Nextone owners, is it the amp I need?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by bluegrif, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

    Messages:
    4,325
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    I was going to post this in the Nextone thread, but it seemed likely to get lost in that very long thread and I'd like some rather specific input. Obviously if I had a Nextone available to try this would be redundant at best.

    As someone who did a lot of shows with the Blues Cube Artist, I'm quite interested in the Nextone. I was mostly very impressed with the BCA, as anyone who's read my posts on the amp will know. I shocked everyone by selling mine to buy a Marshall Origin 20. But my rationale was simple. I wanted to try the Origin, couldn't afford it without selling something, and knew I could always replace the BCA with one that would sound identical to the one I had. So that's the back story.

    I'm mostly happy with the Marshall. I'm always after an amp that will sing without being either too overdriven or too compressed, and the Origin series seems very close to the spirit of the old Marshalls in that they're relatively low gain. But like most tube amps, it does require a certain amount of volume to come alive. Also, being rather cheaply made, I have been worried enough about the reliability to pick up a Katana 50 for backup.

    So I bought the Katana for a cheap backup and grab and go rehearsal amp. In all honesty, I wasn't expecting it to be as good as it is, given the price point relative to the BCA. The BCA sounded great at volume but it was equally great for those occasions where you have to keep it down. So when a show came up recently where I knew I'd have to keep the volume down, I left the Marshall in the studio and played it with the little Katana. The bottom line is the gig didn't suffer in the slightest. It's a very enjoyable amp to play. This has me wondering if I might not go back to "Tube Logic" for all it's advantages.

    The Nextone seems very appealing for a couple of reasons. It has all the practical advantages of the BCA and the Katana (reliability, light weight, truly scaleable volume, complete control over drive, etc.), but from what I'm hearing, the Nextone might have the additional advantage of the availability of better blackface type Fender sounds, which is the one shortcoming of both the BCA and the Katana (my touring amps of choice were Super Reverbs). Understand I have no need for built in effects or much in the way of bells and whistles. I tend to set up the sound I want and stay there. With all that in mind, is the Nextone going to be worth the additional cost, or would I be just as well off maybe buying a Katana 100? I could buy the head for around $300 and use it with the cabs I currently own (actually the Katana 50 is loud enough, but not quite expansive enough with it's very small cab). Unless the Nextone is really a significant improvement, pretty hard to justify spending twice as much.
     
    Peppy likes this.
  2. guitarman3001

    guitarman3001 Member

    Messages:
    8,651
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2009
    Imo, yes. I had a BCA and got rid of it. I like the Nextone much more. Better cleans, better dirt, better all around.
     
    bluegrif likes this.
  3. SRT2011

    SRT2011 Member

    Messages:
    873
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2016
    I don't know if you "Need It", but Yes the Nextone should be a good fit based on your post.

    I too owned and enjoyed BCA for a few years. But, was only able to get satisfying dirt tones with NYBTC installed. Thought it sounded great in both channels then. I still own a K100 and find the best tones in Clean (with a touch of Blues Driver) and Crunch amp modes. Also think the acoustic amp mode is quite good and is mainly why I kept it.

    I prefer my Nextone Artist to both the BCA and K100 mainly because of the Clean Channel, but I also think dirt sounds are an improvement to BCA. It certainly has more gain available and a brighter voicing than BCA. The Nextone Clean Channel offers a wide range of excellent clean sounds. You will probably prefer the voicing and "feel" of 6V6 & 6L6 power settings, but I like the variety of all of them! I also think the included delay sounds very nice and having the amp"s tone settings of each channel being footswitchable along with boost is very useful.

    I have also played through a Nextone Stage and do prefer the bigger cabinet sound of the Artist, BUT at least the Stage includes the exact same feature set as the Artist (including GAFC compatible). This was not the case with BC Stage compared to BCA.

    The Nextone is not offered as a head, but at least both combos include an external speaker out (unlike the BC series).

    Hope this helps....
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
    bluegrif likes this.
  4. caledoneus

    caledoneus Member

    Messages:
    904
    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2018
    I've got the Katana 100 watt head, and it is pretty awesome. I've looked at the nextones, but for what they cost, I have had a hard time rationalizing buying one. They are like twice the price of a katana, and have nowhere near the versatility (imo). However, if you are just looking for like a pure pedal platform type of amp, then the Nextone could be what you need....
     
