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Headstrong Lil King S vs. Vintage Sound 20

East End Martin Guy

Supporting Member
Messages
65
Hey guys,

I have my "beefed up Princeton" search down to these two. I know there are tons of other options out there (I know them already) but I'm specifically focused on these two for now with the Louis Electric Columbia as a third potential option.

Who has these? Has anyone played both?

Hope you're all staying safe!
 

Gallery

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,424
I've played neither, so I'm not much help to you, but the specs on the VS20 interest me way more than the Headstrong.
 

doublescale1

Suhr S-Classic, V60LP's, Soft V neck
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,739
FWIW I had a Lil' King S that was pure Princeton Reverb w/12" speaker - its one of the truest to orig. F-build and sound, just with a 12" speaker - Wayne also makes it with a trad. 10". With the 12" it's a bigger sounding PR, nothing more, nothing less in an accurate PR size cab. If you are looking for built like a brick house, super clean handwired PR, the Lil' King S will get it done for you. I also owned a Carr Rambler before I got the Lil' King - after about 6 mos. I sat down and dialed in the Rambler to match the Lil King spot-on, so I sold the Lil King. because the Rambler could do that and more. Great amps and approachable customer service from Headstrong Amps, my experience anyway. Hope this helps. Good Hunting.
 

Gallery

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,424
Which specs?
Reverb - I prefer the bigger reverb with more controls
Middle control - I would probably choose the VS20 for this reason alone. More versatility.
6L6 option - When I think vintage black panel tone, I think 6V6 and 6L6 (the headstrong offers EL34 and KT88 neither of which would be my first choice)

Stolen from the Humbucker Music site:

2) The reverb circuit is vastly upgraded. The stock reverb on a Princeton was a small 9" pan spring reverb. The Vintage 20 uses a large 17" spring reverb pan that's the same size as the one used in the Twin Reverb! The reverb circuit also includes a very nifty reverb dwell control on the rear of the chassis for varying the decay time.

3) A "MIDDLE" tone control has been added that Princeton Reverb amps didn't have. This addition does nothing to hurt the integrity of the circuit or tone. The original Fender circuit actually had a "fixed mid" that was set permanently at 6.8k. Vintage Sound removed this resistor from the circuit and replaced it with a much more versatile 10k pot. You now have the ability to adjust this frequency range without compromising the original tone. If you want it to sound precisely like a blackface Princeton Reverb, just turn the port to around one o'clock on the dial and you're there. You want to scoop the mids a touch, pull back. Warm the tone a bit, turn up.

5) The output transformer has been upgraded and beefed up to give you 20 watts (instead of 12 in a stock Princeton Reverb) so it has a good bit more clean headroom on tap than a vintage PR. This also allows you to change out the power tubes to 6L6's for a different tone and response. Overall, we recommend staying with 6V6 tubes, but the 6L6 tubes will deliver slightly more bass, but will be a bit more stiff in response. Stiffness isn't a bad thing if that's what you are going after, but the majority of people will prefer the slightly softer response of the 6V6 tubes. Naturally, your mileage may vary.


All of that said, if you love the Princeton as is and really just want more power and a bigger speaker, the Headstrong should satisfy. His amps are awesome. I've been lusting after his VerbroVibe for years. I really hope to own one eventually.

.
 

clarkram

Member
Messages
3,056
I have an older Lil King with 12 inch speaker. Mine is about 12 years old, didn’t have the S model back then.

Great grab and go amp, I’ve done many gigs at smaller clubs with mine. Keeper.
 

Rick CD

Member
Messages
715
I have the Lil King-S and it’s a phenomenal amp. Both at home volumes and gigging small venues (bars and small clubs) it’s perfect. The reverb and vibrato are outstanding, it “takes pedals well” and perform best for me near or at the edge of breakup. If I needed another F style amp it would be another headstrong, no hesitation. And Wayne is great with customer service.

edit: and it’s light, great for grab n go.
 

Jack Dotson

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,133
I have the the V15. It took some speaker swapping, but now it sounds really fantastic. I like the extra options the VS amps provide. i.e. 12’ speaker, larger reverb tank, reverb dwell control, mid control, bright cap mod via the volume knob, and bias points on the rear. My amp is dead quiet and the reverb and tremolo are really nice. I don’t use allot of either, but for me they sound great. Oh yeah, and my DIG delay just puts it over the top. Not sure how it wold respond with an OD pedal, but definitely takes the deal very well.

