#1
Firstly, yes I do intend to try all amps before I buy but it's difficult to try them all where I live and I always think it's wise to get the opinions of those who might have had more extensive experience of the gear involved.

I play an Ibanez RGT42 and like to play Blues, Rock and Metal, though as a general rule of thumb I usually gravitate towards more distortion. Think of A7X, BFMV and Disturbed. As, at the moment, I only play in the home, I connect through a Digitech GNX3000 and listen through headphones but I would like to get an amp now, partly because all that concentrated sound through the headphones hurts my ears after a while and also because I'd like to eventually jam with other musicians and maybe join a band.

The GNX3000 has been great and I'd like to keep it but choosing an amplifier to go with it isn't easy. I have the Supermodels disc so it sounds pretty good. One route would be to go with a PA type system like a Mackie SRM450 powered speaker or Yamaha MSR400. Both work very well though some patches still sound a touch digital.

Another option is to buy a valve amp as the only real way to achieve that genuine valve warmth. In this case I would either use the GNX just for effects or split the signal from the guitar so I'm either going to the front of the amp and using the GNX for effects or going to the GNX modelling and then into the power amp stage. I will need the amp to be able to handle sounds from Blues, Gilmour, Classic Rock and Metal. Most of the time will be relatively high gain. It will need to be reasonable for jamming and small gigs but also useable in the home for pratise in a small room without alienating the neighbours. A lot of amps seem to only reach high gain levels be starting to sound very metallic and sometimes brittle but I am after high gain that is also warm and rich. So far I have it down to 3 broad options:

Laney VC30/LC30
I was looking at the 30w version because I figured better have too much than too little but clearly it's a concern for home use. I know the LC is better with high gain and the VC is warmer but as both seem to need an effect to make the distortion high quality I'm tempted to stick with the VC. Any thoughts?

Marshall DSL401
Seems to get very good reviews and the spec seems good so just need confirmation that it would do what I want and sounds good.

Line 6 Spider Valve
Not so sure about this one as the concept sounds great but I can't help thinking that the modelling on my GNX is better than Line 6 so why bother.

Of course, you may have other suggestions but it has to be new and must cost less than £500. So, a range of styles, mostly high gain, that can be used in a variety of locations including a small bedroom (important one that). Any thoughts gratefully received.
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#2
Honestly i would go with the Laney, thats just a personal choice. Ive heard theyre more versatile.

^
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#5
You can do so much better than the spider valve.
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#7
Mmmmm, 1 positive vote for the Laney; 1 negative vote for the Marshall and mixed opinion on the Line 6. I'm not sure I'm much further on but it does raise a few questions:

1) Why would the Marshall be such a bad choice; I was under the impression it was a good amp?

2) If it's the Laney, would I be best with the LC or VC?

3) If you're suggesting going slightly over £500, what are you proposing as an amp?

Remember that it has to be useable at bedroom volumes as well. The Laney looks good and is certainly cheaper than the Marshall but I thought I'd read on a thread here that they were crap at bedroom levels.
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1
#8
1) To me, the DSL401 series doesn't really excell at anything. It's too modern for blues, doesn't have the punch or snarl for classic rock, and doesn't have the gain for modern metal.

2) I prefer the VC.

3) I was thinking an Orange Rocker 30 combo would be perfect for what you play.

As far as bedroom levels go...I'd say it depends on what you consider bedroom levels. If you want to play at 2 in the morning, no tube amp is going to "sound good". If you're willing to crank it up a bit past conversation level of volume, any tube amp will sound decent. Of course, they always sound best when cranked a bit.
#9
It's certainly over the £500 ceiling I'd given myself but having said that, it does sound like a bloody good amp. Maybe it would be worth going without an amp for a bit longer and trying to save the difference. I have the usual problem of course in that nobody nearby stocks one but I have time. Has to be worth a try I suppose.
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1
#11
I was taking a closer look at the specs on the Orange Rocker 30 and it doesn't appear to have an effects loop. That strikes me as rather odd as wouldn't that be a huge limitation? Have I just missed part of the spec and it does have an effects loop after all?
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1
#12
It doesn't but I believe it's a relatively simple mod for a tech.
I don't give a shit if you listen to me or not
#13
Quote by Doadman
I was taking a closer look at the specs on the Orange Rocker 30 and it doesn't appear to have an effects loop. That strikes me as rather odd as wouldn't that be a huge limitation? Have I just missed part of the spec and it does have an effects loop after all?

