Help me choose a small amp for home use!

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Chase TM, Sep 7, 2016.

  1. Chase TM

    Chase TM Tele-Meister

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    Heya,

    As the title suggests, I've been looking for a small amp for home use. Now, I know there are already 1000 threads regarding this, and I have been checking them out, I was hopefully looking to get some case specific advice.

    I live in a fairly small space with renters in the basement (who are sensitive to noise) and have a 1 year old of my own. However at times I can turn up to decent volumes depending. If it's super late I don't mind playing unplugged (not looking for extremes here). I play a bit of jazz still, but mostly blues, R&B, motown, early rock etc etc etc

    I'm looking for a small (quite preferably tube) amp so that I can have a sound I enjoy for home practice. I'm not interested in heavy tube amp dist, but rather clean/mild breakup that I can both plug right into and enjoy or run some pedals through (my whole board doesn't really matter but for tone stacking I use a TS9/OCD, and sometimes fuzz face). My main amp is a nicely modded DRRI which I have used for over 8 years and enjoy. Essentially I would prefer not to have to buy a ton of pedals to suit a new practice/small rehearsal amp, as I already have a live setup I'm pleased with. Again, amp dirt tones are not at all a requirement, but clean headroom is not a must either; I control a lot of dirt from the guitar anyhow. Also, my studio is a smallish room so amps like my DRRI which normally sound find can sound a little bassy in there.

    So far in my search I've tried:

    Fender Bassbreaker 007 (seemed dark, uninspiring, and had some mechanical noise, took it home monday an returned it Tuesday...)

    Fender blues/pro jr (liked that the blues jr's master vol & reverb, the pro jr seemed to need to be quite loud to open up, could still be an option)

    Vox AC4TV (liked the tones plugged straight in albeit not a lot of bass, loved the built in attenuator; but wish it had reverb and wish it wasn't quite so boxy sounding. I also worry that pedals like the tubescreamer would suck the bass right out of an amp like that. I also like to have reverb and could stomach buying a reverb pedal to leave on top but this of course would be pre-gain. Is this a problem? I did however probably enjoy this amp the most.)

    Vox AC10 (I actually preferred the AC4 as the 10 seemed both bright and bassy and tube breakup a little harsh; I love when other people play vox amps, but the top boost sound isn't quite me I think...)

    Fender super champ X2 (really liked the first channel at lower volumes, but 3 units locally were all either in for repairs or needed to be; the one I tried I couldn't use the 2nd channel because the channel switch was broken, but I didn't really care for what I could hear of the modelling. DOn't really want to touch this amp as I just want a simple amp that is a little more reliable. Also keep in mind that the unit I tried was unboxed right in front of me, and I was the first to play it in store).

    Fender princeton RI (a little pricey perhaps and doesn't really shine at the volumes I was trying it out on)

    Blackstar HT5R (clean channel seemed a bit bright/harsh, but it could just be the model I played; don't really need the dist per se. I could potentially like it though)

    Other amps I could get my hands on but haven't really played: Vox AC4C1, VHT Special 6 head, amongst others.

    So far I feel that I enjoyed the AC4TV the most as mentioned but have a few concerns as mentioned above. For an already bass lacking amp I feel it may not bond with my tubescreamer. Again I can always buy more pedals if I'm sold on the amp's standalone tone, but it's nice to be able to use the same pedal board I gig with.

    As far as price goes... If it' worth it I can pay, but ideally would like to keep it under the cost of a new blues jr III ($725 canadian.) The vox ac4tc is $450 CAD brand new which is a very appealing price.

    I apologize in advance the long and quite possibly redundant post. I anyone is interested in info of the amps I've tried I can hopefully provide some insight as I've been spending a pile of time at music stores demoing.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Yescaster707

    Yescaster707 Tele-Meister

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    Hi Chase,

    I was in the same boat as you a few years ago. I tried a peavey classic 20. It sounded thin and boxy so I sold it. I then tried a Vox ac4tv. Although it was a decent amp, it did not have the clean I was looking for. I eventually went with the princeton reverb (65 reissue), which I love. It is my main practice amp for blues, jazz, and pop. The princeton is pretty close to your DRRI, but it has a voice of it's own. You might also consider a Fender Champ or DrZ if you have the extra dough. Let us know what you end up with.
     
