5W Tube / Valve Practice Amps

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VikingBlues
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5W Tube / Valve Practice Amps

Post by VikingBlues »

Having gone half way to the tube / valve amp with my "hybrid" vox vt, I'm wondering about going for tube / valve at both pre and power amp stage. :think:

Given the circumstances of where I live and the home use only that it will get 5W is more than enough. Really more than enough - I would only be able to use a 5W tube / valve at very limited times if I was wanting to drive the tubes. I therefore think an amp with a built in attenuator is essential (if it can be used without too much of a damaging effect on the sound / tone). I know you can get an attenuator as an add on but it looks like that would blow my budget. :sad:

Two amps with attenuators that have come to my attention so far are the Vox AC4TV and the Bugera 5V. I would tend to be drawn to the Vox as I do like the Vox sound. I have heard though that the AC4TV is a bit limited in it's clean range, and I do tend to play at the clean end of guitar sounds.

Both have EL84 and 12AX7 tubes. The Bugera is 5W, 1W 0.1W and the Vox 4W, 1W, 0.25W. Both have external speaker sockets. The Vox has the bigger speaker at 10" v the Bugera's 8".

The Bugera has Reverb and also a Headphone Socket. As it is only around 70% of the price of the Vox I can't help but wonder where the quality falls short to have less price but more features and if it does is teh quality shortfall major? The Bugera I believe is Behringer - I remember from when I had pedals I had a few Behringers - very budget and usually good value, but they were mostly the first to go when I had a clear out.

I know a lot of the members of this forum have much more experience of better amps than me so I would value any advice. Anyone had any experience of these amps or known anyone who used them - anyone know any other amps with attenuators? :icon_whoknows:
An improv a day keeps the demons at bay!
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Strummer07
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5W Tube Amps.. the ongoing saga

Post by Strummer07 »

Hi VB .hows it hanging ??

You may recall that I went through this whole 5watt scenario a while back

after admitting to myself that the Fender NOS Blues Junior 15Watt Amp .................whilst lovely in everyway including being a limited edition tweed version with Jensen speaker :drool: ... was way too powerfull for use at home and in any event, it deserved a better more talented owner than moi!!!

So ebay it went !! ..............Wow !! is this amp in demand .it was snapped up for the same price as a new one in less than 2 hours !! amazing !!

Anyway .then the dilemma ..............what to buy ??

My wife would have said "Nothing" !! ....I already have a Vox Da5 small amp ......which is fun and portable ...but it aint got no valves !!!

So I looked around a good bit .this site was a good start point ...............http://www.jedistar.com/low_watt_amps.htm

I looked at a fair few amps

Fender Champ 600.good / basic ... good tone .but in the UK it does Humm a bit unless modifyed ( not my thing.but alnicomagnet does a good mod .. included attenuator and humm reduction ...............http://www.youtube.com/user/alnicomagnet )..Fender Champ600 without mod .Humms. Fender Champ 600 with mod .. expensive

Epiphone valve Junior ..(also needs a mod IMO .Humms a lot )
Peavey Valve King ....( See alnico magnet clip
Blackheart BCH5H ...never got to test this out .. but I'm sure its good HBL has one .. but you need a seperate speaker etc )
Blackstar HT5
Marshall Class 5 .( I found it disappointing and a bit flat.. need to pump the volume to get any kind of response .. good clean though )
Vox AC4TV with both 8 inch and 10 inch speaker options ( TBH I found it a bit boxy and rather uncontrollable )
Bugera 5............Difficult to find .but has reverb

Would have looked at Laney if I could have found one to try and Chimp also

In the end I found a Guitar shop locally and tried out
Blackstar HT5 / Marshall Class 5 and Vox AC4TV 10 inch version .. a back to back "ToneTest" ......and the Blackstar won out hands down.
Great clean tone / 2 channels / full tone controls mid -treb-bass / ISP control which gives a US or uk "flavour" to the amp ..effcts loop jack / outut speaker jack and a headphones socket with built in speaker modulation. footswitch provided for the two channels .and two valves ............ 1 x ECC83 and 1 x 12BH7 and a stand by switch to boot

It was an absolute no brainer........looked a bit expensive at £319.00 but then I spotted one on ebay at £220 and ........whoosh ...............it was mine !!

