AOR ProTube 50 Head review by Laney

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.7 (15 votes)
Laney: AOR ProTube 50 Head

Price paid: $ 380

Purchased from: Guitar Center

Sound — 9
I mainly use a Gibson SG Standard but also use a Strat and an Agile Les Paul, both loaded with aftermarket pickups. I play in a band that is a mix of Crust/Death Metal/Hardcore, which is what I mostly play. But I also play classic rock and emo. I am the classic case of wanting a JCM 800 but not being able to afford the price tag. I must have gotten very lucky since I got this at Guitar Center for $280. Especially seeing as I just saw another one of the exact same model at a different guitar center for $700. Although the Laney definitely has a sound of it's own, probably somewhere between an 800 2204 and a JCM 900 SL-X. Imagine an SL-X with more versatility as the amp cleans up very nicely with the gain down. Or even turn the gain up and use the volume knob, it's very responsive to it. Amp sounds great all by itself. I would not have a problem playing it without any pedals at all. Has more than enough gain on tap. The AOR channel (the preamp 1 boost) has loads of gain, a little too much for me. It gets a bit muddy, which is why I use my Shredmaster, which is an amazing pedal btw, and a great combination with this amp. Amp sounds great at low volume but shines when its cranked like most amps. The low end is what sets this apart from most Marshalls, it's got lots and lots of it. I'd compare it close to a Red Bear MK60 (if you don't know, check it out on YouTube).

Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing guitar for 6 years and play mostly metal/punk/hardcore/crust/rock/classic rock/emo/grind and this amp fits every one of those perfectly. A great cheap alternative to the 2203. Before this amp I had a 5150 and I hated it. It was tight and had nice highs and leads, but lacked a lot of low end and was extremely cold even with pedals and a complete retube of JJ 12ax7's and 6l6's. The Laney was significantly warmer with old shitty groove tubes. The Laney was also cheaper. If it were lost/stolen I would probably get another one, although I'd probably get the 100 watt version. The push pulls in the EQ are pretty awesome, the AOR boost not so much. Before buying this the other amps I was looking at were a JCM 900 SL-X, and a Vintage Fender Bassman. After playing all of them the Laney gave me a great surprise and turned out to fit me the best. Hands down one of the best Marshall Clones you can get for under $500.

Reliability & Durability — 7
I've had this amp for almost a year. Recently the volume just wasn't going as loud as it should. Turned out I needed a new Output Transformer. Not that uncommon of a thing in most amps, but pricey nonetheless. I like the amp enough that I got it replaced. Also put in some Svetlana EL34's. This amp roars now and I've had no problems with anything since. Despite one problem I would confidently use this at a gig without a backup.

Features — 8
Not sure what year, 1 channel with low and high inputs. The low input is a bit too muddy and this amp has too much low end already to really sound good on the low input. But the high input is fantastic. This is the 8-knob, plastic corners version. Controls go as follow: Presence, Bass (with push/pull boost), Mids (with push/pull boost), Treble (with push/pull boost), Master Volume, Preamp 1 Level, Preamp 2 Volume, Preamp1 Volume (with push/pull boost). Modeled like a Plexi, built like a modded JCM 800. 2 EL34's and 4 12ax7's. Mine came with Groove Tubes and Sovtek LPS'. I swapped the GT's out for Svetlana El34's and it really brought the amp to life. Use this amp in my bed room and for band practice/gigs. The preamp 1 knob is pretty much useless, I keep it at 0 at all times. The AOR channel is super saturated, and also cuts the volume down a bit. However the push/pull boosts in the EQ are great. In the bedroom I use only the mid and treble boosts, as the bass boost at low volumes is super overpowering, but at high volumes it gives it that little extra boost and sounds awesome. No Effects loop, but either way takes pedals pretty well. I use an Avatar 4x12 loaded with Eminence Legends, and a Marshall Shredmaster distortion pedal in front of it and it really makes this thing roar. My bandmate plays a JCM 800 2203 with a modded rat. Our tones really aren't that far off to be honest. I've even used this head for Bass and it sounded pretty decent. Has adjustable ohms and voltage on the backside. Head it larger than most Marshall and is pretty heavy, not as bad as say a Triple Rec, but definitely not light either.

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The low input is for low output pickups (as in passive pickups), it's not a low frequency input ( as in...well bass)
    You're right. Plugging into the low gain input bypasses the first gain stage and deactivates the AOR boost function. You also can't plug in more than one instrument at a time. I believe the high input overrides the low input if you try to plug in a line selector for "channel switching" kind of stuff.
    The preamp 1 knob controls the volume of the AOR channel. Keeping it at 0 is DEFINITELY going to make your amp super quiet. Your's doesn't have a Line send or return? I've never heard of that. Could I get pictures of that?
    rob904 wrote: The low input is for low output pickups (as in passive pickups), it's not a low frequency input ( as in...well bass)
    Well... I thought the low input has lower gain (that's how it's in most amps) and high input has hi gain. So with low input you could play cleans better.
    I don't have a pic but my amp most definitely does not have an effects loop. Maybe its different because I have one of the later versions, with the plastic corners, rather than the ones with metal corners pictured above. Also I play with a lot of gain, my marshall pedal is more than enough of a volume boost, the preamp 1 knob makes it sound muddy, and actually makes it a lot MORE QUIET rather than what you are suggesting. Keeping it at 0 is the only way to get a good high gain sound out of it, with it up its a drowned out muddy mess
    Mine is a series 1 also with a loop. I'm not sure why it doesn't have an fx loop, the only discrepancy I have heard of between different makes is the lack of a direct output... I'll have to check on that. What preamp tubes are you running? I've always been able to dial out any unbearable muddiness with mine, but our tastes may differ considering I play mostly stoner/sludge/doom. Those and your guitars pickups make a huge difference in the response of the amp. I've always found mine to be super sensitive to other gear, which could be a problem for some, but I actually find that it makes my sound pretty unique.