Review: Maven Peal "Ganesha"

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by trisonic, Nov 25, 2005.

  1. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    I've had this amp in the house now for a couple or few weeks and thought it time to put some user thoughts on "paper" to help out anyone else.

    Overview.
    This amp arrived from Maven Peal (MP) in a wooden crate built by David Zimmerman complete with metal handles and some superb two inch foam lining. This lining is really the bees knees and the best I've come across. The crate could stand up to just about anything.

    After unscrewing about 30 screws by hand (electric screwdriver had gone on the blink, of course) and lifting the lid I was confronted by the amp being upside down - this is cunning because the amp chassis is upside down in it's box compared to a Marshall. After a couple of minutes I had figured out that the only way to get it out was to gently flip the crate over so that the amp was resting on it's feet then lift the box off the amp. It's very tight fitting.

    This is a big head - just slightly smaller than the Marshall large box but considerably heavier (unless I'm just getting old).

    First thoughts: Beautifully constructed. Even the amp top straps are machined steel (?). The front of the amp has the box about 1.5 inches proud of the controls (to protect them) with a cutout along the top which aids visibility and access - reminds me of an old '70's British amp - Vamp or Vampire?
    At first intimidating the control layout is actually straight forward being divided into three sections: Regular Amp Controls, EFX Loops and MP's Sag, Watts and Tube Controls. I'm excluding the tube buffered EFX loop from this review because I haven't used it yet bar one simple way which I'll get to.

    In use.

    With new amps I'm always careful with so I allowed 1/2 an hour on Standby followed by a few minutes of "blow" on Operate and gentle strumming at low volume.
    David Zimmerman had set it up at my request by using two pairs of tubes, one being KT66's and the other EL34's - at the flick of two switches (to enable both being on) you can switch between them.
    Although this amp is inspired by late '60's/early '70's Superleads my favourite amp of all time are JTM45's and so I set it up to the closest aprroximation using just the two KT66's.
    The amp section is comprised of Bright Volume, Normal Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble and Presence controls. Each Volume has it's own Treble Boost switch which clearly covers the Marshall bright caps but is switchable - and very useful. There are also Pre- Amp and Power Amp Boost switches. These are more subtle. One provides more gain in the pre amp (I tended to leave this off but it works and does sound good) the other changes the character of the power amp in interesting ways: Boost or Loose or Tight.
    I set the tone controls to Noon, the Pre off and the Pow to "Tight". and plugged in a Strat.
    First thing I discovered that this amp does wonderful, rich, cleans. Somewhat JTM like but better than I remember. It's possible to get a rainbow of subtle tones just by playing with the two Volumes. Anyone who loves a rich bass response would like this amp - in fact across the spectrum it is good - has no one discussed the Ganesha cleans before? It's the big, easy feel of a large amp without the crippling volume.

    Changing over to a Les Paul and increasing the Volumes (Switch Pow to "Loose", SAG to circa 8) I got the following. It is fairly easy to get a good "Beano" type tones with the Bright Volume (Treble switch off) up around 7 - 9 and the Normal just over 1 but with its Treble switch on. Do the reverse and crank the Normal Volume (Treble switch off) and turn the Bright Volume just on with the Treble switch on and you're into Mick Taylor country. Early Pete Green is more like "Beano" with less gain. These were through Celestion Blue. It will easily do AC/DC stuff when set right - but this is NOT a high gain amp!
    These settings worked for me and my guitars - the usual disclaimers do apply.

    An advantage of the 4 power tubes is you can use the amp like a 50 Watt with two power amps, simply switch over to the two EL34's (or what ever you have in it - I watched Dave Z. bias all four tubes in 30 seconds with his "BiaSmart" at the last NYCTF) and you get a brighter, brasher tone.

    Because I was using low powered speakers I had the Watts knob set quite low even at half power but it was still loud enough that I could not hear myself speak. Yes, it does go down to 1 watt but this amp is not designed as a "Bedroom" amp - it would make a nice looking nightstand, however!

    An ideal Studio amp the Ganesha is uncannily quiet, noise wise. Even leaning against it holding a Strat was not too bad at all.
    One of the advantages of the Watts knob is that you can find your "Sweet Spot" and then adjust the overall level up and down and in combination with the Sag control is incredibly useful. Very dynamic at all settings.

