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Old January 14th, 2008, 12:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Best small, cheap tube amp for home/practice?

A thread on the Blackheart amps today got me looking at small, tube combos for home use. Open to suggestions under $300, Blackheart, Valve Jr., Pro Jr., Champ 600......let's hear about'em!

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Old January 14th, 2008, 12:50 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Tried a Pro J and it was wonderful, tried to like an EVJ and just couldnt despite everyone else liking them, too dark, not twangy and too dirty for me when cranked up. Just not a great clean tone and thats what I like. Just IMO obviously. Next for me to try is champ 600!
I play rock n roll, blues and country.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 12:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have an old MIA PJ and I love it. I'm also jonesing for of the new Super Champs...Haven't had a chance to test drive one yet...
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Old January 14th, 2008, 12:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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For less than $300, I highly recommend a Pro Junior. You can generally get one used for $275 or less. Takes effects great, and has a surprising range of tones for only 2 knobs. It can also go very loud if you want to jam with other players.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 01:10 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I use two Epiphone Valve Junior heads/1x12 cabs , and to get more clean headroom I use a Visual Sound Route 66 compressor/overdrive and a BBE Sonic Stomp . The compressor can be used as a clean boost and also has a tone control . The Sonic Stomp brings out extra high end sparkle . I use Teles and Esquires with these and get great clean,chicken picken tone out of these things , and they can be soooooo loud !!!!!!!! I can get any tone I want out of these things except maybe heavy metal .
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Old January 14th, 2008, 01:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Under $300, Super Champ XD.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 01:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'd take a blues junior over the pro junior, just because of the master volume. the pro's a little amp but still pretty loud when you get it working. Plus you can use the same amp for practice & for jams & smallish gigs, saves reconfiguring your head space every time you leave the house.

AC30's got a nice bedroom sound, too, but it ain't cheap and it ain't small.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 01:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'd take a blues junior over the pro junior, just because of the master volume. the pro's a little amp but still pretty loud when you get it working. Plus you can use the same amp for practice & for jams & smallish gigs, saves reconfiguring your head space every time you leave the house.

AC30's got a nice bedroom sound, too, but it ain't cheap and it ain't small.
Yes, I've seen Blues Juniors for $300 and less and my new one was hardly more. And yes, it fits a small space better than the Vox I liked as well as spring reverb the Pro doesn't have.

My Blues Jr. is fine in a quiet environment where I'm happy with the results with the master turned down. YMMV here because I like clean tone.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 03:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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There's a green-board Blues Junior in the classifieds, very attractively priced. I wish I could grab it myself but it's not the right time for me to be amp shopping.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 03:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I plan on getting the Fender Vibro Champ XD...its 5 watts but from the reviews I have read it's great. If you want 15 watts (too much for a small apartment dwelling) then the Super Champ XD is also getting great reviews. If you type those names into YouTube's search box you can hear some sound clips.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 04:00 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I plan on getting the Fender Vibro Champ XD...its 5 watts but from the reviews I have read it's great. If you want 15 watts (too much for a small apartment dwelling) then the Super Champ XD is also getting great reviews. If you type those names into YouTube's search box you can hear some sound clips.
Yeah - I just don't know how I feel about the digital effects on the XD's. May have to go down to the used car lot....I mean Guitar Center....and check one out.

"Hey guy! Can I help you find something today? Oh yeah...those Vibro XD's are SWEET! Oh sorry, that one on the floor is the last one we have but you're still going to have to pay full price for it."
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Old January 14th, 2008, 04:21 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I too have been looking at the Blackheart little giant tube amps. I read a few independent reviews that rated them pretty high. You can get it in a 1x12 combo or the 5watt head with 1x12 cabinet. you can get either setup for $249.00 to your door. not too bad

I like the idea of the small head and cabinet, to load up when I go to the drummers house for some jammin. Right now, I am hauling a 120watt 2x12 combo back and fourth (coz that's what I have), along with a vocal amp, mic stands and a few guitars. lightening my load in any way will help us all get together more often. There is a price to pay being the front man in a garage band! all the bass player has to bring is his short scale bass and his 982lb. amp. Ha Ha! The drummer has to deal with the neighbors! Maybe I ain't got it so bad. I think I'm gonna try a A blackheart.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 04:43 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Two questions:
1. Are you looking for an amp to play cranked wide open?

Because otherwise saying a 15-watt amp is too loud makes no sense, just like saying a 5-watt amp is quiet enough. Both have volume knobs, both can get way too loud for an apartment or house w/sleepers situation. I can certainly see where a 100 or 50-watt amp (especially with multiple speakers!) would be over kill, but really, anything smaller with a single speaker can work just fine at home as long as you're not addicted to power tube breakup.

