#1
Hey GGA, need some advice. I'm headed off to college in a couple months, but I've got just enough time to whip up some cash and buy a new amp. I've been playing guitar for about 9 months, and right now I've got a Spider IV 15W (expecting flame for it), which has actually been nice while I've figured out "my sound." I own and use both a MIM Strat and an Ibanez AS73B (a semihollow Artcore).

I'm looking for a small-ish tube amp, ideally in the $500 range but I could go up to $600 or $700 if need be. This amp would be played mostly in a dorm room, but I'm hoping to find a band at some point, so I guess it will need some kick. I would also hope to keep this amp for quite a while, which is why I'm spending so much on just my second amp. I play a little bit of everything, but generally focus more on mid-gain (classic/some hard rock) and clean (blues, country) stuff. Early Metallica is the heaviest I really go, and even that's not all that necessary. Basically, I want something versatile, but I don't need a metal sound at all.

I've been looking at something from Blackstar, and the HT-5 seemed pretty good from the sound clips i watched on YouTube. However, I haven't had much chance to try it out and at this point, I'm just starting to hear how bad my Spider is, so I'm probably not too good of a judge tone-wise.

Now, piggybacking off this amp hunt, I've got a few questions too. I read the sticky, but a) do I really need a cabinet? Or could I just buy a head and leave it at that? And b) is a mini halfstack worth it (ex, the HT-5 + HT-110 mini halfstack, which is a head plus 1x10) or at that point do I just get a combo?
Last edited by horser4dish at Apr 24, 2011,
#2
LOL, i get flamed for even mentioning Line 6

the Blackstar is very good. I played one at a guitar center a few months ago and i have to say...that dinky little 5w amp sounded great
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#3
Egnater tweaker and a handfull of various tubes.

I rec the head and a 1x12 cab over the combo.
#5
You're not going to find a tube amp you can play in a dorm, probably. I suggest you keep using the Line 6 for practice and just look for a gigging amp.
Although the Lil Night Train is awesome.
#7
Yes you need a cab. Heads don't make sound alone.

Missed that part.

Dear God help me... its frigging Easter for .... sake.
#8
Hi. You can play any amp with a master volume in a dorm room. It's not going to sound the best but its definitely possible. I have a Vox AC15, and I can get it quiet enough to play in the middle of the night.

So really, look for an amp that you like, not one thats extra quiet. Unless that what you want.
"Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you." - Aldous Huxley
#9
Quote by AeolianSeventh
You're not going to find a tube amp you can play in a dorm, probably. I suggest you keep using the Line 6 for practice and just look for a gigging amp.
I agree with this. It's probably the best idea
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#10
well, if you absolutely want a tube, and for somewhat cheap, and decent, i recommend the Blackheart Killer ant or little giant. Killer ant is 1w and the giant is 5w, for what they are their worth it imo. I have a 8mos old and i can play the killer ant fully cranked and not wake her up. Plus its designed to sound like a fully cranked tube while at low volumes.
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#11
Superchamp XD. I just picked one up today, I feel obligated it pimp it anytime I can now because it is a pretty sweet amp.

It does a VERY convincing BF and tweed impressions. Which really blew me away.
Last edited by al112987 at Apr 24, 2011,
#12
Quote by farmosh203
I thought the Blackstar was a hybrid amp?


Nope
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#13
Quote by larrytheguitar
Nope

Yep

The preamp is hybrid and the power amp is hybrid (transistorised phase inverter). Poke a stick at it anywhere and you'll hit hybrid technology.


back to the TS:

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#15
An Egnater Tweaker 1x12 combo is in price range too. That would be hard to pass up.
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Cathbard Amplification
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#16
Honestly, for dorm playing, get good headphones and a Vox amPlug and then get a bitchin gigging amp. If you like the HT-5 try the Marshall Class 5. They may catch some flack around here but I love mine, you might love it too. If not there's the Fender Blues Jr., the Vox Night Train or AC4TV (Which has a built in attenuator so it might be usable in the dorm when nobody's around), the Orange Tiny Terror, and a few others. Go to a music store and test to find the best.
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#17
Well, that's a lot of helpful responses pretty fast. I'll probably head out to Guitar Center tomorrow (or today, there's an Easter sale, right?) and check out my options. Keeping AeolianSeventh/JAHellraiser's advice in mind, I'll just test amps at low volumes and see if it's worth getting them over my Spider; might take my 1/8" adapter and plug headphones in too.

