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FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / How does "hand-wired" improve tone?

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Contributing Member

El Californio

Sep 13th, 2017 05:00 PM   Edit   Profile  

2 statements by Fender describing the new '64 Custom Deluxe Reverb RI: "Vintage style hand-wired circuitry defines the essence of pure power and tone" and, "...hand-wired circuitry for incredibly rich, vintage-style tone."

Can anyone explain how hand-wired makes any appreciable tonal difference?

Contributing Member


One foot on the brake, one on the GAS
Sep 13th, 2017 05:10 PM   Edit   Profile  

Nope. Can't be done. The electrons don't know the difference.


Texas Gulf Coast

Fender Aficionado BF Lifetime Member
Sep 13th, 2017 05:39 PM   Edit   Profile  

It's PERCEIVED improved tone.

That's what the marketing department get payed to

Mick Reid
Contributing Member


American-made in Oz!!
Sep 13th, 2017 06:52 PM   Edit   Profile  

I'm not an expert in this area, my understanding is the same as the above comments: no effect on tone.

I think there may be a bit nostalgia mixed in with the "perceived" tone improvement. eg: the true vintage amps were hand-wired (and *everyone* knows vintage is *always* better, right?) therefore the secret sauce is that hand wiring.

My other thought (purely speculative) is that hand-wired may be considered more robust than PCB circuitry thus providing a better level of durability/reliability (???) but still not resulting in a difference in tone.

I'd love to see/hear a demo of two amps, exact same circuit, but one PCB and one hand-wired and see what, if any, difference there is.

Contributing Member


Clearwaterrrrr Revival
Sep 13th, 2017 07:17 PM   Edit   Profile  

There are no testing devices that can prove one way or the other.

Anybody that claims to hear the difference can try a double blind listening test to compare old-style construction with PCB construction, and they will always achieve the same accuracy as a person that flips a coin to determine which sounds better during the same test.

Bottom line is this: guitar players are a fickle bunch whose tone judgment is heavily influenced by their eyeballs, and good confidence in their gear can make them a better player.

For players, tone is way more than just the sound. How an amp feels (responds) when played is something only the player gets to feel. There's a whole lot more going on than just a speaker making noise.

If you think it sounds better, then it does--to you. That's all that matters.

Moderator Emeritus
(with many stars)

NW Pennsylvania

Sep 13th, 2017 07:26 PM   Edit   Profile  

Marketing wank.

Contributing Member

St. Louis

"Thumbpicks don't slide into soundholes"
Sep 13th, 2017 07:45 PM   Edit   Profile  

The only thing I could think of that would be any better is it may be more easily repaired if needed. Those boards can be rough to work with without ruining them. But then again I'm a real butcher sometimes when up to my elbows in amp guts.

Contributing Member

USA/Taos, NM

Sep 13th, 2017 10:07 PM   Edit   Profile  

Perhaps...the amps that are put together with hand-wiring (especially today), are being constructed with a very deliberate level of care. That care comes through not just in the hand-wired aspect of construction, but also in the amp maker's every specific choice of components to be included in the design and circuit. That would **probably** be the only way you could make such a statement as above (the Fender PR, that is).

I've got amps from David Allen. And yes...they do sound better than most anything else I've played. But I would assign that improvement in sound and tonality (and yes...feel/responsiveness) to his deliberate and specific choice of design, components and care in construction. And, yeah...they are super reliable.



Sep 13th, 2017 11:24 PM   Edit   Profile  

stratcowboy nails it, I suspect.

Components available for surface mount, through hole board mount and point to point wiring are likely going to vary, so the BOM for a circuit board amp and a PTP amp are going to be quite different. I doubt if any true apples-to-apples comparisons exist.

PTP can give some advantages in lead dress, grounding routines, and lack of series resistance through connectors and traces. Not sure how much any of those things are ultimately perceivable though.

Contributing Member

Santee CA

I forgot my tagline
Sep 14th, 2017 06:36 AM   Edit   Profile  

stratcowboy +2

It's about quality, durability, and perhaps flexibility of design.

