Lost in AmpLand

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Winklin, May 5, 2015.

  1. Winklin

    Winklin Member

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    I play in a cover band (classic rock) where vocals are the bread and butter of the act.
    I use small amps in an effort to keep my apparent volume down, and often have to use an "always on" lite gain box to give me a little grit, as the amp never gets turned up enough to produce it itself.

    I'm currently using a Fender Excelsior with an Emi Legend 1518 spkr. Even this 13 watter is sometimes too loud, especially in rehearsals. Plus, the lack of a Tone knob means it's always a bit too bright, and I have to turn the tone control on my tele down, which I kinda don't like doing (even though it seems to do the job).

    I'm jonesing for a new amp, but am lost in the quagmire of low watt amps out there. I'm attracted to the Vox AC15 CCÂ….. with a Master Volume and a Tone stack, it could be just right. But it's as much if not more than I'd like to spend.

    I also like tweed sounds, and wonder if a decent 5E3 clone would work out for me? Again, a "decent" one would probably be more than the Vox.

    And then there's that other Fender Pawn Shopper, the Ramparte, which I haven't played but like the price point. Would 9 watts get over a drummer?

    Anyone have any veteran advice with getting a small amp that produces controllable grind/volume on it's own. and doesn't cost more than $500?
    I've been down the Peavey Classic 30 road before, and don't care to repeat myself.

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. Geeze

    Geeze Silver Supporting Member

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    Lower power amps can put you in a tone deficit. Pushing most sub 10w amps can put you into WTF tone at the volume you need. YES I KNOW, THERE ARE ALWAYS EXCEPTIONS. But I generally don't see them in your budget range.

    The options as I see it -

    20-30 watt amp with a MV - get the tone you want at the volume you want. Always have more 'power' available than you need. Tomorrows band may call for more guitar domination! Also - unless you enjoy buying amps [I do] I would consider a $500 budget very limiting. Most guys pick a number out of their butt without due consideration of what options they have and then SAVE THE MONEY and get what works instead of the 'all I could afford, now bored with it amp'.

    Low dollar option - pedals. Many dirt pedals have tone/EQ knobs or a just an EQ. Take your rig to the local guitar store and audition pedals at the volume you need to play.

    Of the two I'd do the pedal route and save $$$ while you explore amps.

    Russ
     
  3. zzmoore

    zzmoore Member

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    What's "wrong" with using the guitar knobs.?

    It is a pretty easy mod on the Excelsior.
    You have a bright switch.?
    A 500k pot will give you a tone control.
    Mojo or CE sells a "kit" even I think.
    Maybe it was BillM.....check his sight.
     
  4. IM4Tone

    IM4Tone Member

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  5. IM4Tone

    IM4Tone Member

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    The installation of a pot to replace the switch is very easy, and parts won't cost more than $10 or $12. The internet is full of 'how to's' on this mod. I was very pleased with the results and like my Excelsior w/ a 1518, but not as much as my 5E3 clone head (much like fender's current 57 tweed deluxe head, but at 1/3 the $$$).
     
  6. Figaro

    Figaro Supporting Member

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    Try this little trick before you get rid of the Excelsior or add a tone control. You can set the its's tone switch in the middle (if you're careful) between dark and bright. Sounds much better than either.
     
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  7. tenchijin2

    tenchijin2 Member

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    I haven't seen the schematic, but if it's a toggle switch I'm assuming it is double throw and pulls in a different resistance value on each side. So if you set it in the middle you're essentially removing the switch from the circuit, right? It's not a middle position, it's an elimination position.
     
  8. big mike

    big mike Moderator - EL34 Emeritas Staff Member

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    FYI 5e3 are loud.
     
  9. IM4Tone

    IM4Tone Member

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    They certainly can be. They can also be 'tamed', but you lose some of that OD sound that they're famous for. Jumping the two channels can help retain OD at lower volumes.
     
  10. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    Reeves Custom 12 with Power Scaling

    Reeves Custom 30 also with power scaling
     
  11. garret

    garret Member

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    Excelsior is a great little amp with;
    -1518 speaker
    -Tone knob mod
    -Tremolo speed mod
    -Tremolo depth mod
    -Easy to install on/off footswitch mod for tremolo
    -Sag resistor mod to tighten it up, super easy mod to do
    -Bitmo had a gain mod available, but needs better implementation

    The volume increases until 12'oclock on volume knob. After that it doesn't get any louder, just has more break up.

