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  • What's the big deal with little amps?

    I'm sorry, I just don't get it. As long as I've been here I've seen so many threads go on for 20 pages about the latest greatest practice amp, whether its digital modelling amp or a 1/2 watt tube amp. I just can't get excited about anything with a speaker smaller than 10". So what if it's got 100 different amp models that sound like tiny approximations of blackfaces and ac30's? So what if you can get that one little tube hot? It still sounds like a tiny box. I have a microcube that I bought on CL for $20, only because my Squier 15 finally bit it after 20 years or so. So I plug into it and practice, or write. I never really expect much of it except to be quiet enough not to wake the kids or annoy the wife. And I always wish I were just playing the real version of whatever setting it's on.

    So tell me HCEG. What am I missing? Why are these trends just totally passing me by? Why should I get rid of my Microcube and buy a THR or whatever this year's popular model is?

  • #2

    You should get one so you can be like Phil X

    Comment


    • mschafft
      mschafft commented
      Editing a comment

      gardo wrote:

      You should get one so you can be like Phil X


      What's wrong with Yamaha, they can't get a mic that you don't have to shout with?

      edit : Wait that's just the camera mic clipping, my bad. Still annoying.


  • #3

    For me it is about getting to a means.  I want to play and I want it to sound like how I want to sound, see.

    I have little boxes that I put out front.  Boxes that are carefully designed to sound like the greatest amps of all time, not to mention good quality effects.  I can make any sound that I need at a volume that is quieter, if need be, then a TV. 

     

    Is it the same as moving the air with a very large speaker?  Of course not.  But we have to be realistic if we play for hours a day.  For one, you will destroy your ears in short order, and two you'll be likely to piss off everyone within earshot.  That is not the vib I am into anyway, so I use a small 5v amp, bugera V5 in fact.  It's a lovely little amp and the stock speaker and attenuator down to 1/10th watt is great.

     

    If I'm playing with a band, all bets are off.

    Besides being a guitar player,
    I'm a big fan of the guitar.
    I love that damn instrument.
    -Steve Vai

    Comment


    • #4
      DeLisle Nickle Box. That is all
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      • billybilly
        billybilly commented
        Editing a comment

        I own a roland cube 30x for a grab and go but other than that, I use a 22 watt tube amp and use it at home (it sounds good at low levels too).  So ya, I really don't get it either besides portability.  

        I do like a 12inch speaker too.


    • #5
      I use a Bogner Shiva - it's only 80 watts, but it manages.

      Comment


      • #6

        Special J wrote:
        I'm sorry, I just don't get it. As long as I've been here I've seen so many threads go on for 20 pages about the latest greatest practice amp, whether its digital modelling amp or a 1/2 watt tube amp. I just can't get excited about anything with a speaker smaller than 10". So what if it's got 100 different amp models that sound like tiny approximations of blackfaces and ac30's? So what if you can get that one little tube hot? It still sounds like a tiny box. I have a microcube that I bought on CL for $20, only because my Squier 15 finally bit it after 20 years or so. So I plug into it and practice, or write. I never really expect much of it except to be quiet enough not to wake the kids or annoy the wife. And I always wish I were just playing the real version of whatever setting it's on.

        So tell me HCEG. What am I missing? Why are these trends just totally passing me by? Why should I get rid of my Microcube and buy a THR or whatever this year's popular model is?

        I don't get it either.  I've tried and purchased a ton of small amps...only to either return them or sell them later.  Just can't get over the "toyish" tone that most of them put out.  I'll convince myself that the size/portability is worth the tradeoff, only to hate the tone later.  I have yet to find a small amp (speaker under 10") that sounds really good...

        My Gear:
        2008 Fender American Standard Telecaster
        1998 Squire MIM Stratocaster
        Takamine acoustic
        Fender P-Bass

        Comment


        • honeyiscool
          honeyiscool commented
          Editing a comment
          Oh well, I feel like 4-6 watt amps have the best tone, too bad they're not very gigworthy.

        • onelife
          onelife commented
          Editing a comment

          steve\_man wrote:

          I don't get it either.  I've tried and purchased a ton of small amps...only to either return them or sell them later.  Just can't get over the "toyish" tone that most of them put out.  I'll convince myself that the size/portability is worth the tradeoff, only to hate the tone later.  I have yet to find a small amp (speaker under 10") that sounds really good...


           These sound really good

          champ

          and you can turn them up for some really nice natural single-ended 6V6 compression

          they sound even better with alnico speakers (8") in them

          Attached Files

      • #7
        I agree. I have never really liked small amps. I have an AC30 that I gig with and use at home. It is obviously much worse sounding at low volumes, but at low volumes still sounds much better to me than virtually every 1 - 5 watt amp I have ever tried (and I have tried a lot). It's just much better having two 12 inch speakers or even just 1 (in my opinion).

