New Amp Day - Quilter Aviator Cub

jgwcaster

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I posted a while back wondering between a Deluxe Reverb Tone Master and a Helix. Well I went a third route; a Quilter Aviator Cub.

No local store that I know of had one locally so I thought I would take a chance just ordering from Sweetwater. I was thinking about a Tonemaster DR or a helix with a FRFR, but this seemed simpler, a bit more bomb proof and affordable.

I was looking for something with a bigger speaker than my 1972 Fender Champ. Something I could use at home, with headphones and run direct to the PA at the church. The church is limited in PA equipment. No mics for the champ and no floor monitors so my equipment needs to be my monitor. and yes, sadly the Champ just on the stage pointed at the congregation is too loud (directional). Its a small church.

So far I am liking the quilter. Here are my initial thoughts:
  1. Fun to play! Seriously I sat down to play for 30 mins, and stopped 2 hours later. I lost track of time while exploring that amp and that’s a good thing. It has a great sound! There is some magic in there to be found!
  2. Amp, cord and guitar, go! I left my pedal board out of the equation at first and just went simple exploring the knobs and the three channels. I love playing the Quilter this way! In fact if I didn’t use pedals at all I would be completely sold on this amp. I plugged into my 1972 champ as well. I like the Quilter with just a cord better than the Champ. To get overdrive on the Champ it must be dimmed. This is too loud at home and the church. Though I do love this tone and riding the guitar’s volume knob. With the quilter’s overdrive, you can ride your guitar’s volume knob. It works really well at bedroom volumes. Louder feels even better.
  3. Three channels are all very distinct with no volume jumps between. It is totally worth switching between them. I bought it for the blackface, but the tweed rocks and the blonde just stands out really well. I kinda like it more than the blackface channel.
  4. Limiter is the secret sauce. DO NOT give up on this amp without exploring this knob! Yes you can run up the gain and lower the speaker volume or lower the gain and run up the speaker volume, but my favorite option is running the gain high, setting the speaker to an appropriate level for the room then running that limiter up. It cleans up the gain into a smooth, touch sensitive, sparkle. That is where the magic is.
Concerns
  1. Holy Bright Batman! This amp is really bright. I have read that this is the speaker needing broken in, but it is so bright. I hope it mellows significantly. This brightness is one of my concerns as I believe it affects other aspects.
  2. Reverb was not what I expected. From 0-9 o clock its fine but beyond that it really washes out and the brightness of the amp takes over. I suspect if the amp was not so bright the reverb would have a higher range of usability.
  3. I not sure how I like my pedals in this amp. I heard it takes pedals well, and I expected it to take them differently but this is one of my main sticking points. I don’t want to go hunting for more pedals than I need too.
    1. Overdrives: Suprisingly my Jupiter fuzz is better in this amp. I have never been able to feel like I could tame it in the champ and it gets very violin like in the Quilter, which I like. My OCD pedal is much more distinct articulated/bright, but still sounds really good. The Voyager kinda is just a boost now. I am gonna have to twiddle away. Same with my Full drive. Its really more of just a clean boost, but again I will need to reset it for the quilter. That OCD is pretty good though. I wish those other two immediately did what I expected with the Quilter.
    2. Delays: My analogue delay is not mellow like with my champ. Now the repeats are bright. Maybe this goes away if the speaker breaks in? My faux tape echo sounds fine but it was ticking while the amp was silent. I realized that was with the amp gain all the way up and the limiter cleaning it up. The tremolo on the Flint did the same thing. The amp Ticked in time with the tremolo. I backed the gain down a little and it cleared up. I know my power supply situation is very poor, just a one spot for everything but the flint. I use its supplied wall wart for it. I wonder if I got a fancy iso power supply it that would take care of the ticks and pops from foot switches? Its all dead silent with my champ even with the amp volume maxed.
    3. In general my pedals sound bright. I am not really liking this. Again if the speaker mellows it should not be a problem.
I still need to try it direct into the church PA to see how it sounds and monitors for me.

If I keep it I need to find some head phones for late practice. I would appreciate recommendations.

On the whole I have way more positives than negatives; but I need to play and weigh the amp some more before I decide to stick with it.

I think if I can dial out the brightness or the speaker mellows I could really fall in love with this amp. Shoot I already love it, just not sure I can marry it yet.

My Champ still holds up surprisingly well along side it. That old tube amp just has a depth and sweetness to its sound. The quilter is really good, but lacks some of that sweetness.

Jury is still out, sort of, that brightness though. . .

Thoughts? Am I being to picky about my pedals? Am I just dealing with how different amps handle the same pedals? Do you think the brightness will mellow?
 

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maxvintage

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I've had a hard time with the EQ on Quilters. Just not voiced right.

