saturday I'm buying a tube amp
steelyfan
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#1
12th March 2009
Old 12th March 2009
  #1
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saturday I'm buying a tube amp

So, I've played through a solid state Feder stage 112 for forever, let friends borrow it, keep it , return it, it's about 14 years old now. For recording, with the exception of borrowing some amps here and there, I usually go direct into the board or into a pre-amp and board, using effects and various stomp pedals.

But after playing through some tube amps recently, I must have one.
I'll drive an hour to Beaumont, TX. this Saturday and try a few guitar shops. My budget is @ $600 for something used, this amp will be for recording and practicing in my studio only, so volume and size isn't that important.
Tones I like as references:
John frusciante ( i think marshall amps)
JIMI hendrix (marshalls ??)
70's classic rock
old country
But most importantly, whatever I get will need to get along with effects pedals, because I'm about to start collecting alot of them and try to start recording with only amps and mics.
Suggestions?
Thanks, Steelyfan
#2
12th March 2009
Old 12th March 2009
  #2
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Insomniaclown's Avatar
 

I am a boogie man, but my friend just picked up a fender deluxe 1x12 combo, and that amp sounds absolutely gorgeous! I have also heard the the Epiphone valve junior is a spectacular amp for recording. I used to use a Traynor YCV 40 (?) combo, and I really like the sound of that one. I'd run a full multi effects unit through it and it worked out great. Carvin amps are pretty special too. For blues, you want something that you can overdrive nicely with just the guitar and the volume knob, and there are a ton of amps that can do it.

Marshalls are pretty pricey, and if you want that hendrix sound, you will have to go with a JCM 800, or one of their class A hand wired amps. Expensive to say the least. You can get that Jimi Hendrix tone with a decent EL 34 amp, a fuzz pedal, wah pedal, and an overdrive pedal. If you can find a good deal on a Marshall tube amp, I say go for it. I used a JCM 2000 2x12 on a recording awhile ago, and it sounded amazing. If you want a nice clean tone though, look elsewhere.

I have heard a lot of good things about Egnater amps, and they have a few that are decently priced. If you can get one used, a Mesa boogie express 5:25 is a sweet amp, and if you want to have limitless tonal options, check out the Randall M 20 (I think thats what its called). You can buy different pre amp modules for it that are all tube driven, and are meant to give you a variety of amp tones.

Good luck and have fun!
#3
12th March 2009
Old 12th March 2009
  #3
Lives for gear
 

Pick up a clone or variant of a Marshall 18-watter.. you'll love it.

If you're handy with a soldering iron - buy a kit and build one.
#4
12th March 2009
Old 12th March 2009
  #4
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TheChapelStudios's Avatar
 

My Marshall JCM2000 DSL 50 is one of the best sounding and most versatile amps I've played though. Everything from Jeff Buckley to Pantera is covered beautfully.
steelyfan
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#5
12th March 2009
Old 12th March 2009
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Thanks everyone for the suggestions, I'll print these up and take'em with me, I plan on making a day of it, even if i have to play 30 amps, i'm coming home with something. A nice clean sound is of the utmost importance, an effects loop would be pretty handy as well. Thanks again, I've always been a Fender guy, but honestly haven't played many different types of amps, (mostly drums these days), but I'm real excited to find something nice. I plan on jaw droppin the salesguy too if they have some guitar pedals I've been lookin for, woo hooo!! This is gonna be fun.

Another favorite guitar sound is the old Captain Beefheart albulm "safe as Milk", but i'm guessing that's a pretty common 60's guitar sound.
Anyone else?
Steelyfan
#6
12th March 2009
Old 12th March 2009
  #6
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TurboJets's Avatar
 

I would ask first, what kind of guitar are you playing with what kind of pickups and what are the woods (neck, body, fretboard)?

And 2nd, what kind of music do you play and do you play mostly lead or rhythm?
steelyfan
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#7
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #7
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Thread Starter
My guitars are a Fender Nashville Telecaster (three cingle coils)
Fender strat (two humbuckers)
Ibanez Artcore Hollowbody (two soapdishes)
Style of music varies: Tones I like ----

John Frusciante's solo stuff
Fleetwood mac
Steelydan
Jimi Hendrix
70's classic rock

One day left, and I'm off to bring something home!!
Steelyfan
#8
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #8
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studiostuff's Avatar
 

Hey Steely,

I think you are imposing an unnecessary hurdle on yourself by deciding you are absolutely going to buy something tomorrow.

Tube amps have a wide variety of sound and you should allow yourself to hear several of them before deciding based on recommendations.

With the volume limit you have set, you may want to limit yourself to an amp with less than 20 watts of loud. That should be a good size to gig in small places if that's ever an option for you... and won't be terribly loud in the house.

