New Blues amp... where to start?

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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby strathound » Fri Sep 18, 2009 10:05 pm

lpdeluxe wrote:I'm not familiar with modeling amps, but I have had a Line 6 Floor Pod Plus for a couple of years. I bought it for the wah and easy access to effects, but curiousity led me to trying out the amp model presets. I have concluded that they are too cartoonish for me. Do players really want to sound like that?


I'm a tube amp guy (Fender Vibrolux). But I've owned a POD and I currently own a Tonelab LE. I bought them because I was toying around with playing in a cover band and wanted to be able to comp more styles than I currently play. Straight out of the box, the presets on the POD aren't that great unless you like high overdrive stuff. But I've heard some people do some amazing SRV type stuff using some custom presets. I've also been experimenting with solid state amps with my hollow body guitar to get a cleaner / jazzier sound following the lead of some of the great jazz guitar players. That's led me full circle back to my Tonelab LE that I run through a mixer and out my PA system when I rehearse. And I'd say it sounds pretty darn good. I don't like my strat through it too much. But the jazz guitar sounds pretty good.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby lpdeluxe » Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:35 am

strathound wrote:I'm a tube amp guy (Fender Vibrolux). But I've owned a POD and I currently own a Tonelab LE. I bought them because I was toying around with playing in a cover band and wanted to be able to comp more styles than I currently play. Straight out of the box, the presets on the POD aren't that great unless you like high overdrive stuff. But I've heard some people do some amazing SRV type stuff using some custom presets. I've also been experimenting with solid state amps with my hollow body guitar to get a cleaner / jazzier sound following the lead of some of the great jazz guitar players. That's led me full circle back to my Tonelab LE that I run through a mixer and out my PA system when I rehearse. And I'd say it sounds pretty darn good. I don't like my strat through it too much. But the jazz guitar sounds pretty good.


I confess that the amps I own (tube and solid state) do the job, and I'm not tempted by the models. But I love the fact that I can, in the course of a set, have a great sounding wah, a tremolo for special effects (we were doing one song that ended on a Cmaj7: I'd hit the open B and E strings while triggering the tremolo) and the option of other effects as the material demanded without covering the floor with pedals. There is also the occasional song where I want a specific tone that's not easily found on my amp of the evening, and in that case I'm not above pulling up the "tweed blues" sound, for example.

But the problem with the Floor Pod Plus is that you have to anticipate what you'll be doing, and set up the parameters for specific effects before the set starts. Pedals are superior in that you cam tweak them on the fly.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby rustyslide » Sat Sep 19, 2009 12:25 pm

maxx england wrote:Modelling amps, I don't know. Once you start giving yourself over to the amp and the technicians who designed it, where do you fit in? How much sound is you, and how much is Engineer Itchinaka?


Some engineer designed your favourite tube amp, too.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby thunda1216 » Sat Sep 19, 2009 10:09 pm

But the problem with the Floor Pod Plus is that you have to anticipate what you'll be doing, and set up the parameters for specific effects before the set starts. Pedals are superior in that you cam tweak them on the fly.


+1. My xtLive is a lot of fun, many tones abound. You *do* have to spend time with it and tweak. However, you can't change the modulation or other effects on a particular patch on the fly. You have to set up specific tones/effects and remember where they are. For gigging, or particularly a jam type situation, individual stompboxes and a real amp will do a much better job.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby maxx england » Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:50 pm

rustyslide wrote:
maxx england wrote:Modelling amps, I don't know. Once you start giving yourself over to the amp and the technicians who designed it, where do you fit in? How much sound is you, and how much is Engineer Itchinaka?


Some engineer designed your favourite tube amp, too.


This is true, but I think you know what I mean. It's too easy to submerge the signal from the pickups and the interplay between body and strings when you layer one thing over another. Besides, I don't do complex, I get confused too easily.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby bmarti2001 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 3:23 pm

Peavey has a new class of Tube amps that sound great for a great price. The Peavey ValveKing Royal 8 I love, it has a tone and gain knob so you can really push it into OD. And if you are playing with buddies 5 Watt is very loud.

