What's the deal with 18 watters?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by wordsonyou, Jun 12, 2006.


  1. wordsonyou

    wordsonyou Member

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    Like the title asks...
    I just picked up a really well built 1974x clone in tip top shape. I have now a/b'd it with the reissue 1974X and they sound similar. But being new to the 18 watter world my question is - what is the deal with these amps?

    I come from top boost land so please excuse my ignorance...are you supposed to bridge the channels and just crank her? am I supposed to like the clean tone (so far the clean tone is average I would say)? do these amps prefer buckers or single coils? what is the typical application for this amp?

    I alway wondered what the appeal was with these amps and so I picked one up to find out. I need you experts out there to help me crack the code so to speak. Any help/guidance appreciated...:JAM
     
  2. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Well .. personally I don't think the cleans are all that (although I've heard someone recommend using NOS EL84s to improve that)
    I like to 'crank' it up to get nice break up going.
    For mine single or bucker doesn't matter.
    I don't have 'true' 18 watters though.
    Sommatone Roaring 20s and a Maven Peal Zeeta.
     
  3. Bluedawg

    Bluedawg Member

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    My reissue 1974X has nice cleans with strats, but with humbuckers and P-90s it sounds best either low with just a little bit of break up or cranked. I really don't like the humbucker sounds in the mid range volume settings.

    All IMHO of course. YMMV.

    :)
     
  4. wordsonyou

    wordsonyou Member

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    I noticed that too - the only clean sound I liked was using strats...these definitely seem like niche amps, but as always when one breaks out of their own niche (in my case Vox style top boost amps) there is always some growing pains trying to attune to the new style.

    I also couldn't get anything but bucker muddiness at extreme volume setting. The amp seemed to really like minibuckers in an epiphone sheraton I was playing...it's weird how el84's can sound this different compared to a Vox...
     
  5. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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    The new TopHat Supreme 16 is a great sounding 2xEL84 amp. I use a s/s/h Strat-type guitar with it, which helps with the clean/dirty thing. The EF86 channel on the S16 really rocks.....the full EQ channel can be set for "mostly clean" by bringing the midrange control down. I highly recommend the amp......
     
  6. 56_Special

    56_Special Member

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    I love the cleans on my Ceriatone 18 watt tremolo. --Martin
     
  7. 57special

    57special Member

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    A properly built 18 watter should deliver stunning classic rock sounds with HB's and P90's. Strats and teles are a bit more work. Some beef up one channel with an EF 86, which adds a fuller sound. Celestions highly recommended.
     
  8. raz

    raz Member

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    What the 1974x does best is chewy overdrive. Whether or not you'll like the cleaner tones is completely subjective, as it is with any amp. For that matter, whether or not you'll like ANY tone from the 1974x or its clones is completely subjective.

    But what makes the amp so popular is its terrific, thick, chewy overdrive. It isn't a Plexi, it isn't a JCM-800, it isn't a JTM-45. It has its own voice and you have to take it on its own terms. If you're looking for a low-power Plexi, then there are variants of the circuit voiced to do that, some of which have been mentioned on this tread. But the 1974X and its clones are their own thing.

    Give it some time and play around with the controls more. If, after that, you still can't "crack the code," then it's probably just not the amp for you.
     
  9. wordsonyou

    wordsonyou Member

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    Thanks for the comments. I will definitely give the amp some more time. I will also try switching up speaker cabs. To clarify it is not that I don't like the amp, it is just that so far I don't "get it". Having said that I've only used 3 axes so far - a strat, a g&L asat special and an epihone sheraton - the sheri sounded really awesome, the asat which is usually my go to guitar gave me problems - I couldn't coax a great tone out of her and usually she is so easy going. I don't have an LP right now so I will have to settle for trying a duo jet through the clone.
     
  10. Reeek

    Reeek Member

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    The best dual EL84 cleans I have ever heard are in my vintage Sano 160R's (about 14-16 watts output but clean up to 6 with humbuckers). Period. I am one of those who can't have any amp without a good clean at a loud enough level to actually hear.

    So I am always a little leery about the 18 watter craze but only for that reason.
     
  11. raz

    raz Member

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    Huh. Surprised about the ASAT...my GDS clone hasn't found a Tele that it didn't love. But I've never used an ASAT.

    As for speakers, what are you running for drivers now? I agree with a lot of people that the 18 loves the Celestion Alnico Blues. That's what I run, in a Jeff Swanson 2x12. For a more agressive sound, I like the mixture of Alnico Blue and G12H30. A couple of Greenbacks is dynamite too, in a different way.
     
  12. wordsonyou

    wordsonyou Member

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    I've been running 2 tone tubbies - one hemp and one paper cone, but I will be trying it through two silver bulldogs in the coming days.
     
  13. 57special

    57special Member

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    if you're not running a Gibson type solidbody through it, you won't probably won't get it.
     
  14. raz

    raz Member

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    I disagree. I use it with Strats, Teles, AND a Gibson type guitar, and I think it sounds great with all three. In fact, I like it better as a strat amp.
     
  15. 56_Special

    56_Special Member

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    Yeah, in my experience, 18 watt Marshall-style amps love Strats. I should clarify something I said earlier. I said I love the cleans of Ceriatone. They are complex and interesting. But they have a lot of high mid content, especially as you move to verge of breakup. In other words, it won't give you one of the best loved kinds of clean tones, the mid-scooped Fender BF kind of tone. If that's what you're looking for (I myself love that kind of clean tone), you won't get it from an 18 watt Marshall. At least I haven't gotten that yet. Maybe with the right EQ pedal...

    Martin
     
  16. cr8z4life

    cr8z4life Silver Supporting Member

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    To me the 1974x screams classic rock ......the tones of the 60's - early 70's ......just bridge the channels - crank it .....including the tone knobs and you are in rockn roll heaven......thats what this amp does......
     
  17. Troubleman

    Troubleman Silver Supporting Member

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    Try a Budda Twinmaster. It's an 18-watter that seems to like both humbuckers and single coils throughout its volume range. It does have hi and low gain inputs, and I've gotten my best humbucker tones with the hi-gain input...

    Peace,

    jb
     
  18. dbeeman

    dbeeman Gold Supporting Member

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    I think the clean tone on a standard 18 watter is not great for most applications - a little thin and can be nasally.

    Rienhardt and some others add a treble/middle/bass eq on one channel. That is where you can get some really pretty cleans as well as even more overdrive. Mixing the two channels can really be nice. The transparency and in your face mids of the regular channel mixed with the sweetness of the TMB channel can really kick. Or set up the TMB for clean/edge of breakup and the std channel for some dirt and switch between the two.
     
  19. Troubleman

    Troubleman Silver Supporting Member

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    Again - with a Budda Twinmaster (at least with a strat), I'd beg to differ... Marshall 18-watter - yeah - you've a valid point.

    Peace,

    jb:BEER
     
  20. wordsonyou

    wordsonyou Member

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    :RoCkIn

    Something weird happened to me...I was not getting it...then I just cranked the volume to 10 and started laying in to the asat as hard as I could - and suddenly the amp rocked...so that's it!!! This amp is all about laying in...I'll save subtle and gentle for some other rig but this baby loves to be manhandled...
     

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