  5. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

    Messages:
    4,325
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    It does actually. And no big surprise the difference between the Stage and Artist roughly mirrors those same differences in the Blues Cube series. That said, I have a large 1x12 cab (large enough to be a 2x12) and with the same feature set (power notwithstanding), I can see going for the smaller Stage and using an external cab for larger rooms. I'm not worried about the power difference at all; I used my BCA on the 15 watt setting more often than not. I'm a blues artist and my drummers mostly have jazz backgrounds.

    Of course it's entirely possible the Katana, in 100 watt head form, would work out fine for half the price. But as I mentioned in the OP, the big advantage of the Nextone would be it's more nuanced blackface type tones. With the Katana, I only use the clean and crunch channels. I use the clean channel with the gain up pretty much all the way (backing off on the guitar's volume) and the crunch set for relatively low gain. These are good, workable sounds and if there was nothing else available, would cover any gig. But again, if the Nextone has the added richness in the clean to mildly overdriven tones I seem to be hearing in demos, that's certainly enough to justify the extra cost for me, especially given the fact I don't need the Katana's flexibility. I'll never use a 10th of it. I'm a very old school, single channel, crank it up and use the guitar's volume knob kind of player, which was the appeal of the BCA. But that amp, good as it was, was a lot like playing an old tweed (or old Marshall). It sounded great but I would have preferred more refinement in the semi-cleans.

    So thanks. I'm leaning more toward the Nextone. I'd still love to hear from more owners. Especially those who gig with the amp.
     
    Peppy and SRT2011 like this.
  6. SRT2011

    SRT2011 Member

    Messages:
    873
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2016
    bluegrif - I go for similar sounds as you. I haven't gigged with the Nextone, but it worked well and sounded good when rehearsing with my band.....
     
    bluegrif likes this.
  7. markl

    markl Member

    Messages:
    333
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2017
    I don’t have advice for you. I play a BCA with the Ultimate Blues Tone Capsule and I like it. I’ve tried a Nextone briefly and liked it. I’m somewhat tempted.

    The one observation I wanted to provide was about the Katana. I’ve not really played them, but have heard them at jams and they sound good. Not too long ago I saw and heard a unique one at a jam - the guy had the Katana head built into a 1x15 cab and it sounded really good. I think my BCA sounds better but that might be my EQ and guitar preferences more than the amp.

    So a Katana into a really good cab could work quite well.
     
    bluegrif likes this.
  8. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

    Messages:
    4,325
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    The Katana is definitely impressive. Especially given I paid all of $200 for my 50. In fact, last night I spent a little time going back and forth between it and the Marshall. The Marshall sounded deeper and fatter, but I came to the conclusion that was mostly due to the fact I run the Origin through a very large 1x12 cab (easily big enough for a 2x12), contrasted with the tiny cab of the Kat 50. As I said, I'd seriously consider just getting the Katana 100 head if it weren't for the promise of nicer blackface Fender tones with the Nextone.

    I too had the UBTC. I actually wound up going back to the stock amp. Based on the online feedback, my hope was the UBTC clean channel would give me those blackface sounds. But I was somewhat underwhelmed. What I was looking for was edge-of-breakup blackface sounds (think Super Reverb on 6, which was my standard touring rig). But it actually had so much headroom I had to crank the gain, which tended to get it out of balance with the crunch channel, since I didn't want that one too overdriven and compressed. For me, the UBTC crunch channel sounded good with the gain kind of low. I rarely use the higher gain sounds anyway. So I went back to stock and mostly just used the clean channel with the gain up to where I like it. That gave a really nice pushed tweed sound. I was pretty happy with that sound but I still prefer pushed blackface, hence my hope the Nextone will do just that. The Katana actually gets pretty close.

    At this point some will be wondering why I don't just go with a blackface Fender, maybe something like a Deluxe Reverb. And indeed, after I gave up my Supers due to physical issues, I went to a Princeton Reverb mounted in a head cab. But the problems are the same as most tube amps. There's a sweet spot in the volume, tubes can fail, and sometimes I'd like a little more gain without resorting to a pedal. The Boss/Roland amps just seem to have nailed the solutions to those problems. And as a bonus, they're even lighter weight, which is a huge consideration with my chronic pain issues.
     
