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Some good tubeamps for a small studio (with small budget)
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Christof
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6th October 2012
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Talking Some good tubeamps for a small studio (with small budget)

We've got a small studio at school and we're using the recording room for concerts (max. 100 persons). After using modeling-amps for a long time (Vox AD30VT, VT20+ and Tonelab ST) we now want to buy some good tube-amps for recording and live-performance. Please let me know your comments!

- We need two amps that are flexible enough to be used for pop or rock-styles.
- The collection of amps should be usable for all styles of music (from Jazz to Hardcore)
- I'd prefer combos as someone might forget to connect the cabinet
- I prefer 2x12 enclosures (good bass response, but not too big)

The budget: about 2.700EUR.
(We can't buy used!)


I have already testet many amps and that's my suggestion so far:
- Vox AC15C2 (2x12)
- Marshall 205C (2x12 with V30 and Heritage)
- Jet City JCA 2112 or 2212 (1x12 Combo - kind of partner for the marshall)
- Peavey 6505+ Combo (1x12) (for "evil" metal-sounds)
I'd like to add a Bugera V22 later, as I like the clean sound very much.

Amps I did not really like:
Engl Screamer / Thunder, Blackstar HT20, Palmer Combo, Peavey Valveking, Classic, smaller Marshalls (MA, DSL...).

I did like the clean channel on the Marshall Haze a lot, but the overdrive was not what I expected. Someone suggested the Fender Super Champ XD/X2 but it's not a "real" thing (and did not sound like one) and the Vox VT20+/AD30VT we already have could do similar things I suppose.
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6th October 2012
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Hey - Check out the Fender Excelsior. I bought one a few months back. 12 watt with 1 - 15 inch speaker. Perfect for blues, jazz and Rock.


1 volume , 1 tremolo and a dark bright switch...

3 inputs for things like Guitars, blues harp, vox and Accordian.

No Nonsense little amp. Only thing it is missing is Reverb and for 300.00 bucks it is a steal..


Fender Pawn Shop Special Excelsior™ - YouTube


..
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6th October 2012
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Well - if you don't mind, I do not really want a list of many possible amps.

I'd rather like comments regarding my choice.
If you would discard an amp from my list, I'd like to know the reasons and what you'd prefer instead (and why you prefer your choice).

@heyman: Would you prefer the Fender Pawn Shop Excelsior instead of an amp from my list? Why?
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6th October 2012
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Usually a 'studio' would be sporting the popular tried and true generic amp choices desired and employed by the most players. Fender Twin/Deluxe/Vibrolux, Roland Jazz Chorus, a 50 watt Marshall....
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6th October 2012
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Have you checked out the 15 watt Marshall? Great fr rock, blues, pop. A blues breaker could be cool too. Vox AC15 is nice. Look for an old Princeton reverb. Those amps will pretty much do anything.
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Christof
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6th October 2012
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Thanks for your comments. One thing I forgot to tell you: We can't buy used amps!

@litepipe: Which 15W Marshall? The Haze Top is 15W, but the overdrive is not very good.
The old Princeton might be nice - but it's used...

@Bill: Yeah, in a typical professional studio you'll surely find some Fenders, some Marshalls, a Vox, a Mesa... but we got a limited budget. So I want to buy the JCM205 Marshall to cover classic an modern rock sounds This amp will eat about half of our budget, so I can't buy all the classic amps.

The Peavey 6505+ combo is cheap but good for "evil" metal sounds (instead of Rectifier or Fireball, as we can't afford these). The Vox is a very unique amp (german "Charaktersau" - I can't find a translation for that... "one trick pony" does not mean the same thing). The Jet City is just very affordable and I think it's very good for the money.
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6th October 2012
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Blackstar HT-5R. 5 watts of tube amp bliss! Beautiful cleans and HUGE sounding drive channel that ranges from blues-y crunch to death metal grind.
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6th October 2012
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@ Mortal Enginges

Do you think the Blackstar HT-5R would give me something that I would not get with the amps I listed? Which amp would you want to replace with the Blackstar and why?

Once again: I know the way these threads usually develop. But just mentioning more and more amps is not what I consider to be helpful.

