Advice for an amp upgrade please

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by kleydj13, Dec 24, 2009.


  1. kleydj13

    kleydj13 Member

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    My first and only tube amp was a blues junior that I bought 3 years ago. It has served me very well, I've definitely gotten my money's worth, but I'm thinking it is time to upgrade. I primarily use it as a nice base for fat cleans and then OD with pedals. It is solid, but I've been looking around and listening and I feel like an upgrade would really open up some possibilities with both flexibility and quality. It is time I look at getting a big boy amp.

    There are a few things that stand out as far as priorities:
    1) Sounds great - I love the simplicity of single channel amps, but that isn't a must. I just want something that really wows me as far as its sound quality.

    2) Affordability - I'm on a college budget and I can't justify throwing $2000 at an amp when I have bongo to pay for with college loans.

    3) Wattage - I don't have money for multiple amps (practice and performance) so it would be great to have something that could pull off the stage and the bedroom equally well

    I have been looking around for a while and a few amps have stuck out to me. Let me know what you think of them and please feel free to point me in another direction.

    Egnater Rebel 20 - I like the single channel, 6L6 and EL84 is really interesting, variable wattage seems extremely useful, good price, available to try out at Guitar Center

    Fender Hot Rod Deluxe - Excellent price tag used, plenty of features, 2 solid channels (although the reviews aren't overwhelming on the drive channel), reliable "blue collar" amp, 40 watts may be too much???

    Vox Night Train - Heard good reviews, good price, portability, not sure if it going to be much different from my BJ (15 watts, EL84 tubes, single channel)

    All of these amps are in the sub $500 dollars. I'd like to keep it there. I also am partial to a Fender 6V6 or 6L6 power tube section, but it seems like an overwhelming amount of these amps in this category are EL84. I also am partial to moving away from features to simplicity, but I haven't played enough amps to really know what works best yet. Anyways I would appreciate any suggestions or advice.

    Oh yeah, about me: I play lots of blues, rock, and worship music. I have a homemade warmoth strat HSS and a homemade allparts tele. I use a modest pedal board with mostly OD's and boosts. I love SRV, Hendrix, and a nicely overdriven neck single coil. Thanks in advance.

    Kley
     
  2. Gtowngearhead

    Gtowngearhead Member

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    The HRDx may be a little too much for bedroom use. You could tame it a bit with lower gain preamp tubes but a lot of people think it robs you of your tone. EL84s will sound different than the 6L6 variety. I would venture to say a 6L6 amp might be a better base platform for pedals.. EL84s are dominant in small wattage amps b/c you can run two and get 15 watts... A single 6V6 can push 15 by itself.. I wish more amps would run a single 6V6. But I think you're three choices listed are the best you're going to find... There are a few other heads in that price range, but a lot of them are good for a cranked sound only, not so much the cleans. I think there was an omega modded blonde HRDx listed on this site not too long ago for $650 or something like that... Very good value right there.
     
  3. suhrbrutal

    suhrbrutal Senior Member

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    Find an older Traynor, or Silverface Fender. Great values, Point to Point that will take pedals like a dream. Beats most of the newer stuff, and has really good components and transformers.
     
  4. kleydj13

    kleydj13 Member

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    Is there an amp out there under 30 Watts with either 6V6 or 6L6 tubes that is pretty reasonably priced? I love the HRDX's price and the sound is pretty good, but it just is too loud for my uses. 9 times out of 10 I won't be able to push the volume to where it really works like it should. I'm a little confused as to why Fender pumped it up to 40 Watts when the DRRI is 22 Watts. I guess I'd love to find an amp that is a copy of a DRRI in a head format stripped down of its "fender Reissue" price tag. I'm still impressed by the Egnater Rebel 20 and its features, but I also am drawn towards the simplicity and "less is more" vibe of the normal channel on the old Fenders. Maybe a 6V6 amp with simple controls somewhere between 10 and 30 watts. My Blues Junior is 15 Watts and i don't normally get the master above 2 so I don't see how increasing the wattage would help.

    I know my budget is the biggest problem here. There are plenty of nice Fender copies with nice upgrades ( I was checking out a Samamp 23 that seems just amazing ) in the $1K and up category, but I just can't pull that right now. There are amps in my price range, but they all seem to be EL84 based and I've already got that in my BJ. There are probably loads of factors that I just don't understand about tube choice and amp making that create this, but I still am confused.
     
