#1
Well, I've been in the market for a small (ish) all-tube head for quite some time now. With a birthday coming up soon, I should end up with enough money to get one. Probably going to go used. Budget is around $350 tops.

Goals: Excellent cleans (to be used with ambient pedals), but low to mid-gain goodness is a secondary goal. I don't need high-gain -- I've got a 6505+.


I've been looking at these Jet Citys -- man, the mid to high-gain tone sounds gorgeous. I could really put that to good use. But I haven't heard many demos that feature a truly clean tone, which could be a problem. I want cleans that are very noticeably better than my 6505+. I've heard a few clips of the JCA 22H that are clean -- but it seems like the player may have had to work pretty hard to get them -- by lowering guitar volume, running the gain at almost zero, etc. Basically what I have to do with my 6505 to get good cleans. I don't want an amp that "struggles" to get good cleans, but eventually can get them. I want good cleans to be easily obtained.

I keep going back to the Peavey Valveking II 20 watt micro head. I know its cleans are amazing, because I've played one. I'm not sure if I'd dig the overdriven tones for long though. They sounded alright when I played one, but once the honeymoon period is over....you never know. Again, I would NOT be needing high-gain out of the thing.

I've also looked at the Vox Nighttrain 15 watt. Nice mid-gain again -- but not sure about the cleans. Seems like again, an amp that was primarily designed for breakup.

I should mention that I'm not looking at mini-heads for "bedroom volumes." I would most likely be cranking the thing often. I run my 6505+ through a 4 X 12 and regularly turn it up to "3."... I just want something smaller and portable to compliment my 112 cab.

Please discuss. And thank you.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#2
I have a JCA 50, and i have to say, if you want a good clean amp, stay away from JetCities. I managed to get a decent clean out of it, but its basicly what you said, setting the gain to zero and being pretty carefull with your guitar.
Joža je kul. On ma sirove z dodatki pa hambije.
#3
I'm surprised you have to work so hard to get cleans from a 6505+, since they were specifically made to address that very concern in regard to the 6505?

Before you get too crazy, try a 12au7 in v1 and see what you think. That's how I run mine and I'm pretty happy with the cleans. Of course you may be looking for something entirely different, but it's a pretty inexpensive experiment.

And if it works, you have extra money for other gear that you want!!
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#4
Quote by Arby911
I'm surprised you have to work so hard to get cleans from a 6505+, since they were specifically made to address that very concern in regard to the 6505?

Before you get too crazy, try a 12au7 in v1 and see what you think. That's how I run mine and I'm pretty happy with the cleans. Of course you may be looking for something entirely different, but it's a pretty inexpensive experiment.

And if it works, you have extra money for other gear that you want!!


I shouldn't say I have to work extremely hard to get good cleans. I get pretty good cleans out of it. I run 5751s in V1 and the PI position, as well as running a TC Hall of Fame Reverb and Flashback Delay (and now an EQD Afterneath ...NPD thread coming soon). But at the end of the day they still aren't excellent cleans. With all of those pedals the cleans are certainly good enough to gig with.

I'm just after cleans that have that missing warmth and lushness -- even without a lot of effects added. I'll probably always use some reverb though.

Also, I should be getting a 12DW7 tube in the mail today, which I'll try in V2. Since those have a different gain factor per side -- the side going into the clean channel will be like a 12Au7, with a normal 12AX7 gain factor going into the lead channel side. I'll report back about my findings.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#5
Quote by KailM
I shouldn't say I have to work extremely hard to get good cleans. I get pretty good cleans out of it. I run 5751s in V1 and the PI position, as well as running a TC Hall of Fame Reverb and Flashback Delay (and now an EQD Afterneath ...NPD thread coming soon). But at the end of the day they still aren't excellent cleans. With all of those pedals the cleans are certainly good enough to gig with.

I'm just after cleans that have that missing warmth and lushness -- even without a lot of effects added. I'll probably always use some reverb though.

Also, I should be getting a 12DW7 tube in the mail today, which I'll try in V2. Since those have a different gain factor per side -- the side going into the clean channel will be like a 12Au7, with a normal 12AX7 gain factor going into the lead channel side. I'll report back about my findings.


