Too Many Amps, Need Suggestions

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by craigmccle, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. craigmccle

    craigmccle Member

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    I've been on an amp hunt for several months now and simply keep getting discouraged because of the number out there, but my inability to try and play them all next to each other. I think I'll just ask for some advice. I know that this may lead to more frustration as more people will show me even more options, but I'll try anyway.

    I'm a guitarist working in Nashville, playing for a few smaller Christian artists. Generally what that means is that I'm playing more rhythmic delay stuff than full on solos as Christian music has become incredibly U2 influenced over the last few years.

    I've had a Dr Z Stangray and Maz 18. I sold the Stangray and still have the 18. Neither one of them are quite what I'm looking for.

    The Maz is just a little lackluster (though I have heard others that sound a little better than mine, maybe I should have gone non reverb). The Stangray was great clean, but I found that I didn't love how it broke up or responded to pedals. I guess I could say the same for the Maz.

    I talked to Fred at /13 the other day and got his suggestions because a lot of people in town have told me to go with a /13. The only dealer here only has one model in stock and I don't think it's for me.

    Fred explained to me a lot about amp design and such and I now understand why I've loved El84 amps. The dynamic response of just how hard I strum and things like that control the gain far better than on other amps. I love the chime and swirl of El84s, so Fred recommended the RSA 31.

    My question is, is the RSA going to be too loud (I play mostly churches and the sort, my Maz is generally fine in a 1x12 format the Stangray was pushing it most of the time, especially with 2x12)? Is this a good amp for me? I've thought about going with the smaller version with the master volume. Anyone played one of these.

    I love Matchless and Bad Cat stuff, but generally it's way too loud and way too heavy to be practical for me at this point. I tried the Matchless Avalon and it had absolutely 0 low end in my opinion. Others here have disagreed with me, maybe mine was a fluke.

    Anyway, I mostly play a Les Paul and a Gretsch Country Gentleman (though I do play a tele and 335 from time to time as well).

    That's probably information overload, but that's how I feel right now anyway. Suggestions please?
     
  2. Bobbyoso

    Bobbyoso Member

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    I have had, and still have, a few EL-84 amps. The one that really has hit the sweet spot (for me) on so many levels--clean tone, overdrive tone, touch sensitivity, character, quality of build, weight, bloom, sag, volume range, etc.--has been a 2001 TopHat Club Royale 1-12", with SS rectifier, but with the "soft/hard" switch.

    Great, great little amp. Between the 2 inputs, I find I can get nearly every level of clean to pretty dirty with a couple guitars. It sounds great, but different, with Gretsches, Pauls, Teles, Strats. I know a lot of folks love the 2-12" version of this, and there are several generations of CR, all of which are great and slightly different. A number of people also recommend the Supreme 16, which is also a great amp. The build quility of all TopHats is scary good. The chassis on mine, and any TopHat I've seen, couldn't possibly be wired any cleaner.

    Definitely a hi-fi Voxish type amp, but the breakup is earlier than on a Stang Ray (2 EL84s vs. 4), and is really sweet clean or driven. Won't get Fender Twin loud and clean at the same time, but unless you're playing really clean in very big spaces and don't like running into the board, it's a pretty fine choice, IMO.
     
  3. Dr. Tweedbucket

    Dr. Tweedbucket Deluxe model available !!!11

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    I've been though a couple dozen amps in the last 5 years and what completely blew me away was the handwired Vox AC30 twin. I've never heard an amp reveal your playing like that amp can. A clean note just sustains forever it seems! It revels every nuance in your guitar wood, strings, pickups, fretboard wood, smudges on the back and playing ability! Another impressive amp if you are into more of a Marshall tone is the 2061X. What a great amp for the money! Another fantastic amp is the Mesa Lonestar Special! Very versatile!!! I can't even tell you how great an amp that one is!

    Good luck!
     
