New Blues amp... where to start?

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

Postby texas blues » Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:44 am

lpdeluxe wrote: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.


Why that is just crazy talk! :D
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby leftyguitarman » Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:40 am

BigDaddybluesman wrote: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.


If you do not know anything about guitars do not buy one.

Guitars require maintenance.

You have to have them setup or know how to do it, you have to restring them and sometimes you have to tighten some nuts and bolts.

Unless you're a gigging musician, do not buy a guitar.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby lpdeluxe » Thu Oct 15, 2009 12:47 pm

Ha ha. My first amp was a tube amp -- back in 1974, it was difficult to buy anything else. It was a '63 Silvertone 1484 that cost me $40, and I still have it.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby birddog » Thu Oct 15, 2009 3:16 pm

lpdeluxe wrote:Ha ha. My first amp was a tube amp -- back in 1974, it was difficult to buy anything else. It was a '63 Silvertone 1484 that cost me $40, and I still have it.


Ah yeah, How many solid state amps from the 70's are still around and working ?
Probably why there is no such thing as a "Vintage Solid State Amp" :lol:
I souldn't say that as there are some really good solid state amps being made, I think the problem is when they break down its not cost effective to repair them.
Lets face it, they cost less and are mass produce. Suppose if your were going to buy one new a warranty would be an important part of the purchase.

However, a tube amp you can probably keep going forever. Maybe not some of the re-issue stuff so much without a lot more surgery and there has been quite a resurgence of tube amps.
Even the manufacturers have jumped on board. And as far as tubes go, they are more available than they were 20 years ago and surprisingly still alot of old tubes available.
different tubes can be swapped out for different tones, can't do that with solid state.

Some of the amps available today from some of the builders were never even dreamed about by Leo. :wink:

Its really a great time to play guitar, like anything you have to be willing to maintain things or pay someone. :mrgreen:

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

Postby lpdeluxe » Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:47 pm

I generally go with solid state for bass. Out of the last three bass amps, one was a tube B15N -- great sounding, but it also kept up the boat payments for the local tech -- and the other two have been S/S. The Ampeg was everything that's right, and everything that's wrong, with tube amps, starting with the fact that Everitt Hull was a fool for whatever oddball tubes the RCA salesmen were flogging that week. It required constant upkeep, expensive repairs (tried pricing an original output transformer?), and put out heat like hell's own bass amp.

On the other hand, all but one of my guitar amps have been tube. The old Twin Twelve is the reason techs love old amps to work on: point-to-point wiring (a real weakness of most modern tube amps is the circuit board construction), and Vacuum Tube 101 circuitry. I used to take mine to a local TV repairman when it started acting up.

And on the third hand, I have a Fender Jazzmaster Ultralight S/S that smokes most of the tube amps I have owned. At this point in time, I expect reliability will not be a problem. After all, I had a solid state stereo PA amp that I bought in 1982 and sold a few years ago: the ONLY problem it ever had was when an internal speaker lead came adrift and shorted out. The tech didn't even charge me to fix it. Earlier S/S amps were not so reliable. This was exacerbated by the practice of potting the circuit boards so that the whole catastrophe had to be replaced -- and when the maker went belly up, there were no replacements.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby bignick » Fri Oct 16, 2009 12:42 pm

Solid State is not always a bad option. My Dad is a solid state kind of guy. We have owned 3 solid state Fender amps and you can't beat the clean channel unless you have the money for a Roland Jazz Chorus. If you like a good clean jazzier or countrified tone, solid state is the way to go IMO.

Personally, I went down that road and tire of solid state quickly.

Like you, I didn't know shit about amps either but you will be amazed at what you can do with a little patience and some helpful guidance. I wanted a vintage silver-face Bassman in the WORST way awhile back. The problem was finding one that was early 70s and capable of being modded back to 60s Blackface specs. I found one for $275 shipped. I scheduled a daily ebay search and it just popped up one night and I bought it 10 minutes after the guy posted it. All it needed was a cap job - that cost me $20 in parts.

It was THEEE best equipment decision I have EVER made. Re-capping the thing was easy as hell. Anyone can do it as long as you know how to be safe. I use my homemade boost pedal in front of it and it is the ultimate bluesy tone for me.

