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What do guitar players need to think about when buying amps?


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3 hours ago, bolero said:

Nice pic!!

That Vox grillcloth, trim & tolex is iconic. I was playing my P90 SG through it at a gig, and a musician I respect ( who's dead now, RIP ) ran up afterwards and said " that combination is THE sound!! " whatever that means...I should have asked him, I guess.

it means, it's totally rock and roll!

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3 hours ago, bolero said:

Nice pic!!

That Vox grillcloth, trim & tolex is iconic. I was playing my P90 SG through it at a gig, and a musician I respect ( who's dead now, RIP ) ran up afterwards and said " that combination is THE sound!! " whatever that means...I should have asked him, I guess.

it means, it's totally rock and roll!

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  • 1 month later...

A good topic for me to chime in on, here are my thoughts because until the last two weeks or so I was considering buying a new amp. Instead, I have had the two I own revalved and serviced. The two I own are a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe and a Peavey classic 30. The Engineer went through them both very thoroughly and rated the output of the Hot Rod at 50 Watts before break up, it's sold as a 40 Wattt amp. I have had the Hot Rod for years now. when I bought it I was really into playing over driven rock, but now I play it clean, same with the Peavey, which I bought as a back up amp. Anyway here's what I would look for if I was to buy a new amp.

  • Valve powered
  • 30/40 watts max
  • Separate head and cab
  • Old style build on a flat board, no flow soldering, point to point wiring so when a component fails, all you do¬†is switch it out.
  • One Channel
  • Treble, Middle, bass control
  • Tremolo and Reverb
  • Marine ply quality cabinet

There we go, that's all I want, the only manufacturer I know who can deliver that is Matamp, perhaps not known in USA.

 

Edited by mark555
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22 hours ago, mark555 said:

There we go, that's all I want, the only manufacturer I know who can deliver that is Matamp, perhaps not known in USA.

 

Mark, you should check out 633 amps, built by Cliff Brown (the designer featured in the video I posted at the start of this thread). I'm biased as I own the first production Drive King, and Cliff has a few standard models but he can build pretty much anything. A good example would be the KF30 which he made for ace blues guitarist Kirk Fletcher. In this video Kirk takes a solo at 5 minutes...

 

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I'm only playing a couple amps these days.  

At home is a Quilter Aviator Cub 50w 1x12 (Fender-ish).

At band practice is a Fender Hot-Rod Deville 2 4x10 combo. (freaking loud amp!)

 But I used pedals on both through the front of the amp.  Mostly because in small spaces, I need my dirt to come from somewhere else besides the amp as my ears can only take so much.

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I usually think about what kind of sound I am looking to add to my collection that isn't covered by something I already have. The 3 guitars I play with the most have 3 different amps that all compliment the tone of the guitar. 

Edited by ElChoad
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Q: What do guitar players need to think about when buying amps?

A: How am I gonna get this into the house without the wife noticing…

ūüíÄ

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38 minutes ago, myoldfriend said:

Q: What do guitar players need to think about when buying amps?

A: How am I gonna get this into the house without the wife noticing…

ūüíÄ

Correct!!  :laughing7:

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2 hours ago, myoldfriend said:

Q: What do guitar players need to think about when buying amps?

A: How am I gonna get this into the house without the wife noticing…

ūüíÄ

Nailed it!

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Tone schmone, vibe schmibe, hand wired, circuit board, NOS tubes, transistors, British speakers, American speakers, boutique build, giant corporation, none of it matters, they all sound Fab but...weight. Ahhh that's what's most important to me. Yeppers. Light weight amps are the cats pajamas. After all tone is in the fingers right. No roadies we're harmed in the writing of this post.

Edited by pressure
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42 minutes ago, pressure said:

Tone schmone, vibe schmibe, hand wired, circuit board, NOS tubes, transistors, British speakers, American speakers, boutique build, giant corporation, none of it matters, they all sound Fab but...weight. Ahhh that's what's most important to me. Yeppers. Light weight amps are the cats pajamas. After all tone is in the fingers right. No roadies we're harmed in the writing of this post.

I'm kinda with you here. I'm I'm gigging with it, I want light weight. Hell I don't even like moving heavy amps around in my studio! I gig with a Princeton Reverb if I'm going to be playing electric!

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Never been particularly interested in chasing a particular tone Ive heard on record. I do have quite clear ideas about how I want to sound though.