Let's get to the point: Is there any reason, why I should change my choice?
If that's the case I'd be glad to hear why and your recommendations of course.
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I found the Blackstar to be HIGHLY versatile. There is an ISP knob that is part of its EQ section that with a simple turn, gives it the response of a Fender amp....or a little more turn to the right gives it more of a "British" Marshall tone. It has worked for me for all different kinds of tones. I have a couple of OD and Distortion pedals that I don't really even use anymore thanks to its drive channel. I call it my "Swiss Army Knife" amplifier. At 5 watts I can get a fantastic High Gain tone that won't blow the doors off my little home studio. By the way....ALL of the amps you mentioned are frickin' awesome. If I had the money, I wouldn't hesitate to get any one of them. I would say however, my little HT5 (they also make a 20, 40, 60 to 100 watt versions) could sound like any one of em with minimal tweaking on my part. Blackstar was founded by a couple of engineers who used to work for Marshall, and felt like they wanted to expand on some designs they worked on never adopted by their former employer.
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Thanks for your explanations.
How do you like the clean tones of the Blackstar? I did test the HT20 combo a few days ago and while I did like the overdrive-sounds, I found the clean tones to be unpleasant harsh. As there is only one EQ for both channels, it's not easy to deal with this (at least not when using it live).
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Hmmm....the HT-5 has a really nice clean sound to it. The clean channel doesn't have an elaborate EQ....a simple tone knob really...but, highly functional. I'll admit that I wasn't impressed with the clean tone initially....I first thought it sounded a little sterile but, it sweetened up a bit as the tubes got hotter. I am surprised to hear any complaints about the HT-20. I have heard the HT-40 is not as good as the HT 20 or the HT 60. I also want to point out I actually saw a country guitar player (here in Houston, Tx...redneck heaven) using an HT 60 about a year ago....he had a VERY nice Fender-ish clean tone...that's what steered me toward Blackstar amps initially.
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7th October 2012
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Vox AC-15C1.
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8th October 2012
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Check out an Egnater Tweaker. Not a 2x12 but comes in combo and at a really good price. Comparable to the Ac15. Very versatile and I'm yet to find any style of music I haven't been able to use it on or get the tones I'm looking for.
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Ac15 and the 6505 should get you started.
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I think your list is pretty good, and I know you don't want other amp suggestions but........

I would recommend swapping out the Jet City for a Fender blues junior.

The reasoning behind this is lack of clean sounding amps in your mix.

Besides why add another Marshall type amp when you plan buying one anyways and your looking for a wide range of choices?

FWIW Early Marshall amps were basically fender bassman clones with UK parts.
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@eastsidetone: You're welcome! Your point is true - I would like to add a really good clean amp - but I can't discard the Jet City. Here's why:

The Jet City should be used as a "cheap flexible amp" for playing live as most of the time there will be two guitar-players in each band. I'd like something different even better, if it could cover many styles from Pop/Funk/Jazz to Hard-Rock.

I have considered to buy the Fender Super Champ XD/X2 but when I tested it, I did not like it too much. I also tried the Blues Junior and the Blues Deluxe (2x12). If I could afford one of those, I'd really prefer something in between (not as bright as the Junior and not as much bass as the Deluxe). I might buy a Bugera V22 (I do not like most of the Bugeras, but this one seems to be especially nice on the clean side) or a Hughes & Kettner Tubemaster 5 (some kind of "HiFi" clean sound). Both are very cheap (under 300€) and if I get good offers I might order one of those.

@snckr48: I've heard good things about the Egnater Tweaker, but my impression is, that it does many things but never really convincing or outstanding. I couldn't test one myself though. I would have to discard one of the amps on my list - and compared to the Jet City I like this one, because it does what it does very good.
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8th October 2012
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With students, room size and budget in mind, I recommend either a Reeves Custom 12
or a Reeves Custom 18 or one of each.

I see no reason what so ever for a 2X12 in a room that size.
You'd be spending money you don't need to.

These amps are hand built, mil spec turret board construction and will last for decades.
Built like Tanks Rugged and Road Ready in Dave Reeves Hiwatt Tradition.

Reeves does definitely export to EU, in fact I just talked to Bill last week
and he told me he had a pair of Custom 12's heading out to EU.

The Custom 12 is also true Class A so the students will be able to learn the importance
of touch sensitivity and using their attack and guitar knobs to control the sound.

Reeves Amplification Custom 6 and Custom 12

Reeves Amplification Custom 18
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The Reeves amps seem to be very good (at least the demo video sounds really great !! Very dynamic and responsive, not at all harsh...). But as there is no dealer in germany I probably won't consider buying it, becyause I do not like shipping the amp to other countries in case of service and there are some administrative obstacles too (need three comparable offers before buying, buying only on account, 3 year warranty...) Duh..!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christof View Post
The Reeves amps seem to be very good (at least the demo video sounds really great !! Very dynamic and responsive, not at all harsh...). But as there is no dealer in germany I probably won't consider buying it, becyause I do not like shipping the amp to other countries in case of service and there are some administrative obstacles too (need three comparable offers before buying, buying only on account, 3 year warranty...) Duh..!
Reeves amps are builder direct only which cuts out retailer profiteering.
5 year warranty with a real world actual life expectancy
of 40 YEARS.

The same reason 40 year old Hiwatts are still considered the best amps
in the world.

When you buy an amp built with turret board construction, that means ANY
qualified tech can work on them, generally with off the shelf parts.

If you Must Buy Locally, I'd go for the newest Vox Hand Wired amps,
built with turret board construction out of Vietnam, Not China!

For the kids who want to play metal, let them bring their own distortion
pedals.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mortal Engines View Post
Hmmm....the HT-5 has a really nice clean sound to it. The clean channel doesn't have an elaborate EQ....a simple tone knob really...but, highly functional. I'll admit that I wasn't impressed with the clean tone initially....I first thought it sounded a little sterile but, it sweetened up a bit as the tubes got hotter. I am surprised to hear any complaints about the HT-20. I have heard the HT-40 is not as good as the HT 20 or the HT 60. I also want to point out I actually saw a country guitar player (here in Houston, Tx...redneck heaven) using an HT 60 about a year ago....he had a VERY nice Fender-ish clean tone...that's what steered me toward Blackstar amps initially.
I have the same amp and agree with all that Mortal has written. The more I play it, the more impressed i get.
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Unfortunately a 5 watter is not going to do well for live performance.

