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DSL 401 vs Hot Rod Deluxe

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Pou, May 20, 2011.

  1. Pou

    Pou Member

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    After driving long hours to different stores and posting here, I've finally narrowed it down..

    2 amp choices (combo) - mainly for bedroom and jamming with friends (drummer included). Using Fender American Standard 2008. Playing Classic Rock, Hard Rock, Blues, Jazz and small bits of metal (not enough that worries me about hi gain stuff).
    Buying something for the long run. I prefer not to use pedals and simply plug and play for two reasons: don't want to empty my student pockets AND don't have as much time to investigate about pedals and such.

    Hot Rod Deluxe - Great clean, nice reverb, for the hard stuff I'd probably need to use pedals though.. (1-2 pedals, not something crazy).

    DSL 401 - Great Fender clean! not as good as the Deluxe's though. The Marshall OD easily takes the Deluxe's and I get can nice lead tone out of it. My problem is that I can't necessarily disqualify pedals for 100%. The OD is indeed satisfying for now, but after months of playing and jamming and cranking it up - perhaps I'd want something to push this amp harder (even in low volume state) and tweak the tone a little to my pure liking.

    The DSL costs more than HRDeluxe, therefore if I'm going to purchase the HRDeluxe with pedals, perhaps my gear would be more "pro", modified and customized to my liking - while benefiting as the financial value is almost equal to one DSL unit without any pedal effects. Plus the DSL doesn't have reverb, something I appreciate very much in my playing.

    Many had problems before with the DSL as it was heating up and even melting things around. To my understanding that was solved in the recent units - 2005 and above. So no worries there.

    In my search I've also tried: Blackstar (HT 5 and HT 20), Tiny Terror, (even cranked it up with 412 heh), ENGL (15W version), Marshall Haze, Blues Junior III, Super Champ XD, Peavey (C30 and Delta Blues), Egnater (Tweaker and Rebel), AC 15.. I'm not living in the U.S so only those brands are available here and are optional within my budget range..

    Guys, what do you think I should buy for the long run?
     
  2. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    Ick. Neither. Of those you've tried I'd pick almost all of them except perhaps the BJ over your top two choices. If it had to be one of those two, the Fender.
     
  3. bbutler123

    bbutler123 Member

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    If it was ME, not you maybe, I'd buy the DSL, buy a very cheap reverb pedal, and an inexpensive decent distortion pedal. Guitar Center's store brand, DeltaLab TD1, is very smooth and transparent-$50. Or the cheaper and great Tube Screamer is fabulous at $99. I also used to own a Hot Rod Deville. It was nice also.

    But you know what? and the cork-sniffers will laugh, but for $99 you can get a Zoom G2 pedal- amp sims and effects pedal(and drum patterns if interested). It will even run on batteries. The effects are good, and some of the amp sims are darn good too. (even tho I don't like amp sims with a tube amp)

    However, if could spend $700, I would buy, without a second thought, a Blackstar Club 40. I had one (and then traded up to a couple bigger Blackstars). It is amazing. It has phenomenal cleans (even boutiquish), and good distortion for either metal or vintage rock. I suppose it's like the 20 watt, but louder.

    Good luck though, in my opinion, ANY of those 3 amps would bring me PLENTY of joy. :) I share your fun in getting to buy a new amp.
     
  4. Pou

    Pou Member

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    Heh, you think they're all that bad? idk man.. with Strat some of the amps sounded terrible..

    The Blackstar indeed sounds nice.. what bothers me though is that it's not all tube, but rather hybrid. I do care for this definitions because I've been using modelling amps for a long time, and in this particular year or more I just want to experience all tube amps..
    Hell, if it sounded that good and was superior to all the amps I've been trying out I'd made a go for it, hybrid or not.. but I wasn't that impressed, and the fact it's a hybrid is also a downer..
     
  5. rickc007

    rickc007 Gold Supporting Member

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    I have the DSL 401, fun amp
    Mucho Overdrive, although some aren't crazy about

    Many use the clean channel on that amp, and put pedals through that

    You can have a lot of fun with that amp
     
  6. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    I think the DSL is terrible. The Fender is okay, but the others are better.

    The Blackstar isn't a hybrid amp, it's a tube amp that uses diodes to enhance the distortion. That's not unusual, and I believe the DSL-401 does it as well. I play Egnaters, so those would be my first choices.
     
  7. Pou

    Pou Member

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    It's all a matter of taste.. why do you think it's terrible though? you're talking specifically about the combo or the whole DSL series?

    After "researching" over the internet about this issue, I've come across many statements that say the signal path is not pure valve.. and due to some unknown reason there's a "hype" about this blackstar being hybrid or not, more than any other amp I've tried..
    But that's not the matter - hybrid or not, I still didn't fall in love..

    I did like the Tweaker more than the Rebel. But I think the OD just doesn't fit my strat, no matter how I tweak it.. it makes my start screech too much..
     
  8. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    The one I had was very muddy sounding. I could never dial in any kind of good sound on it. A lot of the earlier ones, including mine had serious reliability issues. The store that does all my tech work tried really hard to talk me out of buying one because of the reliability. He said they won't even take them in trade. Sure enough, mine only lasted six days. I would have returned it anyway it sounded so bad. Then for some inexplicable reason, Marshall just doubled the price on them. They were overpriced before, but then they became ridiculous.