  9. markl

    markl Member

    Messages:
    333
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2017
    Keep messing with the Katana. Have you tried the editing software and the sneaky amps? There’s a blackface sound in there. Since you’re looking for one sound, seems like you could find it and then never tweak the thing with a a computer again. I’m not a Katana fan, don’t own one and don’t plan to, but it could meet your needs. I’d do that first (if you haven’t already) and then decide.

     
  10. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

    Messages:
    4,325
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    Actually that's worth a try. I haven't used the software at all for a couple of reasons. For one, I bought the little guy primarily as a backup to the Marshall and it wasn't until I gigged it that I realized how good it is. But mostly, it's because my studio computer has too old of an operating system for the Katana software (it's my ProTools machine and like many PT users, I'm at a "it ain't broke" place where upgrading the OS would force me to upgrade to a newer PT). Not really a problem though. Just means I'll have to move it from my studio to my house where I can use a Mac with the latest OS. After reading your post I looked into it a bit online and discovered the stock clean channel is apparently based on a Roland JC120, but it looks like a Twin Reverb is available as a sneaky amp. Since the stock clean channel is already pretty decent, the Twin patch might be a real winner. That'd save me $$ for sure because I can pickup up a hundred watt Katana head for less than $300 and paired with a big cab, it should cut any gig.

    So yeah, you're right. I don't need all the power amp models in the Nextone. I just liked what I was hearing from the 6L6 setting. If I can get that out of the Katana, problem solved.
     
    Jim234 and markl like this.
  11. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

    Messages:
    4,325
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    So maybe someone can speak to this: While YouTube videos are of very limited value, after reviewing many on the Nextone, there's is one thing I think I prefer about the Katanas. Namely the fact that all amp settings have access to the gain knob. For at least 80% of what I do, my ideal sound is pushed clean, not heavily overdriven. While the Katana clean tone is not perfect, I can crank the gain and get that pushed clean tone thing going. The Nextone is set up almost exactly like the Blues Cubes, in that the clean channel only has a volume with a boost. This is exactly why I dumped the UBTC when I played the BCA. There was literally too much headroom on the clean channel. Getting a pushed clean required turning the clean channel all the way up. This worked semi okay, but since I preferred the crunch channel with the gain set relatively low, it was difficult to balance the volumes of the two channels. On the Katana I can crank the gain on the clean, then turn the volume down to match the crunch. So the layout is just a little better.

    For now I'm sticking with the Marshall, where I get a nice pushed clean so long as I can turn it up. Since it's a 20 watt amp, usually that's not going to be a problem. Looks like the jury will be out on the Nextone until I can actually play one myself.
     
  12. rorteh

    rorteh Member

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2019
    Hi bluegrif,

    I have a Nextone Stage that I'm very happy with, but please note that I have not tried a BCA, and I am very much a bedroom player.

    The Nextone Editor software (which I would recommend every Nextone owner use to get the most out their amp) lets you tweak a lot of parameters that may help you get the sound you are after. While you're not able to add gain on the clean channel, you can add gain to the boost. You have number of boost options (Clean, Mid, Treble, Comp), and can adjust not just the level but also the gain on each. For the Comp you can also adjust sustain, but that's probably not what you're interested in.
     
  13. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

    Messages:
    4,325
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    Thanks, that's helpful. If I could get the right amount of gain on the clean channel to sound "pushed" rather than heavily overdriven, that'd be very promising. There's also the possibility the crunch channel could be backed down to a nice spot. I could even be happy with that since I'm really a single channel amp kind of guy. The key there would be if it retains the blackface character or sounds too much like some other type of amp. The Katana, for instance, is capable of a very workable tone on the crunch channel, but it's definitely more of a tweed vibe.

    So even though I'm in no hurry, I'm still very interested in the Nextone. Predictably, I went down to my local GC and they hadn't even heard of the Nextone! He did say he'd like to get one in (now that I made him aware of it) so who knows, if I'm patient, maybe I'll get the opportunity to try one. In the meantime, I'll continue to monitor Reverb and ebay just in case a screamin' deal comes along that I just can't resist (precious few of those thus far).
     
