#1
Hi there

First of all, Context: I live in a pheriferical EU country, I've played guitar for a 3 years, but not really focusing on it until now. My amp experience (either from my amps, or friends) is Roland Cubes, Marshall Code 50 and the Line 6 UX Ports (Pod Farm). So solid State and modeling amps.

I'm a complete noob in terms of tone. I know what I like when i hear it, i know what i dont like, but sometimes i can't really define it. I still have some troubles getting sweet spots on Amps EQ's for example. And i've never played a tube amp.

So, i'm looking for a Tube Amp, to Practice/Small Gigs. I play mostly blues and rock so nothing with really high gain is needed. I dont mind if the amp hasnt got a very clear clean channel (or at all), as long as they got that "starting to break" crounchy tone. For some reason i'm now more attached with heads instead of combos. But i dont really know what to look out in a speaker, and i dont think i will need something more than a 2x12 (or even 1x12). If there is a effects loop on it I will be happy. If the head is under 750$ I will be happy too.

Can you guys recomend my something within the things i'm looking at? I will try them first of course, i just wanted to read some opinions, and being pointed in particular directions. The guitar stores here are kind of small and they dont let you try a lot of amps if you dont know really what you're looking for or really interested in buying them.

But first Some questions:

1- Are they really that much better than SS and Modeling Amps?
I've seen videos of some people that are in the music business for a long time saying that they dont feel/year the diference. I know they are in the minority, but sometimes you doubt if they are the ones that really saw the light and abandoned the bias of the past.

2- Are they hard and Expensive to Mantain?
The possibility of an amp blowing up, or catches fire really scares me. Do i really need to go to a amp technician every year? Are valves expensive? Or can i mantain it myself with some experience on it?

3- Are they reliable?
Since it would be my first Tube Amp, if i'm gigging and it goes out i wont have a spare one. So will i have to carry my solid state along with me all the time just in case? I've read stories haha

4- Are they really playable at low volumes, or only the sweetspots do the tricks?

5- Are the sweetspot's hard to find? I dont have a lot of experience on setting up amp tones (specially tube amps)

I know a lot of the answers are diferent on diferent amps, so if somebody recomend a amp I should try, relate the answers to that specific amp.


The Reason i'm asking all the questions is although we are in an era were information is available everywere, sometimes there is too much noise into it. Either the personal opinions shown on reviews are backed with economical interests or the bias of not accepting new stuff and technology, just because the old days were the days. Also there is the part were negative opinions make a lot more noise, even if they are a very small minority.

That all said I know the answers will be mostly opinions, and there are always exceptions, and i should try and listen, and chose what I like from my personal experience.


PS: Sorry for bad Englando
#2
1. Depends what SS and modelling we're talking about. I use a Kemper - which costs the same if not more than a nice tube amp - and it does everything I ever wanted from a tube amp and more. Now, the lower end modelling and SS, I'm not such a fan. Certainly not for the stuff you want to play. So I'd say it's worth it.

2. In my experience not. Tubes can cost quite a bit, but the odds of having to swap all tubes at once (pre- and power-amp) are rather small. How often you need to go to an amp tech is dependant on how much use the amp has and how you treat it. If you throw it around in transit every week for rehearsals and gigs, it'll need a checkup much faster than if it's at home and you don't move it often and/or are very careful when moving it. I've heard of people breaking tubes in transit, but have never had it happen myself or have been a witness to that situation. With some amps you can change the tubes yourself, but most of them require biasing the tubes, which I'd leave to a tech if you're not familiar with electronics.

If you buy quality, there's no need to be scared of it catching on fire, let alone an explosion.

3. I've had an amp fail on me twice. Once at home and once at rehearsal, luckily. Once was my fault (unplugged the speaker cord by accident), the other was not. Wasn't a big deal, there was no sound and that was it. Tubes were replaced, no issues, no big costs. Having a backup is always a good idea, even for a solid state amp.

4. Depends on the amp. Most of the times, they sound good at lower volumes too, but it comes alive when you turn it up a little.

5. Depends on the amp also. An elaborate amp with an elaborate EQ, like a Mesa Dual Rectifier for instance, takes some dialing in. More straight-forward amps don't, like a Vox AC15, for instance.

From what I've read from the situation, I'd seriously check out a Vox AC15. Got the tone you're looking for, isn't stupid loud but still loud enough to do gigs. A Peavey Classic 30 might be worth looking into as well. Marshall DSL40 maybe as well.

If a store is being hard on you for wanting to try, you can tell them you can take your money and go elsewhere. I've done that and they either turned around or I did. No hard feelings to them, but I'm not buying from people that don't want their customers trying stuff out.
#3
Honestly, once you hear a tube amp you'll probably forget about going back to modeling ever again. They can be played loud and soft as pretty much any other amp. Maybe not as optimal at really soft settings but it depends...

