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Thread: Amp recommendations?

  1. #1
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    Amp recommendations?

    only my second post, and already looking for ideas. I have my beautiful new CU24 and now need to find a small amp. I try to play mostly classic rock from CCR, Pink Floyd, Zep, etc and a bit of blues. Since I want something small, I'm wondering if a modeling amp like a Mustang or Line6 might be my best choice? Would an SE 20 combo fit the bill? It's a bit pricier and more power than I likely need, but any ideas one way or another are most welcome.

    Thanks,
    Jon

  2. #2
    Senior Member gball's Avatar
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    You haven't mentioned what you are playing through now, a price range or how you will use the amp (I am only guessing, but since you mention something small I am figuring it is for home practice use). One small amp that has caught my eye recently is the Marshall DSL5. 5/1 watt 1x12 combo that has all the classic Marshall tones. The SE20 is a nice amp if you can still find one, and maybe for home use pair it with an attenuator. A buddy of mine just picked up a Carvin V16 that is a great little amp, switchable to 5 watts. There are a lot of great options these days for smaller/less powerful amps!

  3. #3
    Senior Member sleary's Avatar
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  4. #4
    PRS Sweet 16. Great amp, 16 watts.

    If you have a great guitar, you'll get the most out of it with an equally great amp, instead of a compromise that will never maximize the potential of your guitar, as happens with most modeling amps.

    The amp is an equal, if not perhaps more important, ingredient in good guitar tones.
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    Hi

    I have Hughes & Kettner....but...

    I would recommend Tech 21

    Yes, they're solid state, and don't fall prey to "it's gotta be tube, man..."

    That's a bunch of BS.

    TECH 21 makes excellent gear. Perhaps something like the 2 channel Trademark 60 would help dial in some of your influence sounds.

    If you can find one...the Trademark 120 would be great...3 channels and 120w of stereo sound.


    Just my 2 cents


    Tony

  6. #6
    A♥ hoards guitars ♥A rugerpc's Avatar
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    Uh, not a bunch of BS...

    No one has successfully modeled tubes yet. Some get close, but no one has it mastered. If the OP is looking for an authentic tube vibe and tone, he's not going to get it from a modeling amp.

    We don't really know his budget or how he's going to use the amp. So any suggestions are guesses on our parts.

    But, I'll back up Les' suggestion. I have a Sweet 16 and it is a very nice little amp. It breaks up well when you want it to and it handles pedals well.
    Last edited by rugerpc; 04-04-2014 at 05:14 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks everyone for the quick and helpful replies. Right now, I'm playing through nothing - yea, I can plug into my iPad or Mac and play through that, but I'm looking for something away from the computer. Ideally, it'll be under $500, only because I blew the budget on the guitar (but oh so worth it). It'll be at home only, and often at lower volume levels. Last amp I had was 20 years ago, a Fender Blues Jr if I remember correctly. Liked that with a Strat.

    Jon

  8. #8
    Opaque John Beef's Avatar
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    Egnater Tweaker. I have one and it does the low volume tube amp thing well. Plus, you can get a wide array of tones out of it.
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    Senior Member LJD's Avatar
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    Used fender hot rod deluxe III.

  10. #10
    PRS Addiction CoreyT's Avatar
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    If you do not find a PRS Sweet 16, I really dig the new Blackstar ID series.
    I own two of them.
    One is a 30 watt combo with 1x12, and the other one is a 60 watt head I am running into 4x12s.

    Best thing is you can get the same overdriven or clean sound at whisper volumes all the way up to cranked.
    And yes, these are solid state.
    I have a few tube amps two, but I like these Blackstars much better.

    Listen to the video below and see what you think of it.


  11. #11
    Cream Crackered Mikegarveyblues's Avatar
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    I was going to say get both but your budget probably won't allow...

    I have a 5 watt Laney Lionheart. Sounds great but it's loud... I mean I can use it at low volumes but what a waste! I use that in the day if I'm recording. For night time use or if I want to play in the living room whilst my girlfriend watches TV I've got a little Fender Mustang modelling amp. NO, it doesn't sound anywhere near as sweet or responsive as the Laney but it's good enough for noodling and / or practice.

    Played through a Tweaker once... great amp. Blackstar are also making some great amps... Beyond that I'm not sure what to suggest... Nice guitar so it's a shame to waste it playing it through a cheap modelling amp (But as I said they do have their uses)... Some kind of low watt valve amp or something like the ID amp above. I read the review and it was glowing. You may have to go the used route though...

    Take your guitar to a store if they'll allow and play through a few
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  12. #12
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    Well, the budget is good, and I think you'll have a lot of choice in that range. It would help to know where what kind of sounds you like, since you mentioned it'll mostly be used at home at lower volume levels. Will you want to gig or jam with it?

    I can give some impressions from my shopping/buying until then. You said you liked the Blues Jr. 20 years ago. They're still around and are still very popular, especially as easy to carry small club gigging amps. I have a Pro Jr., which doesn't have reverb nor master volume and sounds a little different, but it's still pretty good. I don't use it too much now, though, as I tend to favor another, smaller amp.