  14. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

    Messages:
    4,325
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    UPDATE: So I found a Nextone stage for an irresistible used price. Naturally I had to grab it. So I guess we'll see. It hasn't shipped yet but if anyone's interested, I'd be happy to post my impressions.
     
    BenB123, Ljudet and Onion Terror like this.
  15. markl

    markl Member

    Messages:
    333
    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2017
    Please do!! I went to GC to try out some Gretsch guitars and used a Nextone Artist because I figured it was similar to my BCA. The was my longest test with one yet and I was impressed with it.
     
    SRT2011 and bluegrif like this.
  16. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

    Messages:
    4,325
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    Okay, my Nextone Stage arrived on Friday and I've spent a couple of days with it here in my studio. I've been comparing it directly to both my Katana 50 and my Marshall Origin 20 head.

    I know there are a ton of YouTube videos comparing the Nextone to the Katana. Honestly, I haven't bothered with them. All too often online amp demos and comparisons tend to set the amps up so the clean is crystal clean, often strumming or playing a few super clean licks, then move to the gain channel, crank up the gain, and rock out. Frankly, the Katana does that fine. And I'd argue that if you're after a modern sounding amp that does clean rhythm to heavy crunch, the Katana works fine. Obviously many who use an amp that way would also find tons of value in all the effects and different preamp models. But for me, it really isn't much of a contest. As soon as I plugged into the Nextone, I was greeted by big, round clean tones that, when cranked, start to get a nice warm envelope of subtle distortion, very much like a classic Fender amp played at stage volume. Still on the clean channel, engage the boost and now you're just at the edge of breakup. Again, a sweet tone reminiscent of vintage "clean" tube amps. This channel alone would cover much of what I need on stage.

    Switching to the gain channel, the first pleasant surprise is the character of the sound doesn't radically change. That, for me, is extremely important in a two channel amp. In fact, by setting it up for mild overdrive, then backing off the guitar volume, you can get it to sound very close to the clean channel. Again, I could easily live on this channel alone and probably will tend to use it more than the clean channel in a live setting. It really does clean up that well without losing tone. Right now, I can see using the clean channel with both the "tone" and "boost" controls engaged, and the drive channel with neither. This makes the drive channel a great extension of the clean, kind of like using an edge of breakup tube amp and kicking on a Klon.

    As for the four power amp models, as others have mentioned, the differences are sonically somewhat subtle. But they are there and exactly what you'd expect. The small bottles break up earlier and compress more and the EL34 sounds a bit more mid heavy than the 6L6 setting. Since the preamp remains the same, these differences are almost felt more than heard, with the small bottles being squishier than the big tube settings.

    Compared to the Katana, I also find the overdrive character to be generally smoother on the Nextone. Playing lightly driven chords produces a beautiful bloom very similar to the Blues Cubes. The Katana, at it's much lower cost (literally half), will doubtless be the best choice for a lot of players who want a rock amp with a lot of features and effects. The Nextone is a very straightforward, no nonsense amp similar to the Blues Cubes, but with a bit different sonic signature and while it certainly doesn't eclipse the BCA in quality, it's nonetheless an amp that ticks more boxes for me. That said, I'm sure Roland could design a Tone Capsule for the BCA that would allow it to function exactly like the Nextone, in which case it'd be interesting to see if there's much difference.

    Also, I've gone back and forth with the Nextone and my Marshall Origin and the Nextone hangs with the tube amp extremely well. Of course the Origin is going through a much larger cab and I haven't yet tried the Nextone through the same cab (I will of course). Still, the dynamics and overall quality of sound is close. But of course, for the real world of the gigging guitarist, the Nextone has a number of obvious advantages. I can see taking one or the other depending on the venue. I have a show to do on the 25th and I'm interested to see how the Nextone performs in a live environment. With my 2 years of experience gigging the BCA, along with the one gig I did with the Katana, I found both those amps sounded and even felt hugely better on stage. That being the case, I'd absolutely expect the Nextone to only get better in a big room with a full band.
     