They don't have an effects loop; you are correct.

I don't see it as a big limitation, the only thing I would run through there would be an EQ.

The only effects I would ever possibly put there would be a phaser or a delay pedal. And I don't use either, and they sound just fine in front of the amp.

To me, the FX Loops is mostly a nice convenience, but not a necessary feature.

EDIT: Here's the video I like:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RkQP9BVZ1U
His Rockverb clips REALLY make me want the amp.
Last edited by forsaknazrael at Jun 17, 2008,
#14
Orange certainly are a VERY odd company. I emailed them to ask for further information and advice and they responded by saying that some effects did sound better on an effects loop but the Rocker 30 was a very simple amp and didn't sound like it would suit my purposes!! I've never had a company advise to buy something else before but I suppose they are at least honest.

It's starting to get a little frustrating now. I've increased by budget from £300 to £600 and I still don't seem to be able to find a combo for the money where there is a clear consensus of 'yep, that's a really good amp'. At this rate I could consider devoting my future to modelling and buy an Atomic amp instead or save even more and return to the idea of a powered PA speaker. Valve amps certainly are frustrating aren't they!
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1
Last edited by Doadman at Jun 18, 2008,
#15
My cousin ran his multiple effects infront of a borrowed Orange while he was visiting, and it was forsaknazrael says it'll be fine too, it probably will.
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#16
Quote by Doadman
Valve amps certainly are frustrating aren't they!


Yes they are. LOL It's going to be a little hard to find a single amp in your budget that does all of things you want it to well. That said, I like Laney although I'm not sure the amount of gain you can get with it overdriven.
#17
Quote by Doadman
Orange certainly are a VERY odd company. I emailed them to ask for further information and advice and they responded by saying that some effects did sound better on an effects loop but the Rocker 30 was a very simple amp and didn't sound like it would suit my purposes!! I've never had a company advise to buy something else before but I suppose they are at least honest.

It's starting to get a little frustrating now. I've increased by budget from £300 to £600 and I still don't seem to be able to find a combo for the money where there is a clear consensus of 'yep, that's a really good amp'. At this rate I could consider devoting my future to modelling and buy an Atomic amp instead or save even more and return to the idea of a powered PA speaker. Valve amps certainly are frustrating aren't they!

I dunno, I disagree, and still think the Rocker 30 is a very viable option for you. I still run the majority of my effects in front of my amp.
The effects loop is only intended for time-based modulation and modulation effects. And a volume pedal, if you don't have a master volume control on your amp, I guess.

EDIT: Read your thing again, somehow missed A7X and Disturbed. Those guys use more gain than the Rocker 30 has. The Rockerverb 50 has an effects loop though, and DOES have enough gain for those bands' brand of music. It's still above your budget, though...
#18
Quote by forsaknazrael
Read your thing again, somehow missed A7X and Disturbed. Those guys use more gain than the Rocker 30 has. The Rockerverb 50 has an effects loop though, and DOES have enough gain for those bands' brand of music. It's still above your budget, though...


The 50w is getting into silly money and I'm certainly not going there! Anyway, the Rocker 30 may not have enough gain for all the bands I'm looking for but realistically, none of the amps I've been able to find do. The Marshall, the Laney LC30 and especially the VC30 would all need some kind of distortion effect to give me that kind of gain. I had assumed that if I was using the GNX as simply a pedal board then the distortion effects on there would sort it out for me but if that's wrong then I need to go back to the drawing board.

I've been chasing a valve amp because everyone, including me, believes that the tone is so much better than using modelling but the reality of buying a decent valve amp appears to be very different. It seems that the only valve amp this side of £1000 that would really do high gain without additional effects is the Spider Valve and then I'm back to modelling anyway and I just don't believe that the amp models on a Spider Valve are as good as on my GNX. If I was going to go that route I'd be as well just getting the cheaper Laney VC30 and connecting through the effects loop to use my own amp modelling. It uses a Celestian 70/80 which must be a reasonably transparent speaker as they use it on the Tech 21 Power Engine 60. Either that or I go with the Atomic amp that people seem to rave about for modelling units or forget the whole valve idea completely and go back to a good quality powered PA speaker.

