PDA

View Full Version : Wattage question for the forum's tube amp experts...



Steph
02-19-2013, 01:42 PM
Hey guys!

I'm planning to purchase my first all-tubes amp probably this coming summer. But i'm struggling a bit to figure out what wattage should I aim for.
I would like a versatile amp that can be used for home recording but still is powerful enough to keep up with a drummer.
My music style is from jazz-blues to some classic rock. No real high gain metal stuff. And I'm not gonna be playing in any large venues, so 100W is way overkill for me, i'm pretty sure.
I've been told that 30W is a bit tigh with drums (of course, i know it depends on the drummer).

I'm really interested to hear what you guys think and knows about this issue. This will help me narrow down the insane choices there is out there, and concentrate on tone qualities to make my choice.

Thanks!

justmund
02-19-2013, 03:09 PM
I think it's very amp dependent. I've played a 30w Egnater Rebel which has very little clean headroom and would have no chance keeping up with a drummer on the clean channel, and a 25w Mesa DC-2 which would deafen you before clean break up. Also if the amp just has a master volume and no gain control, you'll lose the ability to control gain and volumes (unless you run pedals).

I'd say 50W would be the "safe" bet but as always, try before you buy, even better, take the amp home and into a band situation before you buy!

Egads
02-19-2013, 03:12 PM
Our drummer is insanely loud. Ridiculously loud. 18 watts and 1x12 is iffy. 30 is more than enough. Of course it also depends on the speakers and cab. Adding another speaker with plenty. I really prefer lugging my 1x12 around, so I generally go that route.

Steph
02-19-2013, 03:26 PM
I think it's very amp dependent. I've played a 30w Egnater Rebel which has very little clean headroom and would have no chance keeping up with a drummer on the clean channel, and a 25w Mesa DC-2 which would deafen you before clean break up. Also if the amp just has a master volume and no gain control, you'll lose the ability to control gain and volumes (unless you run pedals).

I'd say 50W would be the "safe" bet but as always, try before you buy, even better, take the amp home and into a band situation before you buy!

That's what I'm afraid of... No black and white solution. I plan to rent a few different classic models (Marshall, VOX AC30, MESA, etc...) to get a real hands-on experience and feel.
I guess a 50W with a good power soak would be the config I should consider.

I'll check out that Mesa DC-2...

Thanks for your inputs! :top:

aristotle
02-19-2013, 03:30 PM
Hi Steph,

I'll take a stab at it...I'm sure others will have a different take and can add their thoughts.

For me, I find it useful to consider the rated maximum output power as an indication of clean overhead. That is, how loud can you turn the amp up before it starts to distort. It's not a set in stone thing though because depending on the amp design, two different amps with the same rated output power may start to break up at entirely different output sound pressure levels. A Fender Deluxe Reverb at 22 Watts will stay mainly clean even at very high volumes. It's pretty darn loud, and you'd be hard pressed for the style of music and environments that you describe to say that it wouldn't be loud enough to keep up. On the other hand, a Marshall 2061x is about the same rated power, but it starts to break up to a crunch at a much lower volume. If you wanted to play clean through it with a band, you might indeed feel that it's not loud enough. It runs both ways though. That Marshall might be more appropriate for you if you wanted to rely on the amp for distortion because you could get that distortion out of the Marshall at sound levels that are manageable, whereas if you wanted to get crunch out of the Fender, you'd likely find it too loud (given what you describe.)

In general though, higher wattage means you can play louder without distorting. There are also amps with a master volume that allow you to control distortion in the pre-amp section of the amp, allowing you to get distortion at a lower sound level if you want. In general though, people tend to find that distortion sounds better if some of it is coming from the output section of the amp...which means that it has to be set so that it's producing close to its rated power (meaning LOUD typically for any amp over 20 watts.)

Lots of people go with something like a Fender Deluxe, and use an overdrive pedal with it if they want a crunchy tone, and that works great in general. That setup, in my opinion, can keep up in most club type of situations, even if the drums are mic'd (to a reasonable level.) In that case, 22 Watts is enough in my opinion (again, for the situation you describe.)

The only two PRS amps I have experience with are the HX/DA and the MDT. Both have a master volume, but with the master cranked, using the preamp volume control to control output level, both amps start to break up rather early...and these are 50W amps. I don't find that these are too loud, and I wouldn't actually want a lower wattage version, as they wouldn't have enough clean headroom for the live playing that I do. I find that I can set the 50W MDT up so that it's sort of like a Fender Bassman, at a reasonable stage volume (not too loud, not too soft) where it breaks up just right if I have my guitar volume cranked, but cleans up nice if I back up on the guitar volume.

So, bottom line is that it depends on the amp... Any amps in particular that you're looking at?

Steph
02-19-2013, 03:33 PM
Our drummer is insanely loud. Ridiculously loud. 18 watts and 1x12 is iffy. 30 is more than enough. Of course it also depends on the speakers and cab. Adding another speaker with plenty. I really prefer lugging my 1x12 around, so I generally go that route.

