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#1
Introduction

After much time and seeing so many posts about the infamous Marshall MG and the Line6 Spider series.. i have decided to create a thread in which to educate those who have either the need for a practice amp, or who want to graduate from using practice amps..

This thread is not about flaming those who enjoy the usage of MGs or Spiders, nor is it an attempt to argue with those who become outright angered by the existence of these amps. It is an ATTEMPT at an "UNBIASED" overview of what these amps are, what they are meant for, and in the end, Help those make a decision on what is best for them.

so whats the deal with MGs and Spiders?

Instrument amplifiers including, but not limited to, Marshall and Line6 have recently flooded the market with an affordable series of amps called the "MG" and the "Spider" respectively.

these series of amps allow lower budgeted musicians something to play with and introduce themselves into the world of guitar amplification. But what are you paying for when you decide to spend your own or your parents hard earned cash on these amps? is it worth it? will you be happy with it 6 weeks from now? 6 months? a year?

So what are Practice amps?

A practice amp could be defined as an amp that is used for the sake of hearing yourself play to make your practice sessions more efficient and interesting. They are typically solid states equipped with 8" speakers and in the neighbourhood of 15 to 30 watts Various examples of practice amps are, but not limited to..

-Epiphone Valve Jr Head or combo (ALL TUBE YO, only set to one tone tho.. GOOD tone)
-Marshall MG series
-Line 6 Spiders
-Orange Crush series
-Kustom KGAs, Arrows, etc
-Vox VT 15/30s (Flexible and sounds good)
-Roland Cube 15/30's (Flexible and sounds good)
-Crate FW/GT 15's
-Those amps that you get for free in starter packs.. like the Traynor 15's or the Squiers.
-Fender FM's

All amps are not created equally! some are better than others, but thats a matter of opinion. i WILL say however, that the roland cubes, and the Vox VTs go highly recommended.

From my own experiences.. The best tone for practice is to pick up one of those multi FX units like a Line6 Pod, or a Boss GT-6 and plug a good set of headphones in using whatever Cabinet emulation is available.. Even a zoom G2 or a digitech RP50 if you want.

What are some good points about these practice amps?

-good for low volume PRACTICING
-Jamming in your bedroom by yourself or to CD's/MP3
-familiarizing yourself with different FX like flange, phasing, and delay
-Variety of tones to appeal to most players

What are some bad points and weaknesses about these practice amp?

-begins to lose clarity at mid to high volume. ("muddiness", but its not meant for cranking anyway!!)
-reportedly unreliable electronics (although NO ONE reports an amp that does work)
-If you're a tone veteran, you may not enjoy the amps' tone.

overall?

Ok, so for practicing in your room or showing off a quick riff to a buddy of yours, these amps are just fine for dinkin around on.. In fact, if you're just a hobby guitar player and not trying to be a rockstar or someone just starting out, the amps listed will probably be more than you'll ever need. The weakness listed are things you probably something you wouldn't be doing with these amps anyway, so all in all.. the points are MOOT.

For someone who's been playing for awhile.. and have decided they want to be serious about it, you probably already have one of these types of amps. So maybe its time to step it up a notch.. as such, may find yourself asking..

What about those 100 watt spider/MG halfstacks/Crate combos?

Alrite, so johnny goes into Guitar Center, charges $600 (as of writing this, Musiciansfriend.com is charging $599 for one of these) to his moms Visa and wheels one of these monstrosities lets say, a Marshall MG100 HDFX, out to his friends car with a big grin on his face, excited to be able to jam with his band.

However, poor Johnny is unaware that the salesman at GC just sold him an overinflated practice amp.

Its unfortunate, but this is basically what these 100 watt solid states are. (not meant as a knock to solidstates.. there are good ones! Roland JC-120 for example)

Why? its big, with a high wattage rating, and big speakers.. so it should sound good by default right?

well no.. unfortunately it does not work that way. These large amps are unable to cope with the volume they put out.. the cabs are less than stellar compared to the big boys toys.. (next time you're in GC, put an marshall MG 4x12 next to a Mesa Recto 4x12), also the tone on these will begin to deteriorate as you crank it to try and keep up with a moderately loud drummer or someone who has say.. a Vox AC30 (30 watts high quality tube amp). This is not an opinion, it is a FACT.

NOW, since johnny spent ALL of his $600 on this MG (which has relatively no resale value) he has to start over saving his money for something that WILL be able to keep up with his band. which is too bad, because he was already most of the way to a good quality amp that would match the volume and out quality that big ol' MG of his.

So what are some other options for getting a loud amp??

While these certainly are not 'Stacks' these amps will outquality and outvolume any MG or spider stack (possible exception is the 15 watters, it may not be able to match a 100 watt solidstate). I also looked for amps that are about the same price as the MG stack, give or take 50$.

