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Sub-$800 amp combos
Old 12th September 2007
Gear Nut
vs.Gotham's Avatar

Sub-$800 amp combos

So after spending the last week going through this site, every site linked to from this site, and ebay, I just thought I'd come out and get some fresh opinions.

I've been looking to get away from my problematic little Vox amp for some time, but it's been hard to commit. I think I've decided that Orange amps are very much the tone I'm going for, but not the price range. I'm more concerned with a nice warm clean tone than the tube distortion, since I'm planning to be using a ZVex Box of Rock a lot for that end.

Use will be mainly for recording with some small club play. I certainly don't need a Marshall stack or anything.

I like some of the Marshall combos but something about Marshalls rub me the wrong way. I do more experimental/indie music, so I definitely don't need anything "metal" sounding like a Mesa. I'm leaning towards a Fender Deluxe Reverb Reissue or maybe another Vox (AC15), but I'd like to see if there's anything different. I know there's great boutique amps out there, but they're just not in my price range for the amount of power I'm looking for (though I'd love to pick up one of those little 5 watters at some point).

So basically, tube 15-30 watt combo with a 12 inch or something to that effect.

As usual, thanks in advance.
Old 12th September 2007
Gear Nut
vs.Gotham's Avatar

Oh, I forgot to mention I've also been thinking about the Roland JC-120 just to have something a little different.
Old 12th September 2007
Gear Addict
Old Cane's Avatar

get a used boogie.
Old 12th September 2007
Gear Addict

I've been checking out Laney vc15 or vc30's recently.. sound pretty nice and less than +400
Old 12th September 2007
Gear Addict
richiepalooza's Avatar

I don't like the Deluxe Reverb reissue. For $800-$900 bucks you could find an early '70's silverface vibrolux reverb, Super Reverb, Blackface Princeton and Princeton reverb,
I bought a '68 Pro Reverb for about that. Sounds fantastic.

The DRRI sounds ok in the store but once hear it next to the real thing, not even close.
Old 12th September 2007
Gear Guru
FFTT's Avatar

Reeves Custom 6 and Custom 12

Gries 5

Zinky Supro Baby Model 50

Fuchs Lucky 7

Fargen Mini-Plex

These are small recording/practice amps.

Fender Vibrolux Reverb RI might be a larger amp to consider.

Deluxe Reverb RI as well
Old 12th September 2007
Gear Addict
nbarts's Avatar

I don't really understand what kind of amp you are looking for. Vox, Orange, Marshall sound so different

So what sound are you looking for?

You have a lot of options in used market.
Old 12th September 2007
Gear Nut
vs.Gotham's Avatar

Laney sounds nice from what I'm reading, except for reliability issues. Harmony Central seems to have lots of documented issues with them crapping out after a year.

The Reeves look really great though, as does the Supro 50. Are either at all usable for small club gigs, or are we talking strictly in studio use? If not, I might go the vintage fender route, or see if I can pick up an Orange combo on eBay at a decent price.
Old 13th September 2007
Gear Guru
FFTT's Avatar

I figure you'll want 18-30 watts playing out with most drummers.

People do play live all the time with 12-15 watt kits, but they have a
good PA and monitoring.

If you can pick up a Silver Face Fender all hand wired for <$1000.00 in pretty good shape, that my be the ticket.

Otherwise, save up something like the Gries 35 or Reeves Custom 30 if you can.
Many others in the 18-30 watts range.
Old 13th September 2007
Gear Nut
vs.Gotham's Avatar

nbarts, I know it wasn't helpful to have such different sounding amps on there as my choices. Fact is I like Voxes for some stuff and Fenders for other stuff, but more than anything I'm looking for a nice warm clean tone and, if possible, a nice thick high gain sound. Orange is very much what I like from what I've heard, but again there's the price.

I did play through a Fender Bassman today and quite enjoy it, but I think it might actually be a little too much for me. One 12 inch is more what I'm going for I think. I might just hold up till I can afford the Orange Rocker 30, but I was wondering if there was options that I wasn't aware of since for a while now I've had my nose in recording gear and I'm a little out of it when it comes to guitar stuff.
Old 13th September 2007
Gear Guru
FFTT's Avatar

I'm trying to stick to all hand wired point to point construction in my recommendations
and something that will sound great live and for recording and be road worthy.

That's tough to do with your budget.

Add the Dr. Z Maz 18 to your try list. Nice Amp!
Top Hat Club Royal
Gries 20 Reverb
Old 13th September 2007
Gear Addict
nbarts's Avatar

+1 on Dr. Z Maz
Old 13th September 2007
Gear Addict
richiepalooza's Avatar

The TopHat is a beautiful looking amp. I really tried hard to keep the one I bought. It just took too long to dial in a really usable tone, and even then it only had one. I traded it in for a '66 Blackface Deluxe Reverb and never looked back.