I think you'd be OK going in somewhere around 15 to 30 watts tube. Maintenance is essentially non issue, maybe occasionally change tubes and that should be it. If something more breaks, usually techs can repair it much easier than a solid state or modeling amp.

Off the bat I'll mention a few amps that might work for you and you can research Youtube sound videos. You can go head + cab or just go with a combo. Some people on here on a budget recommend a Harley Benton Celestion loaded cabs. Personally I like the Jet City JCA12S cab which is an Eminence and goes about $130. This is just in case you want to go head + cab. In your case I'll just go combo.

- Laney VC15 and VC30 amps, I'd go with the VC30 as it has 112 speaker. LC15 if you can find used - that's the perfect amp for you, unfortunately discontinued. L5T112 Lionheart Guitar Combo - 5 watt but it should also do the job, with reverb as well.
- Vox AC15 or the AC30 version of this amp if you can afford
- Fender Blues Jr III
- Jet City JCA5012 - that'll also leave room for change
- Egnater Tweaker 15 watt head and a cab or combo 112
- Marshall DSL15C or Class5 if you can find used or DSL40C if you can afford
- Peavey VK 50 combo
- Tech21 Trademark TM30 or TM60 - only non-tube solid state that I'd probably recommend
- Orange Tiny Terror (head or combo) or Dual Terror - no fx loop, otherwise brilliant amps.

Out of the ones above, it really depends on what you're after in terms of versatility, etc. The Tweaker is probably most versatile and can nail tons of tones. I'd also look for something that has spring reverb, unless you're thinking of putting another $200 in reverb pedal (the cheap reverb pedals are not good).

Amp reverb (spring) as far as I know is on Laney's amps, Vox, Fender and some Marshalls that I recommended here.
Personally if I plan on sticking with this style and wanting just a great blues tone, I'd stick with Fender Blues Jr or the Laney LC15. If I want most versatility and a good blues tone, but am thinking of expanding, probably Marshall DSLs, Egnater or the Valveking...although the Blues Jr takes pretty much all pedals OK, so if you think expanding via pedals the Blues Jr will be fine. Egnater would be the most interesting amp in terms of all kinds of tones and getting you into tube, it has tons of options and can go a good blues tone as well. You can experiment with different tube settings, etc., it is quite interesting in itself, and can do different wattage considerations, lower settings for bedroom practice, etc.

You could possibly look at second hand if there's courier service to your country from Ebay or good second hand market. For blues I'd say the Fender Blues Deluxe will probably be all the amp you'll ever need and it is not much more than your target price:
https://www.thomann.de/gb/fender_reissue_blues_deluxe_gitarrencombo.htm?ref=search_rslt_fender+blues_180643_1
Last edited by diabolical at Sep 10, 2016,
#4
Quote by PedroMSAlmeida


1- Are they really that much better than SS and Modeling Amps?

2- Are they hard and Expensive to Mantain?


3- Are they reliable?

4- Are they really playable at low volumes, or only the sweetspots do the tricks?

5- Are the sweetspot's hard to find? I dont have a lot of experience on setting up amp tones (specially tube amps)


1. No.
Not in my opinion, anyway. I've got a ton of tube amps, and I like 'em, but I'm mostly using modelers these days.
2. No.
I keep a set of replacement tubes around, and I replace tubes ever couple of years. I blow the dust off everything else occasionally (not when the amp is running) and clean the pots with DeOxit if things get scratchy. No big deal.
3. Yeah, pretty much.
4. They're playable at low volumes.
5. Most people, honestly, don't use a tube amp for what they're famous for (power tube breakup) because they mostly use preamp gain instead. in that context, "sweet spots" are immaterial.

Here's the thing -- tube amps are heavier to carry around (because they have large transformers), hotter (because, you know, tubes) and not as versatile as a good modeler.
Last edited by dspellman at Sep 10, 2016,
#5
On top of what is listed, some of the Jet City amps can do blues. Though they are mostly bassed off Soldano amps which are high gain, but I've heard great results. Their "clean" channels can get crunch.

Orange tiny terrors are awesom for the money, when cranked they don't have clean headroom which can give a nice breakup. They can also compete with a band nicely.

Since you have considered solid state already, I will also suggest checking out the Orange Crush Pro series. Their clean channel goes from pristine to crunchy breakup, and the dirt channel goes from classic crunch to saturated fat goodness and then thick and fuzzy at the highest setting. They have a 1x12 2x12 and head version.

I also really like the smaller Fender Bassbreakers for some lighter dirt and crunch. Plugged in to one recently and got GAS from it.
Last edited by Liaztraht at Sep 10, 2016,
#6
Thanks guys. Sometimes I need to stop the generalizations that people always troll online, or are all nuts and bad because of the exposure to the normal online comments. There are people that are still nice, and can explain their answers without getting nothing in return (sometimes even risking getting mocked or something) and lose some considerable time explaining me and helping me. Thanks from all my heart.

