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Low wattage valve amp - advice and what have I missed ?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Gregorski, Oct 16, 2020.

  1. Gregorski

    Gregorski TDPRI Member

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    Hi, posted separately about guitar in the main forum. Looking to get back into electric guitar after about 20 years of not playing. Looking for a low wattage valve amp for home use. I have looked at the digital stuff and came to the conclusion that at home, if I want to play with all those gadgets, then I'm probably better off with software and monitors. I'm really therefore looking at a nice simple analogue amp for this. I've shortlisted a few. Based on research I'm looking for something up to 10W, ideally with an attenuator but open to advice here too. Something well suited to blues and rock. Clean style amp (in the fender blackface style I think) and which I can use pedals with. The options I came up with are:

    Blackstar HT5R mk2 -> Has 2 channels, attenuator and Reverb but specs feel a bit digital still
    Blackstar Studio 10 6L6 -> Looks ideal but I'm worried it might be slightly too loud for home
    Tone King Gremlin -> Looks interesting, 2 channels, attenuator but no reverb in such an expensive amp ?
    Fender Pro Junior -> 15W so probably too much and has a reputation for being really loud.
    Vox AC4 -> I don't think this is going to give me the sound I'm after. Every review I watch it sounds muddy

    I can't see much else on the market which fits my criteria. I really like reverb and I'd like it built into the amp but also open to advice on whether that it necessary or whether a reverb pedal will be just as good.

    Thanks in advance for any advice and other options to consider - getting to try all the different options is going to be challenging with current situation
     
  2. brokenbones

    brokenbones Tele-Holic

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    Before you stopped playing, what type of amps were you used to?
     
  3. Gregorski

    Gregorski TDPRI Member

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    I had a Squier Telecaster and a Fender Deluxe 85 amp
     
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  4. Gregorski

    Gregorski TDPRI Member

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    I'll answer that more completely. Squier Silver Series Telecaster and a Fender Deluxe 85 amp. I always found the amp too complicated to use but I did like the footswitch which gave me channel select, reverb & boost. The clean tones on that amp were nice but the gain sounds were nothing special. I remember it was pretty loud too. It was a solid state amp. I found a photo on eBay of one. I'm looking for something a bit smaller than that though.


    [​IMG]
     
  5. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

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    For a very simple tube amp, also consider a used vht special 6 or for a little more a used vht 12/20 RT.

    If you’re really keeping the budget down, maybe a champion 40.

    Honestly there are loads of options out there, so narrowing down essential features and a general sense of the tone you’re after is likely job one. Budget would be next.
     
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  6. JDRNoPro

    JDRNoPro Friend of Leo's

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    I would add Princeton Reverb to your list. I prefer the 65 PRRI and some others like the darker/earlier breakup of the 68 Custom version.

    I have 11 amps - largest being a SF Super Reverb. For home use I like my SF Vibro Champ, but I find the two most useful ones for home/small venues or jams are my 65 PRRI and my 57 Custom Champ. (The latter is sooo much fun!) I can get any sound I want with those 2 amps.

    Honorable mention is Vox AC10 with its master volume. To me, it sounds much better/fuller than the AC4, but I have only played the AC4-12 a couple of times.
     
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  7. Gregorski

    Gregorski TDPRI Member

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    I'm fortunate that budget is quite flexible. In terms of tone, what generally seems to be referred to as fender glassy cleans is probably the baseline. I've watched review of the Tone King which has equivalents of "black face" and "tweed" and definitely more on the blackface side. Features, as above, probably the main ones are:

    Ability to get good tones at sensible volumes - both clean and with some dirt (i.e not so quiet that I can hear the strings but not so loud that the house shakes)
    Reverb would be preferable but advice on using a pedal as an alternative appreciated
    Attenuator would be nice for flexibility
    Effects loop would be nice for experimenting
    Relatively simple controls would be simple too.

    The amp is probably the area I understand the least to be honest. My understanding is that a simple, single channel "clean" amp is probably what I need, and then add an overdrive pedal or 2 to it. Very open to being educated here or reading up if I know where to go. I was a student before so I just plugged it in and went for it. Channel switching meant I could have clean and dirty without too much pain..
     
