1. Dear Guest, after 14 years the Kramer Forum has migrated to archive-only mode (no new posts) as of August 2016.
    A heartfelt THANK YOU to all the KF members and brothers over the last decade-plus.
    Find myself and the original KF crew at the Kramer Forum & Friends Facebook Group.

2006 Fargen Mini-Plex MKI 12W Combo Tube Amp

Discussion in 'Tone Talk' started by muttznmongrelz, Aug 8, 2016.

  1. muttznmongrelz

    muttznmongrelz Kramer Kingpin

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Messages:
    5,308
    Location:
    A MILE HIGH!!!
    Well...after having this for two weeks I caved and purchased it from my friends wife - Fargen Mini-Plex MKI 12W Combo Tube Amp (Original Version). It just sounds too good plus I love the Decades Switch (JTM, Plexi, JCM); particularly so on 80s plugged into the High Input.

    I have had the Fargen and a Mesa/Boogie DC-2 for about two weeks and plugged into the Mesa twice but I've played around with the Fargen quite a bit...enough that it impressed me to give it serious consideration and run my USACG Iceman and Ibanez ICT700 (both SD humbucker equipped with DiMarzio 500K Push/Pull Vol/Fender TBX Tones) through it on Thursday and Friday for a hour and a half each nite.

    After playing it and getting a feel for it and then dialing it in on the aforementioned guitars I was really liking it's tone in all three Decades. For lack of a better word to describe it at the moment; It has a very "pure" tone and does a nice clean to an 80s Rock sound, it's portable, in mint condition, etc...I simply found myself really enjoying playing through it and it's sound.

    I don't think most people have a clue what this amp is or who Fargen is. Until you've played one; you've no idea of how truly wonderful and unique an item it is. I have been in possession of the the Fargen for a couple weeks now and have had the opportunity to research it a bit as well as plug in and play it. It is indeed a very unique little amp for sure and as described by Fargen - a perfect home practice or recording amp for a tasteful tone connoisseur. I can certainly appreciate the loyalty and love that I read from Fargen Owners in researching this little soulful beauty. It's a sweet little amp.

    Like many boutique builders, Ben Fargen (pronounced Far-gen, as in Gen-X) does everything himself. There's no greater motivation for quality than having your name on the front, and there's also no payroll leaner than a one-man show.

    Fargen also simplifies production by using the same basic zinc-plated steel chassis for many of its models, including the Mini Plex. This sturdy and simple open-box design has no extra reinforcement folds, fancy welded corners, mounting ears, or blocks, but it's punched to accommodate every component needed for all the applicable models.

    This universal-chassis approach saves Fargen (and you) money because it allows him to place orders for larger quantities, which further amortizes the sheet-metal shop's setup fees. While a good chassis can be costly, an amp's transformers are typically its most expensive components.

    The Mini Plex uses a standard Hammond power transformer, and this transformer is used in some other Fargen models, as well. Buying off-the-shelf power transformers in large quantities helps to reduce cost, which allows Fargen to splurge on the Mini Plex's most tone-crucial component--it's custom-wound, interleaved and paper-layered output transformer.


    Fargen Cool

    From the outside, the Mini Plex may look like just another run-of-the-mill Marshall plexi repro (albeit an upside-down one), but a careful study of its circuitry reveals that it's far from being just another copycat.

    For starters, the Mini Plex has a very unusual parallel single-ended output stage. While most amps with two output tubes configure them in a push/pull arrangement, the Mini Plex has two cathode-biased EL34s wired in parallel. You don't get as much power this way, but the tone is noticeably richer in lower harmonics.

    The Mini Plex also has a Hi/Low power switch that reduces the amp's output from 12 to 8 watts by disabling one of the EL34s. The Mini Plex has only two preamp tubes.

    Of course, a simple design reduces parts count and, therefore, cost, and it also reduces labor time as there are less components to install and wire. And many tone gurus will also agree that a simple circuit can often provide a richer tone, as well.

    The two halves of the Mini Plex's first 12AX7EH preamp tube are wired in parallel--a configuration that's somewhat reminiscent of a vintage Marshall preamp with it inputs jumpered.

    Fargen's front-panel Decade switch provides three different preamp voicings by bypassing the first stage's shared cathode resistor with a .68uF capacitor for the '60s position (for enhanced upper mids and treble), and a 25uF cap for the '80s setting (for full-range boost). The '70s position leaves the resistor unbypassed for lower gain and more clean headroom. The Mini Plex's Volume knob follows this first stage, which feeds the Marshall-style second gain stage--a cathode follower-driven classic 3-knob tone stack. Immediately following the tone controls, the Master Volume control is a simple voltage divider that also feeds the output tubes. That's right--there is no phase inverter tube like you would expect to see in a typical Marshall clone.

    Remember the Mini Plex has a single-ended output stage, so there's no need for a phase inverter/splitter, and the preamp's two gain stages are more than sufficient to drive the EL34s to maximum power. How's that for tube-savvy economics?


    Flex The Plex

    So how does a Marshall-inspired preamp sound when it's driving a parallel single-ended EL34 output stage? The Mini Plex can sound amazingly lush, rich, and warm at low volumes, and it gets gradually more aggressive and grinding as it gracefully makes the transition into overdrive. Set to Hi power mode, and at relatively moderate volume levels through the J Design Old Dog 12-12 test cab, I coaxed some absolutely luscious jazz tones from a Guild archtop. Grab a Les Paul, crank it a little more, and you'll be steppin' out with some authentic-sounding Beano-era Clapton snarl. The Mini Plex maintains its vintage-amp character and responsive dynamic feel when run wide open, but with only two preamp gain stages, you can't expect modern high-gain preamp saturation. This is truly an amp for those who love classic tones, but want to get them at more manageable, and tolerable, volume levels.


    Condition:Mint
    Make:Fargen
    Model:MIni-Plex MK1
    Finish:Black
    Year: 05/26/06
    Made In:United States

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
  2. _xxx_

    _xxx_ Kramer Kingpin

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Messages:
    7,578
    Sounds like a great buy :) 8W would still be too much for my living room, I play 1W and the volume never went beyond 12 o'clock as of yet.
     
  3. muttznmongrelz

    muttznmongrelz Kramer Kingpin

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Messages:
    5,308
    Location:
    A MILE HIGH!!!
    Yeah? Whatcha got that's 1W?
     
  4. _xxx_

    _xxx_ Kramer Kingpin

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Messages:
    7,578
    Randall RD-1 combo. The small 8" speaker is not so good, if you don't use the external box then the 5W version with a 10" speaker or the non-combo version might work better.

    I miss the FX from my TripleXXX though, fortunately the small thingy has an FX-Loop too. Also a great recording output.

    There are more though, the Marshall DSL5 can work at 1W, Engl amps have 15/5/1W switch, Laney have that feature too etc.
     

Share This Page