Good, low watt, amp for recording ideas?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by DaveSemach, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. DaveSemach

    DaveSemach Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    So I've just discovered this website and I don't think you'll be hearing the last of me. Great place!

    That being said...I'm 23, delivering pizzas for money, and live in an apartment. I don't see myself living in a more spacious environment anytime soon, but I've been working on home recording for a while. So far, I have a fender 120 watt amp that has been good, but I've never really liked the distorted tone. I've been using my line 6 POD XT Live for a while, and I like it alright, but I really want a good amp for recording and if I get a band together.

    I've been playing for about 13 years and have good ears, but I'm not familiar with the sound of specific amps....just what I read.

    I'm looking for a tube amp from 15 to 50 watts. I don't really care if its a combo or head. I use both a fender strat and a gibson les paul. I would like to spend less than $1300.

    I would go to the store and have the staff help me choose, but I always feel like they direct me based on their stock (no Orange or Mesa), how much money I can spend "right now", and the commission they'd like to get.

    Anybody have suggestions? Favorites? Ways to hear sound clips of favorites?

  2. farlowhigh

    farlowhigh Member

    Dec 3, 2006
    welcome to the Gear Page. You will find all kinds of great information here.
    It would be helpful if you posted what sort of music you like to play as that would affect people's recommendations.
    If you live in an apartment and would be playing there, I would advise not going over 20 watts and even a 5 watt tube amp has the potential to annoy apartment neighbors. That said, there are plenty of people around here who use high watt amps at low volumes in homes. It is obviously a matter of opinion about how many watts becomes too many in a given home situation.

    Many many brands of amps out there. Many fall into the basic sonic camps of Marshall, Fender, and Vox. There are many small companies that make variations on these classic designs. Most amp builders have at least decent websites where you can hear sample clips. youtube is also full of brief amp demos and can be quite useful. Many amps mix and match some of these basic flavors. So, a Savage Macht 6 is a nice amp with a Fendery clean sound but when you crank it up and push the tone control up as well, it can start to sound a little Marshally. I have a Top Hat amp that can really get tones in all 3 arenas of Fender, Marshall, and Vox. There are many 18 watt amps with two channels, one more Voxy and the other more Marshally, etc.

    For instance, if you like Marshall sounds and need to keep the volume low in the apartment, then I would highly recommend the Fargen Miniplex II. It has power scaling which allows you to get almost any tone at any volume.

    You would definitely learn a lot going to the websites of various amp builders. so, go to to read about the Miniplex II and power scaling.

    For another amp with power scaling and a basically Marshally sound with some Vox tones thrown in, check out the Suhr Badger ( has a great video demo by Pete Thorn and some great sound clips by a number of people).

    There are many amp builders out there building amps with Fendery qualities. If you are looking for a nice Fendery amp that can sound great at low volumes, check out the Gries 5. It is a really loud 5 watts that will fill any room in an apartment in my opinion. It has full tone controls and even a master volume all for significantly less than a grand. You can check it out and some sound clips at Allen amps do variations on famous Fender models and there are many other brands out there that do similar stuff. Victoria amps do very close reproductions with slight twists on classic Fender tweed amps. Clark amps and Richter amps do great versions of the famous Tweed Deluxe, and there are many other companies doing that sort of thing. Swart amps have a basic Fendery sound but they are not just clones but have their own sound to them. great sound clips of the Swart Atomic Space Tone at

    Top Hat is a great company that makes wonderful amps like the Club Royale which mixes Vox and Marshall tones and has its own thing going. Dr Z amps have a good deal of Voxy and Marshally tones going in them and a nice range of models. The Maz Jr is a great amp although I would find it too loud for an apartment unless the neighbors were very tolerant and you had some serious soundproofing!

    If you post some music you like and the sorts of tones you would like to reproduce, that will help people narrow it down a bit. There are an incredible number of great amp builders out there now!!

  3. Veritas

    Veritas Silver Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2007
    That's some good advice.
  4. teleman55

    teleman55 Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Get a 15 watt Vox Valvtronix and put the rest of the money in the bank. Play with it a while and you'll know what amp to buy. If it was me I'd get a Deluxe Reverb and a Crate 32 Palomino but it depends on you and what you play. If you want the hi gain sound they'd be way wrong. Try the Vox for a bit and you'll know.
  5. The Last Rebel

    The Last Rebel Member

    Aug 3, 2007
    50 watts is way to much for appartment use, hell some 15 watt amps can be. Definately check out everything mentioned above.

