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Which Tube amp for hollow body guitar

toonskies
October 31st, 2013, 10:32 AM
Hi, so I'm in the market (again) for another low wattage tube amp. to be honest, it's for a friend of mine that i'm helping out as he's a newbie to all things tube; He owns an aria pro 2 dual humbucker hollow body guitar and currently owns a Fender Frontman 212R 100W solid state amp which is WAY too loud for his needs and so is trying to sell it. also, he's looking for that organic tubey sound, after hearing what my bugera V5 sounds like (replaced stock tubes with Electro-Harmonix 12AX7 & JJ EL84).

Thing is, I find that my Highway one Texas tele sounds much better than his Aria through the Bugera. I know the bugera is generally dark sounding, so that would go someway to explaining the dull sound using the aria, (although my tele sounds good no matter what amp I've plugged it into, tube or solid state.)

Seems like with the aria & bugera, the only pickup that sounds any way decent is the bridge pickup, as it's obviously brighter. I have an old east german sound city 30W solid state amp that the aria sounds decent through, especially on the neck pickup; kind of warm and jazzy. Anyway, not wanting to ramble, I'm basically looking for a ~ 5W tube amp that will suit the hollow body type guitar and preferably an amp that will suit both hollow body humbucker guitar and single coil solid body guitar (a versatile tube amp?)

I've been looking around online and these are the amps that have caught my eye:

Vox AC4 Blue
http://www.thomann.de/ie/vox_ac4_blue.htm

Laney Cub10
http://www.thomann.de/ie/laney_cub10.htm

Fender Excelsior Amplifier
http://www.waltons.ie/Product/View.aspx?id=30861&cid=36

Laney Cub 12R
http://www.thomann.de/ie/laney_cub12r.htm

Laney Cub12
http://www.thomann.de/ie/laney_cub12.htm

VHT Special 6 Ultra 6W
http://www.thomann.de/ie/vht_special_6_combo_ultra.htm

VHT Special 6
http://www.thomann.de/ie/vht_special_6_combo_av_sp1bundle.htm?sid=a51968c5b 8a8f9af5d920c36a773884d

I haven't had an oppurtunity yet to try any of them and there's no shops in Ireland that stock any of them, except the Fender Excelsior which stocked by Waltons in Dublin. I live in Limerick :(
The VOX seems like it might work, as it has both bass and treble controls; also, I like that celestion sound.

Anyhoo, any suggestions? Anyone tried any of the above with a hollow body guitar?
Budget would be up to ~ 300 max

screamin eagle
October 31st, 2013, 11:41 AM
If he is a noob to all of this, he may want to consider his right hand placement. There as a great impact on the sound that comes out of the amp with regards to the right hand attack. If the bugera is too dark, try playing a little closer to the bridge. Tweed fenders are mid heavy and bass flubby. Mine (with a 15" jensen no less) loves every guitar I throw at it--teles, casinos, full size archtops with flatwounds...

The excelsior is a very cool little amp, but it is also very un-fendery--meaning not very bright and stiff. If he didn't like the bugera, I'm not sure he'll like that one, but again learning playing dynamics is important in the equation.

When I get a new guitar it takes a couple of weeks of playing it everyday to learn its own voice and how to attack it with both the left hand and the right hand. And every guitar I own requires a little bit different playing techniques.

I would suggest getting an amp that fits the bill--meaning one that he likes....and learn to coax the sound in his head out of it. While amps do have their own voice, they don't have "the sound." The player does.

Excelsiors are cool and should be considered. Pro Jr. Blues Jr. Superchamp if he wants more "standard Fender territory" Mustang for cheaper...however I caution new players from modeling amps...a lot end up doing more knob twistin' than playin'. What about a pathfinder 15r...lots of love here for them.

Mutato
October 31st, 2013, 11:47 AM
I'd say pick one that has the capability to sound the brightest. Since the Aria is tending to sound dark (less treble), you need that control to be able to tweak that brighter. Some have more control of overall tone than others. Meaning three tone knobs versus single one.

I play my Strats and ES335 Semi hollow body through my 1977 Princeton Reverb. I have a bright speaker in it so it sounds awesome with both gits.

