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Need recommendation for small amp w/good cleans that works well with Rick, $500 budget

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  • Need recommendation for small amp w/good cleans that works well with Rick, $500 budget

    Have sought input on this on a couple of other boards, tossing out a line here too.

    Of my two amps, only half of one is functional at the moment. My 1980s Carvin X60 tube combo (one Celestion 12) has given up the ghost, started spraying smoke and sizzling one night and got the verdict today that it would take what the amp's worth on the market today to get it running and even then he couldn't guarantee it wouldn't require more work, so I am considering it deceased. My Vox Pathfinder 15 has the dreaded optocoupler issue that the little SS Voxes are prone to, clean channel is basically dead although it still works with the gain switch enabled, I can get it fixed or pick up another one pretty cheap in both cases.


    That leaves me sans a "main amp," although the Pathfinder actually had surpassed the Carvin in usage. I have about $500 to spend right now without going into hock, which I'd rather not do. Not a penny more.

    I'm looking for something small, not inclined to tote something 60 or 70 pounds around (Carvin got to where it about broke my back). I'm not a pro musician, not going to become one in my middle-age years either, am just a woodshedder who loves guitars and music. I sit in with groups occasionally and play a bit at church, which I guess would equate to a small club setting, in which case I mike through the PA if I need to get  over the drums, etc. Basically I need something that will work equally well in that kind of setting, and in a bedroom setting at "1."

    I'd prefer this to be a tube amp but I'm not married to that. I'm looking for something with good cleans all the way up the volume knob ... I'm basically a jangly, chimey Rickenbacker "rhythmer," to steal a word Lennon supposedly used one time; main guitars are a Rick 325v59 and a Tokai AST-56 Strat copy with GFS pickups, so it would have to mate well with those ... but still with a bit of snarl and bite when I push it, like if I wanted to use my meager lead skills to play "You Can't Do That," etc. Max high gain and distortion settings probably will never be used. It would have to take a compressor (only effect I use) well.

    I've looked at a Fender Pro Junior ... had a nice vibe to it, but this particular one was noisy as sin and didn't stay clean very high up the volume knob, started breaking up at about 3. Liked the simplicity of it, though.

    I've tried two Super Champ X2 combos, side by side, absolutely loved one and didn't like the other one, would actually be more inclined to do the head and 12-inch cabinet with that one.

    I've tried a Fender Mustang II (which I liked an awful lot for a solid state amp, but I'd probably go for the III) and an Orange Crush 35-watt solid state with a 10 (which was blah).

    Is there anything I've missed, new or used, that's in the price range and the sonic range I've described that anyone might recommend? Out of everything I've tried, the Super Champ X2 is by far my favorite.

    I've had recommendations for Laney VC30, Princeton Chorus 2x10 (supposedly works very well with Ricks), Tech 21 Trademark 60 and have had MASSIVE recommendations for the Roland Cube series, either 40 or 80 new or a used 60.

    And I know I'm in the ballpark of a AC15C1 here, but again at this moment in time, I'd have to dig really deep to get that extra $100 for a new one, although I'm checking Craigslist really hard every day. Plus I'm not sure that amp's not a bit "big" for my needs. (Have also considered Valvetronix, but reliability issues I've seen have me a bit concerned, would be looking to go new there to ensure warranty.)


    Thanks for any help!


  • #2

    Not sure what you mean by "good cleans all the way up the amp volume knob"....and then you say "I still want jangle and bite".  I guess it depends on one's version of "clean". "Good cleans" to me...would be a JC120...which has cleans all the way up, if you don't blow the speakers.

    Do you really play your amps "All the way up the volume knob"? Ive had a lot of amps...and have NEVER played on 11, rarely get them up to 51/2. If I need lower volume, I use a smaller amp. If I need big volume I use a bigger amp.

    Most tube amps don't stay "clean all the way up" and it's the reason we love them....we get good tube juicyness as we crank it "sweet spot".

     

    I'm not trying to give you a hard time...just trying to get in yor head a little bit.

    I've had a Mustang III for about a year or so....and I really like it. It sits next to a real 1964 Twin Reverb. So I have a "good clean amp" to compare it to. I like it becuase unlike other "modellers" it doesnt try to do everything under the sun. If you like Fender tones, especially vintage Fender....this will do it quite nicely for cheap. It throws in some very easy-to-use common FX and a couple of acceptable hi-gain sounds. It's very light and small...like you it's MUCH appreciated by me. It's an easy grab and go amp that will suffice in many different situtation. It will get plenty loud, though I can't vouch for diming it cause I never have. No need. I always reccomend a mic to PA when needed and possible.

     

    One huge issue I have with it is there is no external speaker out. The amp could easily drive a 4x12 and sound awesome. I'm a Fender guy...but they pissed me off with that one!  I have no partuclar complaint abou tthe speaker, but it could be difficult to change. They overlapped the amp compartment over the top of the speaker...my beloved EV 12l won't fit in I am sure.

    I was afraid of it's durablity and software, so purchased the UNLIMTED extended warranty. I don't see any huge quality issue just yet. This amp stomps the Vypers, and easily competes with or beats the Vox modelers.

     

    If you like Fender tones with a handful of easy FX and a bit of shred for fun in an easy grab and go package...the Mustang III will do nicely.

     

    EDIT: I forgot to mention one other thing....the Mustang (III anyway) does react to your playing like a "real" amp. You can get feedback (the good kind), as well as use your guitar volume knob. MY Line 6 HD 500 most often clinically and unspectacularly fades out quick, even with NR off.

