Please Help; I (Sadly) Need to be Tube Free.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by PlexiFuzz, Jun 15, 2006.

  1. PlexiFuzz

    PlexiFuzz I know karate. Voodoo, too.

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    Well, I was hoping I'd never have to write this, but I am going to have to move away from tube amps for the time being. I've used a tube amp since I started playing guitar almost 20 years ago (albeit a Peavey back then), and I really never thought I'd use anything else. I mean, I've not been a total tube snob---I've had modelers around since I bought my first POD years ago---but my main amp has always been tube.

    Anyway, here's the deal: I am no longer gigging or even playing out with friends right now, and I don't see that changing in the near future. Add to that the fact that I live in an apartment in a major city, and a tube amp is just something that doesn't make sense. I can't turn it up, and I just don't love the tones I get turned down. I currently own a Mesa Lone Star Special and, even at the 5W setting, it is WAY too loud for an apartment. WAY too loud. It has a really good MV, but even so, I just can't get into the super-low-volume levels anymore. I've tried a number of other 5W amps, too, and I find the same thing to be true.

    So, what to do? That's my dilemma. Here are the choices I've come up with so far. Any thoughts would be appreciated:

    Tech 21 Power Engine 60:
    I figured this would give a lot of flexibility since I could stick whatever modeler I was enamored of at the moment (currently the Digitech GNX3000) in front of it and then just switch out modelers when GAS struck. I also thought my pedals (fueled by a ToneBone Hot British) would work okay with it.

    Vox Valvetronix (AD series):
    Probably the 50 or 100 watter--turned down to 1 watt, of course. I hate the idea of no independent delay, though.

    Roland Cube 60:
    Yes, I've bought into the hype on this board. Plus, I like the idea of an independent delay. Wondering how my GNX3000 would sound into this ...

    Thanks for the help!
    BAN

    Edited to include my current amp info.
     
  2. gkoelling

    gkoelling Member

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    Gries Amps, www.griesamps.com makes a 5 watt ptp 1x12 tube combo.

    He put a master volume on it so you can get sweet tube tones at apartment levels. It's set up vol, treble, bass, gain, master and with the 12" speaker you could even jam with it, at reasonable levels, if you had the opportunity.

    Definitely worth a look.

    Good Luck in your search.
     
  3. grism

    grism Member

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    The Pritchard amps (http://www.pritchardamps.com/pritchardamps.htm) are also worth looking into as well. From what i am gathering, they nail a tube amps sound, response and harmonics at very low levels. Not cheap but the versatility of them is nothing short of amazing.
     
  4. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Maven Peal (Lol Looking to sell my Zeeta .5-15 keeping a 1-50), Stephenson, London Power come to mind.
    Also if you are interested in Pritchard, I am looking to sell my Jade Dagger
     
  5. electronpirate

    electronpirate Member

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    The Roland is a nice option. (i.e. cheap, great sound)

    But my vote goes to the Valvetronix. I LOVE these things. Very nice to be able to save your tweaks. Great sound at very low volumes. Gonna cost you more as you may end up with the footpedal. Excellent tube dynamics.
     
  6. Guinness Lad

    Guinness Lad Silver Supporting Member

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    How about the Carr Mercury, I think it does 1/10 of a watt, and sounds killer.
     
  7. PlexiFuzz

    PlexiFuzz I know karate. Voodoo, too.

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    I should have stated from the beginning that I'd like to keep this under $1000. Maybe pushing to $1500. I'm in the process of having a custom acoustic built and GAS just forced me to purchase a '58 VOS Les Paul, so I don't feel like dropping 2-3000k on a new amp. I'd like to take what I get from the Mesa sale and maybe add a little and then be done with it.

    I'm sad to get rid of this Mesa. The tone kills me. Even at semi-loud around the house levels it sounds amazing, but at true "bedroom" and apartment levels, it just isn't being allowed to open up and breathe. Oh well ...

    Thanks for all the replies so far, guys. Keep 'em coming.

    BAN
     
  8. PlexiFuzz

    PlexiFuzz I know karate. Voodoo, too.

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    Oh, and r9player, I'm very intrigued by the Stephenson suggestion. I'd forgotten all about the Stage Hog---that could be a real possibility.
     
  9. K-man

    K-man Member

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    I second the Mercury. You can usually pick them up used for under $1500 on eBay.
     
  10. Riscchip

    Riscchip Supporting Member

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    I have a Vox valvetronix head that has been with me for a few years (since whenever they introduced the series--it has a cool serial # 0005). A fine sounding amp that delivers a nice range of tones for playing in the livingroom with. Sounds the same at pretty much any volume using the wattage control.

    I also have a PE 60 which is in my wet-dry setup. A fine product, though not used as you plan. The Tech 21 trademark 60 is also a great sounding amplifier.

    Another idea, which is my current low volume solution, is a line-level load on your tube amp into a cheap poweramp into a speaker. This not the same as attenuation. I run big amps (my Boogie Road king is my livingroom amp, because it's easy to switch tones on) into a Weber MASS 150 set to load. The MASS 150 line out runs into my delay / reverb and then into the PE 60. The sound is there even at a whisper.

    Yeah, it involves acquiring some gear, which you're probably not up for, but you can use your favorite tube amp and dime it and the sound is great in my opinion. Just mentioning.
     
  11. Ben Furman

    Ben Furman Member

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    You can always try the cheaper options first. Cube 60s and the Tech 21 stuff are dirt cheap. If you're already happy with your GNX, then the Power Engine could be a good option. I don't know if the Cube's modeling will strike you as any better. It does have more power than the Power Engine despite similar ratings.

