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Favorite guitar amps

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by NCdan, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    The title pretty much explains the purpose of this thread. Finding a guitar head and speaker combo that really works well for a particular purpose can be tough. Some of us may have found what we think is the perfect combination, while others accept the shortcomings of a certain head thinking that the warts are something that are just unavoidable. That being said, there is no best amp: different amps and speakers work better for different styles, and then there's just personal preference.

    So, I'm hoping to start a list, and maybe eventually a resource of what amps and speakers you have found that work especially well for you for ____ style(s). My only request is that you list the style(s) you're using this amp and/or speaker for (duh), and what sounds it does well, and what you wish were different about it. And, if anyone wants to list anything they felt was particularly craptacular or underwhelming for certain styles ___ amp or speaker was designed for, feel free to post that also.

    I'll get things started off.

    Carvin V3 head. http://www.carvinguitars.com/products/group.php?cid=6 (I couldn't get the main page for the V3 head to load.). I play a lot of punk: speed punk, punk rock, ska, etc..., and this head basically delivers every punk sound I've ever heard. If I had to describe it in another way, I'd say that you can dial in just about any "California sound" on it. As you might expect, it's tight, crisp, and clear. Some people may like this, but people looking for an amp that goes "chugga chugga" will never be completely happy with the V3. I like pairing this head with Eminence black powder speakers: MIDI, because they are very bright, tight, clean, and crisp, complimenting the V3's natural characteristics.
     
  2. jordy

    jordy Active Member

    i bought one of those Palomino combos last year.- ya know. one of those new tube amps that they make in china and sell for practically nothing?
    i freakin love it! i prefer it much over my peavey valve king(which was more expensive).
    it has 2- EL84's and 4- 12ax7's running at 50 watts. 2-12inch "special" (lol) celestions in the cab. -not bad. i believe the Palamino's are like a side project from Crate, even though it doesn't mention Crate anywhere on the amp.
    i play rocky emo sissy crap stuff, but this amp really works for me. - i'll have alota clean type stuff in my verses with some nice thick overdrive on the choruses usually. the overdrive channel in this amp is surprisingly good also.- which is why i like this more than the valve king.- it's more of a total package for me.
    nice warm tube sound for a good price...and not to many people have these.- they already discontinued the 50watt 2-12 that i just bought last year.

    i must also say that i do like my peavey valve king also.- 2-6L6's and 3-12ax7's. has a good clean channel....terrible overdrive channel imo. the valve king speakers aren't that great either, but i just use a marshall jackhammer and a marshall cab with it and it does just fine.
     
  3. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I'll weigh in on this one.

    In my studio I have four amps right now. They all serve different functions. I my live bands there are a lot more. But i can tell ya they are all very very good.

    Studio: Gibson Super Goldtone. 2-12's 60 watts EL34's and a bunch of preamp tubes. Tube driven reverb. THE absolute quietest amp I've ever heard. Made in England by Trace-Elliot. Tube driven effects sends which you can series or parallel.Two completely separate preamps both with individual reverb sends.. This thing can get that glassy fenderish shimmer with a Strat or that heavy humbucker grind. It wont do that oversaturation by itself, but with the way the effects sends are setup with a pot in and out, you can add the saturation at your desire. NOT...let me repeat NOT for the use live without a roadcase and a ROADIE. It is a heavy bitch but it does look good up on a Marshall box. Many combinations of speaker outs.

    Fender Blues Jr. Okay. This is a nearly perfect amp design. EL84's, 1-12, reverb, master and channel volumes, fender tone stack and portable as hell. Its a loud little thing too. Not quite a Deluxe Reverb and not quite a Vox AC15......somewhere in between. I play a lot of blues jams and this always goes everywhere with me. Mine happens to have been built on a Wednesday and everyone on the line did their job superbly. As well as my good friend The Doctor biasing it to its highest potential.

    Seymour Duncan Convertible. One of the earliest boutique amps made. ALL of the preamp tubes come with their own preamp card and plug-in as modules in the top access. FOUR EL34's...its frikkin LOUD....It has a variable output transformer so you can operate it at 5 watts or 100. Both channels are separate and with the changeable modules, you can customize the basic sound anyway you find fit. The modules are getting hard to find but there are still some around. You can get Twin clean and Marshall dirty at will. Jeff Beck used these for a long time. Mines a 1-12 combo. I dont like the 80 watt Celestion but its okay for real clean.

    1967 Vox Cambridge. First year of solid-state after Thomas organ bought Vox. Its not loud but it has a certain sound you cannot get anywhere else.