As for specific amps, I've expanded my list based on your suggestions: Blackstar HT5, Blackheart BH5 or BH1 (not sure this is what I would like, but I'll check it out), Vox Lil Night Train, Egnater Tweaker, and a Marshall Class 5. If I can find them, I'll see what I can do about testing them side by side.

@gregs1020: thanks for clearing that up; some heads looked like they had speakers, but I guess that's just for effect.
#18
^ heads will never have speakers. you cant run just a head. aside from not getting any sound, you will hurt the amp. there are some boxes you can run in place of speakers so that no sound is produced, and then you can use your headphones. these would be called a dummy load, and can be a bit expensive.

what kind of features are you looking for in the amp? most smaller tube amps are limited in that respect, so that is a helpful way to start narrowing things down. do you need two channels? an effects loop? master volume?

lots of good suggestions here though. i will also throw out that 5w isnt going to be enough (typically) to play with a band and stay very clean, so you might want 15 or 20 watts for the headroom. so i will throw out the blackheart handsome devil and jet city jca20 (or jca22 if you want features).
#19
Well, that's why I asked for suggestions. I don't really know what I'm looking for, except that I don't really need a whole lot of effects. Another reason I'm tossing the Spider is because it seems to be built around the effects, and except for reverb I rarely/never use them. I like having two channels, but I don't see a problem with not having them, since lots of others have gotten by with just one. Having a master volume would probably be best (as per Zamorak's suggestion), but again, I really don't know.

I'll be sure to keep an eye out for those two you suggested as well.
#20
well 2 things. for the dorm, you really need about the smallest tube amp you can find. you dont need much. i even live in a house lear campus and due to neighbors and such we still generally play through small solid states at home.

for teh band....well, you need something bigger. alot bigger.

i would say the best thing to do is buy a cheapo amp for your dorm and buy the nice big old tube amp when your ready to gig.

OR - if your set on buying a tube, get a 5 watt bugera or something cheap. but dont buy a 5 watt 700 dollar amp that will be unsuitable to use in your future band.

there are amps that can "do it all" but not in this catagory. not for small volume practice. plus, some practice solid states have features quality tubers dont like headphone and mp3 line outs.

for example:

in my house sitting next to me is:

my sound system or a 15 watt line 6 spider ONLY using the line out to play music
a 10 watt crate solid state stacked on top running ONLY clean channel
and i use my pedal board for effects and distortion

BUT if i want a tube amp i have a 25 wat tuber downstairs or a 40 watt tube in my roomates band practice space about 1 mile away in a storage unit where i can make my ears bleed if i want

great thing is my pedal goes from a light overdrive to a semi heavy distortion voicing with independant gain control. then i use a EQ pedal to excentuate the lows and some of the highs...like a mild smiley face. this either gives me a really nice jazzy tone when clean, or REALLY adds bottom end and revoices the distortion pedal for a HEAVY sound.

so all i have to do is plug in and i go anywhere from jazz music to system of a down with a few tweaks and a quick retune of my hardtail guitar (no tremolo to adjust for drastic tuning changes)

pretty happy with my bedroom setup.
Last edited by ikey_ at Apr 24, 2011,
#21
If he is willing to go with headphones, what about a decent multi-fx and an audio interface for a computer?

The more times this question gets asked, the more I convince myself of the value of a multi-fx, power amp, small cab as the best route. More versatility and a good platform for adding/ improvement.
#22
Peavey classic 30 has pretty much everything you need. You might want a distortion pedal for it (DS-1 is cheap), though.
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#23
Quote by Cathbard
An Egnater Tweaker 1x12 combo is in price range too. That would be hard to pass up.

i figured the head and a 112 cab, just because the tubes are a LOT easier to change in the head. you can't really see what you are doing in the combo from what jesse has posted. plus the ease of using any cab around is nice.
#24
I'd go for the blackstar ht 5. its got some real nice tones, and if you're in a future band you can always mic up.
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#25
I'll recommend the crap out of the Egnater Tweaker for this. Or even an Egnater Rebel. Go to your local Guitar Center and try them out. The Fender Blues Jr. is nice, but it'll probably be a bit loud. I've never been too big on the Blackstar either, but it'd definitely be worth checking out. You might like it more than I do.
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#26
Quote by gregs1020
i figured the head and a 112 cab, just because the tubes are a LOT easier to change in the head. you can't really see what you are doing in the combo from what jesse has posted. plus the ease of using any cab around is nice.

