#1
Yes its another "which amp" thread.

I currently have a Laney AOR50 and ive just moved into a flat so too loud even at a quater volume. So im looking for a low wattage all valve amp (1-5 watts) that will break up at lower volumes.

I play stones, aerosmith, zeppelin and general bluesy stuff with a tokai les paul. Ive looked into Blackstar HT range, egnator tweaker and rebel and was just after any recommendations.

TL; DR new small valve amp for 70s rock & blues?
#2
The HT-5 is okay, but not a first option. The Tweaker and Rebel are fantastic, I prefer the thicker sound of the Rebel personally. The Marshall Class 5 seems to be a popular option, but I've never tried one.

That being said, the difference between your AOR and a small valve amp will be minimal, you won't be able to crank either. Can you not turn it down just a little more?

Also, if it's just slightly too loud and you just need to knock a little edge off, attenution might be an option.
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#3
If you need it to break up naturally at low volumes without disturbing neighbours and people in floors above and below you, you need to scale way down. 1w and a single 8" or 10" speaker. Even a 5w amp and single 12" speaker can not be cranked to distortion point without shaking the floors and making your neighbours call the police. In fact I'm not even sure a 1w amp and 8" speaker would do it, depending on how thick your walls, floor and ceiling are and how much sound-absorbing material there is in the room.

Blackstar do a range of 1w amps; the combo version has an 8" speaker. Blackheart do a nice 1w amp, too, though it only has a single volume control and nothing else. Marshall recently made a range of 1w versions of their larger heads, though these were limited editions and thus very expensive. Lots of people are selling them cheap on eBay, though. Hughes & Kettner do a nice 5w amp head which you could pair with a 8" speaker. By replacing the valves with higher gain ones you'll get more slightly more breakup sooner, though it is usually only about 0.5dB difference.

I think a smarter option will be to simply forget the notion of cranking the amp to get power amp saturation and use more preamp gain. At those low volumes—and with the quality of amps built in that power range—there will be no noticable difference between a little power amp saturation and simply pushing the gain knob up another notch. A cheaply made, low-power valve amp ''cranked'' is not going to sound as good as better-made, high-power amp simply set to a low master volume. Expecting to get a full, true arena perfromance style rock tone out of a small amplifier in your flat is just too unrealistic. You either need to compromise on the kind of distortion you get—switching some power amp juice for more preamp gain—or you need to compromise dramatically on overall quality, which, personally, I think is worse. Lower-power amps aren't just cheaper because they're quieter, it's because they're made cheaply, too.
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#4
If your in the USA look for a used Krank 1980 Jr ($300-$375 used) or a Stiff 90-AD Both of these amps were designed by Tony Krank and are great HR Marshall type amps. The 1980 has a great clean channel and the drive is great JCM800-ish type gain.

You may want to look at the Marshall Class 5 combo (the newer one with a headphone out)

You should also get a Tubescreamer type pedal, it will help you out a lot a low volumes
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#5
i'm with flibble- you'd need to get the wattage down really low. VVR or power scaling might be worth considering (though will be expensive and you'll need to chop up your amp).


making do is probably the best advice, really. if the aor is anything like the laney gh its preamp distortion is pretty good at lower levels, quite nice and warm-sounding. use an od boost pedal if you need more saturation.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
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#6
if you want break up at TV volume you need something in the 1/4 watt range ..... I have the Vox AC4TV it has 1/4 , 1 and 4 watt setting ..... there are other amps like this with multiple settings .... my vox on 1/4 will give tube break up just a touch louder than my TV at a modest volume setting
#7
honestly, just get a really nice OD pedal.
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#8
Thanks for the advice guys I'll try a tubescreamer and some OD pedals before scaling down or attenuating. Also im currently running through a 2x12 cabinet, would scaling down the speakers to 2x8 or 1x12 help with reducing volume significantly?
Last edited by Grimshanks at Mar 23, 2014,
#9
there are a few OD pedals that really nail that 70s classic rock sound. I think the OCD does it great. And the wampler plexi-drive sounds great in videos, havent played it personally though. i do have a wampler euphoria, so i can attest to how high quality their products are.
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#10
Quote by Grimshanks
Also im currently running through a 2x12 cabinet, would scaling down the speakers to 2x8 or 1x12 help with reducing volume significantly?
YES. The number and size of our speakers are the biggest deciding factor in your overall volume. Put simply, larger speakers push more air, which means more volume and that volume stays the same for a longer distance (in your case, through your neighbours' walls). More speakers more or less add their volume as they push together, so two speakers is roughly twice the volume of one.

Scaling from a 2x12 to a 2x8 wouldn't be a huge leap because the number of speakers you have is a bigger factor than the size, but it would be an improvement. Really though, for cranked tones at flat-friendly levels, you need to be using one single speaker, ideally 8" or 10". You can also get some speakers which are simply quieter than others, for example the G12T-75 is about 3dB quieter than a Vintage 30, which isn't much but every little helps when you're trying to get your sound down as low as possible.

In a detached house, I run a 50w amp into a 2x12" with G12T-75s and I still have to keep the master volume on or below the first notch on the volume dial otherwise the neighbours do complain. Up to the second notch and the sound pressure in this space goes beyond the point where it is causing permanent hearing loss anyway.

So, for your flat, where you are in much closer proximity to your neighbours, I would be amazed if you could get away with anything more than a 1w amp through a single 10" speaker. Even that, I don't think you could push up to the point of natural breakup without the sound pressure reaching hearing-damaging levels. A .5w or .25w amp with an 8" speaker should be fine, but at that point you're using such small (and cheaply-made) gear that it's not going to sound pleasing anyway. In fact it will sound downright crap. Yes, you'll get the saturated power amp distortion you want, but it will be very flimsy and harsh power amp distortion.


The only way to do what you want is to ditch the idea of cranking the amp to get saturation and instead get the distortion from either pushing the preamp gain up more or putting a very heavy boost in front of the amp. I used to push a 5w Fender valve amp to distortion with the volume set to the minimum level by putting a Boss GE-7 in front of it and setting every band and the overall level to +15dB, giving me a +30dB flat boost (about three and a half times what a guitar with humbuckers usually puts out). Even then, we're talking about AC/DC/ levels of clipping, which even for a classic rock and blues player may not be enough.
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#11
Quote by Grimshanks
Also im currently running through a 2x12 cabinet, would scaling down the speakers to 2x8 or 1x12 help with reducing volume significantly?


Probably not enough. There are a few Jensen speakers with sensitivities in the low 90s dB, and even they wouldn't really drop the volume enough (I have a 6" mod 15 in my fame tube 5, and it's still loud enough to annoy neighbours) while massively limiting your options in terms of speakers.

as flibble says, you really need to forget about power amp saturation- unless you consider VVR or power scaling, both of which are probably more bother than it's worth, really (and expensive to boot). my 18 watt clone has vvr and at really low volumes it's nearly indistinguishable from my laney gh's preamp gain.

EDIT: i live in a detached house and my neighbours have never complained

But he makes a good point also in that post- neighbours aren't the only concern, your own ears are, too. My own ears keep me to sensible volumes more than my neighbous do.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
Last edited by Dave_Mc at Mar 24, 2014,