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Thread: Best sounding SS amp you all have encountered?

  1. #36
    Senior Member hasserl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Conner View Post
    I've heard a few people raving about how good the Crate Powerblock is. Apparently it has a switching power supply AND a Class-D digital power stage, so according to you guys it should suck :-O I once messed with one and it seems very light for a 150(?) watt amp.
    Makes a great backup amp. I used to haul two amps to a gig. Now I just throw the Powerblock in it's carry bag into the back of the car along with the main amp for the night. I haven't had to use it yet, but it's comforting knowing it's there, it's ready to go, and it doesn't sound half bad. It won't be replacing any of my main amps, but I could easily do a gig with it if needed.

  2. #37
    Senior Member Euthymia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocket View Post
    I think it is funny that the old SS amps from the 60ies and 70ies that earned the bad reputation of SS amps, now are said to be the best sounding ones.
    That may be the perception today, but in my observations, time tends to weed out the really nasty stuff.

    There was good stuff back then, and bad stuff. The bad stuff wound up in dumpsters.

    You don't hear anyone singing the praises of Estey amps, for instance, and stuff like the Baldwins now has weirdo funky chic appeal but is not something most players would choose to gig with (yes, I know about the one Neil Young used to use as a stage monitor).

    Acoustic got it right, and so did Sunn. I never mind seeing those come into my repair shop because I know they're serviceable and sound good when I'm done fixing them.

    I think one of the big hits on the reputation of SS was when the undisputed industry leader in musical instrument amplification, Fender, issued two botched lines of SS amps. First were the amps that carried the same names as some of the tube line, then the Zodiacs.

    One Fender fell on its face, SS would have a hard time gaining acceptance.

    Another problem is that (partially as a result of the aforementioned Fender stumble), SS became the territory of low-end amps. Since SS is cheaper to build, it can go into cheaper amps where people are really strapped for money.

    So most of our first exposures to SS amps were the best Peavey practice amps we could afford. We weren't exposed to higher-end stuff because when people get some money, they usually head straight to the tube amps.

    Anyway, I like the aforementioned early Acoustics and Sunns, as well as some of the Peavey pro stuff like the 400 series (the amps to have for Nashville steelers).

    Marshall Valvestates have awful build quality but put out a pretty good distortion tone for going "chunkita-chunkita-chunkita." Fender's version also surprised me with its tone quality.

    One personal Hell for me would be to have no amplification to use but a Roland JC-120. I've worked on a few of them and detest the tone. The construction is pretty bad, too, with controls mounted on phenolic PCB's, etc.

    My only experience with modeling technology was a Fender Cyber-Twin that someone brought me to fix, and it reminded me of a particularly ugly transvestite.

  3. #38
    Senior Member Slobrain's Avatar
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    man, so many posts, this is real interesting.

    Today after bringing home my daughter from a docs app. I decided to make a quick stop at a local pawn and found a used PV studio pro 110 that wasn't working. Its a 1993-or 94 model, two channels, reverb and a 10" speaker.

    I snagged it for $43.00 walk out, and I'm thinking cool, I just got my daughter a nice little practice amp that I can fix. It had a bad input jack. I actually took the jack apart re-straightened the tip connector and resoldered the jack back and amp now works, easy fix.

    Then after listening to the amp, I though my gosh, this is a crappy sounding amp. Yuck, good for a beginner though. not that great of a deal after all. I should have bought the mid 80's Schecter strat hanging on the wall for $99.00
    It was butchered on the body and the neck had a hack job done on the locking nut install. too bad. maybe the pickups might be worth something though???

    SLO

  4. #39
    Lifetime Member Rob Mercure's Avatar
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    Been thinking about this - didn't strain anything as best I know - and I wonder if I just like amps with tranformers. RG favorites use driver trannies - and having recently serviced one I agree with the sound - very "60s" and a bit psychodelic. The autotranny PVs aren't as fun, funky, and individualistic but the have a smooth distortion that lacks that "piece of paper tearing" distortion I associate with transistor amps. Now I've never hears an OTL tube amps -although I've considered building the Stevens circiut a few times - but I wonder if I'd like it or music amplification.