A step up for small shows would be the Windsor. And if you want a great amp, the Peavey Delta Blues sounds great.

I know I sound like a salesman, but I just really like the Valve king and Delta Blues.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby Alton » Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:08 pm

I've owned/played a lot of amps over the years and either a SS or a tube will do the job well. Still, I pretty much stick with the tube amps. I find a greater richness or depth of tone, better response allowing for more nuances. I still think Fender has the best clean tones. Take your time and listen carefully to a bunch of different amps. Don't pay attention to the name brand on the box or the components. Your ears are the ONLY true judge of sound and no one can hear the name plate no matter how much they think they can.

Currently I have an Epiphone Blues Custom 30 which required a lot of tweaking on my part to get the sounds out of it that I just knew it could produce. I had to change the tubes out a few times because the stock ones were just yuck and then the fine tuning of tone. Then I got inside of it and clipped a couple of capacitors to trim back the high end. this amp is Class A/AB amp. 15 watts in Class A and 30 watts in Class AB. I like the Class A configuration best. During all of this the speakers (Eminence Lady Luck made specifically for this amp) finally reached their break-in level and they sound amazingly good. Now it sounds just too sweet especially when driven by a mid powered humbucker. I bought this one real cheap because it's case was damaged ($150). I have a small wood shop so building a new box was not a problem but it was my adventure in applying Tolex. So a little sweat equity and about $250 (including tubes) out of my pocket got me a real keeper amp.

I also own a Mesa Boogie 2x12 combo, a Nomad 45. This amp was panned by a lot of folks on a popular forum. Too bad for them. This thing has 3 distinct channels that can be set up in any way you like. On top of that each channel has a switch that alters the sound from "vintage" to "modern". It merely changes the gain structure by switching in/out another tube in the preamp section. In effect you get 6 channels. The clean settings are decent but not like a Fender. The dirty is just incredible! Very responsive. Soft and sweet or snarly and nasty. It sings, it cries. I just really enjoy this amp. The third channel is the trickiest as it's like an ultra-drive channel. It takes a lot of knob twisting to dial in the tones but once you hit that spot hold on! Overall this amp will give you just about everything you might want but it demands that you take the time to get to know it. Though this model is out of production, Mesa still supports it as the components are all pretty much stock for Mesa amps. You can find these used for about $400-$500. Make sure it comes with the footswitch and cable.

I had a fender Hot Rod Deluxe which was great for cleans but just wouldn't give me the dirty tones I wanted unless I turned it up to the typical incredibly LOUD levels Fenders can achieve. Great tones then but too loud for a lot of local venues.

2x12 tube combos are HEAVY! About 80 pounds (36kg) and the ones I have only have top handles. But I'll suffer for the sound. Solid state amps will lighter. I like 2x12 combos because I get a better bass response over a 1x12. I like 4x10's too but none were available when I was in the market.

Tube replacement is an added maintenance cost but new tubes aren't all that expensive. Solid state amps do not have the heat issues that tube amps are prone to having.

In the end your amp is a hard choice because you have to decide if it is just an intermediate amp until you get something better or if you're looking for one that will be your amp for a long time to come. There will be all sorts of compromises to weigh regarding tone, flexibility, volume, size, weight, cost, etc. that all factor into your purchase. We all are, have been or will be going through these same things. Your amp is just one piece of the "tone puzzle" and one that only you and your ears can decide on.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby jeffl » Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:47 pm

The advice here about disregarding brand names and prices is spot on. The last harp amp I bought was a result of that kind of thinking. The music store had all their 5 watt amps lined up in a row on the floor, from cheapest to most expensive: from Epi's to custom shop Fenders and Victorias. I played harp through all 10 of 'em. Frankly, I wasn't gonna shell out $1500 for a "distressed" 5f1 or a Victoria, but I wanted to know what they sounded like. I bought the Epi Valve Standard and it has been one of the best little harp amps I've ever blown through. Even the salesman who was helping me was freakin' amazed at the sound comin' out of it. When he heard me blowin' through it he came over just to see which amp it was, and when he saw that it was one of the cheapies (about $275 I think ) he was astounded. Good advice Alton & others.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby birddog » Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:00 pm

