amp is dead quiet. Even at full volume you don’t hear any tube hash. It’s pretty heavy for a small amp at 32.2 pounds. The big output iron and the ceramic speaker make it hefty.

I’ll post sound clips and a full review soon.

16 comments:

Joe said...

I was wondering who won the auction on that amp. I'll be interested in your opinion. I've been thinking about building one of those for a while now.

Rick Davis said...

Hey Joe-

Yep, I won the auction. I paid exactly the same cost as the unassembled kit: $460.

I was planning to buy the kit from Weber next month and blog the build here. But I couldn't resist the eBay auction for this version of the amp.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick,

Ah, that snakeskin tolex... you just need the right pair of shoes.

I look forward to reading more about my "old" amp!

Howard Parks

Rick Davis said...

Howard, you are a class guy. The amp is exactly as you described and it was packed very, very well. Shipping was amazingly cheap and amazingly fast.

The only real change I plan to make to the 5F2H is the Weber 12F125-O speaker, and a bit of bracing around the chassis. Master amp builder Jim Rossen wrote me with some good ideas for that.

Yeah, that snakeskin has attitude. I think I have the right sunglasses for that...

Arnenym said...

Its a very interesting and nice blog you got. I regulary take a look on it.
But just as you know. Its Bruce on mission amps who made this amp from the beginning and Ted Weber just sell it. It could be nice to mention somewhere..

Rick Davis said...

I emailed back and forth with Bruce Collins of Mission Amps here in Denver when I first got interested in the 5F2H amp, which he originally designed. There are some hard feelings between Bruce and Ted Weber, and I prefer not to get anywhere in the middle of it.

It's a great harp amp. I'll have a lot more to say on all of this when I write the comprehensive review later.

Zack said...

Have you ever played through a small FatDog amp? Any good?

Rick Davis said...

Fat Dog amps are a bargain. Good tone, good quality. I've been taking to FatDog about getting one of their small amps for a review, so stay tuned...

Zack said...

Rick I am thinking of getting the 1A. Good Tone Good Quality huh Thats good! Do you know how they compare to other amps? I hope you get one!

Joe said...

A suggestion/favor. When you record a sound sample, can you record one plugging the amp into your Champ cab with the 10A125-O? I'm interested in hearing how this sounds with the 10A125-O.

Rick Davis said...

Joe, you got it. Good idea.

I just got finished with my busy season at work, and the 12F125-O speaker will arrive this week. I'll re-assemble the amp and have an initial review by this weekend, with any luck.

Next time you're in Denver we'll take this amp to the blues jams and thrash it out.

Joe said...

I might be coming back next month. I'll let you know in advance.

Rick Davis said...

zack, there is a user review of the Fat Dog 1A harp amp posted on the Weber Speakers harp forum:

http://www.webervst.com/harp/messages/7778.html

Anonymous said...

I look forward to your review. Sounds pretty cool this rig. Sounds like its a lot like a Tweed Deluxe without the cost and is easy to get around. The snakeskin is great. I once told Gary O. I was going to recover a Sonny Jr 1 with brown snakeskin and he almost shat his pants. Surprised you don't see more of it out there.

John Stevens said...

Any thoughts about the use of this amp for home practice? S it more suitable for stage use? Thanks!

Rick Davis said...

John, I gigged the amp for more than year... probably over 100 gigs. It sounded great. I had a line out on the amps, so running it through the PA was simple.