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#1
What is up with the discrepancy in price between high gain tube amps and low/mid gain amps?

I can find Crate Palominos, Peavey Classics, Fender Devilles, and Fender Twins, Fender Deluxe Reverbs, et al for well under a grand all day every day. Heck, some of those can be had new for under $700. They all sound pretty dang good, too. The cleans are wonderful and the distortion works pretty well for the brands target genre (indie, blues, classic rock, garage rock). I wouldn't be ashamed to run a Gibby Les Paul and a few boutique pedals through one or to have one sitting in my backline. Even stars use these "lower level" amps. The Killers use Hot Rod Deville's live and John Mayer used one on Room for Squares; Noel Gallagher uses two Blues Juniors live.

However, to get a high gainer with useable cleans and good distortion, you had better be willing to drop at least a grand for a Mesa Single Rec. If you want good cleans, be ready to go up to $2k and $3k for a Bogner,Orange, Engl, or Diezel. What gives?

Lets be honest, the 5150 is not that great (fuzzy lead channel; terrible cleans). Nor are the ValveKing or B-52. Those amps do the high gain thing, but not at the same quality level that the amps in the previous paragraph do the low to mid gain thing.

Sure there are some statistical outliers such as a used JCM 800 or an Orange Rocker, but those types are not that common. The 5150 is popular, but you would still need a dedicated clean amp to get a good clean tone out of it.

Why are there no high gain amps with good cleans available for under a grand? (I am basing this on a guitar straight to an amp -- no pedals.)

Please keep in mind that this is all opinion, so try to keep it clean.

Also, I am not looking for a high gainer. My music simply doesn't require it. I am simply bored and wondering. Feel free to point out my ignorance.
#3
Used jsx for 600 or new there like 1300 if i remember correctly... The XXX is another option. Cleans are decent and have a nice distortion... Hell i like my Randalls distortion and Clean channel but its SS... Just have to shop around man... And test everything...
#5
You can't have both great cleans and high gain at the same time. It's just not possible to make an amp like that.
#6
^ Yes you can, My Laney VH100R being a case in point
Last edited by Horlicks at May 11, 2008,
#7
Quote by mr_hankey
You can't have both great cleans and high gain at the same time. It's just not possible to make an amp like that.
How so? I imagine it'd be rather easy to add a single-tube Blackface Fender-style clean channel alongside your high-gain channel...
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#8
Quote by mr_hankey
You can't have both great cleans and high gain at the same time. It's just not possible to make an amp like that.

You're joking right?
#10
The things you need to do keep a high gainer stable and noise free also kill tone. This isn't as noticeable when you're actually using the high gain, but it certainly is with clean sounds.

Noye that I'm not saying all high gainers have bad cleans, I'm just saying you can never match those of a dedicated clean amp.
#11
^It's true. It is of course possible to make an amp that can do both, but it's rather difficult, hence the expense of high-gain amps with any sort of decent clean tone.
#12
Quote by mr_hankey
The things you need to do keep a high gainer stable and noise free also kill tone. This isn't as noticeable when you're actually using the high gain, but it certainly is with clean sounds.

While it might not be possible to have cleans 100% up to par with some vintage Fender or a boutique amp on a Higher- gain amp, a few companies, like Mesa, get incredbly close.

Anyway, tone is objective, remember.
#13
Quote by hrdcorelaxplaya
While it might not be possible to have cleans 100% up to par with some vintage Fender or a boutique amp on a Higher- gain amp, a few companies, like Mesa, get incredbly close.

Anyway, tone is objective, remember.


Ofcourse.

I like the Mark I's cleans, but most of their newer amps are pretty crap in that department; Rectos, Mark IVs (yes, I went there) etc.
#14
Quote by hrdcorelaxplaya
While it might not be possible to have cleans 100% up to par with some vintage Fender or a boutique amp on a Higher- gain amp, a few companies, like Mesa, get incredbly close.

Anyway, tone is objective, remember.

Eddie VanHalen's new Fender amp is an excellent example of being "well rounded".
#15
Quote by mr_hankey
Ofcourse.

I like the Mark I's cleans, but most of their newer amps are pretty crap in that department; Rectos, Mark IVs (yes, I went there) etc.

I disagree, but it may be largely in part due to the fact that my ear for cleans is nowhere near as sophisticated as my ear for OD and high- gain.
Quote by TheEsupremacy
Eddie VanHalen's new Fender amp is an excellent example of being "well rounded".