    Dr. Z makes some great amps in the Fender, Marshall, and Vox camps. Go to your music store and play everything, shoo away salesdood. Beyond that I can't help you much, as I'm also looking for a new amp. Good luck in your search.

    I'm actually using a Valvetronix right now, I would not reccomend it. It was an okay amp when I was learning, but I've moved beyond that stage now, and it's really not what you want. The cleans are awful, the OD tones are harsh alright, or muffled, and the effects are cold and digital. Blow the bank, spend you limit, you'll be happier in the end.
  6. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

    Feb 10, 2007
    I always love a marshall, check out the DSL401, its 40 watts, three channels, and my favorite amp.
  7. FFTT

    FFTT Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    One of the most popular low wattage amps for recording, is the Emery Sound
    The Mad Scientist Tube Kits provides a remarkable variety of available tones.

    The Vintone Circuits Simplex is a step up from there, but with similar
    tube change capablities.

    Also agree, the Suhr Badger is a good choice.

    Also the Fargen Mini Plex MKII

    While your looking, also check out the Category 5 Tsunami
    and the Reeves Custom 12, 18 and 30.
  8. Boomer

    Boomer Member

    Jan 4, 2002
    Hollywood, FL
    I would also take a look at the Fuchs Lucky 7 and Blackjack 21. The Lucky 7 is a little under your power requirement but it is very loud and nicely crunchy. The Blackjack 21 as a combo is a bit above your price max but the head makes the cut.

    Listen to the clips and see what you think!
  9. GSVBagpuss

    GSVBagpuss Member

    Apr 11, 2007
    The Zinky Blue Velvet 25w 1x12 combo is another possibility. It sounds amazing at very low levels, looks cool and can give quite flexible sounds. Prices over here (UK) are higher than US, I think you can get them for under 1300.
  10. starjag

    starjag Member

    Feb 18, 2008
    I have a Zinky Blue Velvet 25-watts. Great amp indeed. But lately I have been interested in a Gerhart Gilmore 1/2-watts 1x12 combo for recording. You just do not see many of them for sale used.
  11. AnthonyL

    AnthonyL Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2003
    New Albany, OH
    My search ended with the Suhr Badger... 18W with power scaling and a great effects loop. Sounds very good through a 1X12, but absolutely smokes with a 4X12, IMO. Check out the clips/videos on Suhr's website. It gives a solid representation of what the amp can do.
  12. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

    May 19, 2003
    I've been playing through a DRRI with the volume on 3 and a 15w Trace Elliot Velocette through an attenuator in my basement (which is partially below grade). The DRRI is loud enough on 3 so that my family upstairs can't enjoy the TV. If I took the attenuator off the Velocette, the neighbours could here it 1/2 way up (I live in a detached single family house). Even with the attenuator set for good tone and the Velocette turned up to 3/4 (the sweet spot) the Velocette will drown out the TV upstairs. My point, tube amps are really too loud for apartments unless you've got great neighbours on 6 sides. I'm getting a 12w Reeves Custom with Power scaling today so I let you know how that works for low volume. It should give me a Marshall fix at low volumes without the attenuator.
  13. orogeny

    orogeny Supporting Member

    Dec 1, 2006
    Yardville, NJ
    hey dave. . . be careful round here. you'll spend all that pizza money before you know it.

    my cents of two:

    but first. . . some questions. . .

    gigging? recording? what are you doing? single coils? buckers? who are you listening to? playing?

    despite ALL of those questions, i'm going to save you a thousand dollars. buy me a beer sometime.

    try a used roland cube 60. VERY suited for apartment living. you can gig in front of 100 people with it as well. EXCELLENT clean sound. VERY fender/blackface. very good low to med. gain/crunch. throw in some fx as well. get one used for around 200 bucks!

    got a grand leftover for some pedals. . . or for your first house/condo. . . or for a more fun guitar.

