So I live in a small city of only about 100k people. In this city we have 2 guitar shops. A locally owned instrument shop with a small selection of about 40-50 new and used guitars and I'd say probably about 10 amps. Obviously selection is very limited and the employees are very biased.(when talking about wah pedals they asked me "what the hell is a wh-10". And the majority of their amps are black stars. 1 vox. 4 fenders. And a couple peavys. And they swear black star are the end all be all of amps. And if they don't have it in the store its because its garbage). The other shop is a small store with off brand equipment.

Anyway. This has led me to plan a trip to a guitar center in Cleveland in search of a nice all tube amp. Probably 20-40 watts. 2 channel. Looking for around $750 or less. Mostly grunge, hard rock, alternative styles of music. I will obviously be talking to the sales guys... but I know sometimes they are just looking for a sale. Any ideas of amps I should give a try while I'm there?
Last edited by Smigzy at Apr 15, 2014,
See if you can find an old Marshall DSL401. I definitely wouldn't pay over $500 or even $450 for one, just a heads up as people tend to price them high.

You can check out the new DSL combos as well, but I and I think most people around here don't think they sound nearly as good as the old JCM2000 ones.

Egnater makes cool amps, you can check out the Tweaker 40, which I quite like.
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I like heads because you can always try out different setups if your tastes change. Or just to match the venue you are in. Big cabs vs small cabs. Open vs closed back. Sometimes clubs will even have a house cab or two so all you have to do is bring your head. It is a bit more of a hassle compared to a combo but I think the versatility makes up for it.
I'm in Cleveland (Lakewood) and I have an Egnater Rebel 20 head I'll be selling soon. Its a killer amp for grunge, hard rock, etc. Nice, thick grungy growl. I actually love the amp but right now I'm too poor and my gas is too outta control so I'll be selling soon for module money for my RM. Could be perfect for you.
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It's not so much if it's a combo or a head/cab as what configuration it is. Most combos are open back but some, like my RM100 or the 5150 are closed backed. That's the question you should be asking, "closed back or open back?"
For the grunge, either would be ok although I'd prefer closed. For hard rock, definitely closed.
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A DSL, Tweaker, Jet City, or Peavey XXX/Ultra/JSX would be nice.
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Nothing wrong with Blackstar on the bigger tube heads. Personally I'd go with Mesa 5:25 or lunchbox sized Mini Rectifier. I've been g.a.s.-ing for these for quite some time, but that's probably cause I already got the Class5 combo and the Tiny Terror combo.
Great input so far. I appreciate all the suggestions.

Really with limited options I have played... where I stand is with a hotrod deluxe III. They seem to be the best bang for the buck so far. I really liked the vox ac15 also. But the blues Jr is out. (1 channel and only about 125 less then the far superior deluxe III). And I'm not saying black star sucks. But I am not blown away by it like a lot of people apparently are?!?!?!/!
I recommend going to the Musicians Friend or Guitar Center website and inputting your price range. Then go on youtube and look at a bunch of demos for the ones that interest you. If you like what you hear, call GC and see if they have it in stock. Most of the time, Guitar Center never has what I'm looking for in the store. They only really keep the really popular things in stock. And if they don't have it, they would have to order it. At that point, it takes longer for the store to get it than it would to get straight to my house from a website and you'll have to pay tax if you buy it in the store and that's a significant increase over the stated price. Amp buying is all about research. If you limit yourself to what's in stores, you're only considering a small amount of amps out there.

If you want suggestions, it would be better if you were more a little more specific. Grunge, hard rock, and alternative could be an AC-30 or a Triple Rectifier. Give us some bands or tones you're looking to get close to.
From what I remember some Marshall employee were laid off during the Korg acquisition of Marshall and their subsequent move of most of production to China in search for better quality for their products

That's why the new DSL is not the same as the old DSL, but look it up if you can, either way it is a good amp and now the new price is not so bad...same as the price of the old (English-made) amp now

But I digress...

So few of these amp designers formed Blackstar and apparently used the JCM-800 Marshall as the basis of their initial amps, tweaking things here and there. They also figured if Marshall can go to China so can we...and thus a new legend was born

I think there are basically really 4 major amp sounds, that things revolve around:

1) Fender twang (the Fender big boats, like the Deluxe and Deville, the older Bassman and such)
2) Vox Crunch (AC30 or AC15)
3) British gain (JCM800/900/2000, Plexi in patched in mode)
4) Cali gain (Mesa Mark series, Triple Recto)

Anyway, I think you have to figure out which one of these sounds you like the most as a starting point and go from there. The mimicking of these sounds might get you a cheaper or more expensive amp as you might hear and like something else a bit more but these will be a good starting point.

For example I had a friend that wanted high gain sound, and didn't care about cleans at all, so he got a Peavey 5150 which has atrocious cleans but his distorted tone was exactly what he was looking for.

What kind of Peavey amps do they have in your store?
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Fender HRD is a solid gigging amp with some excellent guitar tones in it. I owned one for 5 yrs and still often use one in the back line. I ignore the OD chnl and just put an OD pedal in front for required dirt.
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As a company, Blackstar do suck. They're lying sacks of shit.

The DSL, JSX/XXX/Ultra, Egnater and JCA50 are all good, servicable suggestions.
If you can find a used Randall RM series amp with the right modules within your price range I'd grab that though. Over time you can collect different modules and convert it to what you need as those needs change. You'll have tough time finding exactly the right one, modules-wise, but keep your eyes open, you could get lucky
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Tweaker would do nicely, try one out.
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i have owned a tweaker, rebel and renegade (by far superior of the line). but it is very different.

i didn't like the tweaker after a few months.
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