#1
I’m getting back into playing guitar after being away from the music scene for many years. My musical tastes are sort of all over the board (Alice in Chains, Metallica, Avril Lavigne (don’t laugh, thanks)...anyway, back when I played I was lucky to have $200 to buy an amp but now that I’m all grown up and everything I can afford $1,000-$1,500 for an amp. Here’s the thing, though...I don’t play in a band or on stage...I mostly just play at home in a townhouse (at least for now). Maybe I’ll get into a band at some point but I’m not really planning on it. I really just like to learn songs that have already been written. I’ve already got a good job and am not trying to make a career out of this. I just wanna play.

Anyway, like I said, I have up to $1,500 to spend on an amp. I really just want to get something that is very good in terms of accurate sound reproduction. I’m not so much interested in volume or anything. In fact, I’m trying to find an amp that has great sounds at a LOW volume. I’m in a townhouse so I can crank it a little bit but not like as if I were playing on stage or something. So, I need an amp that sounds really good at a lower volume and I’m not sure that’s even possible with a tube amp for $1,500. I’ve heard good things about Mesa Boogies and, to be honest, I’d really like to get one since Avril Lavigne uses them. I really like the sound on her first CD (Let Go) but I believe the guitarist on that CD is playing a Gibson SG through a Marshall stack.

I’ve always heard it makes more sense to spend a bit more on an amp so here’s my chance. The guitar I play is a Michael Kelly (http://www.michaelkellyguitars.com/valor_limited.html) with twin Rockfield SWC humbuckers and a mahogany body. No, it’s not the greatest but it’s not a piece of junk either and I got a great deal on it.

I was going to just get a Roland Cube 60 but you only live once so why not try to get something really good. But is this overkill? Would you spend $1,000 or more on a tube amp that you never turned up past 3 and that you never played on stage in a band? And I’ve heard that tube amps don’t really sound good at lower volumes anyway. Is that true? If so, maybe I should just stick with the Cube 60. The bottom line is that I have up to $1,500 to spend and I want to get something really good in terms of accurate sound reproduction (if that makes sense).

Anyway, thanks for any input you guys can provide. I know a fair amount about guitars but not that much about amps so I appreciate any advice!
#2
I was impressed by the Mesa Boogie Express Series. You can jump from 5 to 25 or 50 watts(depending on the model you get) to get good tones whatever situation you're in.

link
#3
Yeh, with that kinda cash to spend, you should get a MESA hands down. To make it a bit easier to understand: MESA/Boogie > your face.
It just doesn't get any better than mesa.
Quote by dcdossett65
Life is too short to worry about this crap.

Who.

Cares.
#4
You can buy an attenuator to get that cranked sound out of your tube amp without killing the neighbor's cat or the grandma next door.
#5
Why not a Marshall ??? Jcm800 or somthing on that lines.... but because tube amps suck at low voulmes maybe a Vox ADVT50 or a Cube 60 would be perfect.
#6
I would buy good condition used, absolutely, as if you change your mind in six months, you'll have lost little to no value - if you buy new, you immediately lose a ton on something like a Mesa when you walk out the door. I only say this because you seem like you'd be happy with a Cube 60 but want to spend a thousand dollars extra on a whim, which I totally can get being a gear ***** too, but just wanted the idea out there.

I'd probably go used Marshall JVM 2x12, or Mesa 1x12 or 2x12 - if you're looking for a half-stack, you can afford an older Mesa stack or a used Marshall DSL or TSL stack.
#7
The Mesa Express would be right up your alley. Maybe an Orange Tiny Terror or a Rockerverb combo for something British voiced? The Cube 60 is definitely a good choice, but it doesn't have the cool factor going for it. If I were you, I'd make an effort to try out an Express though.
#8
I think it's worth noting that the Mesa Express stomps all over a Roland Cube any day...