  4. paulg

    paulg Supporting Member

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    I find the 4 El-84s to sound very different from 2 El-84 amps. Cleaner, tighter and louder, but the big difference is the breakup chacteristic of the tubes. I'm not that fond of 84's in oversaturation mode. Lot's of people are, but it isn't my first choice in tones.
     
  5. tonesurfer

    tonesurfer Senior Member

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    Heard, played and owned a number of EL84 amps. I'd go with XITS or Goodsell.
     
  6. lumberg

    lumberg Member

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    Vox is nice.....any experience with Orange?
     
  7. FenderBigot

    FenderBigot Supporting Member

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    I'm amazed you don't like the Maz Jr... I tried one and love it (I wish I could drop $1200 on one, but not right now). I play a bunch of U2 and you really can't go wrong with any Vox flavored amp. Maybe look at 65 Amps London? I don't know your budget, but these things are supposed to be a mix of AC and US based amps like Fender.
     
  8. Eugene

    Eugene Supporting Member

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    I have an RSA31 (long box) running through a /13 cab with Blues. I don't find the amp to be too loud....I think you'd be able to do your church gig with no problems. If you're looking for the amp to grind a bit, you ARE going to have to start moving some air and dig in.....the Les Paul will certainly help!

    Its a great amp...I'm very happy with mine. Actually my brother-in-law is getting me a Dyna Ranger for Christmas to push it a bit at lower volumes...I think it will do the trick nicely.

    There's a couple of BEAUTIFUL RSA31 rigs in the Emporium.....priced very fairly.

    Good luck!
     
  9. craigmccle

    craigmccle Member

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    To respond to a few different things that you guys have said:

    paulg: I agree with you on the 2 vs 4 thing. I tend to like the cleaner and tighter part, without the louder. This is partially why I'm considering the RSA 31 that has the master volume.

    I also am not a huge fan of 84 breakup. This is something I was talking about with Fred when I called his shop. I think if I were going for my ideal tone, I would get his EDT 13/29 and be happy forever. But what Fred said was something to the effect of "There's a difference sometimes in your sound, and the sound you're getting paid for." I think I would be making a bad decision to move away from the sound that most artists and producers I work for are going for.

    Eugene:
    I don't necessarily have to get grind without pedals, I wouldn't mind just a hair of breakup, but full on crunch, no. In your opinion does the 31 take pedals well? And if my Stangray was generally too loud with 2x12 and blues, do you think the RSA would be?

    As far as price range, I'm fairly open. I wouldn't want to go much any more expensive than a new /13, but anything at that and under.

    FenderBigot:
    There are some things I like about the Maz, but it is just a little too muddy all around for my taste. I think I need a 4 EL84 amp over a 2. As far as the London, I've tried it, but it just didn't do a whole lot for me. It's been awhile since I tried one, so I don't remember exactly what it was about it I didn't like though.

    Thanks for the help guys.
     
  10. craigmccle

    craigmccle Member

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    So I'm really starting to lean toward the RSA 31, doing the smaller version with the MV, and probably his 2x12D cab.

    I have searched all over the southeast for a dealer that has one available that I could even play. Am I crazy for getting an amp this expensive without buying it. Last time I bought an amp (Matchless Avalon) without trying it, I had to return it and lost money on the shipping. Frankly I just want this amp search to be over.

    Would it sound good with a 1x12 cab?

    So many of the people around Nashville are telling me go D13. I mostly fear it being too loud more than anything. Any final thoughts before I pull the trigger?
     
  11. picnic

    picnic Supporting Member

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    Maybe this is not in the league you are looking for, but I always thought a Mesa Lonestar Special was one of the best thoughtout amps built. Multiple power levels, great reverb, dirt on the Drive channel was just enough for me to make it interesting, BF/Voxy cleans. It's heavy, but the casters are heavy duty.

    I try to limit my amps to 3 for space and time concerns. The LSS took down a Sommatone R40, Maz SR 38 and a Bogner Metropolis. Great amp that can do a lot.
     
  12. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    I would check out a Vox AC30. A time tested classic!
     

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