#1
In my amp quest, I've run into a problem: the drive sounds on just about every tube amp I've demoed has sounded as digital as my current 80s DS-1 --> 15w Frontman setup, most notably the Traynor YCV50 and the Fender Super-Sonic, two very highly touted amps. I would blame this on not being able to crank the power sections for fear of hearing damage and banning from shops, but I was just fine with how an AC30cc2 sounded at a loud bedroom level.

So is the AC30 the only amp in the <~$800 (used) range I'll be able to find that has a decent amount of features and a good, natural sounding driven British tone, or am I asking a bit too much?

Note: I would get an AC30, but I would like to know if I have other options as I'm more of a Plexi tone guy.
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#2
How can your DS-1 sound digital? Its all analogue.
inb4 people jumping on digital hate bandwagon.

EDIT: Do you even know what you are looking for?
Name some bands you like to play, and your current gear.
There are plenty of amps in the sub 800 range.
Also, how did you set up the gain?
Sicne youve been using a solid state amp with terrible dynamics, chances are you still dont know how to vary pick attack so as to control the ampunt of dirt you need.
Last edited by GS LEAD 5 at May 26, 2011,
#3
Bit of background information:

I was playing a Blackheart Little Giant through a Weber Mini-MASS attenuator so I could crank the amp without being disowned by my parents. Or, well, anyone I played with or around, so I know how a cranked up power section sounds and reacts. The amp blew because I blew at maintaining it, so I decided that was a good excuse to move up a bit in the amp world.

Current gear is a '72 Tele Deluxe reissue, 80s DS-1, Digitech Hardwire delay, 25w Weber Mini-MASS attenuator, a 1x12 Blackheart 75w 16 ohm cab, a blown Little Giant head, and a Frontman 15G. Soon to be on the list will be a fuzz.

I really want an amp with footswitchable, or at least multiple, channels. If it has trem or 'verb, then I want it to be footswitchable so I can actually use it live. This amp basically needs to be the gigging musician's best friend as far as live playing convenience and accessibility goes.

A few amps I've tried that I haven't been a fan of have been the Tiny Terror, AC15, Hot Rod series Fenders, Traynors, and Egnators. I'm on the fence on the Super Sonic as I had a great experience with it the first few times I tried it and slowly became less and less impressed.

I'm not opposed to the small one-channel "rock machines" that are suddenly very popular (Blackheart, Jet City, etc.) but I do love the idea of not having to control my clean tone with an external volume control (be it a volume pedal or my guitar's volume).

I realize that the DS-1 is analog. But it doesn't have the sound of a cranked up tube power section as it is solid state, albeit a very respectable sounding solid state (yes, I love my DS-1. Having an original one makes me understand how they got so popular).

I'm an alt-rock/indie player mostly, dabbling in tones similar to the Foo Fighters, Switchfoot, recent Relient K, Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, Jack's Mannequin/Something Corporate, House of Heroes, early Weezer, and Nirvana. I dabble a bit with tones similar to Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie, Abandon Kansas, and Coldplay.
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As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

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man, Natrone you're some kind of ninja I swear


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plexi


i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.


Rest In Peace Stevie Ray
#5
My ideal tone would be roughly equated to a Marshall 1987. Little meaner sounding than the JTM 45, but still very smooth and musical.

Like I said, my problem is that pretty much every amp I've tried has had a very un-natural sound to it when driven. Kind of like I was playing it on a clean channel with my DS-1 set up to some horribly tinny setting.
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As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

Quote by Silverstein14
man, Natrone you're some kind of ninja I swear


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plexi


i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.


Rest In Peace Stevie Ray
#6
A Dumble Overdrive Special? (Or a clone at least)
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#8
Quote by Natrone
My ideal tone would be roughly equated to a Marshall 1987. Little meaner sounding than the JTM 45, but still very smooth and musical.

Like I said, my problem is that pretty much every amp I've tried has had a very un-natural sound to it when driven. Kind of like I was playing it on a clean channel with my DS-1 set up to some horribly tinny setting.

What kind of EQing are you doing on these amps to get it to sound that bad?

edit: I'd have thought the hotrod fenders would have been good for strokes and nirvana stuff ?
Last edited by Zoot Allures at May 26, 2011,
#9
Quote by bogg808
it sounds to me like you cant dial in an amp properly...

Yeah id check your settings, guitar an cable first. The amps you mentioned are hardly begginer amps
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#10
You've basically said "I want to play music that sounds like these bands, but I to achieve it with gear that isn't what they use"

The AC30 is great. But the other amps you listed are too. What did you think of your Little Giant? If you really loved it, then why not just get it fixed and save yourself some money and the amp hunt?
#12
If you can't get a good sound out of a Traynor you're doing it wrong.
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#13
Quote by Dan_5893
You've basically said "I want to play music that sounds like these bands, but I to achieve it with gear that isn't what they use"

The AC30 is great. But the other amps you listed are too. What did you think of your Little Giant? If you really loved it, then why not just get it fixed and save yourself some money and the amp hunt?

