#1
Im looking into buying a new amp. I've never owned a tube amp and Im currently looking into all these low wattage amps. My current gear is a line 6 2x10 spider 2 amp and I play through a shecter hellraiser solo with emg 85/81 pickups. I should note I do not own any pedals. I like metal. At heart Im a metal head and really I learned to play the guitar by mastering Metallica's main riffs. Today however, Im much older (with kids of my own) and find myself more interested in a "Foo Fighters" kinda rock sound. Don't get me wrong though, I still do like playing metal.

My question is which amp am I best suited for? I was looking into a blackstar ht1 and a vox ac4. I aware that the vox is not suited for metal but could I use a pedal to get what I want? I like the vox for the fact that the wattage can be adjusted between 1,4 and 1/4.

Also this might be a silly question but what exactly is implied when you "boost" a clean or distortion channel? Is it simply a distortion pedal on top of a distortion channel and vice versa for clean? This is primarily why I dont own a tube amp because I don't know how to maximize the tone.

Any advice would be appreciated.
#2
Boosting the gain or clean channel is running a tubescreamer or overdrive with gain at 0 and the level cranked up.

I would suggest not limiting yourself to 1 watt amps. I have a 20 watt stiff amps dirt head and it sounds great at lower volumes. Watts don't always equal loudness there are many factors involved and some higher watt amps sound good at low volume.

And oh yeah, welcome aboard.
#3
We need to know how much you're willing to spend to give real recommendations.

The Blackstar wouldn't be a bad choice, tonally. I wouldn't recommend he Vox, unless you're going to drop good money on a good distortion pedal. Most dirt pedals are cheap and sound cheap. The ones that you can feasibly replace amp dirt with are usually $200+.

If you're looking to keep the cost minimal (as I surmise from the two amps you listed), you may even want to go the modeling route. This can be an especially good option since noise seems to be a concern for you. Wattage doesn't dictate how loud an amp will be, but if you need to play really quietly, you may not want to be looking at a tube amp at all.

In general I say that higher wattage amps sound better at low volume at lower wattage amps. Low wattage amps are (more or less) designed with the thought that people who buy them buy them to be able to crank them for poweramp distortion. Cranking a low wattage amp is loud as balls. Low wattage only means that poweramp distortion can be reached sooner, not that the amp itself is any quieter. On the other hand, big high wattage amps are almost always designed with preamp distortion in mind - these amps are (supposed to be) designed so you get the same sound at any volume. They're designed to counteract the poweramp distortion phenomena, hence their high wattage. Due to their preamp distortion focus, they are typically much more consistent and "good" sounding at low volumes. However in actual practice this varies from amp to amp... long story short some amps are designed better than others.
Spin 'round carousel when your horse isn't screwed in.

My band:
Fractured Instinct
(For fans of Death/Groove/Prog Metal)

Ibanez RGA42E
Ibanez S420
LTD H-301
Ibanez RG520
Peavey Predator USA
Douglas Grendel 725
Line 6 Pod HD500X
Last edited by Offworld92 at May 24, 2013,
#4
Quote by Grawgos
Boosting the gain or clean channel is running a tubescreamer or overdrive with gain at 0 and the level cranked up.

I would suggest not limiting yourself to 1 watt amps. I have a 20 watt stiff amps dirt head and it sounds great at lower volumes. Watts don't always equal loudness there are many factors involved and some higher watt amps sound good at low volume.

And oh yeah, welcome aboard.


Haha thanks. Well Im trying to keep the cost down and I need my volume to stay low, well mainly for apartment bedroom levels.
#5
Quote by Offworld92
We need to know how much you're willing to spend to give real recommendations.

The Blackstar wouldn't be a bad choice, tonally. I wouldn't recommend he Vox, unless you're going to drop good money on a good distortion pedal. Most dirt pedals are cheap and sound cheap. The ones that you can feasibly replace amp dirt with are usually $200+.

If you're looking to keep the cost minimal (as I surmise from the two amps you listed), you may even want to go the modeling route. This can be an especially good option since noise seems to be a concern for you. Wattage doesn't dictate how loud an amp will be, but if you need to play really quietly, you may not want to be looking at a tube amp at all.

In general I say that higher wattage amps sound better at low volume at lower wattage amps. Low wattage amps are (more or less) designed with the thought that people who buy them buy them to be able to crank them for poweramp distortion. Cranking a low wattage amp is loud as balls. Low wattage only means that poweramp distortion can be reached sooner, not that the amp itself is any quieter. On the other hand, big high wattage amps are almost always designed with preamp distortion in mind - these amps are (supposed to be) designed so you get the same sound at any volume. They're designed to counteract the poweramp distortion phenomena, hence their high wattage. Due to their preamp distortion focus, they are typically much more consistent and "good" sounding at low volumes. However in actual practice this varies from amp to amp... long story short some amps are designed better than others.


