Thoughts re Small Amps

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Roger
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Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Roger » Fri May 25, 2012 11:27 pm

I’m looking a buy a new amp for home use, probably about 10 to 15 watts. The Line 6 Spider 15 watt looks tempting - is anyone familiar with this amp or have views on any others which may fit the bill. I currently have a Kustom 10 watt which I use with a Zoom G2 or Clone Theory, so built-in effects are not a must.

Thanks,

Roger
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Paganwolf
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Paganwolf » Sat May 26, 2012 1:25 pm

If this is for electric, look at a cube 20 or my practice amplifier, a Peavey Vypyr 30 watt modelling amp, worth every penny and available for about £150 new and less than a ton on Ebay, both of these have built in effects and the Peavey does have more toys than I know what to do with (even does a passable impersonation of an all Valve JTM)

regards
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scottj1
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby scottj1 » Sat May 26, 2012 1:31 pm

Hello there Roger

I always think it's a nice problem looking out for new gear!

I remember going back a few years when I was still into playing electric guitar that Marshall did a nice range of small amps called the MG FX.I think they still make them and are probably very good value for money.

My own favourite amps we're always Fender...lovely clean sound.I think they did a range with digital effects built in but I can't remember what sort of price they would be.

There's certainly a wide range of choices available Roger!


Best regards

Scott

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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Paganwolf » Sat May 26, 2012 1:42 pm

Hi Scott

I had a MG Marshall (30 watt) and a very fine amplifier it is too, but is limited to only four effects and they cant be dialled in together unlike both the Cube and the Vypyr, that was one of the main reasons I got rid of mine, there is also the Vox Valvetronix which is a terrific amplifier but does cost that bit more than the others.

Regards

Rich
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Paganwolf » Sat May 26, 2012 1:46 pm

................. Not forgetting the Peavey goes to 13 ...... Because it's 3 more (Spinal Tap joke there :) )
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Bob Wilson
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Bob Wilson » Sat May 26, 2012 3:27 pm

Hi Roger
Without a doubt the best small amp I have seen recently is the Blackstar, but they can be expensive.
Check out the Micro Cube if it is only for home use. It's a great little practice amp with effects and modelling amps. Battery or mains plus headphone for complete quiet. I use mine with a Pandora FX unit and it will give you all you need for practice.Good for acoustic and electric. If you want to use mp3 backing from an amp and backing FX check out the Fender G-deck. The Line 6 are good amps too, but we use 30w and 60w at the College.
If you may be using it for small gigs then the Vyper and the Cube 30/40w are great amps.
Be well both
Bob
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Roger
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Roger » Sun May 27, 2012 8:40 pm

Thanks for your responses guys - Hmmm plenty to think about :D :D :D

Must admit I was thinking about looking at another Kustom or the small Line 6, but will definitely look at the Roland and Peavey, probably a Marshall too! Bob I think the Blackstar is a bit over budget for me, but I'll still try to look at one. There is SO MUCH choice amp-wise these days, but then I guess that's no bad thing :) So it's off to the local music shops soon :D

Back in the 80s I had a Peavey Backstage Plus which didn't really tick the boxes - neither did a small tranny Vox I had, which was far too clean whichever effects I used with it. However, the Sessionette amp I had was great, as was an American amp I had. Can't remember the name, but it had a natural wood front with a brown leatherette body - a really good little amp (anyone any ideas what it may have been?) Pity I didn't keep some of that stuff, along with the Tokai Strat :(

Best to all,

Roger
Last edited by Roger on Sun May 27, 2012 8:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Roger » Sun May 27, 2012 8:47 pm

If it helps the American amp looked a bit like a Pignose :D
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Roger
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Roger » Sun May 27, 2012 9:15 pm

And the Session amp was a Rockette 30 :(
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Russ Gannicott
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Russ Gannicott » Sun May 27, 2012 10:38 pm