You could look at an amp, but then look at brighter speakers?

toonskies
October 31st, 2013, 01:34 PM
[QUOTE=Excelsiors are cool and should be considered. Pro Jr. Blues Jr. Superchamp if he wants more "standard Fender territory" Mustang for cheaper...however I caution new players from modeling amps...a lot end up doing more knob twistin' than playin'. What about a pathfinder 15r...lots of love here for them.[/QUOTE]

From what I've seen regarding Excelsiors online, they seem like nice amps, but seem to be a one trick pony with very limited control over EQ/Tone and that's what he needs, versatility for tone, as I'll also probably use the amp with my tele. So far, the VOX AC 4 Blue seems to tick all boxes: control over clean / distortion with gain & volume, plus bass & treble, plus there's that certain VOX sound that I (and my mate) find very apealling. It's just a pity I / he can't actually try one out, like nearly all the other amps I've listed :(

toonskies
October 31st, 2013, 01:40 PM
I'd say pick one that has the capability to sound the brightest. Since the Aria is tending to sound dark (less treble), you need that control to be able to tweak that brighter. Some have more control of overall tone than others. Meaning three tone knobs versus single one.

I play my Strats and ES335 Semi hollow body through my 1977 Princeton Reverb. I have a bright speaker in it so it sounds awesome with both gits.

You could look at an amp, but then look at brighter speakers?

Yeah, I actually got a Jensen c8r (4 ohms) replacement speaker for my Bugera. It's not installed yet as I don't have soldering equipment and can't solder. Might get an amp repair guy to do it. I'm sure it would be a cheap simple job. I'm hoping this will brighten up the overall sound of the amp.

However, my mate is not interested at all in forking out for a replacement speaker, so it's going to remain the stock speaker. I think any amp with a celestion speaker is generally going to be fairly bright though right?

gwjensen
November 1st, 2013, 07:26 AM
I like my VHT Special 6 combo with my Epi Dot. Lots of tonal range and works great with my strats and teles as well. In the boost mode with tone up, the Dot can get plenty bright. For more muted jazz tones, the normal mode with the tone down works great. Haven't played the other amps on your list.

toonskies
November 1st, 2013, 08:19 AM
I like my VHT Special 6 combo with my Epi Dot. Lots of tonal range and works great with my strats and teles as well. In the boost mode with tone up, the Dot can get plenty bright. For more muted jazz tones, the normal mode with the tone down works great. Haven't played the other amps on your list.

Yeah, I've been checking out that amp online, along with the VHT Special 6 Ultra. In the Special 6, what's the purpose of the Hi power / Low power switch?
Is the low power some kind of wattage attenuator? Similarly, what exactly is the differenct between the Lo and Hi inputs? Can they used in combination to get more varied volume / tone results?

The Special 6 Ultra seems to throw even more options into the mix with the addition of a "Depth" and "Ultra" dial. I wonder are these 2 additions a bit gimmicky and unecessary? If they add real beneficial significance to finding more precisely desired tones for a wider range of guitar types, then I'd be tempted, but without being to actually try one, I'm left to forming a judgement based on youtube videos and the quality of microphones people use to make those videos.

It can become quite hard to make a decision when theres so many contributing factors. I guess thats why when I feel like I'm becoming bombarded by all the tech talk and specs, I find myself looking for sanctuary in simplicity; i.e.: the likes of the VOX AC4 Blue. I think why this is currently top of my list in my mind is largely down to this video I saw of it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lanmpAGXYnw
the hollow body guitar sounds really sweet on the clean tones, and that is the sound arena in which my mate will mostly be playing his hollow body guitar; and I can't argue with that lovely crunch it is capable of providing. Anyhoo, the search goes on, but I definitely have a favourite which hasn't been nudged off top spot yet.

Prairie Dawg
November 1st, 2013, 11:44 AM
The Excelsior is cheap and cheerful. Adding a tone control and a footswitch jack for the trem takes all of about thirty minutes.

I often play my Gretsch G5120 with GFS single coils or my Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin II thru my Excelsior and it's very satisfying. Of course there is the small matter of feedback which can be a bonus or a negative. Back in the day we stuffed gym socks in our guitars to cut down on the feedback. One guy I knew worked in a factory that made ladies' undergarments and he had his guitar stuffed with bras and panties.

toonskies
November 1st, 2013, 02:18 PM
The Excelsior is cheap and cheerful. Adding a tone control and a footswitch jack for the trem takes all of about thirty minutes.