Well, for the most part I can't afford the gear the majority of those bands use. For example, the guys in Relient K use Top Hat, Bad Cat, and PRS amps. Switchfoot is Orange, 65, and vintage Vox. Foo Fighters, as far as I know, is vintage Vox and Mesas. Franz (I think) is vintage Vox or Marshall.

I liked the Little Giant, but like I said, I was really wanting something different even before it blew.

To every one else, I do, admittedly, kind of suck with EQing. I had a lot of trouble trying to dial in a good tone with nearly every amp I've tried. I was probably ok with the AC30 because they're really pretty much idiot proof
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As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

Quote by Silverstein14
man, Natrone you're some kind of ninja I swear


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plexi


i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.


Rest In Peace Stevie Ray
#14
Quote by Natrone
Well, for the most part I can't afford the gear the majority of those bands use. For example, the guys in Relient K use Top Hat, Bad Cat, and PRS amps. Switchfoot is Orange, 65, and vintage Vox. Foo Fighters, as far as I know, is vintage Vox and Mesas. Franz (I think) is vintage Vox or Marshall.

I liked the Little Giant, but like I said, I was really wanting something different even before it blew.

To every one else, I do, admittedly, kind of suck with EQing. I had a lot of trouble trying to dial in a good tone with nearly every amp I've tried. I was probably ok with the AC30 because they're really pretty much idiot proof

The only idiot proof amp is the Fender Champ. Only one knob- volume
#15
You might want to wait for the Jet City JCA 22 to come out, it's got two channels so a clean and a lead...

But if you can't get a good sound out of a Traynor or even a Hot Rod you must be doing something wrong.
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#16
Quote by Natrone

To every one else, I do, admittedly, kind of suck with EQing. I had a lot of trouble trying to dial in a good tone with nearly every amp I've tried. I was probably ok with the AC30 because they're really pretty much idiot proof


For what you're playing, whatever amp you try, boost the treble a bit and the mids a lot while cutting back on the bass. All those bands have really mid-rangy tones (especially Switchfoot).

You might like a Jet City with a clean channel. The JCA50H has footswitchable channels, and it's significantly less expensive than an AC30.

A Vox Night Train might serve you well too - you'll probably prefer the 50-watt model as it has a dedicated clean channel rather than a voicing switch (the standard 15-watt model doesn't really do clean that well).

On both these amps, the clean channel crunches just a tiny bit, but it looks like you don't want totally clean sounds anyway. Coldplay, Death Cab and Spoon all use a bit of crunch, which sounds to me a heck of a lot like a JCA clean channel.

You may also be well-served going the "clean amp with distortion pedals" route. A Blues Jr. or AC15 will get your kind of sounds fantastically with a good distortion pedal. I'd recommend you try out some Fulltone pedals, because they're well-voiced for that particular kind of rock sound.
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Last edited by sonic_777111 at May 26, 2011,
#17
On the traynors. Clean channel is useless without the brightness switch, IMO. But then it makes pretty much all drive and dirt pedals sound crappy and too bright. Hot rod or blues deluxe takes dirt pedals better

Dirt channel is great (but you need the built in boost on at all times)! Especially when you have a nice little boost in front of it.

EQ is hit or miss. Going over 5 on the bass can get muddy quick on single coils. Stock sovteks are terrible and cold sounding!

But when you start from all eq's at 5, and go from there, it's difficult to find a BAD tone, but it's easy to find a tone that's too different from what you're looking for I play a little but from all the bands you've mentioned, and my YCV40 can get in the ballpark for all those tones.

sometimes you want to play the song with a different type of tone, it sets you apart.
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#18
If you're a plexi guy, why not just buy one? There's loads of clones in the price range you listed.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion.

Feel free to express yours so I can make an informed judgement about how stupid you are.
#19
Quote by Natrone
In my amp quest, I've run into a problem: the drive sounds on just about every tube amp I've demoed has sounded as digital as my current 80s DS-1 --> 15w Frontman setup, most notably the Traynor YCV50 and the Fender Super-Sonic, two very highly touted amps. I would blame this on not being able to crank the power sections for fear of hearing damage and banning from shops, but I was just fine with how an AC30cc2 sounded at a loud bedroom level.

So is the AC30 the only amp in the <~$800 (used) range I'll be able to find that has a decent amount of features and a good, natural sounding driven British tone, or am I asking a bit too much?

Note: I would get an AC30, but I would like to know if I have other options as I'm more of a Plexi tone guy.

