Tungsten Cortez or Crema Wheat - Help me decide

Gallery

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,706
I'm torn...

I used to own a Cortez head. I wasn't using it enough because I didn't want to carry a head and cab. I played it often at home, but rarely with a band and never at a gig. I sold it with the intent to buy a Cortez combo. I like to travel guitar in one hand, amp in the other and no pedals.

Between then and now I've spent much time listening to Crema Wheat and Cortez demos on YouTube and I'm torn.

A little about me:

  • I'm primarily an LP and 335 player, but occasionally take out the Strat.
  • I rarely gig anymore because I have young kids now, but will most certainly get back to it as they get older. I do still get out and play with bands when I can, so I'd like to make sure this amp will accomodate that.
  • I don't use pedals for OD.
  • I always buy an amp with the breakup as my primary consideration, cleans are an afterthought

Cortez
Pros:

  • I know I love this amp and I really want another one
  • The interaction of the volume dials was very useful for me
  • The break-up tone was raunchy and glorious
  • I don't care much about cleans, but I did really like the cleans (although barely usable)
  • Volume at home when cranked was very usable

Cons:
  • It was usable at band practice, but I have no experience at a gig
  • Occasionally that 5E3 fartyness with my Les Paul was a bit much

Cream Wheat
Pros:
  • Tighter low end for my LP
  • More wattage for gigs/jams
  • More headroom - probably not a big deal for me

Cons:
  • No more volume interaction (I've heard?)
  • Not exactly a 5E3 (will I still love it like I did the Cortez?)
  • Will it be too loud for home use with the extra wattage?

I have already spoken with Adam and he has been awesome, but I'm looking for some practical user feedback.
 

bearbike137

Member
Messages
1,658
Cons:
  • No more volume interaction (I've heard?)
  • Not exactly a 5E3 (will I still love it like I did the Cortez?)
  • Will it be too loud for home use with the extra wattage?
The Crema Wheat is my favorite grab-n-go amp ever. I both gig with mine and use it at home. It's loud, however. You will likely need an attenuator at home if you want any break-up (I use a DR.Z Brake-lite). I can't play it above 3 at home. That said, mine has the Celestion G12H30 anniversary speaker, which has more head room. I prefer that speaker, though it takes a while to break in.

Yeah - minimal volume interaction between knobs - but that doesn't bother me. It sounds so great as is. The Crema Wheat retains everything I love about a 5E3 without the flabby low end. And I never met any amp that takes pedals any better.

Can you get out and try one?
 
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Gallery

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,706
The Crema Wheat is my favorite grab-n-go amp ever. I both gig with mine and use it at home. It's loud, however. You will likely need an attenuator at home if you want any break-up (I use a DR.Z Brake-lite). I can't play it above 3 at home. That said, mine has the Celestion G12H30 anniversary speaker, which has more head room. I prefer that speaker, though it takes a while to break in.

Yeah - minimal volume interaction between knobs - but that doesn't bother me. It sounds so great as is. The Crema Wheat retains everything I love about a 5E3 without the flabby low end. And I never met any amp that tool pedals any better.

Can you get out and try one?
Thanks for that. No unfortunately there are no local dealers. I only have experience with the Cortez because I owned one.


Listening to the demo videos and the comparison video (below), my main concerns with the Crema Wheat is that it sounds a little less raunchy than the Cortez (which is why I loved the Cortez), and I may go from comfortable home practice room volume with the Cortez to requiring attentuation with the CW.

 

big mike

Cathode biased
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
12,996
Sounds to me like the Cortez is a better fit volume wise.
 

elicxirmixer

Member
Messages
253
I play in a band with two guitarists, a bassist, drummer, and an occasional keyboardist. They're great musicians but sometimes we get loud (the drummers fault?). The other guitarist is the lead and he plays a Cortez. He plays an LP, an SG, and a couple of Strats through it, and he is loud and clear with room to spare. We play a lot of blues/rock so he's never totally clean, but definitely clean enough.
We only put the vocals and keys through the PA.
 

Robert Sands

Member
Messages
355
I have a Crema Wheat with the Celestion G12H30 and I live fairly close to you. Hunterdon County. No problem if you want to come by and try it out. PM me and we'll make it happen.
 

daacrusher2001

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,083
The cortez sounds pretty good in that video...I had a CW, fantastic when turned up. Too loud to get overdrive at home.

Is the Cortez super loud?
 

eigentone

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
7,563
If you go with the Cortez, it's easy to add a second speaker when/if you ever need more volume. There's not much difference going from 12W to 20W. 12W to 50W will give you twice the volume. Sounds like the Cortez was a good match for you -- go with it! There are ways to get the 5E3 to sag less than they are known for. I could never turn up my 5E3 at home -- without like 20 dB of attenuation. Take care of your ears!
 
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package

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
58
I've owned both and still own a Cortez. The Cortez is much more like a 5E3: fartier lows but glassier cleans and raunchier breakup. The Crema is loud. Too loud for a lot of gigs, especially if you get dirt from the amp. I like the 5E3 spongy-ness of the Cortez. There was a honk to the mids I couldn't dial out of my Crema, the lows are cut off a bit and a lot tighter. I thought it lacked a little sparkle. That said, I play in a very loud hard rock band and it hung in there with the other player's 50w JMP. The Crema sounds great wound up with a Gibson driving it. If you are going to play loud and dirty with Gibsons, get the Crema. If you play in the middle between mild dirt and Neil Young sludge-tone (and you don't mind the sag), get the Cortez. BTW, I've swapped speakers in both and like a G12H30 in the Crema and the stock T12Q in the Cortez best.
 

ledzep618

Member
Messages
4,753
Crema wheat is one of the best amps I've ever played, definitely the best in the 5e3 family. I liked to get it just breaking up then hit it with a boost for leads.
 

ES330

Member
Messages
5,219
Maybe the Crema Wheat will be an amp you would use years from now,
the Cortez is something you'd use today with size/space and sounding good at low volumes.
 

joesnewmatch

Music Is My Soul Food
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,489
Cortez guys - how does it sound at bedroom level? Anyone use an attenuator with their Cortez?

I've been on the hunt for a bigger tweed than my baby Swart and I'm considering a 5e3 variant. It must get along with humbuckers and singlecoils.

I should add that I play lead electric on blues, classic rock, and some alternative tunes, with three other guys who play electric, bass, acoustics -- but no drummer. I usually just use my Princeton Reverb and pedalboard.
 

cortez42

Member
Messages
103
I got the 25 watt version of the Cortez as the main group I play with has quite a loud drummer and I didn't want to have to worry about ever needing more volume. I've never tried the standard Cortez but the 25 watt is certainly more than loud enough to keep up with any band setting, probably overkill if you're not playing with a drummer. It came with 6L6s and 5AR4 rectifier which pushes it to 30ish watts and keeps the sag at just the right balance I like. You can tweak the sag and breakup characteristics quite a bit by changing power and rectifier tubes with this amp.

Attenuator is a must for playing at home or small practice spaces. I have a DR Z Brake-Lite that's velcro'd inside the cabinet...it's super easy to adjust on the fly given your situation and it's not an external box you have to worry about lugging around. I basically use it as a master volume so I can attenuate for lower volume breakup or bypass it with the amp set low for nice loud cleans. I've also used a Weber MiniMass if I need to get real, real quiet for home playing.

I've also thought how a CW would be in comparison. The CW's cleans would probably be the biggest reason I'd consider it. However, I always prefer the raunchy breakup of the Cortez over the samples I've listened to and the Cortez's cleans are enough cleans for my liking.
 




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