Small Combo Amps: Trying to Decide, Please Help

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by iim7v7im7, Mar 15, 2008.

  1. iim7v7im7

    iim7v7im7 Member

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    Hi,

    I am new to this forum and I need your help. I am a hobbiest player who plays two styles of music. 60% of the time I play blues with a P-90 based solid body (Valley Arts LC Std)at low to medium volumes. 40% of the time I play straight ahead jazz with an archtop with a floating HB (Heritage Sweet 16) at relatively low volumes.

    I have been reading this forum and cruising the web to identify candidate amplifiers. This is very imformative site!

    Criteria:
    • I was thinking of a combo, but I am willing to consider a head/cabinet
    • It should be <40 lb (I am getting too old to lug stuff!). This unfortunately, seems to exclude many options
    • >20 watts is probably fine, but somewhat more is OK
    • I was thinking of 1x12" configuration (mostly driven by weight)
    • I tend to like Fender tones (6V6 or 6L6) more than Marshall tones (EL84 or EL34). It seems as if there are many more EL84 based productsbeing built today in the smaller sized amps.
    • Built in Reverb is desired
    • I think that I need a master volume for home use
    • I am not sure that I need two channels (only a nice to have)
    • No real cost criteria. Most of the amps that I have seen are between $1,000 -$3,000)
    • Made by a company with a track record for reliability,some demontated stability to stay in business and customer service
    • I own two pedals that I use. A volume pedal and a TC Chorus.
    Types of Tones that I am Seeking:
    • Warm, shimmery fender cleans for jazz stuff at low to medium volumes
    • Touch sensitive distortion that reacts to pick attack when the amp is set on the edge of clean at low to medium volumes (may or may not be possible, you tell me) when playing blues
    • Creamy, singing, legato distortion for soloing at low to medium volumes (may or may not be possible, you tell me) when playing blues (Like a deluxe reverb at high volumes, but at lower volumes)
    Amps that I have Identified:

    Most of them seem to be built around, Fender or Fender-like circuits using 6V6s or 6L6s
    • Allen Accomplice
    • Bruno Cow Tipper 22
    • Carr Vincent (or Viceroy)
    • Fargen Blackbird
    • Tone KIng Meteor II
    Additionally, I have seen products offered by Victoria, Louis Electric, Headstrong, Bogner, Buda and Dr. Z.

    Questions:
    • Of the amplifiers that I have listed which do you think best meets my criteria and why?
    • What amplifiers should I be considering that are not listed and why?
    Sorry about the long post, I did not have the time to write a short one,

    Bob
     
  2. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    Also consider the VVT Amps Fralin, especially for Fender cleans.

    and the Gries 20 or 35.
     
  3. shredtrash

    shredtrash Supporting Member

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    I have a Savage Macht 12x that would fit the bill nicely. It doesn't have reverb but it doesn't really need it either. It also has a studio stage switch that drops the power from 12 watts to about 4. Uses 6v6's. There's one on ebay right now. I really like mine and they can get pretty loud if needed.
     
  4. orogeny

    orogeny Supporting Member

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    for the weight to tone factor ALONE, you should look into the alessandro working dog line. last amp i'll ever buy. incredible cleans. the rott is too loud to turn up to breaking point though. check out one of the el84 jobbies. . .
     
  5. jb70

    jb70 Supporting Member

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    the tone king meteor is an incredible amp but it weighs 45 lbs.
     
  6. scottlaned

    scottlaned Member

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    Accomplice does it. I'd also check out the Rambler.
     
  7. karmadave

    karmadave Member

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    My Allen Sweet Spot 1x12" Combo is 38 lbs. It doesn't have a MV, but it's got everything else and is a great little amp!

    -KD
     
  8. iim7v7im7

    iim7v7im7 Member

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    To All,

    Thanks for your responses.

