Shopping for a new AMP: Vintage, Boutique or Modeler?

Alex_C

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I have a Laney L5S head. It is a tube amp with features aimed at the studio. Built in load box, XLR out, USB audio interface, switchable speaker emulation, re-amping capabilities, 2 channel, reverb, etc. It sounds good to my ears. It is the first low wattage amp that didn't sound 'boxy' to my ears. They are built in the UK, no idea how well built they are but it has been 100% reliable for me and I've used it for the past couple of years.
 

11 Gauge

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To address the main complaint that spurred this new amp search, I think @Blrfl offered the best advice — install a switching jack as a speaker-out. Even paying a tech to install it would be cheaper than getting another amp for recording. There’s no learning curve or possible buyer’s remorse.
I also think that this is possibly the best option.

I have an old Vox Valvetronix AD15VT that only has an 8" speaker in it. While it sounds pretty good, I wanted the option to use it with at least a 10" speaker, but really prefer a 12". Rather than do anything to the stock cabinet/baffle, I simply installed a switching jack. It's the only alteration to an otherwise perfect amp.

Even if I couldn't have installed the jack myself, it would have been worth it to pay someone to do it for me.

Especially with tube combo amps, it's always kind of irked me if there's no way to easily plug in a different speaker. Heck, I think it's kind of stupid if you have to disconnect the speaker at the terminals when the chassis has to be removed for any servicing.

This all reminds me that now that the warranty is expired on my Kat 50, I'll probably install a switching jack in it, too.
 

11 Gauge

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Some here have suggested using a short instrument cable with a female end. Plug that in once and zip tie it to the amp’s handle and use that as the amp’s input instead. It would stop the wear-n-tear on the board-mounted jack (but not look too great)
I wouldn't be surprised if it's not so much an issue of failure at the jack contacts themselves as it might be one of failure at the PCB solder pin mounts of the jack. If that's the case, then this workaround should be careful to not put any lateral stress on the jack, by looping the cord around too tightly when zip tying to the handle. You'd also want to be careful to never tug on the cord when moving the amp around.

It really doesn't take much physical lateral force to compromise the solder connections at the pins. If there's room inside the chassis, I'd personally just replace the PCB-mounted jack with an open frame one.
 
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TokyoPortrait

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Hi.

I think I understand the question. Maybe.

No idea if this will help, if this kind of thing is what you might be considering, etc. But...

How about the Boss IR-200? I don't own one, but I've looked at them a lot from the point of view of recording, and am impressed. You get a bunch of different amp sounds, and they *seem* to sound rather good recorded. There's all the deep dive tricky stuff for setting one up, but also the main controls are quite amp-like and intuitive.





And, here's something I just noticed right now, the Nux Amp academy (at about two thirds the price). No idea about it, but Mike Hermans has a (paid promotion) video - which I will now watch...





Edit: and Pete Thorn also has a vid. He doesn't seem as enthusiastic as with the Boss unit though.





Pax/
Dean
 
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loopfinding

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I never knew (but should have suspected) that current production amps are built to maximize the bottom line. You get what you pay for, hopefully most of the time. I guess what I am saying is that, for my next amp, I will ante up for that quality and reliability, whether it is vintage or from a smaller builder. Although the point about not subjecting an amp to gigging/travel abuse goes a long way too.

they were always built to maximize the bottom line. widowmaker amps. some point to point amps were atrociously wired. tag and turret board were moves to make assembly faster for unskilled laborers (and not always ending up in the optimal routing scheme) and had their own set of problems. etc, etc.

all electronic devices will fail at some point. there are ways to do up pcb amps that are comparably mechanically reliable, serviceable, and less noisy than tag/turretboard. remember, nobody is using tagboard in scientific, medical, or engineering devices, haha.

if anything, after the boutique thing started, you have a lot more options now for amps that are built by skilled labor and not just assembly line workers.
 
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WilburBufferson

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I also think that this is possibly the best option.

I have an old Vox Valvetronix AD15VT that only has an 8" speaker in it. While it sounds pretty good, I wanted the option to use it with at least a 10" speaker, but really prefer a 12". Rather than do anything to the stock cabinet/baffle, I simply installed a switching jack. It's the only alteration to an otherwise perfect amp.

Even if I couldn't have installed the jack myself, it would have been worth it to pay someone to do it for me.

Especially with tube combo amps, it's always kind of irked me if there's no way to easily plug in a different speaker. Heck, I think it's kind of stupid if you have to disconnect the speaker at the terminals when the chassis has to be removed for any servicing.

This all reminds me that now that the warranty is expired on my Kat 50, I'll probably install a switching jack in it, too.


Thanks to both of you. I am going to try this first and see if I can't make it work. I bought a 1/4" jack with a tip-shunt. Is 22 gauge wire robust enough? I do have thicker wire if need be.

Also, this is the wiring diagram I found in a vid. Is it correct?
 

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Blrfl

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Thanks to both of you. I am going to try this first and see if I can't make it work. I bought a 1/4" jack with a tip-shunt. Is 22 gauge wire robust enough? I do have thicker wire if need be.

22 is a little skinny. Get something at least as large as the existing wires in the amp; there's no harm in going bigger.

Also, this is the wiring diagram I found in a vid. Is it correct?

Yes. As a check, make sure the terminal labeled tip shows continuity with the shunt terminal when there's nothing plugged in. Then plug a cable into it and make sure that connection is broken and the tip terminal shows continuity with the tip at the other end of the cable.
 

11 Gauge

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Thanks to both of you. I am going to try this first and see if I can't make it work. I bought a 1/4" jack with a tip-shunt. Is 22 gauge wire robust enough? I do have thicker wire if need be.

Also, this is the wiring diagram I found in a vid. Is it correct?
I installed the jack in my old Vox amp probably in like '06 or so, so I'll need to refresh myself as well (if adding one to my Kat 50).

To be on the safe side, you might want to use 16 gauge wire.
 

WilburBufferson

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I installed the jack in my old Vox amp probably in like '06 or so, so I'll need to refresh myself as well (if adding one to my Kat 50).

To be on the safe side, you might want to use 16 gauge wire.

Thanks! I have a bundle of wire (found it at the curb, ready for the trash) but am not sure of the gauge. Left is 22, right is the mystery gauge, and what I will probably use.
 

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