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What makes a great amp?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by smuc, Dec 5, 2020.

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  1. GuitarsBuicks

    GuitarsBuicks Tele-Holic

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    I would like to refine my answer a little more beyond my personal opinion.

    The Super Reverb is a well known amp for its cleans as well as it's ability to get those classic tones. At 45 watts going down to 2 ohms you have plenty of headroom. Being a 4x10, you have plenty of volume even at lower settings to make the amp usable at 99.9% of the gigs you will get in your guitar playing life, that is from heavy metal and grunge straight down the line to super clean jazz and country on the neck pick up. Due to the extremely clean and sparkly nature of the original amp design and the faithful circuitry of the reissue providing almost the exact same tones, it makes this amp in all of its iterations the perfect pedal platform, as there is very little tonality warpage provided by the circuit. Meaning that the sound that comes out of this amp is the sound of your guitar and whatever pedals you put in the middle. Weighing in at 68lbs or 30.85 kg. This amp is relatively light compared with some of its counterparts. For comparison, my Fender Hot Rod DeVille 2x12 (Completely stock) is approximately 82lbs or 37.2 kg and a Peavey VT series is 96lbs or 43.5 kg. As far as getting this amp to sound like others, most pedal manufacturers have you covered. Just stick a Wampler plexi-drive or vox-in-a-box pedal between you and the guitar and you are set to get everything from Marshall to Vox to Fender. In addition to everything else I mentioned I would also point out that this thing also features two completely separate and isolated channels normally one with reverb and "vibrato" or tremolo and one without. Meaning that if you have a complex delay and loop system you can run everything into the clean side with whatever you may have going. Hit your switcher or a/b box thus switching your guitar to the other channel (in this example the reverb side) with a completely different set of effects and eq settings. Now you are a whole band with one amp and one guitar.

    Back to my opinion:

    Modeling amps may be more versatile without pedals, and other amps may be louder, Fender quality control may be sketchy at times, and you may wonder if its worth lugging the extra weight around. To those of you who ask those questions my answer is this...does your little solid state modeling amp really have the gig-ability and mojo of this versatile powerhouse? Can you really beat the tone of this amp that has been sought after since its conception?

    If you have not had the opportunity to play through one of these things once, don't just take my word for it. Try it for yourself. it may not be for you...but it is always my go-to amp.
     
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  2. npilger

    npilger TDPRI Member

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    I have had a lot of amps over the years. I love My Fender Twin Reverb, but can pull (mostly) the same from my Princeton Reverb II. Both are 35-40 years old by now. Amazing cleans, take pedals better then a Champ. That said, I was given a Mustang II on a trade a year or two ago, and just plugged it in last week. It is very nice for the room I am in now - (The Twin is in a 3500 square foot steel barn - still have not had it over 7). I've modeling amps in the past and never could bond with them, but theis Mustang II is cats ass, and saves me from running for my pedals in the studio or stage (barn). It is also cheap (for me included with a Les Paul that hangs on the wall. For highly versatile tones and pretty good modeling I must say, I am impressed. For pure powerful cleans, the early 80's Twin Reverb cannot be beat, but the Riviera Princeton II comes pretty darn close - with only a single speaker.
     
  3. Viejo

    Viejo Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I don't know, but I know it when I hear it. A '60 Brown Super is the best sounding amp I have personally played. Clean and responsive to subtle inputs but with rich harmonic overtones. I like subtle distortion and an amp that sweetens up when you drive it a little
     
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  4. Neilmatthews3233

    Neilmatthews3233 TDPRI Member

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    What makes a great amp? Depends what you want it for. Gigging? Recording? Home use? Other? I’d say ‘reliability’ is pretty well up there for most uses! After that; depends what you need in each context. And that is in the eyes and ears of the intended ‘audience’.
     
  5. DeckerPhan92

    DeckerPhan92 TDPRI Member

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    What really makes an amp great is the artist that plays it. A good player can put out an album with a ****ty amp then next thing you know everyone is going to want that amp. The same is true with guitars. Strats were almost replaced by super strats until grunge came out and revived them.
     
  6. chazeroo

    chazeroo TDPRI Member

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    I play through an early '80s Music Man RD 110. But that's neither here nor there. Your post just fired up the dB's song "Amplifier" in my head. Thanks! "and the wire and the wood don't do any good when your heart is cooking like a wildfire and all you've got to show for it is an amplifier."
     