    LIVE: Every weekend I get to listen to a Carr Hammerhead and a Bogner Metropolitan. These are both handmade single 12 combo amps. Both are distinctive sounding. The Carr is bit like an old JTM Marshall while the Bogner is a fusion of Fender and Vox. Both are incredible.

    At some of the blues jams I go to, a local builder of boutique amps brings some of his offerings around for folks to try. Always a different unit and so far all have been quite great. His name is Conrad Sundholm ....you know his work as the originater of Sunn Amps and Biamp company....He is still building custom boutique amps that rival ANY I have heard. Check out his site @ http://www.conradamps.com One of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet.

    I'm not shilling but this is about great guitar amps and these are.


    There ya go.
     
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I have two amps that I use for recording. I record mostly jazz and pop/country/folk/blues so I use a lot of clean or very mildly distorted tones.

    Matchless Hurricane. 15 watt, 2xEL84, tremolo, master volume, 2x10 Celestions. Not a very common amp. (They made a similar amp called the Lightning with no tremolo that seems to have sold better and is part of their current production.) Very chimey "more Vox than a Vox" tone. Great clean tones. Nice smooth distortion when driven.

    Fender Blues Jr. Dave describes it well up above. Great recording amp and small room live gigs. Mine is one of the older models. I have not had the bias or the reverb circuit modified. Dave - does "The Doctor" do the mods recommended here? I'd be interested in the tone mods, but improving the reverb circuit would be a huge plus. I almost never use the current circuit. Not a big problem when recording. I just use a plate reverb setting. But it seems like a waste of a circuit.
     
  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Rivera Pubster. Mine has a better "Fender clean" than a current-production Fender!! Very reminiscent of a blackface Deluxe Reverb I had many moons ago. The reverb is VERY good, footswitchable Boost with it's own Master, very warm tone with plenty of grit, built like a brick outhouse, great speaker and it can get LOUD when called for.

    Tech 21 Trademark 60. Don't discount this amp because of the absence of gassed glass. This little powerhouse is very versatile, going from clean to crunch and beyond in no time, thanks to its' dual footswitchable channels that are differently voiced. The FX loop easily takes to pedals, and the reverb is great, too. Once again, a well-built amp that is versatile and reliable.

    1970 Fender Dual Showman Reverb. A real classic. The reverb of all reverbs, plus great tremolo effects. King of Clean. Great with pedals, whether it's a RAT or a SHO. A veritable locomotive that will drive any
    cab to its' full potential. Plus, they never die...

    Valco Supro 1624. Mine was made ca. 1965, owned it since 1975. Unreal tone as you turn it up. 25 watts of totally tubulicious tonality through a real 12" Jensen. The tremolo is haunting. Harmonic richness I have yet to hear out of anything else.
     
  6. BDM

    BDM Active Member

    i am fond of my Mesa Boogie studio .22 (with the graphic EQ), especially after building a custom 1x12 cab for a Celestion V-30 (sounds WAY better than the V-30 i put in the combo...). Really nice for blues. wish it had separate volumes for clean/dirty channels, but i hear there is a mod for putting one in the back, and i mostly use it for recording, anyway.
    I also took out two tubes from my Fender 'The Twin' to cut the wattage from 100/25 to 60/15, and i like it much, though had to leave it in Canada (really heavy...)
    both amps are ridiculously loud and full of TONE.
    that said, guitar rig3 is getting A LOT of use.....
     
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Okay. Last night I was at a Blues jam and got a chance to play most of a set with a Conrad called the Velvet Hammer.

    This may very well be the best amplifier I have ever used. I say 'may be' because I have owned well over 40 amps in my life and some of them have been phenomenal. The 1960 Tweed Vibrolux might be up there too...as well as the 65 Vox Cambridge tube amp I had....then theres the 62 ProReverb or the 85 Marshall JCM800....BUT,

    This one was simply the sweetest most responsive thing I have stuck a cord in in a very long time.

    Check em out at the Conrad amps site I posted earlier.


    Moon....you would LOVE this thing.
     
  8. dave_p

    dave_p Active Member

    i have to give a 2nd to the mesa studio22, such a creamy smooth distortion and records well.

    best bass rig i have ever owned was a SWR workingmans 160 through a genz benz XB210T
    i played blues gigs with it with a 5 string fender jazz.
    the bottom was sublime and it really cut through, very hi fi sound. never had to turn it up past 4 or 5, i kid you not. i was running at 4 ohms, so it was a very clean 160 watts. i miss that rig. it sounded so much bigger than 160 watts through a 210.
     
