Thinking about getting the Swart Atom Jr, help please!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by sharks, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. sharks

    sharks Member

    Messages:
    277
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    Hi all. So, long story short, I am upgrading amps and my shortlist right now contains only the Swart Atom Jr. I haven't played it but from what I've heard on youtube and people's reactions I think it's pretty perfect for me. However, I am a little disconcerted at the number of times I've seen people saying that the 8 inch speakers can't handle humbuckers and that it sounds muddy. I play a PRS Mira and love to play stuff by Phish, some Dead, Clapton, Allman bros, beatles, some Led Zep, etc...so however you would classify that. I like clean sound, not a lot of grit. But I'd love some overdrive. Oh and I'm a bedroom player all the way. Probably won't ever gig with this amp. Anyway, I emailed Swart a little while ago so I expect to hear back from them soon, but can the people that actually use these amps help assuage my concerns? Additionally, what are some alternatives to the Atom Jr? I am really not trying to spend over $1000 here, maybe (maybe maybe maybe) a little more if needed but I'd rather not. So, thoughts? Also, can anyone explain the difference to me between the STR and the STR tweed (besides that the STR is discontinued)?

    edit: I ended up getting a Carr Raleigh after trying out some Swarts for a few hours. Obviously the Swarts were fantastic amps, but the Carr really nailed the tones I was trying to get at the volumes I was trying to use.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012
  2. lang.murphy

    lang.murphy Member

    Messages:
    3,547
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2009
    Location:
    Lawrenceville, GA
    I dunno... the Greg V 335 audio clips on Swart's site sound pretty good to me. I rank Swart amps at the top of the tone stack. Not that my opinion should carry any weight 'round these parts.
     
  3. sharks

    sharks Member

    Messages:
    277
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    Yeah, I thought so too, and it's not like I'll be diming the amp either. The statement just popped up enough times during my research that it raised a red flag. For $1000 I'd like to be completely satisfied.
     
  4. dividedsky

    dividedsky Member

    Messages:
    4,142
    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    The Acoustic Guitar Forum
    Might work well for some of that stuff, not so much for others. For most of the bands you mentioned I would go something more blackface (like a Princeton Reverb) and a pedal for overdrive.
     
  5. sharks

    sharks Member

    Messages:
    277
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    Well I can see you're a phan yourself, so I am sure you know Trey's tone is impossible to copy anyway. I noodle a lot and record loops to play over mostly, so it's not like I only play covers. I don't care so much about imitating anyone's sound as having a great sound of my own. Keep in mind I need something small and I think the PR would be too loud to fully utilize...the swart I can at least get past 3. I'll give it a shot though next time I'm at the shop, thanks!
     
  6. sharks

    sharks Member

    Messages:
    277
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    bump? is that kosher here?
     
  7. porterburst

    porterburst Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,295
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    I've played all the Swart models, and I'm a huge Allman Brothers fan. I think the Jr. would be great for those types of tones as long as you don't mind the small speaker that can get a little out of control when cranked with humbuckers. Also keep in mind, these amps can get a little loud for 5 watts.

    I like the STR-Tweed much better, and plan to picking one up soon. The STR-Tweed has a 12" speaker, the added switch that lets you choose between cleaner or dirtier tones, which the regular STR-doesn't have. The STR-Tweed is less fuzzy sounding when cranked compared to the regular STR. I believe the reverb is a little different between the STR-Tweed and regular STR also.
    I love Swart amps, so you can't really go wrong with any of them.
    Another cool little amp to consider for bedroom use is the Carr Raleigh. It's 3 watts and has a clean and dirty side.
     
  8. SKYHIGH

    SKYHIGH Member

    Messages:
    1,735
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2010
    I agree. Swart 5 watts is plenty loud. For home it's more than enough power.

    I had almost every Swart model and STR-Tweed was my least favorite. It did have great cleans but when cranked the amp distortion was extremely...fizzy and lacked major presence. It almost sounded like I had my guitar tone knobed at 5 even when it was fully open. At the same time, I had smaller 6v6se(Atomic jr without reverb) and it's amp gain sounded muh tight and enjoyable. I even tried couple different speakers on the STR-Tweed from ASW 60/70.

    I have since owned total of 3 baby Swarts including atomic jr. Had few AST and AST pro in the past couple years. Loved them all. However I would never buy another STR-Tweed. YMMV.
     
  9. TDJMB

    TDJMB Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,122
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2005
    Location:
    East Coast
    I tried a used Atomic without reverb and thought it was awfully boxy. This was at fairly low volume & clean and I couldn't get a decent sound out of it. I really wanted a tube amp the size of the Atomic but the 8" speaker just didn't make it. I then tried a used Victoria 5112 (I think) with a 12" speaker and it was glorious.
     
  10. Zounds Perspex

    Zounds Perspex Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,547
    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2010
    Location:
    Beaumont, TX
    I'm really curious about this amp as well...more!
     
  11. sharks

    sharks Member

    Messages:
    277
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    The STR-Tweed is less fuzzy sounding? Interesting, I'll definitely give it a shot. I have a chance to get the Atom Jr. for $850 and I think it is too good to pass up. Can anyone offer an alternative around that price that sounds as good?

    Edit:
    Yeah I've heard good things about the Victoria as well but I feel like having solely the volume knob is a little too simple.
     
  12. vparikh

    vparikh Member

    Messages:
    101
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2009
    Location:
    Wayne, NJ
  13. porterburst

    porterburst Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,295
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA








    Well I guess we all hear things differently because I didn't find the STR-Tweed fizzy at all when cranked. With nos tubes, I can’t imagine not being able to tune it 100% to my liking. I also liek the feel of the STR-Tweed vs. the Jr.

