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Spent some time with some low-watt tube amps...


Griffinator

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Yeah, shock and awe, my local music store actually has a decent selection available for low-watt tube amps, and I happened to stop in to pick up a slide (my slide skills are woeful, and I decided it was time to do something about it), and took a few minutes to play around with some of them. I used a cheeky little Ibanez RG, primarily because I was looking to get a feel of what it would sound like with my S.

 

My thoughts:

 

Fender Champion 600

 

This one surprised me for how ballsy a tone it gave off with that little weenie 6" speaker. Crank it up to around 10 or 11, and it's damned near like a fuzz box. It started to break up right about 8, and it was a really, really nice blues tone when it did. I could see this being useful in a studio, but definitely not on a stage, unless you paired it up with a really sensitive 12" cab. I could talk over this at full volume, without straining.

 

Peavey ValveKing 112

 

I tried this out because it had the "Class A" dial in the back (which I found odd - makes me wonder if they just starve the plate voltage as you twist it back). I spent about 3 seconds on the distorted channel - it didn't sound as bad as most Peavey distortions, but it wasn't particularly pleasant - like a wannabe Mesa. The clean channel in "Class A" mode started to break up at about 6, which wasn't bad, though it was pretty loud at that point. Problem was, if you pushed it beyond that, it started to woof - and I mean WOOF - like the speaker was bogging out kind of woof. Ugly, ugly, ugly. Not pleased at all. Typical Peavey, to be honest.

 

Fender Blues Jr.

 

They happened to have this one in on consignment (someone wanted $320 - hell, I could buy a new one for an extra $80...). Right out of the gate, it's just too damned loud. I couldn't get those power tubes anywhere near breakup without shattering the glass in the amp room. It hurt my ears at 4. Preamp sounded, well, like a typical 12AX7 preamp. Not what I was after.

 

Fender Vibro Champ XD

 

Yuck, yuck, yuck. There is no way to bypass the modeling circuit, so one is left with a Pod running through a tube power amp. Fine if that's what you want, but definitely not what I'm after.

 

----------------------

 

It's a bummer knowing that they had a Vox 4 watt in inventory, but it was sold, so I couldn't try it out. They told me they could order the VHT 7 watt 1x10 I was considering, but I'd have to prepay.

 

I didn't really find anything I liked, but I did get myself a bit of an education on exactly "how loud" different wattage ratings could be, based on the speaks they're paired with.

 

My favorite was definitely the Champ 600 - I could see me gigging with a slightly more powerful version of this.

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The Blues Jr. has a gain adjustment, and should break up nicely at sane levels. They are awesome amps!

 

I was pleased with the sound, but I wanted something I could just crank to near-breakup at just loud enough to hear over the drummer. That thing blew my head off at 2 on the power amp stage.

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I have considered two low power amps, like two Epi Valve Jr heads, into a stereo 2x12 or a couple of small single 10" or 12" cabs. I think that would cure the problem of output level at both ends, and you could pick up a couple for $80 to $100 used.

 

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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I have considered two low power amps, like two Epi Valve Jr heads, into a stereo 2x12 or a couple of small single 10" or 12" cabs. I think that would cure the problem of output level at both ends, and you could pick up a couple for $80 to $100 used.

 

See, that makes the rig bigger than I want it to be. I was looking at combos for that specific reason - I don't want to have to lug any more than is necessary to accomplish the stated goal.

 

I like the little single-channel varieties, and after yesterday, I'm even more convinced the VHT I was looking at is going to work perfectly for my purposes.

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I'll agree with you that the Fender Vibro Champ XD is pretty crappy; but it's "big brother" the Super Champ XD is a lot better. You can bypass the modeling section by using the "clean" channel. It was like night & day to the Vibro. Plus it's more wattage (15 for the Super, with a 10 " speaker).

 

I had also played a Peavey Valve King at that time, and really liked it. However, every other VKe that I tried didn't sound as good. Guess they made one jewel, and the rest weren't up to snuff. Or I was enjoying the Ibanez John Scofield guitar with which I was trying the amp.

"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion)

NEW band Old band

 

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I'll agree with you that the Fender Vibro Champ XD is pretty crappy; but it's "big brother" the Super Champ XD is a lot better. You can bypass the modeling section by using the "clean" channel. It was like night & day to the Vibro. Plus it's more wattage (15 for the Super, with a 10 " speaker).

 

They had one of those in there too, but I didn't even give it a look because I assumed it had the same problem. Bummer.

