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dokosan

Small Tube Amp Thoughts?

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I've only been playing about 18 month and got a LP Studio about a year ago and am using it with a Line 6 Spider 3 15 watt amp. Live in a NYC apartment and so can't play loudly. Looking to upgrade to one of the following small tube amps (line 6 effects are fun but I want to improve sound quality).

 

VOX ACTV4 (10 inch speaker version), $250

Marshall Class 5, $400

Fender Blues Junior, $500

VOX AC15, $600

 

I played the ACTV4 and Marshall so far. The ACTV seems like a good deal for $250 and size is great for apartment. Would appreciate more experienced players comments on these. A concern with the ACTV is whether it will be a keeper for a number of years or if its not flexible enough. Type of music I play (poorly) tends toward alternative rock (e.g., chili peppers, smashing pumpkins, cure).

 

Thanks,

Dokosan

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Please, please, please consider a Gibson GA-5. You can find them used for around $300-$400, and it's the sweetest small tube amp you can own. Do yourself a favor and Google it--check out the TDPRI forums on the mods available and the tones you can get. I love mine like no other amp!!

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Back to your concerns, though: the only one I would cross off the list immediately would be the Blues Jr. It gets tinny and shrill over time (the 3 that I've been around) and build quality is suspect unless it's an old American made model. Go with a Pro Jr. if you have to have a Fender. That Marshall sure looks nice, though, and I firmly believe that good amps are built in only the US and the UK. I Unfortunately, all these amps will be too loud in an apartment if you try to naturally overdrive them. Good luck, it's always fun searching for the best amp for your situation!

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marshall class 5 is the one i would buy, but the marshall sound is what i crave. the Blues Jr imo only sounds good when cranked. ymmv

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I've only been playing about 18 month and got a LP Studio about a year ago and am using it with a Line 6 Spider 3 15 watt amp. Live in a NYC apartment and so can't play loudly. Looking to upgrade to one of the following small tube amps (line 6 effects are fun but I want to improve sound quality).

 

VOX ACTV4 (10 inch speaker version)' date=' $250

Marshall Class 5, $400

Fender Blues Junior, $500

VOX AC15, $600

 

I played the ACTV4 and Marshall so far. The ACTV seems like a good deal for $250 and size is great for apartment. Would appreciate more experienced players comments on these. A concern with the ACTV is whether it will be a keeper for a number of years or if its not flexible enough. Type of music I play (poorly) tends toward alternative rock (e.g., chili peppers, smashing pumpkins, cure).

 

Thanks,

Dokosan

 

[/quote']

 

Check out any of the Blackstar HT-5 combos or low watt heads.

http://www.blackstaramps.co.uk/products/ht-5/index.html

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Blues Junior is LOUD, as is the AC-15...especially, for 15 watts. If you say you can't play "loud,"

then any 5 watt amp, will be plenty. Even a lot of them, are really loud...especially at the "sweet spot!"

I'd say try out as many as you can find, and make your decision, accordingly...irrespective of "Brand,"

but totally on "tone!"

 

Just my 2-cent's worth.

 

CB

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If it doesn't have to be a new amp, the Fender Champ is always a great choice.

 

There are many different versions, but the Champ 12 would probably be the best for playing in an apartment in NY, because it also has an outlet for headphones.

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I would get the VOX - it is the best practice amp ever. It has an attenuator so you can play at high volume without bugging the neighbors. The Marshall does not have such option and I am not sure if it sounds as good as the VOX.

I have a Fender Blues Junior and this is suitable for small gigs - it is not very quiet.

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I would not argue, because I've never owned one. But anyway - it doesn't have an attenuator and it probably sounds better at higher volumes. So for practicing at home (I too live in an apartment with neighbors all around) the VOX will be better.

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I use a little Epiphone Valve jr 5 watter-it works fine with one 12AX7-good bluesy low volume thru my gibson les paul std and it is under $200 and its about the size of a portable radio

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Epi Valve Jr, Blackstar, etc may be too loud still. I have an Epi Valve Jr and it is very loud - too loud for evening/morning practice. My solution was to buy a 1 watt tube amp (RockBlock) and plug it into a Marshall 4x12 cabinet. It sounds good. I expect that a Zvex nano head will be ok, too. If you buy one of those small amps, you will need a different setup/amp if you want to gig.

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Try this one.

http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Fender-Vibro-Champ-XD-Guitar-Combo-Amp?sku=483069

It's 100% tube powered. The only reason they call it a 'hybrid' is because the digital effects are 'inboard' instead of a bunch of pedals.

Total tube sound and only 5 watts so you can hit the sweet spot at low volume. This solves all your NYC apt. problems.

 

(BTW- I used to live on Claremont St. 1 block W. & 1 block S. of 125th & Broadway before the yuppies fixed it all up. I don't think I could afford to live there now. I really loved it back then, though).

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Obviously everyone is recommending amps they are familiar with. I won't be any different.

 

My question would be, Do you plan on playing this amp anywhere else outside of your apartment?

Gigs, etc?

 

My general rule on this subject is something versatile.

There are plenty of low wattage amps that are good in the home, but have you considered a bigger amp that will do good in the home as well, but will also have the head room to fill lets say a bar or play with on stage?

These small 5w - 15w amps are good for the one but not the other?

 

I like being able to have my cake and eat it to. So my suggestion is a Pignose G40V. Why?