Points for that.
I gotta real kick whan I read about Clay Kirkland's amp for a fraction of what some people spend.
http://bluesharpamps.blogspot.com/

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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby bottleneck » Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:01 pm

true stuff.there was a band i was in a few years back,the hired guns in philly.due to the setup and transportation,and other aspects, i used a solid state yamaha amp with that band for two years.it was a yamaha with built in parametric EQ.it seems like every harp player in the world(we were the house band for a fairly important venue at the time)and a lot of guitar players would come running up to see what kind of amp it was and what kind of effects i use.since i don't use effects and it was an asian solid state amp a lot of people were disappointed,but they loved the sound of that amp.

i use a bassman reissue for full size stuff,a pro junior for small stuff,and vintage danos for a lot of stuff.i also use solid state amps often because i travel by motorcycle.i get almost the same sound (to your normal audience's ears)out of solid state as i do out of tube amps.

another way to put it is:i sound almost the same with a hollow body through a fender as i do with a tele through a marshall.get the best amp you can afford,but it is nice to have a piece of %^&* too!

www.myspace.com/shakeylyman
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby bek1 » Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:27 pm

Since I sold my 50-watt Marshall combo I've been using a Roland Cube 30 solid-state modeller. I can't believe how much I like it, and although I far prefer what I get out of a tube amp, especially with a 12" speaker, that Marshall was more amp than I could use (or wanted to carry around!), and the Roland is much better than I expected. ALSO, I once met and visited with Mississippi Fred McDowell, and he had me carry his amp downstairs to a gig. It was a dinky Western Auto solid-state "piece of junk," but Fred was great, and no one complained about his tone. Houndog Taylor's tone was pretty raw, too, and lots of people love it and just figure that was his preference for cheap guitars, but tone is tone, wherever it comes from. I'm thinking about picking up a Kustom Coupe 36 1x12; versatile and pretty good sound. Don't hate me because of the blue sparkle tuck n' roll!
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby BigDaddybluesman » Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:16 pm

If you do not know anything about tube amps do not buy one.

Tube amps require maintenance.

Years ago tubes lasted for many years, now they do not. So you have to know how to replace a tube and the correct one to buy not to mention some amps need to be biased, even the ones they say don't.

There are some good solid state amps out there and unless you're a gigging musician playing at a certain level buying a tube amp is not the answer.

Buy an amp with a good history of not breaking down or one with a great warranty. Add a good OD pedal like a Boss BD-2 and you can get some great tones. Albert King and B.B. King both used solid state amps.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby maxx england » Sun Oct 11, 2009 1:45 pm

The rehearsal room I use has this Carlsbro, can't tell you which model, but we're waiting for it to fail again, even though it never goes flat out. I think it was just the one model, but the comment above about known reliable amps holds true; nothing ever, ever, fails "conveniently", it will always go at the worst possible time, so you need kit that works under all conditions.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby goldbrick » Sun Oct 11, 2009 2:56 pm

At home or recording I only use tube amps because you can hear the natural compression and sag.

Gigs I generally use solid state with tube trem or od--- These are usually bar, cafe or smaller outdoor gigs that have a level of background noise that would make carting and playing a heavy tube amp a waste


Lets face it, only other musicians give crap about the esoterics of tone at a gig.

If you can stay in tune, keep the beat and keep the audience interest you will do well
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby lpdeluxe » Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:03 pm

I don't really agree with that: when my tone is good I play better. Your argument is similar to the one in the recording field: "Why worry about resolution -- it's all going to end up as an mp3 anyway." Garbage in, garbage out.

I take a good sounding small amp and mic it into the PA. I like the sound, I play better, overall the music is more enjoyable.
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