Battle of the 20W Plexis

danilo93

Member
Messages
8
Hi all!

I am looking for a 20W ish plexi style single channel amp head for band practice and the occasional gig. There have been a bunch of these released recently so I am a bit unsure which I should buy. Unfortunately I live too far away from any store that stocks these so I can't try them before I make my purchase. These are the contenders:

- Marshall SV20H: An obvious contender. I am a bit unsure about its versatility and the quality of the effect loop.
- Victory Sheriff 22: A very interesting alternative. I have heard some not so good things about the effect loop though. Also it's 28W, so might be too loud?
- Friedman Little Sister: Seems to tick all of my boxes, but is about $500 more expensive for me than any of the others.
- PRS HDRX 20: Sounds great in all the demos I have heard, but it has no effect loop. I am also a bit worried about the versatility of this one.

TLDR below:
I have owned many amplifiers in my day and I have never found a tube amp that fit me well. I love the tone of tube breakup but with most of my amps have been either way too loud or a bit uninspiring. My most recent purchase was a 50W Supro Statesman head that had a glorious clean sound, but was way too loud with my band on the drive (red) channel. When I practice at home I almost always use my Yamaha THR set to the lead channel, which is based around a plexi sound. I think it sounds really great at practice volume and it works with my playing style as well. If I want more gain I boost it with a klon-style overdrive and if I want a cleaner sound I dial down the gain or roll off the volume on my guitar. This way I feel that I can cover almost anything I need to be able to play. In my band I play mostly classic rock (think ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin etc.), old school metal (from Black Sabbath through Iron Maiden to early Metallica) and the occasional cleaner stuff (RHCP, Mayer, etc.). The other guitar player in my band uses a Blackstar JJN-20RH which seems to have the perfect amount of headroom for us, so that is what I am aiming for in terms of wattage. I also use some reverb, delay and phaser and for that I want a good effect loop. I also want the amp to be able to clean up well when I roll off amp gain or guitar volume. The guitar I use almost exclusively is an LP Standard with coil splitting.


Has anyone shot these out against each other or has any experience with these that can help me with my decision?
All help is appreciated!
 

goodkungfu

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
799
I’m bumping this as I’m looking at exactly the same Amps.

I’ve played the Marshall and it’s probably the most “plexi”. But maybe the least versatile?

PRS looks great for the price but lacks the fx loop which is odd as it has a master, suggesting the pre is doing most of the gain?

Little sister looks fab but more JTM 45 than plexi? Plus, you know, the moolah.

Looking to pair mine with a 1x12 alnico cream cab.

Any one have experience with the above?
 

Frosted Glass

Member
Messages
2,794
As I understand part of the plexi charm is the power amp distorting, so loops don’t really work or achieve their purpose with the design since there’s distortion happening after the loop if you’re trying to get classic rock levels of gain, which is also very loud without a master volume. If you want a plexi, your delay and reverb signal is going to be distorted whether you’re out front or in a loop, unless you’re setting the amp clean.

I have a Marshall 2061, which is a 20w design from that JMP era. It’s a fun amp and I imagine the SV20 is similar. But there’s a reason channel switchers were invented. On a 4 hole you either jump the channels and have everything on 10 and ride the volume knob on the guitar or you plug into the low input and run pedals. There’s really no way to get the amp’s full overdrive potential and the pedal platform thing happening together.
 

Yer Blues

Member
Messages
9,557
I was on a similar search a few years back and ended up with a silver jubilee combo... it's not plexi, but I wanted a 12 inch speaker. It's worked out pretty well for me. I can crank it, ride volume knob, and mostly boost with an EQ or EP boost.

I wasn't aware Friedman was releasing a Little Sister combo... looks pretty interesting. I have a Dirty Shirley mini combo and I wish it was 12 inch speaker. I've used it at gigs and there have been times I wish it had a little more. The Little Sister combo looks almost exactly what I was looking for....
 