    Too bad I'm not into SS R&D cuz it would be interesting to work with some different output topologies using either/or driver/PI trannies and OTs.

    Recent Bogen PA offerings have a common SS ouput circuit that is coupled to an line driver tranny to match 70V and 100V lines - I believe that it also has a 16 ohm tap. If anyone has one of these it make for a quick test.

    Rob

  5. #40
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    I recall an older 2x12 combo that was made by Baldwin. Couldn't say what the model was, but it had this really cool pushbutton switchbank for selecting trem, reverb and channels. Seems like most of the colors of the rainbow were used on it. Looked like it was purchased from the Partridge Family. But it is probably the coolist sounding clean SS amp I've heard. The Polytone mini-brute was pretty nice too.

    As for dirty sounds, can't say that it was really good sounding, but the
    Fender M-80 pretty much ruled the local scene (for ss players) in my area with it's ultimate 80's cheese tone distortion channel. Pretty much made everyone sound like ... (insert hair band guitarist here).

  6. #41
    Noodle of Reality Steve Conner's Avatar
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    Well, I went and bought a Class-D digital power amp to experiment with I got the BP4078 from ColdAmp and the SPS30 switching power supply that goes with it. Both modules together take up less space than the 300W bass output transformer, and weigh a hell of a lot less too.

    I'm testing it right now with some classical music and a hi-fi speaker, and it sounds great, just completely clean with no unwanted noise or distortion. It probably has more THD than a linear power amp would, but it's impossible to tell. And at 400W it has enough headroom that you fear the speakers might explode into matchwood on the loud passages.

    So I guess my mission is to inject some Motown bass mojo into this perfect and completely soulless amp module My plan is to build a whole mini tube amp ahead of it, complete with a tiny output transformer and dummy load. If I fail, I can always get another one and use them for my stereo.
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    Hi all, love the forum. anyhow I must mention my 1982 Fender Yale Reverb - ss and has a beautiful clean sound, but turn up the gain and it can rock out

  8. #43
    Noodle of Reality Steve Conner's Avatar
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    Oh, that's cool, I just fixed an old London Reverb 1x12" combo last week. I think it's similar to the Yale Reverb, maybe a tad bigger with more knobs. It sounded pretty good, IMO. Even the dirty channel was pretty good for a solid state amp. If all my tube amps somehow broke, I'd gig with it.
    "Enzo, I see that you replied parasitic oscillations. Is that a hypothesis? Or is that your amazing metal band I should check out?"

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    In the late 70's Randall had a SS amp called the "Sustainor" that sounded a lot like a cranked stack, that was the only sound it would do but it was a good one.

  10. #45
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    I have to chime in with a vote for the Peavey Bandit. I had an early one that I loved.

    I also owned a Yamaha DG80 that was tolerable...

    I currently own and really like the Crate Power Block. Cheap - versatile - portable - and pretty darn good sounding!

    Ed

  11. #46
    HTH
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    best SS amp I've had was a Randall Titan 300w beast. cleans were great and spankin with as much headroom as you could ever want. the overdrive went from rock to metal with ease. admittedly it was geared towards the 'metal' end of the spectrum, but it had an amazing 'chunk' in the bass end.

    HTH - Heavier Than Hell

  12. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by daz View Post
    the second worse was my first amp ever.....a 70's peavey pacer. Not as bad as that last one, but pretty horrible.
    This is funny. I remember my Pacer from about 1977-78 sounding fairly awful too. But about a month ago I saw one at a swapmeet and bought it. Sentimental I guess. It was in decent shape, still had the original speaker, and for $45 (that's a dollar a watt, folks), I couldn't pass it up.

