Let me preface this by saying that I'm not too familiar with terminology, or with amp technology in general, so bear with me.

I have a Vox VT15. I like it decently well for some things. For just strumming chords and adding some accents and grace notes with a clean tone, it suits me fine. And it sounds all right distorted for basic rock/metal rhythm work. However, trying to play lead with it doesn't feel good at all. When I keep it relatively clean it sounds sterile and thin, almost like a toy piano or something on the higher frets, and with zero sustain; and when distorted it just sounds terrible--monotonous, warbly, grainy, "whiny" in a totally unsexy way, with absolutely no texture to the sound, especially high on the fretboard. Now I certainly don't dispute that a lot of this comes down to technique; I'm a mediocre player at best. But I can't help but think that a tube amp would improve things.

What I'm looking for is that rich, thick lead tone that really captures the nuances of the pick attack; one where the harmonics just jump out, and mutes have a crisp chk-chk sound rather than a loose swugga-swugga sound (no clue if that makes any sense). Think Buck Dharma, David Gilmour, Brian May, Page, John Frusciante, Tom Scholz, heck Kirk Hammett, just the tone that you hear when you think about a solid rock solo, which I can't seem to capture with the Vox. And I'd also like to have access to a twangy, bluesy lead tone, in the vein of Skynyrd, SRV, etc. Decent crunch/metal sound would be great too.

So I guess my questions are threefold. One, am I just not using the right settings on the VT15, and/or is it purely a question of technique? Two, could I get some satisfaction from a pedal rather than a new amp? And if not, which amp should I go for in the 300-400 dollar range--I'm leaning strongly toward the Fender Super Champ XD, any reason not to get that? I should mention that I'm using an ESP Ltd MH-1000 (humbuckers) and a Hamer Strat copy.

Many thanks to anyone who takes the time to read this and reply.
hey, who are you?? who are you??

... butt out, schlommo.

(sorry, i couldn't resist )
Last edited by josephde at Mar 21, 2011,
Fender's usually don't have great distortion sounds. fantastic cleans but not so much on the dirt. try a peavey valveking. decent cleans and the distortion channel is pretty good. if you run an overdrive thru it then you can get more modern metal sounds.
Also, IIRC, the Super Champ XD isn't strictly speaking a tube amp, as it has a digital preamp and a tube power amp, therefore being a hybrid amp. Fender just markets it misleadingly, saying it's a "Class A Tube amp", which isn't technically speaking wrong, but not the whole truth, either.

Still, I hear it's a great little amp. Might be worth checking out.

Guitars: Ibanez SV5470F, Ibanez Xpt700, Fender MIM Standard Stratocaster ('04-'05), Jackson Ps-2
Ashton AG200,
Amps: ENGL E530, Bugera 6262-212,
FX: TC Electronics G-major 2, Behringer EQ700, Morley Volume / Wah
Quote by monwobobbo
try a peavey valveking.

This one I can back up. I've had one, and it was really nice - not just really that much of a metal amp, but perfect for rock / blues / whatever doesn't require razor-sharp br00t4lz -tones. (Lol, the spell checker doesn't underline the word 'br00t4lz') Also has really, really good cleans, and the clean channel is just awesome with a little bit of dirt on it.

The only bad thing, considering home practice, is that even the 50-watt version is seriously loud.

Guitars: Ibanez SV5470F, Ibanez Xpt700, Fender MIM Standard Stratocaster ('04-'05), Jackson Ps-2
Ashton AG200,
Amps: ENGL E530, Bugera 6262-212,
FX: TC Electronics G-major 2, Behringer EQ700, Morley Volume / Wah
I'm thought about getting the super champ xd myself, and I may at some point. If you are looking for like a bedroom amp - then check out the blackstar ht-1r, or the Kustom The Defender 5 watt head (I think it is like 99$ which is amazing for a 5 watt tube head despite the brand being iffy).

In my experience it requires more skill to make a bad amp sound good, so there is probably some kind of algorithm involved that would tell you had good you have to be to get the tone you want out of the Vox VT1. Personally, I've really liked even the cheapest Vox amps I have played with, and maybe you could get what you want with a pedal. Worth a try before you start spending money on amps - if you can go into a music store and check out some pedals.