What Do You Look For In An Amp?

arlum

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I prefer single channel amps. EL84 or 6V6 output tubes, (two to stay under 20 watts or four for a 30 to 36 watt amp. I want an all tube preamp. No hybrids for me. I'd buy it size specific for where I'm going to use it so I could take a pass on a master volume control. I try to always go with a separate head and a speaker cab loaded with two 10", two 12" or one 15" depending on the sound I'm going for. Considering how many 12" speaker cabs I already own it would almost certainly be a 2 X 10" for most styles or a 1 X 15" for Mississippi blues, (which I prefer over Texas or other blues styles). The control panel on the head would have controls for Volume, Bass, Middle, Treble, Presence and Reverb. All of my amps have onboard reverb. I use tons of pedals so my amps have to provide a clean platform for them. An amp with a vintage amount of gain in the preamp would be my choice. I'm already covered by other amps in the studio providing the cascading preamp type. An effects loop, (designed to work with pedals), would also be nice but I can live without it. Vintage style series effect loops can be mighty disagreeable with pedals.
 

Maguchi

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Maybe a bit of the opposite. How well they will sound without pedals both clean and breaking up. Mostly just tuner and delay pedal if anything.

1 or 2 channel tube amps with or without effects loop and reverb. Peavey Delta Blues, Mesa Boogie Fillmore, Marshall or Fender Tweed.

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Fiesta Red

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-Great tremolo.
-2x10” speakers.
-Light enough for me to carry without regretting picking it up (~50 lbs).
-Loud enough to keep up with a five-piece band without mic-ing it.
-Sounds good at low volumes.
-Sounds equally good for guitar or harmonica.
-Takes pedals well.
-Large enough for an armadillo to drink a Topo Chico on the top of it.
-If it looks good, that’s a bonus.

So, basically, this:


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Tim S

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I primarily look for two things in an amp. It must:
- not require pedals to sound good
- put out a sound that encourages me to play longer

I’ll put up with almost anything if the above two conditions are true. Bonus points are awarded for new tones I couldn’t achieve before, light weight, affordability, lack of menus or ability to plug-n-play.
 

Cloodie

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Something that sounds good at bedroom volumes and doesn't require pedals as that's a rabbit hole I don't wanna go down.
So I have a Katana, a Spark and a ToneKing Falcon Grande.
 

Dr Improbable

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I enjoy tinkering with an amp editor, but if I can't get a good sound just on the panel I won't buy it.

Having said that. I have bought tube amps I couldn't get on with because I wasn't able to get a decent bedroom sound.

The guy that owns a local shop has talked me in at least 2 amps he wanted to move...:rolleyes:
 

beyer160

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1. Sound. Without this, nothing else matters. Does it sound great? It doesn't need to do a bajillion different tones, but it's got to do ONE thing better than anything I currently have in order for me to consider purchase.

2. Build quality. I buy for the long haul, so I want stuff that's built to last. I don't own any modern Fender amps, for example.

That's really it. If it sounds right and is built well but weighs a billion pounds, so be it. If moving a guitar amp is a problem, buy a cart or hit the gym*. I'm not spending used car type money on an amp, but I'd rather pony up for what I want once than to dick around on lateral moves for a decade like I did when I was starting out. Buy right or buy twice. I'm happy waiting for the right deal to come along, too. One day, I'll find a Hiwatt style amp at a price I'm willing to pay.


* I get that some folks have legitimate back problems, I'm not talking about you.
 

Call Me Al

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As an at home player/causal jammer: my deal breaker is headphones and aux in. But I really appreciate some gain control, tube modeling and fx (delay or reverb.) currently, it’s a Champion 20:
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I also have a Vox AC4 which is my basement jam amp. Light on features (only has volume, tone, attenuator and extension speaker out) this thing cranks, basically bought it for the tone alone. I just add a pedal if I want to augment:
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Bob M

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30 to 50 watts seems to be a sweet spot for me in terms of clean headroom and overall tone. I’m a long time convert to 10” speakers, so 2 x 10 is nice. Has to be light weight as well!

Currently that’s a Quilter 101 Reverb and an open back cab with 2 10” sc-64s.

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JDB2

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I guess you could say I like the proverbial "clean pedal platform" type amp that has some warmth to it (ie not brittle or digital sounding). I want it to work well with the various preamp and amp-in-a-box pedals I have. I also like good EQ settings and an effects loop that plays well with various reverbs and delays. The ability to go direct-in easily would also be a selling point for me. I also like scalable volume where I can go from playing in my home office to a stage without having to do much tinkering.
That's what I look for, and what I found, in my Quilter TB202. Add to that: lots of volume, strong bass, low maintenance, lightweight, consistent, reliable.
 

39martind18

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Basic Fender cleans, since I never use amp breakup for dirt, and VERY infrequently, I'll use a pedal for dirt. My current lineup, a 1979 Vibrolux Reverb, 1969 Deluxe Reverb and a Tone Master DR, cover most everything I need, sonically. From a portability standpoint, all are at or under 40 lb, so they're all good.
 

11 Gauge

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I have to be honest and say that what I've looked for in an amp has changed a bit over the years.

When I was young, I just needed it to be loud, clean, dependable, and work reasonably well with the one or two guitars and handful of pedals that I had.

As I got a bit older, and could afford more guitars, it then became more about how certain guitars, and playing certain styles of music, just seemed to work better with some specific amps. I really liked a Tele or Strat with a Vibrolux Reverb for playing a lot of rock-based stuff, just as one example.

When I started having spine and joint issues, I started to at least consider some lighter weight alternatives, even if the tonal possibilities weren't 100% as good as my old favorites. As a result of this, I ended up with a Quilter 101 Mini, a Vox MV50 Boutique, and a Katana 50. If I'm ever playing outside of the house (which seems to get more rare as time goes on), these are the types of amps that go with me, as opposed to my late-60's SR, or even my '71 VR.

I've also done a LOT of testing with different speakers, and have come to realize just how much better any given amp is when used specifically with them...for ME. So this has significantly changed that I look for primarily amp heads now, and then I end up pairing them with one of many different cabs.

I'll also admit that I primarily now only look for amps that don't have tubes. I currently have enough tube amps to make the necessary maintenance of periodic tube replacement (and rebias of many of them) be a bit of an aggravation.
 
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