How much better are expensive amps?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Dzen, Feb 25, 2016.

  1. Dzen

    Dzen Member

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    Thanks very much, will do. Come to think of it, I have actually played through a Matchless and it sounded excellent.
     
  2. voxylady

    voxylady Member

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    Also, check out Bad Cat as well. They sound similar to matchless, as there is crossover of the builders for both companies. I had a few variations of the AC15, and prefer my Cub III to them all. Bad Cat is also coming out with a "players series" or something like that, where they are building PCB versions of their flagship, HW amps. I think the PCB will be around $1000 or so when they roll them out.
     
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  3. guitarman3001

    guitarman3001 Member

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    I'd probably agree with the Germino/Marshall comparison but the Bugera/Fender comparison is valid.

    No, we don't have either company's internal reports so all we can go by is what's been widely reported, mostly on forums, review sites, reviews from retailer's sites, etc.. and from everything I've read, those Fender Supersonics had WAAAAAY more problems than the Bugera V22s. The Bugeras had two widely reported problems when they were first released. Those problems have been fixed, and that has been confirmed. The problems with the Fenders are numerous, they have been more widely reported than the Bugeras, and they have not been resolved. As a matter of fact, it's likely that because those problems couldn't be resolved due to design flaws, the SS60 and SS Twin were discontinued because people didn't buy them. So I'm not basing anything on strictly the amps I personally own, but on the info that we all have access to which I've found by doing a lot of reading and research.

    But you're right that if I wanted a particular Marshall tone, I'd probably look to see what companies like Germino, Metro, Splawn, Ceriatone, etc, had before I bought a Marshall, whose quality has been very questionable lately and a lot of people feel that they, like Fender, are sacrificing quality for profits and setting their prices based more on their name recognition than on the quality of their amps. Although comparing Fender to Marshall, I think Marshall's quality is probably better than Fender's at this point in time.
     
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  4. calfzilla

    calfzilla Cynical Hack

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    First, you probably need to decide if you want a pedal platform or something with natural grit. From there you can decide what wattage you will need to achieve the sound you want at the volume you need to. Then you can worry about features such as channel switching or built in verb/vibrato.

    As far as how much better it sounds... Debatable. Some people swear they can hear the difference between surface mount and hand wired, and some people are perfectly happy with SS amps instead of tubes. When you buy an "expensive" amp, you're over-paying for something. Sometimes you're paying for nothing more than a name and a history. Other times you're paying a 50%-100% markup for "quality" components with little to no circuit improvements. Sometimes you're paying for major improvements or something unique (if that can even exist these days).

    Any amp that isn't a piece of junk should last long enough for you to want to get rid of it or add to your stable anyways. Amp components with higher voltage and amperage ratings are less likely to burn up and fail over time, but you always run the risk of a faulty component.

    And just to add to the growing list of amp ideas..... Lil Dawg amps have a great reputation. And I've always been intrigued with Trinity Amps.
     
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  5. texstrat

    texstrat Member

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    Cheap price = cheap product

    High price = high quality product

    It's up to the individual to understand where in the spectrum to purchase an amp.
     
  6. Madison

    Madison Supporting Member

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    I'll just say my SF Pro Reverb ($900) is on par with my former Matchless DC30 and my Two Rock Jet ($3250).
     
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  7. David Garner

    David Garner Supporting Member

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    "Better" is such a subjective term. My favorite amp is my AC30cc2 that I have about $450 in, not including the speakers (which cost more than the amp). Even before I changed to Alnico Blues it was my favorite. It was just one of those amps that I played once and said "WOW! So THIS is what I've been looking for."

    Thing is, it's probably not my "best" amp. That would be the handwired Oldfield Club D'Lux. It's a Deluxe Reverb clone that just sounds amazing, but isn't really getting the tones I need for what my band plays. If I were a blues player, it might be my favorite amp. I also have a handwired 18 Watt Clone, a Ceriatone, so not boutique, but still probably "better" than the Vox in terms of build quality. And I have a Mesa Express that is a tiny little grab and go tank that will cover any ground I will ever need to cover. It's way more versatile than the Vox and probably better in terms of overall construction and value as well. So which one is "better?" Well, right now the Vox is my favorite unless something happens to it that can't be easily fixed, at which point maybe it becomes that piece of Chinese made crap all the online forums assure me it is. But so far it's been 100% reliable and it sounds better for what my band plays than anything else I've found, so I'm going to call it a pretty nice investment for less than $500. I think it's my "best" amp, because it's the one that I want to play all the time.