        Comment


        • gardo
          gardo commented
          Editing a comment

          I found a small practice amp on CL to play at night and to save wear on my tube amp.

          I work and adjust and can almost make it sound OK but in the end it is a crappy little box.

          A pedal in front of the tube amp kills the small one at low volume 

          and as for "saving wear "on the good amp, save for what ? So that when I'm dead and gone someone else gets the good out of it!  That is crazy 

          Maybe someday I'll find a use for the small amp but right now it is for emergency use only


      • #8

        I think it comes down to space and changes in the way people live. The big suburban house trend of the twentieth century is over. More than half of the world

        Comment


        • Presc
          Presc commented
          Editing a comment
          I've never played a "little amp" I've liked. I get the concept - you can get that vaunted power tube distortion without waking the neighbors.

          Unfortunately, between the tiny speakers and, frankly, the fact that most of these amps are cheaply made pieces of crap, I've always found these things don't have the proper depth of sound for a good clean, and just end up sounding ratty and harsh when turned up. I didn't mind the Victoria 5-watter, but I didn't love it either, and that thing wasn't cheap. Maybe there's something out there, but I haven't played it yet.

          I live in apartment building in Manhattan and play my Deluxe Reverb, the same amp I gigged with last Friday night. I own a MicroCube and I'd quite frankly rather play unplugged; that thing is just a dust collector.

      • #9

        Other than for practicing,etc their big draw is for recording. All the cool extra low end you like to hear from a big 12" speaker for jamming/performing gets chopped anyway in a recording so it can make room for the bass  and to keep things from getting too muddy and unclear.  Joe Walsh did those cool James Gang hits with a Fender Champ. And I've read a lot of players used the same tiny amp for a lot of stuff.

         

        I have a rig that doesn't get much use since the Kemper came and flattened everything since, but it was a cool 1 watt Blackstar tube head that didn't get extremely loud maxed out, but paired with the specially made 4 X 8 cabinet gave the sensation of bigger sound at low volume.  Really cool.

        Comment


        • Mad Tele
          Mad Tele commented
          Editing a comment

          i love small amps.

          tweed deluxe , ac15, princeton reverb, marshall blues breaker. none of these sound small. 

           

          big amps are overkill in volume and weight. 

           

          all that pushing air and big iron stuff is very poofta/spinal tap to me. 

           

          unless you mean small amps like 1 -5 watt, 8-10" speaker yeah they tend to sound not that great but are great when recorded so theres a use for them. 

           

          I think deric and the dominoes was recorded with a tweed champ, and a bunch of early Johnny Cash was too. 


      • #10
        Well, I'm just a hobbyist, so the THR5 works perfectly for me. I also don't like large amps (or even home audio speakers, for that matter) in my home. I like to play at music-listening volumes, and by that I mean sane music-listening volumes; not like the volumes that suburban kids drive around in tuner cars playing faux hip-hop ...

        Comment


        • gtrjones
          gtrjones commented
          Editing a comment

          I love lower powered amps, but also don't like single 10" speakers or smaller.

          I had a silverface champ, that was modded to sound 'tweedier', and when I used my 2x10" vibrolux cab as a speaker cabinet under the champ, it sounded fantastic.  No clean headroom, but fantastic.

          10-15 watts, through a big speaker cabinet, sounds great, and can be turned-up onstage (most of the places I play are almost too small to really get my tweed deluxe cookin.

           

          If you haven't found one you liked yet, try playing a few through a bigger cabinet, or find a 10-watt head and a 4x12 cabinet... it just might work for ya.


      • #11
        I have had a Class 5 and an AC4 and to my ear, at 'bedroom volume' (whatever that is - and I would class it as loud enough to dominate an acoustic guitar, for example), my master volume AC30 sounded much better than either of them, and all of the guitarists that ever heard the comparison in my house (including one professional musician) have agreed. It was mainly down to the larger speakers I think. Maybe I am lucky, or maybe it's the particular quality of the alnico blues in it, or maybe it is just a much better amp all round?

        Comment


        • Flintc
          Flintc commented
          Editing a comment

          Sounds to me like most people here aren't having problems with low-wattage amps, but rather with tinny speakers. A cheap amp sounds much better through a quality 12" speaker than a great amp sounds through a cheap 8" speaker.

           

          I personally run a 20 watt tube head through a 2x12 cab, and it sounds great - and will fill any club too small to have its own PA system.

           

          Also, I strongly suspect many here don't have the resources to spring for a high quality <20W amp, get what they pay for, and generalize to badmouth quality amps. The available amps in this category is pretty impressive. This site has nearly 200 choices. If you haven't parted with at least $1000 for one of these small amps, you deserve what you hear.

          (And granted, if you have to have 100W to be heard over the PA system, quality is wasted on you. And certainly I value my ears too much to show up and listen to you.)