  7. Cosmic Cowboy

    Cosmic Cowboy TDPRI Member

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    A great amp is one that makes you inspired to play. Means different things to different people. A tone that is brilliant, but not too bright, has dynamics and definition, and sustains without squishing too much. Notes that bloom and blossom.

    They don't all work for every application. An 85 watt twin may not do that for you at home, but on stage is perfect. An AC15 may be the perfect amp for super inspiring tone at the home, but not cut the mustard on a stage.
     
  8. kramazeek

    kramazeek TDPRI Member

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    What makes a for great amp? If it’s an amp I own then my answer would be anyone but me playing my amp.

    Second answer, chime, a unified tone without distracting errant frequencies. I’m very sensitive to high pitch frequencies so tone and treble have to play nice with the rest of the tone. Note definition. Just right amount of distortion at just the right volume.

    For me this amp is either a vintage Bassman or a Marshall Silver Jubilee.
     
  9. TeleZee

    TeleZee TDPRI Member

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    I bought a Luker Tiger 20 combo in 2009. (#33 off Ken's bench) I replaced a Dr. Z Maz 18w 2x10 combo with it.

    It was designed after a vintage Fender deluxe but Ken's component's made it the best ever. I remember the quote from the sale's pitch as being "the best amp Fender never made".

    It is my go to club amp and at 20 watts it's loud enough to get my band mates to turn it down a little, Sweet clarity and a nice edge when you dig in. I did replace the speaker with an Eminence Red Fang 12" Alnico and a full set of JJ's. I will keep this forever. I still have the big Luker but it's my back up.
     

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  10. jarasi

    jarasi TDPRI Member

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    Here's what I want in my ideal amp:
    * Simplicity. I want to set it and forget it. I don't want to have to think about futzing with my amp while I'm trying to play onstage. I want to play music, not fool with an amp.
    * Tubes
    * 2 channels, with a master volume to control overdrive
    * one 12" speaker (a good one)
    * good spring reverb
    * good tremolo
    * great sound, whether clean or in overdrive mode

    That's it. Sweet, simple, easy, and great sound. I don't need anything more.
     
  11. CV Jee Beez

    CV Jee Beez Tele-Holic

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    I kind of expected Rosemary's signature,
     
  12. Mr_Martin

    Mr_Martin Tele-Afflicted

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    What makes a great amp?

    The smile on the face of the audience!
     
  13. CV Jee Beez

    CV Jee Beez Tele-Holic

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    The best amps I've heard in person:

    My friend's JTM 45 offset reissue with the alnico 4x12
    My old '64 AC30
    My Victoria Double Deluxe
    Supro Black Magic with Master volume

    My criteria for a great amp is:

    Great clean sounds
    Great drive sounds
    Sounds good with most or all of the guitars that plug into it
     
  14. Spooky88

    Spooky88 TDPRI Member

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    Whatever lights you up! IMHO a great amp not only sounds great to you but to others as well. Consider recording your "great amp" and get someone else's opinion on it. It might surprise you.
     
  15. claptonrules

    claptonrules TDPRI Member

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    In my experience, some amps really take pedals well, others not so much. I play pedals from time to time but normally my Helix HX Effects. Just got a Fender Deluxe Reverb and pedals and Helix sound fantastic with that amp. It's 22 watts, 12 inch speaker combo that is perfect. Wanted a small Mesa years ago, bought it but it did not like my pedals or Helix so I sent it back. Boogie is great amp, just too difficult to dial in for my pedals/Helix.
     
  16. bblumentritt

    bblumentritt Tele-Afflicted

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    What makes a great amp?

    (Too long, don't read at the end.)