I am quite gain/od/dist averse. Mids are really important to me, if I cant get the right mix of upper and lower mids right out of the box I get frustrated. Initially wasted a lot of money on speakers, eq pedals and tubes etc trying to get amps to conform to my wants. 

Preference for big warm clean sounds with a sweeter top end means Ive always sort out amps with exactly that. Never had any luck with low watt amps or early break up amps. Ive generally found the sound I like with 60+watt amps, mainly with 6L6 power amps. It sucks really, theyre all heavy.
 Because of my dislike of gain/od the hardest part of buying amps has been finding amps with a od sounds I can get along with. Often sat with amps Im trying and got to the point where I realise "that is "the" sound! but I cant stand it!"
I dont think I was built to play high gain rock'n'roll, as much as I like some of it. Took 40yrs to figure that out. Played a lot of high gain rocknroll in the meantime.

Another preference is 112 open back combos. I love the sound onstage, and at home. Even if I was using a head I would always run it through an open back cab. The last few years gigging was a 112 combo with either a 112 or 212 cab and pedals for od. Best sounds I ever had. Gave me a lot of satisfaction to hear myself as I imagined I should sound. Then I quit! Ha!

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, pressure said:

 Light weight amps are the cats pajamas.

I really learned a lot from all you guys at the barn (during the PSP's) who showed up with only a small combo amplifier. Until then I had never realized that a little 20-30 watt all tube combo amp could get so loud. I guess my brain had gotten programmed in the 80's that you had to have 100 watts and at least a 4x12 half stack as the bare minimum to get by. Clearly, that is not the case and now my very modest amp collection has exactly ZERO 4x12 cabinets in it, and no single amp is greater than 50 watts.

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22 hours ago, pressure said:

Tone schmone, vibe schmibe, hand wired, circuit board, NOS tubes, transistors, British speakers, American speakers, boutique build, giant corporation, none of it matters, they all sound Fab but...weight. Ahhh that's what's most important to me. Yeppers. Light weight amps are the cats pajamas. After all tone is in the fingers right. No roadies we're harmed in the writing of this post.

As I've gotten older, weight has become a major issue with amps.¬† Yes, tone is numero uno, but I need to be able to get my rig out of my house, into the car, out of the car, up the stairs (why are there always stairs?!) and onto the stage...or into the corner.¬† That's why I never bought a Mesa King Snake...but still want one.¬† Hint, hint.¬† ūüėé

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I have that O-So-Heavy KingSnake which you refer to. It sits in a corner in a very small room, not moving an inch. But it sounds Fab when I fire it up (or as Captain Kirk would say "energize"), with all 4 tubes blazing, giving it the full 100 watts it wants, it deserves, no it demands damnit!

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Great posts!  RE: the OP...What you are hearing is a fabulously crafted masterpiece.  It is a Dumble type of amp circuit.  I'd be as pleased as the OP to own a 633 like this one in 50w for sure.  The build is complex, yet actually easy for the knowledgeable to repair... like any great amp build is.  This one has a huge variability in it's tone set built in.  That's why it is so expensive, D-circuits musicaly express a huge, tasteful sounding palette width, a velvet covered hammer in this demo.  Today's boutique builder D-clones can be set for the two channels to be as gorgeously clean, maniacally, metallically, monstrous, belligerently bellowing, or "That" fat lady from the opera in the hands of the right player with the right head and hands.  The most true to original cloned circuits from today's boutique-ers aren't encapsulated in a Permatex type of cured plastic substance like the originals were, easy for the tech savvy to take measurements, fix, and customize for the player just like the originals now worth over a hundred grand apiece.   

Considerations for a future amp purchase?    

For my more well financially off buddy's son going to his freshman semester at full time music school college in Washington state... told dad to buy him a Tone King Sky King a couple months ago.  I picked it because of the builder, the feature set, the in amp tones it does from practice room to full on recital hall volumes, and portability.  They are both waaaay delighted.  The world class tone set is in the amp's bones.  

A year ago told dad to pick up a Ceriatone Son of Yeti 20W head, a Seismic Luke 2/12 cab filled with a pair of Tone Tubby Nashville Alnico's.   The kid got himself a used 450 dollar Chinese Fender Hot Rod Deluxe combo because he heard that Curt Cobain liked to play on inexpensive amps.  I told the dad to tell his kid that Curt's "good amp" money went up his nose.  The friend's son's bandmates waaay prefer the Ceriatone setup.  So the Chinese Fender HRD will see a lot less use after the TK purchase  Not sorry.

