First Time Tube Amp Buyer Who Needs Some Wisdom

67super

Member
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1,503
I own and have owned dozens of tube amps since the early 70's. I love old fenders and currently have a half dozen. At the risk of being called a tube amp heretic:D go to your local music store and check out the Fender Mustang iii. I don't own it myself but I had one to play with for a week and I would have killed to have something like it to play with when I was discovering guitar tone. It does tube amp simulation very well, not perfect but very well. It's like a tube amp sound school in a box and is giggable.

My recommendation for a tube amp would be the Deluxe Reverb. It's my goto amp for gigging. I have an original one from 68 but also bought the 68 Custom reissue and love it. The new 68 Deluxe isn't PTP wired but it's under $1000 and sounds fantastic. The problem with new mass production amps is quality control not the PTP vs printed circuit debate. As an electrical engineer I can tell you circuit cards are the way to go. Its all about production quality. If it wasn't for printed circuits we wouldn't be having this conversation. Try out several and crank them up.

Good luck and have fun!
 

Bullseye092

Silver Supporting Member
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1,177
Mesa Minis are very cool amps and sound stellar, and the Hughes and Kettner Grandmeister sounded surprisingly good, plus being small and portable with plenty of punch for a gig. On the used market you can get most amps in the neighborhood of a grand that aren't boutique. Sweetwater music has a 3 years same a cash deal going for a couple more days.
 

.

Senior Member
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3,972
You could get a used egnater renegade 65 head and tour master 212 cab for +- $800. Great set up. For a first run at tube amps though, I'd just get a fender. Supplement with pedals. A blues deluxe reissue, or a deluxe reverb. If you like bigger, the 410 blues deville, or bassman. I don't care for the black tolex hot rod series.
 

Ilduce

And now for something completely different!
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4,593
There's too many good/great amps to list that would fit your criteria, but I'll keep it simple. If I were in your shoes I'd check out the Mesa express, Lonestar and TA series or for a lot less money the Marshall DSL 40c is a awesome deal. Any of these will get you where you're trying to go, they just have different ways of doing it. Imho
 

clamflatslim

Senior Member
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1,149
i'd try to get my hands on a few fenders since that seems like what you are after.since you have been using an mg you owe it to yourself to try some marshalls also.i think you can get a great amp for $750 and put the rest in the bank,or a new guitar.good luck!
 

Ilduce

And now for something completely different!
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4,593
Another amp that takes pedals like a champ is the VHT 12/20. A really awesome underappreciated amp.
 
Messages
21
Just as an aside: I looked at that UMG article, and Jake C. uses a BOATLOAD of pedals/effects, so what you think you hear may only be 50% amp.
Yah he does use a ton of pedals. But he says in the long video that the secret to his tone is the Fuchs Amp using a little bit of a boost through his cold fusion. From listening to their music a lot i can tell he uses that small part of his pedal board quite often. You are right though, I'm gonna need some pedals for sure!
 
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21
I wanna thank you all for the responses they've been really helpful. Really opened my eyes to a lot of amps I didn't even know existed. It seems that the general consensus is to look at the Fenders, Peaveys and Mesas. Would you guys suggest buying used? I feel wary about being used stuff sometimes, especially something as expensive as an amp but it seems like i should look to used. what do u think?
 

Mejis

Silver Supporting Member
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840
Used is the best way to go IMO. You lose a lot less money if/when you resell the amp (and if you're like most of us - that will happen many times as your amp journey progresses). You can also get a lot of killer boutique gear for a pretty good deal if you go used. I've taken a bath a few times on new pieces of gear I bought then sold shortly after...

As for amp suggestions, there's lots of good stuff suggested so far. One thing I'd mention is that different tube amps "feel" different under the fingers when they're turned up. I found half of my amp journey was figuring out the right feel as well as the right sound. If you crank up a Fender, a Marshall, a Vox, and something like a VHT/Fryette it will make sense pretty quick. Hope that helps!
 

Cgkindler

Member
Messages
6,245
Just buy my Mesa Electra Dyne Combo - there, you're set for ANY volume you'd ever need and it takes pedals like a cookie monster eating cookies!! (It's just that it's 80lbs and I'm a wuss! LOL)

Cheap and good is Fender HotRod Deluxe....$500 used and it could be the last amp you'd need!

Do you mic your rig?

Oh, and welcome to TPG!
 

MartinPiana

Silver Supporting Member
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4,476
Personally, if I was in college and money was tight, I wouldn't spend $1000 on an amp. You're going to get exceedingly close to what I imagine you're looking for with a used Hot Rod Deluxe, Deluxe Reverb, or Peavy Classic 50. You'll be spending in the $600 range. I would go for the Hot Rod Deluxe. ... I currently mostly use a Vox Bruno, a really good but little known 6V6 you can get for incredibly low prices if you can find them. (Sam Ash was blowing them out last year for $399 and $599 for the 18 and 35 watters....)