  8. Gregorski

    Gregorski TDPRI Member

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    Thanks, are you talking about this: https://shop.fender.com/en-GB/guitar-amplifiers/vintage-pro-tube/65-princeton-reverb/2172006000.html

    for some reason I thought the Princeton was a big amp but this seems quite compact.
     
  9. KATT

    KATT Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    I have a Blackstar HT1R and had a Stage 60. Good amps, but far from a Fender blackface clean sound.

    The Fender Pro Reverb is nice, but you are right, a bit loud for home use. If you were tempted, you may as well go for the Blues Junior which is same wattage but with built-in reverb and more flexible eq.

    I've no idea on the Tone King, but for that sort of money, have you looked at Cornell amps? UK made and low wattage, some with built-in reverb.

    As for built in reverb vs pedals: the blackstar uses digital reverb which is same as a pedal. Built in is only really worth it for convenience or real spring reverb. The better spring reverbs generally use large tanks, which won't be found in the small amps you are looking at. I think pedal is best and more flexible.
     
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  10. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Vox AC10 is a great choice, for half the cost of a Princeton Reverb.
     
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  11. Gregorski

    Gregorski TDPRI Member

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    Good to know, thanks. I didn't realise there were different types of reverb so that's helpful.

    I also spotted the Fender Super Champ X2 but it looks to be something of a hybrid between tube and modelling.

    Never heard of Cornell, I'll take a look. I wasn't really looking to spend so much but the Tone King has a graded attenuator which was why it was of interest.
     
  12. Gregorski

    Gregorski TDPRI Member

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    Thanks. I'm not really sure I'm into the VOX sound. The only guitarist I know who uses Vox and who's sound I like is Brian May but his setup is very unique.
     
  13. Cpb2020

    Cpb2020 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    You could do far worse than a Tone King Imperial. It is an all a-rounder for us (practicing in living room and live) because of the attenuator. But if it will be dedicated to using it in house it is a bit much.

    Maybe a Gries 5?
     
  14. Askwhy

    Askwhy Tele-Meister

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    Pay attention to what you have stated you like and want. It's easy to get distracted and get something you will ultimately not be satisfied with. The Tone King Imperial (make sure it is MKII) is a perfect match for what you described. Great fender cleans, awesome tweed side and an attenuator that can work on both or just the tweed side. Sounds great at home and is enough wattage for many gigs and most jams. You won't be sorry.
     
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  15. Old Plank

    Old Plank Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    A few friends have had these, and I thought they sounded pretty decent for the cost. You could always add a few good pedals if not happy with the digital effects package.
     
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  16. Rbert0005

    Rbert0005 TDPRI Member

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    65 Princeton Reverb and you’ll never look back.

    Bob
     
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  17. Cpb2020

    Cpb2020 TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Yeah, I tend to agree with this looking at my response too. The issue we had with the low-wattage amps was lack of clean headroom, which is why we ultimately ended up with the TK Imperial MKII even though it is used at home 98% of the time. If you want it to break up, attenuate it and raise the volume. We have no regrets.
     
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  18. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

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    If the budget is flexible, I would echo the Princeton Reverb style amp as a recommendation. However, I would probably look at Allen Amps for something equivalent rather than a Fender. As far as attenuation goes, I’ve had really good results from the eminence flux magnet technology. It allows you to adjust the gap between the magnet and the voice coil, this lowering or raising the sensitivity of the speaker. I’ve used power scaling as well as L-pad attenuators and I like this tech the best. Look for a used Eminence Maverick.

    Of course the tone king gets it done quite well also.
     
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  19. dinomike77

    dinomike77 Tele-Meister

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    Whoops! Posted before I finished!
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2020
  20. dinomike77

    dinomike77 Tele-Meister

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    +1 Gries 5, big time! Any time I start getting amp GAS, I sit down with my Gries 5 and ask myself what more I could possibly need as just a home noodler-type player. The answer is nothing. Perfect home amp, whether you want to go straight in or dial up Blackface tones as a base for your pedals.
     
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