    Many ways to shape the amp to your tastes. Takes pedals extremely well. With hotter humbuckers breaks up pretty early, with single coils stays clean until pushed paste 12'o'clock and at this point it gets pretty loud.
     
  12. dilznik

    dilznik Member

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  13. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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  14. saltydogg

    saltydogg Rock & Roll Enthusiast Gold Supporting Member

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    I can't imagine a 13W amp being too loud for a classic rock band, especially if you use clean tones for any songs. But, anything is possible, I guess...
     
  15. Hulakatt

    Hulakatt Supporting Member

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    If 13 watts is too loud than 9 watts won't be all that different, a damn 5f1 can be pretty loud! In fact, a 5f1 tweed Champ may be a good fit. Very rock n' roll!

    A 5e3 is also pretty loud but it sounds amazing and really opens up when you use the knobs on your guitar. Try one out and if you dig it, it 's worth budging your budget a bit for :)

    The Vox ac15cc is also a pretty damn good amp and readily available used in your price range. I always really like Voxes when I plug into them but strangely I have never owned one. I do have a TW Rocket on my build list for this very reason...
     
  16. jamme61

    jamme61 Supporting Member

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    Pickup the box ac15c1 or a blues jr I have had both and right now the box is my fave. Both in your budget
     
  17. playthecray

    playthecray Member

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    Possibly a used VHT 12/20 or a Vox AC15C1.
     
  18. Winklin

    Winklin Member

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    Thanks to all who posted on this.

    I actually like my Excelsior's basic sound; I just wish it would break up sooner.

    To achieve this, I've been using an older HBE Uno Mos boost pedal. People who know this pedal will understand that it's your basic, full-freq boost pedal with some added hair. Something very much like the Comp-Cut setting on a FD2.
    I keep it set at very near unity gain, which still allows the grit the pedal produces to come thru, without raising the apparent volume of the amp.

    I've always found boost pedals like this one to be overly bright, as they boost ALL freqs. To tame the spikey high end this pedal can produce, I had a friend wire in an internal tone pot in the pedal. It does a good job of acting much like a Cut control on an amp.... it tames the tippy-top highs without messing with the mids or low end.

    I'm "pretty happy" with this kind of rig, but had been thinking an even lower wattage amp, OR, something with a Master Volume might work even better. I've got some demoing to do, I guess.

    Anyway, as the OP on this post, I just wanted to thank everyone who chimed in.
     
  19. itstooloudMike

    itstooloudMike Member

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    Keep your amp, turn it down, and buy an OCD to use as a low-gain boost. The OCD will give you the slight breakup you are looking for, and sound very natural. I really don't care for the OCD as a high-gain pedal, but as a low-gain boost it does an awesome job. It can be used as an "always on" pedal, and it doesn't sound like you're using a pedal. It's great for when you want a "pushed amp" sound, at volumes where the amp can't really be pushed.
     
  20. Winklin

    Winklin Member

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    Mike, that's almost exactly what I'm doing now with the Uno Mos.
    I'm not a big fan of the OCD.... sounds like a "pedal" to me, even at it's lowest gain setting.

    What I like about the Uno Mos is it's chaotic breakup. It sounds to me more like an amp than most low-gain pedals I've tried..... the Menatone Red Snapper being an exception among others.

    I'm going for what a lot of guitarists go for: a "slightly" broken up sound, very Petty-esque. I've tried a gazillion pedals to produce this, with varying results.
    Barber's gain structure is too smooth and refined for me, but I have a couple of friends in the same boat as I am that use an LTD as an Always On pedal, and it works...... it's just not for me.

    The Uno Mos with it's tone mod does a GREAT job of delivering uncompressed, dynamic grit. Sounds just like the amp turned up a bit. I may just leave well enough alone, but thought I'd hang this thread out there to see what came back.

    As for 5E3's, I know they can be loud. But from the little experience I've had with them, they can be made to break up a LOT sooner than my Excelsior. Love to actually own one of these someday.

    And the Vox AC15 is appealing as well. I need to go to my local GC and give one a serious demo.
     

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