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Good Amp for Post Punk/Alt Rock?

bahklava

Senior Member
Messages
534
At the moment, I'm playing into a late '80s Peavey Special 112, an old 160-watt all-transistor amp. For a 24-year-old, $150 amp, I've been very impressed with its flexibility and its capabilities. With a fuzz pedal set to minimum gain between the "preamp out" and "power amp in" jacks, I get a lean, clear, gritty, somewhat "jagged" sound that reminds me a lot of some of my favorite players (Andy Gill from Gang of Four, Bernard Sumner from Joy Division, J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr) without totally copying any one of them.

In an absolute sense, I'm really happy with that Peavey Special. However, I'm wondering if that's because it's actually a good amp, or if I simply lack the experience to even know what a good amp is - and I am under some (light, friendly) pressure from friends and jam mates to "go tube."

I've tried out several tube amps - a Blackstar HT, a Bugera V22, a Peavey Classic 30, and a couple Fenders and Marshalls that I can't remember off the top of my head. Having experimented with the tubes, I found the following:

a). I generally try plugging a fuzz pedal between the preamp and the power amp like this:



However, with the tube amps I've tried, it's really hard for them to respond well to my fuzz pedals (EHX Bass Big Muff, EHX Big Muff with Tone Wicker, Way Huge Swollen Pickle). I get a lot of hissing, humming, and other ugliness that I don't have on my Peavey Special.

It's less of an issue if I go from the guitar to the pedal to the amp like this:



...but then the preamp EQ doesn't do much because it can't overcome the level of amplification that's already coming out of the stompbox. I might as well just hook the pedal up to a cab Jimi Hendrix-style and call it a day.

b). By themselves, I liked the Peavey Classic best, and then the Blackstar. They're still not the sound I'm going for, though (and I miss my fuzz pedals, damnit!). Their OD channels are too thick and chunky for me - fantastic sounds for blues, country, or classic rock-style guitar, but they don't nail what I'm going for.

And to be clear: when I go back home to that Peavey Special 112, I plug my rig in and it sounds so much better to me than what I was getting with the tube amps at the store or at my friends' places.

Is it possible that my rig is better than the sum of its parts, or that I'm just a transistor amp guy? Or is there a tube amp out there (preferably under $500) that I haven't tried yet but will get me the sound I'm looking for?

Either way, what do you recommend?

EDIT: I also want to point out that this is NOT a TransTube amp - this is a Special 112 that predates the Transtube series.
 
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KindaFuzzy

Member
Messages
817
This is kind of exactly what I had for years, a Peavey bandit with a danelectro daddy-o and a big green russian muff, and sounded great. Once I went tube though, there was no turning back, and I found myself changing guitars and pedals totally.

Sounds like you need a twin or a deluxe reverb or something nice and clean, I found that's what sounds closest to my old Peavey. (I'd just stick with what you have if it sounds good though).
 

bahklava

Senior Member
Messages
534
This is kind of exactly what I had for years, a Peavey bandit with a danelectro daddy-o and a big green russian muff, and sounded great. Once I went tube though, there was no turning back, and I found myself changing guitars and pedals totally.
I think that's the rub right there - I love the guitar I have, I love the pedals I have, and I'm not sure I'm ready to change my whole rig. In fact, I know I'm not. Maybe in a couple years, but not now.

Sounds like you need a twin or a deluxe reverb or something nice and clean, I found that's what sounds closest to my old Peavey. (I'd just stick with what you have if it sounds good though).
I'm really liking the clean on my Peavey Special 112. With the fuzz pedal at min gain thrown in between the preamp and the power amp, I set the volume on my neck pickup to about 8, and leave the bridge pickup at 10. That way, on the clean channel, I get a nice, clean sound out of the neck pup with a hint of grit if I really dig into the strings, while the bridge pup's higher volume and output drive the fuzz pedal a bit harder to give me some light, fuzzy OD.
 

KindaFuzzy

Member
Messages
817
It's kind of sacrilege for a tube amp guy like me to say that too, eh.

I found I used to play neck humbuckers all the time with the peavey, and now I use pretty much the bridge only and prefer single coils into either a fendery type of amp or a Magnatone with a fuzz pedal for dirt. I am a basement rock star though so take what you will from that.
 

colinesquire

Member
Messages
1,120
That old peavey is a good amp & it sounds like you are happy with it so why change? In general tube amps will be warmer, thicker & saggier which is not the post punk sound. If you really want to go tube I would try a late 70s fender of some sort. UL's were really clean but sound great. You could find a twin or vibrolux around $500 as they are the least desirable vintage fender amps.
 

colinesquire

Member
Messages
1,120
Also a roland jazz chorus though not tube would be an upgrade from the peavey. I had a jc50 1-12 in the post punk/kraut rockish band I played with. It was perfect.
 

weese77

Member
Messages
137
Wait, you're putting the fuzz in the loop? That won't sound super great most of the time. That's probably why you're getting so much noise.

