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15ish Watts is all I need


Stonedtone
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I've been a Blues Junior advocate since 1999. I have two. I also have a Vox Nighttrain 15 combo, a Blackstar HT20 Studio and a Carvin VC20, and a couple 10 and 5 W amps as well for practice and recording. ...that all get far more use than my Vibrolux...Clean headroom is a myth... ;)

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I agree daddymack. I have a Univalve and an Avatar 1x12 cab that have been used more than any other amp I own thus far. I was just notified tonight that my Marshall 1974x head (clone) is due to arrive tomorrow and that will also get a LOT of use. The Valve 2-250 at 30/45 watts is also useful, but the two Marshall 100 watters only go out a fraction of the time. Takes a special place to need that sort of volume.

Edited by Axisplayer
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Most of my amps are 20W RMS or less. Any venue that required something with more power than my EV-equipped Princeton Reverb II and AlNiCo Blue Dog-equipped AC15cc1 running in stereo is going to want to mic me up and run me through the PA anyway, and I find it's easier to get power amp distortion in the studio at half-way sensible levels with lower powered amps too.

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...Clean headroom is a myth... ;)

Your wink smiley is noted. Yes, it is and it isn't. Tube amps generally have a fair amount of headroom anyway but they're also far from ''clean'' by SS standards. Plus, some folks can hear a difference. A forumite who I respect swears he can hear an obvious difference between two otherwise identical Laney heads rated 50 and 100 Watts (3dB difference in headroom) and that he needs the 100 Watter for pub gigs. I'm reasonably sure I'd have noticeable hearing loss after running a 50 Watt amp wide open.

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In a studio I might choose a 6v6 because they are sweet and can be driven hard at very low volumes for recording. For anything else, I go between a KT66 and KT88, with the KT66 being the one that actually normally lives in mine. If you want brans, which I suspect, I will have to look to remember which tubes are what. I wound carrying a plastic bin with a LOAD of tubes and an oveglove (cooking glove) to change them out. Probably fifty tubes in it and I am old.... :-)

What do YOU like Phil?

Edited by Axisplayer
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Clean headroom is a matter of circuit design and tubes used.

 

How you run the amps fall into two categories.

 

You can drive the amp without pedals till the amp saturates. Lower wattage amps work better here because you want the preamp, power amp and speaker to drive into saturation.

 

You can also run the amp clean (like a power amp with no distortion) and get your drive from pedals. Those who use pedals for drive are not going to want the amp to saturate because bad things happen when you do. If you use drive pedals into a chorus and echo before the amp, you don't want saturation after that echo if you want it to sound natural.

 

Real room echo has the drive of the amp occur before those echo reflections occur. If you were to mic a rooms echo then distort the signal you get nasty string beats. Most guitarists prefer the echo and reverb clean so running a clean amp is the solution. You simply need a higher wattage amp in order to do this. Loudness isn't a major factor. Its not like you use all the clean headroom. You can easily match the loudness of a 15w amp simply by turning the amps gain down.

 

The difference is the sound is ultra clean and plush sounding compared to the 15W which is maxed out and saturated. From there you can use the pedals to produce all the shades of drive so you have a variety of sounds from slightly driven to full bore metal tones. If the player of the 15W amp wants a clean tone he may have to dial back the wattage to 50% and he looses a good deal of volume in the process. The other can simply turn the drive pedal off and still be pushing a full 15W at any gain level.

 

These are two different methods that should be understood. Trying to get ultra clean sounds from a 15W amp may not be possible which is the reason may use higher wattage amps or amps with a clean and driven channel. If you use time based effects you want them after your drive so having them in the effects loop of lower wattage amps (if the power amp and speaker are clean sounding) is your best option.

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I've got a variety of different things I use - I'm a big fan of the 6V6 too, and use that a lot in the studio. 6550's are great for when you need the Univalve to play louder and with more clean headroom. I also love old GE 6L6GC's in it... instant classic Fender amp tone. I'd really like to try a KT120 in it sometime to see how that goes.

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Much of that may have to do with the speakers used. If you have high SPL speakers you may have plenty of clean headroom to spare. Many 15W combo's on the other and have crappy little 8" speakers which simply cant move allot of air so you have to use more wattage to get the same loudness.

 

That's why its unwise to judge amps simply based on wattage. I know people do it all the time when comparing the loudness of an amp but that's like judging a vehicle's speed based on its horsepower only. You have to include the transmissions gear ratio to compare apples with apples.

 

A Mack truck can have a thousand horsepower but because its got such a high gear ratio the power is applied to moving weight. A regular car can have both a low ratio and low horsepower and attain speeds quickly and have much higher energy efficiency.

 

Same goes for speakers. The SPL level tells you how efficient a speaker is producing sound for a give wattage. If the SPL's high you get more decibels for the same watts and the differences between guitar speakers can range from 90 to around 110db which is huge. A 15W amp with a high SPL speaker can easily match a 100W amp with inefficient speakers.

 

If you know what speakers you have you should be able to look the specs up.

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If you use drive pedals into a echo before the amp, you don't want saturation after that echo if you want it to sound natural.

 

Real room echo has the drive of the amp occur before those echo reflections occur. If you were to mic a rooms echo then distort the signal you get nasty string beats.

 

i`ve grown to like that sound, Gary Moore used to use it like that back in the 70`s . i started using a boss delay before the distortion it`s a radical sound that can easily get out of hand but it`s a good effect .even some of the old rock n roll stuff in the 60`s was using that sound . i also have had delay on the fx loop or after distortion but it sounds too 80/90`s stev vai and all that wallop , i can`t do with it anymore, when you hear somebody stop playing and then you hear the delay come through after ,it sounds so cliche and dated, yuk!

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Speaking of speakers, I've always been a bit disappointed that low Wattage amps generally have little wimpy speakers. The discontinued Fender Pawn Shop Excelsior was a 13 Watt tube amp with a big 15'' Eminence. They didn't sell well but it proved it could be done. Unfortunately, for many folks, low Wattage equals cheaper and manufacturers have to cut costs somewhere.

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I don't know if I'd limit it to the 80/90's. You can easily date it back to the first time man yelled at a mountain and heard an echo come back. Natural reverb and echo occurs after the sound source.

 

A little hair after a SS echo isn't bad. You have to watch the white noise levels though. A typical drive tube amp tone can liven up an otherwise flat sounding echo. The question is, do you want that drive included in the repeat with more silence between repeats or do you want a more sterile instrument sound included in the repeat and low fi noise after.

 

A little saturation after echo can make a sterile echo sound a but more tape like. Too much drive becomes a wall of noise. The echo trails never fade and become a hissy mess. Full on drive after echo can be tough to use. I take my hats off to you for messing with it, but its not my favorite sound.

 

I've used it of course, especially recording where I may record with echo then add additional saturation. I wouldn't say the results were good, simply necessary in those situations.

 

I usually use reverb directly after echo too and the tubular resonances, artifacts, and unnatural noises are put under a microscope when you gain the noise floor up like that. I have a 24 bit digital echo that might be quiet enough to do it, but my Multivox echo would be nothing but a wall of white noise. You'd hear the hiss of the tape passing over the heads and I'm not a fan of having the effects that noticeable.

 

A gate afterwards would be needed and the envelope of the gate would clip the ends of the echo reverb trails. Again, there are no rules for using pedals. I simply use things in ways that work for me and I get no complaints from those who hear it.

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