I've been playing electric guitar for 3 years now, and I'm starting to get an understanding of what I want in tone, and I have started exploring gear more in depth.

I currently have (all second-hand):

Jackson JS30WR 2004 (Bought $40 2 years ago from awesome friend)
  • Alder Body
  • Maple Fretboard
  • Jackson CVR2 Humbucker Pickups
  • 24 Frets
  • Hard Tail Bridge (No Tremolo)
  • Changed the jack input once in the last years, and this year the luthier told me the jack will fail soon enough.

VOX AD50VT Combo Amp (Bought $200 3 years ago)
  • Tube Powered Pre-Amp
  • Digital Amp (the company describes it as hybrid)
  • Tons of fun presets, amp emulators, fx (delay, flanger, chorus, etc.)

Pedals (Bought for $100, $70, $30, and $50 respectively end of last year)
  • MXR Smart Gate
  • MXR Fullbore Metal
  • Joyo Vintage Overdrive
  • Dunlop Headphone Amp (very useful for practicing anywhere)

I love all kinds of metal, but I have a preference for melodic death metal, northern, post/prog-hardcore and djent-ish genres. I find my tone to be very crunchy, fat, and chuggish (perfect for good old trash metal), but I prefer more modern tight/sharp tones. Think of the bands Earthside, Testament (Brotherhood of the Snake album), Amon Amarth, Wintersun, Parkway Drive, and YouTubers Ola Engund, Jared Dines, Leo Moracchioli.

What am I looking for?
  • Any body style really. Since I already have an aggressive looking Jackson, I can settle with a more conservative looking guitar. I find Diamond Guitar's Barchetta and Chapman's Ghost Fret to be god damn arousing;
  • Neck profile: I need to experiment, I've only owned a JS Dinky in the past and the JS30WR;
  • Pickup config: Humbuckers, of course. From YouTube videos and some tracks, I concluded I like EMGs in general, Seymour Duncan's Blackout Neck, Invader Bridge, Black Winter Bridge, Bare Kuckle Painkiller, Dimarzio D-Activator X;
  • In case of a new guitar, I'd like a tremolo bridge;
  • Minimum 24 Frets;
  • What the heck is neck construction? ;
  • Finish and wood is very subjective imo;
  • Diamond Guitars, Schecter, Chapman, LTD;
  • If affordable 7, 8, and 9 strings exist, tell me about it!

I am from Québec, Canada, and I'm willing to take a look if I can get a good deal from the US or from Ontario considering our province's shipping and tax policies are often obstacles to trade.

Of course, I'd prefer trying out the equipment before buying, but if I can have a great online, please don't hesitate to tell me about it.

My budget is around $400 for now, maybe $600 if bought later this year. (Consider that I can sell current gear to upgrade, like sacrificing pedals and selling amp for better amp in example).

Upgrade guitar? Upgrade Amp? Upgrade Pickups? Some of them? All of them?
Last edited by charest.david at Feb 23, 2017,
Anyone in these boards who knows me will tell you I'm a guitar and pedal guy..and that you probably need a new amp first.

Vox makes good stuff, but they're not really the best option for metal tones, especially the more modern stuff. Look at Jet City, Orange, Mesa, Laney, Peavey, Randall, Rivera, Engl, Egnater...

(I'm sure I missed a few or added one or two I shouldn't have, but the real amp gurus will rectify that, possibly with particular options in your price range.)

Why? Because your amp is the foundation of your tone. Get the wrong amp for your favorite genres, and you I'll have a devil of a time dialing in the tone you seek. Assuming it's even possible,

That's why I recently bought an Orange amp: to play heavier music than my Fender amp could reasonably deliver.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Carvin's V3 amps are one option to consider:

The 50w mini comes as a head or combo. The 100w V3 had a combo version years ago, but they're rare- I saw my first & only one last December. They're able to handle most modern sounds, including some pretty heavy metal...with a decent cab, of course.

Here's Pif, guitarist for Thira, demonstrating what he gets out of his V3M. and how:
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
Yeah, your amp is your weakest link. Like was stated above, you need an amp that fits your style of music.

After that, its time to upgrade from the JS series.
Your amp is not bad, you actually have one of the modelers that you could possibly not outgrow....unless you want to do extreme metal, which happens to be the case.

So you'll probably have to look at something with tubes. Maybe not overly expensive, unless you can afford a big name amp, like say Mesa, Engl.

The cheapest amps that will get you there are the 6505/5150 range...

It depends on your wattage needs. There is the 6505mh, 6505 combo (big combo, 60 watts I think), the EVH 5150 III Lunchbox.

I did a thread recently on these:
Neck construction is sort of the fundamental building block of the guitar.