(prices are in US dollars and pulled from Musiciansfriend.com. Prices subject to change)

Fender Blues Jr. 15W NOS Lacquer Tweed Guitar Combo Amp - $529 the normal blues junior clocks in a litte less than this. making it even MORE affordable)
Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue 40W 1x12" Combo Amp - $649
Peavey ValveKing 212 Combo Amp 100w - $619
Fender Hot Rod Deluxe 40w 1x12 - $649
B-52 AT-112 60-Watt 1x12" Tube Combo Amp - $549
Randall RG50TC 50W 1x12 Guitar Combo Amp - $559
Peavey Classic 30/112 Tube Combo Amp - $599
Traynor Custom Valve 20WR YCV20WR 15W Class A 1x12 Combo Amp with Celestion speaker - $639

Now this is just a handful of full on tube combos capable of putting out some fantastic tone and volume for a reasonable price. as well as having a good resale value should you decide to get a different amp down the road. Also, any of these amps could easily be had for less if you buy used.

Buying used also opens up a whole new field of high quality amps like the JCM series or a peavey 5150/6505, or the traynor YCS50 (AMAZING AMP)

check your local craigslist, Kijiji, or EBAY it!

Pawn shops

Sometimes you find REAL gems in pawnshops but thanks to the advent of the internet, most of them know the street value of the stuff they're selling. they'll usually mark something quite a bit higher than what they actually need to cut a profit so its up to you to use your cunning in getting a good deal!

Best of luck and thanks for reading

EDITS:
-added the epi valve JR as a practice amp.
-Added the usage of a multi FX unit and headphones as a Good practice "amp"
-re-worded some of the info to sound less biased.. hey i'm human!
-added another source of buying 2nd hand stuff..

thinking of adding a section for 5 watt tubers.. but i'll need some info from the pros! PM me
Grammar and spelling omitted as an exercise for the reader.
Last edited by Kivarenn82 at Apr 12, 2008,
#2
Pretty good guide for beginners.
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#3
Very nice.
A cookie to you my friend.

I own a Valveking 112, which you can hear over drums, thankfully.
#5
You speak the truth.

Kind of a long post though, and I would have put the WARNING against buying MG100s, etc at the beginning of the post rather than at the end. The defense of MGs and Spiders as practice amps isn't really necessary, as obviously Marshall and Line6's marketing departments have been selling these things like hotcakes. It is much more likely though that some kid who wants to jam with his band will be tricked by the guy at Guitar Center into wasting $600 on an MG stack.
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#7
Quote by which ones pink
Brilliant

Now this needs to get stickied, even though the MG n00bs still wouldn't read it.

+1

i second that motion for sticky-ing this thread
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#8
thanks guys, that was definitely the intention for this thread. there's too many MG/spider threads that pollute the boards drawing attention away from other threads that need addressing..
Grammar and spelling omitted as an exercise for the reader.
#9
+ another for stickie

EDIT: May I also suggest good quality heaphones and effects processor as an alternative to a practice amp? That way you can use the effects processor for both practice and gigging.
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Last edited by fade2black_69 at Nov 4, 2007,
#11
too bad this wont get stickied, cause the mods are mean

actually, i think there is something very similar to this in the current FAQ, but no one reads it. and while yes, all the threads on MGs and spiders are annoying, the most obnoxious ones do get closed (when i see them anyway). this is a nice guide for beginners, but the people reading it probably are not the ones that need to.
#12
^ Yup I too agree really needs to be stickied, but it's true that only we would read it.

Very well made guide and it covered a lot of good topics.
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#13
good thread. i was gonna post something like this, its almost as if you read my mind lol.
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#14
Quote by which ones pink
Now this needs to get stickied, even though the MG n00bs still wouldn't read it.


nah, i think it should be put into the "ultimate gear information sticky" cuz it wont rly make an impact by itself

Quote by MxPxPanic
From what ive been told, every amp you mentioned in the title sucks.


if u had taken the time to read what he wrote, u would've known that they suck as GIGGING/ BAND PRACTICE amps, but are ok as small bedroom practice amps.
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#15
Quote by jof1029
too bad this wont get stickied, cause the mods are mean

actually, i think there is something very similar to this in the current FAQ, but no one reads it. and while yes, all the threads on MGs and spiders are annoying, the most obnoxious ones do get closed (when i see them anyway). this is a nice guide for beginners, but the people reading it probably are not the ones that need to.


there is, but probably not in the same amount of depth- i figured the faq was long enough as it was.

Plus as you say, the people who need to rarely read them- every so often (like once every 6 months) you get a very nice pm from someone who says the FAQ helped them, but it's definitely a rarity.

This thread, though, gets a from me.

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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.

