Amp help please!

I am 40 years old and new to guitar. I have a Pacifica412 that I think sounds pretty terrible through a borrowed GA-15 practice amp. I’m looking to buy a better amp of my own, something that sounds decent (if not good or even very good) at low volumes. I do most of my playing in the basement after the kids go to bed, so I’m thinking comfortable TV watching volume, not secret-whispering volume here. I will never use this amp to gig, or bore relatives at family reunions, or to perform in company talent shows. My primary concern is sound quality (and would choose quality over variety of sound; though I have nothing against getting a bunch of bells and whistles to play with everything else being equal).

I like a variety of music from classic rock/pop (Beatles, Rolling stones, Hendrix, Cream) to “mainstream” (barely) indie/alt bands (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The National, Shins, Radiohead, REM, Nirvana– can you tell I grew up in the 90’s. Sadly this music, much to my horror, also seems to be quickly becoming “classic rock&rdquo.
My budget is in the $200-$250 range (in Canadian dollars), I live near Toronto so I have good access to gear. I would consider a used amp to get better value. I don’t know much about gear, so be prepared to trigger a how-to-test-a-used-amp-to-make-sure-it-works-properly thread if you suggest this route.

If I was to choose a modelling amp, I’m considering a Yamaha THR5 or 10 (or perhaps the Blackstar IDCORE20 or Vox VT20). But I was also thinking maybe a tube amp would be better: the Gretsch Electromatic G5222 (or maybe hunting down a used VHT special 6 or Vox AC4 for the master volume control)? Should I be concerned about performance at lower volumes for a 5watt tube amp? Should I be looking for larger speakers than what any of these amps offer? Do solid state modelling amps sound good enough? Should I just buy a cheap fender mustang and worry about all this later?... Then I found a couple threads on PODs... well a figured I better come in for help...

Thank-you for your patience and any advice you can give me.
you can bring the house down with 5 watts ..... it would take a 1/4 watt to get tube distortion and be somewhat acceptable sound level ..... I have a Vox ac4tv and it sounds kinda meh with the factory speaker , it would be nice to hear plugged into a good cab but they way it comes it not great , it's not terrible but it's not great either
the pod and maybe a self powered speaker along with some head phones when you do want to be whisper quiet might be a good alternative

here's some self powered speaker options that would work fine with a pod , your computer , you can also play along with music from computer , ipod , phone ect
Maybe try a VHT Special 6 Ultra combo. They're pretty versatile and sound great at low volumes.
No you don't want a guitar amp if you're only gonna play at low volumes.

As mentioned, get a pod or something similar.
Thank you so much for your responses!

It seems like the pod route is the way to go. But a couple of quick questions:

1) Would a pod 2.0 with a pair of M-Audio AV 40s (or something similar at the same price) give significantly better sound then a Yamaha THR10.

2) I've been able to find good deals on a pod 2.0, a pod XT, and a zoom G3; which one is better (especially when it comes to realistic amp modelling).
1) I'd chose the POD XT. I don't rate the Zoom G3 but that's personal preference and the XT is a step up from the 2.0. However, POD 2.0 would still do the job.

2) The studio monitors are made to not colour the sound coming out of them. They should sound 'true' to the signal coming out of the POD. If you use the POD in front of the Yamaha (or any preamp) it will alter the sound and you'll most likely want to turn the amp modelling off. If you don't you'll have a an already modelled amp sound going through an amp. If you use the POD through an FX loop (to bypass the preamp) then it will be more like the studio monitors but it's an expensive way to go about things. You'd be better just buying a power amp outright you're dead set on buying an amp.

Overall, for what you want to achieve, I'd say forget about buying an amp. The monitors and a decent set of headphones will sort you out. But that's just my opinion.
Thanks for all the advice, this really is a great community going on here!

G_dog, your response is actually very helpful, I'm new to all this, but I meant a pod and a monitor OR a THR10 (with no pod). I think you're right about starting off with a pod and headphones for now though (probably no one wants to hear me play out loud anyway )

Thanks for taking the time for me.
I'd go for the Pod and headphones option.

If you choose to go the amp route instead, I would go with one of the following (in no particular order):
Vox Valvetronix
Vox AC4
Fender Mustang

I would pick the Valvetronix myself.
I used to own an AD30VT and it was a damn fine amp, and for a modeler, it took pedals fairly well.
I also changed out the stock speaker for an Eminence Ragin Cajun.
(I also modified it and added an effects loop).

I really miss that amp
Last edited by CodeMonk at Nov 11, 2014,
If you want to go the POD route, I would try to get an X3 Live or an HD model. Personally, I don't think anything pre-X3 is worth bothering with, and I think the HD is definitely worth the extra cost if you're going to be using clean and low-mid gain sounds. The earlier PODs are just noticeably less realistic feeling and sounding.

I would take a look at the Hercules XPS 2.0 80 monitor pair. They look like a great set for the price. Also check out the Presonus Eris 4.5 pair. I have a pair of the Eris 5 and I'm happy with the purchase.

A sweet tube amp setup would be something like a Vox AC4TVH with a good cab. The Egnater Tweaker-112x is an amazing cab for the price. It comes with my personal favorite speaker, the G12H30. I'm pretty sure there are also Vox AC 1x12 cabs if you're a stickler for aesthetics like me. Of course even if you go used, you'll probably run to the $300-400 range pretty easily. But I think the sound quality and just niceness of the setup is worth it personally. Of course you'll need/want pedals, but there is some really great stuff out there now for cheap.
The POD XT is a decent choice. I have been using one for over a year for silent practices.
XT and X3 and HD are all excellent for bedroom practice once you learn to make a couple nice presets.
Thanks for the advice everyone! I ended up going for a zoom g3 that I found for $75; the price was to good to resist. Heck, for what I paid it doesn't rule out getting a pod or THR or better speakers or even a tube amp down the road.