Yeah, that's one tube I've not tried yet, and like your idea of putting it in V2 but note that generally the farther from the input, the less effect you will see.

I am curious how it works out though.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#6
Quote by gorkyporky
I have a JCA 50, and i have to say, if you want a good clean amp, stay away from JetCities. I managed to get a decent clean out of it, but its basicly what you said, setting the gain to zero and being pretty carefull with your guitar.


Bummer. That mid-gain tone is really nice. Cleans are my priority with this purchase though.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#7
inb4 Cathbard appears and recommends Randall RM and some modules, Fenderish and Soldano in this case.

Which now that I think about it might not be a bad idea.

ESP LTD F-50 + Tonezone
Cort EVL-Z4 + X2N
Cort EVL-K47B

Marshall Valvestate 8100
Randall RG1503
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Line6 Pod X3
#8
The JCA22H definitely has pretty mediocre cleans. No sparkles. None.
Maybe the JC20HV is better in that regard, since it's more geared towards low-to-mid-gain sounds, but I haven't tried it myself.

How about the Super Champ X2 head? That'll do cleans.
#9
Look for a Krank 1980 Jr. It has a great clean channel and a HR marshall lead channel

I bought mine for $300 used at GC
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
#10
Question for OP: have you *played* the JCA 22H in person to know that you think those gain tones are so great? Because I thought they sounded good online as well, ordered one, and in an actual room they didn't sound very good to me at all. Too much of that weird buzzy crap that seems so common with budget-range high gain amps, and don't be fooled: the JCA 22H has truckloads of gain.

The cleans are not good on the JCA 22H, the headroom is pretty low, and the medium gain sounds are just OK. The fundamental high-gain tone you get from the drive channel is very good, but it's plagued by this buzzy/tinny high-mid and low-high fizz that is super not cool.

Do you absolutely need the amp to be a head and not a combo? As mentioned above if you're looking for good cleans and low-to-mid gain sounds I wouldn't be looking at anything Jet City makes. If you absolutely must have your amp in a head/cab format, you might consider the Egnater stuff used. There's an open box Tweaker 15 on Musicians Friend for $350 right now. Another option is Blackstar; they're cleans are a lot better than the Jet City stuff IMO, and has a smoother mild break up and medium gain character that sounds a lot more convincing. Maybe a used HT-20?
#11
Quote by Arby911
Yeah, that's one tube I've not tried yet, and like your idea of putting it in V2 but note that generally the farther from the input, the less effect you will see.

I am curious how it works out though.



Well, I got that tube. I put it in V2 last night but unfortunately only got to play with it for 5 minutes or so. Suffice it to say, I should have done this five years ago. The cleans are now pretty damned good. You'd never guess it was a 6505+. The best part about it is I'm now able to dig into the strings pretty hard without it clipping. Over the years I've learned to play softly to improve my cleans, which has some limitations on different styles of playing. Anyway, this may change what I buy for my next amp as well.

I've got to spend some time checking out how the 12DW7 sounds with crunch as well. I didn't spend much time on the lead channel, but so far, it sounds pretty much the same as it did with a 12AX7 there. I'll do a full review of the tube and my new reverb pedal sometime later today hopefully.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#12
I love my JCA 22 for high gain stuff, cleans. Not really, it's usable with a bit of chorus/reverb though.
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#13
Jsx?
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#14
Quote by KailM
Well, I got that tube. I put it in V2 last night but unfortunately only got to play with it for 5 minutes or so. Suffice it to say, I should have done this five years ago. The cleans are now pretty damned good. You'd never guess it was a 6505+. The best part about it is I'm now able to dig into the strings pretty hard without it clipping. Over the years I've learned to play softly to improve my cleans, which has some limitations on different styles of playing. Anyway, this may change what I buy for my next amp as well.

I've got to spend some time checking out how the 12DW7 sounds with crunch as well. I didn't spend much time on the lead channel, but so far, it sounds pretty much the same as it did with a 12AX7 there. I'll do a full review of the tube and my new reverb pedal sometime later today hopefully.


