Germino Lead 55 vs. Germino Club 40 - a few observations

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Scott Peterson, Dec 26, 2005.


  1. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    I'll preface this with a few things - I haven't owned the Lead 55 very long, haven't rehearsed or gigged it and want to stress this is simply some quickie thoughts on the subject.

    I have owned the Club 40 for a few months; but in that time sold all my other amps. That says more than it might look like on the screen; I dug the other amps (THD Flexi, VHT Pittbull 50/ST and GT Soul-O 45) I had and also bought and sent back another highly regarded new amp in the meantime (VHT Deliverance 60, too tight/fast/in your face for me). I could get any one of those amps and use it exclusively very happily too.

    But the Club 40 has this thing about it, I call it "musical traction" or simply "juice". The amp is sweet and musical, but with guts and depth. I can do cleans that are angelic on the neck single coils of my Melancon, then flip to the bridge humbucker for raw Plexi grindage; step on my Keeley Rat and have gutsy ballsy rock. So many shades, so much fun. It's "my" amp, the one I wanted my amps to always be. It has that "thing" we all look for, for me it grabs that "thing" for me and just runs. It is plug-and-play, with a few pedals I am covering ground from new country to classic rock to smooth R&B/pop.

    So I wanted to try a more straight up Plexi type amp and at the same time I was deciding the Deliverance wasn't my flavor, a Lead 55 came up here in the Emporium and a light went on.

    So it stopped at Greg's shop for some updates and then journey'ed up to Michigan. I popped the same NOS preamp tubes into it that I run in the Club 40 (Mullard 12AX7, Mullard 12AX7 and Telefunken 12AX7) but with this amp went with CED EL-34's (the Club 40 has NOS Siemens EL34's).

    The best way to compare these amps is to use a car analogy.

    The Club 40 is a ballsy Ferrari that can bring it around turns and hug the road. It has the ability to take your breath away in straights, but is always easier to control and more refined.

    The Lead 55 is rougher, has more horsepower and is harder to control like a 66 GTO. But it has that raw organic old-school Plexi thing with aplomb, crank it straight out and it'll put your ass into the back of the seat and make it hard to exhale. Lots rougher to get a "sweet" sound out of, but if you work it hard enough with enough attention to what it is giving up, you get it.

    Enough with the car thing though... the Club 40 will seduce you with sweetness and then turn it on very effectively when you push it. The Lead 55 is more in your face, kick ass rock and roll machine. You can get it to sing, but it takes more work. It is an effortless thing to crush out rock and roll tones by banging hard on it, but you have to guide it more to find the sweet spot for cleans.

    Now, I *know* the Club 40 a lot better. I find it so easy to work with, so effortless to get to that place where you are just glowing with delight in your tone. The Lead 55 is like the Club 40's rougher big brother that you have to muscle around a lot more to get what you want out of it.

    I have a lot more to learn about this amp - what is fun about this style of amps is that you have to explore the guitar across the range of the volume pot with the amp and dial in your sounds with your hands more. You also cannot hide anything from them - they'll expose you in a second if you don't bring it real with them. For the player that understands how to work with musical amps, these things deliver so much.
     
  2. RedHeffer

    RedHeffer Member

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    Thanks for the great insight! I've been looking at both of these amps and trying to decide which would better suit me. So far I'm leaning towards the Club 40.
     
  3. HeeHaw

    HeeHaw Member

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    I played nearly all the amps that Greg brought to Jimmy's LP jam in greensboro this year. I was really impressed with the club 40 as well. It could be a polite amp or just get plain rude/naughty if you needed it to. I mean this in a good way. I like the EL34's better than the version with the other tubes in it. Though I can't remember if it was 6v6 or 6L6.
     
  4. m1911

    m1911 Member

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    Scott,
    Nice....although I would have figured the Club 40 may have sounded more aggressive due to the lower wattage rating for lack of better words.
    Plugging straight in (no pedals or attenuators)....I have a question for you:
    With a Humbucker (Les Paul style) Guitar, where are you on the volume dial for the L55 and C40 when it starts to thicken up...ie...clean-to-semi-clean-edge-of-breakup?
    Or is that area even going to get you thrown out of clubs? The reason I ask is I think it's nice to be able use the Bridge for clean rhythm at a lower volume, then flip to the neck or neck/bridge for lead a significantly higher volume for a more syrupy tone.
    The Marshall tones I LOVE are EC Beano, Duane-Dickey, and Jimi with a Strat....not much more though. Not into the rippen-crunch thing at all.
    I can't believe how good Greg sounds with the Lead 55-Lo-Vo sound bites on his site where he's playing live with the band (Allmans Tunes)!:JAM
    Thanks,
    Mark
     
  5. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    If you can get around it, try plugging into BOTH amps at once and report back. Should be real interesting.:)
     
  6. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    Mark, sorry, I'm not Scott, but as a former owner of a Classic 45 and current short-time owner of a Club 40, these amps are quite loud for smaller clubs.....no MV, so the crunch tones are getting up there in volume. Rehearsals and gigs with the C45 I had to use an attenuator and/or baffle in front of the speakers to bring it down to appropriate levels. That said, what great sounding amps these are!!

