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Thread: Tube amp reccomendations

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    Tube amp reccomendations

    I am in the market for a newer lightly used amp. My requirements are that it has a fenderish clean channel and also has a good high gain as well. Doesn't have to be 100 watts, would like 60 at least and 2 12's. Budget is probably 500 max, so nothing super high end or boutique type stuff. So far I have heard some jet city amps, egnator, and black star, the black star ht stage 60 really seems to be the closest to what I am looking for as far as sounding very fenderish on the cleans than British on the gain channels. I know there likely isn't anything that will sound like both in one box for the price I am looking for, but something that can do both well would be nice.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    If you're looking for a combo you really can't go wrong with any of the Fender HR amps or the Peavey Classic amps (used market for either). Not 60 watts, but still loud enough for gigs. If it MUST be 60+ watts for the greater clean headroom then you're in a pickle. Not many amps make watts between 60 and 100 watts and 100 watt amps with channel switching = expensive and is usually a head and requires a cabinet. Most two power tube (big bottles) amps are making 45 or 50 watts. Back in the days of the watt wars there were more 60 (ish) watt amps and many claiming 60 today probably aren't.

    If you already have a cabinet and are looking for a head then don't discount the usefulness of dirt boxes. Way more good tones have been made through pedals than most people know and today there is a range of really good ones (at additional expense). But getting the power and the clean tone you need within your budget is a lot easier if you already have a cabinet and don't mind plugging in a pedal. Most tube amps that aren't broken or known to sound bad actually sound pretty good clean. Used heads from lesser coveted brands like SUNN and Traynor are pretty easy to come by. Shop smart and buy local so you can try before you buy. Old tubes, filter caps, scratchy pots or defunct features should be avoided unless repairs can be handled after purchase within your budget.

    Good luck.

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    Senior Member SoulFetish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bwheat View Post
    I am in the market for a newer lightly used amp. My requirements are that it has a fenderish clean channel and also has a good high gain as well. Doesn't have to be 100 watts, would like 60 at least and 2 12's. Budget is probably 500 max, so nothing super high end or boutique type stuff. So far I have heard some jet city amps, egnator, and black star, the black star ht stage 60 really seems to be the closest to what I am looking for as far as sounding very fenderish on the cleans than British on the gain channels. I know there likely isn't anything that will sound like both in one box for the price I am looking for, but something that can do both well would be nice.
    Chuck has some good suggestions and I will throw one more at you as well. A dark horse candidate which you might like is a Crate Blue Voodoo 60 combo amp.
    This amp was the second Crate I've encountered which totally surprised me. As a player growing up, I thought Crate was total shit and would have brushed this suggestion off and said "no way I'm going to be caught playing a Crate".
    The first amp which I had to admit I was wrong about was when I played a V30 in a buddy's shop. It had a fantastic punchy clean sound that I thought sounded great. I had no idea that it was even a Crate until he told me. I actually bought a used one when I found one because I thought I liked it so much. The V30 doesn't meet your requirements, IMO, because I think the distortion channel is useless.
    But I think the Blue Voodoo 60 combo amp does meet your requirements. This time the amp came in my shop for service. It belonged to a friend of the family and I fixed the initial problem and took care of the rest of the maintenance. Once again, I was not expecting to like this amp at all. But, I was surprised at the quality of both the clean channel and the overdrive channel. This is actually the bread and butter for this amp. You could just use this as a clean amp and use pedals or whatever. The clean channel can stand on it's own. But the overdrive channel has plenty of gain, and they get it right enough in this one.
    Plus, as a technician, I kind of dig some of the circuit design in the channel switching and voicing of the gain stages.

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    I may get drummed out of town for this, but my favorite tube amp to play lately is a Bugera. I got this model 1990 "British Bite" amp for $50 because it stopped working (it was a fuse) and the guy didn't give a damn. Put new, cheap Russian tubes in it and play it through a somewhat dark 4x12 and that thing is fantastic. If you crank the clean channel gain up to 9 (out of 11) or so it starts breaking up really nicely, kind of bassman-ish (or what I think of as bassman breakup, like I really know). On the lead channel it is very Marshally (it is trying to copy the JCM900 Dual Reverb) but if you just barely crack the gain you can get some great crunch like Clapton in Cream. I want to change the taper on the lead gain pot to be able to get more of that sound and give up some granularity on the higher gain stuff, since it doesn't change that much once you get above 3 anyway.

    I actually really like the reverb on it too.

    Interestingly, there are a crap ton of op amps (OK, maybe six) in the Bugera, but I think they are all just buffers for effects, and between some amp stages.

    Had an Egnater Renegade that was just OK, didn't like the reverb at all on it. Have older HR Deville and had a HR Deluxe, OK but had to tube roll to get usable distortion, I like the Crate Vintage Club amps when a) they are working and b) when you can get just the right tubes in them, they seem really sensitive to tube choice, but can get the Vox sound if you like that. Peavey Triumph is actually a pretty great amp but probably older than you want, and they can have reliabiity issues too (I have 3 that don't work!). B-52 has some combo amps (AT112 and AT212) that can do a pretty good Mesa impersonation, the clean sounds a bit like a Lonestar (and the circuit is almost identical) and the gain sounds like a Rectifier (I put in a lower gain tube into V3 I think to bring the gain down a bit). Mine was heavy as hell, though.

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    Last edited by glebert; 06-29-2018 at 08:01 AM.

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    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Hey, I got no beef with Bugera. If you like the sound of it, it is no less reliable than other brands like Marshall even.

    Op amps? Compare the Bugera to this Marshall 4100, the circuits are very similar. They are not just bufers, they are part and parcel of the preamp - it is a hybrid design.

    https://irationaudio.com/2016/02/20/...l-jcm900-4100/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    Op amps? Compare the Bugera to this Marshall 4100, the circuits are very similar. They are not just bufers, they are part and parcel of the preamp - it is a hybrid design.

    https://irationaudio.com/2016/02/20/...l-jcm900-4100/
    I was misremembering the Bugera schematic and how the op amps where used. That 4100 is interesting! Funny how much silicon is sometimes used in high end "all tube" amps.

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    Senior Member Pedro Vecino's Avatar
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    Bugera V55 is an adaptation of the Peavey Classic 30 for 2x6L6. With a more open clean channel and practically the same lead channel. With a boost transformation towards a more conventional mid-shift.

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    Bent Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Just a warning on the Peavey Triumph. I owned one. I bought it for the smokin' gain tones. And it does have that in spades. But the clean tones aren't that loud. I had the 60 and experienced great frustration trying to get up in the mix whenever I tried to gig it. Even in smaller venues.

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    "...less ear-friendly but handy for jazz." Leo_Gnardo

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    "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

    "A shot gun delivers a force that exceeds the operational range of most systems, such as pumpkins." Antigua

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Even if a few suggested above don't make quite 60W , in fact I consider that impossible unless you use "big bottles" such as 6550 and higher-than-normal +V, they are close enough (around 50W) and in any case you can get *real* headroom by using more efficient speakers.

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    Juan Manuel Fahey

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    Just a warning on the Peavey Triumph. I owned one. I bought it for the smokin' gain tones. And it does have that in spades. But the clean tones aren't that loud. I had the 60 and experienced great frustration trying to get up in the mix whenever I tried to gig it. Even in smaller venues.
    Interesting. Was that with the stock speaker (Scorpion Ultra, I think)? None of mine had speakers when I got them and I just use a regular Scorpion in the one that kinda works. Haven't used it for gigging.

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