Good to hear. I strongly suspected that would be the case. These amps have so damn much gain on tap that backing it off a bit in the right places really makes a marked difference.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#15
Any amp will clean up if you roll off the gain enough. The problem is that an amp really well tuned for hi gain often sounds pretty dull when run clean. JCA is often cited as great hi gain, and zero charisma clean.

Exceptions-

Mesa, phenomenal Fendery clean but more $$$

HRD- Legendary Fender clean and loud as hell

Super Champ- Very good Fender clean and often "just enough to gig". Dirt cheap.
#16
Quote by KailM
Well, I got that tube. I put it in V2 last night but unfortunately only got to play with it for 5 minutes or so. Suffice it to say, I should have done this five years ago. The cleans are now pretty damned good. You'd never guess it was a 6505+. The best part about it is I'm now able to dig into the strings pretty hard without it clipping. Over the years I've learned to play softly to improve my cleans, which has some limitations on different styles of playing. Anyway, this may change what I buy for my next amp as well.

I've got to spend some time checking out how the 12DW7 sounds with crunch as well. I didn't spend much time on the lead channel, but so far, it sounds pretty much the same as it did with a 12AX7 there. I'll do a full review of the tube and my new reverb pedal sometime later today hopefully.


I did this on my 5150 and I still didn't have to dime the gain on Crunch to get it back to thrash. Start spreading the word!!
Guitars:
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Jackson DKMGT Dinky (EMG 81/85)
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Amps:
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Peavey Vypyr 30
Peavey ReValver Amp Sims
TOOOO many T.C. Electronic Pedals. . .
#17
The JCA22 does not have a true clean. The cleaner channel is the same channel in the JCA20 which I own and it's just not clean. You can dial it in fairly clean, but it doesn't have the headroom to have a very loud usable clean.
#18
Quote by Cajundaddy
HRD- Legendary Fender clean and loud as hell

Really? They have one of the worst sounding dirt channels I've ever heard... And no one has ever said 'I'd really like something with that legendary Fender HRD clean tone.' Maybe 'I'd like something with that Fender name badge so I can talk about its legendary clean tone.'

I'd agree they are loud, though.
Quote by Cathbard
Quote by Raijouta
Unless its electronic drums.

BURN THE WITCH!!!!!
Last edited by tubetime86 at Feb 2, 2016,
#19
Quote by tubetime86
Really? They have one of the worst sounding dirt channels I've ever heard... And no one has ever said 'I'd really like something with that legendary Fender HRD clean tone.' Maybe 'I'd like something with that Fender name badge so I can talk about its legendary clean tone.'

I'd agree they are loud, though.


Clearly someone who has never gigged with one... or gigged anywhere ever.

Check the OP. He isn't looking for "dirt" he is looking for excellent clean which the HRD has in spades. Nobody really cares what you think about the HRD dirt channel because it is mundane and irrelevant to the thread.
#20
'Low to mid-gain goodness is a secondary goal.' Who needs to reread?
Quote by Cathbard
Quote by Raijouta
Unless its electronic drums.

BURN THE WITCH!!!!!
#21
Quote by metalmingee
I did this on my 5150 and I still didn't have to dime the gain on Crunch to get it back to thrash. Start spreading the word!!


Yup. I was graced with enough time to play for a whopping TWO minutes before work today -- I just had to see how the 12DW7 affected the clean w/ crunch. Still sounds awesome. If anything, it made "classic rock" tone even more possible. Got back into thrash territories with the gain at "6" though. Can't wait to get home and try those cleans again though...

On another note --

What do people think about the Egnater Tweaker 15 for what I'm after?
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#22
Quote by KailM
Yup. I was graced with enough time to play for a whopping TWO minutes before work today -- I just had to see how the 12DW7 affected the clean w/ crunch. Still sounds awesome. If anything, it made "classic rock" tone even more possible. Got back into thrash territories with the gain at "6" though. Can't wait to get home and try those cleans again though...

On another note --

What do people think about the Egnater Tweaker 15 for what I'm after?


I really like the Tweaker 88, but I'm not really a fan of the smaller ones. They seem to be a "love em or hate em" amp series though, so it's hard to say what you might like.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#23
Quote by tubetime86
'Low to mid-gain goodness is a secondary goal.'