Of course... the cabinet.... Just to make thing easier :goodnight:
Is your 30W able to keep up with some clean headroom or is it already breaking up?

Thanks, I appreciate this. ;)

Steph
02-19-2013, 04:09 PM
Hey Aristotle!

Thanks for your insight. Great info. A good clean headroom would be important for me. But i think I would like something that breaks a bit earlier then the fenders. And I guess a master volume will be a must for me.

In one word : versatility

I was considering Egnater amps, on the cheaper side, for their high tweakability. And the Rebel/Renegade for their power tubes mix feature.
For something more expensive, the PRSs is of big interest, of course. Something like the 2 ch. H maybe... The MDT seems pretty cool, too. The problem here will be to find one, where I live, to test it.
Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister has some nice features on it too...

Lots of testing and experimenting to come, I guess... :dontknow:

aristotle
02-19-2013, 04:23 PM
If you're looking for suggestions, given that you want a bit more flexibility, you might try these out also:

Marshall 2466 Vintage Modern (I actually think that the 100W version of this is better even at low volume than the 50W version. Great master volume implementation. Love this amp.)
Fender Super Sonic (2 channel, and comes in 22, 60 or 100W versions. Master volume, and the high gain side is gainier than most Fenders.)
Orange AD30 (2 channels. Cleans aren't "Fender Clean", but great gain tone

These are all in the $1K to $1.5K range. Still, for fun, you should try some of the PRS amps if you can. Not sure what's up in Montreal, but if you get to Toronto ever, TGS has a ton of selection on hand.

Steph
02-19-2013, 04:46 PM
If you're looking for suggestions, given that you want a bit more flexibility, you might try these out also:

Marshall 2466 Vintage Modern (I actually think that the 100W version of this is better even at low volume than the 50W version. Great master volume implementation. Love this amp.)
Fender Super Sonic (2 channel, and comes in 22, 60 or 100W versions. Master volume, and the high gain side is gainier than most Fenders.)
Orange AD30 (2 channels. Cleans aren't "Fender Clean", but great gain tone

These are all in the $1K to $1.5K range. Still, for fun, you should try some of the PRS amps if you can. Not sure what's up in Montreal, but if you get to Toronto ever, TGS has a ton of selection on hand.

Hey thanks for the suggestions. The more the better for now. I'll check them out!

Its hard to find high-end stuff in montreal as there doesn't seem to be a big market for it. (Even though the music scene is exploding here, in recent years!)
I got my PRS CU24 from TGS, and for sure, when I pass through Toronto, I will go and check out their shop, even just to say hi. They're an awesome bunch and I wish they were closer to my place.

Right now, I'm gathering criterias to help me filter through all the offerings.
Here's my Must-have list:
-Head/cabinet config (no combo). I want to easily play around with the speakers too.
-2 channels. Versatility...
-FX loop. Because I will be playing around with lots of pedals. I intend to keep the whole thing analog.
-Power attenuator/varia/soak. Because I don't live in the forest...
-Master volume. Did I mention the versatility? Oh yeah, I did...;)
-3 band EQ. No comments...
-Recording/Line OUT. Not sure I want to (need to) get into mics for now...

Thanks again!

LSchefman
02-19-2013, 06:44 PM
Recording/Line OUT. Not sure I want to (need to) get into mics for now...

Unlike transistor amps, tube amps rarely have these. I recall my Mesa Blue Angel had one, but a speaker also had to be plugged in to provide load resistance for the transformer. If it wasn't plugged in, you could blow the transformer. This is typical of tube amps.

Mics are simple. You put an inexpensive dynamic like a Shure SM57 up against the grill and play. It's way easier than fooling around with a lot of the other contraptions out there.

Finally, you don't need a power soak if your amp has a master volume that's good. In fact, I find that power soaks suck more tone than just using the master volume. Not only do they sound bad, but honestly, a lot of what you hear when an amp is cranked isn't just the power tubes distorting, it's the speaker distorting. You don't get that with a power soak anyway, so what's the point? Just use the MV control.

Just my two cents. You won't be a tube newbie for long once you get the hang of things.

Mikegarveyblues
02-19-2013, 07:58 PM
I'm with Les on this. If you're after a high quality valve amp and want to keep things analogue then you may as well mic it up with a decent mic rather than potentially compromise it all with a line out.

Egads
02-19-2013, 09:13 PM
Of course... the cabinet.... Just to make thing easier :goodnight:
Is your 30W able to keep up with some clean headroom or is it already breaking up?

Thanks, I appreciate this. ;)

I'm using a THD BiValve and really love it. It has two inputs--low gain with one preamp tube, and high gain with two. In the low input, there is a ton of headroom--I run it around noon and it's sparkly and enough to easily keep up with the drummer. On the high gain input (with humbuckers), it breaks up at 9:00 and screams.

Are you looking at combos or do have a speaker cab (in hand or in mind)?

I've got a Mesa Lonestar 1x12 widebody, which is switchable from 10 to 50 to 100 watts. It's a great amp and sounds fantastic live. My problem with it is the weight. I got really tired of lugging the damn thing around and NEVER got to turn it up in 50 or 100 watt modes. That's the fine line between power, sound, flexibility, and portability (at least for me).