Here's a clip of me just going through a few lazy riffs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqUXAQ0-DkA

Pretty Cool Eh !!

Anyway I'm sure thats enough to get you thinking

I Like the Blackstar .......I found I missed the reverb from the fender BJ............... .so I've added a Boss RV5 and we're away !!

I know ...................more gear than sense !!

But when did sense ever play any part of GAS !!
All I need now is to
a) master playing guitar and b) working out how to get something out of a DAW

Good luck with your selection process VB
"Death is just a heartbeat away"
lyric from "Out in The Fields"
Gary Moore 1952-2011
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VikingBlues
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Re: 5W Tube / Valve Practice Amps

Post by VikingBlues »

Thanks Strummer - that's a lot of good info and leads you've given me there. I will need to find the time to check these out properly. Currently very busy at work and doing extra dog walking at home while the wife's ankle heals, so might take a while. :sad:

I have noticed the recommendation for mods appears quite often with some makes - not sure I feel ready for that quite yet. :wall:

One thought - do you find 5 watts without attenuation to be a bit window rattling particularly if you need to get a bit away from the clean tone? :yikes:

I'm on a 15 watt amp at the minute which is run at very low settings (as its a flat we're in the neighbours are close but I'm not close to the neighbours if you know what I mean) and I have the impression that valve amps push out more per watt. I'd noticed the Blackstar and thought it looked high quality but it is a bit above my initial idea of budget and I suspect I'd also need to get an attenuator at extra cost. BUT you get what you pay for of course. :alright:
An improv a day keeps the demons at bay!
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Strummer07
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To attenuate or not to attenuate - that is a ?????

Post by Strummer07 »

The whole attenuator thing is interesting .I think the Champ 600 and the Epi and the Marshall Class 5 all really need one adding .........as you do have to push the sound to begin to get any kind of blues 'edge'.........and that takes you back onto the 'too loud ' category ...5 w amps can make a fair bit 'o noise !!

I don't feel even vaguley inclined to do mods either :thumbsdown: .......100% not my bag. way too many wires and I have no clue what I am doing nor why ......which is why I've pointed you at alnicomagnet ...who does these things .at a cost !! .

Mind you any decent amp tech can probably do the same thing .but you gotta find one locally , and I've not found that easy .guitar techs OK .................amp techs ...............more difficult.

On the Blackstar you have the two seperate channels .One being clean and the other being 'dirty' with its own seperate gain control .so you can turn the volume way down and whack the gain up and get a break up that way.....'My' demo link gives you both clean and dirty sounds ....its versatile that's for sure. .and i don't think you need an attenuator at all ..just switch channels with the olde footswitch ....................which is supplied !!

Have you got anywhere close by you can go a try a couple out?? ....I would defo sugggest you wanna try out the Vox AC4TV and the Blackstar .and the Blackheart if you fancy the head cab combo. ( I didn't ...........really as its just more space to take up..... it also looks a bit pretentious IMO...........pretentious as in it looks like your some sort of gigging pro .....in my dreams perhaps !! )
"Death is just a heartbeat away"
lyric from "Out in The Fields"
Gary Moore 1952-2011
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Jim
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Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 6:50 am

Re: 5W Tube / Valve Practice Amps

Post by Jim »

after admitting to myself that the Fender NOS Blues Junior 15Watt Amp .................whilst lovely in everyway including being a limited edition tweed version with Jensen speaker :drool: ... was way too powerfull for use at home and in any event, it deserved a better more talented owner than moi!!!