The bolded bit is exactly why, most low-mid gain tube amps will sound like shit if you crank the preamp gain at low volume levels. The AC30 doesn't have that problem because it doesn't have a preamp gain control, just volume.
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#20
+1

For those genres, preamp gain is the enemy.
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#21
How about the handsome devil head? Has presence, bass, mid, treble controls. Has a level for volume and drive, for well, drive. A lot more features than the LG, but not so many to get confusing and takes pedals extremely well.

Just out of curiosity, what did you not maintain on LG that caused it to crap out on you?
#22
AC30's sounds like (closest to) what you want TBH. Have you tried a Deluxe Reverb? Great amp - 22 watts, so you can get great break up at (relatively) low volumes; However, can easily still be gigged with volume to spare.
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#23
Thanks for the thoughts guys.

On the Traynors: I went back and really took some time to sit down with the YCV50 that was in the used section at my local GC. That time taken to give it a thorough shake-down really improved my opinion of it, and I got some cool sounding tones, but it just wasn't what I was looking for.

Steven, I'm very well aware of the horror that is preamp gain. I plan on buying a new Weber attenuator as soon as I get a new amp so I can get power amp overdrive at reasonable levels, same way I did with the LG. (well, ok, that was necessity since power amp overdrive was the only drive I COULD get...)

Not a huge fan of the overdriven sound of a DRRI, or most Fenders for that matter, and I'm not much of a "use pedals for dirt" guy. I will make an exception for a '59 Bassman with the master all the way up, though. Mmmmmmm.....

What are some of the plexi-like clones in my price range, just out of curiosity? Would that be amps like Blackheart and Jet City? I'd love to try some Jet City amps, but I can't find any in my area. The only thing the local GC has is the THD picovalve or whatever it's called that has a Jet City logo on it.

Basically what happened to my Little Giant was neglect. I got it for Christmas a couple years ago, used a Weber MiniMASS so I could crank it, and never changed the tubes. I also accidentally played it without a speaker load on it a few times when I forgot to hook everything up right while setting up at church or gigs. It was my first tube amp, and I'm honestly very, very impressed it held up to that abuse as long as it did. Really a fantastic way to be introduced to the world of tube tone for a low price.
Quote by necrosis1193
As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

Quote by Silverstein14
man, Natrone you're some kind of ninja I swear


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plexi


i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.


Rest In Peace Stevie Ray
Last edited by Natrone at May 28, 2011,
#24
If you like a plexi type sound, you can get a good approximation of that tone with a clone of a Marshall 18 watt with mods to make it sound more plexi like. Do you have any objection to building an amp? It would be a fun and interesting project and help you really understand what goes on in a tube amp. You could get a great kit with good quality parts and instructions from Trinity amps for $500 with transformers. Check it out. Even if you don't want to build it, you could maybe hire someone to put it together for $300 or so? Just a thought.

Good luck in your quest for tone!
#25
Quote by acdcrocks0323
If you like a plexi type sound, you can get a good approximation of that tone with a clone of a Marshall 18 watt with mods to make it sound more plexi like. Do you have any objection to building an amp? It would be a fun and interesting project and help you really understand what goes on in a tube amp. You could get a great kit with good quality parts and instructions from Trinity amps for $500 with transformers. Check it out. Even if you don't want to build it, you could maybe hire someone to put it together for $300 or so? Just a thought.

Good luck in your quest for tone!

Speaking as somebody building an 18W Marshall atm I can tell you, they cost over $300 just in parts alone - and that isn't counting the chassis or cabinet! If somebody is building one for $300 he's using ridiculously cheap and nasty components and doing the labour for free.
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Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


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#26
I think he meant $500 for parts and $300 for labor, putting me at $900, and that's without a cab.

I'm pretty opposed to it mostly as I don't trust myself to build my own gigging and traveling amp as a first building project. Maybe if I were building a studio project amp I'd be down with it, but this is kind of going to be my guitar version of a daily driver.
Quote by necrosis1193
As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

Quote by Silverstein14
man, Natrone you're some kind of ninja I swear


Quote by gregs1020
plexi


i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.


Rest In Peace Stevie Ray
#27
Well that Valvepower amp can be purchased as either a kit or pre-built. It's the right amp for you - honest.

Edit: Oh, wrong thread, I posted the link to the Valvepower in another thread.
http://www.valvepower.co.uk/18w_amp.htm
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
Last edited by Cathbard at May 28, 2011,
#29
Quote by acdcrocks0323

That's who I buy my transformers and a lot of other stuff from. They are pretty good, they don't rip you off on postage either - even to here.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#30
Eh, I'd like a BIT more control over my sound than a single tone knob, and I'm really not wanting a kit. And I'm looking for a fully-functioning rig for around $800, including a speaker cab.
Quote by necrosis1193
As usual Natrone's mouth spouts general win.

Quote by Silverstein14
man, Natrone you're some kind of ninja I swear


Quote by gregs1020
plexi


i realize the longshot that is. little giant to humongous one.


Rest In Peace Stevie Ray