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Morgan AC20 Deluxe vs Valvetech Hayseed 30

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by thegreatwent, Aug 20, 2017.

  1. thegreatwent

    thegreatwent TDPRI Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Hello everybody!

    I currently own a Valvetech Hayseed 30 and I love almost everything about it.
    It's a 2x12 combo with EF86 and two WGS Alnico Black & Blue speakers and I think for the money, it is probably the biggest bang for the buck handwired Vox style amp you can buy.

    I'm finding lately that it's just too much amp for me. It's excruciatingly loud when at it's sweet spot. I'm almost always using the Top Boost channel and the volume is between 11 and 1 o'clock. The master volume, while pretty good, only works up to about 11 o'clock. Anything beyond that and the dynamics and compression gets weird and you lose all the good stuff about a loud Vox Top Boost - steely low strings, nice compression, punch and super dynamic - strum lightly for clean and dig in to get it to break up and kerang. I've tried various attenuators - Dr Z airbrake mini, Weber Minimass and THD Hotplate and not really liked any of them. I do have a Two Notes Torpedo Captor coming next month and am hoping their attenuator will do the trick and that 20db in reduction will be enough. I think the Two Notes is the thing that is going to make or break my decision about the Hayseed. If it works, I'll hang on to the Hayseed as it really is a wonderful amp. If not, I'm going to be leaning towards something that will help me save what little hearing I have left.

    I'm currently not playing out and using the Hayseed in a pretty isolated music room, though, I still only play it full volume for only 10-15 minutes a time at most so as not to disturb anybody for too long. I have played out quite a bit with the Hayseed and did find that it was difficult to get a balance between the amp feeling good and and making the sound guy happy. I'm thinking this should be much easier to do with the Morgan.

    I'm curious about the Morgan AC20 Deluxe - the lower wattage is appealing (I realize 10 watts isn't a huge difference, and Joe Morgan has even said it pushes out closer to 23 watts), but the thing I'm more intrigued by is the Power knob. I had an 18 watt Marshall style circuit with a power scaling/voltage type control and really found it much more useful than any PPIMV I've ever heard. Also knowing that Joe Morgan designs his amps to work well with pedals and drives in particular is also a plus as I find the Hayseed at the volumes that sound good to me is a bit finicky with what drives you put in front. (Currently a Bondi Effects Sick As, RC Booster, EP Booster and EWS Little Fuzzy Drive).

    The clips I've heard online are pretty favorable.

    My concerns with the Morgan are the fact that the 12ax7 side is more of a tweaked Vox normal channel and am wondering if it sounds, and more importantly, feels like a Top Boost channel. While I appreciate the normal channel in a Vox style amp, the Hayseeds is too dark for me, and I really want to be able to get that chime/grind from the Morgan.

    The ef86 channel also sounds very good in the Morgan in the clips I've heard and I also really appreciate the simplicity/minimalism of the switches and dials.

    I'm looking at a Morgan AC20 Deluxe head and 2x12 with a Celestion Alnico Gold and a Creamback 75.

    Anybody out there use and/or play both amps have any thoughts? Thanks in advance.
  2. thegreatwent

    thegreatwent TDPRI Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Okay. So I managed to come across an AC20 Deluxe with a 2x12 loaded with Celestion Golds.

    Played it at full volume and at various levels of power scaling and while it's a pretty cool amp, it's a little too dark for my tastes and doesn't quite have the magic chime that a true topboost circuit has. It sounds very much like the Hayseed's normal channel, but with additional switches to brighten/darken, thicken/thin the tone.

    I could see how versatile it could be and I'm sure it takes pedals like a champ and wish I had plugged an overdrive in to hear it for myself.

    An AC20 won't replace my Hayseed and it's pretty spendy for a second amp.

    My favorite settings were with the powerscale up full for maximum volume, volume at noon and the tone at 3 o'clock. Super dynamic with a nice overdrive and compression when you dig in. I liked the volume level, but felt like it was pretty quiet for 20 watts and would be concerned about playing over a heavy handed drummer.

    As a studio amp or for bedroom playing the AC20 is absolutely perfect and for shows where the amp is mic'd it'd be no problem.

    My latest obsessions are the Carr Lincoln or Divided by 13 RSA 23..Would love to get my hands on either.

    Those are my deep thoughts.... ; P
  3. Wayne Alexander

    Wayne Alexander Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Mar 16, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA, USA
    Check out a Bad Cat Black Cat 30 (or 15) with the K-Master. The left / 12ax7 channel is very close to an AC30 top boost or the corresponding channel on a Matchless DC30, the right /ef86 channel can be thicker and a bit dirtier, is similar to the right/EF86 channel on a DC30. There are separate master volumes for each channel so the dirt and volume level of each channel can be carefully adjusted, you can switch back and forth with a footswitch. The K-Master circuit is as good a volume/gain adjustment system as I've ever dealt with. The amp can be quite bright if you want that, the tone controls have a wide range and work really well.
  4. thegreatwent

    thegreatwent TDPRI Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Also been curious about Bad Cats. Cub III and Black Cat. I had a Ceriatone Dizzy 30 and it was great, but I ended up getting the Hayseed to replace it as I really wanted a strict AC30 build.

    The Bad Cats to me sound similar to the Matchless in that they sit in a mix perfectly but can be hard to dial in when playing at home alone.

    I tend to favor the warmer topboost tones.

    Haven't had a chance to play any Bad Cats but would love to.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
  5. thegreatwent

    thegreatwent TDPRI Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Okay, so I had a chance to play some more amps recently.

