NAD Crate V18 Tube Amp

Discussion in 'Amps' started by timmwood, Apr 6, 2016.

  1. timmwood

    timmwood Well-Known Member

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    crateV18-4-144.jpg cratev18-3-144.jpg crateV18-2-144.jpg crateV18-1-144.jpg

    Somehow, I had an attack of tube amp-mania recently. It may have had something to do with me getting a small windfall of money and the availability of the apparently well-priced Monoprice 1 x 12 tube combo.
    I came oh so close to ordering the Monoprice amp, but stopped short of pulling the trigger.
    I decided I needed to shop around a little more. I checked the Internet and then decided to visit the two nearby Guitar Center stores.
    Both had mostly new or high-priced used stuff. But tucked at the end of a row in the Nashville 100 Oaks store was this Crate V18. I'm a sucker for price, and the $89.95 price tag intrigued me. $89.95 for an all-tube amp? Must be something wrong with it, I thought. I checked out what I could on my phone. I decided to plug it in and try it out. Maybe that would tell me something.
    It almost didn't. How in the world am I supposed to listen to the nuances of a tube amp when there are FOUR EGO-DRIVEN GUITARISTS TRYING OUT GUITARS AT THE LOUDEST POSSIBLE VOLUME!
    I heard enough to determine that it worked. I found an actual sales person, but he wasn't a guitar person. He tried to get a guitar person to help me, but no one answered his page for a guitar salesman. He explained that the amp may have been priced as it was due to its cosmetic condition.
    Anyway, always a sucker for price, I went for it. Later, I would realize why it was priced as it was and why I stopped using tube amps a long time ago.
    Now, I must say that this is a good amp. It's heavy as a boat anchor, but nothing my aching back can't handle for at least a few feet. It has three 12AX7 tubes driving a pair of EL84 power tubes.
    Controls are simple - there's gain, volume, a three-band EQ, and that's about it. Having not had a tube amp for many years, I can't tell you how the tone compares to a allegedly "good" tube amp. But I liked it. It had plenty of volume. In my workshop/shed, I cranked the gain and volume to the max and hit a power chord.
    The "V18" logo on the front of the amp fell off! That sucker was LOUD!
    No hum, no crackling, nothing odd. So, why did this amp remind why I stopped using tube amps? Later, I realized that I might have to have it re-tubed. THAT's why I stopped using tube amps! The damn cost of tubes!
    The amp probably was sold new around 2008. That means eight years of use, but I don't know how hard. A notation in the amp stated that one of the pre-amp tubes had been replaced. That doesn't mean the other tubes are original, but you never know.
    I read somewhere that if a power tube goes bad, it can damage other parts of the amp. It must have been written by a power tube salesman. Still, it got me to thinking - perhaps I should just replace all of the tubes so it would sound its best and I wouldn't have to worry about a tube dying for some time.
    So, I did some inquiring. At least $75 labor to replace the tubes and tweak the amp. Tube cost? For all five, figure a minimum of $75. So, there was an additional $150 added to the cost of the amp. That put it in the range of the Monoprice amp.
    On the other side of things, though, I'm not a pro. I don't have to have a bullet-proof amp. If a tube blows and the amp dies, I'm not disappointing several thousand people. It just inconveniences me for the time it takes to plug the guitar into my solid-state Fender Mustang I amp.
    So, as much as I would like to just re-tube the thing, I'll take a deep breath and hold off for a bit. For now, though, it sounds good. I look forward to running all sorts of weird bargain and home-built pedals into it. It should be good for "power-chord" therapy, at least.
    By the way, another reason the amp might have been priced where it was is because when it was blown out a few years ago, they went for $150 new. By my standard formula, the price for good used gear is about half of the street price for the item when it was new. So, the V18 might even have been over-priced!
    If any of you have actually read this far, I would appreciate opinions on the V18 and the merits of having the tubes replaced.
     
  2. Buddha Pickups

    Buddha Pickups Well-Known Member

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    I would think you could get it completely retubed for $50 with JJ's.
    You probably don't need to worry about the preamps, i'd start with replacing the el84's and then go from there. Matched el84s you should be able to find for around $20-25.
    Preamp tubes last a lot longer than power tubes and as long as they aren't microphonic and are in working order, they should be fine, unless you want to try a different tube in it.

    If you are handy with a soldering iron, there are a ton of mods for these. I have a v33 that I modded about 5 years ago.
    I had a modded v18 2x12 as well but sold it cause it was just too loud for my use at the time.

     
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  3. tlarson58

    tlarson58 Well-Known Member

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    This is the first "meh" NAD I have ever come across. Play it til it dies.
     
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  4. Manodano

    Manodano Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    C'mon man, you build pedals - you can unplug five tubes yourself! And plug the new ones right back in. What part of that makes you think you need an amp tech?

    First turn on the amp, take a pencil or a chopstick, and tap each tube a little with the eraser end. If it doesn't ring or make a real loud rattle then don't replace it just yet.

    Don't go crazy, buy some JJ EL84s and take a chance on keeping the preamp tubes. EL84s do wear out pretty fast, 12AX7s not so much. Don't let a tech tell you the power tubes need to be biased. This amp is cathode biased, meaning no adjustment. Just pop in the fresh ones.

