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Old February 7th, 2008, 11:12 AM   #1 (permalink)
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5 Watt Shootout

So, what does everyone think is the best 5 watt current production tube combo amp on the market? For nominees I propose:

Blackheart BH5-112 5W 1x12 Little Giant Tube Combo Amp
Crate V Series V5 Tube Guitar Combo Amp
Epiphone Valve Junior Combo Amp
Fender Champion 600 5W 1x6 Combo Amp
Palomino V8 5W Class A Tube Combo Amp
Peavey Valve King Royal 8 5W 1x8 Tube Combo Amp

I'm interested in what you think is the best one in it's stock form. Personally, I have the Epi. I'm not too crazy about it. I think it sounds too harsh, though I can coax a decent sound from it with my Am Series Tele. I played a Champ 600 the other day and liked it. I haven't heard any of the others so far.

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Old February 7th, 2008, 11:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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5 wt

I love my 5 wt. gibson Les Paul. I think Sweetwater is blowing them out. I have not tried the other ones.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 11:44 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I have a VJ head and cab, I had a Crate Palamino. IMHO the little Crate didn't do anything for me. I liked the idea of the effects loop (i bought it to run my Tonelab thru) but the loop was noisy and the speaker wasn't anything to write home about.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 11:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Love my Gries 5 with the Celestion Blue. What an amp!
Guess it is boutique though, rather than production.
Volume, treble, bass, gain, and master be the knobs.
Mercury trannies too.

Last edited by Steeltoe; February 7th, 2008 at 07:32 PM.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 11:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I also had a Crate Palomino 5 watt amp for a while but returned it to GC.

That pretty much sums up my opinion of it.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 11:56 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I've only heard the Epi VJ and the Champ. I had never been tempted (well, maybe for a moment) by the Epi, it just didn't produce a sound I care for. Heard the Champion 600 the first time and wanted to take it home. Scraped up a few bucks and eventually bought it.

The clean sound of the Champ 600 is very pleasant. Its bad point is the definite boxiness that comes into play at higher volumes. In fact, mine will start sounding boxy while it's still only distorting a little bit. So if you want a lot of hard distortion from a stock Champ I suspect you'll have to live with that "little speaker in a little cab" sound at peak volume. I don't care for hard distortion so it does not affect me.

The best feature of the VJ seems to be its distorted tone. But with its good-sized speaker (in the combo I mean) it is awfully darned loud by the time it distorts. Its clean tone at lower volumes was not as friendly to my ears as the Champ. I just think the Champion 600 has a very warm 'n fuzzy kind of vibe at moderate living-room volumes.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 11:59 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You did say "The Best"...

Quote:
So, what does everyone think is the best 5 watt current production tube combo amp on the market?
Laney Lionheart L5T-112 5W 1x12. But you'll be paying for it. $999
I checked one out this week at a club outside Bemidji, MN.
It's someone's open mike deal, but I swear it'd be loud enough to
use live for an average club/pub Country bar band.


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Old February 7th, 2008, 12:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I have a Champion 600 and a EVJr. 1x12 stack. The Champ is great for home and recording use as everyone says; it has great cleans and it adds a nice little bit of dirt, but I'd never play with it dimed because the speaker can't take it... might get a Weber alnico to fix that. I use a Boss OD-3 pedal with it anyway and it sounds incredible at any volume with this amp.

As for the Valve Junior stack, I have used it for a bar gig unmic'd and it was plenty loud with my Esquire and a Keeley Blues Driver! It's a nice looking, lightweight gig rig if you ask me. It gets super loud for 5 watts; about the same as my Carvin SX-100 running at 60 watts solid state (but with less lows than the Carvin; I use a little Dano EQ to fix that though). If I ever need more power though, I'd probably need to use a much larger amp (like my 100 watt Kustom K200 heads w/ their 2x15" cabs) since this thing is seriously loud. It doesn't have a huge amount of clean headroom at gig volumes, but the cleans are still very workable w/ some dirt on top. Of course it gives full on grind as well when you let it rip!

That said, I might give the new Blackhearts that are coming out a test drive. That 100 watter w/ selectable wattage sounds temping...
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Old February 7th, 2008, 12:28 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by voided3 View Post
I have a Champion 600 and a EVJr. 1x12 stack. The Champ is great for home and recording use as everyone says; it has great cleans and it adds a nice little bit of dirt, but I'd never play with it dimed because the speaker can't take it... might get a Weber alnico to fix that. I use a Boss OD-3 pedal with it anyway and it sounds incredible at any volume with this amp.
You might try swapping out the 12AX7 for a 5751 or other lower gain preamp tube. It made a big improvement to the overdrive of my 600. Other than that - my only complaint is that it's noisy - but dropping out the 60hz in the EQ after recording seems to solves this problem - for the most part.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 12:48 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I have the Bitmo Spanky and tone control mods coming, as well as a 12at7 tube. I really like the VJ, but i struggle running hot humbuckers thru it because it breaks up so early. I will let you know what I think when I get the mods done.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 03:03 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I have a VJ combo (stock) and like it. The sound is warm with some grit around the edges.