I often play my Gretsch G5120 with GFS single coils or my Godin 5th Avenue Kingpin II thru my Excelsior and it's very satisfying. Of course there is the small matter of feedback which can be a bonus or a negative. Back in the day we stuffed gym socks in our guitars to cut down on the feedback. One guy I knew worked in a factory that made ladies' undergarments and he had his guitar stuffed with bras and panties.

Hmmm... yeah I must try out the Excelsior next time i'm in Dublin. 279.50 seems decent for a tube amp with a "15 speaker and from the vids I've seen/heard of it, seems like a sweet sounding amp. Showed it to my mate and he liked the aesthetic / sound of it, but wasn't too impressed with the whole tremolo thing and the fact that the only tone control is either bright or dark. PLUS you can't get breakup without turning it way up I would imagine, as their's no gain knob?, which he can't necessarily do too often. He's not looking to mod whatever amp he gets. Neither him or me are too savy with electronics. so for that amp, it's just a matter of not enough boxes being ticked.

Seems like most people in the states are; must be taught in high school or something? Only mod would be tube replacements if necessary. Feedback wouldn't pose to much of a problem, so no need for a lingerie department inside the guitar :) although I'm sure it could make for one sexy guitar!

KC
November 1st, 2013, 02:28 PM
I have one of those Vox 4-watt combos, the one with the 8-inch speaker and the power shrinker switch, and I don't like it much for anything but living-room noodling. Not enough power to play with anybody else, and it breaks up too quickly for me. If you could find a secondhand Blues Junior, that's a lot more versatile amp: TMB tone controls, master volume, reverb & fat switch means you can dial in a lot of different sounds at a lot of different breakup levels and volume levels.

BigDaddyLH
November 1st, 2013, 02:44 PM
Twin Reverb.

toonskies
November 1st, 2013, 04:57 PM
I have one of those Vox 4-watt combos, the one with the 8-inch speaker and the power shrinker switch, and I don't like it much for anything but living-room noodling. Not enough power to play with anybody else, and it breaks up too quickly for me. If you could find a secondhand Blues Junior, that's a lot more versatile amp: TMB tone controls, master volume, reverb & fat switch means you can dial in a lot of different sounds at a lot of different breakup levels and volume levels.

Hmmm... Seems like a nice amp allright. A bit over budget unfortunately, and possibly too loud. The Vox Ac4 Blue actually has a 10" inch speaker, so it might be a bit louder than your 8" one. Anyway, he's not in a band. he basically wants a small practice amp that can be tucked beside a couch in the living room, so loud levels not really a necessity. If it was me getting another tube amp, i'd put the blues junior on my list of possibilities, but that's another story... Myself and himself both jam a lot and have another friend with an electronic drumkit, so again, if we jam with the drummer, he can control the drum volume. As it stands, my mate, as i mentioned before, already has a fender frontman 212r, so if we every did get to gigging, he could use that. he's currently trying to sell it online, but not much response so far, so it might be gathering dust in the corner for a while yet.

Ed Boyd
November 1st, 2013, 05:08 PM
Twin Reverb sat a top a Dual Showman Cabinet. 6 of them in in series worked rather well.

waparker4
November 1st, 2013, 05:09 PM
Pro Jr.

Edwin
November 1st, 2013, 05:12 PM
Pro Jr.

Yep. My favorite amp to take out. I don't own a hollow body though.

Finnlander
November 1st, 2013, 08:08 PM
Yeah, I've been checking out that amp online, along with the VHT Special 6 Ultra. In the Special 6, what's the purpose of the Hi power / Low power switch?
Is the low power some kind of wattage attenuator? Similarly, what exactly is the differenct between the Lo and Hi inputs? Can they used in combination to get more varied volume / tone results?

The Special 6 Ultra seems to throw even more options into the mix with the addition of a "Depth" and "Ultra" dial. I wonder are these 2 additions a bit gimmicky and unecessary? If they add real beneficial significance to finding more precisely desired tones for a wider range of guitar types, then I'd be tempted, but without being to actually try one, I'm left to forming a judgement based on youtube videos and the quality of microphones people use to make those videos.

It can become quite hard to make a decision when theres so many contributing factors. I guess thats why when I feel like I'm becoming bombarded by all the tech talk and specs, I find myself looking for sanctuary in simplicity; i.e.: the likes of the VOX AC4 Blue. I think why this is currently top of my list in my mind is largely down to this video I saw of it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lanmpAGXYnw
the hollow body guitar sounds really sweet on the clean tones, and that is the sound arena in which my mate will mostly be playing his hollow body guitar; and I can't argue with that lovely crunch it is capable of providing. Anyhoo, the search goes on, but I definitely have a favourite which hasn't been nudged off top spot yet.