    I love the sound of cathode biased EL84s.

    There is nothing wrong with the design of the V18 - most of the circuit is pretty straightforward. These amps can sound real good when they are working correctly. Lots of ways for it to fail, though. A dead short through the power tube is actually pretty unlikely and would be the least of my worries. All those fuses are in there for a reason.

    My pal had one of these when they were in production and I sniffed over it a few times for him. I wouldn't consider it easy to repair and deem it risky to modify. Not much heavy duty anything in there. You're a pedal builder, though, so maybe those PCBs and ICs don't worry you much. And the stock speaker was a dog, the amp sounded much better through a different cabinet. I'd say the Monoprice amps are about the same low quality under the hood. Not exactly built to last.

    There's some ICs in the reverb circuit and a few others here and there I think.

    And man, the Nashville Guitar Center is six minutes from my house and I would drive 90 miles to avoid going in there. Makes my blood boil.
     
  5. timmwood

    timmwood Well-Known Member

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    This is what I love about this forum. Great advice, especially money-saving advice!
    I failed to check if the amp is cathode-based. It appears I won't need an amp tech to replace the tubes after all. I may just put in a matched pair of EL84s and swap out the 12AX7s when I feel like experimenting.
    Sounds like the speaker may be a good candidate for replacement, but it sounds fine now, so no reason to pony up the money.
    Thanks again for the advice!
     
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  6. SKYDAWG

    SKYDAWG Well-Known Member

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    I have the V16 version. Great little amp after a few mods. The tubes are pretty much plug and play, no need to bias. I have JJs in the pre and Tung Sols in the power section.
    What speaker came in yours? Mine came with the Celsetion 70/80, I replaced it with a Hellatone 30, which is Celestion G12H30 from Avatar speakers. It's a little monster now. Great cleans and a very nice dirty tone. (y)
     
  7. Buddha Pickups

    Buddha Pickups Well-Known Member

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    The v16 is a different series then these.
    V16 is made in Korea/Vietnam or even USA for early models.
    V18 is made in china.
     
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  8. SKYDAWG

    SKYDAWG Well-Known Member

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    Yup, mine is made in the US. Thanks for the heads up. I thought both versions were practically the same the main difference being the speaker used.


     
  9. Zipslack

    Zipslack Well-Known Member

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    Here's a link to a forum discussing the heat mod for the Palomino V32 that may be applicable to the V16. If your control panel gets really hot, consider doing this.

    http://music-electronics-forum.com/t11813/
     
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  10. STACKS

    STACKS Well-Known Member

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    Happy NAD, great price! I had one of these and tried some different preamp tubes and liked it much better. I can't remember what I used though, maybe an AT7 in one spot. As mentioned, there are a ton of mods for these
     
  11. zosofan

    zosofan Well-Known Member

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    DT, please ignore
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
  12. zosofan

    zosofan Well-Known Member

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    Nice score!
    In regards to the tubes I wouldn't worry about it.
    I used to have a Traynor 30watt combo amp . It was made 69/70 and when I sold it she still had the original tubes in it after 25 years of use and was still going strong.
    Hth
     
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  13. RedLesPaul

    RedLesPaul Well-Known Member

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  14. zosofan

    zosofan Well-Known Member

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    Phones being retarded, sorry for the double tap

    Sent from my 6045I using Tapatalk
     
  15. Buddha Pickups

    Buddha Pickups Well-Known Member

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    I think it's the power supply that's funky on these and why so many failed.
    If it's still working almost 10 years later it should be fine.
    Under $100 is a great deal.
    I'd open it up and do the SLO mod, it's actually not that hard at all if u are OK with circuit board soldering.
     
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  16. fullonshred

    fullonshred Well-Known Member

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    Happy New Crate Fulla Tubes Amp Day Tim! Rock that baby!
     
  17. timmwood

    timmwood Well-Known Member

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    I am a little nervous about working on a tube amp. What about the danger from capacitors that have not been discharged?
     
  18. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    Great deal Tim!

    Couple of things - I am pretty sure the repair notes on the inside are mine and I met the original owner, from Glenolden, PA. Make sense it ended up in Nashville as he moved there a couple of years ago. if that is the same, the amp was very well cared for.

    I was one of the few Crate / Ampeg / SLM warranty repairmen in the Eastern PA area for years. Seen many like it. Those Crate tube amps were tone machines.

    As far as getting shocked, you won't. Unplug the amp and turn the power switch on and the stand-by to 'play.' There is a 470K resistor that bleeds power across the first filter cap.

    Premium tubes and setting the knobs right will give you a really good Vox AC30 tone.
     
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  19. Frankenfretter

    Frankenfretter Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Nice grab.
    Now I want one.
     
  20. timmwood

    timmwood Well-Known Member

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    How cool! Who would've thought that someone on this board would have worked on this amp!
    I plan to read up on the mods and also learn some general tube amp information. Initially, I may just swap out the 12AX7 input tube with tubes of varying gain, such as 12AU7 and 12AT7. The amp doesn't have a great clean tone, so maybe dropping down the gain with a different tube could help that. And then, I might not know what I'm talking about!
    Thanks to all for the info and encouragement!
     
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