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Guitar Amp for under $300.

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  • Guitar Amp for under $300.

    I play acoustic with a church group. Martin DM (1999 model) with a pickup in the soundhole. The electric player has dropped out for a time, and so I have volunteered. I have picked up an old The Paul (1984) and am looking at Orange, Fender, Peavey, Line 6 Spyder. Plan to buy local, but reading the reviews on Amazon leave me lost. Looked at Orange 35RT, Peavey Vyper II, Fender Champion 40 and Mustang 40.

    Please give me some helpful advice. I am as technically adept as a piece of clay.

  • #2
    how large is the band? Live Drums?
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    • #3
      Live drums, electric keyboards, electric bass, two acoustic guitars, congas/percussion. Leader says something around 30 watts.


      • #4
        The Leader is probably thinking tube amp. 30 Watts is LOUD for a tube amp, the more power the better if you go SS. Is your amp going to be miked? Line out? Where are you located? Is buying used a possibility? A quick check of the local (St. Louis) CraigsList for amps $200-300 turned up Peavey, Marshall, Sunn, Fender, Vox, Bugera, Boss, Laney, Orange, and Jet City. I'd probably gig with any of them (well, the Laney VC30 is a VERY loud amp and it would be overkill). Check on what's available where you are and report back. FWIW, Line 6 doesn't get a lot of respect. I have a Roland Cube 80XL that I use in a church venue when I play electric. I bought it used and I like it.
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        • #5
          I owned a Gibson, The Paul with Dimarzio's. Loved that guitar and it sounded killer through just about any amp. The question is if you have foot pedals already. If you don't have a full set of pedals, I'd at least get a two channel amp so you have clean and drive.

          My buddy has one of those Line 6, 30W amps with a single 12. Sounds much better then the Peavey Classic twin he used to own. Its but built in effects and produces a wonderful variety of tones. My other buddy has a high end Line 6 with the 4X12 bottom. He's a metal head so I never get to hear the cleaner tones you can get with that amp. I'm not a fan of that amps low end tones either live or recording. It may just be the way he sets it up but my Marshall Valvestate pisses all over it playing live. (to the point where he's thinking about switching over.

          Those newer champs look like a good deal. If I were playing with a full band I'd likely choose the 100W twin version. The 40W might be loud enough cranked but Fender SS amps sound better when you run them at lower volumes. When you take a small one and crank it you start getting ice pick tones. If you take one with a higher wattage and run it at 50% or less, they sound more tube like.

          I have an older Red Knob 100W head I built into a 4X10 combo. I use a mix of speakers, one set has aluminum dust caps for bright tones. The other set are high wattage plain paper. The high wattage cant be overdriven by the head and remain clean. The combination have the warmth and drive to sound pretty good together. Fender uses very similar circuity in they're non modeling amps, same power transistors and preamp tone stacks. Not the highest quality builds I've seen but for its price range its durable enough to last. You don't see too many dead ones being sold on ebay considering the numbers being sold.

          Peavey's aren't my favorite amps, especially not for a decent Gibson guitar. They got weird tone stacks which miss the classic tones a Gibson produces. Very sterile and solid state sounding. You can get by in a pinch but they'd be the last choice on my list.

          The Mustang's are OK but you have to spend allot of time setting up presets that work in a live situation. If you set up presets at low volume in a small bedroom, then expect them to sound good live when you crank them up, its not going to happen. The gain and EQ need to be preset at loud volumes. Line 6 has Fender beat when it comes to this. They understand gain staging much better when it comes to modeling.

          Cant tell you about orange, Never used one first hand. Only heard one band that used them and that was long ago.

          The Marshall MG's are fine amps. The 30W is in your range and loud enough for playing with a drummer. Not a huge fan of they're drive channel, but the clean channel defiantly nails the plexi tone and sounds great with pedals. The amp isn't hugely versatile. You wont be able to tweak it to sound like a fender for one song and a vox on another. It does one thing great which is sound like a classic Marshall and has enough tweakability to get your instrument sounding right. The built in effects are basic but well balanced. (By the way, Marshall effects pedals are excellent. I own like 5 of them and thay all work well. The built in effects are on par with they're foot pedals)

          They do make the Code 50 which would be in your price range. It has the full gambit of amp modeling and effects. I'm still debating on getting rid of my Valvestate head and getting the 100W code head.

          The Vox SS amps are very good. My buddy has a AD120VTH head and the 4X12 cab with the stand and all. I got to try it out and the modeling was excellent. Vox really knows what they're doing when it comes to modeling. Even the small Stomplab boxes I own have killer tones.

          Vox amps make good use of mid drive tones. Excellent for classic rock tones. You can drive them up for heavier stuff but they aren't exactly metal amps which do the opposite and scoop mids. You can get excellent chime tones, jangle, cleans are spectacular. Extremely wide range of tones, especially when you add in the effect which are top notch.

          The only thing I'd mention about Vox SS amps is, they model many of they're classis tube amps using SS Circuitry. The classic tube amps were mainly designed for clean tones. When you cranked those old amps hum became a problem especially with the kinds or preamps and the tone stacks Vox used. (Especially with single coil pickups).

