At a crossroads:
I like my current rig, but I've recently had an all too rare windfall and am looking to take a great rig and tailor it a bit until it becomes indispensable. I currently have two MIJ Fenders, a Telecaster and a Mustang HH, through a Peavey 6505 (a.k.a. 5150) 60W 212 combo - stock speakers, upgraded tubes). This setup is really versatile, and the high gain is obviously where it excels - it's thick/fat, punchy/clear, saturated, and tight. As heavy as it is sonically, it's equally as heavy physically. It's a cumbersome beast to move, so I find myself craving two key advantages of a head/cab arrangement: the option of toting just a head if the destination has a cabinet, and switching between different cabs.
The guitars are great. I will never part with the Tele unless I find the Holy Grail of Teles (which I might have - more on this later). The Mustang's cool and the switching array is my favorite to date, but the smaller (vs. a 'regular' Mustang) body decreases sustain, even with a string through hardtail. This is kind of a big deal to me, since it's short scale build dampens the normal Fender 'snap' in the top end. Dang.
I've done plenty of research and comparison shopping and it comes down to a small pool of possible options. As far as amps go, I have it narrowed down to two manufacturers, both of whom I've had experience with: Orange and VHT:
- Orange OR15H. Single channel, 15W 2xEL84 Class A amp with four gain stages, 3 band eq, and gain/volume knobs. That thick, punchy 70's UK overdrive hot rodded with double the gain and great thump. It's the cheapest @ $500 and allows for a separate clean rig since it's a single channel. Sounded GREAT with G12T-75's.
- VHT Deliverance D120. Single channel, 120W 4xKT88 Class AB amp with dual gain controls (saturation/shape), 3 band eq, resonance, presence, and volume controls. No effects loop, but acheives an amazingly broad range of sounds as it's EXTREMELY responsive to control tweaking and picking dynamics. It's known as one of the most touch sensitive and playable amps. Transparent in the best way possible, with ample gain, and a HUGE, clean, driving quad KT88 power section. $750
- VHT 50/CL. Twin channel, 50W 2xEL34 Class AB amp with a 3 band eq for each channel, and a switchable 6-band graphic EQ (great as a mid or treble boost). It's got hi/lo inputs and cleans up well on either side even though it has two gain channels. It's big and tight, mega articulate, and capable of great jangle/sparkle as well as superlative clarity. $1000 makes this the priciest option.
- VHT 50/ST. Twin channels, 50W 4xEL84 Class A amp, no graphic EQ. More sparkle/jangle than the CL, and it's more akin to a Hiwatt/Vox hybrid, with plenty of drive, and amazing versatility. Smaller/more portable, and affordable @ $630.
I'm choosing between three cabs:
- Randall Lynchbox 4x12. A solid, 13-ply Birch straight cabinet, covered in simulated gatorskin with a gold grillecloth and metal skull'n'crossbones logo. Loaded with Eminence Super V12's, a very tight and highly regarded speaker. An AMAZING cab. $400.
- Marshall 1960B. Straight cab with a Desert Camo grillecloth and black Marshall logo. Loaded with factory Celestion G12T-75's, which would get X patterned with Eminence Swamp Thangs. $300
- Sunn Beta 202. Diagonal 2x12 straight cabinet, black tolex, silver grille panel, ported. Loaded with mismatched Jensen Mods. Smaller, light, rare/unique, and cheap! $140
I'm open to different possibilities/combinations but unfortunately don't have a way to try most of them in the flesh. Here's the three possible pairings I'm considering:
- VHT Deliverance D120/Lynchbox 4x12 = $1150
- Orange OR15H/Sunn Beta 202 2x12 = $640
- VHT Pittbull 50/CL/Marshall 1960B = $1300
Though the idea of the 50/ST through the Lynchbox is also growing on me.
With those options, what would you do?