    So as to your specific question, you have to really determine whether the AC15 is what you are wanting. If the harshness is an issue, new tubes will help. My Vox has Russian Mullards but most folks seem to like the JJs. You didn't say what speaker is in it, but a speaker change might (or might not) help as well. Mine has Alnico Blues, but it also sounds fantastic through my Marshall 2061cx cabinet, which has the 70th Anniversary G12H30s in it. The problem is, if you dump another $250 or so in speaker and tubes, and you still don't like it, you've put good money after bad. Of course, if $250 will fix everything you don't like about the amp, going the other way will cost you about $1750 or so, and that might also leave you cold. I can say I have rarely felt good about spending much more than $1500 on any one piece of gear. If you know what you want, or at least have a reasonably good idea, then you will have an easier time going boutique. If you aren't sure, I'd definitely play as many as you can before pulling the trigger. Know what you want, and then spending extra on a boutique piece of gear will be a wise investment.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016
  8. TCMx3

    TCMx3 Supporting Member

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    in the US your 66 super is worth pretty close to that Two Rock these days and your 1969 super lead is worth several thousand USD too.
     
  9. ccoker

    ccoker Supporting Member

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    How about this?
    It's worth it if you can't get the tone that is in your head in less expensive amps and the only one that does cost X.
    Then it's just a matter of how bad you want it and what you are willing to do to get it.

    Flipside is if you are 100% content on less expensive option, go for it!
     
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  10. BADHAK

    BADHAK Member

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    My expensive amps were well made with average tone.
    My reasonably priced amps were reasonably well made but have amazing tone.
    My cheap amps have been junk in every way (though the other guitarist in my band uses a Fender Stage 100 DSP SS amp for rehearsals, and we both agree its a great sounding amp)

    Just my experience.
     
  11. Torren61

    Torren61 Member

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    I didn't bother to read all the responses because I feel like my opinion is much more important. Glad I got that off my chest. First of all, I am a terrible guitar player with a multitude of excuses why. I broke my ring finger years ago and it never healed correctly, too busy with work and wife and dogs, etc. You get the idea.

    HOWEVER, my thinking is that if a guy practices and practices with a goal in mind, guitar tonal issues and cheap amps will all work themselves out. In other words, a good guitar player will make a cheap guitar and a lower to mid level amp sound just fine. The reverse is also true. My Jimi Hendrix Marshall full stack did not make me sound like Hendrix. I still sounded like crap.

    That said... a quality amp is a quality amp with more reliability and maybe better or different sound. Is it worth 2000 pounds? I dunno. Is your child support paid up? :anon
     
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  12. macmax77

    macmax77 Supporting Member

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    i think it all depends on what is better.
    For example, a Peavey Classic 30-50 will never be able to win in an elevator music contest against a Dumble.

    In the same token, the Dumble will not be able to perform Rock music as well as the Classic in a bar.
     
  13. texstrat

    texstrat Member

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    Haha! Your assumption (or confusion) that a dumble is meant for elevator music is amusing. I owned a Peavey Classic for 6 years; it was my second amp I bought. I loved it, but it was a mediocre amp at best, and I can name dozens of others that are much better rock amps - including Dumbles!
     
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  14. texstrat

    texstrat Member

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    Maybe you bought the wrong expensive amps
     
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  15. BADHAK

    BADHAK Member

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    Maybe I'm just unlucky ,but that has been my experience so far.
     
  16. macmax77

    macmax77 Supporting Member

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    your assumption that i was trying to amuse you is overrated.
     
  17. David Garner

    David Garner Supporting Member

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    I never thought about it this way, but I agree. Whether I'm playing my most expensive gear or my cheapest, I get the most enjoyment out of them when I just take a guitar and plug it into an amp and play. When I'm switching out from this guitar or amp to that, it feels too much like work. I'm not enjoying the gear, I'm hunting for something.

    Usually something I already would have found if I'd just let the gear in my hands inspire me.

    Agree here too. I own some very nice gear and some very cheap gear and some in between. I play my mid-price guitars more and my cheap amp by far the most. But I could easily get by with my MIM Strat or American Standard Tele (purchased used in 1999 for $550) and the Vox. If I can use both of the 2 cheaper guitars, I could probably sell all the rest of my gear. I won't, but I could.
     
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  18. TCMx3

    TCMx3 Supporting Member

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    wait what...
     
  19. btjguitarman

    btjguitarman Member

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    It's an exponential increase, not a linear one
     
  20. Dave_C

    Dave_C Member

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    Good points. I agree that Fender has had a lot of problems, especially with the SS, although the one I played when it first came out sounded pretty good. I admit to having lost touch a bit with the mass-produced low end after having had so many problems with them over the years. (Been wankin' since 1971.)

    So, after having been through WAY too many boutique and mass-produced amps for my own good (and certainly that of my bank account), I've settled on Germino, Glaswerks, Dr. Z and Allen a few years ago for my various needs and never looked back. I even still have an old Quinn SDO which, despite his own bizarre personal issues, is an amazing amp.

    Point is, I've found that spending a bit more has really resulted in satisfaction that I could never find in the cheap, mass-produced stuff, despite really TRYING to make them work.
     

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