          The SS Vox amps duplicated the designs of these older amps very closely, not only do they have the tone but similar string touch and gain staging so they can in fact have similar noise floors and tones that boost hum frequencies. Fortunately they did add a noise gate that works exceptionally well and it quiets any hum that might be gained up when dialing up classic drive tones. Your Gibson has well shielded wires and humbuckers so hum wont be an issue. Great amps for versatility. They do charge a bit higher for the wattage range but its Well worth the money. The 40W VT will sound very tube like and you'll have an amazing adaptability for different types of music. The drives can be very creamy and smooth too. Very forgiving to guitars that have older strings and need setup work done. Of course when a guitar is setup right its like magic.

          In Summary,

          The Fender and Marshall - produce classic tones unique to manufacturers. The amps don't try and sound like other manufacturers, other manufacturers try and sound like them.

          The Line 6 does allot of things to sound great and does them all well. It can be tweaked to sound close to other amps but remains a modern sounding and more generic.

          Vox have a good deal of flexibility with both a wide range of they're classis tones, but enough range to get convincing good Fender, Marshall, Line 6 and even peavey tones happening. Not exact but listeners sure wouldn't complain.

          The Vox beats them all for realistic string touch/feel that tube amps produce when picking strings. If you didn't know it was solid sate, you wouldn't know it by the string compression. The amps work great clean, driven, and any place in between which is why I rate them high. Most other amps are one trick pony's with one sweet spot or maybe two if you're lucky. Anything else feels less then comfortable.

          The new Peavey's, I played an open jam party a few weeks ago. The other guitarist used one of the small 30W heads they make. Sounded like total crap to me. I cant guarantee you some of that was the fault of the guitarist. He was using an Epiphone Sheraton and he got nothing but screech and feedback howl out of the thing, especially at the end of songs when he failed to turn the volume off.

          He may not have known how to dial the amp up, but it looked like he was pushing it to the limits trying to match the volume of my Marshall. I was running well under 1/2 power so I was in his 30W range but he completely disappeared when the drummer played. I was kind of glad because he was not a very good performer and very poorly mannered. He never took breaks to let others play and he's the kind of person you like to accidentally trip over the power plug on during a song. Anyway, I wouldn't recommend the newer low wattage Peavey's for live. Total white noise Scratch tone.


          • Mikeo
            Mikeo commented
            Editing a comment
            I have a old Vox VT30 and it's a blast to play through. It is what it is as far as modeling amps go.

            They only made there a few years and then did and up grade, and the did and up grade again. I'm not much in to the high gain settings, cuase I'm not much into high gain guitar.

            I guess some folks had break down issues with the Vox modeling amps, but not me.

            I even gigged with it, but not much.

            I haven't checked out the new modelers by Vox.

            I grabbed on of these a while back too. The Yamaha TRH 10 classic. There's no foot pedal switch to jump between the 4 channels.

            I'd do a church gig with it, and a couple of mics to the PA. It's not very loud, but I did a few gigs with mine. I also got the travel bag for it. Traveling light those days. Toss it around your shoulder and you still will have one hand free to close the trunk, with guitar in hand.


        • #6
          Looking over your list, it looks like you're considering modelling amps except the Orange and the Mustang 40. The Orange doesn't try to be anything but what it is, same with the Mustang. My fellow praise band guitarist has a 75 Watt Peavey Vipyr IV and frankly it's like piloting the space shuttle. He spends as much time fiddling with his amp as he does playing. I'd just as soon have an amp with one good sound and a few effects. By comparison, my Roland is very easy to use, as are the Vox modelling amps I've tried. There's a knob to choose an amp model and a knob to select an effect. That's it. The best advice I can give is to take your The Paul to wherever you're thinking of buying and sit down with every amp in your price range. And again, don't rule out used.
          Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
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          Person-2-Person on the Web


          • #7
            Back in the day this was so much easier, Today you have so many choices it boggles the mind, I feel for you brother, When in doubt I always just stick with my old tried and true, But you don't really have that luxury as your not very adept with amps and haven't used a lot of them, And of course your looking for an amp with a background in acoustic guitars, In which case a PA is all you need, Electric guitars open a whole new can of worms when it comes to amplification, As now were not generalizing but specializing, So electric guitar amps tend to have their own personality as opposed to a PA which is neutral and sounds like the instrument or voice it amplifies, Or at least tries to. Todays solution? make one amp that sounds like a bunch of popular amps with a mess of built in effects and such. Will it sound like an old Fender Tweed when selected? Not in my opinion, Will the audience notice? not likely, Hell if you got grub after the service they're waiting on brunch and hopping you'll make it quick fer Christ sake, So you just need something that will get the job done, Is one better than the other? No its all just a matter of preference, But things to look for is that it has a line out or DI so you can go to the PA or mixer in case you need to, Granted some of your strip mall churches might not be up to snuff when it comes to a sound system but others have sound systems that could make Pink Floyd second guess theirs. So the fact your group leader suggests 30w? That's a lot of amp if talking Tube, and not too bad if SS, Both can get pretty loud. And speaker size will matter here, Bigger the speaker the more air it moves and the louder it can get without sounding like crap, So at least a 1x12, 2x12 better but I'll assume your a young strong lad, Hell I'm an OG and I still use a 2x12 tube as a grab and go, Another thing to consider here, How far do you plan to go with this? You could end up just buying good enough then discover you really like electric guitar, Then just good enough will leave you wishing you stepped up to the plate and bought something really good enough in the first place, There is no real simple answer here, Just buy what you like and roll with it,
            Last edited by doublecross; 08-08-2017, 08:20 PM.