Best amp for transparent clean sound

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Mattyd93, Apr 28, 2016.

  1. Mattyd93

    Mattyd93 Member

    Apr 28, 2016
    Hey! I'm looking to buy a new guitar head and am relatively new to the world of clean tones having played metal and music that fancies distortion over clean for so long, so I've come here for some advice. Now I have done hours of research already and have seem to been able to narrow it down to a couple of heads. Hiwatt T40, Fender '65 Deluxe, and Vox ac30. Also honorable mention Roland JC40/120 (couldn't seem to find it in a head) albeit not much of a combo amp guy. I'm looking for a clean tone that's transparent even with a light overdrive applied and is a good base to build up with pedals and watted enough to play with a full band. My price cap is nothing more than $1,000. Bands sounds I mostly like are The 1975 and similar poppy alternative bands you hear on modern alternative stations. Thank you in advance for your help!
  2. WillLane

    WillLane Member

    May 11, 2015
    Eastern NC
    Well firstly, let's distinguish between exactly transparent clean, and a clean amp. Plug an electric guitar directly into a powered system with none of the fun amp stuff added and you will hear what an electric guitar sounds like by itself, transparent clean. Not too good...

    I am a VOX man so I would push an AC30 most, but that is my preference. It can be squeaky-clean but I think it shines best with a little bit of grit when you dig into the strings. This also helps with your drive tones. Now the Fender will probably work more the squeaky-clean sound, but both can do either methinks. I would be concerned with headroom in a band situation with the Fender since it is rated at 22w, the AC30 is 30w. I cannot speak for the Hiwatt.

    Also keep in mind a lot of the sound comes from the speakers you have hooked up to the amp. Not only do you need to match impedances and wattages, but the speaker voicing has a lot to do with the sound you hear.
    Abram4235, Mattyd93 and broken_sound like this.
  3. 8len8

    8len8 Member

    Dec 25, 2010
    A guitar into a PA amp/speaker will provide a transparent sound, although you won't like it.
  4. broken_sound

    broken_sound Silver Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2010
    SS - Roland JC120
    Tube - Ceriatone HeyWhat!? 103
    Pixies2005 and pbmw like this.
  5. rummy

    rummy Member

    Jul 12, 2008
    Get a class D bass amp like Tone Hammer 300 or Little Mark II.. So clean, so loud.
  6. Mattyd93

    Mattyd93 Member

    Apr 28, 2016
    Thank you for the clarification! I'm playing through an Orange ppc412 currently. I read somewhere that more headroom is needed to produce a louder clean sound in a full band setting, do you think 30 watts on the matter of the ac30 would be sufficient?
    WillLane likes this.
  7. zenitB

    zenitB Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2009
    +1 on the Jazz Chorus also to my ears, the big Fender BF's like the Twin and Showman sound uncolored
    Pixies2005 and MrLahey like this.
  8. stevel

    stevel Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    Hampton Roads, Virginia
    I think if you're used to playing loud, a Deluxe isn't going to be enough clean headroom for you.

    In fact, I'd be concerned about anything under 35-40 watts depending on the amp. You're right, you need more clean headroom to produce clean at band volumes.

    You might be better off looking at higher gain amps that have clean channels - Boogies (50 watters) have a beautiful clean that's plenty loud. In the Fender line, you'd need to go up to Bandmaster (40 watts) or a Showman (more like a Twin Reverb) but those will be used only and probably collector's prices unless you can get a good deal on one. Bandmasters commonly come in at a grand though.

    There are some new amps - the Fender Bassbreaker 45, and relatively new, like the 60 watt supersonic that come in head forms. A lot of people bought those and traded them back so they can be had in sub 700 range. New, the Bassbreaker is still under a grand.

    But if you want crystal, sparkly cleans, you might want something more "modern" like the Boogies.

    If you want to go a combo amp, I'd honestly consider the Hot Rod Deluxe. It's a loud 40 watts, and stays relatively clean. If it's not enough, a Hot Rod Deville could be the ticket - all new at about a grand and under. They're great workhorse amps. Not the same type of clean as the Blackface style, but they've very serviceable for gigging.

    But I think you need to do some more research since you were thinking a Deluxe Reverb would be OK. Sure, it has a gorgeous clean - from about 2-2.5 on the volume dial. As you go up, it gets edgy quickly.

    You want real clean at gig volume, you need to be into a Super Reverb or Twin Reverb (which is then comparable to a JC 120).
    Tommy Biggs and Mattyd93 like this.
  9. Blix

    Blix Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2010
    Stabekk, Norway
  10. 71strat

    71strat Member

    Oct 7, 2013
    Id get a JTM45 clone of some kind.

    Id get a Head, and a 1 or 2 x 12 Cabinet.

    The Marshall actually has a wider frequency response than a Dual Showman/Twin Reverb. They are Mid Scooped. Marshall is Mids Loaded.

    I have Both a Blackfaced 69 Dual Showman, and a Metro GMP45, which is a 1966 Marshall JTM45 clone

    While its true cranked the Marshall will go into some nice OD, its actually a really clean amp until you start to drive it, 7 -10, and then the beautiful OD comes on. But its not crazy distorted or anything.

    And of course the Fender is 100 watts, and is louder. But IMHO that's about the only thing the Fender beats the Metro on. SPL. The Showman was my #1 amp from 1973 - 2013. I had mine Blackfaced, and an ODS Mod. Both have NOS tubes.

    But to my ears the Metro is more beautiful sounding, harmonically rich, and basically a very hard amp to beat for 30-38 watts.