    BTW, I often do just as you say with a Les Paul....rhythm on the bridge p/u with the volume rolled back a few notches, flip to the neck p/u with volume full up for leads (add some OD and/or wah for additional flavors).
     
  7. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Mark,

    I have to use an attenuator with the Club 40, the Lead 55 seems louder for sure. Unless you play in a really loud band, you'll need something to knock down the spl's.

    Either amp seems to start "giving it up" at about 10 o'clock on the volume. The "magic zone" seems to be the 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock zone on both these amps for my taste and IMHO.
     
  8. m1911

    m1911 Member

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    Riff...thanks....and just as I suspected about the volume.
    I must have missed that you bought a Club-40....AND...I noticed you off-ing your Classic-45?
    I guess that means you prefer the Club-40?
    How do they stack up in tone and volume?
    What Cab and Speakers are you using with the (new?) Club-40?
    Thanks,
    Mark
     
  9. dewman

    dewman Gold Supporting Member

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    I have to agree with Scott's assessment of the Club 40. It is a wonderful amp. I bought the 2x12 open back cab too with celestion Heritage G12M's and it is great. The cleans are wonderful, and the open back cab lets the sound disperse well, plus the low efficiency heritage speakers make the volume manageable in a club situation, especially if used with an attenuator like the Alessandro or DrZ Airbrake (have both and they sound great- probably for similar Trainwreck deign reasons). I recently swapped out the stock EL34s for 6V6s and most of the great sound is there, however the volume is halved at least and the amp voicing is nearly the same. That tube swap was something I tried based on Germino's suggestions and for practicing at home unattenuated it is great. It is also great for small clubs, as the wattage is around 20 watts. I haven't seen a more responsive, more flexible amp that had so many wonderful sounds built into it. The cleans are thick and sparkly, the broken tones are right outta a good Hendrix tune, the crunch can do AC/DC, Free, etc., and the leads are saturated and straight outta Allman territory. I love the DrZ Route 66 but was faced with the situation of having to crank the amp up to crazy volume levels in order to get THAT tone (which IS there in that amp), but I sold it to get a Club 40 since I felt that for me and with a lot of playing with the amp, I could dial in more tones at every volume level. What I lost in the ability of the Route 66 to take pedals so well I gain in the Club 40 with the amp doing the work. Wonderful wonderful amp....
     
  10. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    I have a 2x12 greenback cab (semi-openback Jenkins) that I'm using with the Club 40. There is some overlap in sound between the Club 40 and Classic 45, and both do the same thing (clean-to-crunch). The C45 is capable of darker warmer richer sounds than the C40, and the C40 is capable of brighter sounds with more upper mid presence than the C45. Dialed in right, I was able to make one sound quite like the other (brighten up the C45, darken up the C40). And recall that I was using EL34s in the C45.

    I couldn't afford to keep both amps, and I would be happy keeping either amp. For variety's sake, I kept the Club 40. Scott has me thinking about the LoVo 55 now, though.....damn him!! :FM :D
     
  11. Mr.Hanky

    Mr.Hanky Supporting Member

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    Scott, is that a LoVo 55 or the straight up version.

    That LoVo 55 makes me sweat, I really want one, but the C40 with NOS EL-34's has me really interested. My Masonette with NOS glass and a Jenkins 2X12 with Heritage G12M's is the bees knees for sure. With my new R4 it has chime and grit, just awesome!!
     
  12. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Just a straight up Germino Lead 55 with the older iron in it. No tricks, nothing fancy except the NOS glass I dropped in it.
     
  13. jw71

    jw71 Member

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    I also have a standard Lead 55. Darn good raw fire-breathing sound, but can also be hard to control until you get used to it. Those higher power ratings definitely bring something extra to the game in those amps. And a 100 watter brings even more. But I think that once you can learn to play those amps by altering finger pressure, attack, vibrato, muting, and harmonics, they sound like no other, and is the sound I "hear in my head". Subtleties and differences in playing becomes everything. I know many people like some of the smaller powered amps, to me, they still just don't have the sound of that high power coursing.

    But then again, they are very very loud. :JAM :p

    I should probably try attenuation or something, but I'm just too cheap right now, and I get tired of chasing different stuff all of the time. (Say it isn't so!!)