So ebay it went !! ..............Wow !! is this amp in demand .it was snapped up for the same price as a new one in less than 2 hours !! amazing !!
Really? :think: Is the Fender NOS Blues Junior 15Watt Amp (Tweed with Jensen speakers) really all that popular on eBay? Because that's the one I got from Musician's Friend a few years back when they first put it up for sale (and I'm not sure if it's still available from them or for how long it was). The insane thing is that I already had a double-discount on the one I put the order in for (there was a sale going on that applied to everything, plus I have an ASCAP discount on everything) and then they "promised" it to me by a certain date (I guess this is when they were first putting these out) and then they sent me an email that they couldn't get it by the date they said (which was already several months of waiting for me), so they discounted it FURTHER to dissuade me from cancelling my order or trying to get it elsewhere, and I ended up getting it on the original date anyway!! A totally unexpected delivery which I thought was weeks away from coming! So, I got it at the original date with a TRIPLE discount (and free shipping), and in the end it cost me less than $100 more than the regular Blues Jr amp1! :yikes: :yikes: It's one of the few GOOD financial "deals" I made, as both Mary and I have a long history of buying high and selling low... yeah, not the way most people that get rich have it work. But this is a GEM and I'm amazed it's in so much demand, although I do love the sound I can get from that amp - and the bass-player from my ex-band has a regular Blues-Jr, so I could literally put one next to the other, and there really was a difference in sound (in favor of the NOS one big time).

It can get VERY loud though, even at 15W... that SO true, and I am using pedals less and less (except wah-wah which I adore and is different from the other pedals and I just WANT and NEED that wah sound on some songs .. White Room, Ulysses, and lots of 60's music) but I find that since I have to have the volume of the amp WAYYYY down at home (small condo and I play in the bedroom - no separate music room available here. :wall: ) and there are thin walls here and plenty of neighbors beneath me and at both sides) I find I have to use more pedals if I'm recording at home in order to get quality sound at a really low volume, without having to add a zillion post-recording effects in software which is a PITA and really slows down getting edits done and the music out. But I do that (or go through the post-recording effect thing). And on stage at a gig - WOW, that thing can cut through 35W and 50W amps of some brands with no problem, and I also got the "legs" Fender sells for it to allow it to be angled at like 30 degree (or less) angle, which really increases the spread of the sound from it and it can project MUCH better angled up like that rather than on the floor pointing straight out along the floor (stage) - and blocked by anything and anyone in front of it. So, it's fabulous for playing out, and I'm just found a way, using pedals or effects, to be able to play indoors without being YELLED at (and having that FINALLY GOOD take, that's just about complete, totally RUINED by the door flying open and "there are other people living here..." or "others are trying to sleep.." being yelled and mixed in so nicely with the recording... :wall: :wall: NOT! ).

But I a also have a Yamaha FG-180 from 1973 that I got, with a beautiful hard case, in college for $100 slightly used, that I've found is also highly sought after, and they get some incredible prices on eBay - depending on where they were manufactured. Mine isn't the ULTIMATE one, but it's the second most wanted, with the red label in it, but just made a little too late to be the ULTIMATELY wanted and pricey ones. But, like Blackie, I played the SOUL out of that guitar from 73 until I got my Les Paul (well, second LP, but I don't want to reopen that wound....) so that was... 2005 minus 1973 = 32 years I think of continual abuse from me, and it traveled from coast to coast with me, on a gray rabbit bus I took with a friend when we "dropped out" of society around '80 and trekked out to San Francisco, and really just lived off the good will of friends, and got odd jobs like bus boy at a hotel (Granada Hotel on Sutter St) for me. And when I was finally totally BROKE (12 cents to my name - no kidding) and my Dad had to let me come home (at his expense, of course, but I had to join the Navy!) - the ONLY possession I had left, except the clothes on my back, was my FG-180! (and a stack of music I've been adding to since the 60's and is almost to heavy to carry now!). So, it's fretboard has grooves worn into it from my fingers, and it's got some dings in it, but it's in pretty good shape and the dings could be fixed up by a luthier, as well as the fretboard and frets, but I really don't want to sell it as I learned about 95% of all the things I know about playing guitar from figuring it out on that baby. It's been faithful to me, and though I got the epiphone acoustic-electric because of how warn out it was getting, and I needed to have the ability to plug in, I still love it and play it and would only sell it if I HAD to. I hope that doesn't happen (as with the original Les Paul I don't want to think about... )
Anyway .then the dilemma ..............what to buy ??