    Here's the list including the Morgan mentioned previously:
    • Morgan AC20 - Played with Tele style guitar with single coil in bridge
    • Carr Lincoln - Played with Grosh Vintage style telel
    • Carr Rambler - Played with Grosh Vintage style tele
    • Carr Mercury V - Played with Grosh Vintage style tele
    • Vox 60th Anniversary Handwired AC30 - Played with Brad Paisley Tele
    • Vox 60th Anniversary Handwired AC15 - Played with Brad Paisley Tele
    Morgan AC20: See full thoughts above - great amp overall, but pretty quiet for 20 watts and it doesn't get quite as complex as a topboost probably due to the lack of the additional gain stage.

    Carr Lincoln: This is an amazing amp. All the Vox tones you could want and more at all possible volumes - gig, recording, bedroom etc. The "clean" channel has all the chime you could want and gets wonderfully dirty and chewy on it's own. Super touch responsive, it sounds and feels great. The "dirty" channel as simple as the controls are, is awesome and picks up where the clean leaves off and has a ton of gain available. With the great sounding built in reverb with levels for each channel, you could easily use this amp without any pedals at all. Just plug in and go.

    Carr Rambler: Big, full, round sound. Everything you want a Deluxe reverb to be, but with more headroom and a warmer tone overall. Versatile with the pentode/triode switch for different volume levels and feel. I didn't get a chance to plug any dirt pedals into it, but I'd imagine it would take them like a champ. Really nice full frequency sound that has a nice compression and sponginess in the triode mode.

    Carr Mercury V: Holy cow this amp is good! All kinds of sounds in this from blackface to Marshall. The built in attenuator is very, very good - probably the best I've heard and felt yet. It retains everything. The drive tones are thick and the amp feels so good under the fingers. Very touch responsive as well. This is another amp where I could see just plugging in without the need for any pedals. I love the Vox sound, and, though this amp doesn't quite get there, I could see getting one to cover your Fender cleans and Marshall grind at all volume levels.

    Vox 60th Anniversary Handwired AC30 - Stuck to the Brilliant channel. This thing sounds pretty great, but compared to the Valvetech Hayseed 30 and other versions of Vox AC30's, it seems quieter and darker overall. I typically have the cut control on my Hayseed between noon and two or 2:30 and tend to favor that on other Vox's as well, but found that I had it pretty much off on the handwired. It's thicker in the low end and gets dirty pretty quick on the volume dial. Wondering if the differences are mostly down to the Silver Celestions.

    Vox 60th Anniversary Handwired AC15 - This may have been my favorite amp out of them all, or tied with the Carr Lincoln as far as great Vox tones goes. Volume-wise I think it's perfect for home, gig and recording. I love the simplicity of the controls and it sounds super big and full for a 15 watt 1x12. It has the Vox chime but wonderful girth from the EF86. When driven hard and backing off the volume, I don't know if I've heard or felt a sweeter transition from clean to grind. Drawbacks to the 60th anniversary's is that they are super expensive. 4K for the AC30 and 3K for the AC15 - If I won the lottery or suddenly came into some cash I would get an AC15 in heartbeat, but for $1599 for an unloaded 2x12, the Valvetech is still probably the best bang for the buck I've seen.

    I played all these amps while on vacation and when I came home, I plugged into the Valvetech to try and mentally compare it against the experiences of those other amps and I've got to say that it's not going anywhere. It really is a wonderful amp and is as good an AC30 as you could want or need.

    I've got a Torpedo Captor coming on Wednesday and from what I've heard so far in demo clips, I'm sure it will be perfect to help with the volume when playing at home and at quieter venues.

    Current Hayseed configuration:

    Valvetech Hayseed 30 with EF86 option 2x12 combo with WGS Black and Blue Alnico speakers

    Current Pedalboard setup (In order) -
    • Xotic SP Comp
    • Xotic EP Booster
    • E.W.S. Little Fuzzy Drive
    • Bondi Effects Sick As Overdrive
    • Xotic BB Preamp
    • Xotic RC Booster
    • Dunlop Volume Pedal (Sonic Research ST-300 Tuner in Tuner out)
    • Strymon El Capistan
    • Strymon Flint
    I'm trying to narrow down the gain pedals, but it's hard as they all sound so good. Lately I've been favoring the EP Booster. I always keep a Klon type on the board for the buffer and the fact that it does the clean boost thing so well. The Little Fuzzy Drive is probably the best fuzz I've paired with the amp as I've found the top boost to be finicky with drives and fuzzes in general. The Fuzz set low into the BB Preamp sounds especially good.

    My current amp settings are Topboost volume 11 to 12 o'clock, treble 9 o'clock and bass at 1 to 2 o'clock. Cut about 2 o'clock.

    The WGS speakers are my favorite so far. They are more robust than the Celestion Blues and when pushed hard, they don't cone cry like the Celestions would. Also tried one Weber Alnico Blue dog and one Weber Alnico Silver Bell. That sounded nice, more Marshally, but found I missed the upper chime that of the Celestions and settled on the WGS. WGS sounds very close to Celestions but can handle the higher volumes better and has more low end. The WGS are really, really good speakers. Haven't yet tried Scumbacks, but curious about those too. They are super smooth from what I understand...

    Anyways, those are some of my amp adventures as of late.
    Tonemonster likes this.
  6. Geoff738

    Geoff738 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 11, 2007
    Thanks for the reviews!

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