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General advice for a tube n00b - Tips I need to know before buying?

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  • #31
    Just a couple comments... I think the Super Champ XD is pretty amazing for how much ground it can cover for relatively little money. I know it's not super cheamp, but for $300... well, I sure wish there were new $300 amps that sounded like that when I got my first new amp.



    There has been a recent rash of ~5W amps: The Champ 600, the Vox AC4, the Bugera V5, the VHT whatever 6. There is some variety in how they sound, but they always sound small. That's what I don't like about them. These amps are mostly about being able to play them almost fully cranked for power tube saturation and admittedly, that is DEFINITELY not my thing, but I know some folks like that vibe. The Champ 600, in my opinion, excels at warmer, lower volume tones and getting into a bluesy type breakup. The AC4 seems to sound best when basically fully cranked and controlling the volume and tone from the guitar. The Bugera can play loud and clean which the Champ 600 and the AC4 can't do, but it doesn't sound as good as the AC4 or 600 in my opinion.

    If you want loud Fender cleans, you could do MUCH worse than a Hot Rod Deluxe or a Blues Deluxe. I've seen dozens of Hot Rod Deluxes sell for less than $300. With the right speaker, it can be a great choice.

    The Peavey Classic 30 is definitely a versatile amp. Loud cleans, loud gain tones, decent reverb. Lot's of gigging guitarists use them for blues, country, rock, jazz... I have three friends that can afford much better stuff than I have, but own the Classic 30. I've upgraded all of their speakers for them and the difference has always been amazing. If want solid cleans and crunch tones out of one amp at gig-able volumes, you'd be hard pressed to beat the 30 for value.

    Having said that, I like Fender tube amps, but I'm a Vox guy at heart. When you know how to work them, it's amazing what all they can do. I traded into a Vox AC15CC1 for a stunningly good deal, but he had it listed at $300. I got the amp and eventually bought a used ceramic Weber Blue Dog speaker for it which I'd say made a fine-sounding amp sound much better. I'm not crazy about how the AC15CC1 and AC15C1 are built and that they are made in China, but plugging into one, I think it's a damn fine sounding amp. If I had a $400 budget and had to get something within a couple weeks, there's a 99% chance I'd get a used CC1 or possibly a C1 though I don't know that I've seen a C1 for $400 yet. I'd replace the power tubes with JJs and I'd get a Blue Dog as funds allowed. I could happily live with that amp for quite a while. Only reason I sold mine is I stepped up to an AC15H1TV but that is no slight against the C1/CC1.
    Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius:

    "When it comes to gear vs talent I'll be the first to admit that I sit in the Mayor's seat in Poserville."

    Comment


    • #32
      Just a couple comments... I think the Super Champ XD is pretty amazing for how much ground it can cover for relatively little money. I know it's not super cheamp, but for $300... well, I sure wish there were new $300 amps that sounded like that when I got my first new amp.



      There has been a recent rash of ~5W amps: The Champ 600, the Vox AC4, the Bugera V5, the VHT whatever 6. There is some variety in how they sound, but they always sound small. That's what I don't like about them. These amps are mostly about being able to play them almost fully cranked for power tube saturation and admittedly, that is DEFINITELY not my thing, but I know some folks like that vibe. The Champ 600, in my opinion, excels at warmer, lower volume tones and getting into a bluesy type breakup. The AC4 seems to sound best when basically fully cranked and controlling the volume and tone from the guitar. The Bugera can play loud and clean which the Champ 600 and the AC4 can't do, but it doesn't sound as good as the AC4 or 600 in my opinion.

      If you want loud Fender cleans, you could do MUCH worse than a Hot Rod Deluxe or a Blues Deluxe. I've seen dozens of Hot Rod Deluxes sell for less than $300. With the right speaker, it can be a great choice.

      The Peavey Classic 30 is definitely a versatile amp. Loud cleans, loud gain tones, decent reverb. Lot's of gigging guitarists use them for blues, country, rock, jazz... I have three friends that can afford much better stuff than I have, but own the Classic 30. I've upgraded all of their speakers for them and the difference has always been amazing. If want solid cleans and crunch tones out of one amp at gig-able volumes, you'd be hard pressed to beat the 30 for value.