Another thing I like to consider is re-sale value of the stuff I buy. In your case, you might like to consider a vintage Fender of some sort... a Princeton or Deluxe... early sliver face if you can find one. That might be a bit above your price point, but if you wait and look around, one will turn up. Then, when you want to sell it, you'll probably do alright.

A small Marshall or other EL84 amp might get you the Hendrix tone you want... I'm a Fender user. I have a black face Vibrolux Reverb and a silver face Vibro Champ I absolutely love.

But again, I strongly recommend you wait to buy your amp until you hear an amp you absolutely cannot live without. Just my two cents...
#9
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #9
Gear nut
 
SubwayRocket's Avatar
 

Tones I like as references:
John frusciante ( i think marshall amps)
JIMI hendrix (marshalls ??)
70's classic rock
old country
, Steelyfan[/quote]

I and many others use a Mesa Subway Rocket 1x12 (22w) to get exactly these tones you like. It has 2 channels, and effect loop on the Footsw.
You can pretty much get any tone you want with this amp.

You can get a real clean one usually for $500 on ebay.
They sell used for what they did 10 yrs ago, are very desirable.

You must use an outboard 12" speaker to get the best sound out of the Subway.They sound great through a 4x12 cab. If you're not gigging, also look at the Mesa Studio 22 cal. I have that one also, it has a slightly better tone but horrible channel switching. You'll get one great sound but have to change dials to get another. No prob in studio and you'd be
surprised by how many albums were recorded with "THIS" amp.
You just cant channel switch on the fly, one channel affects the other.

The Subway Rocket is the same amp but a 2 independant channel version, 1 10". If you are looking for those tones, look at these two Mesa amps
and IMHO avoid much of the other mesa stuff, they just dont
sound like these, not any Mark 4, rectifier, ect. Too much ZShhhh sound.

You need an SM 57 in front of them, not direct, and you should get
those tones you want. I play Strats and a Highway One Tele
through them, but any Ax anyone ever plugged in sounds great
and you "will" always get compliments on its sound, beleive me.

PS: My suggestions are only for these 2, and none of the newer Mesa's (F30 not same, Rocket 44 Not same, Mark4, Recto .)
The SubwayRocket and the Studio .22 sounds nothing like any of these, They're way better in my, and many others opinion.


Anyway, There's two amps ~ $500 for ya. Read the reviews, Good Luck !
jd_
#10
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #10
jd_
Gear nut
 

For the tones you listed you would need something like a Plexi/JCM800 for your distorted tones and somethiing like Fender for your cleans.

I would buy a Rivera Knucklehead (not the Tre). I own a Knucklehead 55 and a JCM800 amongst other amps and it is the best of both worlds. The "high gain" channel resembles a lot of JCM800 but not as raw (which may be a plus or a minus) and the clean channel can produse sweet cleans and lovely crunch.

ymmv
steelyfan
Thread Starter
#11
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #11
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Thread Starter
Excellent suggestions, thanks everyone for giving examples of your experiences with these amps! Resale value is really never givin much thought, I've never bought anything of substantial cost that I didn't love, and know I would want to use for a long time. I'm not really a user of gear, then sale, then try something else. I'll know what I want when I hear it, and so far it's been the Fender Princeton recording amp, but it's out of my price range.
Also, I've put this off for 1 year!! I'm not waiting anymore, but I won't be leaving with something I'm not siked about, so yea, if the magic is not there, I will wait, but you hear me, I'm ready to pull the trigger.
Thanks again.
Steelyfan
#12
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #12
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Santiago's Avatar
 

I think trying out lots of amps is probably the best way.

Tube amps are addictive and come in many flavours. If you find one that sounds good, go for it!

Being in the US, I would also recommend some old american amps from small brands such as Silvertone, Kalamazoo (Gibson), Harmony, Kay, Alamo, etc, etc

They may be cheaper and have a lot of mojo (however, be aware that some of these old amps have no power transformer, which makes them unsafe to operate. So if you buy an old Kay or Harmony do check that it has two transformers. Amps with power valves such as EL84, EL34, 6L6, etc.. should be ok).