MBreinin

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,507
Mahaffay Hi-Lo Plexi. It is an all tube circuit that ouputs 1/2 watt and then is internally reamped with a 33 watt SS power amp. It can drive a full stack if you want, or any speaker setup you want to throw at it. It also has a single ended line out/loop that works well with a TRS Y cable. Or, you can use it to record direct with the same line out that serves as the loop (which is what I use mine for mostly) OR run that into a tube power amp (or loop return in an amp) of your choice for even more tube goodness. 3 levels of gain, from JTM45 style to pissed off Variac Plexi. It is also tiny, smaller than most lunchbox amps and takes pedals really well. Since it uses a 12AX7 and a 12AU7 or AT7, you can experiment a lot with various NOS and new tubes, making it great for tube rollers. It is also less than $500 new and used usually around $300.
 

Axe-Man

Member
Messages
8,081
You mention volume constraints. Are you sure you want a Plexi?

Basically they are amps that need to be cranked super loud (for whatever wattage they are produced at) to get the sound they are known for.

Awesome fun but LAF. That little 20w SV20 has an excellent set of lungs for it’s size/weight.
 

BADHAK

Member
Messages
10,645
As I understand part of the plexi charm is the power amp distorting, so loops don’t really work or achieve their purpose with the design since there’s distortion happening after the loop if you’re trying to get classic rock levels of gain, which is also very loud without a master volume. If you want a plexi, your delay and reverb signal is going to be distorted whether you’re out front or in a loop, unless you’re setting the amp clean.

I have a Marshall 2061, which is a 20w design from that JMP era. It’s a fun amp and I imagine the SV20 is similar. But there’s a reason channel switchers were invented. On a 4 hole you either jump the channels and have everything on 10 and ride the volume knob on the guitar or you plug into the low input and run pedals. There’s really no way to get the amp’s full overdrive potential and the pedal platform thing happening together.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other(cranked v pedal platform)
Plexi type amps sound great set for low-medium gain where the picking dynamics and/or vol knob cleanup can result in very usable cleans and the amp is working enough that it’ll swallow up boosts.
 

BADHAK

Member
Messages
10,645
The Marshall will be an actual ‘Plexi’(and will therefore have the Plexi volume that needs to be tamed) while the others will be loosely based on a Plexi and will have most of the volume issues addressed.
 

snow and steel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,414
My signature Stephens is a 1987 plexi circuit with the bright cap removed, the gain lowered on the 'normal' channel, and the resonate peak lowered on the presence knob to eliminate the white noise in the power section common with these circuit. The entire thing is built by hand, point to point on a turret board. Everything is chassis mounted, and Built To Last 3 lifetimes. There is a 20 watt and a 50 watt version. The 50 is 2x el34's, the 20 is 2x 6v6. I actually use the 20 watt version - and it's honestly still too loud for any bar. It needs to be a good size venue, or outside - someplace where volume is expected.

Because the design has no "gain knob", then getting all your classic plexi tones revolves around volume - not only making the tubes and the phase inverter work, but the speakers as well [it's all a part of the tone]. I 7se greenbacks.

I like the presence on full, bass around 3, mids on full, treble on 6, volume 1 [high treble] about 6.5, volume 2 [normal] about 6, jumpered.

This is seriously loud. If you aren't playing out doors or a 300 or more capacity place, it probably isn't for you if used this way - just being honest.

You CAN use it as a pedal platform to keep the volume down for bar use - plug into the 'normal' high gain channel only, shut the bass off, mids and treble and presence on full, and volume 2 at 3 or under will be a beautiful clean for pedal platform use, and not bust out any windows... but I also bet you could get the same thing done with the normal side of a deluxe reverb and not be hauling quite as much gear. Again - just being honest.

Any way you slice it - a plexi head on a 2x12 or 4x12 is not really about being controlled and subtle if you are going for authentic "plexi tone".

FB_IMG_1622387301971.jpg
 

tonedover

This Is Fine.
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
8,229
You mention volume constraints. Are you sure you want a Plexi?

Basically they are amps that need to be cranked super loud (for whatever wattage they are produced at) to get the sound they are known for.