    good luck. keep coming back. . . and watch that pocket.
  14. gibson08

    gibson08 Member

    Feb 4, 2007
    Welcome!! Uni-valve maybe??
  15. philbarnes

    philbarnes Member

    Aug 10, 2006
    Dig around, a lot of info on this. I learned very quick that 15 watts is just a bit too much. The decible difference is not that much, but in my case it seemed to be a critical wattage to get banging on my door. 5 watts or less is the ticket, my recipe is a Star Nova for dirt and Kalamazoo Model 1 and 2 for clean. You will find many constructive opinions here.
  16. slider313

    slider313 Silver Supporting Member

    Jul 28, 2005
    If your going to use it just for recording, an old Gibson GA-5 with 1-5Y3, 1-6V6 and 1-12AX7. Sweet tone all day and push it and it's perfect, without being overely loud. You can get one, serviced, for about $400. and find something else to gig with the left over $900.
  17. jeremym19

    jeremym19 Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Carmen Ghia!!! ultimate recording amp.
  18. Gasp100

    Gasp100 Silver Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2007
    North Myrtle Beach, SC
    Dave, welcome. A word of caution... if you throw out a number like that we will get you to spend it all in about 2 minutes!!! We'll probably even link you to amps being sold RIGHT NOW on the Emporium. Seriously though, if you are still finding your tone through Fender/Vox/Marshall (or a combo of all 3) I think the Cube 60 advice is perfect. Great sounds in a compact package, headphone/recording out, the BF setting is superb, the clean or JC120 side is awesome, some decent built in FX all using just plain old knobs... AND you could clearly gig with it NO PROBLEMS! You can most likely get one used on ebay for about $300 or less.
    If it's Fender BF or Tweed you want, I can vouch for the Gries 5. Amazing amp, class A, Dave Gries to a top notch guy and it just kills and takes pedals amazingly well. With the Master Volume it can get as loud or as soft as you want.
    For old school Marshall (and a lot of character and amazing chime) I cannot say enough about the Winfield amps. I have to get some clips up to show people what I'm talking about. He makes a 5 watter for a good deal. Mine is the 18/30 watt and it has a Master volume installed. It's the bomb. When it's full open I can peel paint no problem, when it about 1/4 the way up it still sounds incredible.
    The Fargen miniplex II looks and sounds amazing, people rave about the Genz Benz Black Pearl for a slightly voxy take on things, you could buy a 6 watt LOUD SF Champ for around $300... the options are really limitless.
    But, start by trying out as many different amps as you can and listening to even more clips and haunting this forum. You will learn a lot from other peoples experiences and find out what you really want.
    I consider any amp over $1K to be quite expensive... especially if you're not even sure exactly what you want yet.
  19. DaveSemach

    DaveSemach Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    To answer some questions, I play with a Fender Strat, and a gibson les paul.

    I play rock music. I like the guitar tones of Zeppelin, Hendrix, Aerosmith, Clapton.... but I'd like to have a bit more gain for when I'm in the mood for something harder.

    I am currently in a band and would like to be able to use the amp in future bands, but I'm also very interested in recording.

    Its funny. I've never even heard of these amp names that you guys are throwing out. The guitar center around here only carries Fender, Crate, Marshall, Line 6, and Mesa Boogie...where do you find this stuff?

    I went to a small store in the city where everything is wayyy overpriced and played an Orange tiny terror. I loved the sound, but I wish there were more tonal options. That "tone" knob wouldn't cut it for me....I wish they offered something with 15 watts and more tonal options for less than 2 grand.

    Thanks again everyone
  20. FFTT

    FFTT Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    Well Guitar Center carries mostly Chinese and Mexi-built re-issues
    and most of what they carry is mass production PCB construction.

    There are some store who carry names like Divided By 13, 65 Amps, Bad Cat, Suhr, Swart, but in most cases you need to order directly from the builder.

    If you want something that can handle home volumes and still be capable
    of respectable power in a live band situation, you're probably better off
    going for something that gives you up to 30 watts with power scaling or
    a half power option.

    The Reeves Custom 30 actually delivers closer to 35 watts
    and with the KT66 power section, would give you tonal variations from
    Hiwatt cleans to JTM45 OD tones.

    The new Suhr Badger 30 will be available starting in April from what I've read.

    The other lower power amps mentioned may offer superior recording
    tones, but may leave you wanting against live drums.

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