Recommend an Amp Head

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by benjammin, Mar 14, 2008.

  1. benjammin

    benjammin Member

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    I've been trying to sift through the seemingly endless list of tube amp builders trying to find one that works as close to exactly right as I can find for my desired function. It probably is a departure for most of the forum here, but I thought a few of the more knowledgeable amp junkies might be able to make a few suggestions. Here's my situation:

    I am not really a musician, I am just a hobbyist guitar player. I'm not in a band and don't really want to be, I just like playing music. As such, I'm never going to be gigging with this amp, so a slightly more fragile amp head is acceptable since ruggedness isn't necessarily a qualification.

    Since I'm not gigging or anything, volume is an issue. I have a Hot Plate which puts a decent leash on the Vox amp I have now, but I am looking for something that sounds "pure" at lower volumes or just doesn't have a huge wattage output.

    I need something that is not locked into a specific tone. I'd say like most people on here I tend to favor a bluesy overdrive sound, but since I'm only playing as a hobby I'm as likely to noodle around with some Trower stuff as much as some Slayer. I'd like an amp that is versatile, or if that's not a possibility, at least one that plays extremely well with pedals. If I can lock in a wider range of tones that way, I'm all for it, but I don't want an amp that is stuck doing one thing extremely well and nothing else. That said, if you all think I'd be better off getting an amp that does one thing extremely well instead of a bunch of things only average, I am open to that also.

    Finally, I'd like an amp head as I've already have cabinets taken care of. Plus, it'll allow me to mix and match and hopefully keep the head for the future, but if there's a combo that is a clear winner, again I am open to it.


    So, what do you folks recommend for a bedroom-playing-low-volume-wide-tone-seeking-guitar-hobbyist? The research I've done has led me to these:

    Swart Atomic Space Tone Head (They are apparently releasing an updated version of this soon, but is the sound too tweed-y?)
    Matamp 1224 MK2 (Seems like there is a ton of tone configurability with being able to choose valves, bias types and voicings.)
    Divided by 13 JRT 9/15 (These seem to be universally praised here, and looks like they fit a lot of my qualifications for an amp.)


    So, what do you say? Any suggestions or comments? Flame away! :munch
     
  2. Dave

    Dave Member

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    I don't own one, but if I were in your situation I'd be looking at the Fractal Axe-Fx.
     
  3. benjammin

    benjammin Member

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    The Axe-Fx sure does seem to produce some really nice sounds, but the purist in me would really like a traditional amplifier. That said, now I want an Axe-Fx too... Damn!
     
  4. benjammin

    benjammin Member

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    I suppose it was an oversight not to include the Suhr Badger 18 in my list, as it seems to also effectively do power scaling and have some great cleans. What else deserves note?
     
  5. daddyo

    daddyo Guest

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    I let you know how my Reeves Custom 12 combo with Power scaling sounds in 1 1/2 weeks.
     
  6. benjammin

    benjammin Member

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    I'm hoping to avoid going much over conversation volume. I take it the Matamp is too much power for what I need?
     
  7. jmgman70

    jmgman70 Member

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    The Egnater Rebel
     
  8. benjammin

    benjammin Member

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    Where can I find info on the Rebel? I only see the Tourmaster on Egnater's site.
     
  9. jmgman70

    jmgman70 Member

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  10. benjammin

    benjammin Member

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    Man, if that's selling for $500-600, I might just pick one up for the hell of it!
     
  11. Plexihacker

    Plexihacker Member

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    This is EXACTLY what I was thinking while reading the original post, too. Going by the all the descriptions of his needs and usage, I can't honestly think of a traditional head that will do it all (from blues to trower to Slayer) very well at low volumes as stated. And most modeling devices just sound like garbage to me - can't stand them at all - with the Axe-Fx being the exception. And though it is expensive, it is less so than the amps he was considering in the OP.

    Ergo: Axe-Fx
     
  12. dk123123dk

    dk123123dk Member

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    How bout an Orange Tiny Terror?

    or a Ceriatone Fender Vibro Champ Head?

    or a Blackheart.

    You could use a few pedals and get most of the tones you are looking for with the right cab.

    Another crazy idea would be one of those Vox Valvetronix combos. They have a built in power soak. They do a pretty good job with tube tones, and have a bunch of usable sounds. The effects are ok, and can add to your enjoyment. I think when you plug a speaker cab in, it turns the internal speaker off. You could find one used for pretty cheap. The trick is to crank the master volume up, and use the power soak on the back to set the actual volume.

    Good luck.

    dk
     
  13. benjammin

    benjammin Member

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    I had a Vox Valvetronix but wasn't too satisfied with it. I'd classify it as doing a lot of things alright but nothing really spectacular. Looking to upgrade from it.

    What advantages does a Tiny Terror have over the aforementioned Egnater?
     
  14. Kitarist

    Kitarist Member

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    You can go from ceriatone to metro to other builders in just depends what do you really want
     
  15. benjammin

    benjammin Member

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    I like the tone of the fireball, but I'd be lying if I said I was in love with how it looked. Is there any list of amps that support power scaling?
     
  16. jac37656

    jac37656 Member

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    The Emery Sound "Superbaby" could be EXACTLY what you're looking for. Warm, rich, dynamic, responsive, takes pedals exceptionally well...and with Curt Emery's "Mad Scientist" tube set, you have a huge tonal pallette to play with (EL 34, EL84, KT66, 6v6, 6L6, etc). From 5-12 watts depending on the tube combination, so it sounds great at non-gig volumes. It's a top choice for home/studio/recording use. And on top of everything else, it is stunningly beautiful and the service is top notch.
     
  17. benjammin

    benjammin Member

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    Thanks for the leads, guys. Anyone have any comments on the Swart AST at bedroom volumes? The cleans/reverb on that amp sound so good.

    Any/all suggestions welcome.
     
  18. solo-act

    solo-act Member

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    I'm with the axe-fx crowd (of course), but if you HAVE to have a tube amp that can do low volume there's several to choose from. I like the badger a lot. The main problem I see (and common 'round these parts) is you'll get "that" amp, then start gassing for other amp tones and will go into the usual buy/sell tonequest trying out different amps & flavors. Lots of fun, but very consuming in both time and dollars.

    You might want to get the axe-fx and indulge your tonequest cravings with about 30 amps based on real-world tube amps. You can learn/dial/experiment until you settle on an axe-fx amp that does it for you. You get the benefit of test-driving decent representations of 30 amps (without the buy/sell hassle) in their various moods -- clean, breakup, pushed, tubes baking hot, with pedals slamming the input etc.. -- at any volume you want. It'll save you a TON of money and time.

    After you've picked "the amp" for you from the axe-fx lineup, go buy that real tube amp and sell the axe-fx if you want to. It would be easy to sell, and the sooner the better; having that tone library at your fingertips gets very addictive
     
  19. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    Simple, portable and very well made, the Gries 5.

    Simply stunning, the Vintone Simplex

    In between, the Emery Sound Superbaby.
     
  20. Dave

    Dave Member

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    That's a really good strategy. An Axe-Fx standard just sold on eBay a day or two ago for $1800, which is $50 more than they sell for new.

    Now I'm wishing I hadn't passed when my number came up. :jo
     

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