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Trying to find the right amp for me. Vox, Fender.

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  • Trying to find the right amp for me. Vox, Fender.

    I am looking for an amp to play in a band with a loud drummer. I'm gong for a clean, chimey, sparkley tone a bit like Johnny Marr in the Smiths, Tom Verlaine & Richard Lloyd from Television, but also with some overdriven amp tones for leads as I am not a big pedal user.

    Would an AC30 get me there or a Fender? I'm on a budget of around $500 - 700.

    There are quite a few used amps for sale locally around that price range including Vox AC30cc2, Fender Hot Rod Deville 4x10 and 2x12, Fender Super Reverb Reissue, Fender 75 1x15 combo, 80's Fender Concert head, 60's Fender Bandmaster head, Peavey Delta Blues combo.

    I can use a head with a friends 2x15 Bassman cab but a combo would be much more convenient.

    Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  • #2
    Johnny Mar used Mostly Twins. His gear setups are here. http://www.smithsonguitar.com/2008/1...arrs-gear.html

    TELEVISION'S GEAR Richard Lloyd still plays the same '61 Stratocaster with jumbo frets that he played on Marquee Moon and Adventure, although he takes a '62 reissue Strat and Tele on the road. On the new album's "Rhyme", he played a rare black f-hole Gretsch. Lloyd tends a stable of vintage Fender amps, including a '50 Deluxe, a '52 Pro, a '55 Tremolux, and a '56 Princeton. He also uses a '59 Ampeg Jet, a Vibraverb reissue, and a '65 Supro. Live, he relies on Vox AC30s: "You can change the current wherever you are without a transformer, so they're good the world over, and they have a nice high-end bite." Save for a few dinosaur pedals, Lloyd avoids effects, citing the dangers of "processors that make your guitar sound like Velveeta." And though he's a diehard fan of amp distortion, he admits, "I'm always fighting to get a combination that won't really distort the tonality of the guitar, but will just give you the edge you're looking for."

    Tom Verlaine cracks up when I pop the gear question: "I'm gonna make up really great lies for you," he howls. "Fuzztones and Marshalls!" Actually, Tom is a longtime Fender Jazzmaster player: "They're really problematic tuning-wise, but they were the cheapest guitars in the '70s, so I'm used to them." Stray cats include a Stratocaster, a Harmony 12-string, a Vox with built-in fuzz, vibrator and tuner, a "Kay thing", an Al Caiola Epiphone, and a Monkees Gretsch.

    In concert, Verlaine plays through either Fender Super Reverbs (also used on Marquee Moon) or Vox AC30s, but for Television he went with a Valvetronics tube amp made by the group's amp technician Robert Darby, although Super Reverbs, an Ampeg Jet, and a Silvertone amp all made their way into the mix. For effects, he brought his usual "trunkload of total garbage stuff", which includes Echoplexes used as preamps, "just to goose it up." Verlaine's full-bodied tone starts with the strings: What began as a way to keep his Jazzmaster in tune has become a wide proposition—.015s or .014s on the top to .054s down low.
    No one can make decisions for you in the end. I always use the analogy of gear as simply being a tool. You can hand a hammer to an amateur and he cant pound a nail in straight without bending it, no less build a dog house. Hand it to a pro and he'll build you a mansion.

    Same goes for gear. You can hand the best amp and guitar to a beginner and it will sound like fingernails on a chalk board. Give a cheap piece of crap guitar and amp to a pro and he'll blow your socks off with it. Best you can do is target what you want to look at and then go try them out. From there you have to use it for a couple of years just to become familiar with what you can and cant do with them.

    An AC 30 is a great amp for jangle and/or drive. It eats tubes quickly however. Fenders are cool but you have to get the right amp for the right power ranges. I've played with drummers who could shatter cymbals they hit them so hard. Never had a problem keeping up with them using my old Bassman 50W or 50W Marshal plexi.

    For a 30W amp I'd need really efficient speakers to get enough clean tones. If you buy solid state you want to get a higher power rating then a tube amp. Example, my 100W Valvsate Marshall sounds best running at about 50% up. That's a match for my 50W bassman or Music Man amp running 33% Tube amps are rated by how much clean, undistorted wattage they can produce which means you often have an additional 30~50% additional gain there once the amp begins to saturate. You can turn a SS amp all the way up many time with no distortion but its sweet spot for tone may only be half power so running a 100W head at 50W is fairly normal. Getting a 30W SS may have a sweet spot at 15W and a 30W tube may be sweet at 25W.

    You just have to try them to know what works for your style and most importantly your specific guitar.