But it might be the speaker needs breaking in or maybe you'd be happier with a different speaker. I've done expereiments with artificially breaking in speakers by putting acetone on the come surround--it does make a difference.
 

mfguitar

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I had the original Aviator, a really nice amp but I did not love it so I moved on. I think you would see some "improvement" with speaker break-in but I don't think it will be dramatic. I would keep playing with it because the controls react differently than what you are used to. I would also refrain from comparing the 2 amps and try to find settings that you enjoy with this amp. I watch Pat Quilter's comparisons and they always sound good to me on pc speakers. AS far as headphones, I have never found a great sound, the best I have done is with a DAW and emulators. I would rather just play unplugged. Best of luck!
 

jgwcaster

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Okay, day two. . . I like the amp more. I adjusted the eq and it’s a bit better dropped the treble down and brought the bass up.

I have learned my champ is just not that clean. I always thought it was but now I hear it always has a little attitude in there (which is nice). The aviator is squeaky clean and that might be part of what I am hearing as brightness.

Yesterday I only used my player plus tele. Today I used my player Strat. Wow! It sounded really good and the overdrives sounded good. Then I got out my Larrivee rs2 for p90s. They sounded spectacular in the quilter and with the overdrives.

after that I put the tele back in and it was definitely brighter, as teles are. The overdrives just have a more brittle sound with the tele. Not bad just . . . Brittle. I don’t hear this with the Strat or my p90 guitar.

I will keep playing and listening. Still a fun amp, liking it more.

the tele is puzzling me.
 

Jbnaxx

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One thing that impressed me about my SuperBlock US is it’s ability to sound good with a variety of pickup types……. It really likes big fat singles and humbuckers as well. For the Tele, I use an Archer Icon with the gain turned most of the way down. It seems to fill out the Tele nicely.
 

PhredE

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after that I put the tele back in and it was definitely brighter, as teles are. The overdrives just have a more brittle sound with the tele. Not bad just . . . Brittle. I don’t hear this with the Strat or my p90 guitar.

I will keep playing and listening. Still a fun amp, liking it more.

the tele is puzzling me.

Sounds like you may need to roll back the tone pot a little more than usual (?)
Is the brittleness there even with the neck PU also?
 

black_doug

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Good review.

I recently bought my first Quilter product, the Phantom Block Powered Interface.

It will stay in my gig bag as a backup in case my tube amp ever fails me.

If I like how it sounds then I may have to get one of their heads or a combo amp.
 

Peegoo

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I've had an Aviator for years now and love the thing. No pedals neccessary.

This amp is really bright.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.

When you dial in your amp at a gig and your guitar is sitting well in the mix--and still cutting through in a glorious way--try the amp again at home without adjusting anything from where it was at the gig. Chances are really good the amp will sound unpleasantly shrill on its own.

Many players dial in their tone at home; they like the top end clarity as well as plenty of thumpy low-end punch because it sounds great when they're hearing just the guitar.

Then they take the amp into a band situation, with all that low-end in there, and the room fills up with this muddy resonant 'mung' sound. This results in them turning up the volume too much just so they can hear themselves in the mix. The mud gets deeper. The drummer hits harder to hear more punch, and the bass player turns up. The vocals get buried, so the PA volume needs to come up too.

How many times have you thought a band was playing too loud in a club? Or a guitarist at a jam? Probably more times than you can remember. Is this music, or a volume war? It has been a problem for a long time.

string-quartet-Volume-Wars.jpg
 

jgwcaster

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Sounds like you may need to roll back the tone pot a little more than usual (?)
Is the brittleness there even with the neck PU also?
The neck pickup is definitely less brittle, but still more than I was ready for. Since I got this telecaster I have been rolling back the tone about a quarter turn. Yesterday with the quilter I had it rolled back 3/4 the way. Today after adjusting the amps eq I was back to just a quarter turn down. My other two guitars do not seem to need even that much.

the amp overdrive is very pleasing. If there was a way to foot switch it I think I could be pretty happy without overdrive pedals.
 

davidchagrin

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I've had an Aviator for years now and love the thing. No pedals neccessary.



This is not necessarily a bad thing.

When you dial in your amp at a gig and your guitar is sitting well in the mix--and still cutting through in a glorious way--try the amp again at home without adjusting anything from where it was at the gig. Chances are really good the amp will sound unpleasantly shrill on its own.

Many players dial in their tone at home; they like the top end clarity as well as plenty of thumpy low-end punch because it sounds great when they're hearing just the guitar.

Then they take the amp into a band situation, with all that low-end in there, and the room fills up with this muddy resonant 'mung' sound. This results in them turning up the volume too much just so they can hear themselves in the mix. The mud gets deeper. The drummer hits harder to hear more punch, and the bass player turns up. The vocals get buried, so the PA volume needs to come up too.

How many times have you thought a band was playing too loud in a club? Or a guitarist at a jam? Probably more times than you can remember. Is this music, or a volume war? It has been a problem for a long time.

string-quartet-Volume-Wars.jpg

Very true. It took me many years to learn that lesson.
 