Muff pi in front of a Fender tube amp is a great sound. The hot rod line is reasonably priced and makes for a great pedal platform.

I didn't like muff into Voxes or Marshalls. It feels like the sound just disappears.
 

bahklava

Senior Member
Messages
534
Wait, you're putting the fuzz in the loop? That won't sound super great most of the time. That's probably why you're getting so much noise.

Muff pi in front of a Fender tube amp is a great sound. The hot rod line is reasonably priced and makes for a great pedal platform.

I didn't like muff into Voxes or Marshalls. It feels like the sound just disappears.
I don't remember trying a Fender Hot Rod, so that's definitely worth a try. A little research online suggests that it's a little bit over my price range new, but I expect it should be available for under $400 used.

And you're right! I tried placing fuzz into the loop at first - like I do with that Peavey - and then realized I'd have to place the fuzz between the guitar and the preamp instead. My problem with that is simple, though: the preamp is really effective at shaping the tone if it's feeding into the fuzz, but once the signal has gone through the fuzz, that's pretty much it in terms of shaping the sound. If I want to brighten the signal up or cut the bass back a bit when I'm running the fuzz before the preamp, I find it really hard to get the sound I want. I don't have that problem at all if I'm able to place fuzz in the loop, and I don't get any of that hiss or noise on the Peavey Special.

If you think that the Peavey is doing it for you then stick to it. I used to know a couple of people who had those old Peavey combo amps and, well, let's just say that they weren't for me.

That said, Peavey seems to have cleans really figured out. So if you're running it on the clean channel and running a fuzz (or whatever) into it then you might be able to get exactly what you need out of it.
That's what I'm feeling at the moment, too. That said, I want to stick with this amp because it's a good - not because I simply don't know any better.

For a post-punk vibe, I'd suggest a cranked Fender Twin or Bassman or also a Park head, maybe? The JC120 is a good bet too. But really, you should be able to get some angular breakup tones out of whichever amp combo that feels right?
I'm not familiar with the Park amp heads. It looks like they're vintage and priced somewhat north of $500, right?

I haven't seen the Bassman around, though that's clearly a legendary piece of equipment and I hear that tube bass amps are really good for clean tones.

So it's looking like the consensus is to check out the Fender Twin or stick with the Peavey.
 

7P/XT

Member
Messages
137
If you think that the Peavey is doing it for you then stick to it. I used to know a couple of people who had those old Peavey combo amps and, well, let's just say that they weren't for me.

That said, Peavey seems to have cleans really figured out. So if you're running it on the clean channel and running a fuzz (or whatever) into it then you might be able to get exactly what you need out of it.

For a post-punk vibe, I'd suggest a cranked Fender Twin or Bassman or also a Park head, maybe? The JC120 is a good bet too. Old Ampeg amps really smoke for those tones too, and sometimes they are cheap. There's also VOX.. hard to go wrong there. But really, you should be able to get some angular breakup tones out of whichever amp combo that feels right to you as a player.

There's also another thread that talks about this same thing to an extent:

https://www.thegearpage.net/board/index.php?threads/1135357

Check that out for more good advice.

Also, maybe try to track down what Ed Crawford from fIREHOSE uses, he's got cool tone.
 

7P/XT

Member
Messages
137
Also, the Park heads are/were a bit of a legit (knock-off) Marshall. Sometimes you can get one on the cheap. Keep your eyes open and be sure to check one out if you get the chance.
 

kingink

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
769
I wrote my master's thesis on Gang of Four and interviewed Andy Gill for part of it.

If you're asking for advice, here it is: stick with what you've got. Don't listen to your friends. Gill used a solid-state Carlsboro (sp?) amp.

bahklava, your use of the fuzz into your Peavey amp is unique and captures the punk and post-punk spirit perfectly: innovation with the debris of consumer culture; using low-grade technology in unusual ways.

If you really want to go tube, you will probably have to dump the fuzz pedal. I can't say for sure, but even at minimum gain settings into a clean amp, it might sound more classically fuzzy than you want, losing that jaggedness you like. I say this speculatively: without hearing your Peavey/Muff setup, I can't say for sure.

What you could do is either A) use a Fender Super, Deluxe, or Twin Reverb with a Tubescreamer or Tubescreamer knockoff (there are about 8 million of these from Mad Professor, Keeley, Lovepedal, MJM, Digitech, Boss, Cusack, CMatmods, etc.) or with a Deluxe or Super, try just turning up the amp until it starts to break up. Keep the bass knob low, like below 3, mids between 4-8 and turn up the treble. You'll probably get a nice, jagged breakup.

With the Peavey Classic (Gill used the 4x10 Classic 50 on the Go4 American tour several years ago) you might be able to get the jaggedness you seek but you probably won't get it with the fuzz pedal. Turn up the clean channel until it starts breaking up. Same as above: wind up the treble.

On the drive channel of the Peavey, keep the post gain all the way up and the pre gain low. Adjust EQ to taste.

