#1
Long story short, I recently realized that given A. my financial situation, B. my living situation and noise issues inherent with it, and C. how much more I record than gig, that buying a 50W tube amp makes nowhere near as much sense as getting a tiny little five watt amp that I can crank up without being heard five blocks away. I've never really looked into smaller tube amps before though, so I'm not sure where to start, and was hoping for some suggestions.

  • Price would preferably be under $400. Stretching to $500 may be doable, but I'd prefer nothing higher than that at absolute most, and staying under $400 would be greatly preferred. I'm willing to look used, but I'd really prefer to go new if at all possible.
  • Primary thing I'm looking for is a nice clean tone. I've always preferred getting my distorted sounds from dirtboxes, and with a Fulltone OCD in the mail, that's not changing anytime soon. (On that note, it would need to take pedals well) My favorite clean sound I've ever had was playing through a real 1965 Deluxe Reverb at a studio gig a few years ago, and my second favorite clean sound ever was a real 1958 Bassman I tried out before settling on the Deluxe for that recording, so something with an American, Fendery voicing is the way to go.
  • Switchable from, say, five watts to one watt is a bonus, but not a necessity.
  • Preferably five watts or less.
  • I'd prefer a combo, but I'm open to a head as long as the head plus a decent cab can come out under the aforementioned pricepoint.


For whatever it's worth, I really liked the sound of an Ibanez TSA5TVR today, but I didn't have my guitar or pedals with me at the shop, so I couldn't really put it through its paces as far as what I'd need out of it. Plus it never hurts to hear more options.
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#2
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but a cranked 5 watt amp is still waaaay too loud for anything near quiet practice. Amps have master volumes. My large amps turned down typically sound better than a low watt amp at the same volume.

Edit: wait you are playing clean. Cranking it doesn't really matter anyway. If you don't want amp distortion you get as big an amp as you like. It won't really make a difference and more headroom of a larger amp will actually help your base tone stay cleaner.

You sir, want a high wattage amp.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
Last edited by dementiacaptain at Apr 1, 2016,
#3
i got my jet city jca2212c for around $300, its a great amp.
Ibanez Rg 321mh
Squier Classic Vibe 1970s Precision Bass
Guitar Rig 5
Presonus Audiobox
Behringer Truth B2030A
#4
Blues Jr,Pro Jr, Fender Super Champ.

All do great Fender BF clean tone and take pedals well. They are useable at low volume and good recording workhorses. Check em out.

Ignore wattage completely for your purposes cause watts don't mean dick here. It's all marketing BS. Just trust your ears.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Apr 1, 2016,
#9
Well I'll take the chance of a possible flaming (pun?) but Low-Cost at home has Bugera written all over it. Never played one but they are mostly clones of other amps.

I don't think a 5w amp is really what you're after though.

Check out this link - https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1571081
Guitars:
Jackson Kelly KE3 - MIJ (Distortion/Jazz)
Jackson DKMGT Dinky (EMG 81/85)
ESP E-II Eclipse Custom (JB/'59)
ESP LTD EC-1001FR (EMG 81/60)
Fender MIM Strat

Amps:
Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Roadster 212
Laney IronHeart IRT-Studio
Peavey Vypyr 30
Peavey ReValver Amp Sims
TOOOO many T.C. Electronic Pedals. . .
#10
Laney IRT Studio + cab/Headphones. Sounds good, very versatile, and giggle via a PA plug in, which doesnt sound too bad at all.
#11
Blackstar ht1 - head or combo (your choice) 1 (one) Watt. If u go for the combo you can then plug in a 4x12 if u want to upset your neighbours - 1 watt and a 4x12 WILL get the neighbours complaining (OK, not as much as 50). There is also headphones and emulated out to go to your daw. It's tubes too.
Last edited by monabri at Apr 1, 2016,
#13
Guys, he doesn't want amp dirt, only a clean channel. The IRT is great but it is kind of a waste if he's just going to plug pedals into it.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
#14
What does a silverface Fender Champ run in the US? First thing I thought of. I'd think that would fit the bill nicely. Awesome cleans, low wattage and it loves pedals.
#15
Any Silverface Fender honestly. I'd frankly go for something high wattage for the headroom. A Super Reverb, Twin, DSR, etc. they can be found cheap, and they are pretty sweet.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
#16
Quote by dementiacaptain
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but a cranked 5 watt amp is still waaaay too loud for anything near quiet practice. Amps have master volumes. My large amps turned down typically sound better than a low watt amp at the same volume.

Edit: wait you are playing clean. Cranking it doesn't really matter anyway. If you don't want amp distortion you get as big an amp as you like. It won't really make a difference and more headroom of a larger amp will actually help your base tone stay cleaner.

You sir, want a high wattage amp.



This^^

I've had a few 100 and 50 watt heads, and some some small 1/4-10 watt combos, and honestly think I got better tones out of my larger amps at those same volumes.