    And my smaller amp is 5 watts and based on the Fender 5F1 Champ. I paid just a little over your budget for it, but I really like it. There are a few great, independent builders around. I don't guess resale value would be too high (unless to another of the builder's customers), but I don't plan on selling it. But again, there are several spectacular small builders around, especially if you'd like something based on a Fender Tweed circuit. (Edit - and I'm confident a point to point tweed based amp could be worked on by about any competent amp tech).

    Besides that, I have a Vox Pathfinder 15R. I usually use it when I want to be fairly quiet. It's discontinued, but some other small, solid state amps like the Roland Microcube and Tech 21 would also serve that purpose well. They are also fairly ine

    Finally, a friend recently picked up a used Mesa Boogie 22+ Studio, and it's pretty impressive. I've seen Subway Blues and Rockets priced around your budget. Of course, you'd have to like the Boogie sound and want a lot of knobs and adjustment options for one of those. (I kind of like the idea, and admire the flexibility, but I typically find I prefer my simple 5F1 which only has an on/volume knob. I do use a pedal with it, as even a 5 watt amp is very loud when driven into breakup.

    Edit - Another consideration might be one of the small, 1 watt or less mini amps. They are usually heads so you'll need a cab (which may go over your budget), but I know of the Red Iron Li'l Mo and the ZVex Nano. I've also heard good things about the Little Lanilei (but also that the wait for one can be extensive). I was considering something like those until I decided on the Tweed Champ.
    Last edited by tbp0701; 04-06-2014 at 01:53 PM. Reason: Clarity, mostly.

  13. #13
    Occasionally Onery Member CantankerousCarl's Avatar
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    A lot of good recommendations here. For your application, I would recommend the Blackstar HT-5R combo - $300 used all day any day, two channels, reverb, and some really terrific sounding gain for classic rock. Clean channel doesn't have a ton of headroom, but will break up nicely for blues. Sounds great at low volumes, was my first "getting back into guitar" amp a few years ago.

    Also, if you can find one that hasn't been shat upon, GC is clearing out all of their Egnater gear...I picked up a Rebel 30 Combo for 1/3 of its original list price (well within your range) and although I had to go through 3 from different stores to find one that was not abused, it was worth the search. It's a loud amp, but you can attenuate the power down to 1W, which is still loud but affects the headroom. Coolest part: you can switch/blend between EL84 and 6V6 power tubes (it has two of each) for different flavors. Also two channels, reverb, and a balanced out which sounds better recorded to my ears than the Blackstar's emulated out. Worth the search. Tweakers are great sounding too, but very few of those left in the chain...

    Happy amping!
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  14. #14
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    Lots of choices, thanks everyone. Sounds like it's time for me and the guitar to head to some shops and play a few!

    Jon

  15. #15
    Name Manglin' Putz alantig's Avatar
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    Might be worth giving the Orange Terror line a shot - the Micro Terror is $149, solid state/tube hybrid. A few bucks more gets you into Tiny Terror territory. You'll need a cab, though. I have the Dark Terror Jim Root, which would overshoot your budget (and possibly your gain prefernce), but it's solid and has quite a range of tones.
    Alan

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  16. #16
    Senior Member Duffy's Avatar
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    I would say, do it now and get a "real" amp. A good tube amp with some ba))s and a twelve inch speaker.

    You can go as low as a Marshall DSL15c combo. It has a twelve inch speaker and is 599. A DSL40c combo sounds better to my ear and has a twelve inch speaker. These are good amps with all tube design and digital reverbs.

    You can get a Peavey Classic 30 or Delta Blues for 649. The 30 has a twelve inch speaker and the Delta has a fifteen inch speaker, ordinarily. These are USA made Peaveys and are dependable, will be fixable long into the future and are really loud, but can be played softly, like the Marshall DSL's.

    A Fender Hot Rod Deluxe has a twelve inch speaker and is loud but can't be played very quietly. They are around 729 and forty watts like the DSL40c, but the DSL has a lot more versatility and tone shaping and can be turned down and even has a switch to power it down to 20 watts.

    The Fender Blues Jr. is only a one channel amp. All the other amps I mentioned above are channel switching two cannel amps - clean and overdrive. The BJr. is about 599 and is a good amp but doesn't have an overdrive channel. Having an overdrive channel is good if you like to play certain sounds like are often found in blues and rock, and overdrive pedals normally add noise to the sound you get from the amp when you stop playing - hiss, hum, whatever you call it.

    The Peavey Classic 30 and Delta Blues are made in the USA by Hartley Peavey in Mississippi, if that means anything to you. It means something to me. It seems that the USA made amps are dependable and fixable. Two things I value. The Mexican made Fenders though, should be equally durable and fixable in most cases. I think there is a very close connection to Fender in California and Fender in Mexico so that communication is excellent and quality control is maintained.