But again I say: it sounds like you've created a unique set up and tone. Stick with that.
 

pir8matt

Member
Messages
5,688
If you're playing your best and getting the sound you like from the Peavey, then stay with the Peavey! You have the rare advantage of being able to pick up as many backup amps as you like for next to no money, as well.
 

Fenderosa

Member
Messages
326
I have used a green Big Muff with a solid state (Fender Pro 185) and tube (silverface Super Reverb) amps . The solid state amp has slightly harder attack where the tube is slightly softer. When I play with other musicians, I don't notice the difference as much as I do when playing alone.

Higher wattage amps typically have less sag, so using a Twin Reverb (85 watts/solid state rectifier) would give a harder attack a Super Reverb (40 watts/tube rectifier). I suggest bringing your Muff to a music store and trying it with some amps that have more clean headroom than the ones you mentioned.

Fuzz pedals seem to work better with amps with more clean headroom. J. Mascis uses his Muff with 100 and 200 watt plexi Marshalls which are less buzzy than later model Marshalls.

Also some amps have more midrange in the tone stack. The Classic 30 has more of a midrangey voice than the Special 112 which has a more mid scooped (traditional Fender) voicing. This midrangey voice works great for bluesy overdrive, but less well for bold cleans. If you can't find a Fender in your price range, look for some earlier tube Peaveys (Deuce) which are very similar in tone to Fenders.
 

disaster

Member
Messages
921
bahklava - I agree with kingink. You have a sound that is different and cool, and even if you're the only one that thinks that, that's all that matters. At the very least, don't sell off the setup you have now if you want to try something new.
 

awp

Member
Messages
266
I don't know how much more you can expect from an amp. If what you have is working for you then keep using it.

I'm the original owner of a Peavey Special 130 which is a few years older than yours. I gigged it through to the mid-90's. It has been in continuous use in my dad's band since that time. I recently got it back to use for a gig and the thing still works really well. The only indications of its age is a slight tear in the tolex and the Peavey emblem has been torn off. These things are super reliable and rock solid.

Unless you are looking for an excuse to buy something different stick with the Peavey and ignore your friends (and TGP).
 

kingink

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
769
bahklava - I agree with kingink. You have a sound that is different and cool, and even if you're the only one that thinks that, that's all that matters. At the very least, don't sell off the setup you have now if you want to try something new.
Hey, thanks for the backup!
 

bahklava

Senior Member
Messages
534
I wrote my master's thesis on Gang of Four and interviewed Andy Gill for part of it.
Ah! I'm so jealous! What was that interview like?

If you're asking for advice, here it is: stick with what you've got. Don't listen to your friends. Gill used a solid-state Carlsboro (sp?) amp.
Yeah, Carlsbro Stingray, if I'm not mistaken.

On the drive channel of the Peavey, keep the post gain all the way up and the pre gain low. Adjust EQ to taste.
What's funny is that that's exactly how I have the drive channel set already - post gain is set to max, while pre gain is set to about 1 1/2. The way I use the drive channel, I care less about the drive itself and more about it just being louder than the clean channel so that I can drive the fuzz pedal harder.

I'm the original owner of a Peavey Special 130 which is a few years older than yours. I gigged it through to the mid-90's. It has been in continuous use in my dad's band since that time. I recently got it back to use for a gig and the thing still works really well. The only indications of its age is a slight tear in the tolex and the Peavey emblem has been torn off. These things are super reliable and rock solid.
Absolutely. I got mine used when it was already in its twenties, and the only maintenance I had to do at the time was to give the pots a little contact cleaner. I also had to replace a fuse once - that's it, nothing else at all for an amp that was made a quarter century ago.

Unless you are looking for an excuse to buy something different stick with the Peavey and ignore your friends (and TGP).
I think I'm mostly just looking for some validation. I've been playing guitar for 12 years, but the first 10 or 11 were all acoustic. As a result, I find that the guitar and the music are the easy part - it's all the other gear that's the problem! I'm lucky to know some REALLY good, really talented players with strong views on gear, and with them around, it's sometimes hard to trust one's own ear.
 
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Johnny Alien

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,590
Also a roland jazz chorus though not tube would be an upgrade from the peavey. I had a jc50 1-12 in the post punk/kraut rockish band I played with. It was perfect.
This is exactly what I was thinking. Post punk and solid state go hand in hand and this amp was used more than any other.
 

awp

Member
Messages
266
I think I'm mostly just looking for some validation.

No offense intended to the contributors of this fine board but I am not entirely sure this is the right place to come and get validation. I think the reality here is somewhat.....err... skewed.

it's sometimes hard to trust one's own ear.
Definitely true but from your OP and all your subsequent responses it sounds to me like you've got your sound sorted out.
 

bahklava

Senior Member
Messages
534
No offense intended to the contributors of this fine board but I am not entirely sure this is the right place to come and get validation. I think the reality here is somewhat.....err... skewed.
It is, but you know what they say about beggars.
 




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