  3. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    I sold a Blues Jr and bought a 65 PRRI and is very nice at low volume.
     
  4. elKZacha

    elKZacha Tele-Meister

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    Yamaha THR, which THR will depend on your tastes.
     
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  5. GuildX700

    GuildX700 Tele-Holic

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    For a very small, simple all tube amp (8" speaker, 5 watts, tone,gain,vol,digital reverb,headphone jack) that is able to deliver great all tube sound at reasonably high to really quite low volumes seriously check out the Bugera V5.

    It sounds amazing clean, and if you hit it hard with the right overdrive it sings wonderfully. I use a vintage Boss OD-1 to push mine. It's a well built and good looking amp for it's price.

    It has 3 power settings, 0.1, 1.0, 5.0 watts and believe it or not the 0.1 watt setting is actually very usable if you want to keep things quiet but still want some great tube tones.

    One thing, for best sound IMO it has to up on a stand off the floor at least 3 feet, it makes a world of difference in the frequency response.

    Oddly for some reason it's been stuck at $199 every where right now, but there were some deals a while back. Not that $199 is a bad price for what you are getting, but the deals that were out there made it a no brainer for sure.

    I got a factory refurb for $99 from Reverb.com about 6 months ago, the best $99 I ever spent on a musical item.

    There's a gigantic thread here on that amp, it is in a new incarnation now but I think the only real change is the speaker.

    And of course better tones can be had for low $$$ if you're a modder with different power and preamp tubes and a different speaker, but frankly I thought mine sounded fine without the mods, but yeah, I went and got tubes and a speaker anyhow just because I got it so darn cheap and it sounds even better now.

    Here's a used one for $129:

    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Bu...^172968887802-sku^112389717@ADL4GC-adType^PLA
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
  6. Chase TM

    Chase TM Tele-Meister

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    I was quite impressed with the Yamaha (just the original beige one although I would likely prefer the black) but question it's ability to take pedals. i very likely may end up with one for when I should be super quiet later at night etc.
     
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  7. Chase TM

    Chase TM Tele-Meister

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    Although I would love a princeton they run approx. $1349 CAD. I can afford it for sure, but I can be a bit miserly and that's about roughly twice what I would ideally like to spend. I think if a used one came up at the right price I would jump. It's definitely a great recommendation, thanks. I know if nothing smaller/more affordable comes along there are worse things in life then practicing through a prri!
     
  8. TeleFunk Man

    TeleFunk Man Tele-Afflicted

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    Roland Cube.
     
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  9. Millebern

    Millebern Tele-Meister

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    The Yamaha THR is a most excellent practice amp. I have the 10C and it's loads of fun to play. I also own an AC4 and a Princeton Reverb but I find I am always firing up the Yamaha. It sounds just like a tube amp and it takes pedals well. I have used a Gain Changer, Timmy, Wampler Black 65' and they all sound good through the THR. I have also had great tones setting the THR to it's flat setting and using the Tech 21 Character pedals through it. For low-volume playing, this thing is great in my humble opinion.
     
  10. Chase TM

    Chase TM Tele-Meister

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    I traded a Roland Cube 40GX when i picked up the bassbreaker, and never got it back when I returned the amp. I'm kicking myself a little now, as the amp itself is fairly okay, but I did really enjoy the blackface model. They are quite expensive here now (compared to when I bought it 3 years ago).
     
  11. HWTele

    HWTele Tele-Holic

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    Look for a used Blues Jr they're everywhere and one can generally be had for $300ish mint. I've had my BJr since the mid 90's great home amp.
     
  12. Stingfan73

    Stingfan73 Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't own one, but have borrowed an Orange Crush 35RT. Everything you'd need, nothing you don't. One 10 inch speaker. Very good grit and slight overdrive (which is usually a SS amp achilles heel), and if I didn't already have enough amps, it might be among the one or two top small amps currently available that I'd consider adding a 5th amp.

