some questions on old british amps

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by sabbath90, Jun 18, 2005.


  1. sabbath90

    sabbath90 Member

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    hey everyone i have some questions. i recently sold off 6 out of my 8 vintage marshall plexis as well as 4 other amps i rarely use. the one that i got first is a '67 i believe. i was 16 after mowing lawns, washing cars, working on farms, and getting paid pocket change to play bar gigs all summer is the one that i still use to this day. the other one is a 1959slp reissue just because i don't like to take my baby on the road anymore. i was going to buy a mojave peacemaker but decided against it and just got my reissue modded with some resistor changes and mercury transformers etc. now that i have a good bit of cash along with some label money for my bands new record i'm going used amp shopping and need some info and help. any feedback as to why or why not i shouldn't any of the following and some ballpark figures of what they're worth used would be so extremely helpful. i basically want to know any good or bad points and what i can expect to pay. well i'll quit typing too much and just get to the list, ok?

    1. 100 watt HiWatt
    2. Orange 120
    3. Watkins Dominator
    4. JTM45 Reissue
    5. Tweed Bassman (original, boutique clone, or a reissue if they're sturdy and modifiable)
    6. small gibson 6V6 type amp
    7. small supro-ish amp with an 8 inch speaker
    8. small tweed of some sort (champ maybe?)

    i plan on picking up a few of those (3 or 4, maybe more depending on prices) so that i can really mess with my tone during recording because right now i'm down to the 2 marshalls, an ac-30CC, orange ad-30, an ampeg V4, and a silverface twin modded to blackface specs. i know that's pretty diverse but i would still like to have more amps for more colors to paint with. i'm obsessed with BIG british amps too, and have been ever since i heard T Rex for the first time all those years ago.

    i decided against "modern" amps because i always end up with the gain on 2 or 3 which just isn't doing high gain amps justice, so i sold my high gainers to people who'll use the gain. i love to hear people play with a really good high gain tone (like adam jones of tool) but i just can't make it work for myself, so i'm sticking to vintage sounding amps.

    sorry for this being soooooo long. i'm sure you guys know waaay more than me about vintage amps, so that i thought i might as well ask so i don't get ripped off. thanks!!
     
  2. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    there's a Germino Classic 45 head on ebay now that will (IMO) fill your JTM 45 jonesing.

    btw, have you checked out the plexi palace forum? lots o vintage gear buffs over there. one in particular that I know, his name is Chris Martin. he knows vintage amps first hand, as he has about 70 of them.
     
  3. sabbath90

    sabbath90 Member

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    wow. thanks. i must register over there. i love me some old british amps. the germino looks real cool, but i think i'm going to go looking at some local shops for used marshall reissues first. i have some friends who own little shops and owe me some favors so i might be able to score one on the cheap.
     
  4. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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  5. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I would buy a good Hiwatt and Orange, definitely. They're the 'big two' different voicings to Marshall in British amps, apart from Vox of course... don't know if they're your thing or not. And no matter what anyone tells you, if you want a Vox you want a Vox, IMO - dubious build quality and all, they just sound different to the modern derivatives (even the AC30HW, though the standard reissue is close).

    An early Sound City might be interesting too, they're sort-of halfway between a Marshall and a Hiwatt... Hendrix used them. This is only the early models though, stay away from the 120s and anything with colored knobs, they have different preamps with active tone controls and sound fairly crap.

    I've never been particularly convinced by the Watkins Dominator. Yes, I know it's the amp that Marshall copied the 18W circuit from - but they still aren't the same thing. The Marshall may use the same circuit, but it has different transformers, different speakers, and is better-built in general.

    The JTM45 reissue is a nice amp, although I prefer the Bluesbreaker combo really; I think the open-back cab suits the voicing better. I prefer the later brighter/tighter Marshalls with a closed cab.


    I'll pass on the others, since there are people who know far more about them than I do... although I do still miss my 5F1 Tweed Champ :(.


    You'll think I'm completely insane, but if you want to sound like Marc Bolan you may want a solid-state amp - I believe he used an H|H 100W head at one point; or a Vamp, which are a really poorly-built, flatulent-sounding tube amp :). I know a guy who had a couple of their cabs that were ex-Bolan at one time, too.
     
  6. jreardon

    jreardon Member

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    John as one who used a Watkins Dominator, back in the 60's, I completely agree. They were aweful.

    A lot of my friends, along with me, got ones as our first real amp. They would distort, with the volume hardly turned on. Completely impractical for gigging, back then, so most of us progressed to AC30's before ending up with Marshall's.

