1. #1

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    I have no affiliation or personal experience with this store, but I came across this ad. It looks like an amazing deal on a classic jazz amp. The Mini-Brute II is the most popular configuration, with reverb and a single 12” speaker. I had one of those blue ones from the 1990’s and it sounded great. Mine was from the period before the Sonic Circuit was added. Can’t tell if this one has that or not. If anyone is looking for a Polytone, this might be worth checking out.
    Thunder Road Guitars - Polytone Mini Brute II Blue Combo
    Keith

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  3. #2

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    That one looks to be pre-sonic circuit. Those amps are getting long in the tooth and any needed repairs may cost more than the amp is worth. Great sounding amps though. Over the years I owned 6 Mini-Brute II's and played many gigs with them.

    These days, I mostly use the newer Henriksen combos. I get the classic Polytone sound with greater reliability.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by floatingpickup
    I have no affiliation or personal experience with this store, but I came across this ad. It looks like an amazing deal on a classic jazz amp. The Mini-Brute II is the most popular configuration, with reverb and a single 12” speaker. I had one of those blue ones from the 1990’s and it sounded great. Mine was from the period before the Sonic Circuit was added. Can’t tell if this one has that or not. If anyone is looking for a Polytone, this might be worth checking out.
    Thunder Road Guitars - Polytone Mini Brute II Blue Combo
    Keith
    I currently have TWO of that vintage and love them. One home, one office!

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    That one looks to be pre-sonic circuit. Those amps are getting long in the tooth and any needed repairs may cost more than the amp is worth. Great sounding amps though. Over the years I owned 6 Mini-Brute II's and played many gigs with them.

    These days, I mostly use the newer Henriksen combos. I get the classic Polytone sound with greater reliability.
    I have owned a bunch of Polytones. One was from that era and all the others were older. Mine have never needed any significant repairs. Just one reverb tank replacement and one power cord replacement. Both of those were inexpensive repairs. I know some people have had problems, but mine have been pretty reliable. I guess there is always some risk with old solid state amps though.
    Keith

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by floatingpickup
    I have owned a bunch of Polytones. One was from that era and all the others were older. Mine have never needed any significant repairs. Just one reverb tank replacement and one power cord replacement. Both of those were inexpensive repairs. I know some people have had problems, but mine have been pretty reliable. I guess there is always some risk with old solid state amps though.
    Keith
    Capacitors leak, resistors go out of spec and things just break. An old solid state amp is an expensive repair waiting to happen. I had a bridge rectifier fail on one of my Polytones on a gig. Lucky for me, the venue had a PA and I finished the gig playing through that (hated the tone but the job got handled) It cost me $250 to repair an amp that was worth $300.

    The one for sale in this thread looks like it has been well used. I offered my previous comment just to warn a prospective buyer about what they are getting into.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    Capacitors leak, resistors go out of spec and things just break. An old solid state amp is an expensive repair waiting to happen. I had a bridge rectifier fail on one of my Polytones on a gig. Lucky for me, the venue had a PA and I finished the gig playing through that (hated the tone but the job got handled) It cost me $250 to repair an amp that was worth $300.

    The one for sale in this thread looks like it has been well used. I offered my previous comment just to warn a prospective buyer about what they are getting into.
    You are probably right. I guess “vintage” solid state amps aren’t worth the risks.
    Keith

  8. #7

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    I don't disagree with any of the above, but to add some perspective, at least older SS amps can be repaired. And in this case and at such a price, the risk might be worth it.

    Most modern SS amps use "surface mount" technology, which means ant-like components that are barely visible to the naked eye and that can only be repaired- if at all- with specialist equipment and knowledge. Most often, it is more economic to simply replace the whole board, assuming it is still available. Nearly all modern jazz amps use this technology, including the forum favourites. The obvious snag is that superseded models may not even have replacement boards available, and thus become effectively landfill. Also, many amp techs won't - or can't -work on such amps.

    As a non-judgemental comment, replacing a Poly bridge rectifier is a 20 to 30 -minute job, IF that's all that was wrong. It may well not have been, of course. But generally, old SS amps are easy to work on and shouldn't be too expensive to maintain.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Franz 1997
    But generally, old SS amps are easy to work on and shouldn't be too expensive to maintain.
    For me, probability is the best decision support. Weigh the likelihood of failure, the availability of repair (parts, service, etc), and the likelihood that it will need work and/or that the next failure will be terminal against the total cost of ownership, the pleasure that having it will bring you for however long it lasts, and the trouble a failure will cause if it happens on a gig. No clear data exist for any of those factors in the case of buying an old amp. So you're left with anecdotal information, which seems to slightly favor the general long term reliability of a Polytone Mini-Brute. It seems to me that there are more positive reports of longevity and low cost, easy fixes than there are of catastrophic failures, although it seems to be more of a 60-40 to 70-30 split than a 90-10. This JGO thread and this one from some years ago contain a lot of good info (and players who may be sources of advice) that may help a potential Polytone buyer.

    Here's how I'd sum it up for myself. If I were considering this purchase, I'd estimate the likelihood of at least a few good years left in it as fair to good, the likelihood of failure soon after buying it as moderate, and the likelihood that if something bad happens it will be easy and cheap to fix as low to moderate. So the likelihood that I'd get enough joy or other value out of it to exceed its cost to me is moderate at best. I don't covet the Polytone sound, and there are many substitutes available - so I'd pass on it.

    If you have multiple amps and you always wanted to try a Polytone, the odds of joy seem greater than if it would be your only amp and/or you want to use it for gigs. And if you just want it because you truly love the Polytone sound, the probability of joy would be greatly enhanced by taking it to a qualified tech before ever using it (or, for that matter, before buying it if possible). Trusting in hope and luck are more likely to lead to sadness.