    I don't say this casually and throw the term around, but despite being a "Fender amp guy", this Orange is a GREAT little amp, and if that one doesn't work for you, you can go smaller and less expensive from Orange.

    I still may treat myself to one before the year's out.
     
  13. Chase TM

    Chase TM Tele-Meister

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    Great advice, thank you. I wish i could find a store that stocked Bugeras in Canada. When you elevate the amp, what exactly do you mean by difference in 'frequency response.' I imagine the only major change would be that the sound appears brighter (speaker cone more at head level) and less bass resonance (as the amp is not causing the floor to resonate.)
     
  14. tery

    tery Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Vox AC4C1 , Blackstar HT1-R , Rolland Cube , Fender Champion 600 are all excellent small home amps .
     
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  15. SolidSteak

    SolidSteak Friend of Leo's

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    Fender Champion 600. AWESOME little amp.

    Also, if you like the Pro Jr. but think it is still too loud for you to "crank up," try a Tech 21 Trademark 30. I used to have a Pro Jr. and it was great, but I mostly used it at home and there was lots of hiss, and without something like an L-pad or attenuator (which are apparently easy to install on a Pro Jr. if you are interested...) it was indeed pretty loud by the time it was getting nice and gritty. The few times I took it out to jams and cranked it up it was awesome. When I got a Tech 21 TM30 (also with a 10" speaker like the Pro Jr.) I found I could get what I wanted with no hiss and nice gritty sound at any volume, plus spring reverb. And a headphone jack that sounds great too! Just something you might want to try out if you find one. You can get it to sound quite similar to a Princeton, but it's not going to sound as "big" as a Princeton I think (if that makes sense.)
     
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  16. Phelonious Ponk

    Phelonious Ponk Tele-Afflicted

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    It depends on what you call "low volume." I've owned a Princeton and the level at which it starts getting some game is not what I call low. Low, for apartment living, is at or below the level of an acoustic guitar. Best clean to crunch I've ever gotten at that level comes from my Mustangs. Turn up the master - not the software one in the program, but the physical one on the amp - and you can take all the way up to club gig volume without changing the tone. It's a trick tubes have a lot of trouble with.

    P
     
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  17. Big-Tele

    Big-Tele Tele-Meister

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    You could look at the Laney Cub range. I have the 12R which is great and there is also the Cub 10 if you want something smaller. A lot cheaper than a Blues JR too.
     
  18. Televised

    Televised Friend of Leo's

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    9/16 - Premier Guitar Mag. has a good article on inexpensive small practice amps comparing:

    Orange Crush 35RT
    Roland Blues Cube Hot
    Ibanez TSA5RUR Tube Screamer
    Marshall Code 25
    Vox AV 30

    They all have their positives and negatives depending on what you like but the one that seemed to be the pick of the litter was the Ibanez.
     
  19. jsp737

    jsp737 Tele-Meister

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    Like you I also have a Deluxe (68 Custom in my case) that I really like.
    For quiet no hassle practice, I play through a THR10C, which sounds amazing, as many will tell you, right down to conversational levels.
    On a whim this summer I picked up the Monoprice 5w tube amp for a little over $100 and I absolutely love that thing. Cool looking too.
     
  20. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I was on a similar search, so here are my thoughts:

    The Bugera V5 wins out over the Vox AC4TV, if you really want that built in reverb, plus a more neutral (less Voxy) EL-84 power tube. If you want that Fendery flavor, the VHT Ultra with the 6V6 power tube. I ended up with the VHT Ultra head. Something to consider is not only the variable "attenuator" but it has a high power/low power switch, plus the separate high gain channel, the effects loop and the line out, making it very versatile. I got to play 3 combos and I gotta say the built in speaker is pretty darn nice too. You can even buy an adapter to put in an EL-84. No reverb, but with the effects loop, you have options. Anyway, FWIW. Good luck.
     
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