    This amp itself does NOT have a Master Volume. David has, however, included provision for one in the EFX Loop. You can insert a regular guitar cable into the Effects Send jack, the other end into the Return jack. If you do this you control overdrive with both the Effects Send Knob and the Return Drive Knob. The Return Tone Knob will control the character and the Wet Level Knob is now the Master Volume (the Dry Level Knob can mix in some non-overdrive tone). I got by by switching the EFX Loops completely OUT with the true bypass switch.


    My "cons" with this amp would be size and weight - it is imposing though.

    Best used with 4x12's or a 2x12 capable of handling 140 watts or alternatively use it like a 50 watt amp with a 2x12 with lower wattage speakers.

    This is too long - anyone who has any question on this amp please PM me, I'll try to answer them in a timely manner.

    This amp has really whetted my appetite for the upcoming RG88. www.mavenpeal.com

    Best, Pete.
     
  2. gearlovin

    gearlovin Supporting Member

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    I'm waitin for my rg-88

    I sold my ganesha cause of it's size (as I always go witha 2 head setup)

    But thinkin of gettin one back

    as they are one of my favorite sound ever.

    plus

    dave have the best customer support ever!!!

    How can you go wrong? :D


    Maven peal rules :dude
     
  3. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    You certainly have a full spectrum of amps at your disposal carldut. Great stuff!

    Forgot to mention the power conditioning thing with the Ganesha. I plugged it in to the "dirtiest" outlet in the house (same circuit as Washer, Dryer etc.)
    - no effect whatsoever, the Ganesha just kept purring along. Very useful for most venues!

    Best, Pete.
     
  4. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    Pete! From Univalve to a Ganesha!! Now that's what I call a quantum leap!!! :D

    What cab/speakers were you using, again?
     
  5. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Yeah, well I do have other amps! Just I don't speak of them often.....
    Now you're embarrassing me, just an Avatar with Celestion Blues - I need some naked wood.....I was lusting after something Marshallish for a long time.....but quietly.....

    Btw afraid I used your name in vain on another thread by describing Uriah Heep (remember them?) as riffmeisters! My apologies......

    Best, Pete.
     
  6. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    "just"???? (I have no doubt that cab ROCKS!)


    LOL! Uriah Heep...brings back drunken bar memories....or is that partial memories? ;)
     
  7. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Heh, Heh, didn't mean to come across as condescending - I just know what a great collection of stuff you have.
    I just counted; 8 amps here, 2 in the UK. Most are old and forgettable......

    very 'eavy very 'umblly, Pete.
     
  8. hawkeyeinexile

    hawkeyeinexile Silver Supporting Member

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    nicely said, Pete, and much like my impressions of d-o-c's Ganesha prototype, an awesome piece.

    :cool:
     
  9. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Thanks, Jeff.

    What speakers was D-o-c's Ganesha going thru? David Z has suggested to try a pair of Governor's.........

    Best, Pete.
     
  10. planetal

    planetal Member

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    Hi,

    I was looking at this amp.. Where you able to try it out before you bought it? It appears there is a kind of deal on it now, as he will sell it for $50less than what musicians friends sells a marshall 1959slpx reissue (if i read his web add correctly).

    Some marshalls are quite sweet and some are harsh.. I can't describe it better than that.. to your ears, does it have that sweetness some super leads seem to have? Is it a very giggable amp?

    Thanks much
    Al

    I'm also in NJ, not that it matters.
     
  11. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    planetal,

    Yes, I heard it at the NYCTF. I reported that it was one of my favourites there. It had a visceral impact on me! Mucho thumpo.

    I find it very sweet and rich not too much gain overall.

    Is it giggable? It's very playable from about 5 watts up to 140 watts. It should keep up with one of the old Orange 120's. That is extremely loud.

    Of course you should choose your speakers depending on: What you like? How efficient you need them? How many will you need? A good bet would be one speaker cab (2x12) for Studio and small gigs and one (4x12) for the larger stages.

    For Classic Marshall Rock and Blues. I would suggest you come over and try it but I'm in and out so much for the forseeable future I'm afraid it would be pointless.....
    I strongly suggest you give David Z. a call and discuss your needs with him direct.

    Best, Pete.
     
  12. planetal

    planetal Member

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  13. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    A bunch of stuff. Most often, a pair of Jensen P12N RIs, sometimes a single Fane Blue Alnico 12", occasionally even a Dr Z ZBest loaded with a pair of Red Fangs, but never at full volume.

    And once - ONCE - through BrewBeck's Marshall 4-12 with ??? (Greenies, maybe? Dunno :( ) and that was a religious experience, tell you whut! :D

    Congrats on a great amp acquisition, Pete!
     