I did allot of research before buying this amp and to be honest, I started to think I had made a wrong decision. A lot of people like the Warehouse speaker it comes with; not me. I kept playing hoping the speaker would break-in, but just couldn’t get it dialed in. So I tried a green back. Better, but didn’t have the bass and I felt I lost some of the Fender vibe. Then I tried the Celestion Type A. Home run! I can literally set everything at noon and it sounds great. Hard to make it sound bad.

I can’t recall ever having changed a speaker that matched so will with the amp. To my ears and for my taste of course. I can’t believe how this amp now just nails the sound I was after. I bought the Type A for another amp and actually tried it in a few amps and thought it pretty much sucked. But, I had it on hand and was rolling speakers so I gave it a go. Glad I hung onto it.

So yeah, this is a really great amp IMO. And these are very reasonably priced for a hand wired amp with all the features and quality these amps offer.

Good luck on your search. Hope my experience helps.
 

frijoleghost

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,848
had a vs 15 and now have a lil king (close but no cigar)...both great, can't choose between em
 
Messages
3,228
Haven't had either bit I would love to get a Lil' King some day. I wouldn't look elsewhere for a BF Princeton style amp unless I was buying an original
 

Joe L

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,330
I have the the V15. It took some speaker swapping, but now it sounds really fantastic. I like the extra options the VS amps provide. i.e. 12’ speaker, larger reverb tank, reverb dwell control, mid control, bright cap mod via the volume knob, and bias points on the rear. My amp is dead quiet and the reverb and tremolo are really nice. I don’t use allot of either, but for me they sound great. Oh yeah, and my DIG delay just puts it over the top. Not sure how it wold respond with an OD pedal, but definitely takes the deal very well.

I did allot of research before buying this amp and to be honest, I started to think I had made a wrong decision. A lot of people like the Warehouse speaker it comes with; not me. I kept playing hoping the speaker would break-in, but just couldn’t get it dialed in. So I tried a green back. Better, but didn’t have the bass and I felt I lost some of the Fender vibe. Then I tried the Celestion Type A. Home run! I can literally set everything at noon and it sounds great. Hard to make it sound bad.

I can’t recall ever having changed a speaker that matched so will with the amp. To my ears and for my taste of course. I can’t believe how this amp now just nails the sound I was after. I bought the Type A for another amp and actually tried it in a few amps and thought it pretty much sucked. But, I had it on hand and was rolling speakers so I gave it a go. Glad I hung onto it.

So yeah, this is a really great amp IMO. And these are very reasonably priced for a hand wired amp with all the features and quality these amps offer.

Good luck on your search. Hope my experience helps.
How does the Celestion Type A compare to The Gold?
 

doublescale1

Suhr S-Classic, V60LP's, Soft V neck
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,739
I suppose it comes down to what you want - a faithful re-creation of a classic Fender PR chassis (with the orig. 10" or a 12" "modded version) or the Visual Sound version that offers improvements/variations on Leo's orig. schematic - both are well built hand-wired amps that will give you the tone you seek and 50 years of service, just like Leo's originals.
 

dmentzer

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
295
I had 2 Lil' Kings. Both great amps. I have a Columbia Reverb now. To me, better more versatile amp in that you can use 6V6 or 6L6. I'm using NOS 5881's and it meets all of my Black Face needs.
 

majorminor

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,373
Reverb - I prefer the bigger reverb with more controls
Middle control - I would probably choose the VS20 for this reason alone. More versatility.
6L6 option - When I think vintage black panel tone, I think 6V6 and 6L6 (the headstrong offers EL34 and KT88 neither of which would be my first choice)
Just for clarification the Headstrong Lil King S comes stock with 6l6 power tubes making 25 watts and can be run with 6V6, EL34, or KT88 tubes after a re bias if that's your preference.

Owned both the VS20 and Lil King S, and vintage Fenders and after putting a WGS 12CS in the Headstrong it was my clear preference even over some of the vintage Fenders. The VS20 is a fine amp too.
 




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