Ampeg GVT5H by Travst
Dual power modes
Full power – 5 watts RMS
Half power – 2.5 watts RMS
Preamp: Tube ( 1 x 12AX7 )
Rectifier: Solid state
Power amp: Tube ( 1 x 6V6GT )
Tone controls: Baxandall treble and bass
Speaker outputs: 1 x 16 ohm, 2 x 8 ohm and 2 x 4 ohm
Cabinet: Void-free 15mm plywood
Dimensions (H x W x D inches excluding handle approx.): 9.1 x 15.5 x 9.1
Handling weight (approx.): 20 lbs / 9.1 kg
I picked up the Ampeg GVT5H on sale at Musician's Friend for $149. At that price, it was an absolute steal. I think that the street price of $349 is high, so search around for a deal. But, we all do that, right?
The build quality of the little Ampeg seems very good. It's very portable, but feels solid. The size is big enough for everything to fit inside without wasting a lot of space or increasing the size of the head. Fit and finish is excellent.
There aren't a lot of features, but that is as intended. On the front you'll find volume, treble and bass controls. As is typical of Ampeg, the tone controls have Baxandall EQ, and there's a half-power switch that shifts between 5w and 2.5w settings. A Baxandall EQ can boost the mids by turning down both the lows and highs, and the center will shift lower and higher as you adjust the relative levels of the two knobs. I'm a simple guy who loves Ampeg and this amp gives me what I need and no more.
On the back there are output jacks for 4, 8, and 16 ohm cabs and an IEC power input. That's it. Quite functional, but my immediate thought was that it'd be handy to have a line out since this is such a nice recording amp. An effects loop would be useful as well.
I ran the amp into a 2x12 cab loaded with vintage Carvin speakers and also tried my well-broken-in Celestion V30 that sounds fantastic with my '67 Ampeg Reverberocket. A V30 112 cab is available from Ampeg as well. The guitars used were a custom Strat with Tom Short Swinging Singles pickups and a stock '76 Les Paul Custom as well as a custom Tele with Slider's '52 pickups.
The tone is big, fat, and warm with all of the guitars and I prefer the V30 with the new head vs the Carvins. There's a nice round twang with a Tele. I've not played with switching out tubes yet, but the stock tubes are quite adequate. The amp produces a big sound that drove the 2x12 very well. Attack and note definition are precise. I couldn't find any mud in the settings and there's a fair amount of tonal variation.
This amp is clean. Very, very clean with a great deal of headroom. At full volume there was a slight bit of crunch with the Strat and Tele and a great deal more with the LP. The Tele produced some very nice bell-like tones with clear and bright harmonics.
I found it to be very pedal friendly and preferred to use a drive pedal with the Strat and Tele. If you want high gain tones, you will need a pedal.
The GVT5H is also one of the quietest amps I've used over 42 years of playing. Given that it's a tube amp, it's almost unbelievably quiet and is wonderful for recording. The low, low noise floor made me forget about the lack of a line out.
I gave this amp a 4 for bang for the buck. At $149, it's a 5 in a big way. As I stated earlier, it's pricey at $349.
**It's been six months and I am still playing on this amp. I added a Kustom Defender 112 as a bottom. The pair make a great pedal platform as they are clean and fairly neutral sounding. It's a great rig for low-volume practice.
However, the rig really shines as a recording amp. I've been plugging a guitar into my interface and running it through Amplitube 3, then out to the amp where it is mic'd and recorded. A bit offbeat perhaps, but this works very, very well.**