    Mark Stephenson gigs with a Stage Hog into a Crate Powerblock. I don't see how you could possibly go wrong with that setup either at home or playing out. The SH has both Tweed and Plexi voices and is a real tube amp.

    I love my Pritchard. I'd recommend Eric's amps without hesitation. I use the amp's "Practice Jack" at home, which is good for about 3W turned all the way up. It sounds good at all but the most attenuated settings (i.e. at a fraction of a Watt). Still, the best part is the real tube amp feel. Also, the amp will handle gigs if/when you change your mind. I don't know what Pai is selling his Jade Dagger for, but it won't cost you nearly as much as a new one. You should PM him and find out.

    Avoid the cheaper Voxes. Go for the VTX series or a Tonelab instead. Still, you have to consider that your GNX is a generation ahead of both the Vox and the Roland amps, so you may be disappointed with either or both of them. Try before you buy.

    It's a great time to be having this dilemma because there are so many good solutions!

    -Ben
     
  12. The Whiz

    The Whiz Member

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    Reeves Custom 18 or Custom 30. They have "power scaling" like the Stephenson Amps and go down to sub 1-watt.

    Listen to the clips at www.reevesamps.com. I love the Custom 18's clips.

    taco
     
  13. SQUAREHEAD

    SQUAREHEAD Supporting Member

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    If I were you, I would keep an eye out for a Pearce G2R on ebay.
    These things are built SOLID and sound as good or better than most tube amps out there these days.
    I have a Soldano SLO, three Bogners (two 100B's and a Classic), a Wizard Metal 100 and a dozen OLD Marshall 100 watters.
    I can grab this Pearce and run out to a rehearsal or gig and be completely satisfied with my tone. It's a shame Dan Pearce couldn't afford to keep building them.
    Loops for each channel.
    Master loop
    200 watts mono
    100 watts stereo
    separate gains eq's for each channel
    onboard Alesis fx separate for each channel...
    Awesome master volume.
    Whisper volume obviously sounds incredbile too.

    You should be able to find one on ebay every once in a while for around $350.00 - $500.00 !!
    In my opinion, this would be a MUCH superior choice compared to any other SS amps out there now.
    Just my 2 cents...

    Keith
     
  14. LP26

    LP26 Member

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    Gibson GA-5...

    2 tubes, PTP, 5 watts of toneful wonderfulness...
     
  15. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    Lots of good suggestions.
    1. Tech 21: good stuff, although for the apartment I'd buy the TM30 rather than the TM60-just a better EQ setup to my ears and the channel switching isn't that helpful.
    2. Heard good things about the Roland and the Vox, but head to head I like the TM10 better-especially for those elusive crunch tones.
    3. Lots of low watt solutions under $1k-check out the Emery Superbaby, probably the least expensive at $600 for a "head". Runs at either 5 or 10w, which is still pretty loud cranked but does a real rich clean at bedroom levels and pedals can take you the rest of the way there. The big advantage is tailoring the sound with different tubes/speakers.
    4. Attenuation-if you love your mesa, why not get a Weber Mini-Mass, run it at 5w and attenuate by -6-12 dB? That should comfortably get you down to bedroom levels. The "Ultimate Attenuator", while problematic in theory, has a lot of satisfied customers. Also, the concept of "reamping" (which is what the UA actually does) where you run a line out from your Mesa into a load box thru a smaller amp run clean, or a PA style amp. This is a killer solution because it's also an excellent recording solution.

    I gotta say this, though. For me the reason to have an electric guitar and amp is because it FEELS good to play it. Anything that interferes with that tactile/emotional bond just removes my motivation to play. To that end, I suspect you're going to tire of the GNX fairly soon-to my ears they all sound artificial and plastic. If it were me, I'd sell it and buy a Superbaby and a Klon... Sonic nirvana on the living room couch (plus they both look WAY cooler than a Zoom pedal and a Tech21 ;).
     
  16. pbradt

    pbradt Senior Member

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  17. TimH

    TimH Member

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    the custom 30 looks sweet. any idea what they go for used?
     
  18. PlexiFuzz

    PlexiFuzz I know karate. Voodoo, too.

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    And here I thought I had things narrowed down ...

    In the spirit of cheapest alternative first, I did just order a Power Engine to try out for a week or so. If I hate it, I'm out $20 bucks shipping. But if I love it with the GNX, well, I just saved myself 1k. For now.

    Carson, I'll explore the line-level load idea a bit. Would be nice to keep the Mesa. I did try the straight-up attenuator route with a Hot Plate a while ago. Spent a long weekend with it and just couldn't get it to sound good with my amp.

    But then again, those Emery amps...WOW...very cool looking. And from the threads I've been spending the last hour reading, they seem to sound incredible, too. How do they take pedals? What about when I need to go EVH and beyond ... wondering how a Hot British or something like it would sound. Or my OCD, for that matter. Or can they actually get into that gain territory on their own?

    Plus, I just talked to Mark Stephenson and I'm liking that option more and more, too. Though he said he'd recommend the Stage Hog into the Mesa rather than using it as an amp.

    BAN
     
  19. charley

    charley Supporting Member

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    If you really want to give up tubes, but not the tube sweetness, try a Polytone MiniBrute 2, they go used for about $300 or less, and new for like $600. I have one, and love it for all types of tones. Plus, it sounds great at a whisper, can get as loud as any mesa, and will outperform a roland cube.
     
  20. kiteflyer

    kiteflyer Member

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    ZVEX nano is pretty rad. I heard the tiny half watt thing through a 4x12 cab which was pretty amusing/ amazing/ surprising
     

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