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Thread: Help Chosing An Amp

  1. #1
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    Help Chosing An Amp

    Greetings, this is my first post and I'm not sure if I can ask this here so please excuse me if I'm in error. I just bought a 2011 JA-15 used with the 53/10 pickups. I'm not crazy about the sound through my Valvetrain Bennington Reverb which is a 20 watt blackface recreation. Of course I'm looking at a clear, clean sound that accentuates the guitar and pickups sound quality. Any thoughts? Thanks in adance.

  2. #2
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    Sweet 16 or Sweet 16 plus?
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

    SE Custom 24 25th Anniversary - SE Akesson+57/08's - SE 30 Head/Cab

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    I don't play at loud volumes. I'm checking out the sweet 16 online and it sounds good. I have a good speaker cab so I'd probably opt for the head version. Thanks for the advise!

  4. #4
    The Sweet 16 is very impressive for a low-wattage amp.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  5. #5
    deus ex machina
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    Clearly articulating what you do not like about the Valvetrain is the first step in finding an amp suitable for your needs.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Em7 View Post
    Clearly articulating what you do not like about the Valvetrain is the first step in finding an amp suitable for your needs.
    If he wants a better amp, I honestly don't think that's really necessary, though it's always a good idea; but the Valvetrain isn't a great sounding amp.

    I've yet to hear a PRS amp that isn't a better choice for those with the funds!
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  7. #7
    Senior Member andy474x's Avatar
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    15-ish watts is such a great output for an amp, amps that size can get a decent tone at manageable volumes but also put out enough sound to play with a drummer. Plus 6v6's are pretty cool. That amp is on my list, along with the HXDA per Les' rave reviews.
    -I'm no expert, but it seems to work and I haven't electrocuted myself yet. Which is pretty much the standard I live by.

    SE Custom 24 25th Anniversary - SE Akesson+57/08's - SE 30 Head/Cab

  8. #8
    deus ex machina
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    If he wants a better amp, I honestly don't think that's really necessary, though it's always a good idea; but the Valvetrain isn't a great sounding amp.

    I've yet to hear a PRS amp that isn't a better choice for those with the funds!
    I have spent my entire adult life designing complex systems. Most projects fail or suffer major budget overruns because of the customer's inability to clearly articulate what they want until fairly late in the game. The same thing can be said about an amp purchase. I have seen guys burn through money on this site and others because they did not sit down and think about where the gear that they already owned came up short before making an expensive purchase.

    I know a lot about tube amps. However, I would never recommend an amp without sitting down and watching the OP play because no two people approach the instrument from the same direction. One person's clean is another person's sterile. For example, I find the Sweet 16 to be a rather bland sounding amp. To me, it's the melba toast of the Maryland-made PRS amp line. However, there are other guitarists who love the amp. I also find the Custom 50 to be an extremely tight-feeling amp that lacks character. However, there is little doubt in my mind that the amp appeals to many guitarists.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Dirty Bob's Avatar
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    I just realized again how lucky and fortunate I am to having more than one amp...what some see as sterile, tight, or loose....I see as different...each amp requiring a slightly unique approach when playing....some work more for Metal, others Rock, Blues, or Country..... Please don't misunderstand....there are amps I find absolutely horrible...many actually.....there are expensive amps that I have heard that have not been appealing and cheaper overlooked amps that have sounded like gold.....Out of the Maryland made amps I haven't played a dud yet....though I have not played them all. I think it is extremely important to know what someone expects from an amp and how they approach their instruments....both the guitar and the amp....that said sometimes you can have life changing experiences by stepping out of the box....like you did Les with the HXDA.

    Paul...Lately I have had a personal preference for the PRS amps with the Cinemag transformers....I find them very articulate....I have the Recording Amp which is basically an internally bridged Marshall with a bunch of switches to change components in and out of the circuit....goes from great cleans to vintage grind...I can hear tones ranging from Band of Gypsies to Live at The Fillmore....I have also been able to get chicken pickin clean with it as well.

    I played a Super Dallas (thank you Kerry) a few months back....it flat out roars....yet I was able to dial in a very smooth clean singing tone using a Les Paul.

    I also really like the H.....it has a Heyboer transformer (hence the H)....great 2 channel amp...highly flexible....somewhat more immediate in its feel yet still can be extremely touch sensitive...and I have raved about the tone of the clean channel with the gain cranked while hitting the front end with an EP booster....


    What have been some of the amps you have tried in the past? What have you liked or disliked? What would you really like to get out of a dream amp if you could have one?
    -Bob

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Em7 View Post
    I have spent my entire adult life designing complex systems. Most projects fail or suffer major budget overruns because of the customer's inability to clearly articulate what they want until fairly late in the game. The same thing can be said about an amp purchase. I have seen guys burn through money on this site and others because they did not sit down and think about where the gear that they already owned came up short before making an expensive purchase.
    Honestly, I've done some mighty complex things in my life. You'd be very surprised. But this isn't a big million/billion dollar problem that needs solving. You're overthinking a simple thing.