The three major pieces of a guitar are the body, the neck and the headstock, and the headstock is optional (there are headless guitars out there).
The body and the neck are usually two separate pieces in the guitar construction process. Your guitar has a neck that bolts onto the body. You can remove it by unscrewing the bolts on the back of the body. Thus: Bolt-Neck construction.
Most Les Paul style guitars and a lot of other guitars have the neck glued to the body, so it's not easily removable. Thus, it's called glued neck or set-neck.
And finally, there are guitars that have a neck that goes all the way from the headstock to the bottom strap button. In most cases, the body is formed from two "wings" that attach to the sides of this long piece of timber. The neck/body join is often carved and smooth. This is neck-through construction.
peavey 5150/6605/jsx/xxx/ultra+,etc.
Wow thanks for the fast response. I'm currently proceeding to selling my amp. Once it's done I'll see what I'll get.

I just sumbled upon a sick YouTube review series on "Monsters of High Gain"

Here's how I would rank them according to my tastes:

  1. Diezel D-Moll
  2. ENGL Fireball 100
  3. Blackstar Blackfire 200
  4. Marshall JVM410HJS (Joe Satriani Signature)
  5. Randall Thrasher
  6. EVH 5150 III
  7. Orange TH100

  • Mesa Boogie: I don't like them that much because they're sound too crunchy for my tastes.
  • Carvin V3: Thanks for the recommendation, I love Pif's tone, and I noticed very on YouTube few have this tone with the V3. I wonder why;
  • Orange: I never considered it. The one in the video seems too muffled for my tastes, but I think it'd be great sounding for rythm.

Any cheaper alternatives for these amps?
Last edited by charest.david at Feb 23, 2017,
Carvin V3: Thanks for the recommendation, I love Pif's tone, and I noticed very on YouTube few have this tone with the V3. I wonder why;

Carvin, despite being a quality manufacturer, flies below most people's radar because they're pretty much mail-order only. Unless you are in San Diego or trip over one of their products in the used gear section of your favorite local music store, you never see them in stores.

And most people who DO know Carvin tend to play jazz, blues, country, classic rock, or maybe prog/neoclassical shred at the heaviest.

Hell- I have known about the V3 family's capability for heavy tonesnfor some time, and I had forgotten them in my initial post.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
I wouldn't trust what you hear in youtube videos to determine what amp you want.

Everybody uses different cabinets, different speakers, different mics, different mic positions, different guitars, different styles of mixing, different pedals, different guitar players making the guitar sound different, post-processing to enhance the sound of the amp etc.

All of those things are far too unpredictable from one video to the next to make an informed decision on what an amp actually sounds like.

The best experience you can possibly get is going to a guitar store and trying as many amps out as possible.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Omae wa mou

Quote by www.dcj20
dafuq, i kno jokes dont wwork when u hav to explain them but now im confused. was the mention of a "bugera" amp a euphemism for anal sex ?
Well, if you're willing to put the $$ in, out of your list, personally, I'd go with the Thrasher. LOVE that amp. Kick myself all the time for getting rid of it. I'll probably grab the new 50 watt version sometime soon here.

I love that Ola Englund is playing a Diezel in that Video. The Randall Satan is actually his signature amp.
As I keep shopping online for an amp, I am increasingly confused since my options seem to be so limited on my budget. I don't want to spend more than $800CAD, and it seems that anything with tubes cost above the $1,000 mark. While shopping I also noticed that I've taken a liking to Victory Amps' Kraken, but hey it's $1,400 and anything that looks metal oriented is expensive as hell (like most Randalls are over $1,500)

Also I don't know if I should spend more on the cabinet (which I have to buy too) than the amp.

Any advice on that?

By the way thank you again for the support
in your case then perhaps a different modeling amp would be in order. a Peavey VIP series will certainly get you the more extreme metal tones. you might also want to look at used amps as a Peavey 6505+ combo should be in the upper end of your budget. 
I just stumbled upon a Laney IronHeart 60W with Cab 2x12 for $700CAD. Any comments about it? (Sound good for the money imo)
That Laney Ironheart with the cab is a good deal. Do you know what speakers are in the cab?

If not the Laney, I recommend Peavey's 6505/5150. a 6505+ combo can be found for $500-$700 in some instances, and it sounds like it would fit your heavy needs.

  • Agile AL-3XXX Custom Tobacco Sunburst w/ EMG 57/66
  • ESP LTD EC-1000T CTM Black w/ Seymour Duncan Blackouts
  • Jet City JCA100HDM w/ Avatar Contemporary 2x12 Cab
  • Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive
  • Dunlop OG Crybaby Wah
  • MXR Smartgate
The Laney Ironheart is a great metal amp. I think it's voicing does 80s better than modern, but it still does modern pretty well.

And as stated, it kind of depends on the cab.
The product codes are:

IRT60H (Lionheart 60w Head)
IRT212 (Lionheart 2x12 Cab)
Speakers are said to be 2 x HH Custom Designed

I think I'd rather purchase in head and cab form than combo since I can just change the cab or the head if I eventually need to. It's just personal preference, but if the Peavey really sounds better I wouldn't mind having a combo.