  9. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    For rock I love my old 1983 Mesa SOB, it will bite it's way through any mix without being overly harsh. Single channel, nothing switchable, so you'll need a pedal or two if you can't get the variations you want from the guitar.

    For electric blues, if size & weight were not a factor I'd be using a '69 Fender Super Reverb 4x10 with the blackface mod. in combination with Dr. Frankenstein's Leslie cabinet with a Yamaha guitar amp built-in. It's ugly, but it's a little slice of tone heaven even when it's not spinning.

    Since I don't have the vehicle ( or the young back ) to haul that size guitar rig anymore, I've had to look for practical alternatives. And I've been really impressed with some of the new stuff. The Vox AD30VT has a blackface model that sounds really good in addition to some really sweet classic Vox tones in a small combo. And the Tech 21 Trademark and Power Engine 60 single 12 combos are extremely versatile used with a Pod XT Live pedalboard. Don't roll your eyes until you hear it! I like scalding hot glass as much as the next guy, but these amp modelers have gotten really good and weigh next to nothing. Not to mention the ability to instantly recall dozens of guitar rigs.

    I got to listen to a friend's Dr. Z Galaxie combo amp last week, with 2 ToneTubby 10-inch speakers, very sweet! This would be a honey of an amp for electric blues too.
     
  10. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Dave-
    You have to get Conrad to comp you an amp for helping him record some better sound clips. His clips sound fine, but I feel like I'm hearing the room as much or more than the amp. Not that there is anything wrong with that for general listening, but if I'm going to be sending a chunk of my retirement funds across the country (ain't going to happen) I want more motivation.

    They are seriously cool looking pieces of equipment, and everything I hear sounds great. Best of luck to him.
     
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    I'll talk to him about that Bob! I could probably get him to fashion one of the preamp sections from the Velvet Hammer and put in a DI behind it for direct in the studio.

    As it is, these things are the Real S**T....

    I've played on or owned most of the amps mentioned so far. Last night there was a bunch of stuff....66 Pro Reverb, Oxblood covered Hot Rod Deluxe( a really good one BTW) A 2-10 Bedrock, 1-12 100 watt MusicMan,my Blues Jr., a custom-made Conrad(for the guitar player who runs the jam),a couple of Peavey 30's, a little Crate tube amp, looked like a used music store....The only thing thats even close is my guitarists Bogner Metroploitan as far as sweetness and touch sensitivity. And this amp is way more versatile.

    My total impression of it is much like the first timeI put up a U87 on a good vocalist...."Oh, thats the sound"
     
  12. jordy

    jordy Active Member

    it doesnt look like anybody mentioned orange amps yet...come on guys! these things got some sweet smooth tone...plus they look even cooler.....like an orange cream sickle with vanilla icecream in the middle.....kinda...idk
     
  13. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    I'd probably be using Orange if it wasn't for the Carvin V3. Orange amps just have an organic, raunhy sound. But the V3 is just more convenient, has more features, and is a lot lower in price.
     
  14. BDM

    BDM Active Member

    I really like the aesthetic design of the velvet hammer, but wouldn't that sun ray blocking the center of the speaker get in the way for recording mic placement? i'm not so particular, but i've heard of people even removing the tolex when recording...
    i also forgot to mention a cool little amp that my Dad bought with his '57 Les Paul Jr.- a Magnavox Melodier Deluxe
    http://www.vibroworld.com/magnatone/109.html
    it breaks up nicely when cranked with it's two little 8" Jensens, but one day i'd like to hook up a celestion cab... it's not the greatest amp, but i have a soft spot for it. Gar Gillies was the last guy to tweak it, so it is full of history (and beer stains/cigarrette burns).
     
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    BDM. In answer to your question about the sunrise blocking the speaker for anything, I think not. It certainly gives the amp some of its sound. It doesnt beam as much as others of this size and genre.

    So now a week later and last night was the blues jam again. I love just going and playing off-the-cuff anything that comes to mind....or doesnt as sometimes the case may be. Got to hear a little high-end Crate. A V16 I think it is??? Very nice. A Dual-Rectifier showed up. I'm not a Mesa fan though they have their place. This one was dark and inarticulate. Coulda been the guitar. And a Reverend 60 watter. It was a good sounding amp. He had a lot of pedals and though we didnt get a chance to talk about it, I think he was losing some serious tone with them in place.
    Conrad showed up again with the Velvet Hammer. I got to use it quite a bit and I grow even more enamoured with this amp. Not only did I play through it with my stock JAP 87 Strat, but we got to hear a very nice 06 Flamey LesPaul ...one of the 59 reissues down to the nickle patima on the gears and pickup covers....VERY nice. Also one of the Heritage/Les Paul guitars also with buckers. Again, the amp sounded like the guitar was designed to sound. The Bucker'd guitars were warm and thick sounding with no blurring at the edges of the sound.