EDIT: Just to state the obvious...
#9
Thanks for all of the comments so far. I'm going to look at the Mesa Express amps tomorrow and also check out what the used prices are (thanks for the suggestion, SDHUPELIA). As far as Marshall and Vox...I dunno...I really like Avril Lavigne and the harder sounds on her "Let Go" CD (even though I believe it's a Marshall stack that the rhythm guitarist is playing through on that CD). But to have a Mesa Boogie would be so cool. I was a teenager the last time I played and would've died for an amp that good. Now, I'm way older than that and am done with college and have a great job so I can afford one...so I'm like, why not do it?

I've heard a lot of other people say this, too). Is that true? A tube amp at 2 or 3 sounds no better than a $300 SS amp? Yikes...

Like I said, I'm in a townhouse that has three levels but I do have neighbors on each side. So, I can crank it up a little bit but not much...not like playing in an auditorium or something. I guess that's where an attenuator would come in handy.

So, would a Mesa Boogie at a low volume still sound better than a Cube 60 at the same volume? And would it be a lot better or just a little better?

Thanks again for everyone's time and advice!
Last edited by stevem326 at Jun 13, 2008,
#10
Quote by stevem326
But, RUSTY AXE is saying that tube amps don't sound too great at low volumes (I've heard a lot of other people say this, too). Is that true? A tube amp at 2 or 3 sounds no better than a $300 SS amp? Yikes...

Tube amps don't sound as good when they aren't cranked, but they still sound way better than most solid state amps. Also it changes from amp to amp. Some some better than others at lower volumes.

You get plenty of breakup even at reasonable volumes with the Express' 5 watt mode. Maybe too loud for past 9 PM playing, but fine for normal daytime house jamming.
#11
Quote by T!AN
Tube amps don't sound as good when they aren't cranked, but they still sound way better than most solid state amps. Also it changes from amp to amp. Some some better than others at lower volumes.

You get plenty of breakup even at reasonable volumes with the Express' 5 watt mode. Maybe too loud for past 9 PM playing, but fine for normal daytime house jamming.


But if I ran a Mesa Express cranked up through an attenuator would the crunch, sustain, and sound quality still be a lot better than a SS amp?
#12
Definitely yes, but there's is no need to run it through an attenuator. That's the point of the watt switching between 5 and 25/50 watts.
#13
well 5 watts cranked is easily enough to bother your neighbors. my five watt solid state did and five watts tube is even louder to human ears. i suggest waiting to see if you realy need it and then decide. you can get weber one, one of the best for 100$. Just know that you will need a 50 watt one for the 25 watt amp. if your only going o use the 5 watt setting then you can get the 25 watt attenuator. You will need about double the power of the amp to not fry the attenuator.

Hope that helps
ODEN 08 'RISE WITH US'
#14
Thanks for all the tips. I'm going to listen to some of the Mesa Express amps tomorrow at the different wattages and see what I think. It sounds like even at 5 watts the tube amps are going to be too loud so maybe I'd be better off with a less expensive S/S amp and a few effects pedals...
#15
Naa tube is the way to go i still prefer the tone out of my tube amp with the volume set as low as .5 over the tone out of my randall at any volume....
Last edited by IbanezPsycho at Jun 13, 2008,
#16
Quote by stevem326
Thanks for all the tips. I'm going to listen to some of the Mesa Express amps tomorrow at the different wattages and see what I think. It sounds like even at 5 watts the tube amps are going to be too loud so maybe I'd be better off with a less expensive S/S amp and a few effects pedals...


As someone mentioned before grab an attenuator and a tube amp. I bought a Weber from their website and I can pretty much crank my Traynor YCV20 and Krank rev Jr and keep the volume pretty reasonable.
#17
Quote by Rusty_axe
but because tube amps suck at low voulmes maybe a Vox ADVT50 or a Cube 60 would be perfect.


not true, my roadster sounds better than an ADVT50 or a cube 60 at any volume
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Shredhead's advice is the best in the thread.


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#18
Quote by Rusty_axe
Why not a Marshall ??? Jcm800 or somthing on that lines.... but because tube amps suck at low voulmes maybe a Vox ADVT50 or a Cube 60 would be perfect.