My wife would have said "Nothing" !! ....I already have a Vox Da5 small amp ......which is fun and portable ...but it aint got no valves !!!
"Nothing"! OH YES!! I've heard that SO much! In fact, I should THROW AWAY any OLD STUFF (sorry.. but that's not how it works with guitars and musical instruments in general). So, I keep all the guitars nice and out of her way, neatly in stands out of sight next to a big roll-top desk, and I pray they don't go ANYWHERE!! :pray: :pray: :pray:

Jim
My driving philosophy about making music is that you can reduce it all down to one note if that note is played with the right kind of sincerity.
- Eric Clapton, interview 1974

James V. Signorile, ASCAP
(Court Jester)
http://jamessignorile.com
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VikingBlues
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Re: To attenuate or not to attenuate - that is a ?????

Post by VikingBlues »

Strummer07 wrote:The whole attenuator thing is interesting .I think the Champ 600 and the Epi and the Marshall Class 5 all really need one adding .........as you do have to push the sound to begin to get any kind of blues 'edge'.........and that takes you back onto the 'too loud ' category ...5 w amps can make a fair bit 'o noise !!
The volume level is of major concern to me and I think it rules a lot of possibles out straight away, unless I go for an add on attenuator but at the price they come in it it almost certainly blows the budget out of the water. :sad: The volume level is partly neighbours, and to be honest partly me too - I'm a quiet wee soul at heart. :shy:
Strummer07 wrote:I don't feel even vaguley inclined to do mods either :thumbsdown: .......100% not my bag. way too many wires and I have no clue what I am doing nor why ......which is why I've pointed you at alnicomagnet ...who does these things .at a cost !! .

Mind you any decent amp tech can probably do the same thing .but you gotta find one locally , and I've not found that easy .guitar techs OK .................amp techs ...............more difficult.
Interesting on that alnicomagnet site to see / hear the difference with the mods. Then we've got HBL modding his Blackheart Little Giant. I'm quite adventurous on what I'll do with guitar repairs, but amps - hmmm - another ballgame altogether and it's quite a prohibitive cost to get it done for you. :thumbsdown:
Strummer07 wrote:On the Blackstar you have the two seperate channels .One being clean and the other being 'dirty' with its own seperate gain control .so you can turn the volume way down and whack the gain up and get a break up that way.....'My' demo link gives you both clean and dirty sounds ....its versatile that's for sure. .and i don't think you need an attenuator at all ..just switch channels with the olde footswitch ....................which is supplied !!
Sounds like the Blackstar HT5 is an option worth considering even just to get round the volume aspect. There is an Edinburgh Guitar Store has them but it's at £300 and I'm stretching things even with the Vox at only 2/3rds of that price. Rats!
Strummer07 wrote:Have you got anywhere close by you can go a try a couple out?? ....I would defo sugggest you wanna try out the Vox AC4TV and the Blackstar .and the Blackheart if you fancy the head cab combo. ( I didn't ...........really as its just more space to take up..... it also looks a bit pretentious IMO...........pretentious as in it looks like your some sort of gigging pro .....in my dreams perhaps !! )
Typically none of the Edinburgh stores do both the Vox and the Blackstar - there is one doing Blackstar and two others do the Vox. Does make it more difficult to get a good comparison as the equipment / room / ambience will be different. One of the ones doing the Vox lists the Blackheart BH5 112 Combo, but not currently in stock - though that store is the one I'd rather not use as I had a difference of opinion with them over whether the customer should be allowed to do his own set up and adjustment. :angry:

You're right about the Bugera being difficult to find - I think that would be Glasgow, so the cost of getting there would make it much less good value, even if it was any good.

Good listing on the low-watt amps site too btw. Oh well - back to more research and thinking. Thanks for your advice on this Strummer. :thumbsup:
An improv a day keeps the demons at bay!
DetroitBlues
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Re: 5W Tube / Valve Practice Amps

Post by DetroitBlues »

I use a Fender Super Champ XD. 15W Tube Hybrid Amp. With the XD (16 digital amp modules and 4 effects) in addition to the 12AX7 and 6V6's tubes, this amp also rocks, but it can be turned down, tweaked and give great tone at low volume. It only has a single 10" speaker, but it still rocks. Fender makes a little sister to this amp, VibroChamp XD. Three minor differences, 8" speaker, single channel, and 5W. Still has 16 digital amp modules and 4 effects. Essentially a great practice/bedroom amp. No headphone jacks, but it still spits out decent tone. Oh, the Superchamp has a footswitch and the vibrochamp does not. Still a tube hybrid....
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