Steph
02-20-2013, 12:54 AM
Unlike transistor amps, tube amps rarely have these. I recall my Mesa Blue Angel had one, but a speaker also had to be plugged in to provide load resistance for the transformer. If it wasn't plugged in, you could blow the transformer. This is typical of tube amps.

Mics are simple. You put an inexpensive dynamic like a Shure SM57 up against the grill and play. It's way easier than fooling around with a lot of the other contraptions out there.

Finally, you don't need a power soak if your amp has a master volume that's good. In fact, I find that power soaks suck more tone than just using the master volume. Not only do they sound bad, but honestly, a lot of what you hear when an amp is cranked isn't just the power tubes distorting, it's the speaker distorting. You don't get that with a power soak anyway, so what's the point? Just use the MV control.

Just my two cents. You won't be a tube newbie for long once you get the hang of things.

Thanks for the encouragement LSchefman... Seems the more I scratch the surface the more things pop out I didn't know. Not really surprised though.
I intend to have fun with this research. How can it not be...

I've seen a bunch of tube amps with line outs. Are they any good is another question...

I always thought you had to take into account the room and bunch of other stuff with mics. Just the choice out there is overwhelming. And just the positionning of the mic in front of the amp, seem like rocket science. Of coure I'm exagerating but I got the feeling one can fool around a long time before having a good sound. Understand that where i'll be recording is no sound studio. Still, i'll carefully consider this topic.

Thanks for all of this.
I'll be back for more...

Steph
02-20-2013, 01:02 AM
I'm using a THD BiValve and really love it. It has two inputs--low gain with one preamp tube, and high gain with two. In the low input, there is a ton of headroom--I run it around noon and it's sparkly and enough to easily keep up with the drummer. On the high gain input (with humbuckers), it breaks up at 9:00 and screams.

Are you looking at combos or do have a speaker cab (in hand or in mind)?

I've got a Mesa Lonestar 1x12 widebody, which is switchable from 10 to 50 to 100 watts. It's a great amp and sounds fantastic live. My problem with it is the weight. I got really tired of lugging the damn thing around and NEVER got to turn it up in 50 or 100 watt modes. That's the fine line between power, sound, flexibility, and portability (at least for me).

THD amps are new to me. Still adding to the choices... These are def great times to buy guitar gear... Lots have change since I started.

Head and cabinet its gonna be for sure. And for the same reasons... weight. And I might end up with two cabinets in different places, having just to carry the head.

Rango
02-20-2013, 02:20 AM
If you're looking for suggestions, given that you want a bit more flexibility, you might try these out also:

Marshall 2466 Vintage Modern (I actually think that the 100W version of this is better even at low volume than the 50W version. Great master volume implementation. Love this amp.)
Fender Super Sonic (2 channel, and comes in 22, 60 or 100W versions. Master volume, and the high gain side is gainier than most Fenders.)
Orange AD30 (2 channels. Cleans aren't "Fender Clean", but great gain tone

These are all in the $1K to $1.5K range. Still, for fun, you should try some of the PRS amps if you can. Not sure what's up in Montreal, but if you get to Toronto ever, TGS has a ton of selection on hand.

I have a 60 watt Super Sonic, a Bassman RI and a Mesa TA-30. Steph I think we're trying to cover some of the same sonic ground....

I'd second the Super Sonic - Clean head room? TONS - Fender clean too - the gold standard for cleans. With two voicings Bassman/Vibrolux. Vintage 30 single speaker can be directional - tilt back helps and an extension cab helps. You will not want for volume - Trust me. :D Great gigging amp, takes pedals well and has a second channel with lots of gain on tap, if needed. THE BEST THING - they can be had cheap on the used market. Mine was $630 used at GC in MINT condition. An acquaintance of mine that's the lead player for a band I've sat in with plays one - he's gigging it about 3 weekends a month - nothing but tubes and it's going strong after 3 years.

I love my Bassman and the Mesa too but for "bang for buck" and flexibility the Super Sonic wins. :D

That said - I'd really like to try the MDT and some of the other PRS amps! ;)

Good Hunting! :D

LSchefman
02-20-2013, 03:15 AM
I've seen a bunch of tube amps with line outs. Are they any good is another question....

I didn't mean to imply they're all that rare, just that most traditional tube amps don't have them.

And the ones that do, to the best of my knowledge, still need a speaker load while you're running the amp.

Here's the problem in any case: you're still missing the sound provided by the speaker, a crucial part of the tone chain. While you can use an impulse response model to get around that, what's the point of using the amp? You're as well off with a modeling amp or software amp.

And the speaker is still making noise, why not just put a mic in front of it and record the real thing? It's easy.

Yes, you can make it complicated when you're doing certain things, but even the most basic setup will sound better than using a line out.

Steph
02-20-2013, 09:16 AM
I have a 60 watt Super Sonic, a Bassman RI and a Mesa TA-30. Steph I think we're trying to cover some of the same sonic ground....