    I'm talking about the combos. The heads are completely different amps.
     
  9. Pou

    Pou Member

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    Yeah I'm aware of that. But I read that Marshall fixed that problem..Couple of years passed since than you know.. I'll still consult with the store about this.

    They are overpriced. But I found the clean and OD channel superior to every other amp I've tried (expect Fender amps in the clean aspect, which I don't use that much anyways).. the sole amp that comes near the DSL in terms of OD is the Blackstar (surprising huh? as it was created from ex Marshall techs hehe)..

    I really don't understand why most of the reviews about the DSL are that bad. Many condemn this amp because of the reliability issues, but there isn't any reference to the TONE itself. Nowadays the problem is probably fixed.. That's why I'm confused..I've read enough about it's over-heating problems, but almost not a single review about the tone itself, so it's hard for me to judge..
     
  10. Lance

    Lance Member

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    Get the Hot Rod Deluxe, and send it off to Omega mods, and upgrade the speaker to a Celestion Heritage 65, or Emmy quivalent. The drive channel will be much more usable, and all of the little cheapo problems of build quality in the HRD will be wiped away. This also boils down to how good of cleans you need. 6L6, or El-34. Are you familiar with Scott Henderson of Tribal Tech, among others? This is what he uses whenever he has smaller gigs that he can't use a 100W, and a 4 x 12 for. You would probably want a Tubescreamer type of pedal for this set-up, but it'll blow your doors off way more than the DSL. I have a 100W head version, and I did like it, but it just didn't have the cleans I was looking for. I already had a ton of dirt pedals lying around too.
     
  11. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    Like I said, mine sounded horrible. You seem sold on it, so go for it. You're the one that has to be happy.
     
  12. Lance

    Lance Member

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    I think it's more about quality control. If you play one that sounds killer, buy it. But, many don't sound that great, and if you try out a bunch of them, you'll see what I am talking about.
     
  13. Pou

    Pou Member

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    Ahh.. thank you for reminding me on that!

    Indeed, mass production and minimum QA.. as it were with my Strat.. every individual sounds different..
     
  14. Pou

    Pou Member

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    Nah.. At first I thought Marshall is a brand I should look into only if I have enough dough for 1.5-2K head and 412 cabinet, regardless of my musical taste..
    Then I started digging up online and found out the Haze, DSL, Class 5 - which are all tube and within by budget..

    When I tried the DSL, I didn't know about it's issues, so I wasn't biased or anything, and played it with an empty mind.. I do think it's a decent (but overpriced indeed).. that why I was amazed to read it's junk and such..(literally, junk) the same way I'd have been surprised to hear anything bad about Blackstar, Egnater and such. Really good value for money..

    I'll still consult with the store and play as many models as I can to be extra sure..
    thanks for the information!
     
  15. blackba

    blackba Member

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    I have used a Hot rod deluxe many times and used to own a DSL401. If you insist on just these 2 amps and no pedals than I would go with the DSL401. If you are willing to use pedals than I would recommend the hot rod deluxe. I find the clean on the hot rod deluxe alot nicer than the clean on the DSL401. My biggest complaint with the DSL401 is that they didn't make the 50Watt DSL50 head into a combo, I think that would have been a better amp. The DSL401 is helped if you add a 112 closed back cabinet. Both the HRD and DSL401 have a poor stock speaker.

    Keep in mind there is a new version of the HRD, but I have not tried it. So look into that if you go that route.

    I personally would got with the Egnator Tweaker, Marshall Class 5, or look into a Fender Supersonic 22 over either of the 2 amps you are looking at.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2011
  16. BIGGERSTAFF

    BIGGERSTAFF Member

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    For my tastes, the Blackstar smokes the Marshall and the Fender, it's built well, and costs less.
     
  17. BIGGERSTAFF

    BIGGERSTAFF Member

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    The Blackstar is all tube- tube preamp, tube power amp. The diode in the circuit is the same as using a Tube Screamer, etc..., into the front end.
     
  18. Pou

    Pou Member

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    It is a good amp.. I think the concept of the HT series is similar to the DSL, in a way.. the sound of warm bells and Marshall-kind-of tone..

    wow.. there're simply lots of opinions or should I say interpretations about this.. it's a matter of how you look at it. Some say the SS components are minor and some say it's definitely hybrid perhaps even more.. that most of the gain that kicks the distortion is not based on tubes..

    http://www.musicradar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=76507

    read the whole thread if you can keep up hehe..

    also http://www.thefret.net/showthread.php/10260-BLACKSTAR-hr-5-AND-FENDER-SCXD

    and my favorite
    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=765336
     
  19. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    I wouldn't call it hybrid in the traditional sense. Hybrid implies either a tube preamp and solid state power section (usually) or more uncommonly, a solid state preamp and a tube power amp. The Blackstars have tube preamps and power amps, with some added solid state circuitry in the preamp to increase the distortion. A lot of Marshalls do this too. As I said, I believe the DSL-401 is one of them, so if you're dismissing the Blackstar for that reason, you should dismiss the Marshall too.

    Either way, the Blackstars sound significantly better than the DSL or the Fender to me.
     
  20. Miles

    Miles Member

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    If you're using pedals for overdrive/distortion, I'd get the Fender. If you want your amp to provide the grind alone, I'd get the DSL401.
     

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