    FFTT: I did look at the VVT amps, specifically the Bel-aire model. It is 35 lb., but I couldn't get any clear dimensions on a 1 x 12". It also had no mid control. Interesting product. Do you have any first hand experience with them?

    shredtrash: I had not heard of Savage before, thanks. They appear to be EL84 based amps, which I tend to not prefer.

    orogeny: I had heard of Alessandro, but the working dog line was no longer on their site. The Plot Hound ($3,600 IN 1X12")or Blue Tick ($4,000 IN 1X12")are 6V6 based, but are beyond what I am willing spend.

    jb70: Thanks for the conformation on the Tone King Meteor II. Mark's site claims the 1x12" weighs 40 lb. I am just a bit unclear on who Mark is and how many amps he has out there. Additionally, I am unclear of the tonal characteristics of the overdrive channel. I am curious about this amp though.

    scottlaned: Thanks for the conformation on the Allen Accomplice and the suggestion to look at the Carr Rambler. The Rambler is 6L6 based and has no master control. Won't this amp need to get very loud to achieve some of the tones that I am after?

    Karmadave: Thanks for the Allen Sweet Spot suggestion. I was considering this amp as well. The Accomplice seems slightly more flexible with a master control, raw control and a tone control on the reverb. The Sweet Spot is 2 lbs. lighter though!

    GuitarTone: Thanks for your suggestion. I did try out a Rivera Clubster 25 DOCE, which is a fine combo, but it didn't really sound like a Fender when played clean and the distortion character was not what I was looking for. Are there other models that you where suggesting? Many seem to be EL34 based and >40 lb.



    Bob
     
  9. phoenix 7

    phoenix 7 Silver Supporting Member

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    I think a Clark Beaufort (tweed Deluxe clone) would fulfill your requirements very well. I've owned two Victoria tweed amps, and the Clark is my favorite. You can get Mike Clark to increase the power of the amp to just above 20 watts for more clean headroom -- I had him do that for mine. It's got two channels -- normal (probably good for your P-90 guitar) and bright (good for the humbuckers). I love having the two channels for my single-coil and humbucker guitars.
     
  10. Powderfinger

    Powderfinger Gold Supporting Member

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  11. FFTT

    FFTT Member

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    I would talk directly with the people at VVT Amps.
    Great bunch of people there.

    Still small enough for custom details too.

    My personal experience was seeing and hearing one of their Hurricane
    models. Very impressive, especially for the cost.

    They also offer head versions of all their amps, so if you have a particular
    cabinet in mind, you can go that way too.
     
  12. dspblues

    dspblues Silver Supporting Member

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    Consider the Pure 64 w/their 1x12 cab. Lots of great tones. For the break-up you're talking about... try the 6V6 version. Lots of threads on these amps if you want other opinions.
     
  13. supergenius365

    supergenius365 Silver Supporting Member

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    River City makes the "Little Blues Boy" which can switch out 6v6's or 6L6's and one other I can't remember so you can run 8 watts, 15 watts or 22 watts. 1X12 custom made Weber speaker and not too heavy.
     
  14. dk123123dk

    dk123123dk Member

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    One amp that I would check into is the Bogner Duende. They build a 1x10, a 1x12", and a 1x12 + 2x8" that has two 15 watt power amps. One is dry to the 12", and the other is for reverb, or other effects, to the two 8" speakers.

    I haven't personally heard the 812, but I have heard the 1x12" combo and it was excellent with a good strat. Best tone I have heard in a while. With all the sweet swampy tremolo you could want.

    Duende 812 Seco Mojado is the one to check into. Seems like such a great idea. Not sure of the weight though.

    I am a big fan of separate speaker cabs and heads, vs combo amps.

    Heres why:

    Most 1x12" or 2x12" cabs can be as light or lighter than many all in one units.

    Most cabs have side handles, or wheels. This can make them very easy to carry up near your center of gravity. Combos you have to carry all slouched to one side, by the top handle.

    I worry about having the tubes too close to the vibrations inside the cab. Esp with small combos.

    Often times the smaller combos tend to have a "boxy" sound to them. Part of the tone we all love comes from the cab and speaker interacting with the room.

    Some 2x12" have a stereo option. So you can bring two heads and run them through one cab. Great for a wet / dry configuration, or stereo delays etc.

    The only situation where I feel a combo is better, is if you are limited to what you can carry with you. Ie if you live in the city, and take the subway to gigs. This could be difficult to lug a separate head and cab.


    But I realize that some people just like combo's better, and I respect that opinion. :)

    Good luck with the amp search! Don't forget to stop and smell the roses (play the guitar)!


    dk
     
  15. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

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    Matchless Lightning reverb.
     
