Which tube amp(s) for headroom w a *bit* of hair?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by corbo, Feb 16, 2020.

  1. corbo

    corbo TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Hey all. Just wanted to pick the brains of the TDPRI gang. I've mostly been an acoustic player but have been playing more and more electric of late since getting my Ron Kirn T, which I adore. I have owned mostly an odd assortment of solid state amps over the years but have been looking to get an actual tube amp, and since I don't have much experience with them (other than a Twin I owned in the early 2000's which was WAY too much headroom and weight for me) I was curious to gather opinions over which amp(s) might suit me best (not to base an immediate purchase on, just to point me in the right direction). I play a lot of rhythm and a lot of clean, and prefer drive from pedals rather than from an amp, but love it when an amp gives me a *little* bit of "hair" when I dig in. So I would love something with a good amount of headroom and volume, but not QUITE as much as a Fender Twin. I've been told that a Bassman reissue or a Reverberocket might be good for me, but was wondering what else I should try. I understand this leaves open a LOT of potential candidates, but just curious what you all have to say. Thanks in advance! :)
     
  2. Carcinogen

    Carcinogen TDPRI Member

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    Car in X100B. Amazing clean channel, you can switch it down to 50 or 25w to get slight breakup at lower volumes
     
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  3. dickey

    dickey Tele-Afflicted

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    Peavey Classic 30...best all around medium power rig. And you can get one used for $250-$300

    Word of advice: If you buy a Fender Hot Rod amp, make sure you get one that is "Made in U.S.A". The Mexican ones use different solder & circuit boards; they expand & break the joints in the tube sockets; you will hafta re-solder them every few gigs. Ask me & a few of my friends how I know!
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
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  4. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    "Bit of hair" is a Flat Earth Society perspective.

    The guys who really know how to play an amp dial in JCM800 style overdrive and then back it off with guitar volume and picking dynamics. On a Marshall 2203 or 2204 that's gain pinned, master backed off below noon so it doesn't call every cop between here and the state line... then dial that back with your guitar volume.

    It's even better if you use a volume pedal. That way you can ride it with the pedal.


    Semi random vid attached just for fun.

     
  5. Dismalhead

    Dismalhead Poster Extraordinaire

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    I guess it would depend on what volume you want to play at. If I turn it up my Vox AC15 on the Normal channel it has some hair that gradually creeps in as a play it. Beautiful sparkly clean and then after a bit you notice that it's got some fuzz to it. Very organic.
     
  6. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Holic

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    An AC30 is probably my favourite 'not really clean' clean sound.

    My thoughts are somewhat confused though because that 'hair' is an amp just starting to run out of headroom.
     
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  7. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    At home or gig? The "hair" thing is tough because people think of it differently.
    The BF Fenders through the Normal channel have some meat and hair to me.
    A beefed up Princeton Rev even more so. (6L6, big trannies)
    Old higher power Dano's are quite gritty.
     
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  8. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Budget?
    Combo or head & cab(s)?

    In the cheap seats comes the Jet City range. I was skeptical until I chanced upon a JCA20H for chump change. Think single channel Marshall(ish). Turn it up until it growls everywhere, then -back off the guitar volume- and you now have a menacing clean that growls here and there, until the guitar volume gets wound back up, then Grrrr!.

    Laney IRT30. Don't be fooled by the Ironheart name of it. It's a three channel amp that can do the most delicious cleans, through to all out \m/ metal assault. The footswitchable boost expands your possibilities.

    A Vox AC10 may fit your bill. Loud when needed, proud always, fine sounding, small, light, inexpensive.
     
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  9. 1300 E Valencia

    1300 E Valencia Friend of Leo's

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    How loud do you want it?
    The Fender Twin is the big Fender. There are numerous smaller Fenders that sound very similar, and all of them get that "edge of breakup" thing going at around 4 or 5 on the ol' volume knob.

    How big is the your music room?
    I've been gigging for years with a 22-watt '65 Reissue Deluxe Reverb, turned up to 4-5, but have found it a bit much for a 15' x 15' practice room.

    The 12-watt '65 Princeton (on 3) seems to work better. Sometimes I use an attenuator, but prefer pedal dirt, probably because I have so many. Get those 6V6s biased properly for best results. Too cold of a bias setting will sound, well, cold, with less warm breakup.

    Replaced the 101 dB C. Rex with a much quieter 94 dB P12Q made the sound more manageable as well.

    The Tone Master Deluxe Reverb will go all the way down to 0.2 watt. Yup, it's still plenty loud enough to wake the baby, but you can crank it to "10".

    Works for me.
     