I've heard a few clips on Youtube and saw David Cook play through it on American Idol, and I must say... I'm not impressed.
#16
I may be very wrong,
But it seems like there's more that goes in to making a high gain head [Diezel, VHT, Bogner Uberschall]

There's more in the preamp to create all this gain, and more to control it and make a great sound.

More components, etc.

I could be very wrong though.
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#17
Quote by chase312
I may be very wrong,
But it seems like there's more that goes in to making a high gain head [Diezel, VHT, Bogner Uberschall]

There's more in the preamp to create all this gain, and more to control it and make a great sound.

More components, etc.

I could be very wrong though.


No, you're right. Those amps are more complicated, and often also of higher wattage; which both comes down to higher cost.
#18
more gain stages = more circuitry = more cost (more channels normally too, which means more cost). supply and demand probably plays a part too.

plus there are plenty of expensive low gain amps. i think the problem is that cheapo high gain amps can be noisy etc., while it's not just so noticeable with lower gain amps. maybe.
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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?
#19
Yup, thats why im just going to get a dedicated gain amp and a clean amp later of if i ever get into cleans..

And like people say its all about taste. I honestly hate insanely bright fender like cleans (hell even hurts my ears to be honest). To me perfect cleans are like the cleans Metallica used in the 80's. Roland Jazz Chorus amps sound amazing to me. But there is alot of people that hate metallica's cleans and say there one of the worst...
#20
Used Peavey JSX and Mesa DC series amps can be had for between 500 - 1G used, ranging from combos to heads in decent to EXCELLANT shape. Both amps sound great clean and amazing distorted.

I got the DC, and the cleans are really nice on it (very full and crisp), with the neck pickup they sound really smooth and when finger picked almost jazzy, and by using your volume knob and attack you can coax all sorts of sounds out of it. Pull the gain knob and you have a rock/metal rhythm channel. switch over to the lead channel and you can do anything from Hendrix and Cream to Meshuggah (Frederick used/uses a .50 Caliber + in studio, which is basically the DC minus the seperate EQ for each channel and the pull boost). I got my head for 720 ,shipped, used, and it's almost 15 years old! The condition is damn good, obviously the tolex has some wear, but what amp that's actually USED doesn't?
#21
I agree with Bugera. The 333XL has pretty great cleans, and it's a VERY high gain amp.
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#22
sigh.
There's a difference between "gee, this is a high gain amp, but the cleans are decent" and "oh, hey, that sounds like a twin reverb." I think the standards meant by this thread weren't "good cleans for a metal amp" but rather "good cleans for any amp. The bugera does not fall into that category. Neither do any of the Mesas I've ever played.
#23
^ agreed. my engl has extremely good cleans for a high gain amp. but they wouldn't compare to an amp aimed at vintage clean tones.

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?
#24
Quote by Roc8995
sigh.
There's a difference between "gee, this is a high gain amp, but the cleans are decent" and "oh, hey, that sounds like a twin reverb." I think the standards meant by this thread weren't "good cleans for a metal amp" but rather "good cleans for any amp. The bugera does not fall into that category. Neither do any of the Mesas I've ever played.


Exactly.
#25
I prefer the Framus Dragon cleans to my Fender Twin Reverb...that being said, a dragon retails at $2,800 new...

The best multi channel amp with excellent clean tones and a good high gain tone for under $1000 has to be the mesa F 100. Keep in mind the F-50 and F30 don't sound as good.
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#26
Well, remember, for most customers seeking a high gain amp, cleans are not exactly a priority. That and the fact that it is much simpler (and more cost effective) to build an amp for one or the other. Trying to build an amp that can do both with flying covers means many more components and the like, thus making for an expensive amp. In many cases too, the low gain amps have a much simpler circuit (although everyone above me has already said that
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#27
^Look at colin's (threadstarter, not me) gear. Tell me if you think the word "inexpensive" is part of his vocabulary. Ignore the fish 'n chips, he's had it gold-plated to bring it up to spec.
#28
Cleans are the most subjective part of an amp IMHO. For the sake of pleasing the haters, the Bugera's cleans are horrible. It's a terrible amp for anything but high gain heavy thrash metal. We'll leave it at that...
#29
Quote by Dave_Mc
more gain stages = more circuitry = more labor = more cost (more channels normally too, which means more cost). supply and demand probably plays a part too.

plus there are plenty of expensive low gain amps. i think the problem is that cheapo high gain amps can be noisy etc., while it's not just so noticeable with lower gain amps. maybe.