 

I had also played a Peavey Valve King at that time, and really liked it. However, every other VKe that I tried didn't sound as good. Guess they made one jewel, and the rest weren't up to snuff. Or I was enjoying the Ibanez John Scofield guitar with which I was trying the amp.

 

That's why I did my best to match the axe I knew I'd be playing through it, and I suppose I was fortunate they had a used Ibey (even though it was an RG) hanging there.

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The Blues Jr. has a gain adjustment, and should break up nicely at sane levels. They are awesome amps!

I dime out the master on my BJ and run the volume at about 2 and get a very pleasing sound without the pain... I'm also running a Seymor Duncan pickup boost... Don't give up on the Blues Jr. Good review on the amps though...

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The Blues Jr. has a gain adjustment, and should break up nicely at sane levels. They are awesome amps!

I dime out the master on my BJ and run the volume at about 2 and get a very pleasing sound without the pain... I'm also running a Seymor Duncan pickup boost... Don't give up on the Blues Jr. Good review on the amps though...

 

The only potential downside I could see there is that hitting the preamp with my Screamer wouldn't accomplish much if it was down that low.

 

Maybe I should go back in there with my Screamer and play around with these amps some more! :idea:

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The only potential downside I could see there is that hitting the preamp with my Screamer wouldn't accomplish much if it was down that low.

 

Maybe I should go back in there with my Screamer and play around with these amps some more! :idea:

You'd be surprised Griff.... I use a Fulltone and it beefs it up nicely... Get back in there and give Junior another shot...

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I'm well pleased with the Blues Jr., but mine (old enough to be made in US) has been modified with variable bias, new output transformer, reverb mod to connect out before master gain, mods to make the first couple of amp stages and tone controls run a bit more like the schematic for a Twin Reverb, and power supply stiffening mods.

Between it an a Vox ToneLabLE, I can get anywher from crystal clean to full metal jacket - but something about 2 to 5 watts could be useful at times.

 

Howard Grand|Hamm SK1-73|Kurz PC2|PC2X|PC3|PC3X|PC361; QSC K10's

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I have a Vox AC4 as my bedroom amp. I run it at a 1/4 watt through a 2 X 12 cab with celestions. I love it. At a full 4 watts it's way to loud to talk over. It takes pedals beautifully, at least a Tube Screamer and a Tone Bender.
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I have a Vox AC4 as my bedroom amp. I run it at a 1/4 watt through a 2 X 12 cab with celestions. I love it. At a full 4 watts it's way to loud to talk over. It takes pedals beautifully, at least a Tube Screamer and a Tone Bender.

 

I'd love to try one of those! :cool: I do already have a Fuchs Lucky 7 (7 watt all-tube head), so I can't complain... :thu:

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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I tend to think of amps in a different way from many rock guitarists so indulge me if I ask a question:

Are you interested in a particular sound or a variety of sounds ?

 

I'm looking for flexibility, but that flexibility starts with a clean tone that's loud enough to get over the drummer, but just on the edge of breaking up the power tubes. Everything else should (IMO) happen on the preamp side.

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I have a Vox AC4 as my bedroom amp. I run it at a 1/4 watt through a 2 X 12 cab with celestions. I love it. At a full 4 watts it's way to loud to talk over. It takes pedals beautifully, at least a Tube Screamer and a Tone Bender.

 

I'd love to try one of those! :cool: I do already have a Fuchs Lucky 7 (7 watt all-tube head), so I can't complain... :thu:

 

If I could afford a Fuchs, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Suffice to say, I'm exploring the new "budget" low-watt lines for everyone. :thu:

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...starts with a clean tone that's loud enough to get over the drummer, but just on the edge of breaking up the power tubes.

 

Don't forget the role that the guitar's volume-control and your playing-dynamics can play in this; people will tell me that they can't get a clean enough sound out of a given amp at a given volume, or that there's not enough of what they perceive as "headroom", and I'll crank the amp up, adjust the guitar's volume-knob, put a little English on my "touch", and it'll work just fine. In case I come off as snobby or smug here, I used to have the same problem, thinking nothing less than a 60 watt amp like a Fender Vibro King would do for my clean chordal "rhythm" sound without undue breakup, particularly on the low strings.

 

If I could afford a Fuchs, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Suffice to say, I'm exploring the new "budget" low-watt lines for everyone. :thu:

 

Those VHT Special 6 amps sure look to be VERY cool amps!

 

I also really liked the Orange Tiny Terror, especially through a closed-back, Celestion loaded cab. Pure Rock & Roll! Hmmn, I wonder what used TT heads go for these days... ? You could pop a 5751 or a 12AY7 in the first socket to bring down the front-end gain, and crank it up...