  16. phusana

    phusana Member

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    I had very similar requirements and recently tried out quite a few 1x12 combos before settling on a Headstrong Lil' King. For me 22 watts DR was too loud for recording and small gigs, 5 watts not enough headroom. This amp is a clone of a '64 BF Princeton Reverb but with a 12" speaker. GREAT reverb and tremolo!!! No MV, but you won't miss it. Beautiful, rich Fender cleans at reasonable volumes. After reading this: http://www.tonequest.com/articles/article2.htm I tried going with a Fender SFPR with a 12, but upgrade costs made a used Lil King a very attractive option.

    Nice fit for what you say you are looking for, You wrote:
    • Warm, shimmery fender cleans for jazz stuff at low to medium volumes
    • Touch sensitive distortion that reacts to pick attack when the amp is set on the edge of clean at low to medium volumes (may or may not be possible, you tell me) when playing blues
    • Creamy, singing, legato distortion for soloing at low to medium volumes (may or may not be possible, you tell me) (might need a little help from an OD pedal here)when playing blues (Like a deluxe reverb at high volumes, but at lower volumes)
    Weighs in at just about 30lbs, easy one hand carry... Think of it as a mini deluxe reverb! Plus, the Headstrong is built like a tank, all hand wired and has a 10 year transferable warranty! Good luck keeping a vintage SF or BF Fender out of the shop for more than a couple of years...
     
  17. Yossi

    Yossi Member

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  18. epluribus

    epluribus Member

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    Hey Bob.

    If you happen to run across one, check out a Deluxe Reverb II. Very nicely built PTP, Ch 1 is a close derivation of an AA763 blackface circuit, and plays a lot like one. The Rivera-designed Ch 2 has an added selectable gain stage, a mid-boost that does terrific things for drive tones, and an MV--very Rivera, very versatile. In some ways it does better Blackface than a Blackface. :)

    Altogether, excellent Fender cleans and BF drive on Ch 1, but with some remarkably focussed, JCM800-ish tones on the 2 channel--at lighter drive settings. Heavy drive is tricky to dial in and can get harsh real easy without TLC. Typical 6V6/BF-style feel and playing dynamics, incidentally--not as squishy as a tweed, but lotsa touch even so.

    --Ray
     
  19. iim7v7im7

    iim7v7im7 Member

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    Again, thanks to all!

    oregony: Thanks for the link. For some reason I didn't see these at the Alesssandro site when I went there. The 20 watt, 36 lb., Working Dog Boxer definitely sounds like a possibility and at $1,400 for a 1 x12" its reasonably priced. I live in NJ, so the builder relatively close as well.

    dspblues: I had not heard of pure sixtyfour before. The model that seems to be closest to what I am looking for is their Mean Street Classic Head ($2,500). This would of course require the purchase of a cabinet which places it at the upper end of my price budget. I'll do some reading about these. I had not heard of them.

    supergenius365: I had not heard of River City before. I visited their website, but their was not too much information, just some tweed photos. I'll look into the some more.

    dk123123dk: The Bogner Duende 1x12" was a model that I was looking at. I am a little unclear as the tone characteristics of the amp. It is 6V6 based, but I will need to look into it more.

    Aaecee: I did look at the Matchless LG-112, which looks nice, but I believe that it was EL 84 based, which my ears tend to not prefer.

    madvek: I have had the same thoughts and thanks for your ergonomic case. Most of the smaller heads run about 30 lb. (or about 75% of the weight of the 1x12" combo). 12" speakers seem to weigh between 8-12 lb plus the weight of construction of the cabinets, so they run around 25 lb. My personal view is only >40 lb. does this split pay off. I am open to this option though, because some amp makers only make heads. I also agree with you regarding improved mechanical isolation.

    Yossi: I have seen these Bluetron Amps and I have visited their website. 12 knobs is a lot for my little brain, but it is a very interesting concept from a topology perspective (control of volume and gain). Does anyone know how much a lower power (say 2 x 6V6) model goes for? Additionally, I get the impression that they are fairly new. Does anyone know how many of these are out there or the history/stability of the company?


    Bob
     

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