Rick Knight
Contributing Member

St Peters, MO USA

Standing in the back, by the drummer.
Sep 14th, 2017 07:39 AM   Edit   Profile  

When I was in the stereo business, there were some issues with boards that went through solder baths in the early days of that process, which led to claims that it was less reliable than hand wiring. At the same time, several manufacturers were making circuit design changes, some of which negatively impacted sonic performance. Maybe some people thought the connection issues caused the sonic issues. Whatever the case, once the idea that the old way is better takes hold, it can remain for a long time, if only for the nostalgia factor. Clever marketing sometimes plays on that.

Contributing Member

Wichita, KS USA

It's all gravy from here on...
Sep 14th, 2017 08:02 AM   Edit   Profile  

IMO, uninformed as it may be, a circuit is a circuit. However, components are not components and there is where the difference is. You can argue better, worse but there is different. I have several PTP amps and they were chosen for their tone. I have several circuit board amps and they were also chosen for their tone. Whether or not I could pick them out in a blind lineup, I couldn't say but that is hardly the point-to-point! ;o)

All that said, I doubt whether I will be enticed to spend $2500 on a PTP current production Fender amp.

Contributing Member

Broke Down

in the Brassicas
Sep 14th, 2017 08:24 AM   Edit   Profile  

I had a friend who was a gentlemen's clothing salesman. He introduced me to the phrase, "and this one for our customers who like to pay a little more..."

"Well, what's the difference?"

"No difference, it's just for our customers who like to pay a little more..."


Buckeye Country, USA

Motorcycles, Guitars, and Golf
Sep 14th, 2017 08:53 AM   Edit   Profile  

"My other thought (purely speculative) is that hand-wired may be considered more robust than PCB circuitry thus providing a better level of durability/reliability (???) but still not resulting in a difference in tone."

You beat me to it. The only way it could affect tone would be based on the gauge of wires versus skimpy solder traces, but even that is speculative.

Contributing Member


Sep 14th, 2017 09:25 AM   Edit   Profile  

AND . . . what they don't tell you is that the "hands" in hand-wired are trained monkeys! (;oD

Contributing Member

Maplewood, MN

Sep 14th, 2017 10:42 AM   Edit   Profile  

That is just Fender talking like a corporation again.


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Sep 14th, 2017 11:02 AM   Edit   Profile  

I'm also guessing that many hand-wired amps are going to be built with better components. The reason to not do hand-wired is to save money, and you can go further down that road by using cheaper components. But otherwise, yeah, electrons don't know the difference.

FDP Data Goon

We all want

our time in hell
Sep 14th, 2017 11:24 AM   Edit   Profile  

This is just Fender playing catch-up - after a couple of decades of letting the clone folks chase the money market for hand-wired stuff.

I wouldn't assume that any of the components therein are selected for their grand tone over an equivalent item - the original designs were a price point thing too, remember.

Contributing Member

So. Cal. USA

Sep 14th, 2017 02:01 PM   Edit   Profile  

A cap is a cap, a resistor is a resistor and yes electrons don't know the difference. There are differences in noise however between components of different construction, longevity issues too. Some claim surface capacitance of PC boards make a difference. I can't hear it.

I've heard many PC board Fender amps that sounded just wonderful. Others just meh and others just miserable. Same goes for handwired stuff. Tubes and individual components not to spec is typically the cause. Fixable yes.

Now it all depends on who is doing the wiring. It's easy to botch lead dress with inexperience and all those hours of eyelet board bliss are wasted. These are not tone issues but noises of all sorts can appear.

Most of the RIs use hand wired tube sockets and that is a plus. Daughter board mounted pots used in the same amps works but are a pita to work on. You get mini pots with shortened life spans on average.

Personally I like them to look as nice on the inside as they do on the outside. Put me in the handwire camp but I build my own custom clones. Mostly things Fender never made but should have IMO.

So whether a ribbon cable, PVC coated strand or vintage cloth push back, the electrons flow just the same. It's all about who and where they were put.

One thing I truly believe is if the PC board amp was invented before the eyelet board/handwire, we would all be worshiping the vintage PC board amps!

Mick Reid
Contributing Member


American-made in Oz!!
Sep 14th, 2017 05:19 PM   Edit   Profile  

"One thing I truly believe is if the PC board amp was invented before the eyelet board/handwire, we would all be worshiping the vintage PC board amps!"


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FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / How does "hand-wired" improve tone?

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