I'd second the Super Sonic - Clean head room? TONS - Fender clean too - the gold standard for cleans. With two voicings Bassman/Vibrolux. Vintage 30 single speaker can be directional - tilt back helps and an extension cab helps. You will not want for volume - Trust me. :D Great gigging amp, takes pedals well and has a second channel with lots of gain on tap, if needed. THE BEST THING - they can be had cheap on the used market. Mine was $630 used at GC in MINT condition. An acquaintance of mine that's the lead player for a band I've sat in with plays one - he's gigging it about 3 weekends a month - nothing but tubes and it's going strong after 3 years.

I love my Bassman and the Mesa too but for "bang for buck" and flexibility the Super Sonic wins. :D

That said - I'd really like to try the MDT and some of the other PRS amps! ;)

Good Hunting! :D

Thanks Rango

I'll check out the Super Sonic, sounds really interesting (no pun).

The TA-30 is of interest too because of its multiple voicings... I like the AC30 crunch so I'm curious to see if it can come close somehow...

And yeah... those PRS amps....

Steph
02-20-2013, 09:21 AM
I didn't mean to imply they're all that rare, just that most traditional tube amps don't have them.

And the ones that do, to the best of my knowledge, still need a speaker load while you're running the amp.

Here's the problem in any case: you're still missing the sound provided by the speaker, a crucial part of the tone chain. While you can use an impulse response model to get around that, what's the point of using the amp? You're as well off with a modeling amp or software amp.

And the speaker is still making noise, why not just put a mic in front of it and record the real thing? It's easy.

Yes, you can make it complicated when you're doing certain things, but even the most basic setup will sound better than using a line out.

Hey LSchefman

Just FYI I'm pretty sure the Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister has an intergraded load.

Anyways, I will keep all this in mind. I guess I'll come back with Mic questions the next time... :wink:

I knew it was gonna be though. Hope I'm just not trying to cover to much ground with one amp... Which would'nt surprise me...

Thanks, I appreciate.... :top:

Rango
02-20-2013, 12:43 PM
Thanks Rango

I'll check out the Super Sonic, sounds really interesting (no pun).

The TA-30 is of interest too because of its multiple voicings... I like the AC30 crunch so I'm curious to see if it can come close somehow...

And yeah... those PRS amps....

I play the TA-30 almost all the time now. The only band I get to sit in with at the moment - the lead player is playing a SuperSonic - I want to stay out of his sonic space. He's a Strat Player so I always bring something else both amp and guitar wise - Multiple voices AND build in power control with 15/30/40 selections. It's master volume, power and voicings give it a lot of flexablity. The Top Boost voice is really great with my P22. The downside is they are pricey new - I would not have bought it but I tripped across a deal I couldn't pass up on it. I was actually looking for an AC30HW when I found it....

Super Sonic's are available for so little on the used market - it's just a sleeper amp - if this one was lost - I'd buy another. ;)

Oh and I'd listen to LSchefman ;) - Just Mic it - SM57's are cheap and effective! PLUS if you ever get somewhere that you need to run some guitar signal thought the PA - like outdoors - you're all set! :D

LSchefman
02-20-2013, 12:50 PM
One important thing to know about wattage is that doubling the power results in only a 3 db increase in the amp's output. Halving the power obviously results in a 3 db reduction in the amp's output level.

A decibel is the smallest volume change the ear can perceive.

However, the tone of amps does tend to change with various power capabilities for a number of reasons, among them:

Different power supplies, transformers, numbers of tubes, and other components. These all have an effect on the sound. As an example, a 100 watt version of most 50 watt amps exhibits tighter, cleaner bass response. And of course, amps have different headroom with different power levels also.

Speaker efficiency, cabinet design, and number of speakers will also heavily influence the sound of an amp, as well as load its power output differently.

There are a lot of variables at work.

Steph
02-20-2013, 01:04 PM
Super Sonic's are available for so little on the used market - it's just a sleeper amp - if this one was lost - I'd buy another. ;)

Oh and I'd listen to LSchefman ;) - Just Mic it - SM57's are cheap and effective! PLUS if you ever get somewhere that you need to run some guitar signal thought the PA - like outdoors - you're all set! :D

I believe you. Look what I stumble upon this morning... Without looking for it...

http://montreal.kijiji.ca/c-acheter-et-vendre-instruments-de-musique-amplificateurs-pedales-Fender-super-sonic-60W-W0QQAdIdZ458178142

http://montreal.kijiji.ca/c-acheter-et-vendre-instruments-de-musique-amplificateurs-pedales-Fender-Super-Sonic-60-watts-W0QQAdIdZ458183436

But the TA-30 is really catching my attention... Will look for a try somewhere...

LSchefman did change my perspective on this mic issue. I will seriously consider a mic setup... Hey! more gear, how bad can it be! :wink:

Steph
02-20-2013, 01:18 PM
One important thing to know about wattage is that doubling the power results in only a 3 db increase in the amp's output. Halving the power obviously results in a 3 db reduction in the amp's output level.

A decibel is the smallest volume change the ear can perceive.