      Having said that, I like Fender tube amps, but I'm a Vox guy at heart. When you know how to work them, it's amazing what all they can do. I traded into a Vox AC15CC1 for a stunningly good deal, but he had it listed at $300. I got the amp and eventually bought a used ceramic Weber Blue Dog speaker for it which I'd say made a fine-sounding amp sound much better. I'm not crazy about how the AC15CC1 and AC15C1 are built and that they are made in China, but plugging into one, I think it's a damn fine sounding amp. If I had a $400 budget and had to get something within a couple weeks, there's a 99% chance I'd get a used CC1 or possibly a C1 though I don't know that I've seen a C1 for $400 yet. I'd replace the power tubes with JJs and I'd get a Blue Dog as funds allowed. I could happily live with that amp for quite a while. Only reason I sold mine is I stepped up to an AC15H1TV but that is no slight against the C1/CC1.


      I have no doubt that the SCXD is versatile and it does sound good on many of the settings, there's no debating that. I'm just scratching my chin and wondering if it's totally necessary right now.

      I kind of LIKE the Champ 600's saturated upper-dial tones. And you also said that it does low-volume, warmer blues tones with picking hand dynamics and I agree. I dunno, I just get this feeling that the things that are supposed to be considered flaws about the Champ 600 aren't really so bad for me right now.

      As for all your other recommendations, I am adding a lot of the entries in this thread to my "things to look forward to down the road" file. You'll thank me because it'll save us all the time of me starting another obnoxious thread when I get to that point.

      Comment


      • #33
        I have an SCXD and I love it. Sure some of the channel 2 voicings are not great, but the answer to that is - don't use those !

        I agree channel 1 is where its at. The effects are well done and most are perfectly usable. The only weakness to the effects is the "low-med-high" type settings without in-between values.

        Change the speaker out for a $35 Weber 10S ceramic and you have a killer amp

        If you want another option. I recently got a Laney Cub 10. It is a no frills 10w (2)6V6 amp, 10" speaker with basic controls for volume, gain and tone. It is all tube with (2) 12AX7 preamp tubes and it kicks all kinds of ass. It might be the loudest 10w amp I've ever heard and sounds good at low levels too. It loves to be coaxed with pedals. Best part is it's $249 street, but I was able to get mine on an ebay best offer for $180 brand new. The speaker leaves something to be desired, but I think a lot of amps in this class have the same weakness. Again with a swap to a Weber 10S (on this one an alnico for sweeter tweedy tone) it kills
        My Gear
        Schecter Corsair
        TelePartsCaster x3
        Dano Convertible

        Taylor 114
        Gretsch Americana

        Vox Pathfinder 15R
        Vox VT15
        Fender SCXD
        Yamaha THR5

        For Sale:
        Duncan Pickups

        BG Pups Tele Set

        Looking For:
        Vox AC4C1 amp
        Gibson 70s tribute minihum pickup(s)

        Comment


        • #34
          I kind of LIKE the Champ 600's saturated upper-dial tones. And you also said that it does low-volume, warmer blues tones with picking hand dynamics and I agree. I dunno, I just get this feeling that the things that are supposed to be considered flaws about the Champ 600 aren't really so bad for me right now.


          Don't get me wrong... I think at least 50% of Champ 600 buyers want that fully cranked tone. I just think a lot of folks buy the 600 and a couple weeks/months later wish they had bought a bigger amp. I hope you get it and love it!

          Originally Posted by Doctor Morbius:

          "When it comes to gear vs talent I'll be the first to admit that I sit in the Mayor's seat in Poserville."

          Comment


          • #35
            That Laney Cub 10 DOES look tempting. I admit I'd love to try it if I can find one near me. I'm not sold on that price point, though.

            This, however:

            I just bought a CV '50s Tele myself - seriously, like 3 hours ago - and I've been playing it through my Champ 600 this afternoon. Pretty good match. The Champ is $150 or so and really great for bedroom playing and recording.

            I usually play through a DRRI but I haven't bothered to haul it in from the next room. The CV sounds really great through the little Champ (a little bright - but that's because of the new .09s the CV comes with). All of my single coils sound good through the Champ (great cleans and really nice with an OD (OCD, etc. especially).

            Check it out - It's cheap, sounds good, takes pedals well, and looks cool, too - Def. a vintage vibe, right in line with the CV Tele).

            Yeah.


            That sounds quite promising.

            Comment


            • #36
              That Laney Cub 10 DOES look tempting. I admit I'd love to try it if I can find one near me. I'm not sold on that price point, though.