Noticed that you have included VHT Special 6 Ultra on your list. I have both the head plus cab and combo. I have an ES-335 copy with Gibson 57 Classic Vintage and Gibson 57 Classic Plus humbuckers on it and they sound just plain good through my VHT amps. The dials you were worried of (Depth, Tone) are the real things. High power/Low power are simply pentode mode versus triode mode and standby in between. Watts knop is the attenuator. You can google VHT Special 6 Combo Ultra owners manual and pick up the one with PDF file. If You read the relatively short manual you'll get the big picture of the amp. The 12" ChromeBack speaker is acceptable when it has broken in. Both amps have served me well.

I also have a Pathfinder 15R that I like very much and maybe that explains the way my soul is drifting.

toonskies
November 2nd, 2013, 09:02 AM
You can google VHT Special 6 Combo Ultra owners manual and pick up the one with PDF file. If You read the relatively short manual you'll get the big picture of the amp. The 12" ChromeBack speaker is acceptable when it has broken in. Both amps have served me well.

I also have a Pathfinder 15R that I like very much and maybe that explains the way my soul is drifting.

Cheers Finnlander, I'll have a look at that manual

dodona
November 2nd, 2013, 12:40 PM
Fender Excelsior, 'cause of the 15' speaker.

Hollandcaster
November 2nd, 2013, 01:00 PM
Marshall Class5 is a perfect combo with my ES335.
5 Watt and enough tone shape pos.
Very loud btw!!!

FistFullOfSteel
November 2nd, 2013, 01:08 PM
I have the VOX AC4 PL and love it...........it's a great lil amp that has plenty of volume for a bedroom/garage..........it has enough controls to beget great tone across various volumes while keeping the amp very simple yet effective.........

A bargain at $299 new.......


GOOD LUCK!!!

"Music is my Religion" ~ Jimi Hendrix

Gearhead88
November 2nd, 2013, 01:09 PM
X2 on the Pro junior

Joe-Bob
November 2nd, 2013, 01:43 PM
Try out the inexpensive fixes first!

Step one: Change picks. Try a bunch of different shapes, materials, and thicknesses. The cheapest set of new pickups you can buy. I use several different ones depending on what I'm playing.

Step two: Strings? Brand, guage? Yes, it matters.

Step three: Technique? The biggest effect on the sound is the player. Perhaps lessons are in order.

After that, if all is still the same, go ahead and spend a bunch of money if you like.

TheDTrain
November 2nd, 2013, 05:15 PM
I play Thinline Teles. If your looking to do jazz, blues, rockabillly especially then FenEx is the way to go. My Excelsior has amazing jazz tones on dark setting, mic input, Thinline Tele. Would love to hear a jazz box through it.

DaveKS
November 2nd, 2013, 07:32 PM
I'd say this or Laney Cub 10 basically from what you describe the 10" speakers are what will sound best with that guitar. I'd go Laney for slightly higher power rating. For what these cost I'd get one of ea. and run it a wet/dry set up.

I like my VHT Special 6 combo with my Epi Dot. Lots of tonal range and works great with my strats and teles as well. In the boost mode with tone up, the Dot can get plenty bright. For more muted jazz tones, the normal mode with the tone down works great. Haven't played the other amps on your list.

tele salivas
November 2nd, 2013, 08:27 PM
I cannot recommend the Excelsior enough for hollowbody/archtop/jazzboxes guitars, or those that have darker pups. (not that hollowbody guitars have darker characteristics or pups). The FenEx really draws those acoustic properties out and lets that right hand percussion come through with a thump. It's a beautiful thing. I was going to sell my Kay Archtop cause I wasn't using it. A Fender Twin couldn't wake it up enough. Then I got the Fen Ex and all that changed. Perfect mate.

toonskies
November 4th, 2013, 07:01 PM
I have the VOX AC4 PL and love it...........it's a great lil amp that has plenty of volume for a bedroom/garage..........it has enough controls to beget great tone across various volumes while keeping the amp very simple yet effective.........

A bargain at $299 new.......


GOOD LUCK!!!