    Comment


    • #3
      They use the Vox AC30 and various Fenders such as the Twin Reverb, Pro Reverb, Vibroluxe, and Deluxe Reverb. Johnny Marr also uses a Roland Jazz Chorus 120 and Mesa Boogie Mk I and Mk III sometimes. If you're looking at convenience, both Hot Rod Devilles come in at about 50 lbs., 15-20 lbs. lighter than the other Fender and Vox combos. Peavey makes a great amp but I'm not sure you'll get the sound you want without a speaker swap at minimum.
      Last edited by DeepEnd; 09-07-2016, 03:40 PM.
      Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
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      • #4
        Yeah, I feel like I'm probably over thinking this. It would be much easier if I could just have all of Richard Lloyd's vintage amps! I'm leaning towards an AC30 or Super Reverb reissue. The only thing stopping me is somehow feeling like I'm missing out by not getting a hand wired amp...

        We'll see...

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        • #5
          I'd be impressed if you could get either one of those in decent shape for under $700.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by thatsbunk View Post
            I'd be impressed if you could get either one of those in decent shape for under $700.
            He might get lucky. There's a used AC30 on the local (St. Louis) CraigsList for $600 (http://stlouis.craigslist.org/msg/5731513149.html). No Super Reverb under $800 though.
            Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
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            • thatsbunk
              thatsbunk commented
              Editing a comment
              Yeah I just looked at used pricing on the ac30's. Didn't realize they could be had for that kind of $...

          • #7
            first tell the drummer to turn down, all the band members will thank you in the long run

            an ac30 is a hell of an amp, damn i'm lovin it, but its ear bleeding loud, so in a small rehearsal space like ours you don't get it louder than 2 or the other band members will kill you, it still sounds nice but its not the same if you can crank it...

            for your situation any amp can fit or wouldn't, mostly its depending on your taste and how you use it

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            • #8
              Fender Mustang amps cover a lot of ground and are within your price range.

              The Mustang IV is a 2x12 combo with lots of power and does a nice Twin Reverb (without the weight or any tube related hassles) but is a bit bulky. The Mustang III is a single 12 combo with the same versatile preamp and puts out 100 watts.

              http://intl.fender.com/en-CA/series/...ng-iv-v2-120v/

              http://intl.fender.com/en-CA/series/...g-iii-v2-120v/

              As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
              from the deepest hell to the highest states.

              It is up to you which one you choose to explore
              .

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              • #9
                I had a 2x12 deville. I'd does the fender clean thing in spades & will keep up with any drummer. The only reason I got rid of it was I got tired of lugging it's weight around (although all the amps on the op's list require a strong back).

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                • #10
                  Originally posted by ryanward84@gmail.com View Post
                  The only thing stopping me is somehow feeling like I'm missing out by not getting a hand wired amp...

                  We'll see...
                  Don't buy into that hand made crap. Its Pure Voodoo BS used to sucker ignorant people into spending more for their product. Hand wiring does not equate to a better build or better sound. Its simply an incompetent used car salesman hook used by non electronic educated salesmen which has absolutely no basis in reality.

                  You can have just as many bad wiring jobs done by hand as you can assembly line built. In fact the quality of assembly line, robotically built with computers has a much lower failure rate then anything man can do by hand today.

                  I'll also add Tube amps are a dead technology and has been for a long time. Guitar amps are one of the few exceptions but even there your big mass produced amps are not being built by highly qualified techs any more. Any Technician worth his salt would have bailed out of that industry many decades ago (like I did) Unless he just cant measure up in the newer technology and likes working for minimum wage.

                  What It really comes down to the specific amp design and component quality that makes for tone. Yes you can spend $5000 on a hand built amp, but $4500 of that is labor and markup. You can gut the same amp for $500 that's assembly line built and do an blind A/B comparison and not be able to tell the difference.Yo0u can probably spend another $250 on upgrading it and blow the doors off that same boutique amp.

                  Of course if you're objective is to simply support techs like myself by bankrolling their business, then I'll be happy to bank your money if it makes you feel good. I just cant be as devious as others and tell you hand wiring does a dam thing to make the amp sound better. Best advice is get past that fantasy and focus on the quality of the completed work instead of how that work instead of who or what got the amp built.
                  Last edited by WRGKMC; 09-08-2016, 10:32 AM.

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                  • #11
                    Originally posted by WRGKMC View Post

                    Don't buy into that hand made crap. Its Pure Voodoo BS used to sucker ignorant people into spending more for their product. Hand wiring does not equate to a better build or better sound. Its simply an incompetent used car salesman hook used by non electronic educated salesmen which has absolutely no basis in reality.

                    You can have just as many bad wiring jobs done by hand as you can assembly line built. In fact the quality of assembly line, robotically built with computers has a much lower failure rate then anything man can do by hand today.

                    I'll also add Tube amps are a dead technology and has been for a long time. Guitar amps are one of the few exceptions but even there your big mass produced amps are not being built by highly qualified techs any more. Any Technician worth his salt would have bailed out of that industry many decades ago (like I did) Unless he just cant measure up in the newer technology and likes working for minimum wage.