I was starting to think that buying the GNX was a mistake and I should have always just gone with a valve amp and a couple of pedals but the more I try to buy a decent valve amp that will do a good range of sounds, the more I keep having to return to some kind of modelling in order to achieve that. No wonder there is so much demand for modelling units; unless you are able to spend silly money on a valve amp there doesn't appear to be a viable alternative.
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1
#20
I really love ENGL amps and they would certainly have enough gain but the cheapest I can find it is £900 and I can't find one at all on ebay. Given that I started this process at £300 and have now gone up to £600, I think I have to come to the point where I say 'enough is enough, I'm spending no more'. I have now reached that point. For what I use an amp for it simply doesn't make sense to spend more than that. As a result I'm going back to my starting point. I'll try out the valve amps that I've already mentioned and compare them to a good quality powered PA speaker. If the valve amps don't offer a significant advantage by themselves over the GNX and a PA speaker, I will try the Laney VC30 just as a power amp and compare that to the PA speaker and buy whichever sounds best as both of those options are about the same money. I suppose the Atomic amp is still possible but I'm naturally wary of buying something that I can't try first.
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1
#22
when i tried the rocker 30 i didn't think it was very high gain at all...

i can't remember exactly how high gain the laney lc30 got... bound to be worth a try, though. peavey valveking 112 and randall rg50tc are probably worth a look too.

if you can find one, a second-hand engl screamer is probably one of your best bets. a koch studiotone (again if you can find one) might be worth a look too. or a second-hand laney tt50 combo. the big problem with valve amps is that for around the £300-£500 mark, it is generally pretty hard to get a good high gainer which is tube....
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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?
#25
Quote by slayerfrk
spider valve, any1 that comments me on that is gey


You have the worst gear I've ever seen on UG so don't comment. Don't get the Spider Valve.
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#26
I would just go with the Laney, to be honest. Or perhaps Orange? If you stretched your budget...
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#27
This whole thing about the effects loop on the Orange has raised a question I hadn't previously considered. Some people seem to think that you need an effects loop for things like delay while distortion will be better through the front of the amp. In that regard the Orange seems limited in comparison to the much cheaper VC30 seeing as both will need a distortion boost to get me where I want. The penny only dropped this morning that if I use the VC30 effects loop I'd be equally disadvantaged because I'd be using the GNX for effects so everything would have to go through the front of the amp or the effects loop. That would appear to make the Orange and Laney equally compromised unless I accept the fact that I'd have to buy some seperate pedals to go with the amp I buy so I can split the effects.

I'm starting to feel like all roads lead to Rome in so far as everything I try to do seems to lead me back to modelling of some description. If the use of effects via the GNX is going to be an issue I'd have to connect via the effects return on the Laney and use the GNX amp modelling as well. Of course, if that's the case the Atomic and PA speakers come back into play
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1
#29
Quote by forsaknazrael
On top of that, 500-600 quid is an odd amount. You're right above all the more affordable amps, and still below all the really awesome ones.


agreed. either bite the bullet and spend more, or else save a bit of money and go with a valveking/randall/laney or similar. In my opinion, anyway. you should be able to get a screamer for less than £900, but it won't be less than £600 (new anyway, and then there's the footswitch to buy).

Quote by forsaknazrael
^Hm, alright. I was thinking the Rocker 30 would go up to like 80's metal or early thrash, based on what muffinman said, but I gotcha.


i dunno, the one i tried only got up to classic/hard rock (unless it was broken)- from what i remember, it had quite a bit less dirt than the rockerverbs (from memory, as i didn't try them head to head).
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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?
#31
As some of you will be aware, I've been toying with the idea of getting a valve amp for a while but it wasn't a pressing issue so I've taken my time. As I've now been offered a place in a band I really need to get this sorted out now and I've narrowed the field considerably. My own taste in music is Rock and Metal (A7X, Disturbed etc.) but the band I'm joining plays mostly 60s stuff so the amp needs to be very versatile. I also still need to play it in the home but it will now certainly be used for small gigs as well. In my own mind I have two possibilities:

1) Marshall DSL401 - Has a very good reputation and will go from clean to reasonably high gain, though I may still need a pedal to do really high gain.

2) Laney VC30 - Very well thought of, good price and should take pedals well. I figure the standard amp will do most of the stuff I play live well and for anything else it's a SD Twin Tube Mayhem.