I live in the UK and the best bargains are always 60s and 70s tube amps from forgotten local manufacturers.
#13
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #13
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porieux's Avatar
 

Carvin X100B. Cheap, versatile, and great. You probably won't find one in the shops though.
#14
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #14
Gear Head
 

Vox AC15 will do you right tone wise. Peavey Classic 30 will never break down on you, and the clean channel is sweet. I've had one since the 8th grade (14 years ago) and it plays like the day it was born.
#15
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #15
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Brian Middleton's Avatar
 

You might look out for a used Reverend Hellhound. I own one and love it. It's got great sparkle & chime for clean sounds, and a nice growl and "throat" to the overdriven sounds. The US/UK switch allows you to go back & forth between Fender-voiced and Vox-voiced settings, which gives you a pretty wide range of tones. If it has one weakness it's that it doesn't quite match that super-chunky low-mid quality that vintage Fender amps have--but for recording, I find this a plus, because I usually have to EQ that stuff out to make room for bass guitar anyway. You should be able to get one used for within your budget, though they're probably not that easy to find.
#16
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #16
Gear maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheChapelStudios View Post
My Marshall JCM2000 DSL 50 is one of the best sounding and most versatile amps I've played though. Everything from Jeff Buckley to Pantera is covered beautfully.
I've owned one of these for 6 years now and I just can't stand it anymore. I find the high end to be very fizzy and the low end to lack that tight quality. Also it does not cut through the mix well in a live situation. Before anyone says anything, I do not crank the gain, presence or the highs on it and I do not habitually kill all mids. I also don't put the volume knob on the guitar to ten unless it happens to sound better that way. Before making the decision to sell it(being discontinued has brought its value up) I decided to give it a fresh set of tubes, a proper biasing and a thorough test with 4 different types of guitar. A Jackson with EMG 81-85 combo, a Mexican strat, a brand new American Standard Strat, and a Vintage Les Paul. I spent 5 hours using every combination of settings imaginable on both the guitars and amps. Now to say I could not get a decent tone out of it would be a lie. I found a few pretty nice ones, not too many in the metal or jazz department but moreso in the general Rock, but nothing that gave me that Eureka! moment.

I am now looking for a new amp. Hopefully that new Mesa Mark V will be what its cracked up to be. If not then the search shall go on.

To the Original poster, IMO I find many modern Marshalls to be kinda fizzy up top compared to their older designs or that of other manufacturers. If you really like Marshalls I'd say a 2203 can be pretty nice depending on the year(My friends 78 was quite nice), or a plexi(pricey though). Another good option is to get a Traynor modded to plexi spec. Cuts down the price and sounds SWEET!! Let us know what you end up getting and good luck in your search. There really is no substitute for a great tube amp.
#17
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #17
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miqer's Avatar
 

Def. check out the new 15wat
Vox AC15H1TV


it has a EF86 preamp channel of 1958

VOX | Heritage Collection AC15H1TV

these youtube demo's are not great, but a lot of stores have them, so check em out yourself:

YouTube - VOX AC15H1TV

If you want a new one, and not go second hand, this hardwired baby is hot, and strong.

EDIT: Oeps, your buget is about half of this one I guess.


M.

#18
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #18
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TurboJets's Avatar
 

For your Tele and Strat I'd give a listen to the Champ - even the new one is worth auditioning...including the new vibro champ xd. 6 watts all-tube is plenty volume for home practice and perfect for recording, it's pretty damn loud.

I have a '76 Vibro Champ I love for my Strat - it's a great match.

My hollowbody ('62 Harmony Meteor w/original pups) seems to have a lotta love for my Vox Cambridge Twin 30 but gets nice tones from the vibro champ on some rhythm tracks.
#19
13th March 2009
Old 13th March 2009
  #19
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Newcleardaze's Avatar
 

If you buy a combo tube amp, keep in mind that often the combos will create a "rattling" sound through the tubes. Not so much an issue for live, but for recording, it can be a bear. (Its the soundwaves from the speaker pummeling the tube -- it won't hurt the tube, just the sound). Have an extension cab handy.
#20
14th March 2009
Old 14th March 2009
  #20
Gear nut
 
SubwayRocket's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by steelyfan View Post
My budget is @ $600 for something used, this amp will be for recording and practicing in my studio only, so volume and size isn't that important., Steelyfan
The Marshalls and fenders above are great, I own a 66 Fender Super Black Face, (worked on and signed by Cesar) but all these great amps are out of
your budget. You said you want one just for studio, seriously read up on the Mesa SubwayRocket and the Mesa Studio .22 , I have gotten all those tones you want & recorded them with either of these amps. Especially with your Tele & Strat. I have an 88 HM strat w/a Dimarz Super dist pickup.

I also have a tele and not that i'm trying to copy sounds but on replay
it sounds Exactly like Fruciante, Zeppelin, Tom Petty and Rage against the Machine w the Tele....... Billy Gibbons, Journey, Ac/Dc, anything and everything between w the Strat (Dimars Superdist) , and a ts8 tube screamer in front of the amp will get you Hendrix tones. They sound great at low vol but will stand up to a full band, they are small, very versatile and within you budget. All the other amps reviewers listed are great and admittedly my 66 Super and many other fenders have a slightly better Clean but they are expensive. These 2 Mesa's are below your budget, are small, light and will give you "Album Class" sounds.