Awesome fun but LAF. That little 20w SV20 has an excellent set of lungs for it’s size/weight.
Lungs? Lol it screams like a jet engine…. No way id get the sv20 without a fryette power station
 

Gasp100

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
27,234
SV20 (with attenuator like Tone King Ironman Mini II) for the closest approximation to a Plexi style Marshall.
I'm digging the Little Sister, but I think it's fuller, thicker in the lower mids which I prefer. I also personally think it's way more versatile and easier to control and the Master volume is excellent.
 
Messages
3,093
Mahaffay Hi-Lo Plexi. It is an all tube circuit that ouputs 1/2 watt and then is internally reamped with a 33 watt SS power amp. It can drive a full stack if you want, or any speaker setup you want to throw at it. It also has a single ended line out/loop that works well with a TRS Y cable. Or, you can use it to record direct with the same line out that serves as the loop (which is what I use mine for mostly) OR run that into a tube power amp (or loop return in an amp) of your choice for even more tube goodness. 3 levels of gain, from JTM45 style to pissed off Variac Plexi. It is also tiny, smaller than most lunchbox amps and takes pedals really well. Since it uses a 12AX7 and a 12AU7 or AT7, you can experiment a lot with various NOS and new tubes, making it great for tube rollers. It is also less than $500 new and used usually around $300.
I’ve had one of these for seven years now and getting a second one built plus a custom 4x6.5 Mahaffay matching cab (8 ohm, 100w). It’s going to be my go to setup for taking anywhere with me to play.

One of the best sounding mini Plexi/JMP sounding amps I’ve heard.

I use an Ebtech line level shifter for the insert style fx loop also to take it from +4db to -10db then through a couple fx and back to Ebtech to take from -10db back up to +4db.

I have a single button footswitch for mine and set it so it goes from Normal to Gain and back. A flip of the toggle in back and it will make the footswitch go from Bright to Gain.

For me Normal is Led Zeppelin type gain and Gain is VH1 sounds.

One of the best designed mini tube amps and tube changes are easy and inexpensive but since they are preamp tubes for both preamp and power amp, they last a very long time.

It does the same thing in one box that I do with my 50 watt Plexi and Fryette PS2, except it’s reamping to 33 watts instead of 50 watts. Drives my 410 and 212 cabs at the same time and sounds monstrous.

Tris is good on support too.
 

fiveightandten

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,550
First, forget the EL-84 amps. As someone who is a huge fan of EL-84 amps; a pair of EL-84s just doesn't do a Plexi sound. The Friedman and Victory do Marshall-inspired tones, but if you're looking for the tone of a Plexi (as in; a 1959, or perhaps 1987), you need EL-34s.

The SV20 does it as good as you'll get without the real thing. However, if a 50W Supro is "way too loud" the SV20 is still going to be "way too loud". You will need attenuation. The SV20 is barely any less powerful than a 1987. I personally have doubts about the 20W rating on that amp.

The reality is, a lot of the old school tones we seek just can't really exist in nature for most of us. These were extremely powerful amps getting played at high volumes through big speaker cabinets. You can't take the volume down, use smaller tubes, smaller transformers, and a smaller cabinet and get the same sound. Unless you're playing large venues with tolerance for big volume, something has to give.

SV20 + attenuator. It makes the most sense for what you seek.
 

Steve Snider

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,641
Just hit the PRS 20 watter
with a Maxon SD9 with pedal tone control off. Greenback loaded Marshall 4x12. Glorious.
 
Last edited:

Jakeboy

Member
Messages
3,613
My TopHat Mini Junior HG is a 20 watt Emplexador essentially, with 2 6v6s in the power section. It does JTM 45-plexi-Boosted JCM. It has become my #1 amp as it just nails the Plexi tones perfectly. Will also do a tweed Bassman. Lots of options but the meat and potato’s is the 68 Plexi it’s based on
 

Steve Snider

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,641
Nah. Have owned plenty of great Marshall’s but just like fenders there are guys doing things with these circuits and designs which can be considered improvements upon the originals.
 




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