Tube amps dont suck at low volumes, they just sound way better at higher ones.
ODEN 08 'RISE WITH US'
#19
Quote by dzaerpoor
Tube amps dont suck at low volumes, they just sound way better at higher ones.


^Absolutely what he said.

That Mesa would sound better at ANY volume compared to that Cube.

times a billion.
#20
Quote by Rusty_axe
Why not a Marshall ??? Jcm800 or somthing on that lines.... but because tube amps suck at low voulmes maybe a Vox ADVT50 or a Cube 60 would be perfect.

Wrong. Tube amps don't suck at low volumes. They are amazing at high volumes and not as good at low. I would still take a nice tube amp over a ADVT or cube anyday.
#21
Thanks again for everybody's advice. You guys are so helpful. It's great that this board is so active and has so many people with such great experience. I've received so much good advice here that I feel like I owe you all a beer or something. You guys rock!

I'm going to play an Express right next to a Cube 60 and see what I think tomorrow. As long as I can get a good sound at a somewhat low volume I think I'll get the Mesa Boogie. No, I'll never play it on stage or in a studio but I'll be able to look down at it when I'm jammin' along with some song at home and it'll feel so great to know I've got one of the best amps money can buy. Like I said, when I was a lot younger I had such crappy equipment...trying to play heavy metal on a guitar that had single coil pickups...on an amp that just had bass, treble, and balance controls (with no gain or other effects built in)...it was pathetic. I used to use pennies as picks because it at least gave me some kinda weird sound effect. But that was it. I couldn't even afford an effects pedal until I had been playing for more than a year. Now that I'm older and have the money I sort of feel like I deserve something really nice. Yeh, it's like four times what a Cube 60 would cost but, in the long run over several years, I'll probably be a lot happier with the Express.

Anyway, seriously, thanks a lot to everyone for all the opinions and advice. I'll post back later this weekend and let you know what I decide!
Last edited by stevem326 at Jun 13, 2008,
#22
Heh, man, you better come back with the Boogie.

But good luck with your amp shopping. I can guarantee you will find a nice sound out of it at low volumes.

The idea that you could get a better sound out of a Cube at the same volume is ludicrous.
#23
If you like the express then you should consider getting a used f-30 and an attenuator. They are very similar amps, but I feel that the f-30 wins. It sounds good at low volumes, but even better when cranked, and with the money you've saved you could get an attenuator and still be less than the express. You'd still have money for an nice eq pedal and a boutique od plus whatever effects you want. You could also sell the amp for the same you bought it for if you decide you really don't want to do guitar anymore.
I don't give a shit if you listen to me or not
#24
Well, I checked out the Mesa Boogie Express today. It's definitely a great amp but for my needs it's just kind of overkill so I ended up getting a Cube 30-X instead. I've turned an extra bedroom in my house into a small music studio and the Cube 30 is really all I'm going to need at this point. I really like all of the built-in digital effects that the Cube comes with. Yeh, it's definitely digital effects and not a tube sound like the Mesa but I really like all of the sound possibilities that the Cube offers.

The Mesa sounds very good at low volumes but it really shines when you crank it up and it'll be way too loud for my townhouse. At 25 watts I wouldn't be able to hardly turn it up past 1 or 2 and at 5 watts I'd be at around 3 or 4 at the most. It's just simply not designed for a small bedroom in my opinion. It shines on a stage or in a recording studio. It's an awesome amp but it's just not what fits the bill for me right now. Maybe in awhile if I'm ever good enough to play on stage or if I join a band a Mesa Boogie will be for me but right now the Cube feels and sounds perfect.

Anyway, thanks to all of you for the advice. I'm glad I waited a bit before making up my mind. I almost bought the Mesa a few days ago on a whim and I'm pretty sure I'd be kicking myself right now if I would have. Again, it's an awesome amp and would blow the Roland out of the water, but I'd never really be able to make it scream like it's designed to. Playing a Mesa Boogie no higher than 1 or 2 is like buying a Ferrari and never driving faster than 35 MPH. There's no way I can do that!

Thanks again
Last edited by stevem326 at Jun 14, 2008,