    Guess what? It sounds pretty effing good! It's got a very snappy transient response without being overly dry and edgy, probably due to some Ge clipping diodes that are blended with the clean signal. The cabinet has a nicely focused tone and is made of actual plywood, although the baffle is particle board (which doesn't really make any sense). It even projected well in the context of bass and drums in a large garage/studio. The reverb is not too hard to listen to either.

    I called Peavey, and not only did they send me a schemo and owner's manual, but the paperwork was original, not copies. Inside the chassis I was surprised to find a medium-sized coupling transformer between the preamp and the power section. Who knows, that might have something to do with the more forgiving sound.

    Anyway, the Pacer exceeded my expectations by turning out to be more that just a memento. Maybe inexperience was to blame for how bad I remember it sounding. Now it's another cool sound in my arsenal. . . .

    BTW, I was going to suggest a contrasting "Worst Tube Amp" thread, but someone beat me to it. As for that, I have a Mesa SOB that can sound as dry and brittle as any bad SS if not dialed in just right. Any tips for sweetening that thing up welcome.

  13. #48
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    Best one I heard was Wilko Johnson through an HH 100 watt 2 x 12 combo. Just love that mid 70s interpretation of proper percussive rhythm and lead guitar. Tried to play one once, but just couldn't get it to work for me in the same way.

    I'd find it a lot harder to pick the worst, but the Fender Stage 160 DSP is high on the list at the moment. I know Peavey made a few versions of the "Bandit", but I can't rememebr ever playing one of the good sounding ones, if you know what I mean.

    I nearly turned this into a new thread, but would anyone like to contribute to "Great tunes played by great guitarists using a transistor amp"?

    I could make a start with Dr Feelgood, Wilko Johnson, "She does it right", from the Stupidity album. (In fact anything from that album.)

  14. #49
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    Cool

    Roland Bc60-310 Blues Cube with three ten inch speakers
    all kinds of controls and buttons to dial in the sound to approximate different sounds from the classic tube amps.

    Can get some great tones from it, and it is rock solid, but still they haven't figured out how to dial in the warmth of a tube amp

  15. #50
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    i have a fender frontman 212 r (100w amp with 2 12" speakers and reverb) not too bad an amp. nice clean sound and reasonable distortion. i hadn't owned a tube amp yet (atleast not a completed one) until last night when i picked up my monster

    the solidstate amp is more versatile, but the gap may close once i clean the pots on the new amp, its been sitting in someones garage for 20 years so the pots are mighty scratchy, and there are only some spots where they make contact. ive got some cleaner so ill get going on that tonight.

  16. #51
    rf7
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    Quote Originally Posted by beginwhereUR View Post
    Anyway, the Pacer exceeded my expectations by turning out to be more that just a memento. Maybe inexperience was to blame for how bad I remember it sounding. Now it's another cool sound in my arsenal. . . .
    I used to gig with a Pacer with an EV 12L speaker inside and I thought it sounded pretty good. I did a punk rock record with it and people thought I was using a Marshall. It was pretty loud too, with that EV inside.

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    Anyone mention SUNN amps?? I've been using the Sunn Coliseum Bass amp for some time, and man oh man, it is by far the best sounding SS head I've ever heard for bass. I even prefer it over my 71V4-B!

    Also, Pearce Amps, were some amazing pieces of solid state gear.

  18. #53
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    A Roland JC comes to mind as a good SS amp.
    The backup I carry is a Fender Ultimate Chorus...I pedal in for over drive tones.
    The Clean is about as pretty as i gets for a SS amp.

  19. #54
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    Best sounding SS amp

    For Guitar, Crate VTX-200S
    For Bass, Ampeg SVT-200TH

  20. #55
    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Another vote for the Peavey Bandit.

    Chuck

  21. #56
    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    Wink

    Marshall Lead 100 Mosfet. One of the most misunderstood amps out there.