    Lets talk about the blurring. A lot of amps have overtones and innerharmonic distortions that tend to 'blur' or lessen the definition of the sound when you start getting up to playing volume. Live its not so much of a problem, but in the studio where "Mics Dont Lie" its almost instantly recognizable. Its really one of the big reasons ,sometimes, it takes so long to really dial in a great guitar tone in the studio. I did say that 'live' is not so much a problem....this is true until you play on an amp which doesnt have this distinction. Once you do, you'll never be happy again with blurring.

    There is no 'blurring' with this amp. Nor any of the other Conrads I have played. Wednesday night I did a set on one of the Blues Jammers. Again, a very direct forward sounding amp with an incredible touch sensitivity and lots of tone. I guess you could call them 'refined'.

    I havent gotten a chance yet to crank it to heavilty distorted sounds....I'm guessing it'll probably go there somewhat. I'm not sure if its ever going to be one of those hugely saturated front-end kina sounds...but since I havent tried like that I cant be sure.

    For the Blues player, country, really any kind of rock and oh yeah, Jazz, this amp is really really good. My playing is easily going places I have never been and its mostly due to the fact that I'm not fighting against the amp to get it to respond to nuance. My hands are now dictating the sound and the articulation of the sound and the amp delivers it as easily as possible.

    I'm telling ya ..guys....Yeah its handmade, yeah its boutique, yeah its reasonably priced for what it is.

    And for all you OLD guys like me...Its a SUNN....ooops...I cant say that can I!!! Someone else owns that name..

    http://www.conradamps.com

    I'm tellin ya Moon and all you Southern Pickin and a grinnin boys...this is the shizits.

    Before you all go ghetto on me ....I aint shillin, I'm just sayin
     
  16. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    My fav amp:

    Glasstone Legend 3015
     
  17. sshack

    sshack Active Member

    Guytron GT100FV...great amp at any volume, I record a lot with it. but I only get to play out with it once in a while as using a 100 watt amp at most of the venues I play is quite overkill.

    Orange Rockerverb 50 - What can I say, it's an Orange.

    '83 Fender Concert (The Rivera-era)...I take this whenever I go on the road as it's the cheapest amp I have and don't mind it getting beat up a bit. It's a tank though...best $400 I've spent.

    Goodsell Super 17 Mk2 and Andrews A-22 are my main gigging amps. Both local boutique amps. I rotate through them depending on our set list, guitar that I'm using, etc. Both are great with pedals.

    And an old '72 (I think) solid state Rickenbacker 1x12 combo. I record a bit with this too as the cleans are just amazing.


    There are sooooo many excellent amps out there, I was caught up in chasing the latest and greatest a few year ago and just had to stop. I've just settled on what I have as it's more than adequate and just play now. Though, the Conrad's do sound pretty nice. THANKS DAVE! </sarcasm>
     
  18. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Truly Mr.Shack with your ear for amps..(I've played through a Guytone!! and toured with a Rivera Fender Concert ...83 also) you NEED a Conrad. (chuckling hyterically)

    He has sent the Velvet Hammer down to Las Vegas I think and some hot shot is trying it out.

    They are made ONE at a time. And he'll tweek em for your particular tone and style. So every time you plug in, you plug into to.....YOU.

    One of these days I'm gonna get mine.
     
  19. Dwrek

    Dwrek Guest

    haha back to the whole Orange conversation, I've owned / still own / played through countless Orange cabinets, but i've never owned one of their heads.
    But my perfect setup would be Peavey XXX head with a Koch Loader I attenuator, through an orange 4x12 cab, and a Soldano Astroverb 2x12 extension cab. That would be for playing metal.

    For any slide, or blues I'd just mic up a pair of old peavey triumphs I have.

    And for anything else, most likely a Peavey 6505+.

    I already know that the old school fender fiends are going to flame me for not mentioning an old 60's Deluxe Reverb, or a 60's princeton.
    And the marshall fans are going to have to mention the Super Leads, Plexi's, and JCM's. But peavey pays the bills
     
  20. Greener

    Greener Guest

    You mean Peavey pays your bills...
     
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