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  1. #1

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    I guess it was inevitable. I purchased the Mini Brute II new at a local music store for $237 in 1978. About 15 years ago the reverb quit but otherwise the amp sounded great and was relatively portable, so it fit-the-bill. I do have a Fender Twin Reverb I bought in 2005 to replace the one I bought in 1987, which was a replacement for the one I purchased in 1964 when I was 16 years old. But a strange thing happened; the "Twin" got heavier as I got older.

    I play in the pit orchestra for a local musical theater group and last Sunday was the first rehearsal. The Mini Brute worked fine when I left home for the thirty minute drive to the Church basement where the group practices. After setting up, I turned the amp on and it started to squeal as if it was feeding back--which it wasn't since nothing was connected to it. I played around with the tone controls and was able to minimize the noise a little bit. When I got home and connected the amp the noise was worse.

    The Mini Brute owes me nothing. I used it regularly at home and anytime I played for public consumption for 40 years. After mulling over my options I ordered a Fender Princeton Reverb Re-Issue from GC. It arrived a couple of days later and I tested it out. Both Gibson Humbuckers (including one guitar with PAFs) and Gretsch Filtertrons sounded smooth, full and mellow with just a bit of natural crackle at higher volume levels. In short--just perfect for my needs and a lot easier to tote around.

    I haven't given up on the Mini Brute. I'm searching around for an amp repair person in the hopes that I can use the Polytone again as a practice amp. I'll keep you posted.

    Tony D.

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  3. #2

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    Bummer! Time for a visit to the Amp Vet! Good luck!
    Best regards, k

  4. #3

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    Tony, good luck, you might came across a tech or maybe two etc. who will claim its un-repairable, obsolete parts yadi dadi pffffff. I have a 78 Mblll, its a simple amp and any avarage (or above) skilled tech should be able to bring it back to life. Nothing in it that cant be replaced by parts available today.

  5. #4

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    Glad you like the Fender.

    Get the poly repaired, there is practically nothing in them. A hundred bucks and change will get her going another 30 years.

    good luck.

  6. #5

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    And enjoy the new amp!
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  7. #6

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    That Princeton Reverb Re-issue is a nice amp. It would be great to re-hab the Polytone, but the PRRI is a winner too.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  8. #7

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    alls well that ends well...you got your mileage!!...nothin beats a gretsch with filtertrons thru a fender!! enjoy!...cheers

  9. #8

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    Hi Tony,You might miss the clean headroom in the Polytone but I would bet a nickel that you will end up liking the Princeton more. The Princeton was the best amp I ever had. The open back and tubes make the amp sound fuller and a little less hyper focused than the polytone. Good Luck buddy.Joe D

  10. #9

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    After having started on tubes I bought a Polytone a very long time ago but can't even remember why @ this point.
    When I switched back to Fenders I had forgotten how much I missed the warmth and shimmer of a good tube amp.
    And if you don't want to sacrifice cleans just use Twins like I do.

  11. #10

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    Tony, I once had a mini-brute die on me at a gig (they had a lousy PA at the venue that I finished the gig with). It cost me a bit over $200 to have it fixed (it took two hours of bench time at a top notch Bay Area shop).I still keep a Polytone in the amp arsenal. A Gibson archtop with flats played through a Polytone amp just sounds "right" to me.Good luck whatever you decide to do!
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  12. #11

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    Back in the day a lot of top players endorsed Polytone, Pass, Ellis, Martino, Hall, Ray Brown, etc.
    I saw all of those guys play through a Polytone except Martino @ one time or another.
    I don't know if it was because they could get a decent clean sound in a smaller amp and not have to worry about a tube dying, etc? Don't think it was strictly for the money, I doubt Tommy Gumina was paying too much.
    Maybe free amps, a little extra cheese and a smaller package was enough, those guys made a living but weren't rich.
    Or they also might have just really liked them, lots of folks do

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by pilotony View Post
    About 15 years ago the reverb quit but otherwise the amp sounded great and was relatively portable, so it fit-the-bill.
    Tony, it would be relatively easy to replace the reverb unit. I did that back in the eighties once and the replacement (if i remember correctly) was a three spring unit which sounded ways better than the original 2 spring tank.

    RIP Polytone Mini Brute II-preview-jpg
    _________
    JazzNote

  14. #13
    These amps are classic for a reason. Nothing in them that can't be fixed if you find a tech that deals with Polytone. Although you can't argue with a Princeton reverb either..

  15. #14

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    Thanks for all the comments. For some reason when I click the "like" button it doesn't always register. I intend to have the Polytone repaired and keep it as a practice/back-up amp. I opened the back of the amp (after donning gloves and and a mask) and I was surprised by the minimalist design. I've been playing through the PRRI a lot the past few days and thoroughly love that "little amp".Happy Landings,Tony D.

  16. #15

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    Curious what your setup is in the orchestra. Are you miked? Can you plug in directly to the PA if you have a amp with a DI connection?

    Always curious about how people play in these situations with which I have no experience.

    Enjoy the Princeton btw!
    “Without music, life would be a mistake”--Friedrich Nietzsche

    Current lineup: Gibson ES-135 ('02), Peerless Sunset, Harmony Brilliant Cutaway ('64), Godin 5th Avenue, Alvarez AC60 A/E classical, Kay K37 ('56), Fender Squier VM Jazz bass, several ukes. Amps: Fishman Artist, Fender SCXD, Pignose 7-100.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doctor Jeff View Post
    Curious what your setup is in the orchestra. Are you miked? Can you plug in directly to the PA if you have a amp with a DI connection?Always curious about how people play in these situations with which I have no experience.Enjoy the Princeton btw!
    Thanks Doc. The pit orchestra usually has 22 pieces. I play through my amp with a sound level check by the conductor at the outset. We are performing the musical "9 to 5". The guitar features prominently in what is essentially a "country western" style musical. Guitar solos and fill-ins are written out. It's basically an 8 week commitment twice a year and a lot of fun.Thanks again,Tony D.