                    What It really comes down to the specific amp design and component quality that makes for tone. Yes you can spend $5000 on a hand built amp, but $4500 of that is labor and markup. You can gut the same amp for $500 that's assembly line built and do an blind A/B comparison and not be able to tell the difference.Yo0u can probably spend another $250 on upgrading it and blow the doors off that same boutique amp.

                    Of course if you're objective is to simply support techs like myself by bankrolling their business, then I'll be happy to bank your money if it makes you feel good. I just cant be as devious as others and tell you hand wiring does a dam thing to make the amp sound better. Best advice is get past that fantasy and focus on the quality of the completed work instead of how that work instead of who or what got the amp built.

                    So what do you think specifically about the models I mentioned? The Super reverb Reissue and Vox ACcc2?

                    How does their amp design and quality stand up to say a 60's blackface or Made in England Vox?

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      I've worked on many vintage Vox's, in fact the shop I worked at had a ton or old ones stacked up in piles because they blew up so often and no one wanted to pay to have them repaired so they just abandoned them. The reissues are much better builds then the original ones using modern components.

                      As far as a Blackface, I've owned one since 1967, original owner. I've blow the screen resistors several times due to my own ignorance as a kid running the impedance too high. Compared to a Silver face which I also owned (I ran a black and silver together for about 5 years) They were identical in every way and every component except for the face plate. Those Bassman heads had great designs taken right out of the radio engineers handbook. Transformers are excellent and that's the main reason so many have survived.

                      Most of your Fender amps using 6L6 tubes are very similar. They vary with things like reverb and tremolo but the components are all about the same. You learn to work on one and you can fix most of them. There are a couple of different circuit versions of course. They basically change between the brownface blackface and CBS eras with a gradual changeover to some dogs like the red knob series in the 70/80/ and back up in quality to the present day.

                      Your bottom end SS Fenders are all Asian or Mexican made now, but they are past the early Red Knobs and have come up with some solid designs even in the cheapest amps. The tube series are the same circuits they've always used. The only difference is many of the components are improved. They have better quality caps, resistors. Transformers are built the same. If anything the pots may have plastic wipers instead of the original metal type which last forever, but that's not a huge deal. You'll still get a dozen years trouble free operation.

                      I'm not much for amps with built in effects like the Mustang series either. Computer logic built into an amplifier puts you completely out of business when they go down. If you have separate effects and they go down you can still play through the amp. If the amp goes down you still have your effects to plug into another amp. Repairs on complex amps can only be done at the factory which means the amp is scraped due to factory repair costs. A tube and even many SS amps can be repaired by most competent techs so long as there are no oddball/unique parts.

                      The bigger differences between vintage and modern is the speakers. Fender used a couple of different vendors and kept them bidding against each other. Most were based on Jensen designs but you could also buy top notch speakers like Altec and JBL which doubled the quality and price of the amps. (another sales tactic - demo an amp with the good speakers and sell them an amp with the budget speakers at the same cost) The speaker choices today are fantastic. You can take any mediocre amp and make it sound much better with a speaker swap out (just like you can improve guitars with pickup changes)

                      As far as the Super Reverb goes - Its a wonderful amp but for the price they sell I'd go for Fenders Holy Grail of 4X10 amps which is the Bassman Brownface Reissue. Much better circuit design then the Black or Silver Faced amps because the rectifier tube gives it the right sage and saturation. Its got to have the Alnico Jensens though. I've heard some with ceramic speakers and it kills its tone.

                      My buddy had one of the originals and any place he played the sound men loved that amp because it was just so versatile micing and mixing. I think They make a bandmaster version too. Probibly has reverb and or Tremolo - but that stuff eats up headroom and wattage. The Bassman was just meat and potatoes The reissues have a effect loop for adding any kind of reverb or effect you need, the originals were often modified to have it added.





                      The other 4X10 amp I loved was the Ampeg VT40 which was a killer 65W combo that simply cranked.



                      Music Man was A Leo Fender design too. Johnny Winter used them for years. I have a 65W head and while I'm not a big fan of Hybrids. You want clean headroom it will definitely get you there.

                      Last edited by WRGKMC; 09-08-2016, 01:31 PM.

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                      • capitalist
                        capitalist commented
                        Editing a comment
                        +1 on Bassman. Not a big fan of red knob Fenders, but I played a gig with Steve Cropper a few years ago and his sounded okay to me. Perhaps it had been modified, IDK.
                        Last edited by capitalist; 11-26-2017, 11:56 AM.