On the prospective amp purchase...How is it built?  Parts quality? Versatility? Portability? is it easily repairable? Does it provide the desired tone palette without modifications?  What tubes does it use, how many of each type, and are replacements easily found?     If used, how much worst case $$ to get it working and sounding it's best or at least like is supposed to?  Worth the effort and resources to obtain what it takes?  All of those come before price point to obtain true value.  A couple thousand dollars over even 5 years of something really satisfying is definitely worth the butt hurt of the wallet and maybe wife bite(s).  

How does it hold market value and will it be easy to sell in the future?  Certain brands and models do way better than others for both deserved and undeserved reasons for holding value over time.  If you buy your tone retail or used, research, buy seldom, and buy well...then you will be most satisfied.  

Boutique amps for boutique guitars, 

Boutique guitars for boutique amps.

Whether practicing or live, when plugged in, never compromise your tone, enhance it.

 

 

 

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Re. choice of parts, in particular transformers, Cliff Brown just posted this pic on Facebook...

May be an image of indoor

"SIZE DOES MATTER
On the left is a typical 5w single ended output transformer such as the one installed in a Fender Champ. On the right is the transformer fitted as standard in the Dragonfly* and Dragonfly RT*. This was chosen after extensive listening tests to determine how the it affected the way the amp responded when pushed hard into compression. Both transformers were rigged up to an instant switching system so they could be A/B‚Äôd on the fly in the same amp using a foot switch. The larger of the two has higher inductance and lower DC resistance which presents a different load to the output valves than the smaller one. This gives it feel of a bigger amp and an extended frequency response which matches better with the 10‚ÄĚ speaker fitted to both models. It‚Äôs also made in the UK."

*The Dragonfly is the 5W combo featured in the original video.

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On 11/9/2021 at 9:59 PM, rockabilly69 said:

I'm kinda with you here. I'm I'm gigging with it, I want light weight. Hell I don't even like moving heavy amps around in my studio! I gig with a Princeton Reverb if I'm going to be playing electric!

:thumbsup:    My old bass playing friend came by this morning, and he brought his Carvin bass amp.  I picked it up and it weighed about the same as my golf bag!   Long gone is his old Traynor YBA3 head that weighed about 75 lbs by itself!    I've taken my Princeton clone to the past several PSPs.   Light, compact and easy to toss in the trunk.

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59 minutes ago, bobmeyrick said:

Re. choice of parts, in particular transformers, Cliff Brown just posted this pic on Facebook...

May be an image of indoor

"SIZE DOES MATTER
On the left is a typical 5w single ended output transformer such as the one installed in a Fender Champ. On the right is the transformer fitted as standard in the Dragonfly* and Dragonfly RT*. This was chosen after extensive listening tests to determine how the it affected the way the amp responded when pushed hard into compression. Both transformers were rigged up to an instant switching system so they could be A/B‚Äôd on the fly in the same amp using a foot switch. The larger of the two has higher inductance and lower DC resistance which presents a different load to the output valves than the smaller one. This gives it feel of a bigger amp and an extended frequency response which matches better with the 10‚ÄĚ speaker fitted to both models. It‚Äôs also made in the UK."

*The Dragonfly is the 5W combo featured in the original video.

So exactly mimics my Frank-en-Champ experience.  The single ended 5k primary 4/8/16 secondary bolted in the bottom of Igor's  cabinet is closer to 6 pounds than five.  It's rated at 30w RMS.  Sounds like a much larger amp, and gets way louder.  Filthy little Igor can keep up with a decently loud band all by his lonesome.  Nobody rolls output trannys because it's inconvenient.  If they could sales would quadruple.

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Speaking of transformers... This is not a subject I currently know a whole lot about but here is where I am at the moment. I have a tube amplifier which is said to have a really huge transformer in order to reduce or virtually eliminate something "they" call "SWELL". I've never experienced this effect but "they" tell me that the faster you pick notes, the less time that the amp has to recover and that you will eventually experience a drop in the volume or a delay in the sounding of the note or something like that. They say that all tube amps have swell and that the swell of each amp differs from one to the other. So this SWELL seems to reduce the ability to hear each of the notes to their fullest because the amp can't keep up. That was the explanation I gathered from the Web. The amp I have is called a PRS Blistertone and it is rated as 50 watts.

So I wonder if we can replace out transformers with different ones in order to affect the tone and amount of swell our amps have.

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