Thanks for the input. I don't know what you mean when you say 'the modeling route'. My knowledge of wattage is ass backwards. I was under the assumption that high wattage tube amps only sound good at higher volumes.

What pedal came to mind? I was looking at some heavy distortion pedals from tc electronic. Thanks for the input btw.
#6
On top of what Offworld said, it's kind of hit or miss with different amps as to which sound good at low volumes -- even for solid state amps. Take my Ampeg VH140c for example, it's a 140W solid state head. At bedroom levels, this amp sounds kind of murky and doesn't have as much gain as it should until after you push it to about 1 or so -- which is already much too loud for an apartment.

On the other hand, my Carvin 50W tube head, or my other guitarists Egnater Tweaker 88W head sound great at bedroom levels. Plenty of gain, and nearly the full range of tones you would expect from them.

It doesn't matter whether it's tube or solid state, it's all about how the transformer was designed, and how the power stage reacts to the volume pot. Some amps have such a razor thin line between quiet and holy f***, it's nearly impossible to get apartment volumes out of it -- but that has nothing to do with the wattage.

Another big consideration that most people miss is the speaker that you're using. Many speakers don't take low volumes well, and can significantly color your tone at those levels. A good high sensitivity speaker like a V30 will work fine, but those no name generic ones that people stick in cheap cabs these days might sound pretty bad until they're pushed a little harder.

The best way to find out is to try the amp out for yourself before making a decision -- which you really should be doing anyway.
#7
A modeling amp, I mean. Like the Peavey Vypyr Tube 60. I own the Tube 120H model, and I've owned the solid state 15 & 75 in the past. I can attest to them all day long - they have two volume knobs that work extremely well. I can dial mine into a whisper volume, no sweat. Due to the solid state components, they also sound very consistent - you get the same tone at whisper volumes as you do at drummer volumes. It's an excellent amp for playing around the house, because they can do anything, due to the modeling technology they have in them. Just program them once, then set and forget. I highly recommend a Sanpera controller to go with it.

Most people think wattage correlates with volume. It's the natural thing to think, and most people don't really get into amps or anything to learn/realize what's actually going on under the hood. My own understanding is extremely rudimentary compared to some of the other regulars. I can tell you roughly what happens, but not why or how like some of the others can.

If you went the analogue route and wanted to use a pedal, I'd recommend something like a Wampler Pinnacle or SLOstortion.
Spin 'round carousel when your horse isn't screwed in.

My band:
Fractured Instinct
(For fans of Death/Groove/Prog Metal)

Ibanez RGA42E
Ibanez S420
LTD H-301
Ibanez RG520
Peavey Predator USA
Douglas Grendel 725
Line 6 Pod HD500X
#8
Another route you may want to consider is what I plan on doing soon:

AmpTweaker Tight Metal Preamp pedal > Electro-Harmonix 22 Caliber power amp pedal > 1x12 cab.

The cool thing about the Tight Metal is that it isn't just a distortion pedal, it was actually designed in the same way that the preamp section in an amp is. They're made buy the same guy who designed the 5150, JSX, XXX, and a bunch of other Peavey's. The dudes from Misery Index and Asphyx actually use these as their main rigs into power amps.

When you see the features on this thing, it sounds more like an amp than a distortion pedal. It has an effects loop with a pre/post preamp switch and a noise gate that automatically adjusts with the amount of gain you have dialed in. Pretty impressive.

They run about $180, plus about $100 or so for the power amp pedal, but that's pretty cheap when compared to what a decent amp head costs.
#10
Quote by Blompcube
it's so cool to hate Gibson, even the federal Department of Justice hates them.

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( . .) This is Bunny. Copy and paste Bunny into your
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#11
Where are you based?

You mentioned blackstar amps - are you aware that they're reeling an updated version of the HT series aimed at metal players. I think they're available in June but not sure.

I'm a bedroom player and have had the following amps:
Vypr 30, valve king 112, 6505 112, pocket pod, pod hd500, hd300, marshall JVM 205, marshall dsl1, marshall jmp-1 preamp.

All work well at bedroom levels, I wish I'd had my eq pedal to put in the loop on the 6505 as that would have helped because it was a little boomy (closed back).

My favourite amps out of that lot are the marshall ones. Anything with a master volume will be fine. The 50w JVM sounds great at low volume but I'm selling it cos of its size and that I done need it (I've kept the dsl and jmp pre).

I guess what I'm saying is, get the amp you like the sound of and make sure it has a master volume. Valve amps still sound fantastic at lower volumes. Also budget for a noise gate, a nice OD pedal and and eq pedal.

