The Suhr Bella saga: It's back! šŸ¤¦

jellodog

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So I had the Bella head on consignment for 3 months because I didn't want to ship such a large heavy item or deal with buyers. I'm convinced that there are grains of neutron star material in the Bella's transformers.

It was priced attractively but nobody was interested in it. I get it, it's kinda niche and in terms of dialing in, it should be simple but people trying it out might be confused by the boost switch (it's not really a boost but "Hi / Lo" input), the 3-way bright switch and possibly the presence knob (which is there in case a drive pedal doesn't gel with the bright switch).

Moreover, I suspect that nobody really wants to pay a hefty chunk of sales tax on a used item like this; that's Canada for ya.

But for whatever reason, it didn't sell; so I went and picked it up. Usually, I would just accept that the "market has spoken" and start to drop my price until sold; but this time I decided that if I was going to lose half my money anyway (shipping and importing from the US was expensive), then I might as well keep it around for the rest of the year and get some enjoyment out of it. I've never taken an item back from consignment before.

I decided that I would try a fresh start with the Bella and approach using it differently to how I did in the past. Having thought about it a great deal, I concluded that I probably never used the right speaker combination with it. I tried some different speakers yesterday, and also experimented with various drives and effects from the FM9, which I didn't own at the time I took the Bella to the consignment store. I was pleasantly surprised!

The odd thing about the Bella is the perceived wisdom on various forums that it's just a modded BF-style amp and that the amp's voice is BF. People seem to repeat that as if it is a fact again and again, and I believed it myself. But the Bella really isn't that - and that's what confused me for such a long time, especially with speaker choices.

The Bella isn't scooped at all and has plenty of mids. It's an Ultra Bassman / Ultra Phonix style conversion of a Bandmaster with massive custom transformers (which drop the grid voltage for half power); but really, there's almost nothing of the Bandmaster left in there, so it helps to stop treating it as one and let it be its own thing.

I struggled dialling it in to my satisfaction for some time last night (with a new Creamback speaker combination), and I was thinking for 90% of the time "Oh yes, this is one of the reasons I decided to get rid of it"... and then suddenly I cracked the combination and it was GLORIOUS.

The FM9 is fantastic in front of an amp too. More so than the FM3.

So... new beginnings. I wonder how long it will last - I really don't need another tube amp!
 
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jellodog

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One last thing. It's been said before and this is true of a lot of amps, but YouTube videos do not do justice to the ridiculous muscle and AUTHORITAH of this amp. The punch and response of the transformers doesn't really translate to recordings (apart from the no-flub bass aspect).
 
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jellodog

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I LOVE the looks of this amp. Congrats on getting it back home to you!

I have the black tolex head; so no wood panel. It's funny... maybe this is just me, but when seen in real life, the head version reminds me of the art direction style and technology seen in the Forbidden Planet movie.

iu
 
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JiveTurkey

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I have the black tolex head; so no wood panel. It's funny... maybe this is just me, but when seen in real life it reminds me of the art direction style and technology seen in the Forbidden Planet movie.
Sounds cool! It looks like a fairly simple circuit obviously. I am betting some drives up front are the icing on the cake :chef
 

jellodog

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Sounds cool! It looks like a fairly simple circuit obviously. I am betting some drives up front are the icing on the cake :chef

Yes, very simple. Only one tube gain stage in the preamp. It's mostly a big bottle power section and stays clean a looong way up the dial with very tight bass. The cleans are quite something on their own, but they absolutely benefit from a little additional harmonic complexity of a drive up front. Also a touch of compression because there's no sag whatsover, for obvious reasons.
 
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jellodog

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What did it for you?
I swear I've been through all the possible knob combinations in the past, but I decided to try them all again with a British speaker (Creamback) in a different cab. I never used to use 44w mode, and now I realise that it's better for punchy bass.

Previously, I have used a bunch of American style speakers for BF-style amps that I had around to tame high end in other amps. And I'd always used those before I decided to sell the Bella. Because I have a head, I'd never spent much time using the Bella with a British speaker, which is what the Bella combo comes with.

