First tube amp, Blues Jr. or Palomino V8?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Grant, Mar 28, 2008.

  1. Grant

    Grant Member

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    My first post here, I appreciate this great collection of forums and posters. In the last few years I have returned to some of the things I did in my twenties including guitar playing, which I took up again last summer. I have not had time to get very good yet but I am much better than I was 30 years ago, thanks in part to the internet with gear info, lesson clips and jam tracks as I do not have any jamming buddies yet. I bought an Epi Dot Deluxe which I like, reminds me of the Gibson 330 I had in the 60's, and a Squire strat standard which I bought to experience the other end of the spectrum that I don't play as much. I also bought a Fender FM 65 dsp to be able to experience different amp styles and effects even if they were SS. But now, in my quest to experience the range of electric guitar tone that is available, I want to buy a small tube amp that will allow me to achieve tube overdrive and touch sensitivity without being very loud or expensive. Actually I had a Super Reverb in the late sixties but had no idea what tube overdrive was (other than "fuzztone" pedals which I could not afford) and played at much higher volumes than I want to now.

    I have been considering buying a Palomino V8 because they can still be had at GC for a decent price and are known to achieve some breakup fairly easy and without being as loud as larger amps. Or I could buy the highly respected Blues Junior and probably never buy another amp in my life. Don't laugh, it is actually possible, where with the V8 it might not be. Anyway the BJ has reverb which I have always liked but am not addicted to and it has the potential for serious gigging but which I may never do. On the other hand it is a louder amp with I believe more headroom which would not help in the overdrive at lower volume department. I could buy a reverb or delay pedal for the V8 or a Bad Monkey for the BJ but I would like to avoid depending on pedals if possible. My musical range is mostly blues with attempts at blues rock and blues-jazz.

    If anyone has some thoughts that might help me make this "big" decision I am all ears. And if I ever post again I promise it will not be this long.

    Grant
     
  2. Ryan

    Ryan Member

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    Blackheart Little Giant. Not kidding. ;)
     
  3. Jazzgear

    Jazzgear Supporting Member

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    Blues Jr - by a long mile:dude
     
  4. Crikey

    Crikey Member

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    Both the Palomino V8 and Blues Jr. have preamp gain knobs and master volumes, so if you want to get crunchy you won't need a pedal -- unless you want to get nu-metal crunchy.

    If you're seeking power-tube distortion, it's usually shocking to people new to tube amps (or even old hands) how loud a 5W amp gets before the power tubes start to break up. Depending on how close your neighbors live, it might not happen as often as you think.

    I've tried out both amps in stores, and found them likable, but different. I definitely think you should spend some time comparing them with your own ears before you buy.

    If you have the time and opportunity, you might also listen to the Blackheart Little Giant the other poster mentioned, the Epiphone Valve Junior, and the Fender Pro Junior. These ones lack preamp gain controls, so to get them to break up you have to turn them up.

    Enjoy your quest!


    Crikey
     
  5. fuzz_factor

    fuzz_factor Supporting Member

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    Hi Grant,

    The Blues Jr. does have a master volume, so you can get some overdrive at lower volumes, but if you want power tube cooking touch sensitivity, it will be loud!

    A couple of years ago, I started playing guitar again after about a ten year hiatus. I played rarely, but hadn't owned an amp since '99. I went out and bought a Blues Jr straightaway and have never been happy with it.

    Like you, I once owned a Super Reverb (sounded great!) and a few other real good amps. I've come to the conclusion that I don't really like the sound of EL-84 tubes much. They are known for earlier breakup and more crunchiness than, say, 6V6s, however.

    Anyway, you have your an amp to play though and you're not quite sure of what you want so why not take your time and try a bunch different things? I wish I did and will probably end up selling my Blues Jr and trading up to something in the neighborhood of a Deluxe Reverb.

    Check out these threads for some ideas:

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=372076

    http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=370434

    Have fun,
    - jeff -
     
  6. WurstBurst

    WurstBurst Member

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    Also, give a try to the Epiphone Valve Junior. It's a great sounding little 5 watt amp for minimal cost.
     
  7. Grant

    Grant Member

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    Thanks for all the replys so far. I determined that my local Guitar Trader will be carrying Blackheart soon and that I was the fifth person today asking about them. But how important is it to have both gain and master volume controls? Some say by turning gain up and MV down you can get over driven tubes at lower volumes. Others seem to say that to overdrive the tubes they need to have a lot of signal going through them and that the only way to have lower volume is with an attenuator. As Crikey mentioned, The Pro Junior, Epi Valve Junior (which I have tried and it is loud) and the L Giant do not have gain controls, so should I assume I would be playing at higher volumes with these to reach some overdrive (not nu-metal)?

    Grant
     
  8. WurstBurst

    WurstBurst Member

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    Yes, with the Epi valve jr, you would need to crank it to get overdriven volumes. With the Epi, that's about 1/2 way up on the volume before it gets a bit crunchy. At that volume, it starts to vibrate some of the pictures on the wall in my basement. Just about loud enough to annoy the wife a little, but not so loud to be ear splitting.

    With an amp with a master volume, you can crank up the pre-amp tubes seperately from the power tubes. When you do that, you get distortion, but it is not the same as distortion/overdrive you get from cranked power tubes. It can still sound real good, though.

    With a 1-knob amp like the Epi VJ, all the tubes go up in unison. To get overdrive, you need the power tubes cookin' and that means louder.

    The benefit of a master volume is you can get some nice sounds at lower volumes.

    But remember, even a 5 watt tube amp is going to be LOUD when cranked.
     
  9. Grant

    Grant Member

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    WurstBurst- Thanks for the explanation, its getting clearer, BUT, I assumed overdrive and distortion were basically the same thing. Is distortion from the preamp a tone that is present throughout every note and power tube overdrive a clipping that occurs during heavy pick attack? On the many threads I have read at Harmony Central, Seymour Duncan and Gear Page I have not come across an explanation of the difference between the two so I don't think it would be beating a dead horse if someone would share their thoughts about the difference.

    Grant
     
  10. mike80

    mike80 Member

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    Overdrive would be considered (IMO) a slight to medium clipping of the signal. I would consider power tube saturation to be overdrive...you're over driving the signal, causing clipping. When you have it dialed in right, you could be playing clean, and with a heavier pick attack, you would get a little grit through the amp, or when cranked you would have a crunchy power tube grit because of saturating the tubes.

    Distortion on the other hand, would be a very overdriven signal, such as a preamp tube being driven to full saturation, along with possibly some power amp distortion.

    FWIW, I've played a Palomino V32, and the Blues Deluxe in the same sitting, and I preferred the V32 for the simple reason of the cleans. I thought they were sparklier, and had more body. I guess I really don't like the cleans on a 6L6 type amp. I have yet to play a Valve Jr, so I can't really say anything about that amp.
     

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