FIXED!
As mentioned, the fine high gain amps are more complex, and so have more parts. More parts costs more money. It also takes longer to install more parts, and part of what you are paying for is labor.
#31
Quote by Dave_Mc
more gain stages = more circuitry = more cost (more channels normally too, which means more cost). supply and demand probably plays a part too.

plus there are plenty of expensive low gain amps. i think the problem is that cheapo high gain amps can be noisy etc., while it's not just so noticeable with lower gain amps. maybe.
You hit just about every one of the reasons with this.

The one not mentioned directly was the economy of scale. You amortize all the design costs of a large production run over a large number of units. That means that each unit only pays a tiny fraction of that cost. Not so with a "boutique" amp, or low production model. Even if the design and tooling costs were identical (actually they'll be higher for a high gain amp), the high gain amp would have a much higher cost built into each unit if few are sold.
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#32
Quote by MESAexplorer
I prefer the Framus Dragon cleans to my Fender Twin Reverb...that being said, a dragon retails at $2,800 new...

The best multi channel amp with excellent clean tones and a good high gain tone for under $1000 has to be the mesa F 100. Keep in mind the F-50 and F30 don't sound as good.


F-series FTW. but hey, for me, the 50's cleans are awesome. considering it was my first tube amp.
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#33
Quote by Roc8995
^Look at colin's (threadstarter, not me) gear. Tell me if you think the word "inexpensive" is part of his vocabulary. Ignore the fish 'n chips, he's had it gold-plated to bring it up to spec.


hahaha.

I wish it were gold plated. Frankly, it does what I need it to do without any fuss, so I don't see the reason to spend 3x as much an mxr unit.
#34
Quote by colin617
What is up with the discrepancy in price between high gain tube amps and low/mid gain amps?

I can find Crate Palominos, Peavey Classics, Fender Deluxe Reverbs, for well under a grand all day every day. Heck, some of those can be had new for under $700.



I personally think some of the difference lies in the fact that the amps mentioned above are availbale in low wattage forms. It's pretty rare to find a dedicated metal amp under 40 watts on the high street, except the Krank Rev Jr. And usually with production line amps more wattage = higher price.
#35
Quote by LaidBack
F-series FTW. but hey, for me, the 50's cleans are awesome. considering it was my first tube amp.

Same with me and the F30. I actually think it's not so much inferior to the 50 and the 100, I just think the EL84's make it a different animal. (and to be fair, I've never tried the 100) The cleans are Vox-ish than Fender-y.

Of course, I could just be in blissful ignorance.
#36
Quote by hrdcorelaxplaya
Same with me and the F30. I actually think it's not so much inferior to the 50 and the 100, I just think the EL84's make it a different animal. (and to be fair, I've never tried the 100) The cleans are Vox-ish than Fender-y.

Of course, I could just be in blissful ignorance.

I find that putting a Digitech Death Metal pedal in the mix will muddy up those nasty and earshatteringly annoying Fender and Vox cleans. Filthy stuff they are. I need to wash my hands now...
#37
Quote by TheEsupremacy
I find that putting a Digitech Death Metal pedal in the mix will muddy up those nasty and earshatteringly annoying Fender and Vox cleans. Filthy stuff they are. I need to wash my hands now...

Another way to get great tone from a Death Metal is by running it over the Marshall MG's CRUSHING overdrive.

Br00tal pedal + Crushing OD = Tonal orgasm.
#38
Quote by hrdcorelaxplaya
Another way to get great tone from a Death Metal is by running it over the Marshall MG's CRUSHING overdrive.

Br00tal pedal + Crushing OD = Tonal orgasm.

OMG you sooooo totally get it!!!!! Most people will bitch but that's a metal tone in it's most pristine state. Maybe just use a Spider III amp to overdrive the MG, then you'd GET TWO DISTORTIONS going. That would be sick...
#39
i love my jcm900...and it was only £275 plus a few £100 on upgrades, and it does high gain perfectly for me, and cleans are pretty good too, ive heard some of the best out of the vintage marshalls although i havent tried them all
#40
Quote by Sora 01
i love my jcm900...and it was only £275 plus a few £100 on upgrades, and it does high gain perfectly for me, and cleans are pretty good too, ive heard some of the best out of the vintage marshalls although i havent tried them all

Once upon a time I owned a JCM900 head. I miss it dearly. It was a great sounding versitile amp. You got a good deal on yours. Congrats man.
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