    And I want more Marshall style amps, too!!:RoCkIn

    Would love to try out a JTM45.
     
  14. big mike

    big mike Fixed Bias Moderator Staff Member

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    THe Club 40 is the JTM45 version with EL34's yeah?

    We're digging similar amps Scott! I got the rockytop 45H and have those same thoughts.

    Great to hear its working for you. Greg makes some killer amps.
     
  15. Roe

    Roe Member

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    the club 40 is not a jtm45 - it's more like a jtm50 or jmp50 (with a lower B+ voltage)
     
  16. big mike

    big mike Fixed Bias Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the answer Roe.

    Sounds like a terrific amp.
     
  17. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    Allright Scott you trying to lay out a GAS trap on us aint cha?:D

    Sounds like (from your description) I'd fall in love with the Club 40.

    My 18 watter seems to cover simillar territroy though it has the EL84 thing going. My JCM 800 is definately cutting the mustard from cleans to scream.

    I dont know what I was thinking when I picked up the new Marshall 1959 HW. It sounds great but man that thing can be loud as all get out. I had to break down and throw a Hot Plate on it to cull out the sweet spot. I can get it to sound good at low volumes but its still to freakin loud. Seems like the Club 40 would have been a better choice. Wow I coulda had a V-8. I've got her doing the do now though so I'm happy with it but cant imagine ever taking it to a gig. Its just too much amp. Maybe I could use it with my 2x12 but its 8 ohms and my 4x12 is 16. What would be the solution to having an Attenuator that works with both? The HP I have is borrowed from Rastaman. I dont know enuff about these things to know what to do.

    Not trying to hijack.
     
  18. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    FWIW, I have a 8 ohm and a 16 ohm Hot Plate and use either based on what cab I want to run (my 412 is 16 ohms).

    And the funniest thing is that my little 18watt amp is the one that just kept me wondering though the years I have had it about what it does - I flat out always was bowled over by the gain sounds, but there isn't a clean really to mess with on those at any volume. I'd pull it out to play it and once I cranked it, it'd just be bliss and I never thought about the cleans for the rest of the session with it.

    That these Plexi style amps all share a basic tonal character never struck me, which is funny. If you dig the 18watt and Plexi style amps, all I can say is that Germino's take on that style of amps is blissfully good. I dig the Lead 55, but it is very loud too - though it does work with the Hot Plate, it gets more taken away from it too under attenuation. The Club 40 changes under attenuation, but you can dig what it does because the character of the amp still comes through. Fascinating amps. Way deeper than they appear, you have the bring the depth with your hands and heart, but what you give them they do give right back. I read in one of the HC reviews of Greg's amps that they are a firehose of tone - I'm drinking that kool-aid too. On the surface, they are simple as pie, but when you really dig into them and bring it for real - they just go there with you effortlessly.
     
  19. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    Well I done found the sweet spot and am "getting" the Lead 55 more; I got to throw down for about an hour today and went back and forth between the two amps.

    My initial impressions hold - the Lead 55 is a muscle car of an amp, just more to manage of everything. It is more punchy overall, but lacks the musical sweetness of the Club 40. It is an excellent foil to the Club 40.

    The Club 40 can hold its own against it's big brother, but it does what it does so smoothly and with such ease. It doesn't have the gain and the EQ stack is very different for sure, but it is like Ferrari. It goes without effort and reacts with smooth confidence to anything you want to do to it.

    One thing both amps share in common is just a fantastic way with pedals, they just make them more a part of the sound. It reacts as one "thing"; in other words you don't play the guitar, or the pedal, or the amp. You play the "tone". I am totally smitten and feel so at home, never since the Guytron have I had an amp that just did everything I want/need at the touch of a string. They really make my guitars come alive too.

    The strangest thing that I am trying to get a grip on is that these Plexi style amps do a thing where the clean (rolled off volume and single coils) is as loud as the crunch (humbucker full on) sounds, yet the humbucker crunch has so much body that it feels BIGGER. You can go from single line stuff to chords and it sounds/feels so natural and real.

    What strikes me as funny is that I have been looking for this forever, but never thought to try a Plexi style amp. I feel like a goofball for never getting it before - and I have been very close with the Matchless Clubman. But the Clubman is like the cousin with the high voice that plays golf. :D

    If the amps were women, the Club 40 would be Marilyn Monroe dressed in silk; the Lead 55 would be Bettie Page in leather... with a whip. Ahh, to have such choices in life.

    :D
     
  20. Red Planet

    Red Planet Member

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    Do you prefer the Hot Plat to others? That would be the thing but it would make it exspensive. I suppose I could get one now and one later.

    I really like the Hot Plate and got the chance to play one before buying. There has been a lot of internet talk of these dudes and I'm suprised. It sounds good even at -12 db
     

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