40w or 20w?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by MartinC, Feb 19, 2008.

  1. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    I'm weighing up an amp, available as either 2xEL84 or 4xEL84 combo, giving 20w or 40w respectively.

    I play mostly at home, occasional jams, occasional full band rehearsal and infrequently on stage. I'm aware that I would not be able to turn my amp up anywhere near full at home. I have a 30W EL84 combo currently. So either amp will have to sound good at lower volumes, otherwise I won't buy.

    My thinking at this point is the 40W given the following:
    • If I do end up playing in full band scenarios in the future, I don't want to buy another amp if 20W falls short
    • 40W won't, in any case, be twice as loud.
    • At lower volumes I can use always use pedals if I'm not quite getting what I'm after (I know that contradicts what I said earlier a bit ... I'm not expecting to get the same grin factor at lower volumes with the amp alone, but do expect to get good tones ... with possibly some pedal OD)
    A penny for your thoughts ...
     
  2. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

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    I always go for more headroom-clean or distorted. I'd go 40. Bob
     
  3. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Big bingo there. I always opt for additional headroom up to around 60 watts in my home studio. Anything bigger is too much for my needs. I have a hard time getting good cleans at sufficient volumes with amps under 40 watts or thereabouts. AT the same time, crunch and distortion tones are available at volumes that don't raise the roof and piss off the neighbors. For my needs, 40 to 60 watts offers the best options. YMMV.
     
  4. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    2-nil at the moment to 40w then ... anyone else?
     
  5. PFCG

    PFCG Member

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    id go 40 because 20 just wont cut it sometimes in a jam. 35-40 watts is plenty headroom for small jams and gigging in small clubs. Plus more clean headroom. And more headroom...headroom
     
  6. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Me too - gotta love those volume knobs. Way easier to turn down a 40w amp than find more headroom in a 20w.

    Dana O.
     
  7. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    4-nil to 40w ... thanks people ...
     
  8. rreiser

    rreiser Supporting Member

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    Maybe find an amp that has four EL-84s or 6V6s and is switchable to half power for home use. XITS amps has a killer 4 El-84 amp and you can use either pair separately or all 4 at one time.
     
  9. Free

    Free Member

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    It's simple as headroom. Do you want to CRANK the output stage at most shows = 20 watt. Do you want a lot of clean headroom and be getting overdrive with OD pedals at most shows = 40 watt.
     
  10. Sniper-V

    Sniper-V Member

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    I have a thing for amps in the 30-watt range or so.

    It seems to be the perfect power rating of balance for going both clean and wanting to drive the amp. It will have decent headroom for running clean comfortably with plenty of volume for most apps, especially if mic'd. When driven, its loud, but a good manageable loud.

    So, I would go 40 in your case.

    Of course, this is IMO.
     
  11. jcoggins7

    jcoggins7 Member

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    I'd go 40 as well for the headroom.
     
  12. localmotion411

    localmotion411 Member

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    I have pretty much moved completely away from the low-wattage thing after much trial and error.

    After not being satisfied with my drive pedals through lower wattage amps, I bit the bullet and got a Komet Concorde (50-watts clean, at least 75-watts cranked). My drive pedals have never sounded so good. At ALL volume levels. I attribute it to the bigger iron, increased wattage, and big tubes. Just more oomph across the entire volume range. My amps will be 40-watts and up from now on.
     
  13. trey85stang

    trey85stang Member

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    if you want power tube saturation... 20w. IF you can live without 40w.
     
  14. JimH

    JimH Member

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    Sod it - 20W!!!

    ...You've heard all the reasoning, but 20 is fine for me - in fact still too loud. All I can add to the discussion is that yes it's easier to turn down a bigger amp, but that;s the rationale that created the attenuator industry. Amps have an optimum 'sweet spot'. I think it's wise to have one that you can reach regularly rather than get an amp that will sound amazing at some imaginary gig you never end up playing. I know it's nice to be ready for the call, but realistically?

    ....And I play gigs with 20W.
     
  15. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    40 watts with a master volume or power scaling will allow you to
    drive the amp harder at lower volumes or open it up for live band situations.

    The ideal is to buy an amp that allows you to change out the power tubes
    from 6L6's to 6V6's, or EL34's that would give you several power ranges.

    Check out the Category 5 Andrew
    also the VVT Amps Fralin
     
  16. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    That would be ideal, and I'd love to find one that suits ... but the amps that I've tried that have had that as an option haven't been quite my cup of tea (Genz Benz Black Pearl, Boogie 5:50 and 5:25 and Blackstar 15 and 30). I'm in Australia and the choice is nowhere near as great as in the USA, not to mention that amps here are relatively expensive vs USA prices. So all that considered, I'm not ruling out amps that don't have power reduction options, so long as they sound good at lower volumes.
     
  17. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    Down there, you may as well find a good custom builder and order exactly
    what you want rather than paying rediculous import duties for something
    greatly overpriced.
     
  18. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    Hi Jim ... I think you helped me out with some information about my Classic 30 a while back. Your reasoning is the primary thing that has been nagging me. I think the overwhelming opinion so far is to go for 40w ... but this is still nagging me :messedup. I think it comes down to the amp itself ... does the 40w sound good at lower volume, and not too different to when the volume's up a bit. It's a two channel amp by the way, with master on the dirty channel, rather than single channel NMV that you have to crank to get into OD.
     
  19. MartinC

    MartinC Member

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    I've done a little research on that front ... there are a few local builders. A bit beyond my budget, and in some cases more expensive than US builders, even after shipping and duty. The Aussie dollar is pretty strong at the moment.

    Ceriatone might be a cheaper option since they are pretty competitively priced, but I don't think they do stuff with power reduction/scaling ... at least in their standard range.

    The killer is that I'd really need to try the amp first too. If only I had a trip to the US on the cards ...
     
  20. JimH

    JimH Member

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    Hi Martin, sorry to throw a fly in the ointment. I am only talking about my personal experiences - I'm sure plenty of guys have great master volumes and stuff - just I never have!... Given your criteria I think it will be hard to try something in Aus. But then that can be the case in Europe too. What is available to you near by? Could you try an Orange Tiny Terror? To get a feel of 2 x EL84 amps.

    Just to give you an idea I've had various Marshall and Selmer 50W amps, matamp 1224 valve switching, used yellow jackets and attenuators in various amps and now got a Cornell 20W with power scaling. My other main amp is a Cornell Romany - in which I use a yellow jacket. Guess I'm a bit of a quiet freak (even though I gig). If I were in the market now I'd probably get a Badger.

    Seems to me it's all about unadulterated tone - how do we achieve that? My personal preference is right sized amp.
     

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