  5. kleydj13

    kleydj13 Member

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    I have been digging around in the archives about people looking at amps and recommendations for Silverface Fenders are pretty common. I think that would be really cool and it seems to be very affordable for something that is high quality, reliable, and great sound. The only concern I have is my lack of knowledge about old Fenders. Are these readily available on eBay? Is eBay a trustworthy source? Do I need to scout guitar shops in Minneapolis? Should I look for a listing here on TGP? Regardless of where I look, what exactly should I look for? Would it be a Fender Bassman, bandmaster, deluxe, or all of the above? What sort of condition can I trust? I just feel like I don't know anything about old amps ( I was born in 1987 ). The modern HRDX is an amp that I have played through, and so I feel like I know what I'll get.
     
  6. Gtowngearhead

    Gtowngearhead Member

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    Well man if you think a HRDx is too loud for you then a 30W amp isn't going to be much better.. Audio is a base 10 system, so a 50W amp is only twice as loud as a 5W amp(in theory). If you are looking for fat cleans, you're going to need something in the 30-40 watt range to get the headroom.. Bassman would be good, or a super reverb, maybe a virbolux, deluxe reverb.. Fender is known for cleans. The silverface amps are just less desirable than black or brown face.. I would check the local shops to see what they have, but don't impulse buy. A lot of times local shops will price gouge, especially if they think they're the only place in town where you could even dream of getting whatever you're looking for. Ebay is a gamble for sure. TGPers are probably you're best bet. But any old fender over 20w will probably fit your purposes just fine.. Go out and read some history while you're at it.. I was born in '88 =P.
     
  7. leofenderbender

    leofenderbender Supporting Member

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    Spend a little bit more and get a Mesa Blue Angel.

    The Power section allows you to switch or combine 2x6V6s and 4xEL84s for 15, 33, or 38 Watts of Class A Power. With the right speakers, the tone can be stunning. Used, it comes in a little over the price you are willing to pay but it is very versatile - lots of amp for the money.

    5x12AX7
    5AR4 Tube Rectified
    Spring Reverb
    Bright/fat switch
    Effects loop
     
  8. amp boy

    amp boy Member

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    used silverface DR
    used princeton reverb
    used vox ac15
     
  9. RJLII

    RJLII Member

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    Try out a Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb Reissue. Some folks sneer at them but they're really nice amps. With a good set of tubes they sound great. They're nice and light too. You can pick them up used in the $500 range.
     
  10. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    In addition to the Silver Face Fenders,
    Keep your eye on the lookout for an Allen Amps Sweet Spot or Accomplice.

    They may cost more than your stated budget, but are well worth saving for.
     
  11. welcometoashley

    welcometoashley Supporting Member

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    what about buying the hot rod deluxe and investing in a reasonably priced power attenuator (like a weber mini-mass)? i've found that deluxe reverbs (which are still pretty loud) are around the $675 - $800 range on the used market since Fender increased their retail prices.....
     
  12. kleydj13

    kleydj13 Member

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    If I were to save for a while and I bumped up my price range to under $1000 what would be the best price per performance amp out there?
     
  13. tbp0701

    tbp0701 Member

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    I'm going to offer some crazy advice and possibly get flamed for it. You already have a good, solid, affordable amp. The Blues Jr. gets slighted a lot on forums, but it is probably one of best currently-made club amps for anywhere near its price. There are a few competitors, like the recent Voxes, Peavy Classics and older Crate V-Series/Palominos (before production moved, anyway), but they're still peers of the Blues Junior, and you already have that.

    Also, there aren't many amps that can effectively pull off bedroom and club sound levels. Possible considerations would be ones where you can switch wattage, like the Mesa Boogie 5:25 and 5:50 (I tried one briefly and really liked it) or something like a Valvetrain Lexington (I just know of its existence). There are others.

    So, my advice is to try out a few and see what meets your playing style and needs, so you don't wind up looking for an amp again fairly soon. In short, don't just get another amp just because it's another amp or it's the current rage on forums (the current rage changes a lot).

    I'm also considering another amp besides my Pro Junior (and Tech 21 Trademark 10). My own shortlist mainly consists of small builders creating fairly affordable amps based on tweed or blackface designs (Li'l Dawg, David Allen, maybe Valvetrain), or finding something along the lines of a vintage silverface Princeton Reverb or even tweed or brown Princeton.
     
  14. franchelB

    franchelB Member

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    Personally, I'd stay away from the Fender Hot Rod series. I've also been in a blues band where 1 guitarist uses an "NOS" Blues Jr. and the other one uses an Egnater Rebel 20. Both sound GREAT...and LOUD (in combination)!

    I also think that Fender's Deluxe Reverb used with a "Fender" guitar is just a "classic" combination. It's hard to dial a "bad" sound. And the Vox AC-30 is just a "classic" amp...period.

    I use a Peavey Delta Blues, and it's part of Peavey's Classic Series of amps. Many people use Peavey's Classic 30, and love the sound...and affordability.
     
  15. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

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