                    • #13
                      Originally posted by WRGKMC View Post
                      Don't buy into that hand made crap. Its Pure Voodoo BS used to sucker ignorant people into spending more for their product. Hand wiring does not equate to a better build or better sound. Its simply an incompetent used car salesman hook used by non electronic educated salesmen which has absolutely no basis in reality...
                      The point to point wiring in the 'hand made' amplifiers makes them much easier to work on and also avoids the problems associated with printed circuit boards.

                      The most common problems I run across with the Hod Rod series of Fender amplifiers are bad solder connections and the input jacks coming loose from the circuit board. In both cases, repair involves removing the circuit board from the chassis - not something easily done in the field.

                      The old Fender amplifiers hardly ever have problems with the jacks and replacing the fuse and a screen resistor due to a short circuit in an output tube only takes a few minutes.

                      As WRGKMC often points out, the use of heat generating tubes and printed circuit boards with solid state components can often be a source of problems.
                      As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
                      from the deepest hell to the highest states.

                      It is up to you which one you choose to explore
                      .

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        ^^^^ It does come down to pricing when you factor that in too. You have to compare apples to apples. When someone says hand built, I consider that one guy building the entire amp. Fender amps had point to point but they were semi automated assembly line builds. You'd have much of that work going down a conveyor belt and one guy doing nothing but sticking pots in the chassis with wires attached, another guy soldering in the turret board connections, another installing a transformer, etc etc. Its hand built but factory built just like an auto assembly line. The untrained people got good at sticking a transformer in a chassis and bolting it in so quality would go up through repetition. Circuit boards can be built 100% robotically and the hands on is essentially plugging the various power connections in and checking operations. The quality can be very high in these builds because the machines building them have failure sensors that alert people when they make errors.

                        Again its a component quality factor vs profit there too. My Marshall for example is one of these kinds of builds but Its and excellent build with excellent components. I don't see allot of those amps being sold for parts. Others, especially the ones that are poorly built are seen by techs like myself and Onelife all the time. They have component quality issues by design.

                        I've seen plenty of horribly built point to point stuff in my day too. Back in the 60's to 70's a great deal of gear coming from Asia was all hand built and the quality of its was the absolute pits. I don't even know if they knew rosin was. I think they melted down Yen to solder the connections and there were so many bad solder joints you'd have a heart attack when you found one that actually worked.

                        That's why when people start doing the Voodoo Grooving over vintage gear I may sound like I'm flip flopping. There was some extremely good stuff and stuff that looked good on the outside but could be complete crap inside. Allot of that has gone away with newer imports though. Manufacturers have allot of experience contracting work to be done and when these factories botch builds they have to make good on the bad units so it pays them to hire competent people and train them to build well. They also learn by mistakes. If they get back allot of amps with bad jacks, they fix that problem in the next piece of gear they build. They dong go overboard, they still pinch pennies but they do enough to fix the gear within its Priceline classification.


                        Then there's the cost factor vs profitability. You may wind up paying double or triple for a point to point amp because of the labor involved. Tone and operation are identical to a PCB amp. If you have some technical skill, swapping a broken jack or pot is not that tough to do and only costs a couple of dollars.

                        If spending $1500 for an amp just to have better jacks that cost $5 each (or spending $25 to have a tech do it) then that's your choice. Personally I'll take the savings and invest it in something else. I'll likely get tired of that amp after 5 years and get something else before it ever breaks down.

                        Of course if you're a professional that tours and you need gear that's super durable, then going for super solid gear might be an option, but you have to bring in the streetwise part of being a musician there. I've only bought one amp new in 50 years which was my Marshall head. Everything else I bought either used or showroom discount. I pride myself in finding great deals at well below retail. Musicians who play out are always bartering gear, I'll trade you this for awhile with some cash, some guys on hard times so you buy his gear so he can feed the kids, you sell a musician a guitar for less then what you pair or even loan it to them when they are having hard times getting enough cash together for an instrument etc etc.

                        The music business in that way is a brotherhood. Many of your star musicians trade gear so they can have new sounds happening and they get to know other players values that way. Don't get me wrong, it can be risky when you're dealing with armatures and addicts. Make it a policy not to loan gear to people who cant pay you back when its damaged or lost, but an honest guy needing a hand up, its your obligation to help them out when you can.

                        Learned that back in my High School days. I helped a guy out leaning some songs and within 5 years he had a hit album and I was backing up his band opening up for him. He was probably the most unlikely person you'd eve expect to be successful. They remember too.

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                        • #15
                          As t_e_l_e mentioned, the AC30 is a lot of amp. Why not look into the AC15? On the Fender side, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest you look at the Bassbreaker 15 combo: http://shop.fender.com/en-US/guitar-...o-high&start=1. 1X12 40 lbs. If you need more Oomph, there's an XLR output for patching it into your PA. You can get one brand new for around $650.
                          Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
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                          Member of the Schecter Society
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