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 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 659
15/02/2011 10:17 pm  

Okay, so I've been saying I want a small tube amp for home use for a LONG time- I have the budget, and have narrowed the search down to three contenders. All three are available here in Seoul where I live, and I have found them in shops and played them all. When tarrifs and taxes are factored in, all convenietly are the same price. (For practical purposes- all between 300 and 350 thousand won, which is to say $270 to $300.)

All more or less play the stuff I play, though each has it's strengths.

Before I share my experiences, though, I thought I'd see if anybody has opinions on or experience with these amps...

Best,
Ande

PS- I play rock. Hard rock, classic rock, punk rock, more hard rock. A bit of metal. I tend to range from moderately overdriven to just plain fuzzed out, but then I like my chime-like ringing cleans too.


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 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 659
19/02/2011 7:04 am  

And there is the problem- the two votes so far mirror my only feelings. 50/50 on the AC4TV or the HT 1.

....Still thinking.


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(@s1120)
Prominent Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 852
19/02/2011 9:52 am  

OK, so I voted the VOX manly becouse its the only one I have played... It is a sweet little amp though!!!!!! Its on my list of amps I want to get when cash allows.

Paul B


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(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 3711
19/02/2011 1:02 pm  

I haven't played any of them so I can't vote. :?

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 659
19/02/2011 11:47 pm  

I was thinking of you when I tried out the Blackstar, TR. It's a nice little amp, and the designers are all former Marshall engineers.

It feels exactly like a tiny little marshall. The best build quality of the three, it's just "deluxe." Feels really solid, and the knobs feel "expensive" when you turn them. The blackstar seems to have (feels like it has) solid state distortion build onto the tube circuit, which means it gets the most distortion (and the best "heavy" sounds) of the three. Feels a little sterile, though, on anything but heavey distortion. I also HATE that it has an "ISF" control where it should have a tone knob. (ISF is Infinite Shape Feature. It "takes you from the USA to the UK in seconds." I don't know exactly what that means, but I'd rather have an EQ or even a tone knob, cause I know what those are. The bigger blackstar amps have a 3 band EQ and ISF, which would be okay. But the little one is ISF only.) Nice reverb, though, as digital reverb goes. And "line out" and "auxiliary/MP3 in" are features you don't always get on a practice amp that has tubes.

The Vox has a lot less features. (Volume, Tone, and 1/4,1, or 4 watt attenuator, and an on/off switch) Amazing cleans, though, and nice "in between" break up. Does amazing classic rock sounds. Pretty much everything BUT heavy metal. (Though I think a proco Rat on the front end would metal it up plenty!) The down on this one is, it feels cheap. Plastic handle. Cheap tolex. Plastic knobs that feel...flimsy when you turn them. (THis is the only amp I get this year. I do NOT want to deal with repairs.) But as long as it's working, this seems to just have better, richer tone than the Blackstar. And, though it has less features, it has a greater range of overdrive options (which you find by messing with the volume).

Hmmm.

Ande


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(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 10340
19/02/2011 11:58 pm  

Like TR, I haven't actually played any of those amps - but for home use, why a tube amp? Why not a more versatile modelling amp? I use a Roland cube 30X, a friend of mine had a Vox AD30Vt, neither of us needed any pedals or extraneous add-ons... hey, it's only a thought. A few years ago, tube amps were the cat's pyjamas, the bee's knee's, the dog's....well, you know what I mean. It HAD to be tube....but with the improvements in digital technology these days, you can virtually play any guitar through any amp and sound like the guitarist of your choice.

There's a lot of nonsense spouted these days about tube vs digital - maybe a few years ago there was a difference in sound, but these days, to me, there's very little difference...you have to have a really good ear to tell any slight variations between them.

As always, try before you buy!

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


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 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 659
20/02/2011 12:59 am  

Fair question on "tube vs digital." And I know you can get a LOT more features out of digital in the same price range.

Main reason I'm interested in tube is...I've never had one. Had a lot of digithings, and liked some of them lots. But the more I play, the fewer effects I use, and I'm just wondering what it's like with tubes.

Doesn't mean I'll be a "tube-snob" in all things, or forever, but I want to try one. (At home. A lot.) Trying them in the shops, they feel...different, if that makes sense. Not necessarily better sounding than solid state or digital. But different- more responsive, which often means that they sound worse, actually. Makes me play very correctly, cause clean through a tube amp seems to show up all my errors.

Who knows what I'll get in the end, but I'm in the mood for a tube toy.

Best,
Ande


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(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 3711
20/02/2011 2:14 am  

I have a variety of amps. Simple Epi VJ's, Peavey Classic 30, the new Windsor as well as a pair of Peavey VYPYR modeling amps. One tiny, one big. The Black Star "reverse" hybrid thing kind of put me off but the amp seems cool. (Reverse hybrid as in they used to make hybrid amps with tube preamp and solid state power amps) Now it seems we are seeing modeling front ends going into tube power sections. I like my amps exclusive. The tube amps are simple and all old technology (crammed onto tiny modern circuit boards) :roll: My modeling amps are computers that make noise. The tube toys are fun. I'm no tube snob though. My 75 watt Peavey VYPYR is the most versatile amp I own.