Once you go Vintage Fender, there ain't NOTHING better.....unless you are a Marshall guy, then heaven help you. :)
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby lpdeluxe » Fri Oct 16, 2009 1:19 pm

I like variety, so I have several guitars, several basses, and a couple of Dobros. Same thing with amps. At the moment my herd consists of a Hartke bass head and cabs (not much to say, there), a modified Pignose G40V for amplified harmonica, the Silvertone, and three Fenders: the Blues Jr NOS, the Jazzmaster, and a new Band-Master VM that is awaiting a Weber 1-15 cab and speaker. I might get a Deluxe Reverb reissue, but for now, I'm pretty well fixed.

All are light weight (except the Hartke, and it's modular, so easy to move around) and sound really good for the guitars I plug into them ('70 Les Paul Deluxe, '00 335 Dot, '08 SG Special Faded). The BM/Weber is destined for the 335 -- I've been using it with the Hartke 1-15 but it needs a proper guitar cab to breathe.

I was told, back in about 1979, that the way to go is a Gibson electric through a Fender amp. After messing with many other brands, I have come around to believe that is the straight truth.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby texas blues » Fri Oct 16, 2009 1:22 pm

Heaven help me! For straight up rock, it's hard to beat a Les Paul/Marshall. And for blues and the tone I dig most, if there is anything better than a Les Paul through some tweed....I haven't heard it.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby almcg2 » Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:36 am

bluescentric wrote:So I've just got a little Behringer amp that I bought when I first started playing guitar. It's only redeeming quality is that it's got some switches I can play with to get distortion or keep it clean if I want (and I don't have any effects pedals, so it works out nicely for now.) Other than that it's an annoyance to me. I'm planning on shopping around for an amp, but once I made the decision... it dawned on me that, while I've been gung ho on the guitar, pickups, sounds, etc, etc.... I don't know jack crap about Amps lol.

So where should I even start?


First, try to sell or trade off the current amp for a tubed driven amp. You'll get that bluesy sound much more easily. It's true the player makes the difference, but if you're asking this question seriously, then you're most likely not an experienced enough blues player to get the sound you want on a solid state amp. On second thought, there is a solid state amp I know of that has a pretty damn good sound for blues. It's the fender M-80. I've got tube amps (Marshall JCM 800 (2203), Mesa Mark III, 1966 Vibro Champ, 1950 Gibson BR6F, and others, but the M-80 does a damn good job. I have the 1x12 version and this lil sucker has plenty of warm power plus a very good drive channel. I also have a Behringer 212 and it's loud as hell (120 watts) but not a bluesy amp. THe M-80 has a way better sound. You can get tube amps on eBay for between $100 and $300 that would do the trick. For bedroom practice, go for the low watt amps, under 18 watts. The ones around 10 or less break up earlier and you can get some great blues vibe going without needing pedals. A 60's to 70's Fender Champ will do a great job and they still have a reasonable price. Other brands like silvertone will cost less, not exactly the same sound, but not bad. Do an eBay search for "Vintage Tube". Craigslist is good to use too, since you can try before you buy. If you have the bucks, there are plenty of good (expensive) boutique amps out there as well as vintage amps that are always moving up in price. I have a 1993 Fender Blues Deluxe (40 watts) that I picked up for $300. Great sounding amp (if you use the right tubes) and has a very good resale value. I just recently ordered a Egnater Rebel 20 head. It has pentode/Triode switching, variable power from 1 - 20 watts as well as tube switching so you can switch on and off different sets of tubes. Picked it up on eBay for $340 (good deal). If you use this amp with a 1x12 or 2x12 cab using Celestion or Eminence speakers you can get some great blues vibe.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby almcg2 » Sun Nov 29, 2009 7:54 am

Bournio wrote:Tube amps aren't always the best option... If you're after a really clean tone with little distortion then solid-state amps are the way to go... tube amps (even ones with a gain control seperate to the volume) do distort more than solid state amps at a given volume, even if the pre-amp tubes aren't overdriven themselves

This is true, but typical blues tone is at least "some" breakup. I haven't heard many solid state amps that have the warmth needed for the blues tone most players want. You can play blues on pretty much any amp if you have educated fingers and good phrasing, but the "too clean" (almost sterile) tone of most solid state amps leaves a lot to be desired by most blues players. I think he would hit his blues tone more easily with a good tube amp and just a couple of pedals for a little spice.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby Alton » Tue Dec 08, 2009 3:11 pm

I was reading about this new amp/company on a couple of other boards I haunt. The company name is Jet City Amplification. You can check them out here: http://www.jetcityamplification.com/ Their first product on the market is called the JCA20H (JCA = company; 20 = wattage; H = head). This is an all tube head with no frills (NO DSP, No reverb, No FX loop, etc.) just simple plug n' play. It does have a master volume and a presence control along with the typical TMB controls.