However, the tone of amps does tend to change with various power capabilities for a number of reasons, among them:

Different power supplies, transformers, numbers of tubes, and other components. These all have an effect on the sound. As an example, a 100 watt version of most 50 watt amps exhibits tighter, cleaner bass response. And of course, amps have different headroom with different power levels also.

Speaker efficiency, cabinet design, and number of speakers will also heavily influence the sound of an amp, as well as load its power output differently.

There are a lot of variables at work.

Hey! There you are... :D

Yeah, so much variable that it is hard to navigate through them...

I did know about the Watt/db relation... That is why I haven't discarded any power types... Not even a 100w amps. But your comments underline even more the need for me to experiment a lot to actually get a hands-on experience of all those variables. That is why I'm plannng to rent a few different type of amps (30w, 50w, 100w, marshall, vox, mesa...) and hear for myself the difference...

You've been very helpful and instructive...

Thanks man!! :beer:

Dirty Bob
02-20-2013, 02:39 PM
There have been many good suggestions in this thread...I also second the Marshall 2466 as an unbelievable amp...on the quiet side for a 100 watter and has a master volume and and fx loop. PRS territory I would look at an H...very versatile. In the Fender clean vein with the ability to jump to higher gain if necessary I would most likely look toward amps built by Bruce Zinky and Paul Rivera...even if you by them used. It's also never a bad decision IMHO to go with Mesa. Even their higher gain amplifiers have other modes than what the amps are known for...(and they sound excellent)...used prices have been very good on them recently.

Steph
02-20-2013, 03:14 PM
There have been many good suggestions in this thread...I also second the Marshall 2466 as an unbelievable amp...on the quiet side for a 100 watter and has a master volume and and fx loop. PRS territory I would look at an H...very versatile. In the Fender clean vein with the ability to jump to higher gain if necessary I would most likely look toward amps built by Bruce Zinky and Paul Rivera...even if you by them used. It's also never a bad decision IMHO to go with Mesa. Even their higher gain amplifiers have other modes than what the amps are known for...(and they sound excellent)...used prices have been very good on them recently.

You bet! justlike yours...
I hope they will keep coming.... :flute:

Dirty Bob
02-20-2013, 03:22 PM
Ha! I buy amps...I tend not to sell em!

Steph
02-20-2013, 03:25 PM
Ha! I buy amps...I tend not to sell em!

:laugh:

Rango
02-20-2013, 06:01 PM
I believe you. Look what I stumble upon this morning... Without looking for it...

http://montreal.kijiji.ca/c-acheter-et-vendre-instruments-de-musique-amplificateurs-pedales-Fender-super-sonic-60W-W0QQAdIdZ458178142

http://montreal.kijiji.ca/c-acheter-et-vendre-instruments-de-musique-amplificateurs-pedales-Fender-Super-Sonic-60-watts-W0QQAdIdZ458183436

But the TA-30 is really catching my attention... Will look for a try somewhere...

LSchefman did change my perspective on this mic issue. I will seriously consider a mic setup... Hey! more gear, how bad can it be! :wink:
Yup and you never know what you maybe able to get with an offer and it would be a good place to start....

If you like the TA-30 - look for one in 2x12. I had the chance to A-B them and found the 2x12 to be much fuller sounding to me. You could also go the head and cab route with them.


Ha! I buy amps...I tend not to sell em!
That's me! :rofl:

CantankerousCarl
02-20-2013, 06:58 PM
Not sure tone-wise how the Mesa TA compares to the newer Express Plus but I love my 6L6 5:50 more all the time, I think they hit a nearly unbeatable combination of tone, portability and flexibility. 5W/25W/50W selection for each channel, the famous 5-band EQ, footswitchable lead boost, in a reasonably compact 1x12 that still has plenty of bottom end.

The clean channel on 5W (which is single-ended) has a wonderful clean sound, and is capable of wicked crunch. Gain channel is decidedly non-fizzy (as opposed to the EL84 5:25 which I returned) and rich. Everything but the kitchen sink on this one. 'Spensive.

Honorable mention to my little H&K TM18 combo. Super compact, a little boxy, but when dialed in right gives great crunch and really pristine cleans. Perfect for rehearsals and small gigs, and the redbox recording out actually sounds decent. Needs some sort of boost pedal in front of it for my taste (I use a TC Spark) because the built-in lead boost is a little extreme.

Boogie
02-23-2013, 08:35 AM
What kind of music are you playing? Cover band situations typically demand some flexibility and that leads you down a particular path. I saw suggestions of Boogies, H&Ks, Egnaters, etc. and those are really good suggestions, but there's one more question you need to answer...to mic or not to mic. In my band situation, we do it old school: vocals + drums only thru the PA. That means the guitars and bass have to fend for themselves. That also dictates amp wattage because, depending upon the venue size, you need to adjust your volume without killing your grail tone, right? When I retired my Boogie (MkIII Simul-class = 85W or 25W class A) I planned on staying in the 30W range. That's why deciding on the Super Dallas was such a challenge and risk. But because the tonal register of the SD is so different from the MkIII, I can turn WAY up and not kill people. If it were a 30W, my clean headroom would probably be too limited. It works very well for me right now.

