Seeking info on very low wattage tube amp for home use.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by tonepolice, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. tonepolice

    tonepolice Member

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    I am seriously contemplating pulling the trigger on a Carr Mercury but was wondering what other options are available besides the Merc in the very low wattage with a built attenuator amp for home use and small gigs. Thanks for the replies.
     
  2. Ginglymus

    Ginglymus Member

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    Power scaling has really opened up the field in this respect. Cranked tone can be had down to about 50 milliwatts and many new amps are available with this feature.

    Otherwise you might have a look at a Lexicon Signature 284 or the Crunchmaster/Cream Machine mini amps from Hughes & Kettner. They all have built-in attenuators and show up on ebay quite often.
     
  3. farlowhigh

    farlowhigh Member

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    The Mercury is certainly a cool amp but I would definitely look into power scaling as an option...the Suhr Badger is amazing at any volume (check out the great video demo of the Badger by Pete Thorn--it is on suhrguitars.com and also on youtube--the amp can go from less than half a watt up to 18 screaming watts...it is on the Marshally-Voxy side of things but has its own thing and I don't think of it as a clone.

    if you are interested in Fendery sounds (as it sounds like you are with the Mercury choice), Ben Fargen makes some great Fendery amps like the Blackbird and Fargen will now put power scaling on any of his amps as a custom mod. His new Miniplex II has power scaling already built in and there are some very nice video demos with Ben Fargen himself playing...they are on fargenamps.com and also on youtube.

    Kingsley amps are amazing and you can get power scaling on them...if you are only interested in very low watt amps, Kingsley makes a super low watt amp called something like the Deluxe 1 which allows for all kinds of tube swapping (without the need to rebias) and can get you in the range of 1 or 2 watts...
    the beauty of power scaling is that you really don't have to restrict yourself to amps with very low wattage. the power scaling (if installed well by an experienced tech and London Power has a list of approved tech installers) works better than any attenuator I have ever heard and it is available through the volume dial and not restricted to a few positions. I have power scaling on a Kingsley Deluxe 32C and it makes this potentially quite loud amp (around 30 watts if cranked) entirely usable in its full range of tones in a home situation...of course, if you bring the volume down to a real whisper, it doesn't sound its best (true of any tube amp including the Mercury) but I have played a Carr Mercury and I find power scaling a more versatile technology and amazingly transparent...no coloring the sound like most attenuators do...
    nothing wrong with the Carr Mercury and it sounds great but there are other low volume solutions out there these days and for the amount of a Mercury, you have a lot of options...
    other ones to consider:
    --Emery Amps, the microbaby (1-2 watts) and the superbaby (5-10 watts) have lots of tube swapping options and so are quite versatile...people love these amps...haven't heard one myself but there are some nice clips on the emery amp website....
    --s2 amps (also make Category 5 amps)...some very cool and innovative amps (the Ivan, the Tsunami) that don't exactly use power scaling but have all sorts of interesting ways to manage volume...I don't understand them technically but there are clearly some innovative technologies out there to keep volume manageable...this same builder is currently making a prototype for a mini trainwreck type amp that will only be a few watts....there is a long thread about this on the Gear Page about "bedroom amps."
    --Revelation amps..the Serena sounds cool on the clips and uses different tubes to get varying amounts of volume and different tones...

    --for Marshally tones at very low volumes, there is also the Zvex nano head which fits in the palm of the hand and can run a 4x12 cab...it doesn't have much clean headroom, of course, but when distorted, it sounds really good to my ears...only half a watt cranked but that can get surprisingly loud...the nano clean only gets up to 1/10 a watt (same as the lowest setting on the Mercury), but it is very cool for messing around at home...
    the nano uses tiny Russian military tubes and another choice in the 1 watt range is the Bumbox Lead 1 although that is pretty specific (like the nano) in its sonic range...the Bumbox Lead 1 is trying for a Marshall plexi tone and it sounds great cranked and given the small tubes (also uses small tubes although a bit bigger than the nano tubes), you can get real power tube saturation at very reasonable volumes...

    I have heard of people getting Tone King amps power scaled with success as well...

    there are also a number of great 5 watters which have a great sound:
    Gries 5...Fender Blackface clean and Fender tweed overdriven sounds since you dial out the tone stack as you dial up the gain..nicely versatile amp and a great sounding amp all around and it has full tone controls and a very effective master volume on it...excellent value!

    Swart Space Tone...5 watts of Fendery tweed magic...very cool and manageable volume...amazingly big sound for an 8" speaker...