Just 2 things: Reading my post again made me afraid that i didnt explain one thing right. In terms of gain i like it FROM the starting to break cleans TO getting that ACDC or GNR Appetite ammount of Overdrive/Sustain. I can still achieve that kind of tones with a good Pedal if needed in the future right?

What really is "Head Room"? I've read the term throuned around and I cant still understand what it is... Can somebody help?


Thanks again guys
#7
PedroMSAlmeida clean headroom is basically how much you can turn up the amp before the power section starts to get dirty and start distorting. Guitar amps aren't designed for efficiency at max power, so maybe 2/3rds of the volume knob are clean, but that last third will push the amp hard enough to clip the signals passing through the power section giving you distortion.
Similarly, that same concept applies to gain knobs that feed the preamp section with "more volume" in your guitar signal to get distortion before the master volume that controls the power amp.
Guitar amps use a pre amp to raise the guitar signal to usable levels then the power amp boosts it further to drive the speakers.

I hope I explained that well enough. I know a bit but I am no wizard.

As for the gain, most, if not all amps listed, can get you there. Like the bassbreaker is more designed for rock. Not so much heavier styles but has a good amount.
And the crush, I use one up in metal teritory most of the time, but it gets my clean and edge of breakup tones too. Most oranges get tons of gain when pushed.
The jet city amps can get ridiculous amounts of gain as well.

I'm not sure on the Egnater suggestion, but the Jet city amps, crushes, and the valveking are the most versital budget friendly amps listed so far besides any modeling amp.
Last edited by Liaztraht at Sep 10, 2016,
#8
Quote by PedroMSAlmeida


Just 2 things: Reading my post again made me afraid that i didnt explain one thing right. In terms of gain i like it FROM the starting to break cleans TO getting that ACDC or GNR Appetite ammount of Overdrive/Sustain. I can still achieve that kind of tones with a good Pedal if needed in the future right?



In that case you'd be left with the Egnater (does clean to AC/DC great!), Laney VC series, the tube Oranges - only the tube, as I won't recommend their solid state, for solid state look at Tech21. The DSL range of Marshall, preferably 40C and the Valveking and Jet City will get you there. With those options, I'll probably rule out the single channel Orange amps as they're great for bedroom but live can only do one sound since they're on a single channel and no fx loop. I'd probably go DSL40C as that seems the safest bet, then the bigger Laney VC, and the Egnater, but honestly if I had to choose between all these, I'd want them all So check out the clips and see what you like better.
#11
^ probably not in europe. the carvin stuff's hard to come by here, and expensive when you do.

Quote by Liaztraht
On top of what is listed, some of the Jet City amps can do blues. Though they are mostly bassed off Soldano amps which are high gain, but I've heard great results. Their "clean" channels can get crunch.


lol, with most of them their clean channels are actually crunch channels.

regarding the original questions, the answer to most is "it depends on the amp". I realise that that's no help. But some tube amps are more reliable than others, some sound better at lower volumes than others, some cost less to maintain/retube etc. etc.
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
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?
#12
Quote by PedroMSAlmeida
dspellman What Modelers do you use now?


Pods, a loaned Helix and an older Axe-FX Ultra.
Sometime back, I started backing up the Pods with a Two-Notes Torpedo C.A.B., which subs for the Pod "cabinet" selections (it uses IRs like the Helix and Axe) and also has a fairly unique collection of power amp (EL34, KT88, EL84, 6L6, etc.) sims that are outstanding.
Last edited by dspellman at Sep 11, 2016,
#13
You being in Europe and all I would defer to those on that side of the pond. Carvin is great for those of us in the states but outside of that might be too costly. A Hughes and Kettner tubemeister 18 might be a nice option. Any amp that takes pedals well and is tube will be a good option. Modeling amps are fine for those starting out but in general they do not take pedals as well. (they do not handle inputs that are too hot very well)

Once you get the sound recorded digitally it is hard to tell the difference between modeling and real tubes. But when you are in the same room you can tell.
#14
Quote by Dave_Mc

lol, with most of them their clean channels are actually crunch channels.

Which is why I put clean in quotation marks haha. Low enough you can probably get clean. But then volume would be an issue.
#15
^ yeah i know, just clarifying for anyone who might not know what you meant EDIT: and yeah pretty much. you can get the crunch channel clean at low volumes, but how clean it'll stay if you need volume...
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
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?
#16
Quote by Dave_Mc
^ yeah i know, just clarifying for anyone who might not know what you meant EDIT: and yeah pretty much. you can get the crunch channel clean at low volumes, but how clean it'll stay if you need volume...

Gotcha

Any of these amps will get ya there so listen to what you can! And if possible try them!
#17
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
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?