I checked out 3 you tube videos on this unit and it kind of piqued my interest. The other day on the way home from I decided to stop into the local banjo shack (Guitar Center) because they were supposed to have already received a shipment of these new amps. They had one in stock and I had the sales guy hook it up to a 2x12 speaker cabinet. the speaker cab was an Egnater 2x12. To test it out I figured I'd used a cheap guitar and they had an Epi "faded" SG handy. I set all the dials at 12:00 except for the master volume which I put up at about 7 and the preamp gain I set at about 1. Great tone! Nice and clean with a little break up starting to happen when I turned the guitar all the way up. I fiddled with the tone knobs a bit and the amp responded well with quite a palette of usable tones. I then turned the master volume down to around 2 and took the preamp up to around 8. Great rock distortion! This might sound funny but the distortion was almost too smooth.

After noodling around on the guitar long enough to start to annoy the sales folks I figured it was time to get a brief blast of volume. Yeah! This will do gig volumes with room to spare.

The bottom line is that this Chinese made/designed by Mike Soldano (Yes. THAT Soldano - He's a partner in the company) amp comes in at $299.00 here in the states. I looked around the net for pricing and it was the same at all the usual stores. Sam Ash offers the combo (1x12) at $449.00 (might have been $499). I just really dig a 2x12 and I figure using a separate head and speaker cab will make the load seem a little lighter. Any way, I was impressed enough that I think I might find one under the tree come Christmas day...I'll just have to convince the wife that Santa really does exist and that he dropped by.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby Honeyboy » Tue Jun 11, 2013 6:01 pm

Boy picking an amp is so subjective. What sounds good to me may not sound good to you.

And even worse...

As time goes by, and your sense of tone gets more sophisticated what used to sound good won't sound good anymore.

I've had many, many amps over my 40 years of playing. Some of them I'm embarrassed to say I've even owned (Fender Prosonic). And many I wish I never got rid of (Ampeg Gemini 1).

But the point is you'll always be searching for tone and looking for something else.

My favorite amp right now is a Super Champ XD. Talk about versitile... I can get so many sounds out of that thing. It's a great amp for learning what sounds move you. You can get everything from Fender clean to Marshall shred, as well as everything in between.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby Jakeblues » Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:32 pm

Lots of good suggestions, but the big question is: What do you need it to do? If you're practicing in you bed room and occationally jamming with firends, something like a fender G-dec 15 will probably keep you happy for a long time. It will model most fender amps (and a bunch of others), has every effect imaginable, etc, etc.. You could probably get away with using it in a small club if it was mic'd. I say this and I am a dyed don't he's oil tube amp guy.

If your playing out, then you need to look for the amp that will give you the basic tone and stage volume you're looking for. I played with a silver faced bassman then later with a 75, both of which worked well for medium to large clubs that we were playing. For a dirty sound, I had to drive the heck out of the bassman, the 75 had cascading pre-amp stages and could go from clean to scream with the touch of a foot switch. These days, all I do is record, so I use a modeling direct box, and my amps collect dust.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby gatorblue » Sat Dec 14, 2013 5:31 am

stick with lower wattage (15-40 watt) tube amps -- Fender Blues Jr, Vox AC 15 (both 112) or the Peavey Delta Blues (115). You can over drive naturally and get great tone with all three. If you buy a high wattage amp, you will spend time and money on pedals to get the same tone while playing the amp at lower volume levels, and it won't sound as good.

90% of the gigs you'll play, you don't need more than 20 watts. Buy a low watt amp, turn it up to 8, turn your guitar volume knob down and play like that. When you play a solo turn up the guitar volume and it will scream for you. Trust me on this--you can always mic your amp in a big venue but you can't turn down a 60-100 watt amp enough for most venues and still have a good sound.
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Re: New Blues amp... where to start?

Postby Jakeblues » Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:35 pm

Great point about the wattage. I ran the 75 on lower power almost all the time. I think it might have been 15 watts class A, but I don't remember. (Never should have sold that!)
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