    Comment


    • PRW94
      PRW94 commented
      Editing a comment

      Steve2112 wrote:

      Not sure what you mean by "good cleans all the way up the amp volume knob"....and then you say "I still want jangle and bite".  I guess it depends on one's version of "clean". "Good cleans" to me...would be a JC120...which has cleans all the way up, if you don't blow the speakers.

      Do you really play your amps "All the way up the volume knob"? Ive had a lot of amps...and have NEVER played on 11, rarely get them up to 51/2. If I need lower volume, I use a smaller amp. If I need big volume I use a bigger amp.

      Most tube amps don't stay "clean all the way up" and it's the reason we love them....we get good tube juicyness as we crank it "sweet spot".

       

      I'm not trying to give you a hard time...just trying to get in yor head a little bit.

      I've had a Mustang III for about a year or so....and I really like it. It sits next to a real 1964 Twin Reverb. So I have a "good clean amp" to compare it to. I like it becuase unlike other "modellers" it doesnt try to do everything under the sun. If you like Fender tones, especially vintage Fender....this will do it quite nicely for cheap. It throws in some very easy-to-use common FX and a couple of acceptable hi-gain sounds. It's very light and small...like you it's MUCH appreciated by me. It's an easy grab and go amp that will suffice in many different situtation. It will get plenty loud, though I can't vouch for diming it cause I never have. No need. I always reccomend a mic to PA when needed and possible.

       

      One huge issue I have with it is there is no external speaker out. The amp could easily drive a 4x12 and sound awesome. I'm a Fender guy...but they pissed me off with that one!  I have no partuclar complaint abou tthe speaker, but it could be difficult to change. They overlapped the amp compartment over the top of the speaker...my beloved EV 12l won't fit in I am sure.

      I was afraid of it's durablity and software, so purchased the UNLIMTED extended warranty. I don't see any huge quality issue just yet. This amp stomps the Vypers, and easily competes with or beats the Vox modelers.

       

      If you like Fender tones with a handful of easy FX and a bit of shred for fun in an easy grab and go package...the Mustang III will do nicely.

       

      EDIT: I forgot to mention one other thing....the Mustang (III anyway) does react to your playing like a "real" amp. You can get feedback (the good kind), as well as use your guitar volume knob. MY Line 6 HD 500 most often clinically and unspectacularly fades out quick, even with NR off.


       

      No problem about getting into my head, although you probably won't find much there, LOL!


      Basically, my sound is "jangling" rather than distorting, whether that distortion is sweet or grinding, so no, I would not be turning my amp up to 11 and expecting it to stay clean. And if I magically found a JC120 in my price point I'd probably snap it up in a millisecond, I know the ultimate Rickenbacker guy, Roger McGuinn, used one for years before he switched first to a POD direct to the board, and now I think he just goes to his Janglebox compressor and direct to the board. (If I were a pro and played a lot of gigs, that minimalist setup would be really tempting.)


      But I want a combo with a 12, even if it's the Super Champ X2 head with a cabinet, and I'm looking closely at the Mustang III, the Vox AC151 and the Roland Cube 60 or 80.

      Carvin's officially DOA by the way, would take what it's worth to fix it, needs transformer, all new tubes, filter caps and more, tech asked me how much I loved it and I said not that much. <img src=" title="Very Happy" src="http://www.beatgearcavern.com/forum/images/smilies/icon_biggrin.gif" /> Was a great amp for my needs but after 30-odd years it's fully depreciated so I'm shedding no tears. Didn't have the Internet at the time I bought it so I didn't know about the workmanship issues (they apparently took LOTS of shortcuts, maybe setting the stage for now), only the nice photos with Vai, etc., and good reviews in Guitar Player. Honestly, at that time the Acoustic 164 (I think) combo was out and getting a lot of press, and like the Acoustic this one had an honest to goodness graphic equalizer with sliders (which actually worked well at dialing in the right tone when you enabled it, especially in the clean channel and when you had the presence control dialed in right as well), for much less cash, which was the big selling point for me. Thought I was getting a poor man's Acoustic 164. But hey, again I got my use out of it.

      I have got some lines on used Vox AC15C1's under my budget. The Vox is tempting as (expletive deleted) because of how it supposedly pairs with Ricks and I've got stars in my eyes thinking about it, the only thing that would give me even greater stars is an honest to goodness AC30 with blues. I was looking for something more portable than the Carvin for the limited amount of hauling around I do, and the Vox would be about 12 pounds heavier (at the same note, though, a Fender Mustang III weighs exactly the same as the Carvin, 36 pounds, those suckers seem stout for SS amps although nothing with a 12-inch speaker is going to be really light, so I sure wouldn't be gaining any portability there), but it's not like I'm an invalid or I'd have to use a hand truck to tote it and "the Vox chime" is so tempting.

      The thing is, I've heard those Vox Class A amps (and I know some folks think they actually aren't, but I don't understand what they're talking about so I don't want to argue that, I'm admittedly going by what Vox says) run really, really hot, and I have limited space for my gear setup at home, and to have to run a fan behind the Vox to keep things cool would be problematic for me. I know all tube amps run hot, the Carvin did, it's inherent in the beast, but I've heard the Voxes are real scorchers, literally.

      Basically, I'm looking for the best compromise between all the factors ... sound and reliability of course being at the top, but also including portability and ease of use.


  • #3

    Following up ... bought a Super Champ XD, not the X2, store demo model, and am absolutely LOVING it. I know the conventional wisdom is change the speaker, but this one sounds better with every bit of breaking in, and I ain't touching it. I may go with some JJ 6V6's because I understand they improve the headroom a little. But this one exactly fits my needs!

    Comment


    • guitarcapo
      guitarcapo commented
      Editing a comment

      You want a Roland Cube 60













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