  14. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Thanks, David.

    I'm going to be using it like a 50 watt with two voices and think I don't need to go above a 2x12.

    I want to try the Greenback route but am worried about the extended bass response of this amp (keeping it tight). maybe Greenback/G12H30 type thing would work better but I hate going down this road it is fraught with annoying complications and tail chasing!

    Thanks, mate! Pete.
     
  15. Neil

    Neil Member

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    Thanks Pete, good review.

    I got a Ganesha (used) last week and have been fiddling with it with mixed results. Your post inspired me to slap some KT66s in, check the bias and see how it sounded. Well what do you know? I took out the 34s in v1 and v4 and put in some old KT66's, biased them and then checked v2 and v3 (el34s) to find the bias was almost off! (<2ma). That would account for the variable results as I switched between all 4 and then randomly between pairs of el34s (biased and not at all biased).

    As you describe the KT66s do make it sound like a JTM45, a flick of 2 switches to the 34s and the plexi type cleans are great.

    The wattage control works well but the sag control's effect is much more subtle than I expected. I wonder if it has more effect at higher output powers?

    The 66s are knackered though so I need to get more, any recommendations?

    I am using a splawn 2x12 with greenbacks in. Seems to work well now they have a few hours on them.

    What do you expect Greeny would make of a Ganesha?!

    Cheers
    Neil
     
  16. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Neil, I think that the KT66's in mine are nothing special - probably GT's. I'll go down and check later and advise. Because you bias each tube individually you do not need matched pairs.

    It's interesting to be able to instantly switch between EL34's and the 66's isn't it? the 34's are more brasher and trebly. I adore the cleans of the 66's, really sweet, indeed.

    I can't imagine Pete would care what he plugs into (or Eric for that matter) as long as it sounds good to them - frankly I can't imagine anyone who likes the early Marshalls not liking this amp, I tend to warn people not to expect very high gain - I admit I haven't tried all the various boosts at once. I could live without them.

    I like the Sag circuit, it is subtle but I notice the difference particularly in conjunction with the the Tight - Loose power amp control.

    This amp is very rich, tonally and a delight, dynamically, to play - I've always liked to be able to clean up with the guitar volume or even pick attack. Later.

    Best, Pete.
     
  17. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Neil, Yes the KT66's are GT's (rated 4 if that helps) the EL34's are JJ's.
    Did you get the Ganesha User Instructions? If not you can download them from the Maven Peal site.

    Best, Pete.
     
  18. Neil

    Neil Member

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    Thanks Pete, I'll pick up a set.

    I was just trying different biases on the KT66s and some where areound 27ma seems to work the best. The max of 36 was too hot for good cleans and the manuals recommended 20 was too brittle.

    My el34s are JJ, too.

    Do you get a drop in volume when going from el34 to kt66?

    Cheers
    Neil
     
  19. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Neil,

    I've always noticed, at the least, a small volume drop on 66's over 34's (all else being equal). I think the GT's are "soft" anyway compared to the mighty Gold Lion!

    Best, Pete.
     
  20. Neil

    Neil Member

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    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the offer of support even for a used amp owner like myself. I am enjoying getting into this amp. Things are looking better and better as I think I fixed an intermittent fault (the sound would fade out and sound like a fuzz box for a few seconds and then come back in) last night due to a weak preamp tube. I dont know which one yet as I changed v1 to v3 in one go. I only had some JJs on hand and they seem to work nicely so far. A fuller sound than the ones in there (not surprising if one of them was on the blink). Where can I get the 12ax7s you are recommending?

    Things I like about this amp so far
    It's so quiet with no guitar plugged in. I'm no EE but a quiet amp seems to me to be a well designed and constructed item.

    It's versatile with, as Pete mentions, great JTM45 cleans and plexi mayhem.

    It sounds like those great 'Marshall' sounds you hear on recordings and in concert but doesnt seem to come from the Marshall amps you can actually go and buy!


    Things I'm not so keen on:
    It's huge. It makes the 2x12 it is on top of look like a toy! However size and weight vs tone and tonal versatility is a bit of an imponderable in a value proposition. I'll take this compromise if less size means less tone.


    The 20ma KT66 bias reference is in the suggested settings. It says:-

    • Biasing
    35 mA
    (around 20 mA for a cleaner
    punchier tone)

    Cheers
    Neil
     

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