The 'recording out' on the H&K is an implementation of their famous Redbox, which I've also used for decades. If that amp is too small for you, just grab a Redbox and it replaces the SM57, setup, EQ'ing and other mish-mash pretty well. It's a great solution in a pinch.

Steph
02-23-2013, 10:17 AM
What kind of music are you playing? Cover band situations typically demand some flexibility and that leads you down a particular path. I saw suggestions of Boogies, H&Ks, Egnaters, etc. and those are really good suggestions, but there's one more question you need to answer...to mic or not to mic. In my band situation, we do it old school: vocals + drums only thru the PA. That means the guitars and bass have to fend for themselves. That also dictates amp wattage because, depending upon the venue size, you need to adjust your volume without killing your grail tone, right? When I retired my Boogie (MkIII Simul-class = 85W or 25W class A) I planned on staying in the 30W range. That's why deciding on the Super Dallas was such a challenge and risk. But because the tonal register of the SD is so different from the MkIII, I can turn WAY up and not kill people. If it were a 30W, my clean headroom would probably be too limited. It works very well for me right now.

The 'recording out' on the H&K is an implementation of their famous Redbox, which I've also used for decades. If that amp is too small for you, just grab a Redbox and it replaces the SM57, setup, EQ'ing and other mish-mash pretty well. It's a great solution in a pinch.

Hey Boogie! Thanks for your insight.

Good idea about the Redbox... I haven't sorted the mic issue yet. I'm probably not gonna play any live gigs any time soon, but i'm planning to work on forming a hobby/week-end/just-for-fun band and do some home recording, so I'm planning my amp buy accordingly, hence the wattage questions. My last band experience is some 15yrs behind me and is of no help to me now (more acoustic oriented). And, there is so much more gear offerings today...
Needless to say, that a cover band would best define my project. Somewhere between blues to classic rock. I do some blues-jazz so clean headroom would be required. But then again, I would like some good ZZ top type crunch also. And in that sense, my wattage xepectation keeps on climbing. I get the feeling I will get what I aim for in the 50w range (for cleans at high volume).
So that's why I'm kinda looking for the holy-grail of versatility... Holy grail as in Hopless Search...

Here are my prospect... (Lots of testing to come...)
-PRS 2 channel H
-Mesa TA-30
-Mesa Express Plus 5:50
-Marshall 2466 Modern vintage
-Marshall DSL series
-Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 36
-Egnater Renegade
-VOX ac30hwh head
-Bogner Shiva
-Bogner Barcelona
-..... Your suggestion here...........

Thanks man! :top:

Steph
02-23-2013, 10:23 AM
Not sure tone-wise how the Mesa TA compares to the newer Express Plus but I love my 6L6 5:50 more all the time, I think they hit a nearly unbeatable combination of tone, portability and flexibility. 5W/25W/50W selection for each channel, the famous 5-band EQ, footswitchable lead boost, in a reasonably compact 1x12 that still has plenty of bottom end.

The clean channel on 5W (which is single-ended) has a wonderful clean sound, and is capable of wicked crunch. Gain channel is decidedly non-fizzy (as opposed to the EL84 5:25 which I returned) and rich. Everything but the kitchen sink on this one. 'Spensive.

Honorable mention to my little H&K TM18 combo. Super compact, a little boxy, but when dialed in right gives great crunch and really pristine cleans. Perfect for rehearsals and small gigs, and the redbox recording out actually sounds decent. Needs some sort of boost pedal in front of it for my taste (I use a TC Spark) because the built-in lead boost is a little extreme.

Thanks CantankerousCarl for pointing me towards the Express Plus... I really like the wattage config... Its on the list...

The H&K offers a nice package too...

This is the kind of feedback that is very useful for me right now... Thanks.

Boogie
02-23-2013, 10:45 AM
Another suggestion...don't minimize your speaker selection. A combo has a speaker that typically has been specifically voiced for the amp, saving you some trouble. But matching the right cabinet/speaker(s) to the amp is more than half of the battle. Les (and many others) have way more experience than me in this department, but my recent acquisition proved this point clearly, to me. When evaluating what you like and want, be prepared to buy the total solution...combo or head+cab. That's the only way to get the sound you heard in Youtube or at the store. Otherwise, take your fav cab with you for evaluation.

It sounds like we play much of the same stuff. The Super Dallas works really well for my classic rock gig but it is not a good bedroom player's candidate (especially if you're married and/or have kids or live in an apartment). Our other guitarist plays a Marshall DSL40 combo and we mesh together pretty well (complimentary...he's bright and cutting, I'm deep, growl-ly and full). The Bogner Shiva is a stella option, but can be loud too (It's a magical lead tone thru a V30 2x12). The Mesa TA-30 has been on my "must try" radar but never happened, but it is a very compelling option (I am a dyed in the wool Boogie guy, after all ;)). The PRS 'H' was too close to the Boogie options for me, but sounded awesome. I was never able to dial in a good tone with an Egnater (not its fault, but my issue. A good salesperson would have fixed this). H&K makes excellent equipment and another forum bro gigs one. Loves it. I'd try one simply on his recommendation.