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  10. Condor84

    Condor84 TDPRI Member

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    If you can find one, an old Alamo 2565 Montclair Reverb; particularly, the later ones with the solid state pre-amp, and the tube power amps. I say this, because they have an incredible amount of headroom and chime, but then distort out a little bit right near the top of the range due to power tube overdrive. They were built in San Antonio Texas from the 60's to mid 70's, and marketed by Alamo. I had never heard of the brand until moving south to Florida a few years back. I happened to score one for $25 that needed an output transformer, and some other misc. work, and couldn't be happier. I also own an original tweed Fender Vibrolux (among many many other amps), but honestly prefer the Alamo, as the cleans are better and it takes pedals extremely well, especially od/distortion pedals. The Alamo definitely is one of my favorites. It also has some really nice onboard reverb (which the Vibrolux does not have), and vibrato, which more than competes with the Fender's vibrato, and maybe even exceeds it. These things were built with country players in mind, so that should give you an idea of the type of cleans it produces. But, it's still much more capable than that even. I actually use mine for blues, rock and hard rock. It's VERY Fender Princeton Reverb like in some aspects, but it still is its own animal in a lot of others. However the name does try to imply, if not maybe directly compete with the Princeton Reverb. I mean, come on..both named after college towns in NJ, both use dual 6V6 tubes in the power section, yadda yadda, yadda. However, don't let's any of that fool you. It definitely is its own amp, and can be had much cheaper than a vintage Fender or reissue, and even cheaper than a lot of other modem tube amps to boot. But the Alamo is also alot more capable tone wise than you might otherwise assume it is, being an unashamed Fender "clone" in name only. If you ever get a chance to try one, I highly recommend it.
     
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  11. trxx

    trxx Tele-Holic

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    We can throw out amp names all day long and into next week, but without some idea of tones that you are looking for there isn't much point in it.
     
  12. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

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    +1 on a JCM800 or DSL Marshall.
     
  13. bondoman

    bondoman Tele-Meister

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    I have a Kustom 72 Coupe 212 that goes both directions. Clean headroom for days yet dirties up quite well. Not for the weak of back though, and a bit rare.
     
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  14. stormsedge

    stormsedge Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    Play a few if you can. I have a Quilter Tone Block 201 (SS) and a Blackstar HT 40 Club (EL34) that have all the hair I need.
     
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  15. stratoman1

    stratoman1 Friend of Leo's

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    Another Blackstar vote here. Look at the HT20 MKII or the Club 40 MkII. Nice and clean when needed, plenty of dirt too if you lukeand each one has 2 voicings per channel, which makes them pretty much 4 channel amps

    Both scale down as well. The twenty will go down to two and the 40 to four
     
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  16. Condor84

    Condor84 TDPRI Member

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    I also second the Vox AC15 comment. It's another great little amp. Even the smaller, lower wattage Fenders are good choices. Don't let any of the small sizes sway you either, because if you do want to play venues with your rig, even most small clubs and bars have the capability to mic your amps nowadays. I remember running 50 and 100 watt Marshalls and Crates early in my career just to be heard at some of the crap stages and places we were playing that didn't have anything other than a vocal PA. However, I always longed for the tone of my Vibrolux on stage. Then, when we played our first CBGBs show, and they were able to mic my Mesa Nomad 45, it's as if the whole game changed at that point for me. I even quit using the Nomad in favor of smaller, more easily managed amps, in both size and tone. I play hard rock, so also don't think that small combos are the bread and butter of just blues/rock/indie guys either. I've noticed in the last few years that even some coffee shops and a lot of dive bars have the facilities for micing up amps.. it's truly great to just be able to drag in a small combo and get to work now. Even a decade and a half ago, you lugged a 50-100 watter, and a lot of times even your own PA. It truly was a very self contained/motivated time, having to bring in EVERY piece of gear, required for a show. However I don't miss it one bit.
     
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  17. Askwhy

    Askwhy Tele-Meister

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    Classic 30 on a budget
    Vibrolux reverb silverface on a bit more budget
    Something with a master volume on any budget
    Tonemaster Twin Reverb (i know, but with the on board attenuator it might be perfect)
    Lower sensitivity speakers in anything you already have that is close but a bit too loud clean
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
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  18. David Barnett

    David Barnett Doctor of Teleocity

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    Muchxs has the right suggestion, but I'll still put forward tweed or brown Fender.
     
  19. Askwhy

    Askwhy Tele-Meister

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    .

    Ps- dumb not being able to delete an accidental double post
     
  20. corbo

    corbo TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

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    Fair point. I‘m a singer songwriter. I play mostly rhythm, and mostly clean jazzy chords, often without a pick. On the occasion I DO play some lead, I’m often going after a creamy blues-based tone. Not a shredder. Mostly I like laying down funky rhythm or ambient textures, sometimes with a bit of dirt or phase/chorus.
     
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