"Music is my Religion" ~ Jimi Hendrix

Cheers man, yeah, I've recommended it to my mate as the one to get, so hopefully he'll get it. It seems to check all his checkboxes, simple & effective like you say, the right volume range for practice -> rocking out, and a cool vintage looking piece of kit to boot. Can't wait to try it out myself!

toonskies
November 5th, 2013, 10:17 AM
I'd say this or Laney Cub 10 basically from what you describe the 10" speakers are what will sound best with that guitar. I'd go Laney for slightly higher power rating. For what these cost I'd get one of ea. and run it a wet/dry set up.

Yeah, the Laney Cub 10 is still on the podium. Just wish I could try one out!

toonskies
November 5th, 2013, 10:28 AM
I cannot recommend the Excelsior enough for hollowbody/archtop/jazzboxes guitars, or those that have darker pups. (not that hollowbody guitars have darker characteristics or pups). The FenEx really draws those acoustic properties out and lets that right hand percussion come through with a thump. It's a beautiful thing. I was going to sell my Kay Archtop cause I wasn't using it. A Fender Twin couldn't wake it up enough. Then I got the Fen Ex and all that changed. Perfect mate.

Hmmm... these amps are getting a lot of possitive feedback here. Must try one out next time i'm in Dublin. I really don't get tremolo knob though. I mean, couldn't they have gone with a 'tone' or 'reverb' or 'gain' knob instead? just seems a bit too niche or something, but who knows, maybe once i've tried one out, i'll be converted, guess that's the problem with speculation. Problem is as regards to my mate's hollow body, the 2 humbucker tone controls are pretty *****, i would say pretty much unusable, along with the volume controls. They are the worst things about the guitar. if you turn down the tone on a pickup, it just sounds woefull, compared to say the grease bucket tone control on my highway one texas tele, which is actually very useable and effective; sooo... tone control would have to come soley from the amp, so as much tone control as possible is needed from whatever amp is chosen.

TheDTrain
November 5th, 2013, 03:14 PM
Hmmm... these amps are getting a lot of possitive feedback here. Must try one out next time i'm in Dublin. I really don't get tremolo knob though. I mean, couldn't they have gone with a 'tone' or 'reverb' or 'gain' knob instead? just seems a bit too niche or something, but who knows, maybe once i've tried one out, i'll be converted, guess that's the problem with speculation. Problem is as regards to my mate's hollow body, the 2 humbucker tone controls are pretty *****, i would say pretty much unusable, along with the volume controls. They are the worst things about the guitar. if you turn down the tone on a pickup, it just sounds woefull, compared to say the grease bucket tone control on my highway one texas tele, which is actually very useable and effective; sooo... tone control would have to come soley from the amp, so as much tone control as possible is needed from whatever amp is chosen.

Adding a tone control is easy. A 500k ohm audio tapper pot and someone who can use a soddering iron is all you need. The tone control uses three wires, two yellow and one green. Mark the center yellow wire then unsodder the switch. File a bigger opening for the pot then apply the pot and sodder it the exact same way, the center wire in the center and the other two where they were on the switch. Bam you have a tone control that goes between the dark and bright settings.

I usually keep mine at between 11 and 1 oclock depending on where I'm playing, but I use Teles and I like them bright.

Depending on your genre you may not need them. Jazz, blues or rockabilly with a hollowbody I wouldnt think you need the tone control. Pick a setting and use the guitars control which can be just as effective.

jonny d
May 18th, 2014, 11:51 AM
hi. i have both a Bjr and a VHT ultra 6. both have celestion greenbacks and jj's. love 'em. i find that my teles and strats sound fantastic through the Bjr with a wampler ectasy in front and my semi hollows(epi es335 pro's, ibanez AS83 w/gibson classic 57's and an epi es339 w/gibson classic 57's)sound fat with a TS-9 in front of the VHT. the VHT attenuator is a great way to achieve some growl in the clean channel, while the ultra channel is all about gain. the standby switch also allows you to push 3 watts or 6 watts. it's only a 6 watt amp but loud as hell.

homesick345
May 18th, 2014, 12:32 PM
Ten inch alnico speakers seem to LOVE a semi hollow guitar equipped with humbuckers

THat's where I would start looking

sirbergersworth
May 22nd, 2014, 12:25 PM
VHT Special 6 FTW! Sounds great with my SemiHollow and my strat. Love it. I had the combo first then a harp player bought it from me for a great price so I bought a S6 head. Sounds excellent with one or both of my two 1x12 cabs. One with WGS Reaper 30 and other with a WGS G12C.