              I'm telling you $180 on eBay + $20 shipping direct from the Laney distributor. Full service / no questions asked return policy
              My Gear
              Schecter Corsair
              TelePartsCaster x3
              Dano Convertible

              Taylor 114
              Gretsch Americana

              Vox Pathfinder 15R
              Vox VT15
              Fender SCXD
              Yamaha THR5

              For Sale:
              Duncan Pickups

              BG Pups Tele Set

              Looking For:
              Vox AC4C1 amp
              Gibson 70s tribute minihum pickup(s)

              Comment


              • #37
                so, i was in a very similar position to you over a year ago...i got myself a Vox Valvtronix amp. It was 15w, and although it was loud enough, no matter how much i played around it with, i just couldnt get a tone i wanted, it just sounded fake to me...it was better than normal solid state amps, but just wasnt quite right.

                I thought it was the guitar, so i bought a Ibanez Iceman, which is great, and my sound immediately improved but again it just wasnt right.

                So i sold the Vox, and got a Peavey Royal 8...a little 5w amp which sounds great...its modeled after then Marshall bluesbreaker. It has a good tone, very simple and has pretty good headroom for a 5w amp. But after 5months, i discovered that even for home usage, in an apartment, the speaker cant handle the low end tones and starts to break up too early.

                Long story short, for the last few months i have been researching low wattage amps for the home...and i can say there are really only 2 or 3 options that i have played and really rate. These are the Laney Cub12, Fender Pro Jnr and both Blackstar Ht1 and Ht5.

                I'm still getting my funds together, but i have opted for the Blackstar Ht5, mainly because i can see this amp being one that i will keep for a very long time, it has all the functionality that you would get with 50w or 100w head, it has 2 channels, and the clean has a lot of head room. The best thing is you can plug your head phones into the emulated output and it sounds awesome. I'll most likely get 2x12 cabinet, it may sound overkill, but even at lower volume this setup sounds amazing.

                may not be a solution...but food for thought...
                Guitars and Amp: Washburn A20V, Epi LP Custom Zakk Wylde, Epi LP Custom, Epi Flying V Annihilation, Orange Rocker 30.
                Current Board: Hardwire tuner -> Distortion III -> Bass Big Muff -> You Dirty Rat -> Electric Mistress -> Carbon Copy

                Comment


                • #38


                  I've had my Champ 600 for several months now and I really like it. Some things you should know before you buy it (and already know if you've played one):

                  1. It's a one-trick-pony. You can turn it on and turn it up...that's it.
                  That said, this is what I love about the amp. There's nothing to screw around with. It just sounds fantastic for such a small amp. Cleans are brilliant, and pickup and tone/volume changes are wonderfully transparent. You hear the guitar tone more than the amp.

                  2. It starts breaking up at about 7-8 and personally, I think it sounds just awful. It's raspy and thin, as you can expect from a 6" speaker. BUT! If you take the back off you'll see that the speaker is actually plugged into a 4 ohm 1/4" jack. I set my 2x12 cab to 4 ohms (2 8 ohm speakers wired in parallel = 4 ohms) and used the C600 as a head and it sounds huge! It's probably not loud enough to hang with a drummer, but certainly enough to piss off everyone in the house.

                  3. Upgrading the tubes makes a noticeable difference, upgrading the speaker, not so much. As I went the cheap route with a Jensen MOD 6 you're results may vary from mine. The Jensen MOD does sound a little brighter and crisper, but not by much.

                  It's probably not the greatest bedroom amp in the world, but I think it's pretty damn cool! The fact that you can get them for $100-150 made it a no-brainer for me. If Fender clean is what you're after, I think you'll be very happy with this little guy.
                  Good Deals with: MHN433, Mr_GoodBomb, ChihliDog, Kerouac, Vintage Clubber, JohnnyRaincheck







                  Originally Posted by klrbee03


                  I play guitar for fun, and I don't think its fun to suck

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Alright, I made my decision and went ahead and bought the Champ 600. Everything that I loved about that amp is true: It is great at chimey Fender cleans and it provides good tones for woodshedding at reasonable volumes. But when I really started digging around, I found that 1) I missed having the tonal options of a bigger, more robust amp. I know I said that not all the voicings that the SCXD is capable of are pitch perfect and they're really not but there are SO many that are outstanding, I want to be able to play around with them... and 2) even though the Champ 600 is adequate for bedroom jamming, that 6 inch speaker didn't really sound as full as I'd like it to.