I've also noticed:
JCA20H - Jet City Soldano Head for $400CAD
Peavey 6505+ 120w Head for $740CAD
Bugera 333XL Head and Cab for $700CAD
Krank Jr 20w Head for $500CAD
Orange Micro Dark with PPC108 Cab for $400CAD
Traynor 4x12 Cab modded with Celestion Speakers for $650CAD
I would say go with the Laney head and see if you can either

a). get an Orange PPC212 cab used (amazing build quality + Celestial Vintage 30 speakers stock)

b). Get a custom cab from Avatar Speakers: https://avatarspeakers.com

  • Agile AL-3XXX Custom Tobacco Sunburst w/ EMG 57/66
  • ESP LTD EC-1000T CTM Black w/ Seymour Duncan Blackouts
  • Jet City JCA100HDM w/ Avatar Contemporary 2x12 Cab
  • Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive
  • Dunlop OG Crybaby Wah
  • MXR Smartgate
Unfortunately I missed the Laney deal, should'very acted faster.

Yesterday I went shopping around and the ENGL Thrasher 50 with the 4x12 cab just blew me away. The Krankestein 120w Dimebag edition and Peavey 6505+ were a lot of fun too.

I'm offered:
  • used Randall Diavlo 50H with its cab for $400CAD. I didn't try the Randall stuff yet, how is it (might be the best value option I have)?
  • used ENGL Powerball 1 with 2x12 cab for $1,500CAD and I'm seriously thinking about putting the money there because I found the ENGL sound to be phenomenal.
  • used Mesa Dual Rectifier and Marshall 1960b for $1,400CAD (didn't get to try one yet as well)
Last edited by charest.david at Feb 26, 2017,
Getting a bit of conflicting information with your last post. "the ENGL Thrasher 50 with the 4x12 cab just blew me away" Did you mean the Randall Thrasher 50, or the ENGL Powerball?

If you did mean the Thrasher, I'd go with that hands down. But that's also because it suits my tastes and playing style. As far as the Diavlo, if it's a 50H then it's a bit older, as it's been replaced with the 45H. I don't know a ton about the older Diavlo's, I know they are still Mike Fortin designed as the new ones are. So I would assume they're voiced very similarly, if not the same. If so, it's a great amp with a TON of gain for the money. Just he price alone would make me go for that. I'd upgrade the speakers in the cab though. They're probably Randall Jaguars at best.

Both the ENGL Powerball and the Mesa are also excellent amps. You really can't go wrong with any of these choices. I'm definitely, an (older) Peavey and Randall fanboy, but I truly am picking the Diavlo for the price on this one. If someone said I could have any one for the same cost, or for free, I'd choose the ENGL.
I meant the ENGL Screamer (Powerball with less buttons and channels), my bad hahaha
Any tips for assessing the useful life of an used amp? (Like when will I have to change the tubes)
Besides obvious physical damage, tubes CAN blow at a y moment. They typically have a nice long life span and give you a warning before doing so, but not always.

My first XXX blew a PI tube the 2nd or 3rd day after purchasing. Literally blew the thing in half.

Otherwise I just keep at least one of each tube on hand that I run (make, model, etc) in case, and change all of them every 2 to 3 years just because.

I would also experiment with different brand tubes in your new amp. If the tubes are stock, they're either Rubys or EHs, Peavey was known to use both. Its a very pre amp driven amp and have found that those tubes make a bigger difference than the power tubes in tone. I have my own "custom" mix of pre amp tubes I use in mine that gets me to the tone I'm after.
With your budget and being in Canada, the only way you're going to find a good high gain tube amp is by going used. Then again, your current VOX isn't horrible. Have no idea if you're willing to save to buy the amp you really want!

For the US folks, as soon as someone says Canada you need to add 30-40% extra to your prices. Stupid OPEC! Really miss the days of the CAD being on par or higher than the USD :P
Fleet of MiJ Ibanez
Couple of Balls
Peavey & EVH Wolfgangs
Fender HM Strat
Kemper KPA
5150 III 50w & cabs
Xander_X Wow, much uncertainty with these tubes.

I plan on saving to get the ENGL. It's going to motivate me to work hard and I feel that if I buy anything but the ENGL I'm not going to be satisfied and I will still longing to get this god damn amp. I'm just the kind of guy who has expensive tastes and tends to buy expensive things but keep them longer.

DarthV I'm looking forward to seeing the Alberta petroleum rise the CAD. I heard companies just found some new sources, and with the new pipelines in the US (not that this is a good thing in itself) the petroleum industry should get a boost.

(Let's not turn this post into politics, but with the current state of the economy and politics, CAD might rise, making guitar gear more accessible to us Canadian folks )

Also lots of companies do not ship in Quebec or just charge higher fees for Quebec due to our stupid laws.
Last edited by charest.david at Mar 2, 2017,