I'd still like to have one. Maybe I'll try something bigger next time
Old 13th September 2007
Gear Guru
FFTT's Avatar

It's always a tough call between natural clean headroom and built in OD tones on any amp.

It's not only the amp but the choice of speakers and tubes.

Almost every thread has people that love the cleans, but they're not happy with the OD tones, so most rely on a good pedals for their OD tones.

I think the natual OD of a Class A amp makes it easier to get great lead tone, but
then you're limited in volume.

This is why you see all these single ended Class A's used for lead tones in the studio, but for live performance it's always a compromise between tone and stage volume.

Not to mention dummy amps on some stages for marketing contracts while
all the real magic is coming from the backline racks.

If you have good stage monitoring you don't need more than about 18-30 watts
and you can get by with less in small venues.

I see people showing up all the time with Pro Jr's and Blues Jr's in small clubs, but
the band knows how to control their stage volume.

If you are working on a regular basis, you need the right tools for your trade.

If that means you need to spend a bit more to get tone and reliability, then
thems the breaks.
Old 13th September 2007
Lives for gear
feyshay's Avatar

I understand that Rectifier sound as metal, but Mesa amps can be quite varied, although they are expensive.
You might want to try out the Lone Star, Ace Stiletto, and Mark IV amps. Maybe you could still stay in the desired price range with a used one.
Old 13th September 2007
Gear Guru
FFTT's Avatar

The Mesa 5-25 Express is kinda cool, and the Lonestar Special is one of those love it or hate it amps.

I just think that there are much better amps out there than what Mesa is producing these days.

I know from experience that if that $800 is your HARD earned money and not
something that came to you easy, the last thing I'm going to recommend is that you
waste it on cheap junk that you'll hate 6 months from now.

There is so much gear trading hands these days that you can find a bargain on something really good in the used market.

Keep saving your money and be ready to jump on a good deal when you come across one.
Old 16th September 2007
Gear Nut

Fender DRRI.
Old 16th September 2007
I know you said you wanted a combo but if I was you I'd get an Orange Tiny Terror and a 2x12 cab from Avatar with V30s. That is a nice set up that doesnt cost alot but doesnt skimp quality or tone. its also louder than you think. New you can do it for $850. I played the same set up into an avatar 4x12 cab and my jaw dropped. I had it next to a Bogner Modified JCM800 and it kicked just as much ass. I'd like to hear a reeves custom 6.
Old 16th September 2007
Lives for gear
themaidsroom's Avatar

they beat
the producers who bring every amp
mentioned in this thread
they are all off
or being sent back on day
only the emery(s) remain
on - they are amazing
this weeks rock band - two guitars/bass/drums
2 super babies on guitars
1 bass baby + emery tube di on bass

i mention this as within your budget as i found an old turntabletop
speaker in the trash.....soldered a good piece of speaker wire and 1/4"
jack and now that, with one of the super-babies is a favorite tracking
combo......old concepts, that are hand made by smart people with
care and love......

be well

- jack
Old 17th September 2007
Gear Guru
FFTT's Avatar

I'm right with you on the Superbaby's or the Vintone Simplex, but
they were both double what he was looking to spend.

Just curious if anyone has tried the Stagebaby yet?
Old 17th September 2007
Gear Maniac
somedude74's Avatar

An Orange Tiny Terror (15w/7w Class A), and an external cab could get you in the sub $800 range, but it won't be a combo.

I would check it out, though. It could be what you are looking for pricewise.
Old 18th September 2007
Gear Maniac

I've got an amp for you on the cheap... an old Canadian made Riviera 727. It's like a fender deluxe 6V6 / 18watt styled amp. Got some nice blackplate RCA's init too! PM me if your interested. Also check out some older Traynor's on ebay, they are a good deal these days too.
Old 18th September 2007
Gear Guru
FFTT's Avatar

If wishes were horses

Listen to the sound clips of the Reeves Custom 18

I really love that amp and it's built like a tank!
Old 18th September 2007
Lives for gear

The JC90 would be cool, clean and light enough.

BUT...BUT...I would say, for both coolness factor and tone, you should consider a nice double stack of the Epiphone Valve Jr. Combo.

@ $130 a piece, you are done for under $300.

Try one first and see how you like it. Plus there are a couple of mods for it to change the tone and gain.


Originally Posted by vs.Gotham View Post
Oh, I forgot to mention I've also been thinking about the Roland JC-120 just to have something a little different.
Old 1st October 2007
Gear Nut
vs.Gotham's Avatar

Just thought I'd close the thread out and say thanks for all the advice. I was able to find a Zinky Blue Velvet at a very reasonable price and in pristine condition (and thankfully in the black finish instead of the blue velvet), and after playing around with it I found it to be absolutely perfect for me. The lifetime warranty from Zinky doesn't hurt either. Can't say enough nice things about it. Definitely worth checking out.
Old 2nd October 2007
Gear Guru
FFTT's Avatar

Glad you found something that exceeds your expectations.
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