    The Jr. is just too small sounding for me when using a Les Paul. The Jr. is much better with single coils.


    My favorite Swarts are the SST-30, STR-Tweed, and AST.
     
  14. jadams71

    jadams71 Member

    Messages:
    427
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    I love my STR-tweed. I must say for five watts it is hugely loud. I have had a couple of questions for Mr. Swart and he is great to work with and answers very quickly, usually with in a day but no more thn two. I guess what I am saying is if you have any questions or reservations about which amp to get talk to the man himself and he will help.
     
  15. DoctorBob

    DoctorBob Member

    Messages:
    433
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    See my separate post today on the Tweed. To reiterate on the Jr: 1) dark tone 2) too much reverb 3) 8"" speaker does not keep up with even a small gig 4) exposed tubes in back 4) loud, too loud for bedroom use-so I'm not really sure where you would use it-too loud for bedroom, too small for a gig 5) no stand-by switch.I played a Custom Shop RW board strat thru it at a very small jam and to keep up I had to dime it a which point it was pretty much all mush... On the plus side, its very light in weight, it looks cool-as do all Swarts, and with a strat would sound pretty good at a VERY low volume jam session, but must tweak the single tone knob all the way to overcome it's inherent dark tone. I was not a fan and traded it up for the STR-Tweed
     
  16. sharks

    sharks Member

    Messages:
    277
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    You guys are very helpful, I really appreciate it! Definitely some stuff to think about before making this purchase. Any other alternatives besides the Raleigh? It looks like the Atom Jr. isn't the end-all-be-all I thought at first. Glad I asked...
     
  17. aaronblues

    aaronblues Supporting Member

    Messages:
    4,457
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2006
    Location:
    SE MI
    i have a couple quick questions &/or experiences to add...

    Tho the Swarts look awesome, are well built, and are just undeniably cool, they really aren't for everybody, IMO. The signature Swart tone to me is a little dark, a little boxy, with some funky mojo in there, and while there are so many different musicians & bands that can put it to great use, it can also feel a little clumsy if you're expecting an amp with a ton of range. Again IMO. i fell in love with the look, the aesthetic, and the idea of the amp, but the reality of the tone took some getting used to on my part. Sorta sounds like you are in the same spot i was prior.

    I owned an AST, own a STR-Tweed. Before the STR, some of my previous 5 watters were a ZVex Nano, a few silverface Champs, an Xits X4, had demoed some Tweed Champs/Clones, and owned a Savage Macht 12. The Champs easily had the most treble of the bunch, and tho they weren't the outright winner, they did have a wider ranging EQ then all the rest. The Savage had a smoother tone when clean then the rest, and would be my suggestion as an alternative if the Atom or STR doesn't work out for you. They pop up here and there on TGP used, right about your price range. i wish i hadn't sold mine.

    The Swart Night Light attenuator is a great option also, if you're looking to get some crunch out of your amp at super quiet volumes. Works great with the STR, wish i had owned it when i had the AST.

    I had tried an STR in a store previous, and felt the same as the post above that said it didn't have any of the magic as the rest of Swarts, but took a chance on one in a trade recently, and i've been very happy with it so far. Could easily gig with it, if mic'd up, and if you like your tone raunchy.

    Again, all IMO, could be wrong. I always use single coil guitars.

    cheers
     
  18. sharks

    sharks Member

    Messages:
    277
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2012
    Cheers yourself sir, that's some solid advice and exactly what I was hoping to get out of this thread. If you haven't already done one, consider that your good deed of the day.
     
  19. porterburst

    porterburst Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,295
    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    One thing to keep in mind with the Swart amps is the fact you can really tune them with a variety of vintage tubes.


    Take the STR-Tweed, they're so many beautiful sounding nos 6V6GT/G, EL34's, Tung Sol 5881's, or 6L6GC's. They don't alll sound the same!
    A Ken-Rad or Marconi 6V6G and some nos RCA or Tung Sol 12AX7's would be amazing in the STR-Tweed. Tube choice could be the difference between an amp sounding too dark or bright.


    If an amp fundamental tone is good, I've always been able to fine tune it with nos tubes, or sometime a different speaker.


    Just something to keep in mind.


    I personally wouldn't call the STR-Tweed boxy. Maybe not as large sounding as amps with bigger cabs. I imagine the point was to design a compact amp with good tone, somewhat flexible, and light weight.



    I really love the SST-30. That amp is a beast!
     
  20. DoctorBob

    DoctorBob Member

    Messages:
    433
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    If you play the STR-Tweed at volume (about 1/3 the way up will handle a jam session and still be too loud!) and flip OFF the gain and keep the ridiculous (meaning way too strong) reverb at a minimum ,avoid pedals ,use a strat, you will discover a tone which is glorious--not boxy, not fizzy or mush; the key is keep the controls down and do not use the gain as the amp has enuff natural sustain and break-up to achieve that old tweed tone. I know people say EC used a silver face Champ for Layla but that tale is apocryphal and most folks think it was a tweed--in any case, the settings I've described emulate that type of tone.If you put on the gain and bang away it will turn to mush-like on the Humbucker Guitar You Tube demo-to my ears ,that type of tone is undesirable and easily avoided on these amps.I think these little Swarts are one-trick ponies so you ought to have some other amps around (you probably do!)---that one trick-if served up well-is a good one..
     

Share This Page