2. Does it have to be tubes?

Because there are a lot of pretty darn good, toneful little solid-state practice amps out there (like, say the Vox Pathfinder 15r), or even modeling amps like the Vox AD15vt. Inexpensive, too!

Having said all this, I'd note that my playing guitar at home amp is a 1969 Princeton Reverb, so I have nothing against tube amps!

Cheers, Tim
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Old January 14th, 2008, 04:59 PM   #14 (permalink)
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here are a lot of pretty darn good, toneful little solid-state practice amps out there (like, say the Vox Pathfinder 15r)
Tim you're dead right there, I really don't believe it has to tubes anymore, (cue PeteBradt ) I adore my Pathfinder and it has bags of volume despite its light weight and diminuitive size.

Its really easy to get a usable tone out of a lot of decent quality practise amps these days, valve or not. Its in the fingers you know... (just not in mine particularly )
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Old January 14th, 2008, 06:12 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Tim Armstrong View Post
Two questions:
1. Are you looking for an amp to play cranked wide open?

Because otherwise saying a 15-watt amp is too loud makes no sense, just like saying a 5-watt amp is quiet enough. Both have volume knobs, both can get way too loud for an apartment or house w/sleepers situation. I can certainly see where a 100 or 50-watt amp (especially with multiple speakers!) would be over kill, but really, anything smaller with a single speaker can work just fine at home as long as you're not addicted to power tube breakup.

2. Does it have to be tubes?

Because there are a lot of pretty darn good, toneful little solid-state practice amps out there (like, say the Vox Pathfinder 15r), or even modeling amps like the Vox AD15vt. Inexpensive, too!

Having said all this, I'd note that my playing guitar at home amp is a 1969 Princeton Reverb, so I have nothing against tube amps!

Cheers, Tim
It doesn't have to be cranked - but I'd definitely enjoy some nice tube drive at home volumes, which goes toward your second question - I'd definitely prefer a tube amp - it would also be nice to have something that sounded good enough to be another option in the studio.

I have an Allen Sweet Spot (Princeton), but would like to go even smaller...5 watts or thereabouts.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 06:32 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I'm using my Roland Microcube but I have a Champ coming tomorrow. I think I'll miss my Microcube (I need it for classes in the other place I have). It's a great little amp and I can plug the phones and a cd/mp3 player.
It was one of the best 40 I've spent in my life.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 06:33 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Old January 14th, 2008, 07:33 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Armstrong View Post
Two questions:
1. Are you looking for an amp to play cranked wide open?

Because otherwise saying a 15-watt amp is too loud makes no sense, just like saying a 5-watt amp is quiet enough. Both have volume knobs, both can get way too loud for an apartment or house w/sleepers situation. I can certainly see where a 100 or 50-watt amp (especially with multiple speakers!) would be over kill, but really, anything smaller with a single speaker can work just fine at home as long as you're not addicted to power tube breakup.

Cheers, Tim
For an apartment 15 watts is just too much especially when its 15 TUBE watts. But you're right that a 5 watt tube amp can get too loud as well. But the nice thing about the Vibro Champ is that it will most likely break up earlier if it's that tube overdrive being sought after. Now the advantage of these new Fender amps is the modeling combined with the class A tube part...so you can get that sweet warm tube clean but also get great overdrive without having to crank it up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xjazzy View Post
I'm using my Roland Microcube but I have a Champ coming tomorrow. I think I'll miss my Microcube (I need it for classes in the other place I have). It's a great little amp and I can plug the phones and a cd/mp3 player.
It was one of the best 40 I've spent in my life.
I also have the MicroCube and the Pathfinder...both are excellent amps. The MicroCube is VERY versatile...head phone jack, line out, CD input...which I wish more manufacturers would add these features...THe Pathfinder had a good clean but I have yet to get a good overdrive out of it...but others have gotten good overdrive from their's so it must be me. I still think the Vibro Champ is the amp for me..at least for now until I get a house.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 07:50 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Used Fender Deluxe.

If you find a used Deluxe for under $300, let me know and I'll gladly give you $350 for it.

My vote? Kustom Tube 12. Only has a 12ax7 in the preamp, but it's surprisingly loud and big-sounding for an amp the size of a lunchbox. 8" Celestion, channel switchable, tone switchable, headphone jack and ext. spkr jack.
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Old January 14th, 2008, 08:01 PM   #20 (permalink)
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For an apartment 15 watts is just too much especially when its 15 TUBE watts.
I use my volume knob!





Cheers, Tim
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