    A guy doesn't like his amp with his new guitar, and wants some suggestions about what to listen to or try out.

    It's not a complex system that needs analysis. It's all in the gut. You like it, or not. Simple stuff. Like deciding whether you like green suits or blue suits better. You don't have to articulate the reasons you don't like green suits. Go look at yourself in blue suits and see how that works out. If it doesn't work out, try gray, or brown, or black.

    Hopefully this process occurs before you buy a suit, right?

    Quote Originally Posted by Em7 View Post
    I know a lot about tube amps. However, I would never recommend an amp without sitting down and watching the OP play because no two people approach the instrument from the same direction.
    First of all, you're most likely not going to get the OP to play for you on the internet. And even if you did, you'd still only be making a guess.

    Despite what you think you know, and it is very impressive that you can rig up light bulbs into a footswitch, you can never get into another person's head. That's why you can't solve his problem by talking about what he doesn't like. Nor can you solve it by watching and listening to him play. He's the only one that can solve it. He needs to go play some amps.

    But you can suggest a few things to listen to, that's pretty harmless. It's up to the OP at that point to do his homework, listen to, and play through the gear.

    It ain't a differential diagnosis, where you ask questions and run tests to eliminate the various diseases and symptoms until you find the scientific answer. There isn't a scientific answer.

    There's only an artistic one.

    Neither you nor I nor anyone else can make that artistic choice for someone. You can't even effectively do it after you've hashed it all out and watched someone play. Any recommendation can be no more than, "try this one out" because the decision is THAT personal.

    I said I thought that the Sweet 16 is impressive. I listened to it, and it sounded good. That's all that's necessary for me to decide whether I liked it. But that was hardly a recommendation for someone to buy it.

    As to expertise, mine is artistic, not technical. As you know, my recording and production work involving guitar amplifiers does wind up on TV and radio quite regularly, I'm an experienced producer...so my opinion might be interesting to the Great Unwashed who just want a few suggestions. But I can't put a lightbulb in a footswitch, and I'd rather buy a new power brick for my pedals than mod the old one.

    You can be a guy's best friend, you can know everything about him. If he says he wants to get married, you can introduce him to some women. But you can't choose his wife.

    Same with amps. And instruments!

    Quote Originally Posted by Em7 View Post
    One person's clean is another person's sterile. For example, I find the Sweet 16 to be a rather bland sounding amp. To me, it's the melba toast of the Maryland-made PRS amp line. However, there are other guitarists who love the amp. I also find the Custom 50 to be an extremely tight-feeling amp that lacks character. However, there is little doubt in my mind that the amp appeals to many guitarists.
    Gosh. Different people have different taste! Big insight, there.

    Don't take this personally, but yours kind of sucks. Melba toast is GREAT stuff. Perfect with cheese. Amazing with caviar. In fact, done correctly - and most of what you see in grocery stores is an abomination that should be put up against the wall and shot for calling itself melba toast - it is a gourmet delight.

    Oh, I'm kidding about your taste. Sorta. No really, I'm kidding.

    But I'd never let you pick out an amp for me.
    Last edited by LSchefman; 05-19-2013 at 03:34 AM.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

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    I think I hit a nerve here....one of you wanted to know what amps I have used in the past. The ones I had that I liked best to okay in order were a Genz Benz Black Pearl, Carr Rambler, Burriss Royal Bluesman and a Fender Deluxe Reverb. The guitars I used were a PRS CE22, and the I still own....an old telecaster, a Rick 12 and my 1983 Ibanez Artist AM-50. The Ibanez and the Valvetrain amp are headed for Ebay. I love the Ibanez but don't need it now that I have the JA-15. You guys/ladies will laugh but I'm mostly an acoustic player and I'm 100% satisfied with my 3 Taylor guitars and my AER Domino amp. When I play electric it's low level Rock, mostly rythym. I also have a Fender Super Champ X2 head that I play through a Burriss cab with a Warehouse Reaper 30 speaker. I absolutely love that cab and it sounds pretty good with the Champ just not ideal. You know how it is. Does all that help?

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    Senior Member Dirty Bob's Avatar
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    Well for me your description at least immediately rules out the Blistertone and the Sewell....which lean on the higher gain side (although not in the same sense as an Engl or a Diezel)

    If you like a classic flexible single channel amp - I would think you would like a Super Dallas immensely....I know I did.....it is a heck of a lot of amp...though it does have a very good master volume....if you need smaller-

    1.) the 16 or the 16+ (i have no direct experience with the 16+ but have heard good things) for grab and go.

    2.) the 30 - I remember seeing a video with Warren Haynes talking about using the "30" for his solo gig...I've also never tried one but it might be your cup of tea.