  22. #57
    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    You know, I never owned one so I didn't put it through alot of paces, but I once played a GK head at Guitar Center that had the most tube like distortion circuit I ever heard in a SS amp. That was probably around 16 or 17 years ago.

    Chuck

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    I have a Fender Princeton Chorus, great Amp, at least for me, Maybe I'm not that demanding, but I could use any channel, any time. Using the distortion channel with not too much drive and adding a BOSS superoverdrive before the amp is just fantastic. Plus, It has enough volume to kick with presence in a band situation.

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    Had a roland jazz chorus once , the clean sound was incredible, but the distortion sound was poor, after all it was stolen and i got a musicman hybrid instead.

    But for me (just in my commemoration) the best overdriven solid state amp sound i ever had, was my very first (japanese) little guitar amp with 6 watt driven hard by a solid state microphone preamp, sorry i can't remember the name of it.

    I bought a little amp called MARATHON some months ago at ebay and although the speaker is much to small, the overdriven sound is great with a 4x12 cab it sounds really fat: lots of gain with all volumes full up (two gain stages and a mastervolume) i think its called MGA-20 or so

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    Ss-ampeg 150

    I was using an ampeg svt pro-3 thru an 8x10 cab forever. the other day it crapped out on me. as a back up, i had my dad's old acoustic 150. i had never played bass thru it before and when i plugged it in, i was blown away. no it does not have a hifi sound or is it extremely tweakable but it is LOUD. i am playing it thru my 8x10 cabinet and it is awesome. i haven't even taken my svt pro-3 in for repair because i like this sound so much. it has the perfect growl.

    as a side note, my dad also gave me the 6x10 cabinet that he bought with it. i use that for guitar. i am playing a jcm 800 thru it and it sounds incredible. every gig i play, people are amazed by that cabinet. it is pretty rare and it sounds awesome.

    i am however, nervous about taking this head and the cab out on the road too much as it would be hard to replace them...

  26. #61
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    I've got a little 15 Watt Crate with a little spring reverb and an 8" speaker I bought new for maybe $80. Sounds great with an acoustic or jazz box, and the overdrive channel doesn't make me laugh. Tone is where you find it.

  27. #62
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    Polytone

    Polytone Taurus II - This is somewhere around 100W, super clean sound with great tone quality. The on-board effects suck but that is typical of any amp - I tend to stay from builtin effects. It also has 2 6" speakers on the sides, good for keeping the drummer tuned in. Only problem is that it has NO air circulation to the power amp and tends to overheat - probably an easy fix if I ever get around to it.

  28. #63
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    Electro Harmonix Mike Matthews Dirt Road Special

    Hi I am new to this forum and love it already.
    The best sounding SS amp ever to me - and I am so glad that I managed to get my hands on one in nice condition is the

    Electro Harmonicx Mike Matthews Dirt Road Special.

    It has a long name for sure, but is extremely low on controls: Vol, Tone, Bite, that's it fellas. Also features a non footswitchable built in EH Small Stone Phaser.

    I have gigged this amp at Sessions, use it only for Blues stuff and it knocks the socks off everyone. Have had other guitarists play it on sessions, they all would not believe it is solid state. It is very dynamic, great punch and bottom end and cuts right through the band. Very harmonic when going into saturation. If you find one of these babys, get one. Luod as hell, funny looking, easy to carry and they scare the living shit out of that guy with the Deluxe Reverb Reissue!
    He, he

    pushpull

  29. #64
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    weighing in on the Peavey Bandit 75

    I bought a Bandit 75 1X12 combo back in the early 80's also, and have really enjoyed it's light weight and punchy sounds. I play mostly clean, or with a Boss ME5 multi-effects pedal to get the distortion I need because the overdrive channel does sound a bit like a kazoo, or maybe a piece of waxed paper wrapped around a comb or some such. But it does have killer reverb! And it's loud enough for any room I've ever played in - though sometimes I mic it.