Easily accomplished with any of a dozen good OD pedals like the TS9, Ratt, OCD, Fulltone Fulldrive or whatever suits ones fancy. Just like all the pros who run through these and other great Fender amps like the Twin Reverb, Super Reverb, Deluxe Reverb, Princeton Reverb that also lack an awesome "dirt" channel but make up for it with awesome clean and a very pedal friendly front end.

Care to guess how many platinum albums and world tours have been accomplished with these simple reliable tools? Larry Carlton toured many years in Europe and Asia with HR Devilles because they sounded good and were easily replaceable if lost, stolen, or damaged on the road. The Dumble and vintage Tweed Deluxe stayed safely tucked in his home studio.

The HRD is one of the great sounding gig amps if you take the time to learn how to use it. Like many amps with unnecessary knobs, the HRD "dirt channel" is rarely used because there are better ways to find great OD guitar tone in there.
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Feb 2, 2016,
#24
Quote by Cajundaddy
Clearly someone who has never gigged with one... or gigged anywhere ever.

Check the OP. He isn't looking for "dirt" he is looking for excellent clean which the HRD has in spades. Nobody really cares what you think about the HRD dirt channel because it is mundane and irrelevant to the thread.


I know more than a few that gig that have shitty tone and no ear.

Pimping your experience at his expense was sort of a dick move.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#25
Guys, I appreciate all input -- let's all just relax a little. I've got a pretty extensive pedalboard so an amp that doesn't get that great of a drive tone on its own wouldn't necessarily be the end of the world. Though, in my experience, an OD pedal merely enhances the drive tone -- I've never heard/played one that sounds as good as amp overdrive on its own. My TS-9 certainly didn't make me happy as a standalone OD. As a boost, it was pretty good.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#26
Quote by Cajundaddy
Easily accomplished with any of a dozen good OD pedals like the TS9, Ratt, OCD, Fulltone Fulldrive or whatever suits ones fancy. Just like all the pros who run through these and other great Fender amps like the Twin Reverb, Super Reverb, Deluxe Reverb, Princeton Reverb that also lack an awesome "dirt" channel but make up for it with awesome clean and a very pedal friendly front end.

Care to guess how many platinum albums and world tours have been accomplished with these simple reliable tools? Larry Carlton toured many years in Europe and Asia with HR Devilles because they sounded good and were easily replaceable if lost, stolen, or damaged on the road. The Dumble and vintage Tweed Deluxe stayed safely tucked in his home studio.

The HRD is one of the great sounding gig amps if you take the time to learn how to use it. Like many amps with unnecessary knobs, the HRD "dirt channel" is rarely used because there are better ways to find great OD guitar tone in there.

I run a BJr with four dirt pedals... You're preaching to the choir. He's got a 6505+ though, I'd guess he's not super keen on using pedals to get his gain. You and I both, despite having decided it's good enough for our purposes, know that a proper gain channel beats a pedal every time.

Not to mention that I don't have to guess, he said it directly; he wants an amp capable of low to mid-gain tones. He's a regular, I think he'd ask for amp plus pedal recommendations if that was his desire.

^Yup, you know the score with pedal versus amp gain... I know your username enough to know you would.
Quote by Cathbard
Quote by Raijouta
Unless its electronic drums.

BURN THE WITCH!!!!!
Last edited by tubetime86 at Feb 2, 2016,
#27
Grab an RM20 (or even better an RM22 if you can find one). An RM20 can do anything you need with the right cards. Get bored with it, all you need to do is replace the card/s.
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
#28
Quote by Arby911
I know more than a few that gig that have shitty tone and no ear.

Pimping your experience at his expense was sort of a dick move.

No worries. I could see that it wasn't relevant to the discussion so I ignored it. Onward and upward.
Quote by Cathbard
Quote by Raijouta
Unless its electronic drums.

BURN THE WITCH!!!!!
#29
Quote by Cajundaddy
Larry Carlton toured many years in Europe and Asia with HR Devilles


I had to look him up. He certainly would need a versatile amp if he plays all those genres.

I not convinced that a good distortion pedal can sound as good as the distortion from a good amp though. The exception for me is the big muff, but that is more fuzz, so different to what you'd expect from amp distortion.
With amps, it can be give and take as it is hard to find something that ticks all the boxes.
#30
Quote by SpiderM
I not convinced that a good distortion pedal can sound as good as the distortion from a good amp though.