A quick search turned up this used Vox Bruno 35 for $550 from Guitar Center, so they're out there: http://www.guitarcenter.com/Vox-Use...U@ADL4GC-adType^PLA-device^c-adid^57619015002
 

Skeet skeet!

Senior Member
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3,417
I think the cleans on my mesa single rec are great. A bit compressed and not open enough to a true clean fender enthusiast, but i think the cleans are legit. Going to sound awesome from the amp you are coming from!

The dirty sounds are monstrous on the vintage setting. There are raw and pushed settings for things inbetween. I never use the modern setting, i find it too gainy sounding

You can find one for about $700 used.
 

GCDEF

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
28,168
There are two schools of thought here. Modern channel switching designs where you get distortion from the amp, and old-school single channel non-master amps where you use pedals to control the sound. I'm very firmly in the modern channel switching camp. They're way more flexible and versatile and most of them have effects loops. I don't think I'd spend $1,500 on my first amp as you'll likely go through a few to find the right one.

As has been mentioned the Peavey Classics and Fender Hot Rods make great starter amps for gigging. I'm a fan of Egnaters and would recommend you look at their Tweaker 40 and Rebel 30. There are lots of choices and it's unlikely you'll get the same answer from any two of us, but I've been gigging for almost 40 years, and a vintage single channel Fender style is the last amp I'd pick (well almost).

As to the comments about spare tubes, lots of things can go wrong with an amp besides tubes, and the last thing you want to do mid-set is troubleshoot and repair an amp. Keep your Marshall and bring it as a backup.
 
Messages
21
There are two schools of thought here. Modern channel switching designs where you get distortion from the amp, and old-school single channel non-master amps where you use pedals to control the sound. I'm very firmly in the modern channel switching camp. They're way more flexible and versatile and most of them have effects loops. I don't think I'd spend $1,500 on my first amp as you'll likely go through a few to find the right one.

As has been mentioned the Peavey Classics and Fender Hot Rods make great starter amps for gigging. I'm a fan of Egnaters and would recommend you look at their Tweaker 40 and Rebel 30. There are lots of choices and it's unlikely you'll get the same answer from any two of us, but I've been gigging for almost 40 years, and a vintage single channel Fender style is the last amp I'd pick (well almost).

As to the comments about spare tubes, lots of things can go wrong with an amp besides tubes, and the last thing you want to do mid-set is troubleshoot and repair an amp. Keep your Marshall and bring it as a backup.
This was a wicked insightful response and I appreciate it. A quick question though. With channel switching amps, do they take pedals well? Like if i wanted to put in a tube screamer or another kind of distortion will it sound good or even be necessary? So many options and questions with these tubes amps, its overwhelming!
 

Nota

Member
Messages
2,906
Personally, if I was in college and money was tight, I wouldn't spend $1000 on an amp.
Good advice. You can get a nice used tube amp for $3-400. Don't spend more than you have to, you'll be glad later on. Plenty of amps can get you clean -> rawk, and most likely you'll end up learning which sounds you like over time and flipping anyway.

For this reason I'd get a modeller to start out with, like the Mustang or Zoom or Line6. I learned WAY more about tube sounds from my old POD XT than I would have just getting a single tube amp. I learned about what a Vox sounded like vs a Marshall, etc, and how much speakers/cabs made a difference. Stuff like that.

But yeah, save your hard-earned monies.
 

yell03

Member
Messages
1,609
Find a used Budda Superdrive 18, 30, or 45. You can score a used one for $700-$800.
The 45 had the best tone of any amp I have ever owned, but it was just too loud for me to use at home.

With the Buddas, you can use Pedals with the clean channel or use the gain channel.

Personally, I have had some high end tube amps, I now am happy with a Marshall DSL40C with a Creamback Speaker, $699 retail at Sweetwater and can do it all from jazzy cleans to the hardest of hard rock without pedals.
It does take pedals well and with just a Tubescreamer and Delay you would have a nice set-up.
Here is mine:

 

GCDEF

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
28,168
This was a wicked insightful response and I appreciate it. A quick question though. With channel switching amps, do they take pedals well? Like if i wanted to put in a tube screamer or another kind of distortion will it sound good or even be necessary? So many options and questions with these tubes amps, its overwhelming!
I got my first tube amp over 40 years ago and this concept of amps taking pedals well still befuddles me. With all due respect to my colleagues here, some of them tend to overthink things. I very rarely use pedals for distortion as the amps I choose typically have all I need. If you use a tube screamer on the clean channel, it'll act like a tube screamer on any similarly voiced clean sounding amp. If you use it with a lot of amp distortion, typically it'll just add some compression and sustain without changing the sound a whole lot.

Nota is giving good advice too. Modelers are getting pretty good. I use a Mustang III for rehearsals, and it sounds remarkably well. Sounds and feels like a good tube amp to me, but way more versatile. They may help you learn about different sounds and amps so that you can make a better informed choice later on.
 




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