I always felt the Bella was a little dark and when comparing it to other amps which seemed to have more clarity. Well no s**t Sherlock - I was using a speaker with neutered high end! :LOL:

That old speaker was the G12C/S BTW. Great speaker especially for taming the highs on BF-voiced amps, but perhaps not the right choice for the Bella in retrospect.
 
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jellodog

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Well I've disproved my "British speaker" theory Karl.

I just tried the Bella with an American Fat Jimmy C1270 and that sounded great too; just a very different flavour of good. So this is just mostly down to speakers and cabs; same as any amp. I didn't have this speaker 3 months ago.

STOP ME! I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!!
 
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laxu

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Well I've disproved my "British speaker" theory Karl.

I just tried the Bella with an American Fat Jimmy C1270 and that sounded great too; just a very different flavour of good. So this is just mostly down to speakers and cabs; same as any amp.

STOP ME! I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!!
IMO finding the "perfect" speaker for your amp is a big part of what changes it from "just fine" to "magic". I usually look at what the stock cab uses for ideas what might work well.
 

jellodog

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Experimenting with another British speaker today.

I'm nervous to mention it though, because it's a very closely related derivative of a speaker that caused @la szum to spew bile, the last time its name came up. :LOL:

It'll be funny if he's right though!

Neo V-Type.

It is allegedly an improvement on the ceramic V-Type which comes stock in the Bella combo. It supposedly has a smoother top end and looking at the frequency curve it doesn't appear to have the poke-you-in-the-ear high end presence spike.

Results by the end of the day.
 
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jellodog

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Well this is hard! All the speakers have decent but different qualities.

For the most American Fendery sound with vintage Jensen sparkle and magic, the Fat Jimmy C1270 is great. Glassy crystal highs with the Cutlass (Strat pickups) and round punchy piano like lows. It's fairly bright. It's a great speaker.

The British speaker that shall not be named again: Well I was expecting it to be "meh", so was pleasantly surprised. It has possibly a touch less magic and mojo at the same volumes (about 90 db) than the 12 inch Fat Jimmy, but it is more stout, balanced and even voiced with a touch more warmth. I will be leaving this Celestion in the 12 inch cab for now when I want to play the Bella. Is it my favourite speaker ever? Probably not, but it works well for this amp.

In comparison, a Creamback has a little upper mid hump and this speaker doesn't have that - more of a lower mid thing going on. The highs are smoother as promised and easier to manage. I'm still forming a more nuanced opinion but overall I like it and it's (unsurprisingly) a decent match for the Bella.

But wait! There's more...
 
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jellodog

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Hilarious wild card ending!

So that's the 12 inch speaker experimentation over. Right now I feel that The real winner is: The Bella through the Princeton cab which has the 10 inch Fat Jimmy C1025 in it!

It just sounds so sweet, American and balanced; it's perfect with mojo, sparkle and a little hard to define aural magic.

I had suspected this for a long time, but I feel that the right cab for the Bella and my tastes could actually be a 2x10 with Fat Jimmy C1025 speakers. Sure, the Princeton cab can't quite deliver the beef that the Bella can supply, but a 2x10 cab... oh yeah.

So it would be more like a Vibrolux, which I've always liked. Annoyingly, I sold my 2x10 cab last year.

The Princeton Reverb still sounds really great too.
 
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la szum

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Experimenting with another British speaker today.

I'm nervous to mention it though, because it's a very closely related derivative of a speaker that caused @la szum to spew bile, the last time its name came up. :LOL:

It'll be funny if he's right though!

Neo V-Type.

It is allegedly an improvement on the ceramic V-Type which comes stock in the Bella combo. It supposedly has a smoother top end and looking at the frequency curve it doesn't appear to have the high poke-you-in-the-ear high end presence spike.

Results by the end of the day.

The American-voiced Fat Jimmy C1270 is already my backstop, and I may well return to that; but first some more experimentation.

What did I do now??? :idk





:rofl
 
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