FYI, I personally believe my Gibbons tone with the SD is rockin' with my SE One (plus a little Lovepedal Kalamazoo and EP Booster). When I talk grail tone, this is place for me. But it comes at the price of volume.

Steph
02-23-2013, 11:32 AM
Another suggestion...don't minimize your speaker selection. A combo has a speaker that typically has been specifically voiced for the amp, saving you some trouble. But matching the right cabinet/speaker(s) to the amp is more than half of the battle. Les (and many others) have way more experience than me in this department, but my recent acquisition proved this point clearly, to me. When evaluating what you like and want, be prepared to buy the total solution...combo or head+cab. That's the only way to get the sound you heard in Youtube or at the store. Otherwise, take your fav cab with you for evaluation.

It sounds like we play much of the same stuff. The Super Dallas works really well for my classic rock gig but it is not a good bedroom player's candidate (especially if you're married and/or have kids or live in an apartment). Our other guitarist plays a Marshall DSL40 combo and we mesh together pretty well (complimentary...he's bright and cutting, I'm deep, growl-ly and full). The Bogner Shiva is a stella option, but can be loud too (It's a magical lead tone thru a V30 2x12). The Mesa TA-30 has been on my "must try" radar but never happened, but it is a very compelling option (I am a dyed in the wool Boogie guy, after all ;)). The PRS 'H' was too close to the Boogie options for me, but sounded awesome. I was never able to dial in a good tone with an Egnater (not its fault, but my issue. A good salesperson would have fixed this). H&K makes excellent equipment and another forum bro gigs one. Loves it. I'd try one simply on his recommendation.

FYI, I personally believe my Gibbons tone with the SD is rockin' with my SE One (plus a little Lovepedal Kalamazoo and EP Booster). When I talk grail tone, this is place for me. But it comes at the price of volume.

Great comments Boogie, I appreciate this...

I understand more and more that I'll have to sacrifice being able to use the amp at bedroom volume, if I want the versatility to play with drums and all. I agree, most of the time great tone comes at a volume price. I guess I won't have it both ways. Beside, I've got my bedroom setup covered already, so I've decided to drop that part of my requirement, and concentrate on versatility of tone instead of volume...

I think I'm gonna go for a Head/Cabinet config. Just another way to get more playroom in tone shaping. No to mention the weight... I'll be very careful to take both parts into consideration, as it makes perfect sense. Thanks for underlying. I'm thinking 2x12...

My main problem at first, I think, will be to find those amps to try... Especially PRS and Bogner which are impossible to find in the main stores where I live. Too small a market. There was some cool boutique stores at one point, but they never last unfortunately.

Anyways, as I've said in other posts, I plan into renting some classic models (what I can find) at different wattage to get a real feel of what its all about. Youtube is of no help on this watt issue. Plus I think juging tone on Youtube is like those old HD TV commercials showing us, through our old tube tv screen, how better there image is... Kinda makes no sense. But its a starting point, I guess.

I prefer this kind of input... so thanks again...

gush
03-10-2013, 09:39 PM
I have a 5150 head,120 watts. I purchased it in 1994 and I just had to have it. Its too much. Ive done out door gigs with 2 4x12 cabs and never get past 3 on the master volume. I wish it was 30 watts to be honest. Ive played with the cab covered, turned around and even tried a plywood cover that leaves 3 inches of the bottom 2 speakers showing. The plywood cover allowed me to run master on 5 without killing people but the tone isnt right. It would display hints of that good cranked tube amp sound but only hints. 30 watts is plenty.

My head has a direct out. I tried running direct to the board once.......IT SUCKED! Couldnt unplug it fast enough. Like les said, dynamic mic to the grill is the way to go. I use senn 609s for that live. I like them a little better than the 57, but thats me.

Boogie
03-10-2013, 11:37 PM
I have a 5150 head,120 watts. I purchased it in 1994 and I just had to have it. Its too much.
That is exactly why I sold my Twin II. It's just not where my focus lies right now. We do play pretty loud sometimes, but nowhere where a Twin can be cranked to overdrive (does that really exist?). Heck, even with my MkIII, I only started using the 25W class A mode about 3 years ago exclusively. Then I was able to push the amp into new sonic territory. I was finally able to make a Boogie do something other than Petrucci/Metallica MOP tone (not that there's anything wrong with that).

cosmic_ape
03-11-2013, 02:29 AM
Reading all the features you've posted, I think it's clear you want the Tubemeister 36. I have played the 18 and the 5, and I want to try 36, too. I have been on a similar quest that's been pushed due to a guitar layaway, but I will share my own findings.