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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(@s1120)
Prominent Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 852
20/02/2011 10:20 am  

Like TR, I haven't actually played any of those amps - but for home use, why a tube amp? Why not a more versatile modelling amp? I use a Roland cube 30X, a friend of mine had a Vox AD30Vt, neither of us needed any pedals or extraneous add-ons... hey, it's only a thought. A few years ago, tube amps were the cat's pyjamas, the bee's knee's, the dog's....well, you know what I mean. It HAD to be tube....but with the improvements in digital technology these days, you can virtually play any guitar through any amp and sound like the guitarist of your choice.

There's a lot of nonsense spouted these days about tube vs digital - maybe a few years ago there was a difference in sound, but these days, to me, there's very little difference...you have to have a really good ear to tell any slight variations between them.

As always, try before you buy!

:D :D :D

Vic

I can kinda see where he's coming from. I also have a AD30VT and realy do like it, but maybe its the tone Im looking for but I have taken to running it without all the extras [or at least as much as I can. I run a little reverb, and have the gain turned down as much as I can, and crank the main valume, ] then adjust the sound with a overdrive pedal. Gives me nicer tones then the onboard effects IMHO. Its still a great amp, and its nice being able to change a little bit by swapping to the diferent amp models, but all in all, Im "simple tube amp" shopping myself.

Paul B


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 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 659
20/02/2011 7:28 pm  

And not a single vote for the valbee? I'm a little surprised; this allegedy contains a tube screamer type circut for extra overdrive, and that is one popular pedal. It's not really leading the competition for me either, but I like how much variety it has in sounds and control. (Real EQ, OD Channel, pre and master volume- all good stuff in a small tube amp.)

BUT: If you design amps, and put a 6.5 inch speaker in a metal housing, do NOT call it "Bee." Nothing with "bee" in it.

They probably can't help it that it's a little buzzy. BUt they don't have to remind you.

Ande


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(@sean0913)
Trusted Member
Joined: 10 years ago
Posts: 65
21/02/2011 2:12 pm  

Well I voted BlackStar because I have 2 of them. And if you can get one with the Voicing features like the 40 or 60 you'll never look back. I played one in front of 3000 people and got comments all night long, and this was an outdoor gig. For almost all genres except the most extreme metal, this amp has onboard, tones that will hit and fit the bill. The HT 5 doesnt have a voicing option, but with a pedal or two and eq you can still get a great tone. Their OD is crisp, but not as versatile as it is on the 40 or especially the 60.

Sean

Guitar Instructor/MentorOnline Guitar School for Advanced Playershttp://rnbacademy.com


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 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 659
21/02/2011 7:57 pm  

Hmmmm- tell me more about the voicing option?

Thanks!
ande


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 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 659
24/02/2011 10:34 pm  

So I went to Nakwon Arcade (the immense building that houses most of Seoul's guitar shops) to get my new Vox, And discovered- it's delivery day. With the new import laws for 2011, there's a lot of stuff there that didn't use to be available in Korea.

In addition to the AC4TV, I played the VHT Special Six, Laney Cubs, both 8 and 10, the Fender Champion, and a new offereing from a local company called Rockers. (Amp is called the T15R, seems like a knockoff of Laney LC15R.)

The VHT is the best sounding, and most responsive feeling, clean sound I've heard in a long time. Maybe ever. I've just discovered, online, that it has a "boost" I didn't know about. (Pull the volume knob. Who knew? So I'll have to check if I can get more dirt with that.)

The Laney Cubs are great sounding amps- again, good cleans, and when you ramp them up, nice break up. But you do have to ramp them up pretty good- and 10 watts is a LOT.

The Rocker's amp really surprise me- the cheapest of the lot. Sort of cheap feeling. Bad tolex. Cheap knobs. BUT, it doesn't sound cheap. It sounds...fender good on clean and bright. (Bright switch makes it even brighter.) Terrifyingly good overdrive, from the tiniest bit of breakup to a massive growling roar. Real Spring reverb tank. With bright, 3 band EQ, it can shimmer, it can roar. It's 15 watts, though, and to roar, it needs some room. If I were buying only a studio amp, it would so be this one. And it's less than $200. I'm worried though, that eviction and divorce could result from too much overdrive at home.

The AC4TV is still in there- Sweet sounds, and the only one that seems to go from clean to dirty at reasonable volumes. Amazing tone, and probably the best dirty voicings of any of them.

If I can get it to break up, I'd honestly go for the VHT- but even with Pentode/triode switch, it seems to be LOUD for my purposes, if I want to drive it hard. Vox still leading, but it's turning into a fun race.

Best,
Ande


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(@trguitar)
Famed Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 3711
25/02/2011 3:28 am  

So lots of choices then. I used to have a Yamaha amp that had push pull knobs. They were labled "Pull Fat" & "Pull Bright" if I recall. It was my first big amp. Solid state though. So are you more confused than ever now?

Here is a pic of one I found! Oh the memories .........

Sorry ..... but I couldn't help but to take a stroll down memory lane. Back to your amp decision ....

"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard,grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em."-- The Webb Wilder Credo --


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