Here are the specs: 40 watts. All tube preamp: (3) 12AX7 output: (2) 6L6. Controls: Volume, Master, Treble, Mid, Bass, Presence. 10" speaker, has output jacks for a cab at 8 ohm or 4 ohm.

 

This is one powerful amp that can be played in the apartment. You can OD the hell outta of it at low volumes.

BUT, the beauty is that you can also gig with it if you so choose to and if you happen to have a cabinet,

It can run that too! 4x12, 4x10 as long as its 4 or 8ohms. VERY versatile!

 

I used mine for several years in this same capacity.

I wound up getting a Marshall System but I still have my G40V for practice and a good backup when I gig.

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Thanks for the comments so far. Looks like I need to add a few other amps to the list, blackstar seems interesting.

 

Its quite unlikely that I will end up playing any gigs other than in my dreams. I have a fellow player who drops by and we play occasionally at my place or his.

 

So I went to Guitar Center today. They did not have the Marshall but I played all the others. I have been leaning much toward the ACTV but came away most interested in the AC15. I really liked the clean sound of the AC15 compared with the others. The main downside is that the AC15 is the largest size. In all cases, the sound was much better than my current amp, particularly on the treble.

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VOX ACTV4 (10 inch speaker version)' date=' $250

Marshall Class 5, $400

Fender Blues Junior, $500

VOX AC15, $600[/quote']

At one point or another, I've had all four of these amps. Hands down, the best one is the AC15. Great classic rock tones at quiet or loud volumes and the amp is built well. The Class 5 is a really nice amp but they're built like crap; unless Marshall finally fixed the flaw. They rattle like crazy and I bought/returned three of them before giving up on the amp. Same with the ACTV4 - nice little sounding combo but not built very well. Maybe I just had bad luck, sure, or maybe they're simply built like crap...you decide.

 

The only thing I don't like about the AC15 is that the reverb sounds horrible. They shouldn't have even built it in. I'd also give the AC4 head/cab a try...nice amp.

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I just bought the Egnater Rebel 30 for my new throw and go and absolutely LOVE IT! Great clean and absolutely perfect for blues and classic rock on the dirty channel. Not a metal amp but you could put an appropriate pedal in front of it for that if you must.

 

I was going to buy the MOD50 or Renegade to gig with, assuming the Rebel 30 wouldn't have quite enough umph to cut through the mix especially on the clean headroom side but I am thinking twice. I am going to see how this Rebel 30 does first. My guess is that if I do buy a MOD50 or Renegade at this point it will be for the additional features, not because the Rebel 30 won't cut it.

 

Plus just love the novelty of walking in with this tiny and yes cute lil' head and setting it up. Add a 2x12 or 2 1x12s and you're good to go for small venues. I've got the 2 1x12s and will likely be putting a Superlead in one and a V30 in the other in place of Bruce's Elite 80 stock choice just because I love how those 2 speakers complement each other for my style of music [and I already have a set] but that doesn't mean the Elite 80s sound bad.

 

I just sold my Krank Rev Jr Pro stack and frankly it's a great amp. It had 2 problems for me. Actually too much gain as Krank is known for and some of the inherent high gain noise problems that go along with that and very little clean [Kleen] channel headroom. It would start breaking up already before 2 on the Kleen channel MV which would just be approaching loud in my living room. But it too was plenty loud though quiet enough for home/practice. You could really dial up a great bluesy crunch with the gain at just 1-2 and a great classic rock growl at 4-5. Sadly, I never went past 5 on the gain with the music I play and it had a gain boost beyond that I never used. Very well built too and American Made.

 

I would also second those promoting Blackstar. I love what they're doing. Their slowness to market and numerous availability date slips on about every amp they've released scared me away fearing initial quality problems but I do love their tone.

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I vote for the Jet City 20W combo. I have this amp and absolutely love it. I went in to buy the Marshall Class 5 and walked out with the Jet City. This amp is designed by Soldano.

Also if you are looking for a amp that you can play at low volume I suggest getting one with a Master and gain control.

This way you can crank the master and control the overall volume with the gain dial for a clean sound. For a dirty sound do the opposite and set the desired gain and then control the overall volume with the Master volume control.

 

Check it out

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I hate small wattage amps. I could never get clean sounds out of them with humbuckers. I had an AC15 and i swear it was full-on overdrive, just as much as my Fulltone OCD, at all volumes. If you play really quietly you can get some clean sounds.

 

If you're playing a strat through it you'll have better luck getting clean sounds. But if you don't care about clean, then by all means.

 

the wattage has nothing to do with volume btw. A 15 watt amp can be just as loud as a 30 or even 50 watt amp. It all has to do with clean headroom. a standard speaker driver actually only needs 1 watt per channel to produce audible sound.

 

My father actually has a hi fi stereo power amp that is only 1 tube watt per channel to drive massive 15" alnico woofers, 5" midrange horn and 1" dome tweeter that will blow your socks off.

 

Even my Fender Bassman @ 50 watts isn't terribly clean. both Les Pauls overdrive it pretty darn good. My next amp will be a 100 watt Fender Twin just so that I can actually play *clean*. I have plenty of dirt pedals for my tastes.

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You could try an Egnater Rebel 20, attenuates down to 1 watt, good clean headroom, you'd need a speaker cab tho, and Rebels seem to like Celestion 25 or 30 watt 12's. If you aimed the speaker at your ears you could gig with it, it'd need to be miced though.

Also to get distortion at one watt a pedal would be a plan, I personally use a Radial Plexitube for rehearsal and for quiet venues (for da whiners [cool] )

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