Quiet 5e3 amp?

Wes T

Strat-Talk Member
Oct 6, 2019
I love the 5e3 circuit, but hate the controls. Would love to know if there is anyone building a 5e3 with normal volumes and controls. Seems like a simple idea. I have always got a kick out of the modern builders who try to emulate the classic Deluxe but upgrade everything. I have had the opportunity to restore 2 tweeds from the 50's. Both cabinets had knots in the wood and the speaker baffle was 1/4" plywood. So if you upgrade the parts, the speaker, and cabinet, you have a great amp, but it don't sound like Leo's 5e3. Just sayin.

Butcher of Strats

Feb 28, 2022
It’s funny, on the one hand we have an explosion of amp buying options where players today have 100-500 times as many circuits to choose from compared to those of us shopping and playing in the 1970s, with a staggering emphasis on 1w to 5w tube amps and even 15w amps that include 1w and 5w settings via power scaling etc etc

But in the other hand we have an explosion of hobby modding that leads to many buyers ordering brand new gear and parts to mid the brand new gear without even trying it first.

While I’m into modding gear and have been for 45 years, I’ve found that my urge to modify perfectly good amps is often far less productive than simply buying the right amp instead of modding the wrong amp.

At the same time, many of us are more into the workbench as our venue, and are less into being musicians. That’s cool too and we need people who CAN play but their greater value is in design, modding, repair and building gear.
I really straddled that line, and still value guitar workbench but really think it’s worth taking a hard look at our motivation when deciding we want to design, redesign, modify, or just plain take a sawzall to working gear!

If music is the goal in this quest, Id shop for a tweedy amp in your required volume range. OP, have you played a good Tweed Champ?
How many Tweed Deluxe have you spent a lot of time with?
Have you been on RobRobs website for modding and building amps?

Eric Dahlberg

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 8, 2020
California, USA
Great advice there. Changing speakers usually makes a big difference. Changing the first preamp tube stage can sometimes be worth doing but I’ve never seen the clouds part from it. A tech once ruined my 1963 Brownface Deluxe by replacing the original caps with orange drops, so now I never touch caps until they go bad.


Live quiet. Play loud.
Silver Member
May 2, 2014
Rock Hill, SC
If music is the goal in this quest, Id shop for a tweedy amp in your required volume range. OP, have you played a good Tweed Champ?
How many Tweed Deluxe have you spent a lot of time with?
Have you been on RobRobs website for modding and building amps?
I don't do mods on amps. I'm an electronics idiot/moron and I'd probably electrocute myself or burn the house down, whichever comes first. :rolleyes:
I've not tried the Champ...nor the Tweed Deluxe. The only reason I haven't is that I just recerntly fell into a trade that brought me a Louis Electric Buster, an amp very highly recommended by Champ/Tweed enthusiasts.
I was looking for an amp that would give me the ultimate cleans and the near-breakup pushed tone I've been searching for. That's when I heard about the 5e3 circuit...and then I realized that circuit was sitting here, right inside Buster. Buster's only problem: bluster...he's a very loud guy, as are all 5e3s
So, after doing more research here and in other forums and other web sites, I took the advice of several people and decided to tame Buster with an attenuator.
A Tone King Ironman II Mini is on its way to me.
So, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Ohhhh...and music is always the goal.

meat cheese meat

Mar 6, 2020
+ 1 on the Ironman II and the Imperial MKII amp. The MKII has an Ironman attenuator built in. It's a very good attenuator on its own and is worth the extra bucks. The Imperial is sort of two amps in one - a blackface-ish channel and a lead channel that gets into tweed territory when turned up a bit. It has channel switching and Ironman switching and you can choose having the Ironman on one channel but not the other. It's very versatile. Both channels sound gorgeous. It's now considered a classic amp as it's been popular and successful for decades. It's worth the money IMHO. It's on youtube. Note - the Imperial does not have the Ironman, only the Imperial MKII has it.

The Weber Mini Mass doesn't sound as true as the Ironman. You get what you pay for.

Good luck.


I appreciate, therefore I am...
Silver Member
Feb 8, 2014
Minnesota USA
I sprang for a Power Station PS-2 in early 2021. After going through many attenuators that did not work for me, this did it for me as well.
The main problem with most of the attenuators I've tried is there's little or no compensation for the change in tone as the volume drops (mostly in the form of treble loss in my experience).

My Fryette PS-100 is not only able to compensate for this with the "Presence" and "Depth" controls (as well as toggle switches that add more brilliance or girth), but I can also run a graphic EQ through the Effects Loop to further dial in my sound.

Don't get me wrong, if your amp has enough tone control range to compensate, then it may not be a problem. Unfortunately the typical 5E3 type amp has very limited adjustment in that area (I usually have to have the TONE knob cranked all the way up on mine - especially at lower volumes).

In the end I could have saved a chunk of change by just getting the Fryette in the first place.

Anyway, here are a couple reviews I posted using two different "attenuator" products specifically with my 5E3 2019 Fender '57 Custom Deluxe amp:

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Strat-Talk Member
Apr 22, 2022
Way South Of There
Probably not for you but I put in power scaling (VVR) in my 5E3 when I built it. Recommended by my amp tech over an attenuator. Works great. I can get bedroom volumes to full on without changing the sound. The only thing it can't do is replicate any speaker distortion. Just my $.02 or maybe $.002 with the current inflation. 🤪

Eric Dahlberg

Strat-Talk Member
Jan 8, 2020
California, USA
I had a similar experience with the Suhr Badger’s power scaling. The sound definitely changes but there are some great Marshall #34-type tones that you can only get using the power scaling.