A compressor (DBX160) will help your cleans alot... & tames a Wah too.

Just read reviews on who recorded albums with these, the
Studio 22's and the SubwayRocket amps and read reviews on them.

And, you say you go in direct.... please treat yourself get an SM 57 and
be very happy with the sounds you get. Thats the way, Not direct.
Isolate the mic in a closet or blanket/couch cushions ect from room echo.
Yes, you can get alot of great sounds direct but most of what you ask
can be had with a 57 well placed in front of a nice tube amp. You can
go direct for other different sounds as well. I have a Roland MicroCube
that gets nice sounds direct, but no subst. for an amp and a 57 .

Good Luck, Don't rush. I hope it works out well for you and I wish you the
best with your quest for a great amp !
#21
14th March 2009
Old 14th March 2009
  #21
Lives for gear
 

the vintage princeton I play through sometimes is very cool. I've seen a couple on criagslist for about $600, and I think the new princeton recording amp can be found used for about that as well.

Also, the Vox AC 15 is a great choice but maybe a little pricey. Check out a Laney VC 30 or similar. I found mine for $450 used. Made in England, the VC amps are modeled after the VOX AC amps.

The champ was a good suggestion, too.

As was said before, don't rush!
#22
14th March 2009
Old 14th March 2009
  #22
Gear maniac
 
sluttygearhere's Avatar
 

Fender Bassman blackface is one of my favorite amps. just beautiful sounding. Iv'e got one a borrow from a friend that I use for recording from time to time. I've been told the tweed is even better, but haven't personally used it.

-- Ben
steelyfan
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#23
16th March 2009
Old 16th March 2009
  #23
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Thread Starter
well, I went to look and the only thing in my price range was a Fender vibrochamp, and I have to say, It was beautiful sounding. I believe it was a 70's model with the 6 watt speaker.(celeston or something) I really liked it, but the shop wanted $550 for it, I'm not sure how much these things go for these days but I felt like they might have been trying to get over on me, I could be wrong but I didn't know really what I was looking at. I know fenders have gone up in price, and this little amp has some vintage mojo and esteam, but i felt like I needed to research more about it. Just as a side note, the music store was offering the Fender Princeton recording amp for $750 last time I was there, this time the same amp(note just same model but exact amp) they wanted $900. It was a groove kill for me.I really liked the vibrochamp, it sounded very nice, but $550? What do you guys think?
Oh and thanks for everyone's participation on my tube amp hunt, it always helps to have other opionions.
steelyfan
#24
16th March 2009
Old 16th March 2009
  #24
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sahiaman's Avatar
 

I recently checked out the Blackstar ht-5 amp. Hell of an amp for $400.
steelyfan
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#25
16th March 2009
Old 16th March 2009
  #25
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Thread Starter
Just read up on the Blackstar, sounds pretty nice. A few gear reviews gave it plenty of praise! Thanks for the heads up. Still thinking about that vibrochamp though. If the Blackstar has a really different sound than the Fender, and if i can find one to check out in person, maybe I'll get a couple of amps for @ $400 each. That would give me two recording amps with different flavors for a total of $800(if I could find the vibrochamp for $400). STEREO...
STEELY
#26
16th March 2009
Old 16th March 2009
  #26
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steelyfan
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#27
16th March 2009
Old 16th March 2009
  #27
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#28
16th March 2009
Old 16th March 2009
  #28
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Kronos147's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by steelyfan View Post
Fender Princeton
I was at a store where they wanted about $1600 for a '72-73 Super Reverb. I had one at the studio that a client left for a while and thought I really wanted it. He had paid $1500 for his, but it was a blackface.

The one at the store was nice and I played it a few times and left a deposit. I went in to pull the trigger and noticed this little Princeton Reverb sitting there, a 1967, with a $1800 price tag on it. I figured I should play it just to compare it to the Super.

I walked out with the Princeton for $1500. I have NO regrets.

I have had some serious heavy hitter guitarists at my studio and many of them no longer bring an amp, they just use my Princeton.
steelyfan
Thread Starter
#29
16th March 2009
Old 16th March 2009
  #29
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Thread Starter
I've checked craig's list and ebay, seems the Fender vibrochamp can be had for $375- $700. Seems that $550 is in the middle......hmmmmm.
maybe i should return to the guitar shop and buy it.
I can't stop thinking about it now!!
steelyfan
#30
16th March 2009
Old 16th March 2009
  #30
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TurboJets's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by steelyfan View Post
I've checked craig's list and ebay, seems the Fender vibrochamp can be had for $375- $700. Seems that $550 is in the middle......hmmmmm.
maybe i should return to the guitar shop and buy it.
I can't stop thinking about it now!!
steelyfan
It's true, a 70's vibro champ in good condition usually sells for around $600.
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