Before I bought it I also tried the Champion 600 and the VK Royal 8. IMO, the Champion sounded a bit thin and anemic compared to the VJ, but still much better than the Royal 8. The latter had fizzy preamp distorsion and sounded a bit rubbery (speaker?). That was a disappointment since it has some more features than the others, i.a. gain/master + tone control + headphone out.

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Old February 7th, 2008, 03:31 PM   #12 (permalink)
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How about adding the new Fender Vibro Champ XD to the challenge? For about $50 more than the Champ 600 it seems like you get a bit more flexibility. Looks like a bigger cabinet holding the 8" speaker so maybe some good options in that respect as well.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 03:44 PM   #13 (permalink)
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How about adding the new Fender Vibro Champ XD to the challenge?
I think THIS is better stock than any of the production amps in the list. Give it a test ride.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 04:47 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by NewOldStock View Post
Laney Lionheart L5T-112 5W 1x12. But you'll be paying for it. $999
I checked one out this week at a club outside Bemidji, MN.
It's someone's open mike deal, but I swear it'd be loud enough to
use live for an average club/pub Country bar band.


I can see why ... This baby is built like a tank

Power RMS: 5 Watts. Inputs: 2x Jack, Hi & Lo. Channels: Clean & Drive. Equalisation: Passive Bass, Middle and Treble. Bright Switch: Yes. Preamp Valves: 3x 12ax7. Output Valves: 1x EL84. Class: Class A. Reverb: Yes. Footswitch: FS2 (Included). Speaker connections: 2x Jacks. FX Loop(s): Yes. Impedance: 4, 8 and 16 ohm. Drivers: 1x 12" Celestion Heritage G12H. Baffle: Marine Grade Plywood. Cabinet Design: Marine Grade Plywood cabinet with retro banding strip, leather strap handle and folding tilt back mechanism.

* Power RMS: 5 Watts
* Inputs: 2x Jack, Hi & Lo
* Channels: Clean & Drive
* Equalisation: Passive Bass, Middle and Treble
* Bright Switch: Yes
* Preamp Valves: 3x 12ax7
* Output Valves: 1x EL84
* Class: Class A
* Reverb: Yes
* Footswitch: FS2 (Included)
* Speaker connections: 2x Jacks
* FX Loop(s): Yes
* Impedance: 4, 8 and 16 ohm
* Drivers: 1x 12" Celestion Heritage G12H
* Baffle: Marine Grade Plywood
* Cabinet Design: Marine Grade Plywood cabinet with retro banding strip, leather strap handle and folding tilt back mechanism
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Old February 7th, 2008, 04:56 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by iowa View Post
I have the Bitmo Spanky and tone control mods coming, as well as a 12at7 tube. I really like the VJ, but i struggle running hot humbuckers thru it because it breaks up so early. I will let you know what I think when I get the mods done.
I've been thinking about these mods as well. Will be interested to see how they go iowa.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 04:58 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I can see why ... This baby is built like a tank
I've been considering one more and more throughout the day. It'd be the perfect home amp. About the only upgrade one would need to cover every venue would be....

SM57 Instrument Mic
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Old February 7th, 2008, 06:05 PM   #17 (permalink)
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How about adding the new Fender Vibro Champ XD to the challenge? For about $50 more than the Champ 600 it seems like you get a bit more flexibility. Looks like a bigger cabinet holding the 8" speaker so maybe some good options in that respect as well.
I just want to keep it to simple, no frills 5 watters. Just power, maybe tone controls and go.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 06:21 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Has anyone here tried the Laney L5T? I'm keen to give this amp a try but its takes months to get one here to the local shop.

Even so, I've looked over the documentation and it seems that one of the two channels has an SS pre-amp. And it is also not at all clear if the EQ applies to both channels? Finally, how does the effects loop function? Is it serial or parallel? The block diagram shows a sunmming-mixer post pre, reverb, and return. How does THAT work?

All in all the Laney is a pretty sophisticated 5w amp, but I've yet to read a detailed trustworthy review of its features, and I'll be damned otherwise.

I'm also quite interested in the Sheldon tt3r and the Cornford Carrera. But both those amps are pretty pricey.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 06:38 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
I just want to keep it to simple, no frills 5 watters. Just power, maybe tone controls and go.
So more of "basic" instead of "the Best", I guess.
Did you have a price range you were considering?
I've been trying out a lot of the amps you listed.
I take the winter off and have little else to do.

Quote:
I've looked over the documentation and it seems that one of the two channels has an SS pre-amp.
I doubt that would be found on a 3 12AX7 amp. There wouldn't be a need/reason to increase the gain anymore, especially considering you only have a single EL84 you're going in to. That additional op-amp is typically found in your 1 preamp tubers like the Crate VC 508, etc. But who knows.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 06:45 PM   #20 (permalink)
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$160/watt may be pretty crazy but the Swart Space Tone Tweed has to make the short list.




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