    3.) There are also a few 30 watt HXDA's ( I believe they are 2x12 combo's) and H based amps (1x12 I think) also floating around that you may want to try.

    any tube compliments you prefer? Do you like a single channel amp and riding your volume knob or would you like the flexibility of a 2 channel?
    Last edited by Dirty Bob; 05-19-2013 at 08:00 AM.
    -Bob

  13. #13
    Large Member Kine's Avatar
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    I'm in the process of choosing a new amp as well. For me it's important to figure out which direction I want to go with my sound. Who or what do I want to sound like? What amp/equipment is necessary to get that sound?

    I just took another listen to the online clips at the PRS site of Sweet 16 and thought it sounded really nice! I thought I remember it sounding a bit boxy but in these demos I didn't get that sense. However, online demos are often very deceiving I've found and it's always best to play the amp. Even then the room can throw a curve!

    Good luck and let us know what you end up with and congrats on the JA-15!

  14. #14
    deus ex machina
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Rask View Post
    I think I hit a nerve here....one of you wanted to know what amps I have used in the past. The ones I had that I liked best to okay in order were a Genz Benz Black Pearl, Carr Rambler, Burriss Royal Bluesman and a Fender Deluxe Reverb. The guitars I used were a PRS CE22, and the I still own....an old telecaster, a Rick 12 and my 1983 Ibanez Artist AM-50. The Ibanez and the Valvetrain amp are headed for Ebay. I love the Ibanez but don't need it now that I have the JA-15. You guys/ladies will laugh but I'm mostly an acoustic player and I'm 100% satisfied with my 3 Taylor guitars and my AER Domino amp. When I play electric it's low level Rock, mostly rythym. I also have a Fender Super Champ X2 head that I play through a Burriss cab with a Warehouse Reaper 30 speaker. I absolutely love that cab and it sounds pretty good with the Champ just not ideal. You know how it is. Does all that help?
    Ninety-nine percent of the non-hybrid tube amps that are currently being manufactured are derived from just a handful of fifties and sixties guitar amp designs.

    Carr Rambler (Fender AB763)
    Burris Bluesman AC15 (early AC15)
    Genz Benz Black Pearl (late model AC30)

    Are you looking for the piano-like low-end clarity that you get with your Taylor acoustic guitars? Are you looking for a pre-1965 rock tone?

    Since you are mostly a rhythm guitarist, does the feel of an amp mater as much as its tone? One of the major attributes that distinguishes tube amps from solid-state amps is feel. It's relatively easy to approximate the sound of a tube amp using solid-state electronics; however, approximating the feel of a tube amp with solid-state circuitry is an entirely different thing.

    Finally, I know that it sounds like a stupid question, but do you approach electric guitar as a louder version of acoustic guitar? My brother-in-law is primarily an acoustic guitarist. He does not change technique when he plays electric guitar.

  15. #15
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    Take your new guitar to your nearest GUITAR CENTER and plug it into every amp in the place!!!!!!!!!! You should be able to form your own conclusions by then!!!!!! EH?????

  16. #16
    Or Markie's house.
    One Life

  17. #17
    deus ex machina
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    Quote Originally Posted by ]-[ @ n $ 0 |v| a T ! View Post
    Or Markie's house.
    +1000

  18. #18
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    I think the Sweet 16 or one of it's mod variants would work well with your JA-15.
    Plank Owner

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Kine View Post
    However, online demos are often very deceiving I've found and it's always best to play the amp. Even then the room can throw a curve!
    Excellent advice!

    Playing an amp first is the only way to go.

    Listening to clips can give you a basic idea of what you might want to try out, but they can't tell you what the amp feels like to play, how it responds to your individual picking and guitar, or whether it sets up well to your taste. After all, the players in the demos generally set them up. Though one thing that is refreshing about the PRS demos is that Paul really runs through the controls on the amp and guitar, and I've found the PRS clips to give a pretty good ballpark representation of what to expect!
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
    -- Homer J. Simpson

  20. #20
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    I appreciate all the input and I can see there is great deal of amp knowledge here. The JA-15 does not appear to be your normal PRS guitar with the large hollow body. It's advertised as a jazz guitar which one would expect to be different sounding. My original thought was that this guitar may be better mated to a specific amp type for that clean, warm jazzy tone. I think I could plug my CE22 into any amp for example and it would sound great.
    Thanks Em7 for your thoughts....let me start with your last question and try to work backward. I don't approach the electric guitar as a louder version of the acoustic...I feel there is a definate place for both. I did though play my acoustic with pedals for years at gigs mainly through the Deluxe Reverb. The only solid state amp I owned that I liked was an old Roland JC-50. They just seem to be missing something that part tone and yes, part feel. I wouldn't say I'm looking for that trembly pre-1965 rock sound but looking through a set list I see a few tunes from that era. I've got the Rick for the jingle jangle stuff anyway. I'm a huge Neil Young fan but as a rythym guitarist. My Black Pearl had awesome cleans but yet a full, clear, electric, ballsy sound.
    I know, I'm going to have to try some of these amps out but I'm guessing I may have to travel a ways.

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