  18. #17

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    My Mini-Brute II is the only amp I have left. The reverb still works (believe it or not) but its very noisy and the springs are very loose. You can hear them clanging around when someone walks into the room while I am playing. I wanted to switch out the reverb unit, but when I opened the back I noticed it has a large capaciter bolted to it. So I just unplugged the wire going into the reverb and use the amp (sparingly) without it.
    Eventually, I will get another reverb unit for it and replace the foam grill to restore it. To me, a Polytone is a symbolistic component of the music that I love. So, for historical reasons, it is really cool to have one in my guitar room.
    I dont know know of very many electronic devices that were made in the 70's, that are still operational in 2019. Polytone Amps are amazing.
    Joe D

  19. #18

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    I still haul around an old Polytone MiniBrute II to all my gigs. Because the amp is so old I keep another one just like it in the trunk of the car as a back up.

    Occasionally, I look over at the amp on stage and tell it, "be on your best behavior; your replacement is just outside in the lot."

    To date, no problems.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    I still haul around an old Polytone MiniBrute II to all my gigs. Because the amp is so old I keep another one just like it in the trunk of the car as a back up. Occasionally, I look over at the amp on stage and tell it, "be on your best behavior; your replacement is just outside in the lot."To date, no problems.
    Thanks Greentone--I'll try that later. BTW, enjoyed the piece about you in the Sun last year. Great story.Thanks,Tony D.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max405 View Post
    My Mini-Brute II is the only amp I have left. The reverb still works (believe it or not) but its very noisy and the springs are very loose. You can hear them clanging around when someone walks into the room while I am playing. I wanted to switch out the reverb unit, but when I opened the back I noticed it has a large capaciter bolted to it. So I just unplugged the wire going into the reverb and use the amp (sparingly) without it.Eventually, I will get another reverb unit for it and replace the foam grill to restore it. To me, a Polytone is a symbolistic component of the music that I love. So, for historical reasons, it is really cool to have one in my guitar room.I dont know know of very many electronic devices that were made in the 70's, that are still operational in 2019. Polytone Amps are amazing.Joe D
    I totally agree Joe. When the amp first started to make noise, I couldn't believe it and couldn't conceive of using another amp except my not so portable Twin. I bought the Polytone at a local music store (now long gone) after playing my ES345 with PAFs through it. I never heard of the name and new nothing about the amp except that it was compact and sounded very smooth. 40 years is indeed a good run for any electronic device. I'm about 30 miles east of Manhattan so I should have no problem finding someone to fix it.Tony D.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max405 View Post
    My Mini-Brute II is the only amp I have left. The reverb still works (believe it or not) but its very noisy and the springs are very loose. You can hear them clanging around when someone walks into the room while I am playing. I wanted to switch out the reverb unit, but when I opened the back I noticed it has a large capaciter bolted to it. So I just unplugged the wire going into the reverb and use the amp (sparingly) without it.Eventually, I will get another reverb unit for it and replace the foam grill to restore it. To me, a Polytone is a symbolistic component of the music that I love. So, for historical reasons, it is really cool to have one in my guitar room.I dont know know of very many electronic devices that were made in the 70's, that are still operational in 2019. Polytone Amps are amazing.Joe D
    Replacing the reverb unit is easy. Just do it. But rather than replacing the foam, installing a metal grill like the later Polytones have is a better idea.
    _____________________________________________
    "When the chord changes, you should change" Joe Pass

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by pilotony View Post
    40 years is indeed a good run for any electronic device.
    That's an interesting point. I would guess that tube amps (instrument and stereo) are easier to maintain and rehab because their components are large, identifiable and easier to get to. And in many cases made to be replaced on a rather frequent basis.

    Circuit boards and the micro components of transistor amps seem to me very difficult to work on. (From what I've heard--I have very little experience working with electronics.)

    I've had a couple of SS amps that are 20+ years old. My current audio setup components are 30 years old--my Nakamichi amp still works, except that the electronic tuner doesn't tune. But 40 years seems to me pushing it.

    Just as an aside I read an article that Apple touts their earbuds ($150) as being serviceable when the battery goes (apparently lasts 12-18 months), but that isn't true. They just throw away the old ones and give you a discount on a new pair.
    “Without music, life would be a mistake”--Friedrich Nietzsche

    Current lineup: Gibson ES-135 ('02), Peerless Sunset, Harmony Brilliant Cutaway ('64), Godin 5th Avenue, Alvarez AC60 A/E classical, Kay K37 ('56), Fender Squier VM Jazz bass, several ukes. Amps: Fishman Artist, Fender SCXD, Pignose 7-100.

  24. #23

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    My Polytone Mini Brute I squealed too.

    The power supply was the culprit.

  25. #24

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    I suspected as much. Flaky capacitor(s)?

  26. #25

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    Thanks for all the great suggestions. I intend to have the Polytone repaired. Meanwhile, its "replacement" Deluxe Reverb Re-issue has been knocking me out with its 50s crunchy tone.

    Thanks again.

    Tony D.