I think you're better off with something larger because you can still use it at home just fine, and you won't have to worry about maintaining your cleans at higher volumes like on a smaller amp.

A 1 watt tube amp is actually just as loud as a 100 watt. The 1 watt will just start to naturally breakup much, much sooner than a 100 watt.

Also, Fender amp tend to seem much, much louder at a glance then they really are just because I seem to find that like 80% of the volume increase happens between 1-4 on the volume knob, with other 20% or so 4-10. So it gets loud quick.
Guitars:
PRS Custom 24
Gibson Les Paul 60's Tribute
85' MIJ Strat
97' Snakepit Les Paul
LP Traditional 1960 Zebra
MIJ Tele
MIA Strat

Amps:
Silver Jubilee 2525
Peavey Ultra 112
Jet City JCA50H
66' Bassman
Pink Paisley Princeton RV
74' Vibro Champ
Last edited by red.guitar at Apr 2, 2016,
#17
How bout an Epi Valve Jr? Throw in some good tubes and a decent dirt pedal in front and its a kickass lil amp.
Fender Mustang/Derfenstein DST> Boss Power Wah> Pedal Monsters Klone> Bogner Uberschall> Walrus Audio Janus> Randall RM20> Line 6 M9> Randall RM20
#18
Quote by red.guitar
This^^


A 1 watt tube amp is actually just as loud as a 100 watt.


I'd definitely like to hear the physics behind that


The Valve Jr is actually pretty decent, there are also tons of mods for it that are simple to do if you get too bored with its initial sound.
#19
It won't be "just as loud" but the practical difference between the two is pretty small.

More importantly, perceived volume is different than actual volume. This can be shown experiementally and not just debated theoretically. I've played AC30s that were MUCH louder than my old 100 watt Marshall, and my 50 watt Krank Chadwick was probably the loudest amp I've ever had while my 135 watt Fender Super Six Reverb was one of the quietest.

It's a case by case thing is my point.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
#20
Quote by dementiacaptain
It won't be "just as loud" but the practical difference between the two is pretty small.

More importantly, perceived volume is different than actual volume. This can be shown experiementally and not just debated theoretically. I've played AC30s that were MUCH louder than my old 100 watt Marshall, and my 50 watt Krank Chadwick was probably the loudest amp I've ever had while my 135 watt Fender Super Six Reverb was one of the quietest.

It's a case by case thing is my point.


Well 1 watt to 100 watt amp almost the same in volume? Phew...no wonder people turn away from internet forums.
#21
Is it because reading entire posts is hard? Or maybe because people go out of their way to get upset about stuff?

The point was clarified several times. I don't think it was meant to be a theoretical physics problem but more an illustration that the numbers don't translate into reality the way people might expect them to. In the context of volume, output numbers are often a misleading label.

All other things being equal, obviously a 100 watt amp will give more volume than a 1 watt amp, but unless you're being deliberately dense I don't think anyone would actually claim that's what was being discussed.
#22
Agreed Roc. Believe or not, the regulars around here are actually pretty wise when it comes to guitar gear. There are several EEs (myself among them) many technicians, several long-time guitarists who have lots of real world experience, and a plethora of people who may be none of that and still be knowledgeable on the subject.

As Roc said "all things being equal" 100 watts will be much louder. But when are all things equal? Not only that, but I'm not going to run either one of them full tilt. I would most likely be running both of them below their maximum output anyways.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
#23
Quote by diabolical
I'd definitely like to hear the physics behind that



Sorry. Poor wording. I was at the end of a 12hr night shift when I wrote that

I should have said "can seem" as loud.

Sorry for any misdirection, but I think Dementiacaptian and Roc covered it pretty well.
Guitars:
PRS Custom 24
Gibson Les Paul 60's Tribute
85' MIJ Strat
97' Snakepit Les Paul
LP Traditional 1960 Zebra
MIJ Tele
MIA Strat

Amps:
Silver Jubilee 2525
Peavey Ultra 112
Jet City JCA50H
66' Bassman
Pink Paisley Princeton RV
74' Vibro Champ
#24
The physics is pretty straightforward actually. Running through the same speaker a 100w measured output will be 20db louder than at 1w. That is the science and yes, 20db is significantly louder. Running through different speakers or comparing different "rated" output is where things get real fuzzy and folks get confused.

Do we need a lot of watts for clean headroom in a BR setting? Not likely. A Fender Champ will deliver 100 db of clean headroom before breakup with a decent speaker. That is apartment eviction territory. Can a small, low power tube amp still deliver excellent guitar tone? Yep. Just look at the hundreds of gold and platinum tracks recorded with a 5w Fender Champ, a 12w Supro, a 15w Vox or Orange, an 18w Marshall, or a 20w Deluxe Reverb. Small amps have boatloads of great guitar tone and are perfectly suited for BR jamming or recording.