    Swart Space Tone Reverb...the newest offering from Swart and this has a 12" speaker and tube reverb and has gotten great reviews...I haven't heard this one in person but the Swarts all have great sounds. I bought the larger Atomic Space Tone last year and I was directly comparing it to the Carr Mercury...I do wish the Atomic Space Tone had a master volume but it has a great great sound along with amazing tube tremolo and reverb...amazing swampy vibe...check out the clips Greg V did for swartamps.com...

    a number of tweedy 5 watt offerings from Victoria amps, Richter amps, Clark amps...

    for great low volume grit, the new Dr Z Mini head sounds good on the clips and the Star Nova is another 5 watter to consider although it sounds better distorted than clean (only played one briefly so certainly not speaking with any authority)

    tons of options out there these days! you may still decide on the Mercury but if possible check out some of the competition...you might find something you like even better!
     
  4. jerryjg

    jerryjg Active Member

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    QUOTE_"Power scaling has really opened up the field in this respect. Cranked tone can be had down to about 50 milliwatts and many new amps are available with this feature."
    Dude. Cranked tone cannot be had at 50 milliwatts. Wanna bet? You get your 50 milliwatt amp and I'll crank my JMPMKII 100 watt Marshall head.Then we'll see if cranked tone can be had at 50 milliwatts.
     
  5. GSVBagpuss

    GSVBagpuss Member

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    My Zinky Blue Velvet 25w is pretty good at low volumes, it's not a hugely talked about brand but there are very few that have a bad thing to say! Lovely shimmery cleans and a decent OD channel. Sensibly priced too.
     
  6. tonepolice

    tonepolice Member

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    farlowhigh, thanks for that great input. I am looking for something that would cover Single coils (including P90) and humbucker loaded guitars equally well.
     
  7. mlj_gear

    mlj_gear Member

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    Here's my two cents just because I hate to see people really disappointed:

    In a couple of different amps, power scaling has really failed to impress me at what I consider to be reasonable bedroom or apartment volume levels. I prefer my Aiken Invader and its built in attenuator for power tube distortion at lower levels.
     
  8. mlj_gear

    mlj_gear Member

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    The Sig 284s don't have attenuators, do they? I used to have one, and I think it had a regular 'ole master volume... or one regular MV for each side, actually.

    I think the size and nature of your small gigs is crucial. 3-5 watts is not going to cut it un-miked for many types of small gigs.

    For what it's worth, I had a Bumbox and didn't like it all that much in the end. I really don't like the clips of the Nano, but haven't tried one. I really DO like the clips of the Revelation Serena, and am thinking about trying one. I'm really pretty happy with my Aiken at low levels, though, so maybe I won't pull the trigger.

    I love my Swart 6V6se and my Savage Macht 6, but even at 5-6 watts, you certainly aren't going to get them to distort much at truly low levels.

    For a lot of people, I think any amp under 25 watts with nice cleans and a couple of pedals is the way to go for home playing and small gigs, or even just a modern channel switcher with a good MV. "A lot of people" may or may not be you, though! It's not me, usually.
     
  9. mmorse

    mmorse Member

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    I've tried for some time to get a nice, full saturated sound at bedroom levels and have come to the conclusion that it's just not possible. You can get passable tone for noodling or practice but it's never going to be identical to a cranked Marshall. I've basically given up. Although I too really like the tones of the Revelation Serena clips. But it's hard to determine in a clip just how loud it is.

    So now for bedroom wankage I use use a Tonebone plexitube into a Marshall MS2 set to clean feeding a pair of powered Radio Shack mini tower speakers. Surprisingly little fizz and decent tone. Pinch harmonics are even easy to get with this setup. And I'm talking VERY low volume. Not a very sexy solution by any means but it's good enough and my wallet thanks me. ;)
     
  10. blesscurse

    blesscurse Member

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    A Hughes & Kettner Cream Machine currently (9-8-11) being auctioned:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dl...2&ssPageName=ADME:L:LCA:US:1123#ht_500wt_1190


     
  11. 5E3

    5E3 Member

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    Dr. Z with the on-board Air Brake or Brake Lite. :aok
     
  12. Figaro

    Figaro Supporting Member

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    Samamp VAC 23. From 3 to 23 watts.
     
  13. modernp

    modernp Member

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  14. popinvasion

    popinvasion Supporting Member

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    I use a vox pathfinder and for $75 I am beyond happy with it.
     
  15. Ginglymus

    Ginglymus Member

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  16. gillman royce

    gillman royce Member

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    Yeah, I thought this thread would end up in the power scaling vs. attenuator vs MV debate.
     
  17. Shinequwa

    Shinequwa Member

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    Top Hat amps are killer and have great master volumes. On the used market, they are a total deal.
     

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