- On the budget department, you can't go wrong with a PRS SE 30. Of all the three SEs, I found this one to have the clearest, tightest, least compressed overdrive tone. And it is pretty darn loud, too! It's got almost all the things you are looking for.
- The Tubemeister has all the features. I am not sure the 36w fixes the problems I read about the 18w model (fizzy OD at low volumes, boost button being too loud, goopy construction -on the combos at least- that made tube replacement a challenge). I think that if you like the tone, that should do it for ya.
- A high tier PRS amp is always an option. I read this year, the HX/DA and the MDT will include an FX loop. That seals the deal for me!
- Here's an amp no one has mentioned yet. If you own a PRS guitar, you can increase the clarity with a Dr Z. Maz 38 Sr. I tested this one and could not believe my ears! Whatever high end I could not hear enough of before was there to spare! It will not get as distorted on its own, but all you need is a good OD pedal and it will get there. You will not worry about a drummer being too loud with this one either. That's what I keep reading.


Incidentally, you guys need to talk to your drummers. Introduce them to this thing, what's it called? DYNAMICS! If you can pick lightly, they can hit lightly.

Em7
03-11-2013, 03:51 PM
The one universal truth that holds for tube amps is less equals more. A tube amp with a short signal path will almost always sound better and feel more connected than a tube amp with a long signal path, which is why so many guitarists still rely on Marshall 1987 (4-hole JMP) and 2204 (JCM 800) 50W heads for their base tone. The 5F6A Tweed Bassman circuit from which these amps were derived is the gold standard for guitar amp tone. No other amp circuit has spawned so many derivatives.

LSchefman
03-11-2013, 05:36 PM
The one universal truth that holds for tube amps is less equals more. A tube amp with a short signal path will almost always sound better and feel more connected than a tube amp with a long signal path, which is why so many guitarists still rely on Marshall 1987 (4-hole JMP) and 2204 (JCM 800) 50W heads for their base tone. The 5F6A Tweed Bassman circuit from which these amps were derived is the gold standard for guitar amp tone. No other amp circuit has spawned so many derivatives.

I gotta agree.

Put more stuff in the signal path, and you lose something.

jfb
03-11-2013, 07:18 PM
I have had tube amps ranging from 7 to 150 watts. I can't say I have a wattage preference. Though I do certainly have a preference for which ones I'd rather not have to re-tube.

Snoopygore71
03-11-2013, 07:39 PM
Tube amps are a funny bugger, you have to remember a 50w tube half stack can usually outpower a drummer. My coverband had one guitarist using 50w Marshall half stack with Marshall 4x12 cab and the other running a 50w Sherlock Fathead into a Mesa Rectifier 4x12. No worries about volume

I run a Mesa Heartbreaker 212 combo - now this was not really a favourite of Mesa users, but it does have the ability to run 6L6's, EL34's and 6V6's. So it runs 50/100w with the big power tubes and I run it at half power with 6v6's, so it's 20W/40W at full power. I also have a Rivera Clubster 110 and a Mesa 5:25 Express 112. The 6V6's in the Rivera are sweeter than the EL84's in the Express. EL84's are the power tubes in the TA30 and AC30, to me they sound a bit more glassy when pushed.

I have had Fender Twin, Fender Blues Deluxe, THD Univalve, Mesa Subway Rocket and Mesa DC-5. All are good, I reckon the Mesa Mk IV and V are massively versatile but at the end of the days it your ears!!

hairychris
03-12-2013, 01:24 PM
^

Wattage of amp does not equal amount of air moved, especially when talking about keeping up with drummers! I've been a halfstack man for years; that's down to genre of music (loud & unpleasant) but believe me, my back and transport-organization-skills wish that I was using a Combo.

You should be able to get a smallish venue hearing you with a decent 1x12 combo, unless your drummer is a caveman, then a 2x12 should be plenty. Neither are really "bedroom" amps as your speaker has a sweet spot too. 30 - 50 watts should be fine unless you're looking for headroom.

Fairly recently I played a borrowed 50w Marshall JCM800 combo at a gig. Very nice sounding amp, actually, easily enough gain for classic rock but nice & clear too. The 50w 1x12 combo version of my head (Diezel Einstein) is a great amp but on the expensive side. Mesa does some nice smaller amps, can't really think of anyone else that I've tried.

Snoopygore71
03-12-2013, 06:39 PM
^

Wattage of amp does not equal amount of air moved, especially when talking about keeping up with drummers! I've been a halfstack man for years; that's down to genre of music (loud & unpleasant) but believe me, my back and transport-organization-skills wish that I was using a Combo.

You should be able to get a smallish venue hearing you with a decent 1x12 combo, unless your drummer is a caveman, then a 2x12 should be plenty. Neither are really "bedroom" amps as your speaker has a sweet spot too. 30 - 50 watts should be fine unless you're looking for headroom.

Fairly recently I played a borrowed 50w Marshall JCM800 combo at a gig. Very nice sounding amp, actually, easily enough gain for classic rock but nice & clear too. The 50w 1x12 combo version of my head (Diezel Einstein) is a great amp but on the expensive side. Mesa does some nice smaller amps, can't really think of anyone else that I've tried.

Very true on your first point, I should clariy with how efficient the speakers are but you hear the guitar due to it's frequencies as opposed to loudness