Oh what a minefield....I'll have tread carefully here for fear of offending people, but here are my thoughts; There is no such thing as a 'one size fits all' amp - it all comes down to compromise and what you are prepared to sacrifice in quality in return for functions and features. There are two factors at play here, depth of quality and breadth of features. The very best amps that have ever been built tend to be 'one trick ponies' ie Fender Champ, Marshall Plexi and Bluesbreaker, Fender Twin Reverb, Mesa Boogie dual rectifier etc. Trouble is, all these amps are chosen by their owners because of their individual charictaristics and are very much a matter of choice based on the individuals genre and playing style.
The trouble with an amp which is a jack of all trades invariable is a lack of ability to shine in any one direction - 'Amp modeling' is all well and good but only if you want to sound like a Boogie one minute and a Plexi the next. Sure they will get you fairly near to both, but will still not really sound like either.
Every amp purchase should be approached as if it was your last, and great thought should be put into the decision before you buy; Is it the right sound? Is it practical to maintain?, Can I carry it around?, Will it have a resale value if I find I can't live with it?
OK, so what are the options currently?
Fender Champ XD is a good bet, as is the Champion. Both are semi modelling with the bonus of valve power stages. Low powered, but ideal for home use. For pure tube sound, Vox, Marshall, VHT and Blackstar all do great little heads. Ibanez do a great head based on a fifteen watt power stage driven by a tube screamer circuit which is pretty exciting. Heads are always a good bet as you can drive a little 1 x 12 at home or a miced up 4 x 12 in the studio or on stage.
As far as features go, I would advise to go for the the least possible - save perhaps a reverb. Everything else you can do from pedals and can chop and change as you wish in the future.
Also of course, budget has to be consideration in this - no budget? Then go for a Cornford, Cornell or LazyJ !! Alternativley look for the higher end stuff second hand via Ebay or Gumtree where ther are bargains to be had.
There again....you could enquire via this forum and who knows, you might find someone who has an amazing 5 watt Blackstar head and cab currently for sale ;)
Cheers,
Russ

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Roger
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Roger » Tue May 29, 2012 11:11 am

Thanks Russ :D Plenty to bear in mind as I head to one of my local music shops :D

Best to you and the family,

Roger
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Trevor Raggatt » Tue May 29, 2012 10:48 pm

Just to throw another cat among the pigeons... if you're not looking for fancy-schmancy onboard effects, have you considered some of the low wattage/low end valve amps that a number of the top makers have been releasing recently. Something like a 5 watter which is switchable down to 2 1/2 and/or 1 watts? Or even a 1 watter? There are a load out there. Vox do one which is REALLY nice, Marshall have just released a limited edition one, similarly Orange, Hayden, Blackstar, Cornford do them... and many others.

More than you can shake several sticks at listed here (including some sensible priced ones among all the boutique esoteric stuff): http://www.jedistar.com/low_watt_amps.htm

I've heard friends playing through some of these and the quality of the sound AND the volume is surprising. I guess because they're all "proper" full-fat valve watts and you can push the amp hard enough to get into the valves' sweet spots without bringing down the rafters.

But as Russ says... TRY BEFORE YOU BUY! It's the only way to go. Even to identically specced amps from different makes will have a very different sound and a different feel. Also, if you can try them out with your guitar and your pedals - all the better. Some amps like one set of pedals but hate another. Who knows why - all mojo and black magic, I reckon. Happy shopping!

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Russ Gannicott
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Russ Gannicott » Wed May 30, 2012 1:21 am

Like I said, there could be someone on the Forum with a REALLY NICE 5 WATT HEAD AND CAB FOR SALE.....um,just saying of course :)

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Roger
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby Roger » Wed May 30, 2012 11:04 am

Trevor,

Great link and very good advice - thanks! I've made the mistake before of using guitar that wasn't mine to try out an amp in a shop - needless to say when I got home the results were somewhat different and a bit disappointing!

Russ,

Thanks, but at the moment I'm thinking in terms of a small combo within a certain budget. Must say the Blackstar sounds great on some of the youtube clips I've looked at though :D

Best to you both,

Roger
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Re: Thoughts re Small Amps

Postby aviator » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:40 am

Roger wrote:Trevor,

(snipped)
Thanks, but at the moment I'm thinking in terms of a small combo within a certain budget. Must say the Blackstar sounds great on some of the youtube clips I've looked at though :D



I have a Blackstar HT-5.

Before that I had a Peavey Classic 30, a Vox VT60 (digital modelling amp) and before that a seemingly endless history with non-valve, solid-state amps.

The Blackstar beats them all hands-down. Even 5-watts is deafening, and the joy is that with an overdrive pedal (I use a Blackstar and an ancient Japanese model) the amp trips into crunch way earlier than say the Peavey, which had to be nigh thrashed to provoke it to go into overdrive. The range of tones is extraordinary.

The amp doesn't have a reverb - I use an Electro Harmonix Holy Grail in the built-in f/x loop for that. The amp takes pedals without any hesitation. My pedalboard has a Boss compressor, Budda wah, Blackstar overdrive and distortion, an MXR delay that is better outside the f/x loop, 2 x graphic equalisers and a Vox volume pedal. I also have a big Zoom digital/valve F/X unit that I use for gigs.

The amp is extraordinarily flexible. In addition to my own ramblings, if I play other peoples music it ranges from Gilmour, Santana, Eric Johnson and Dire Straits. Out the house I've used it to play Pearl Jam and Steeley Dan songs and I can 'nail' tones as diverse as Mike McCready and Larry Carlton. That's about as wide a gap in tone as you could get! I didn't actually expect to be able to do that without a modelling amp but the HT-5 is that flexible.

I was asked a while back to replicate a 'Shadows' tone, and with a bit of messing around with the reverb, the MXR delay and a compressor I got a spot-on one with a Godin Exit 22 guitar.


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