Prison Rodeo

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My son (age 12) has been playing guitar for a year or two, and loves it, and is getting better all the time. In the past few months he's also begun playing guitar in his middle school big-band, which he enjoys a lot.

I'm thinking of getting him an amplifier as a Christmas present, and am looking for advice. He has a practice amp (Roland MicroCube), and I've been letting him borrow a couple of mine for school use (Vox Pathfinder 15R and AC10), but he could use something of his own that is both practice- and performance ready. A few desiderata:

- Something he can perform with and be heard in a traditional big-band, ideally with a 10" or 12" speaker;
- Light weight (he's not a huge kid, so something at or under 20 lbs would be best);
- Lots of clean headroom;
- Durable (or at least resistant to the kinds of bumps that a 12-yo is likely to subject it to);
- Need *not* have lots of effects, etc.

I'm OK with non-tube, and fine with digital as long as its robust. The Pathfinder is great, but a bit underpowered for playing live, and the AC10 is a bit heavy. FWIW, his main jazz guitar is a D'Angelico Mini DC XT, but he also plays a Mexican Ltd. Ed. '72 Custom tele (in glorious orange sparkle).
 

Wallaby

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I hear good things about Quilter solid-state amps, but have no experience with them. I keep looking at the Aviator combo...

The heavens parted and this "tube guy" recommended a non-tube amp :) .... but maybe it's the right combination of features.
 

TeleUpNorth

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I used to work at a Music Go Round. I was honestly impressed with the Vox modeling amps (this was a few years back. It had several good sounding amp styles, and reasonable effects.

If you are looking for something to handle more abuse I think solid state is the way to go, but if you can get him to care for it a bit more a tube amp could last him forever.
 

JL_LI

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upload_2021-11-22_10-43-12.png
This might check your boxes at what to me is a reasonable price and keep your son happy for a while. The 10" speaker will move enough air for him to be heard in a stage band. Back in high school I used a Reverberocket for the same purpose.
 

bgmacaw

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- Something he can perform with and be heard in a traditional big-band, ideally with a 10" or 12" speaker;
- Light weight (he's not a huge kid, so something at or under 20 lbs would be best);
- Lots of clean headroom;
- Durable (or at least resistant to the kinds of bumps that a 12-yo is likely to subject it to);
- Need *not* have lots of effects, etc.

Except for the light weight part, you just described the Peavey Bandit. The Bandit weighs in at about 37lbs, give or take a couple of pounds for particular year/model.

The problem is that most 1x12 and even most 1x10 amps are going to be in the 30 pound range. The Quilter Aviator that @Wallaby mentioned is on the lighter side but is a bit more pricey.
 

thechad

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I second a peavy bandit, red stripe if you can find one. That was my first “real” amp. I got mine when I was about 14 years old. I’ve carried it around moving a dozen houses, hauling it down the street to my buddy’s house to jam a thousand times come rain or shine. Thrown it in the trunk to go play punk shows. It is still going strong! (20 years later! Where does the time go!?) Though I do have nicer amps these days…
It is not light, but otherwise it’s a great place to start.
 

KokoTele

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Check out the Line6 combos. They sound stupid good for the money, and they have a couple that are big enough to keep up for what he needs.

The Jam has a ton of features he'll love, including built in backing tracks and the ability to record his own loops.

They won't replace a good tube amp, but he just needs something to help him rock out while he discovers what tone means. These amps will get him there.
 

Singin' Dave

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I'd agree with keeping him on solid state for now. Would actually seriously consider getting him another Roland but sized more for his current gig...good amps those. The Mustang series are good bargains too.
 

Tim S

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@Prison Rodeo, Does your son have a favorite guitarist? If so, I’d try to get an amp that meets your criteria from that manufacturer. We all tend to get amps that are like our guitar heroes’.

Given the volume you’re looking for, I don’t think you’ll be able to find a combo tube amp under 20 lbs. Have you given any thought to a Micro/Nano head and a single-speaker cabinet? That opens up a lot more possibilities.

Edit: Another option — how about a Spark 40? Being able to play thru a bunch of amp & pedal emulations could be educational. And being able to quickly pull up a backing track to play to is always satisfying.
 
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Prison Rodeo

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Thank you, everyone! My son is playing jazz now, and loves Kenny Burrell + Wes Montgomery. He's also a budding rocker (Slipknot / AC/DC / Deftones / Mastodon). I have gear, which he borrows (sometimes). I'm going back and forth between something like the Boss / Fender (which has all the digital things) vs. the Quilter (which lacks that but is more of a "lifetime" portable / small-performance amp). My own inclination is toward the latter, but I'm also trying to put myself in the mind of a 12-yo, whose preferences tend to run the other way...

I'm thinking it will come down to a choice between the Quilter, the Katana 50, or one of the Fenders (probably either the Mustang GTX50 or the Champ 50XL), which we can get at my local music store. Anyone with experience with these or others the Champ 40, or the Mustang LT50)?
 

howardlo

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I have had the GTX-50 for about a year. Really nice sounding amp with a bunch of vintage amp models and a boatload of effects. I have played since 1957 and now only play at home, but it is the only amp I have used since I got it. Really nice thing is that it has Bluetooth which allows it to play backing tracks from a phone.

Best thing is the ability to do all adjustments very easily and precisely with the phone app. Change and adjust amps and add and adjust effects as well as changing cabs. That is even easier than adjusting them on the amp with the LED screen (which is easy itself). The amp can store something like 300 presets that can be organized in set lists.
 

Prison Rodeo

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Deluxe Reverb. Life is too short to play solid state amps.

I don't disagree. (OK, I disagree a little; you will pry my JC-120 from my cold, dead hands.)

If I was going tube for him, it would be a AC10, which clocks in around 15lbs lighter than the DRRI and would suit him almost equally well. But I already know that the AC10 is not quite luggable for him. He'll grow, of course, and big amps build big muscles, but I don't want him hating life every time he goes to big band practice.
 




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