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Add this one to the role call:

 

Kustom Defender V15... switchable 4 or 15 watts, all tube, 1 x 10"

 

http://www.kustom.com/MessageCenterDetail.aspx?ContentID=1453

 

http://www.kustom.com/Content/20116/V15-News-Image.jpg

 

My living room amp is a VOX AC4 1 x 8", and it makes playing a pleasure. I'll probably do the upgrade kit on it eventually... which costs more than the amp.

 

I have an AC15 w/ Celestion Blue speaker and an Ampeg Jet 12 15 watt. The AC15 is cool though I need to do some mods, the Jet 12 is kinda dull and the ceramic speaker is too low power but I have some many pedals to spruce it up it's functional when it's small size and low volume are an asset.

 

Unfortunately, except for some jazz and mellower cover gigs, the drummers I play with are so damned loud neither of those amps can get above them enough for gigs, and even the monitors can compensate enough to where I'm in a comfortable place hearing myself. So, I use bigger amps... and of course when I have a stage volume that I'm comfortable with the soundmen and club people are saying I'm too loud. My solution is threatening to fire all the drummers unless they develop more dynamic control, which is making them mad at me... but i don't enjoy playing the first 30 seconds of a song and watching all the ladies in the room cover their ears and walk out of the room, taking 75% of the guys like Pied Pipers, so that we're left with the 20 dudes who love getting tinnitus every night and have no social skills.

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I tend to think of amps in a different way from many rock guitarists so indulge me if I ask a question:

Are you interested in a particular sound or a variety of sounds ?

 

I'm looking for flexibility, but that flexibility starts with a clean tone that's loud enough to get over the drummer, but just on the edge of breaking up the power tubes. Everything else should (IMO) happen on the preamp side.

Part of youur goal is lighweight portability, too, right ?

Would you consider a computer-based rig ?

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{quote=p90jr]i don't enjoy playing the first 30 seconds of a song and watching all the ladies in the room cover their ears and walk out of the room, taking 75% of the guys like Pied Pipers, so that we're left with the 20 dudes who love getting tinnitus every night and have no social skills.

 

Tell

 

me

 

about

 

it

 

!!

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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...starts with a clean tone that's loud enough to get over the drummer, but just on the edge of breaking up the power tubes.

 

Don't forget the role that the guitar's volume-control and your playing-dynamics can play in this; people will tell me that they can't get a clean enough sound out of a given amp at a given volume, or that there's not enough of what they perceive as "headroom", and I'll crank the amp up, adjust the guitar's volume-knob, put a little English on my "touch", and it'll work just fine. In case I come off as snobby or smug here, I used to have the same problem, thinking nothing less than a 60 watt amp like a Fender Vibro King would do for my clean chordal "rhythm" sound without undue breakup, particularly on the low strings.

 

Oh absolutely - I'm talking about having a lead tone to play over the clean chordal rhythms that still clean, but has that nice singing edge to it. I do work my guitar's volume knob, no doubt. ;)

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Part of youur goal is lighweight portability, too, right ?

Would you consider a computer-based rig ?

 

Yes, and no.

 

I don't want to piddle around with a laptop and worry about system stability and lag and latency.

 

To borrow a cliche, I'm a simple kind of man when it comes to live playing. :thu:

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Re: computerized live rigs.

I'm not an authority but from what I've heard, problems such as latency, etc., have to do more with using non-dedicated computers (that have a lot of extra programs, etc.) than anything else.

A set-up dedicated to reproducing a guitar amp set-up should be streamlined to do nothing else.

There seem to be a number of players leaning that way recently.

IIRC, some of the guys in Garbage use programmed setups (no amps onstage) and there are others.

There are even traditional rock bands like Blondie that now have no onstage sounds except vocals and drums.

 

The other thing is interactivity, i.e., "playing the rig" as you would an amp.

If you can find satisfactory models for the sounds you want and programs that respond properly, I'd think all you need then is speakers that deliver the timbre you prefer.

Heck, you should be able to generate live feedback effects if you get the right set-up.

 

I think a great many guitarists have invested a lot of time getting the right sound for thenselves but seem to forget that in most circumstances that only comes across in recordings.

Seldom does one play in a live situation that's not compromised from the outset and even then, unless in an art concert situation, you're still playing for an audience that's surrounded by all sorts of noise.

 

The other way to go, with a small amp, effects, etc., depends as much on the mics and sound engineer, which, of course is part three of a computerized rig, too.

Either way, I think you're on a better track reducing stage volume.

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