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#16
the only fault I could really point out is that maybe the alternative recommendations should have a brief description of what they can and cannot do, although this is pretty much covered in another sticky, if a n00b checks this out they may just go "ok the MG sucks, lets get me a fender blues junior and get started on some Dimmu Borgir!!"

otherwise good thread
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#17
^ good point.
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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?
#18
No mention of an Epi VJ?
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#19
I think it's time to bring back a old pshop of mine...
Stay away from an amp if it bears any resemblance to this:


Good thread TS- HOPEFULLY people will actually read this, but you know, if not it doesn't matter- at least we tried
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Last edited by Yngwi3 at Nov 4, 2007,
#20
Quote by Yngwi3
I think it's time to bring back a old pshop of mine...
Stay away from an amp if it bears any resemblance to this:






That thing is epic.
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#21
Quote by Inspired_by_Vai


That thing is epic.

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Yngwi3, You win this whole monstrosity of a thread.

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#22
^ @ Yngwi3's pic

Nice thread! But you could also include the Fender Blues Jr without the NOS Tweedness.
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#23
Quote by Yngwi3
I think it's time to bring back a old pshop of mine...
Stay away from an amp if it bears any resemblance to this:
[ "clever" pic removed for brevity ]

Good thread TS- HOPEFULLY people will actually read this, but you know, if not it doesn't matter- at least we tried
read much?
Quote by Kivarenn82
This thread is not about flaming those who enjoy the usage of MGs or Spiders...


...
Meadows
Quote by Jackal58
I release my inner liberal every morning when I take a shit.
Quote by SK8RDUDE411
I wont be like those jerks who dedicate their beliefs to logic and reaosn.
#24
Me and Jof already talked about getting a sticky for this type of thread. The idea was shot down because the people don't read the stickies anyway.

But if this could get stickied, I'd nominate it.
Ben
#25
well, i'm glad the thread was well received by you guys at least

I suppose the next time we see an MG/spider/etc thread, we could always link em to this.
Grammar and spelling omitted as an exercise for the reader.
#26
that would be a good idea.
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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?
#27
Another idea, maybe we can sticky it for like a month or something. If we see the number of MG threads decreasing or find more people reading it. Then we can keep it up, if not then just un-sticky it perhaps?
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#28
easiest thing to do would be to put a link in people's sigs... i don't have room though.

Or else just bump it periodically.
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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?
#29
I would suggest we quote and put in preexisting sticky. and then link to this thread in all of the mg etc threads.
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#30
I'd take the Valve jr out. It just doesn't fit in as a practice amp by your definition - unreliable electronics, poor quality, muddy tone - it has none of that, I've used it at band practices multiple times with a good mix each time, and I've gigged with it successfully. It's not a practice amp. 5w valve is WAY TOO LOUD for bedroom practice on its own too.
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#31
Quote by SomeoneYouKnew
read much?


...

My thoughts exactly.
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#32
Quote by MrCarrot
I'd take the Valve jr out. It just doesn't fit in as a practice amp by your definition - unreliable electronics, poor quality, muddy tone - it has none of that, I've used it at band practices multiple times with a good mix each time, and I've gigged with it successfully. It's not a practice amp. 5w valve is WAY TOO LOUD for bedroom practice on its own too.


hm, i recall defining a practice amp as something that helps make your practice more interesting and efficient. by this definition, an EVJ would be one hell of a practice amp.

and while 5 tube watts would surely blow 15 SS watts away.. it still doesn't have to be cranked to 10 just for practice. even when i was using my old junked out peavey rage.. it never really went past 2.
Grammar and spelling omitted as an exercise for the reader.
#33
Quote by Kivarenn82
hm, i recall defining a practice amp as something that helps make your practice more interesting and efficient. by this definition, an EVJ would be one hell of a practice amp.

and while 5 tube watts would surely blow 15 SS watts away.. it still doesn't have to be cranked to 10 just for practice. even when i was using my old junked out peavey rage.. it never really went past 2.


Exactly.

Also, you might as well add the rest of the traynors to the list.
Peavey 5150
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Mesa Single Rectifier (Series 1)
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#34
so why isn't the regular Blues Jr. in there?
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#36
^i meant for the 'better options' list.

and a pro jr is way too loud for practice by urself. its the same 15watts as the blues jr, no master volume. if ur gonna want gain, its not the amp for you. with 2 12AX7s and 2 EL84s in class A/B, it won't give as much gain as a blues jr can.
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#37
Oh, my mistake.

It is too loud for "living with anal parents" practice, but not too loud for "own apartment" or "dorm" or "own house" practice.
#38
I'd just like to add that the Roland Cube 15 is a very mediocre amp; it has none of the amp modeling nor effects that make the Cube series good .
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#39
Nice job.
Maybe add a little section on 5 watt valve amps, and while they may not be great for begginers, they're a great upgrade for those that just want good tone for home practice.
#40
+1 FUA and becky. i think the cube 20x is similar to the 15, in that respect, though i haven't tried the 20x.
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?
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