I'm going to be looking at the new blackstar amps as I need want another amp for another room in the house and will be looking at the Blackstar HT Metal amps with interest. If I buy one, I'll be sure to troll these pages raving on about it's pure valve filth
#12
Quote by Grawgos
Boosting the gain or clean channel is running a tubescreamer or overdrive with gain at 0 and the level cranked up.


Yessir, do this with an OD808 and you can get pretty much any amp to roar. I've used the Maxon on a Brian May sig Vox amp, and it got some pretty Metal tone out of it, and this was with a single coil Telecaster, played the same amp with a Tele deluxe and an Ibanez V and when you step into humbuckers and up the output it just gets meaner. I normally have the balance(/level? Mine says balance...) and tone dials on mine nuetral, and it does the job. Both 'nez and Maxon do the 808, though the Maxon is cheaper and in many people's opinions (including mine) better.
Last edited by EqualOfHeaven at May 25, 2013,
#13
Quote by -Ed-
Where are you based?

You mentioned blackstar amps - are you aware that they're reeling an updated version of the HT series aimed at metal players. I think they're available in June but not sure.


I gotta HT60 and I reckon it does the job for Metal. It is more a high-gain rock amp though, I'd say better for looser, messier Metal styles like Sludge and Black Metal, it's not a tight, thrashy amp really, it's too loose for that, which I find makes it more versatile. I can play anything from Cream to EyeHateGod so sometimes something less specific can be good.
Last edited by EqualOfHeaven at May 25, 2013,
#15
Krank 1980 Jr, these are $300-$375 used and are really great amps. It will do metal and easily do rock/hard-rock. The clean channel is nice also

If not this, look at the Vypyr tube 60 1x12 combo
2002 PRS CE22
2013 G&L ASAT Deluxe
2009 Epiphone G-400 (SH-4)
Marshall JCM2000 DSL100
Krank 1980 Jr 20watt
Krank Rev 4x12 (eminence V12)
GFS Greenie/Digitech Bad Monkey
Morley Bad Horsie 2
MXR Smart Gate
#16
Quote by -Ed-
This is the one that's got me curious:

http://www.blackstaramps.com/products/ht-metal-5/




Looking at the HT Metal 60 it's hard to tell the difference.

This is my amp:
http://www.blackstaramps.com/products/ht-stage60/

This is the Metal version:
http://www.blackstaramps.com/products/ht-metal-60/

Apparently the Metal version has 2 x 6L6 rather than 2 x EL34. If someone can tell me what those things are and what difference they make it'd be muchos appreciada. Also guess which one has a Metal grill? If someone could explain if and how that makes a difference, also appreciated.
#17
Power tubes have a slight affect on the character of an amp. 6L6s are associated with higher headroom, and a more scooped (or rather boosted lows+highs) sound. EL34s are kind of the opposite, more mid presence and lower headroom.

That is just their associations though. The actual tone has a lot more to do with the preamp design, I believe. But I am by no means an expert, still learning every day.
Spin 'round carousel when your horse isn't screwed in.

My band:
Fractured Instinct
(For fans of Death/Groove/Prog Metal)

Ibanez RGA42E
Ibanez S420
LTD H-301
Ibanez RG520
Peavey Predator USA
Douglas Grendel 725
Line 6 Pod HD500X
#18
I recall reading somewhere that BlackStar threw the HT-Metal's or the Gus G pedal's preamp circuit into the Metal series amps.
Quote by Blompcube
it's so cool to hate Gibson, even the federal Department of Justice hates them.

( )( )
( . .) This is Bunny. Copy and paste Bunny into your
C('')('') signature to help him gain world domination.
#19
Quote by -Ed-
Where are you based?

You mentioned blackstar amps - are you aware that they're reeling an updated version of the HT series aimed at metal players. I think they're available in June but not sure.

I'm a bedroom player and have had the following amps:
Vypr 30, valve king 112, 6505 112, pocket pod, pod hd500, hd300, marshall JVM 205, marshall dsl1, marshall jmp-1 preamp.

All work well at bedroom levels, I wish I'd had my eq pedal to put in the loop on the 6505 as that would have helped because it was a little boomy (closed back).

My favourite amps out of that lot are the marshall ones. Anything with a master volume will be fine. The 50w JVM sounds great at low volume but I'm selling it cos of its size and that I done need it (I've kept the dsl and jmp pre).

I guess what I'm saying is, get the amp you like the sound of and make sure it has a master volume. Valve amps still sound fantastic at lower volumes. Also budget for a noise gate, a nice OD pedal and and eq pedal.

I'm going to be looking at the new blackstar amps as I need want another amp for another room in the house and will be looking at the Blackstar HT Metal amps with interest. If I buy one, I'll be sure to troll these pages raving on about it's pure valve filth


Im based in San Diego California. Thanks for all the advice.