Can you still get great tone from a Twin or Super Reverb at low volumes? Yep. They sound great too they just cost a lot more $$. Not likely he will find a good one for less than $400.

So to the TS question: Looking for a Fenderish clean tube amp tone for small $$? Less than $400? Vintage Champ, Blues Jr, Pro Jr, Super Champ X2 all deliver the goods within stated budget.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Apr 3, 2016,
#26
I agree that 100 watt is too much for bedroom but comparing 1watt to 1watt amps is simply wrong.
I've been able to bury some 100-150 watt solid state[/] amps with 30 watt class A tube amp but no way I can say that even any of my 15 watt tube class A amps will sound louder tan even some of my 60 watt tube heads.

That cleared, for bedroom recording and practice I think 5 watt practice amp is fine.
#27
Quote by diabolical
I agree that 100 watt is too much for bedroom

No one said this. Plenty of people use 100+ watt bedroom amps successfully. The point was made that while 100 might be 'too much,' 5 watts is also too much, so the point is not particularly meaningful. You're not going to be able to crank either amp. Other considerations are legitimate but not really the one you're making.
Quote by diabolical
but comparing 1watt to 1watt amps is simply wrong.

I don't see any merit in continuing to whine about this. It was cleared up entirely, and you're adding nothing to the conversation here.
Quote by Cajundaddy
So to the TS question: Looking for a Fenderish clean tube amp tone for small $$? Less than $400? Vintage Champ, Blues Jr, Pro Jr, Super Champ X2 all deliver the goods within stated budget.

Silverface Champ would be a really good option. Blues Junior and Pro Junior are also nice but with more midrange, which might help with taking drive pedals a bit better. I haven't played the X2 yet but the effects may be a worthy addition.
#28
I'm just speaking from my experiences. If I took my old Vox AC4, threw it on the 1/4 watt setting, and cranked it up halfway, it seemed damn near as loud as as my RV50 or JCA50 set at halfway. I'm not saying if you took a noise measuring device and stuck it in front of all 3 that it would read the same level, I'm just saying that the overall difference in volume level seemed kinda negligible to me.

And when I ran the Vox thru from 4 to 1 to 1/4 watt, all that really seemed to change for the most part was the amount of natural OD I was getting out of it. Same thing went for my 9watt Rampart.

I'm more then anything just trying to dispel the notion where a lot of people seem to think that a low wattage tube amp is going to be whisper quiet. That's the reason I ended up selling that AC4. I bought it purely because I didn't have much experience with tube amps at the time, and thought it would be perfect for jamming at low volumes in my apt without waking the roommates. It turned out it seemed damn near as loud as my 36' Coupe, and I thought the Coupe actually sounded better at low volumes, so out the door it went.

I'm also not trying to say that low wattage amps suck. Like others have mentioned, there are plenty of great ones out there, featured on many, many albums.

That's just my $.02. Take it as you will. I don't have a degree in physics or anything. I'm just a lonely surveyor who is a certified audiologist.
Guitars:
PRS Custom 24
Gibson Les Paul 60's Tribute
85' MIJ Strat
97' Snakepit Les Paul
LP Traditional 1960 Zebra
MIJ Tele
MIA Strat

Amps:
Silver Jubilee 2525
Peavey Ultra 112
Jet City JCA50H
66' Bassman
Pink Paisley Princeton RV
74' Vibro Champ
Last edited by red.guitar at Apr 3, 2016,
#29
The point really isn't whether something is absolutely louder or not. Circuit wise if all other things are completely identical a 100 watt amp is only a little over twice as loud as a 10 watt amp at maximum.

The issue is whether or not there really is a noticeable difference when you practicing.

What is a bedroom amp really? Do you need it to be whisper volumes? Normal tv volumes? If that's the case then any amp is too loud. 1 watt is too loud at maximum.

If that's the case then it's more appropriate to get the amp that sounds best to you no matter the volume rather then looking at wattage.

The amp doesn't care if it's turned to 1 or 10.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#30
Quote by diabolical
I agree that 100 watt is too much for bedroom but comparing 1watt to 1watt amps is simply wrong.
I've been able to bury some 100-150 watt solid state[/] amps with 30 watt class A tube amp but no way I can say that even any of my 15 watt tube class A amps will sound louder tan even some of my 60 watt tube heads.

That cleared, for bedroom recording and practice I think 5 watt practice amp is fine.


And see I was saying that I think that an amps ability to be a good amp is independent of the wattage. There are 5 watt amps that are probably great for it (haven't played many of these that I liked but I know there are good ones), and there are also 100 watt amps that are great for low volume practice.

Either way I didn't want to ruffle any feathers, and you are pretty much on the money with your advice most the time I see your posts so I definitely am not trying to come off like I'm calling you out, my bad if things got a bit heated
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.