In live performance, an AC15 is Fine as long as you use a tilt stand to direct
the sound at the player or across stage, rather than facing straight forward,
unless you are using IEMs.

As far as single 12 vs 2X12, sure a 2X12 will sound fuller, but the idea in a band mix is to
get the guitar amp to cut through the mix.

An AC 15 is barely putting out enough power to push a 2X12, so the speakers won't be working
very hard and you won't get that breakup the same way you would with a single 12 working hard.

An AC30, sure a pair of 12's is the standard, because the amp has enough power to push the speakers
into compression where they sound the best.

It's the bass player's job and the FOH job to add bottom to the mix.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christof View Post
@eastsidetone: You're welcome! Your point is true - I would like to add a really good clean amp - but I can't discard the Jet City. Here's why:

The Jet City should be used as a "cheap flexible amp" for playing live as most of the time there will be two guitar-players in each band. I'd like something different even better, if it could cover many styles from Pop/Funk/Jazz to Hard-Rock.

I have considered to buy the Fender Super Champ XD/X2 but when I tested it, I did not like it too much. I also tried the Blues Junior and the Blues Deluxe (2x12). If I could afford one of those, I'd really prefer something in between (not as bright as the Junior and not as much bass as the Deluxe). I might buy a Bugera V22 (I do not like most of the Bugeras, but this one seems to be especially nice on the clean side) or a Hughes & Kettner Tubemaster 5 (some kind of "HiFi" clean sound). Both are very cheap (under 300€) and if I get good offers I might order one of those.

@snckr48: I've heard good things about the Egnater Tweaker, but my impression is, that it does many things but never really convincing or outstanding. I couldn't test one myself though. I would have to discard one of the amps on my list - and compared to the Jet City I like this one, because it does what it does very good.
It's a shame you can't by used. Maybe try a pro jr!
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8th October 2012
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Christof,

I'd hands-down choose a Black Star S1 45 watt combo over any of the HT series. Far superior tone, and flexible. Well built too.

...and I wouldn't think twice about choosing it over any new Marshall.
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Vox AC4, Marshall Haze, Fender Champ, all great small amps that get big sounds
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@FFTT
Thanks for your suggestions. Regarding the reliability you're right, that PCB-boards are not as reliable and not as easy to service compared to handwired ones. But on the other hand a handwired amp will cost 2x as much. I will need to rethink this (and maybe talk to the headmaster).

Considering the use (students), I do understand your consideration quite good. The amps won't be dragged around though. They will be placed in the recording room, that is used for club-concerts too. The big stage (ca. 500 people) is just through the door - no touring or somthing like that. Only the resonance of the amp itself could possibly cause defects on the PCB.

Regarding the Reeves it'd be too complicated for me to handle the order from overseas.

Besides: I prefer the 2x12 speakers not because of loudness, but because of their sound (not as boomy as 4x12, but definately more solid than a 1x12). When I tested the AC15C1 I really missed the bottom. The AC15C2 however sounded just right.

Metal has long been the main style in our school - some pupils that just left school are quite succesful with their Hardcore-band. Some former pupils play in a folk-metal band (Vogelfrey) that has already released two professional productions.

Right now it's much more Pop & Rock-songs, but this may change quickly. Therefore I really want an amp, that coud deliver those sounds with authority - the cheapest of those is the Peavey 6505+ combo.

@fastlanestoner
Vox AC4 => I'd rather take the AC15C2 (club concerts in mind)
Marshall Haze => great clean sounds (!!) but mediocre overdrive
Fender Champ => 5W / 8" speaker - too small for live performance

@Blast9
The Blackstar S1 combo may be nice (will listen to samples later), but buying it would mean to discard the JVM 205... hm...
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I like the Orange Tiny Terror amps a lot, the 1x12" combo with the Celestion G12H30 sounds great. Personally I'd grab that before I'd get a Fender or Marshall in that size/price range. Vox Handwired AC15 or AC30 would be a great amp as well, though probably more expensive.
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Good call Mike... I'd forgotten about the Tiny Terror combo - great sounding amp with loads of character.

The G12H30 is a quality speaker
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EDIT: If anyone knows the Fender amps really well - what's your opinion regarding the Super Champ XD / X2 ?
Does it sound like a "real thing" or is it just a so/so copy? Is the latency from the converters/the modeling section distracting?
This little thing is quite tempting, but I'm rather sceptical.

Difference between AC15C1 and AC15HW1: Video

Levels are not matched, but the HW-version does sound much nicer!

As you can see HERE a part of the difference is in the enclosure/speaker...
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For your application, studio/club for concerts, Deluxe Reverb Reissue. Very sweet controllable sound, Fender clean to Fender light overdrive. Classic.

There is no one who knows amps that would disagree with this choice
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