    Onion Terror, markl, BenB123 and 3 others like this.
  17. HeyMrTeleMan

    HeyMrTeleMan Colonel of Truth Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,010
    Joined:
    May 21, 2006
    Location:
    Room 10-09
    No. It's just your Next One...
     
  18. bluegrif

    bluegrif Member

    Messages:
    4,325
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Oregon
    GIG UPDATE

    Okay, as expected, the Nextone really comes alive at stage volume. I was actually more pleased than I expected to be. I'm not sure why, given my experience with the Blues Cube Artist, but still, at the lower price point, I wasn't sure it was going to stand up. But stand up it does, and very well too. The 40 watt Stage is plenty powerful, and I've already detailed the nice advantages. While there aren't a bunch of built in effects, that really works for me, since I use very few. I do like the delay and find setting a subtle slap sweetens things up without sounding overly "effected". And while I'd prefer a real spring verb, I'm not a heavy reverb user and the available digital verb sounds more than fine.

    Downsides? Well, only a couple of minor ones. I wasn't real jazzed with the line out. It's quite possible it can work better but I was having trouble with it overdriving the input on the board, even with the gain near zero. IOW, with the amp set relatively clean, what's coming out of the PA is much more driven sounding. Not a big deal of course. If I can't get it to function better then I'll just mic it up old school when desired.

    Weirdest problem: I tried the "headphones/record out" directly into my ProTools rig via an Apogee Duet. Not bad at all, but again, I think a mic would be better. The direct sound just isn't quite what I'm hearing from the speaker. But that's not the worst of it. That output mutes the speaker while in use, and when I unplugged it, there was still no sound!! I bought it used so I was almost ready to panic a bit. Instead, I grabbed a different cable, stuck it in the jack, and quickly yanked it out a couple of times. Voila, fixed! I'm sure this was a very minor problem and chances are, a rare one as well. Did cause a few minutes of worry though. I wasn't looking forward to losing all the money I'd saved buying used, to a repair bill.

    Overall, these are nice gigging amps. Does it sound as good as, say, a nice Deluxe Reverb? Not quite, but unlike the Deluxe Reverb, it doesn't have to be cranked to get a nice, pushed clean. Plus, the lead channel is very useful as well, offering everything from almost clean to more gain than I'll ever use. And, it's way lighter (just over 29 lbs). I play a variety of venues with all kinds of volume requirements and this thing will give me consistent sound every time.

    Also, after working with it awhile now, I'm finding the different power amp settings to be not nearly as subtle as I first thought. For instance, I thought I'd prefer the 6L6 setting since I love 6L6 Fenders. That setting has a predictably crisp top end and tight bass. But after going back and forth, I'm actually preferring the 6V6 setting with it's slightly sweeter highs. Especially with Strats. In fact, I can see using the 6L6 setting (or maybe even the EL34) with humbucker guitars and the 6V6 with Fenders. I'm not a huge fan of EL84 amps (I've had a bunch and the only one I really loved was my original Budda Twinmaster) but that setting does get the earlier breakup and squishier feel some will enjoy.

    I'll still be taking my Marshall out whenever the room is big enough to allow me to crank it into the zone, but the Nextone will definitely get it's share of stage time.
     
    MartinC, Laservampire, markl and 2 others like this.
  19. MartinC

    MartinC Member

    Messages:
    2,752
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Sydney
    @bluegrif - Thanks for all your posts here!

    I am a Katana Artist owner, who only really uses the delay and reverb effects. I've found some very likable clean tones using the sneaky twin amp model, and have actually landed on the brown channel for all my OD tones, with the gain set very low.

    But, having briefly tried a Nextone Artist, I felt that the Fender cleans were not only closer to blackface than the Katana Artist can get, but that the tone is also easier on the ears (softer treble, but still very articulate) and the feel under the fingers is a step up.

    I didn't get a chance to try at volume though, but your reviews above definitely make me think I should do that.

    A question ... do you find that your Nextone Stage can keep up with a band in terms of volume? I'm not expecting miracles ... keeping up with a heavy rock band is unrealistic, but for a blues/jazz band in smaller rooms, is there enough?
     
  20. jds22

    jds22 Member

    Messages:
    2,252
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2006
    This is not helping my GAS.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice