Must I Pay $2K for This Amp?

CrazyFingers

Member
Messages
198
I have been looking for a tube-based amp for home playing & recording (no band, just me). I have a Fargen Blackbird 40--a wonderful amp for Fender tones. I'm looking for something to complement it. I want something that is very open sounding, not compressed or midrangey. Roughly speaking, more Marshall/VOX than Fender.

I also need an amp where I can get low-med gain at low volume levels. That usually means power scaling but could also mean a hot plate. I also want something where I can experiment with a variety of tones, IOW not a one-trick-pony. A 1x12 configuration is required for space reasons.

Everything I've looked at, while sounding wonderful, is ~$2k and up. I'm having a problem spending that kind of money for a home amp. People have recommended the Fargen MiniPlex MKII, Reinhardt 18, Carr Mercury (all with power scaling), and a few others in that price range. All seem like outstanding amps, but do I need to pay $2K to get what I want? I don't mind spending the money if I HAVE TO, but is there anything else out there I should be considering?

FYI: I have a Roland Cube that is lots of fun but it's really tough to play/hear that after playing through my Fargen!

Thanks.
 

pickslide

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,176
I am in the same boat as you. How much are you looking to spend? If you are in the $1500 range, then a used badger or Reinhardt 18 or a new Reeves Custom 18.
 

dk123123dk

Member
Messages
3,890
have you tried a pro jr? Its a fender but with the el84's it has a marshall sound to it. with a few mods it can be turned into an 18watt lite. would be great for around the house with a speaker upgrade and maybe some new tubes.

dk
 

pickslide

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,176
You can also find all kinds of 18W marshall type of amps for under $1K. There is one posted on the guitarscanada forum that sounds pretty good. Its a Trinity amp.
 

Magic Twanger

Member
Messages
172
Yeah, the Trinity stuff is good quality and sounds great.

What about one of those new handwired Vox AC15HW amps.

I've got one, and with the half power switch it gets fairly manageable - too loud for my particular home usage - but great tones to be had.

I also have a Li'l Dawg Champster Special - mine is 14 watts that sounds very, very sweet.
Jim at Li'l Dawg makes 'em in lower wattages too - I think 5 watts - think Fender Champ but with whatever size speaker you want - plus an oversized cabinet.
Very good value - Very well made - don't quote me - but I think they might still be under $600.
 

HeeHaw

Member
Messages
4,961
have you tried a pro jr? Its a fender but with the el84's it has a marshall sound to it. with a few mods it can be turned into an 18watt lite. would be great for around the house with a speaker upgrade and maybe some new tubes.

dk

For a $200 amp, the pro junior wasn't bad at all. It did sound pretty dull and lackluster in comparison to one of the handbuilt 18 watters I've owned....but then again, it's only a $200 amp.
 

justonwo

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
4,266
I want something that is very open sounding, not compressed or midrangey. Roughly speaking, more Marshall/VOX than Fender.

I usually associate Fenders (blackface anyway) with a scooped mid sound and Marshall with a mid-heavy sound. So I'm not sure I understand exactly what you're looking for.

Do you have to spend $2000? I guess it all depends on the quality of tone you're after. Depending on how you define "low volume," an attenuator may or may not suffice. When I say low volume, I usually mean quiet enough to not drive my neighbors crazy, which isn't that loud. If that is your definition as well, I would NOT go the attenuator route. Attenuators work best with moderate attenuation. For anything remotely big, you will sacrifice a lot of tone to get the volume down.

You could always try a good master volume amp, but master volume has its limitations as well. My master volume amps sound OK at home volume, but not fantastic (Rivera Quiana 2x12 and OD-100).

So that leaves power scaling . . . and power scaling means you're going to be in about the price range you mentioned (around $2,000). I think there are many amps that fit into your requirements, but they will all be around that price.

For me personally, having gone through the same quest you are going through, I recently decided to get a Reeves Custom 30. It's a power scaled 30 Watt amp with plenty of headroom. It's been described as 60% Hiwatt and 40% JTM-45. The clips sound fantastic. You can overdrive it with the power scaling or you can use the clean tone as a palette for pedals. That was exactly what I wanted. Being a Hiwatt/Marshall-inspired amp, the midrange will be pronounced, however. It would complement your Fargen quite nicely.

At any rate, that's just what I settled on. There are many options. For home use, though, I think you're stuck in that price range unless you want to compromise sound quality.

(By the way, do you or would you use pedals for your overdrive sound? Or do you want to get the overdrive from the amp? If the former, one option to consider is the Reeves Custom 12, which is under $1,000. It would be great for pedals, but probably not the most versatile amp in the world.)
 

mlj_gear

Member
Messages
3,404
How about a used Aiken Invader 1x12 combo or Aiken Tomcat 1x12 combo? A Tomcat went for under a grand on eBay not too long ago. Both amps have fantastic attenuators.

Also, a well-done master volume in the right circuit will sound as nice at lower level as many amps with power scaling. Power scaling works a lot better on some amps that others (or maybe with some builders than others!). How about a Valvetech Hayseed 30? Way under $2,000. Or a Vox AC15 Heritage combo & good attenuator (personally I'd take the Hayseed, though). Ceriatone makes great stuff for well under $2,000 and Nik will add master volumes.

There's also the non-hand-wired stuff -- Rivera, some of Traynors modern stuff, etc.
 

GregoryL

Member
Messages
1,983
+1 for the Dr. Z Carmen Ghia or the Dr. Z Maz 18 Jr. Either are great for the Vox / Marshall end of things and will nicely complement the Fargen.
 

Rod

Vibrato & String Bender on Overdrive
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
24,923
Aiken, Budda, Orange Tiny Terror
 

yZe

Senior Member
Messages
3,235
Man, that suhr badger is under 2k (last time I chercked)

Wow, I was stunned at the juicy gain at low volumes at Tampa Tone Fest

All of us in the room looked at each other and nodded unanimously that this is THE bedroom gain machine

If you want high quality tone, you gotta pay

a modeler or any other amp for 1 G is NOT gonna get that majic

go to suhrs site and check the steve stevens clips

You can THAT tone at near whisper volumes

I heard and played it myself
 

meterman

Member
Messages
8,088
TopHat Club Royale 1x12, Vox/Marshall tones, around $1k used and $1600 new....great amps, very versatile EQ, excel at medium gain tones at reasonable volumes, record beautifully, etc....
 




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