    Also concur with Hiwat, Orange and Sound City. In addition, the Carlsboro 100w head I used, together with my Marshall, was a good one.
     
  7. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    Let me start by saying congrats on the record deal. You've got a few of the essential flavors covered (big Marshall, big BF Fender, Vox) and few of the idiosyncratic but useful ones (Ampeg, Orange) so here's my recommendations:

    1. Small Marshall-18w clone. This'll cover the Watkins too, it's a great sounding little amp but not as open or complex as the Marshall.

    2. Small Fender-I think 6V6, cathode biased would be a sound you could use: tweed Deluxe clone, or my current favorite deal, the brown Princeton (which is a tweed Tremolux in a tolex cab).

    3. Single ended: you could get a champ for simple, great tone, or a Univalve, but if high gain isn't important the Emery Superbaby is way more fun, cheaper and more flexible.

    4. Medium Fender-you need a 30-40w:Tremelux, Vibrolux Reverb, Bandmaster, Super Reverb.

    5. Hiwatt-basically anything from the late 60s thru 1980 is built by the right guys and shares that tough clean, iconic crunch. Best if you can find a real Hiwatt cab with Fanes, too.

    6. If you need mid-gain rock there's a definite place for a Bassman clone or a JTM45 clone-very similar sounding and lots of people build them.

    After the above, there's lots of cool amps, but no more essectial flavors. Personally, I started to look more at blond/brown amps and Vox JMI amps when I had the basics covered...
     
  8. cameron

    cameron Member

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    I think a lot of the classic recorded Bolan sounds were just his guitar going stright into the mixing board, maybe with a fuzz or rangemaster to colour the signal a bit.
     
  9. trisonic

    trisonic Member

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    Not insane at all, John! That big crunchy sound of The Sweet was the H/H IC100 - also the first amp I came across that had the illuminated controls.

    Best, Pete.
     
  10. teleharmonium

    teleharmonium Member

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    I've got a Vamp head, it is anything but flatulent; I have gigged it about 50 times as a bass amp, including playing a room that holds 600 people without running the bass through the PA, and have always gotten raves about the sound. It is loud as hell and sounds like a Hiwatt (which it should, seeing as it has Partridge trannies and a simple passive preamp on the bass channel). I have turned down many offers to sell it.

    As far as Bolan's recorded sound, I more or less agree with you guys - the guitar on Electric Warrior sound nothing like my Vamp, despite a Vamp stack being pictured on the cover. The Ronson - like tones on The Slider could be a Vamp with wah and fuzz in front.

    As far as the Dominator, I wouldn't use one as my only amp playing a show with a band, but as far as tone is concerned they are hard to beat, for the type of vintage sounds they produce. I have an early black panel version, before they went to PCBs, with the original Elacs; it gives up sweet chimey distortion at reasonable volumes and has a lovely smooth tremelo. I own many amps, but the Dominator is one of the few that I can honestly say has never disappointed me or given me any kind of trouble. It is always a joy to play through. The original Elacs have cone repairs but still sound great; I have two NOS pairs of replacements in case I ever blow the originals or they get tired sounding.
    IMO anybody that can hear an original Dominator in good working order and not like it has the wrong application in mind. It certainly is not loud and clean, does not provide deep solid bass or extended highs, it is not particularly flexible, and is not an amp you would want to take on the road; but at home or in front of a mic you would be hard pressed to do better for early British Invasion twangy clean to moderate crunch.
     
  11. aquadog

    aquadog Member

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    I'll let the others discuss the other choices, but you defintely shoud get the hiwatt. Especially if you'll be able to crank it.
     
  12. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    I have to agree on the Watkins. Not a substitute for an 18w, but if you're starting a stable of amps, a darn good sounding one. For other small print stuff, the Selmer stuff is great sounding. It's own flavor, and my Lead and Bass 50 is noisy as hell despite a near tearing down by a good tech, but it does sound great...
     
  13. jreardon

    jreardon Member

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    I bought a brand new Dominator, way back in the 60's, as did many others, because we thought we were getting an amp to go and gig with, as the adverts said.. We soon found out it was completely useless for that.

    There are numerous other amps I would buy now, for home use. I wouldn't touch a Dominator. Just my opinion.
     
  14. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    how about Carlsbro, Kelly, and Sound City? :jo
     
  15. Driver

    Driver Member

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    for a versitle amp in your ballpark, you could look into old Traynors ('65-76). the YBA-1 is a cross between a Bassman and a JTM-45. i've got a YBA-1A Mark II (90W sine wave). it's incredibly versitle and can nail those tones, while adding a bit of Hiwatt/V-4 sting to it.
     

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