It's proving very difficult to try them both within easy driving distance but doing my best. So, which do you think would suit best or is there an alternative you prefer?
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#33
I'm trying a DSL401 today but unfortunately they don't have a VC30 in stock right now. I think they are stocking a Spider Valve as well so I may give that a go while I'm there. The Spider Valve, that's a really strange one. I've had opinions ranging from 'It's absolutely stunning with the most convincing modelling available for a very versatile amp' to 'It's massively over-rated and for that much money you'd be better with something else', namely a 'proper' valve amp and some decent pedals. My own concern with the Spider Valve is that I am pretty sure that the amp models on my GNX3000 are rather better so I could use that through the VC30 and get better results. The other thing is that I'm not sure the effects are all that good and to make the amp practical I'd need to invest in a floorboard as well, making it quite an expensive option.
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
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#34
i thought the spider valve was alright. not terrible, not great. i'd rather have an engl screamer to be honest (though that may be a bit more money).

I just realised you have this thread on the BK forums too, lol.
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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?
#35
Well, tried the Spider Valve and DSL401 today. I didn't have a lot of time to fully explore them but I did come to a couple of broad conclusions.

The Spider Valve is hugely versatile and I really can't think of anything that would come close to it in that regard. Some patches were really very good indeed, but they tended to be towards the really high gain end of the spectrum where possibly genuine valve tone doesn't count for as much. Other patches sounded a bit more digital in nature and it felt a little like listening to my GNX3000. In many ways it is an ideal option for me as it means I can play anything but too much of it just wasn't 'special'. It's also the most expensive of the amps I'm looking at and realistically, is of limited use unless you get the floorboard to go with it; another £80. Tempting as it may be, I don't think it's the one for me. I think I'd rather have an amp that has a few good sounds and just play songs with those, regardless of what the original is like. Thinking about it, I do that to a degree now as I only really use a handful of the patches on my Digitech.

The Marshall DSL401 was a really nice amp. The clean channel didn't quite have the depth of richness I might have liked but it was certainly serviceable and some tweaking with equaliser settings may have helped a little. The first overdrive channel delivered a good tone that reminded me of many of the bands of my youth and the second overdrive channel was able to use far more gain than I had expected. OK, it doesn't quite get to the very high gain levels of some modern bands but there are a couple of ways I could help that along. My original idea was to use a Seymour Duncan Twin Tube Mayhem on the clean channel but having tried the amp, another route may be to use a Tube Screamer to just give the drive channel that little extra.

I'd still like to try the VC30, though that would certainly need pedals to give me the levels of gain I'm after and while I'm on, I'd like to give the DSL a second try when I'm not quite so pressed for time.
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1
#36
I've started to give serious consideration to a 2nd hand amp as an option as there appears to be a few around in very good condition. I found an Engl Screamer but at £600 it's still a bit pricey for me. I've also looked at a used DSL401 and found one with the speaker changed to a Celestion G12T-75 and a new set of JJ Tesla valves installed all round. As I know nothing of valves or speakers, are these any good and does it warrant a genuine upgrade?
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
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#37
i'd have thought that's probably an update on stock, but it might not necessarily be the upgrade you'd have made, if you know what i mean. i'm always a bit wary in paying over the odds for other people's upgrades (unless they're the exact ones i'd have made).

How much of a hurry are you in? if you wait a while, you might find a used screamer for cheaper (though i think RRPs may have increased a little, recently).
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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?
#38
Well, for better or worse, the deed is done and I've bought that DSL401. It seemed to me that basically I liked the Marshall and if I was seriously thinking of spending £450 on it (the cheapest I could locate a new one for) then £280 on this one seems a good deal. Apparently it is only a year old and was serviced when the new valves were installed. I don't know much about valves but I recognise the JJ Tesla name as it's come up on a few threads regarding valve upgrades and the Celestian G12T-75 is, I believe, the same speaker they put in the 4 X 12 cabinets so I assume it can't be that bad. The seller tells me it gives the amp a little more bottom end, definition and overall clarity. Either way, it surely can't be a step down from the standard new one and consequently has to be a reasonable buy at £280. My other option was to get a VC30 new and the cheapest I could find that was £297 so I'd have to say that at this stage I'm very happy with my purchase. I can't wait to get it.
Gibson Les Paul Studio with Catswhiskers pickups
PRS SE 'Floyd' Custom 24 with Creamery pickups
Fender Standard Stratocaster with DiMarzio pickups
Takamine GN30
BluGuitar AMP1
#39
yeah, that sounds sensible- as you say, it can hardly be worse than the stock one. Enjoy it!
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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?