• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.

Good EL84 amp for decent clean and killer overdrive?

samjbrowne

Member
Messages
380
I'm currently running a Mesa LSS 1x12 combo plus a recto 1x12 cab. I don't use channel 2 at all, just channel 1 with the gain at about 11 (i.e. clean but warm and round). It takes pedals really well and gets nice and nasty with a BB preamp or a hotcake, but it's not really what the amp was built to do.

The tones I need (live) are a good quality clean sound (say a clean AC30), a cranked AC30 tone and a fairly modern distortion that can get an aggressive palm mute tone.

The clean is the least important thing, the other two sounds are what I use 90% of the time.

I'm happy to work off a clean platform (but clean in the right way, if that makes sense) that can be cranked for studio work but is left clean for live, with pedals pushing it for the AC30 tone and the modern dist.

I use a hotcake for AC30 currently, and an Xotic BB preamp for modern crunch, which is ok (but just ok, really) but I'm wondering about:

Dr Z Maz Jnr
Mesa Electra Dyne
Vox AC30
65amps London
Something else?...

Cheers
 

Anna_Laurel

Senior Member
Messages
408
Since you obviously don't have a problem with Mesas.....


Rocket 44 (disc.) Try to find one of these if you can. They go for around 5 or 6 hundred, I think. It's the sleeper amp from heck. 40 watts, 4XEL84, 4X12ax7. The power section of a DC-3, the preamp section of a Subway rocket. Anything from squeaky clean to metal, and can get almost Plexi-loud (it's actually louder than my 2204) - into a 4x12 it's capable of burying a loud unmiked drummer, but it sounds great at lower volumes too, which as we all know is worth a lot. One channel, three footswitchable modes: clean, OD, and OD/contour. (I use clean and OD/contour only) Great tone, a decidedly modern sound, tight but smooth, super-playable. Lots of depth to its sound, harmonics are prominent, quite musical. It loves to scream. I have the head version, a friend has a combo. Into the same cab they sound as identical as any two amps I have heard. Only drawbacks - shared eq, rather weak reverb (not bad, just faint) and a suck-ass loop.

P.S. Nice clips!
 

Rumors of War

Member
Messages
5,154
My vote is for the London. I rarely need something to be pristine in the clean department and run both sides in dirt territory and it cleans up wonderfully when you roll the volume back. And since it's already on your list...
 

samjbrowne

Member
Messages
380
My vote is for the London. I rarely need something to be pristine in the clean department and run both sides in dirt territory and it cleans up wonderfully when you roll the volume back. And since it's already on your list...
I don't think the London would have the aggression I need for the heavier stuff is all.
 

torquil

Member
Messages
1,636
Did you want to replace the LSS? What was your complaint about it?

How about the Mesa Express 5:25? I like most of the tones in mine, from different types of clean, to hard rock/metal distortion. I use no pedals. The preamp tubes are not original. Maybe mine has more gain than the stock model because of this.

- Torquil
 

samjbrowne

Member
Messages
380
Did you want to replace the LSS? What was your complaint about it?

How about the Mesa Express 5:25? I like most of the tones in mine, from different types of clean, to hard rock/metal distortion. I use no pedals. The preamp tubes are not original. Maybe mine has more gain than the stock model because of this.

- Torquil
I like my LSS and will keep it but it's not really hitting the spot for monstrous distorted tones (though it does pretty damn well with a BB in front of it). This MAY be a case of just getting a large closed back 2x12 like a recto or orange to run with it.

I tried the Express today and found the dirty channel to be a bit weak somehow. Hard to define but it seemed to be aimed for sustaining lead playing but a bit rubbish for everything else. Clean was fine.

The Dr Z Maz 38 sounds like it could fit the bill, will check it out.
 

pirateflynn

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,991
Steve Dikun builds this amp. It is very reasonably priced and kicks booty. I have had countless EL84 amps over the years and this one is stellar. I sold my Blockhead Firstborn after comparing it to the RRX 18 watter which is more dynamic and far more aggressive.

RRX 18 Watt
 

samjbrowne

Member
Messages
380
here's some palm mute type stuff i recorded with my ac30 boosted:

http://soundclick.com/share?songid=6599674

ac30 now for sale ps!


i wouldn't do blue speakers though... that wouldn't really hold for the higher gain stuff.
That's getting pretty close to what I'm after - what speakers are you running? I wonder about the (sacrilegious) set up of AC30 with V30s, but I'm guessing those are G12Hs that you're running?
 

re-animator

Senior Member
Messages
8,240
That's getting pretty close to what I'm after - what speakers are you running? I wonder about the (sacrilegious) set up of AC30 with V30s, but I'm guessing those are G12Hs that you're running?
actually the stock wharfdale speakers. as i understand they are g12h clones of some sort. I like v30s in general because they record really well, but i haven't had the urge to experiment with speakers. the wharfdales are actually quite versatile. blues are really necessary if you want to cop that brian may high-harmonic thing effectively, but otherwise there are speakers that do the classic ac30 vibe and give you a lot more range. For maximum versatility, i considered doing one g12h and one blue... mic'ing the appropriate one for recording, but i never quite got around to it.

the guitar on that was a telecaster actually and if i recall correctly the boost used was either a fulldrive or a tc electronic tube primer (both are tube screamery). when i was using that setup i used to stick an a/b box out front that went something like this:

A -> compressor -> analog delay -> top boost channel. this was the chimey, bright clean sound a lot of people think of when they hear ac30s.

B -> dirt pedals -> normal channel. IMO the normal channel takes pedals better than any guitar amp i've heard. its still got the early ac30 crunch thing going on, but its easy to accentuate with dirt boxes, unlike the top boost channel which has a finnicky EQ curve and unusual compression. I used a digital delay in the loop.

of course most recently I've just been using a booster into the normal channel and skipping the complex set up. A treble booster into the amp when its near cranked was what i'd been using to play that song live and it sounds a little better to me that way because it cuts out some of the bass frequencies.
 

pacomc79

Member
Messages
1,515
Mesa Blue Angel. Progressive Linkage is a good thing. This is a very simple strait forward amp especially for Mesa. However this is going to be a rather clean platform. you can cascade two pedals though and get virtually anything you want.

Also Matchless. I guess it depends on how heavy you need really. You might even like the new Suhr Badger 30.

also you could just try adding a closed back 2x12 4x10 or 4x12 first. That might save you some trouble.
 

djw

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,785
Mesa F30 is supposed to have a great clean and nasty drive channel. Runs on EL84s.
 

Crash-VR

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,192
The best would probably be the Komet 19, the clips on the website are amazing. The only problem being the price and they aren't showing up used very often yet. Fat Sound carries the new Xits amps which appear to be amazing amps and the 15 watter is going for about $1000 new all hand wired with top of the line components. It measures 17x17x10 and weighs under 30lbs. There's sound clips on the site. They also carry the Quidley 22 which has monster marshall type gain. I would probably check out the new PRS 30.
 

A440

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,745
pedal-wise, I'd recommend a different pedal than the BB for the heavier tones.

I also have a LSS and a BB and would recommend a rat into the clean channel or using a boost or od pedal in front of the dirty channel.

Good luck
 
Last edited:




Top Bottom