That'd be enough for me to go for the head/cab option too. But you and I play around with different tubes from our vintage tube collection so that's important. The TS might find a combo more convenient for his purpose. Not everybody are cork sniffing tube guys like us.
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Cathbard Amplification
My band
#27
Quote by Cathbard
That'd be enough for me to go for the head/cab option too. But you and I play around with different tubes from our vintage tube collection so that's important. The TS might find a combo more convenient for his purpose. Not everybody are cork sniffing tube guys like us.

how will they ever learn if we don't start them off young!

look how good we're doing with Min.
#28
Well, I went to my local GC yesterday and had a chance to try out a bunch of stuff. Not a fan of the Lil Night Train, and the JCA20 was good, but it turns out I like distinct channels more. Really liked both the HT-5 mini stack (and a half mini would be plenty for me) and the Egnater Tweaker half stack I played. I didn't even try the Rebel, it was out of my price range in-store. I'm glad I got all your feedback, though, otherwise I would've been looking who-knows-where.

So, if I were to get (let's say) the Tweaker head, could I just find some cheap cab and hook it up, provided the impedences matched? Or would it be best to shell out for the Egnater cab that it was sitting on?
#29
egnater cabs aren't bad honestly. but used decent 1x12 cabs are pretty easy to come across. (avatar or lopoline for example)

the tweaker head can do 8 or 16 ohm so most cabs would be fine.

but the egnater cabs are pretty decent. i kinda like the open back vox 112 NT cab as well, it has a greenback speaker (albeit a chinese one but we're talking budget here).
#30
Don't bring a head and cab to college to keep in a dorm room, you're going to be pressed for space as it is. Go with a 15 watt combo unless you expect to play with others in which case push it to 30 watts. Blackstar or Vox AC15 is my suggestion. If you can stretch your budget a little bit, a used Tiny Terror combo would definitely be a good choice based on your preferred genres.
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#31
The Carvin V3M combo seems to be exactly what you're looking for.
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#32
Quote by horser4dish
So, if I were to get (let's say) the Tweaker head, could I just find some cheap cab and hook it up, provided the impedences matched? Or would it be best to shell out for the Egnater cab that it was sitting on?
I bought a Crate 2x12 for $100 from Craigslist to go with my Tweaker and am happy with it.

I agree with the earlier suggestion of getting a Super Champ XD.
#33
Quote by rockxwl
Don't bring a head and cab to college to keep in a dorm room, you're going to be pressed for space as it is. Go with a 15 watt combo unless you expect to play with others in which case push it to 30 watts. Blackstar or Vox AC15 is my suggestion. If you can stretch your budget a little bit, a used Tiny Terror combo would definitely be a good choice based on your preferred genres.



+1.

Why do you even want another practice amp? Just use the one you have, and get a real amplifier for band/jam use that you keep in your closet/under your bed at all other times.
#34
Quote by rockxwl
Don't bring a head and cab to college to keep in a dorm room, you're going to be pressed for space as it is. Go with a 15 watt combo unless you expect to play with others in which case push it to 30 watts. Blackstar or Vox AC15 is my suggestion. If you can stretch your budget a little bit, a used Tiny Terror combo would definitely be a good choice based on your preferred genres.


a tweaker head and vox NT 112 cab is smaller than an AC15. by a lot.

the tiny terror cleans are complete shit.
#35
I'm not sure how many of you have actually lived in a dorm?

I have an AC15 and live in dorms. I play it loudly (I.E. normal levels) during the day when nobody is around/cares. If people complain I turn down. At night I turn the master down and get bedroom levels. Same amp. You can do the exact same thing with any other tube amp with master volume. I am not familiar with other brands as much but I highly recommend the AC15 or Blues Jr. You can get used Blues Jrs often times for $350.

Really though, size isn't going to be an issue unless he has huge stacks or something. If music is a priority making an amp fit isn't going to be a problem haha.

I've never gotten noise complaints about my playing before. But that might be because I'm an RA and they'd have to complain to me....
"Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you." - Aldous Huxley
#36
Quote by OceansBetweenUs
Why do you even want another practice amp? Just use the one you have, and get a real amplifier for band/jam use that you keep in your closet/under your bed at all other times.


It's not going to be my practice amp, I'm hoping to get more of an everything amp. This might be unrealistic (I have no idea), but the Spider's not really cutting it for me. Plus, I don't have a band or anything right now and I feel like it would be a waste to throw several hundred dollars at an amp and then not use it, which is why I'm focusing on amps that I could use as a practice amp as well.
#37
In regards to that, I use my AC15 to practice as well as to play in bands. Like I said before, unless you jump to 30w+ tube amps getting an OKAY sound turned down isn't going to be a problem.


What kind of music do you find yourself playing the most?
"Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you." - Aldous Huxley