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practice/recording tube amp?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Guitars, Basses, Amps & FX  
Author practice/recording tube amp?
Kwote
anyone have any recommendations for a good practice/recording tube amp? i don't want to mod it so i'm looking for something that sounds good stock. although i'd be willing to swap out tubes if necessary but that's about it.
smitty
I'm a big fan of my Mesa Boogie Mark III 60W combo. I bought it used for $700 about 10 years ago. Anything in the Mark line is solid, and there are a bunch on Ebay. Great for recording with it's direct out. The only downside I have encountered is that it weighs a ton, and it screams! It is pretty crazy the range of tone you can get out of it. I have only had to change the tubes once in 10 years, and I abuse it from time to time.

If $700 is out of your price range, I'd suggest a Solid State Tech 21 Trademark 30W combo. As with the Boogie, it has a great range of tone. They go for about $300 new!
dkcg
Kwote wrote:
anyone have any recommendations for a good practice/recording tube amp? i don't want to mod it so i'm looking for something that sounds good stock. although i'd be willing to swap out tubes if necessary but that's about it.


I've been eyeballing that reissue tube Fender champ. I think Babaluma said he had one. I got a Twin, but that's too damn big for practice. I can barely turn it up to 1 w/o feeling too loud for my neighbors, and the amp's never seen past 7. IF you got the money and a slightly bigger amp, those reissue Vox AC-30s seem really sweet. But I know shit about amps. hihi
Muff Wiggler
problem with tube amps is that they are all loud as FUCK, so it really comes down to your definition of a 'practice amp'

I love my Atomic Space Tone, but at 18W it is WAY louder than any 40-50W solid state amp. It's stupid loud.

It's so loud, that even if I play it in the middle of the day, people like 10 houses down the street are hating me anyway.

I would love to pick up their 5W Space Tone SE amp, seems like the *perfect* little guy for practice sessions and quiet time (sadly no reverb though.....)

but from what I understand, it's still loud as FUCK.

heh. tube amps, gotta love 'em
Cat-A-Tonic
Check out the Phil Jones line of compact amps.
Acoustic Image also has a great reputation.
<edit> sorry, I forgot you wanted tubes.

Are you going for clean and faithful, or distorto-tone-pirate?
thermionicjunky
If you can spend $650, try this Electrosonic Thermosonic Standard. 10 watts, octal preamp tubes. It's supposed to be optimized for low volume.

http://www.electrosonicamplifiers.com/standards.php

The smaller Fender tube amps can be had for under $400.
NV
If volume is an issue for your practice amp you can always buy a THD Hot Plate. They work brilliantly and allow you to maintain heavy levels of overdrive while limiting the output volume. The frequency limiting from the volume attenuation is minimal enough for decent recordings and irrelevant for practice use.

They sell for a hefty $320 or so new, although you can find them on eBay for less than $200. Avatar Speakers also sold them new for about $260 last time I spoke with them, so you could try that if new is your thing. Even for the new prices I think it is a very solid investment that you'll find very useful for practice and recording work.
Babaluma
i love my fender champ 600 reissue. around $200 dollars. rip the back off for a more open sound. loud 5w. swap out the 12ax7 for a lower gain 12xx7 tube for lower volume. sounds great and chimey clean, not that great distorted. does buzz/hum a little before the alnicomagnet mods, but not that badly. can't complain for the cash. like i said before, i really love mine! will probably upgrade to an emery one day, but in no rush to!
plord
Babaluma wrote:
i love my fender champ 600 reissue. [...] will probably upgrade to an emery one day, but in no rush to!

Be forewarned, the Emery (Both microbaby and superbaby, in my experience) is a way, way, WAY darker amp than anything fenderish. I mean, it's DARK, yo. You will want something in front of it for the chimey stuff, either an EQ like the Barber Barb-E-Q or some kind of trebly top boost. Still great amps, and versatile as all hell, but even with a really bright guitar I need something else in front of it before I can get really sweet cleans. HTH, YMMV, IMHO, etc.
flts
Doesn't help you much but I built my own 5W practise amp & 1x12" cab, amp is based on the "Hi Octane" design from the AX84 project.



Sounded awesome with a modern 6V6 and even more awesome with a vintage Hammond EL84 I got from a friend's old Leslie or whatever... I don't even have a single guitar right now, but it rocks with Rhodes, oddly enough w00t
Babaluma
flts that looks gorgeous!

plord thanks for the info on the emery. a lot of the reviews i have read rate it's chimey highs, so it was god to hear another report. do you own one? it's hard latying down that much cash for something you can't play through before you buy it :( if it's not an emery then it'll be a low watt swart or a siegmund muddy buddy.
Kent
We make these: http://www.blackhearteng.com/

All of them are designed by Eric Barbour's old buddy, Mr. Pyotr Belov. The BH1H is less than one Watt and is a shitload fun. You can turn it all of the way up & still have a discernable conversation in the same general vicinity.

For Kwote's purposes, practicing and probably running synths through it for tonal reasons, 15W is way more than enough. You can gig with 15W amps. Nobody needs anything more than 30W; except in order to make up for what nature failed to grant.
50W is understandable, due to power tube complement, but it really isn't 50W. That shit is distorting quite a bit at 30W.
fluxmonkey
flts wrote:
Doesn't help you much but I built my own 5W practise amp & 1x12" cab, amp is based on the "Hi Octane" design from the AX84 project.