    These companies that make amps in China or other Asian or Malasian/Indonesian countries do not have that close connection I don't think. Language is often a major impediment to getting a product produced the way the designers imagined it. The off shore manufacturers making the amps for the big name amp companies like Marshall, Blackstar, etc., are allowed to source their parts from where ever they want. This often results in it being "impossible" to find replacement parts farther down the road in time when your amp might break. Usually the USA made stuff will have parts available or know how to get them, unlike the off shore mfg's. To the Asians, etc., it is a "contract" to build something - build it and move on to the next thing from who ever the next manufacturer is.

    I have quite a few off shore amps and I have had some go bad on me where they could not be fixed - impossible. No parts available and the replacement parts could not be hand made by the professional amp dudes I had working on them under warranty. I still have some, like two DSL's the 40c and the 100h head. These Marshalls are not made in England and I personally think that means something.

    I have four or five American made amps and they are good amps. But to get a super screaming zonker amp like the Marshall DSL100h head that is made in England you are going to have to pay about three times as much, or there about. So some of us get off shore made amps or Mexican made Fenders.

    I would say stick to the well established big name amps like Fender and Marshall, etc., and get a good all tube amp, even if it is made off shore. These companies stand for something other than the name on the name plate or headstock, believe me. Others will debate this. Dependability and fixability are two main things I look for in an amp.

    I had an Egnater Tweaker an it blew up on me. I could have had it fixed but it really didn't impress me that much once I took the chassis out and looked at it; so I got a Peavey 6505+ after I returned it for a credit and paid 150 more for the super high gain, super loud Peavey. I personally would not get that as my first amp. But the day is going to come when you want a loud amp, so having the extra power is a good thing.

    If you are only going to have one amp I would get one with at least thirty watts of all tube power. It is important to get a substantial amount of power so that you can get some "clean headroom" on the clean channel. Clean headroom means that you can turn the volume of the amp up to "loud" without the sound changing from sparkly clear and clean to distorted or dull, muddy sounding. You don't have to crank a powerful amp all the way up, but when you turn one up to the desired volume it won't be distorted and dull sounding - it will be clear and sparkly like at the lower volumes. This is actually a big deal and something to consider. Those little five watt amps mostly get very distorted sounding, in not a good sense, when you turn them up all the way. I have some.

    Not everything is etched in stone though. I have a Fender Deluxe Reverb twenty two watt combo amp that stays very clean at a very loud volume. That is a characteristic of Fender amps traditionally. Loud and clean. These are tube amps I'm talking about, not the Mustangs, although some people like those digital, computerized, amps with the built in amp modeling/effects pedals.

    Since the digitalized, computer type amps have not been perfected, most serious professionals use "all tube" design amps. They may get digital or analog multi-effects pedals to play thru them, but they usually get the classic tube design amps.

    I would not get too small of an amp for my first amp. Get something at least 15 - 30 all tube watts I would suggest. Some of these will have switches to cut the power in half or even a knob to turn it down incrementally.

    I'd say, make the most out of your money and don't buy some one else's problems. Get a good tube amp that does your guitar justice. Some say that it is wise to allow for spending and approximately equal amount on your amp as you do for your guitar, in order to do the guitar justice. It is just a rule of thumb, nothing cast in stone. You might be able to find some super excellent deals out there if you start doing the footwork and trying to talk some of these salesmen down, etc.

    Others will differ in their opinions, obviously, but I advise getting a "real amp" and being done with it, at least for now.

    Good luck.
    "Now all the things that use to mean so much to me has got me old before my time." G. Allman, "Old Before My Time", Hittin' The Note cd.

  17. #17
    PRS Addiction CoreyT's Avatar
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    Another amp to consider if you want all tube is the Carvin V3M range.
    http://www.carvinguitars.com/guitara...icroseries.php
    Available in combos and a lunchbox size head.
    I won the 50 watt head, and it has:
    Three channels with independent volume, gain, EQ, etc.

    One of the channels is clean, the other two are the gain/overdrive channels.
    Also reverb, and a master volume so you can crank the preamp volumes up but have the master volume down so you do not tick off the neighbors.
    Also switchable wattage from 50, 22, and 7 watts.
    I run it on the latter, and it can drive me out of my place.
    I have ran it through both a 2x12 and a 4x12.

    Also made in California, not overseas.
    You can only get it directly from them though, they are factory direct.
    There are some vids of it on this page.
    http://www.carvinguitars.com/products/V3M212S

    I also have the Orange Micro Terror and Blackstar HT5R-H tube amp mentioned earlier in this thread, but I prefer the two Blackstar ID series amps I have over them even though they are solid state.
    I do not gig out, I only play in home, but I would not hesitate to use either of the ID ones to jam out with others.

  18. #18
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    Orange OR-15 is sick. Love that amp.
    Plank Owner

  19. #19
    Raven Lunatic Raven17's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleary View Post
    Hughes and kettener
    TubeMeister by Hughes and Kettener is amazing...
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