                    So my vision for what I wanted the smaller amp to be was pretty on the nose but I found myself really wanting those good qualities that the SCXD would afford me.

                    SO I took it back to Guitar Center for a full refund and used the refund, in the form of store credit, toward ordering an SCXD. The really beautiful part? I opted for blonde with oxblood grillcloth.



                    They didn't have this more rare color in stock so they're ordering it. I paid in full and I'm going to pick it up when it comes in, hopefully within a week or so. I am pumped to get this amp! YES!

                    In summation: Trigger pulled. Decision made. It's the Super Champ XD in blonde and I'll be going to get her as soon as she comes in.

                    Thanks again for all the comments and helpful suggestions on this thread. You guys have been awesome and I will use this thread for thought the next time I need a new amp.

                    Another thing crosses my mind: I know Guitar Center is usually thought of as the cheesy Wal-Mart superstore of guitar retail and I can see how it gets that reputation but my experience with them, in this particular situation, has been pretty good. We'll see how it pans out (if it doesn't come through or the amp is damaged or there's some other kind of ****************-uppery, I'll be super pissed and I'll report back) but they were completely fine with my returning the smaller amp and using the entirety of my refund towards this new one. Very helpful so far so let's keep our fingers crossed.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Good choice. Love my SCXD. Love the blonde even more, but they were not out when I got mine.

                      Do youself a huge favor and get a Weber 10S Signature speaker. For another $30 it brings the SCXD up to the next level
                      My Gear
                      Schecter Corsair
                      TelePartsCaster x3
                      Dano Convertible

                      Taylor 114
                      Gretsch Americana

                      Vox Pathfinder 15R
                      Vox VT15
                      Fender SCXD
                      Yamaha THR5

                      For Sale:
                      Duncan Pickups

                      BG Pups Tele Set

                      Looking For:
                      Vox AC4C1 amp
                      Gibson 70s tribute minihum pickup(s)

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Good choice. Love my SCXD. Love the blonde even more, but they were not out when I got mine.

                        Do youself a huge favor and get a Weber 10S Signature speaker. For another $30 it brings the SCXD up to the next level


                        Duly noted. Thank you for the support and advice.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Duly noted. Thank you for the support and advice.


                          If you go over to the TDPRI forum in the Amp Owner's board there is a good collection of tips & advice in the SCXD thread

                          A lot of people will also recommend an Eminence Rajin Cajun. It is said to significantly increase the sound level, but from what I gather at the cost of some sparkle. As a home-based only player I opted to retain the Fender character
                          My Gear
                          Schecter Corsair
                          TelePartsCaster x3
                          Dano Convertible

                          Taylor 114
                          Gretsch Americana

                          Vox Pathfinder 15R
                          Vox VT15
                          Fender SCXD
                          Yamaha THR5

                          For Sale:
                          Duncan Pickups

                          BG Pups Tele Set

                          Looking For:
                          Vox AC4C1 amp
                          Gibson 70s tribute minihum pickup(s)

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            I brought this home from the store today and it's as good and better than it was when I gave it a test run! I'm thrilled with this amp and the week I waited to get her in blonde was worth it. I have to say... bringing it home and really digging in and experimenting, I'm seeing that the "Marshall-voiced" settings, the ones that are for British crunch tones, are NOT as bad as I thought they were. I'm enjoying playing around with some of the options but I'm sure I'll land on a favorite or two and really get down to business.

                            I will post a NAD thread with pics tomorrow. (Am I the only person who thinks the NGD thread should go up the day AFTER you get it, so you have more time to play?)

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              ^^^ Agree with that last comment. I'm always reluctant to post up NGD, NAD, etc etc, because you can look like a bit of a plonker if a week later you happen to let slip that you've sold it again on ebay... although I try to avoid making those kinds of mistakes before getting my plastic out.
                              My band:

                              http://lightbulbmomentband.com/

                              Follow me on twitter

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                ^^^ Agree with that last comment. I'm always reluctant to post up NGD, NAD, etc etc, because you can look like a bit of a plonker if a week later you happen to let slip that you've sold it again on ebay... although I try to avoid making those kinds of mistakes before getting my plastic out.


                                Talking of which when do we get to see the new improved Baja?
                                Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. - Plato

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