Sounded awesome with a modern 6V6 and even more awesome with a vintage Hammond EL84 I got from a friend's old Leslie or whatever... I don't even have a single guitar right now, but it rocks with Rhodes, oddly enough w00t


beautiful! any other DIY recommendations?

bbob
Kwote
Kent wrote:
We make these: http://www.blackhearteng.com/

All of them are designed by Eric Barbour's old buddy, Mr. Pyotr Belov. The BH1H is less than one Watt and is a shitload fun. You can turn it all of the way up & still have a discernable conversation in the same general vicinity.

For Kwote's purposes, practicing and probably running synths through it for tonal reasons, 15W is way more than enough. You can gig with 15W amps. Nobody needs anything more than 30W; except in order to make up for what nature failed to grant.
50W is understandable, due to power tube complement, but it really isn't 50W. That shit is distorting quite a bit at 30W.


so what up with the price on the BH1H? can i take the heart logo off the front easily?
Kwote
Cat-A-Tonic wrote:
Check out the Phil Jones line of compact amps.
Acoustic Image also has a great reputation.
<edit> sorry, I forgot you wanted tubes.

Are you going for clean and faithful, or distorto-tone-pirate?


mostly clean and faithful. i figure i can pump in distortion on my guitar with the mini-wave smile
bartlebooth
any opinions on the orange tiny terror?
Cat-A-Tonic
I tried an Orange Tiny Terror in a store once.
It was really loud, and had a great clean tone.
...but
If decide to get an amp like that I'll probably go for one of the Torres kits instead.
The Phil Jones P-1 & Metasonix TS-21 combination is keeping me happy for the time being.
I also have a couple of small solid state practice amps. (Crate & Dean Markley)
Kent
Kwote wrote:
Cat-A-Tonic wrote:

Are you going for clean and faithful, or distorto-tone-pirate?


mostly clean and faithful. i figure i can pump in distortion on my guitar with the mini-wave smile


The BH1H can do 'clean' for about 40-50% of it's volume range. It also depends upon what one's definition of 'clean' is. Are we talking Roland Jazz Chorus clean or (I shit you not that some guy told me this...) "AC/DC's clean sound at the beginning of Hell's Bells"... d'oh!
I suppose that one could also replace the 12AX7s with 12AT7 or 12AU7 tubes for less gain.
No matter what you do, this is not a gigging amp. You did originally ask about a practice amp though.

The heart logo on the amp is secured to the front panel by two screws. It comes right off. I just did it for verification.

I dunno jack-all about US pricing on our products. I'd just look 'em up on the interwebs like anyone else. I do know that we are getting an assload of 'em in in 6 days (in the E.U.)

Whatever cab you get will have a large effect upon the sound that you get out of your amp of choice. Every low wattage amp will sound 'more huger, man' through a 4x12 than a 1x12 open-back cab. But then portability could be an issue. Also, often times, having a narrower frequency response (less bass) keeps things from getting muddy and gives the guitar (or whatever) its own little sonic territory.

The vast majority of EL84 tube powered amps sound very same-samey (similar) to me. Most engineers are going for rich distortion and compression in the power stage; or so it seems to me. Think 'compressed' like Brian May's sound.
Maybe there just are not that many variations to be had with this circuit and still meet a price point and/or market appeal. It could also be that there are just a couple of output transformers to choose from for a given price... I'm just thinking out loud here.
Pyotr seems to have designed his amps to be a little rawer, with less power tube compression. More 'rock rhythm' & not so much 'compressed lead' response.
That said, you can definitely gig with a 15W Tiny Terror and other amps of their ilk. Unless your shit has to be squeaky clean, you can easily hang with a band.
Kwote
thanks for the response kent. that's some good stuff to think about.

i gotta hold out on picking something up for a bit but should be able to grab some kinda tube amp by summertime!! hyper
tragedybysyntax
I'm pimping one of these for the time being http://www.zzounds.com/item--VOXAD100VT

However.... I am saving for a tiny terror and a 2x12 cab from earcandy or someother cab company. smile
chromium
tragedybysyntax wrote:
However.... I am saving for a tiny terror and a 2x12 cab from earcandy or someother cab company. smile


I noticed they have a combo version of the terror now too, with 1x12 cab:



w00t
felix
I have an epiphone valve jr, which I really like a lot.

I did a few easy mods to it, but by far the easiest, and the one which produced the most drastic difference was replacing the speaker, which was only about $18 I think.

It's all tube, very nice clean tone (again, once using a better speaker than the stock one) and records quite well. It's a semi-open back too, so there's all kinds of mic'ing possibilities.

It also gets loud as hell.
Pockets McCoy
These have both been mentioned (in the same post, I think...) but just some further info on a few things:

First off, I bought my friend a reissue Champ to pay him back for a few things, and it's WONDERFUL...it sounds amazing if you run straight into it, but it also handles effects really, really well. It's also capable of running pretty quiet, which seems to be something you're looking for. Not only does it run quiet, but it runs quiet and still sounds half decent. I haven't experienced it, but according to said friend, it's a fantastic recording amp as well.

Second, I bought myself one of the reissue AC-30's not too long ago, and while its 30 watts might not seem like much, it holds its own against some insane 200w peavey half stack I'm running next to it. It can run quiet, but the sound's kind of muddied until you get the volume past 1 or so, and once you're there, it's pretty damn loud. It's also definitely not the best thing if you're planning on running more extreme effects through it...it'll handle the basics, but once you get into anything synth-oriented, scrambly, terribly abrasive, or just really fucking noisy, it's starts to sound a bit like it's breaking, which scares me, because it's expensive. However, to it's credit, it's the only amp I'm capable of playing a guitar straight into and not sounding like a fool, and I love it to death. Depending on what you want to do with it, I'd severely recommend it.
Kwote
so far i'm thinking the reissue champ although i'll continue drooling over the swart amps for quite some time.
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