    I've been playing electric guitar since 1971, and have gigged and recorded with lots of different amps. I chronological order:
    1. Bogen 50W PA with 12" Hi-Fi cab
    2. Peavey Musician with home built 12" cab with EV12 speakers
    3. Music Man 210-65 - Original run, with the 12AX7 phase splitter
    4. 1981 Deluxe Reverb
    5. Peavey Bandit 65 (two of them, with a stereo chorus)
    6. Mid '70s Fender Pro Reverb - this was my longest-lived #1
    7. 1958 Fender Champ
    8. Mid '70s Fender Princeton
    9. Crate Palomino V16
    10. Texas Tone 12 - my current gigging amp
    A couple of those were dogs.
    A few were good one-trick ponies. Most were good amps, but not what I was looking for or deficient in some way:
    • Music Man - too clean and the 'dirty' sound wasn't that great. Way loud.
    • Bandit 65 - 'dirty' channel not good. Clean channel good for cleans. Need pedals for expression.
      • Both the Music Man and Peavey used solid state front ends that when overdriven don't sound good.
    • Musician. Not good at all.
    • Bogen. Good 6L6 tube sound, but it was my brother's temporary amp.
    • Deluxe Reverb. Great full sound, but one sound.
    • Princeton. Nice clean sound. Great in the studio but not strong enough for live gigs.
    • Champ. Great sound, especially live with a Strat and mic'd. One sound.
    • Pro Reverb. Kept this one longer than any of the others. Came closest to the right amp.
    • Palomino. Good amp, not great. One sound.
    All this time, I kept reading in TDPRI about dynamic, touch-sensitive, tube amps, which I had yet to experience. The closest was actually the Palomino V16, followed closely by the Pro Reverb.

    Therefore, I went on a quest for a great, dynamic, touch-sensitive tube amp. Here some relevancies:
    • In Leo Fender's patent "Tone Control for Stringed Instruments" the amplifier is part of the circuit.
    • Leo's first amps had no tone or volume controls on them. Volume and tone were controlled at the guitar.
    • Roy Buchanan played a mid-'70s Fender Vibrolux Reverb with the Volume/Treble/Bass all on '10' and controlled everything from the guitar, and he could play better than anyone at that time.
    After a long period of study and inquiry, I built my first tube amp. Voila! Now I understand what people mean by a dynamic, responsive, touch sensitive tube amp! It has an organic tremolo that is not your on/off Fender "Vibrato".

    I built an amp for a friend who was an incredible Tele player. He used a boutique tweed Bassman amp that sounded great, but it was way too loud for the small to medium clubs he was playing in Austin, he used to run the volume on '2' and used a pedal for dirt. What a waste of a good amp. So I built a mini-version at about 23W and two 10s. When I first played it, my first thought was, "This is the amp I wish I'd had all those years ago (when the Pro Reverb was my #1 amp)."

    It spawned a series of what I call Studio Series amps; totally free of hum and hiss; not too loud; designed to be played wide open; natural compression.

    These two amps got me a spot on The Guitar Radio Show.

    To combat the 'one sound' amps, I built one that has both low- and high-gain ability and can play clean or dirty at any volume from bedroom to large gigs.

    So...

    What makes a great amp?

    The amp should be an extension of you and your guitar.

    A great amp is a musical instrument in and of itself.

    A great amp will respond to your touch in an organic way. Clean or dirty.

    A great amp will inspire you to play better, because it responds to you, and when you sound better you play better.
     
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  17. That Cal Webway

    That Cal Webway Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Electricity??
     
  18. enorbet2

    enorbet2 TDPRI Member

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    There is a simple reason why OP is right on the money, that simplicity is THE key factor in great sound. While merely passing through a resistor has extremely little effect, capacitors and inductance not to mention amplification stages, introduce PHASE shifts, and I don't mean as controlled or interesting as a Phase Shifter pedal. This is made far worse by "crosstalk" like the "accidental ones between stages, through the power supply, through magnetic coupling, and simply due to proximity and orientation in layout, the asymmetry of signal path electroytic caps (like commonly found in tube cathode circuits and all over SS amps) as well as the purposely designed in Negative Feedback loops.

    Those of you old enough to recall early recording processes with few channels and lots of track bounce combining through mixing and re-mixing may realize the hoops great engineersd and musicians had to jump through to keep any clarity. Even if you ever owned a cassette deck and made an overdub copy you know how much clarity and depth could easily be lost. This is all mostly about Phase. It is destructive. Unless you really aren't looking for an actual guitar sound and just view a guitar as some sort of synth controller, simplicity, combined with quality components of sufficient style and value to keep the signal path simple instead of randomly complex, is where it's at.

    Here's a good example of dynamic response and clarity in a decent simple amp

     
  19. Festofish

    Festofish Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    A flexible EQ!
     
  20. monkeybanana

    monkeybanana Tele-Holic

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    One with a treble and bass knob. Preferably with a spring tank. :)
     
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