No one is. In fact, I don't think anyone would even try to convince you of that... Not even Cajundaddy.

I think he gets a quarter every time he recommends a HRD on here and fifty cents every time he mentions how common they are for gigging. His signature HRD model should hit shelves this Spring!
Quote by Cathbard
Quote by Raijouta
Unless its electronic drums.

BURN THE WITCH!!!!!
#31
Quote by tubetime86
No one is. In fact, I don't think anyone would even try to convince you of that... Not even Cajundaddy.

I think he gets a quarter every time he recommends a HRD on here and fifty cents every time he mentions how common they are for gigging. His signature HRD model should hit shelves this Spring!

I thought he had a model on the super champ.
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
#32
Quote by Robbgnarly
I thought he had a model on the super champ.

Ya, his Super Champ SE or whatever has been around since the 90s... And he's been recommending it since the 70s!
Quote by Cathbard
Quote by Raijouta
Unless its electronic drums.

BURN THE WITCH!!!!!
#33
Quote by Cathbard
Grab an RM20 (or even better an RM22 if you can find one). An RM20 can do anything you need with the right cards. Get bored with it, all you need to do is replace the card/s.



I expected this. I would definitely be interested in the Randall -- but I haven't been able find one for sale, let alone try one. That's actually true of most amps -- I don't get to try them because I live 500+ miles from any major city. It's actually kind of a treat for me to visit a Guitar Center whenever visiting a big city because I'm able to try a lot of stuff my local store doesn't carry. I've got an amazing local store, but right now they don't have any amps I'm interested in.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#34
I would +1 your thought on the Peavey VK, if you aren't married to the idea of a head, the 50W combo can be found used for your budget and has more clean headroom for you to use.
#35
JCA 100h owner here. Definitely can get clean with proper pickups and attenuating volume (even on the lead channel. o: ) but if the primary reason for purchase is getting clean sound I do not recommend. The distortion is the focus, not fantastic for much else than 80's or modern heavy metal (which it's great for imo) and you already have a 6505.

Fender Super Champ head would probably be more ideal and similarly priced, and if you don't mind solid state look for a used Peavey Stereo Chorus 212 or 400 which gives best cleans in the price range from my experience.
#36
Quote by guitarsngear
I would +1 your thought on the Peavey VK, if you aren't married to the idea of a head, the 50W combo can be found used for your budget and has more clean headroom for you to use.


I keep going back to this. I do want to stick with a head because I have a nice oversized 1 X 12 cab and a 412 cab to use it with. The VK has excellent cleans that have real warmth, depth, and the lushness I'm looking for. None of these other mini-heads seem to have that.

I've read a lot of complaints about its drive tone -- but I think all of those people were trying to get a modern metal tone. I don't need that because of my 6505. I just got done listening to some YT clips and the VK seems to do a pretty good 70s/80s type of gain, which is fine with me. I do have a pretty versatile OD pedal and MXR EQ, so I should be able to get some good tones out of it.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood
#37
I was originally going to buy a JCA22 but the RM20 came up cheap and as I already had a SLO card to go into it, it was a no brainer really. Well, the RM20 is MIA, not MIC. With the Jaded Faith SLO card it sounds more like a SLO than a JCA22 does.
I bought mine without hearing it and it was a good decision.


edit: Btw, I am running a V30, not the stock greenback.
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 Feb 6, 2016,
#38
Well, I've scrapped the idea of a JCA 22h, despite liking the overdrive sound quite a bit.

I've been listening to demos of the Marshall DSL 15h though, and that sounds like a contender to me. I wanted to get all of your opinions on that amp though. It does appear to have a very nice clean tone, and with the gain turned up a bit on that channel does a nice light crunch. The ultra-gain channel sounds great as well -- as long as the gain isn't turned up too high.

The only downside is there's not an effects loop. Probably not a deal-breaker but it is nicer to put delay and reverb there.

So anyone who's tried or owned this Marshall -- please chime in! I have found several used ones in my budget.
Atmospheric dark metal w/ black and death metal influences:
(My Soundcloud page):

Pestilential Flood