    Metro claims 38 watts for the Drake Transformer version, as where the Marshall version is the earlier Radiospares transformers, and is a bit cleaner than the Drake model. I like the Metro as it is also very clean, but has the extra grit from the later model. So for me I get both.

    If you like the cleaner version, look into Germino.

    Also if you want to Add to the CLEANS AND SPL !!!!!

    Get some BLOWN JBL E120s, and send them to A Brown Soun for Hemp cones. I use 2 of them.

    They are 300 watts x 103db x 1/w x 1/m.
  11. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

    Feb 5, 2011
    I think your volume needs will be needed. First blush: The DR RI will provide a nice clean but not sterile sound if it's loud enough for you. The Vox is super clean to my ears. If that's what you want. I play a vintage BFDR in a 4 pc band (blues and rock) and my volume is nearly always on 3. Upgraded speaker and often a clean boost. I get told to turn down a lot.
  12. Dashface

    Dashface Member

    Jun 25, 2007
    Victoria BC
    If you want loud and clean, and you don't want to haul something big and heavy, there is no better option than a Hot Rod Deluxe. That's gonna do the job for you.
  13. Hulakatt

    Hulakatt Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2010
    Nice loud and clean head? I'd look at a jtm45, bass spec marshall or HiWatt to run through your existing cab
    Geeze and pbmw like this.
  14. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    Find a HRD to try out. There are lots of them around.
    Then you will know which way to go.
    The notion of what is loud and what is clean is so varied that one must try in one's own application.
    stringman340 likes this.
  15. motokev

    motokev Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    I thot the Maz 18 was very clean and LOUD
  16. jimijimmyjeffy

    jimijimmyjeffy Member

    Nov 16, 2015
    Compare a Fender to a jtm45 to see which brand you prefer. Coke versus Pepsi.

    Not familiar with Mesas.
  17. FFTT

    FFTT Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    I'm not wild about solid state, but on a budget, I'd look at bass heads.
    BlueRiff likes this.
  18. 71strat

    71strat Member

    Oct 7, 2013
    Didn't read close enough about $1000 Budget.

    My suggestion is $500.

    Ive been using a Fender Cyber Twin as my grab and go amp since 2001. The 1st year they came out. It has a Solid State Power supply, and 2 x 12ax7s in the Preamp.

    The amp also has a 100% ANALOG Signal Path. a Virtual Circuit Board, that Reconfigures the circuit values to that of the original amps being replicated. Also in many cases it also add an extra Mids knob, as many amps dot have a mids knob, but the amp sets the mids at what the original amp mids would be. You can then further adjust, giving more flexibility. Or you can leave it alone.

    Also admittedly this amp does Fender amps the best, and Many of them are downright scary good.

    I make up my own amps. I usually start with 1 of the basic Fender amps, and further Tweak it to my satisfaction. I also like the AC30

    Steve Winwood also uses these amps, and has since 2002, and he does the same thing.

    This is actually a really easy amp to use. The trick of it is to learn how to use the Gain/Trim Knobs. Gain also comes Slightly Hot from the factory so I dial mine back a bit. Not much.

    This amp, while sounding really good at Low Volumes, is meant to be used Live/Gigged, and the more you push it past 3 on Volume/Master Volume, it really comes alive. It can also be crushingly loud at 130 watts RMS Mono, or 65 x 2 Stereo.

    Also has an Effects Loop, Headphone Jack, MIDI. 2 x 12 Celestion G12T 100s.

    This was Fenders Flagship amp when it came out, and the main reason it failed was bad marketing, expensive to build, expensive to SELL, and not just anyone can build 1. This was a $1700 amp Retail in 2001. I payed $1300, and after 15 years would 1000% buy it again. And as Ive stated, Ive got some really nice tube amps ect and am basically a tube guy, but my CT gives up little to them for a basic clean platform to add some pedals to. Takes pedals Great. Straight into the amp.

    For cleans, and pedals, + the ability to mix in the onboard effects ect, it a really hard amp to beat for $400-$500. This would be a $2500 Retail amp now. At least $2000 out the door now.

    I would rather have this amp than a NEW Fender Twin Reverb Reissue. Hands Down, and I wouldnt have to think about it even 5 seconds. And I have an original 69 Dual Showman.

    This is not a Modeling amp. Not knocking modeling amps.

    The Effects, which are also very good. Are Digital.
  19. BigSB

    BigSB Member

    Apr 28, 2011
    Budget? Transparent? Reliable?

    Peavey Transtube series. Their higher-powered combos are used quite often by pedal-steel players, who need loud clean.
    JohnSS and therealjoeblow like this.
  20. pbmw

    pbmw Member

    Mar 22, 2011
    Bremerton, Wa
    It depends on how big the room is and how loud you need to be in that room. Hard hitting drummer? My favorite amp of all time is my JTM45 with KT66's. Glass like cleans. I used to play it in church, with an Alex through a pair of Greenbacks. Some of the best cleans I've ever heard. Seriously.
    You can find them used under a grand. I'd pass on the Marshall RI. Just does not do it to my ear. You may like it but not for me.
    I have a 71 DR103 and a 68 1959, that do MONSTER cleans, but not in your budget. I only mention them because some of the later more modern 100 watt Marshalls have Great cleans.
    Then again...I have a G50 210 Yamaha SS amp that is my go to amp for jazz gigs. Amazing cleans. Short money too. I think I paid $75 for mine off Craigslist.
    DRRI's can certainly be clean, but may have a little trouble doing it at band levels. I do love Deluxes though.
    So many choices...
    I've heard pretty good things about the newer Hiwatt combo's too. Not sure if they fit in your budget though.

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