  30. #65
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    Fender Princeton Chorus for clean

    Someone mentioned this earlier, but I'll second the Fender Princeton Chorus for clean sounds. I used to have one before I downsized a bit, and I play jazz and that thing sounded really great. The stereo chorus and reverb were top notch, and it had quite a bit of headroom. I didn't play around much with the distortion channel, but it sounded okay to me. A lot of people online don't seem to like the dirty channel much though.

    The guy that bought it from me brought over his lap steel and it sounded just fantastic.

    That being said, I'm all tube now ;-)

  31. #66
    Junior Member Leftymatson's Avatar
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    I had a Rheem Califone amp (Rheem as in air conditioning) that sounded great at the time - 1969 - and I've never seen another. It put out about 15 Watts and broke up nicely. It was very light weight with a single 12.

    If we're including bass amps, I really like my Gallien Kruger 800RB. Two amps,300W for lows, 100W for highs with a built-in crossover and a mid--cut feature I didn't think I'd use until I tried it. Sounds good with my Jerry Jones Longhorn bass, a Sunn type cube cabinet with a PV Black Widow 15 and a 2X10 GK cabinet.

    I used a Sunn 2000S with a 2X15 folded horn cabinet for years until I had to lug it up some rickety outdoor stairs one time too many. The three piece GK setup is much easier to haul around and fills any room I play.

  32. #67
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    Polytone MiniBrute II

    I have a 70's era Polytone MiniBrute II, which was my first amp. Velvet covered! I bought it since I needed an amp to go with my first electric. Didn't know anything about amps. But for clean and warm, it still delivers.

    One thing I've found is that the EQ (Bass and Treble) have really large sweeps of gain and reduction. Way more than any tube amp. I tend to notice that in SS amps. A lot more EQ range. Any reason why?

    The amp is small, yet very powerful. I've kept it for all these years (since 1986) because it's a great second amp. You can plug a bass into it to play at room levels for jamming etc... A little workhorse.

    The distortion channel is that usual weird SS distortion, which I NEVER used. But I did use it once recording a song. And you know what? It actually sounded great!

    I didn't realize till this year that these Polytones were used by Jazz giants and have a good demand.

  33. #68
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    [A lot more EQ range. Any reason why?]

    It's because solid state amps often employ active EQ circuits, where the tone controls are in the feedback path of an IC, or transistor gain stage. This gives them an actual boost or cut, often + or - 12db or more. Tube amps usually employ passive EQ circuits which can really only cut frequencies. They give the illusion of boosting highs or lows by cutting everything (insertion loss) and then adding back certain frequency ranges. The overall range of this type of tone circuit (passive) is far less than a circuit which borrows energy from the power supply (active) to provide cut or boost.

    RE

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    My best SS is an old Peavey BackStage (80-81) 20 watter, came stock with a spring reverb and a ton of mojo!. I've had way to many offers to sell it over the years. Only maintance has been to clean the pots, and beef up the speaker. It's By far the best $10.00 amp I ever scored on for SS. Then there is the pignose ;-}

  35. #70
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    'road electronics' anyone ?

    there was a mid 70s company called 'road electronics' ... i think its what bud ross did after kustom . anyway , all solid state bass amps . the tone is very middle of the road so they also sound good with guitar . i have one , a combo with a 15 , that has no model name or anything identifying (other than 'road' on the front panel and a serial on the back) and i use it for guitar ... and people at the shows are allways asking me about it and saying it sound like tubes , and when i tell em its a 70s all ss bass amp they look at me like im an idiot .
    so anyway , im voting for the old 'Road' amps .
    i heard that one of their sales tactics was to hold a floor model about chest high , throw it on the ground , then plug it back in to show the customer it still works !
    i think their most popular model was the '440 bass' (which i have a schematic for if anyone needs/wants to see it) .
    one more thing , if anyone comes across one of those old 'road' amps and doesnt want it , please let me know , im allways on the hunt for the jokers !

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