        • honeyiscool
          honeyiscool commented
          Editing a comment

          blue-eye boy wrote:
          I have had a Class 5 and an AC4 and to my ear, at 'bedroom volume' (whatever that is - and I would class it as loud enough to dominate an acoustic guitar, for example), my master volume AC30 sounded much better than either of them, and all of the guitarists that ever heard the comparison in my house (including one professional musician) have agreed. It was mainly down to the larger speakers I think. Maybe I am lucky, or maybe it's the particular quality of the alnico blues in it, or maybe it is just a much better amp all round?

          Well, ****************, everything sounds better through Alnico Blues. I've played a C5 and an AC4 (C1, not TV, which I hate), and they both sounded astronomically better through an Alnico Blue.

          But the amps themselves are great.


      • #12
        @blue-eye boy

        I often prefer a bigger amp with a master volume for at-home playing. The little amps do their own thing, which is sometimes what I'm looking for. The little amps often shine when used with bigger cabs, which is another thing I do often.
        <div class="signaturecontainer"><b>Guitars:</b> 3 Fender Strats, Fender Jazzmaster, Squier Bullet, 2 Gibson Les Pauls, Gibson ES-339, Gibson Les Paul Jr. Special, Epiphone Les Paul, Epiphone Dot, Epiphone SG, PRS SE Custom 24, Ibanez AS73, Hamer Duotone, Larrivee D-03R, Takamine EG5013S, 1951 Epiphone Devon, Ibanez SR305 (bass)<br><br><br><br><b>Pedal Chain:</b> BBE Green Screamer -&gt; MXR Distortion III -&gt; Boss CE-5 -&gt; EH Stereo Pulsar -&gt; Boss DD-20 -&gt; BBE Boosta Grande<br><br><br><br><b>Amps:</b> Vox AC4, AC15, AC30, Pathfinder 10, DA5<br><br><br><br><a target="_blank" href="http://soundcloud.com/andrewalderman">SoundCloud</a></div>

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        • #13

          1. They don't take up much space.
          2. Can get into hot tube tone territory without setting off car alarms down the street
          3. Easy to move around

          Those are conveniences that a lot of people would gladly take. Personally, I've never owned a 4x12 because I didnt' want to lug one to gigs. I currently own a 50 watt 1X12 and it sounds great, and it's still too loud for home. To get "that sound" out of it, it needs to be louder than my home will allow. I wish it was littler, watt-wise anyway.

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          • #14
            4x12 is way too much to be lugging around. I hated lugging around 2x12s. 1x12 is perfect though. Mine's still a bit heavy at 65 watts but I just love the tone and versatility. Also for 90% of your average bar gigs 2x12 is waaaay too much anyway.
            <div class="signaturecontainer"><i>Information is not knowledge<br />
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            Comment


            • Marko
              Marko commented
              Editing a comment

              photon9 wrote:
              4x12 is way too much to be lugging around. I hated lugging around 2x12s. 1x12 is perfect though. Mine's still a bit heavy at 65 watts but I just love the tone and versatility. Also for 90% of your average bar gigs 2x12 is waaaay too much anyway.

               

              Years ago the band at the time broke up, rehearsed in my music room, and out went the guitarist


          • #15

            First off, the Yamaha THR is a different bird than any popular amp before (of common knowledge).


            It's a special design that creates an auditory hologram of sound around your head when placed in close proximity like a desk top, end table, night stand, etc.  It's its spatial characteristic that sets it apart in a way that bigger amps can't do without much bigger volumes.


            Now onto your other "little amps".  I've gotten into them from time to time, especially a little binge I went on buying low wattage class A amps.


            But again, it's a different auditory precept.  Think of your larger amps as a full symphony,  It's all there, the bass, treble, depth, thunk, etc.  What a small amp does is create a more singular voice, like a new chick singing vocals in your band.   They have a signature voice which may not bring everything you'd want at the buffet, but they might have a voice and presence that lands in a certain range and tone that sounds great in your mix.  Or, just a lot of fun to listen to pure power amp OD when cranked to the max.  Something you don't often get to do with the big boyz.


            Whether its gutiars or amps, I find my tastes to be fickle from one phase to the next.  Lately I've been going between my THR and my 1x12 combos.   The small class A (or A/B low watters) are hybernating for a while.  But think about that, to me it's a bit more like attaching a human voice to your guitar rather than the full range.  Lately I've been playing in a band and I've wanted the 1 x 12 combo affect so I'm contributing to the full range of tones (low end to presence) that the band is putting out.  I think that helps fill in the holes a bit too.

            A '57 Classic, MIJ from USA parts.
            HCEG Existentialism: I buy guitars, therefore, I am.
            Well Dick, it's got a good beat, and I could dance to it, so I give it a 10!
            I have opinions of my own,strong opinions but I don't always agree with them.

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