Sea Devil

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I played my Quilter 101 Mini Reverb through a 2X12" cab loaded with Celestion Neos and had the same experience. Granted, I was playing a Tele with Bardens, but it wasn't anything like my usual sound, and I lowered the treble on both the amp and the guitar to the point where I started to question what I was hearing. I'd never heard any rig behave that way. I normally play through a 1X12" pine cab with a 150 watt Eminence Wheelhouse speaker, which is a fabulous Tele tamer and pairs beautifully with the Mini. I play very clean with all three tone controls at noon or very close to it, no limiting, and the gain usually at about 11 o'clock. The reverb doesn't sound nearly as good turned past 3 o'clock, so it usually stays there; I might crank it to play the old surf chestnut Baja or in the midst of some dub delay madness.

I've been using that amp and cab combo for most live shows for about four years. It weighs about eighteen pounds and always delivers.
 
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jgwcaster

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Day three - because I know you all are just dying for a daily update from someone who doesn’t know what they are doing. (Sarcasm)

Played into the Aviator Cub for about an hour. I purposely did not use my Champ today. I wanted the Aviator to stand on its own. It is a fun amp to play. Really fun. I think I enjoy it for longer sessions more than the champ. The clean tones with the limiter cranked up are really, really good. The amp reverb is growing on my quite a bit.

Mostly I used the tele and worked on dialing in my full drive2 and walrus audio voyager. I set up the Voyager to do more of its clean boost thing and it started to sing nicely. On both pedals I rolled the tone down and it helped a lot. Downside is that when I switched to the Strat at the end and found the overdrives were set too “tone dull.” Hmm, I’m used to mostly setting and forgetting my drives but they are very different from guitar to guitar with the Aviator.

Delays are good. Especially when I don’t hop over to the Champ and compare. Slapback delay from the wa
Melee faux tape echo is really good on the Aviator. I kinda lost track of time playing this way. (That’s a good thing).

still a bright amp but I am getting it dialed better. I am learning that the eq is not as simple as I am used to, I don’t know how explain it but the treble knob is not simply more or less. It seems more dynamic than that.

tomorrow a friend and I are gonna try to hook it up to the church pa and see how it sounds direct. I hope I can monitor with it without needing the speaker to be too loud. This amp likes to be loud. Or at least I like it loud.
 

PhredE

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After some significant playing time (especially at a good volume), that speaker should open even more. I don't know the exact specs on the one in your amp, but it is a re-branded Emi 50W unit. Give it some time. Now you have an excuse to play loudly! :D
 

jgwcaster

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And keep in mind that a Champ sounds unlike any other Fender tube amp. It’s Class A so it has a different set of harmonics. Comparing it to the Quilter - apples and oranges.
That helps a lot. I forget how different an animal the champ is from the rest of Fender's line. I was bit by the amp bug when I picked of the player plus telecaster. I just found an off to the side part of GC and plopped down in front of an amp without looking. I was focused on the guitar not the amp which turned out to be a deluxe reverb. It was glorious. I kept the amp clean for the most part but its tone has haunted me ever since.

The reality is a tube deluxe reverb would live a sad life in my corner of the house. I thought about the tone master series, but I am not certain about the durability of those amps. I though about a helix, and not sure I want to twiddle away on settings.

So I am giving the Aviator Cub a shot.

Its got a lot of what I want/need. Light weight, 12" speaker, durability (at least solid state is durable), the head phone jack is a real plus, the effects loop is a bonus and the line out for direct into a PA is something I can really use at church. (Hopefully testing that out tonight).

The clean tones on the amp are really good. I also like the amp overdrive. I am just trying to figure out if I like how overdrive pedals work with it. There is just something a little . . . brittle about how they sound. Maybe nasal is the right word. Perhaps the jagged edge of the overdrives are just too articulate.

Anyway, the irony is that the telecaster is the guitar I like the least through the amp and that makes me sad.

I AM NOT GIVING UP ON the amp, but I also don't want to keep gear I am constantly second guessing. I am hoping to dial in those overdrives and get the Tele situated with the amp.

Part of me wonders if I should just get something like a Princeton Reverb and a TwoNotes box to deal with church stuff and quieter play.

Oh Fender, why do you lack master volumes on so many amps. Oh Tubes, why must you be so glorious and finicky at the same time!
 

Edgar Allan Presley

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This is not necessarily a bad thing.

When you dial in your amp at a gig and your guitar is sitting well in the mix--and still cutting through in a glorious way--try the amp again at home without adjusting anything from where it was at the gig. Chances are really good the amp will sound unpleasantly shrill on its own.

Many players dial in their tone at home; they like the top end clarity as well as plenty of thumpy low-end punch because it sounds great when they're hearing just the guitar.

Then they take the amp into a band situation, with all that low-end in there, and the room fills up with this muddy resonant 'mung' sound. This results in them turning up the volume too much just so they can hear themselves in the mix. The mud gets deeper. The drummer hits harder to hear more punch, and the bass player turns up. The vocals get buried, so the PA volume needs to come up too.

This is why I dial in my tone at home with my guitar tone knob back a quarter. It usually works well then to open the tone knob up at a gig.
 




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