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I am currently using a fender super reverb (circa 1970) for a keyboard amp. I'm pleased with the sound that I get from it, but the weight/size makes it less desirable for gigging. Does anyone have any suggestions for mid to small size amps (preferably tube)that still retain a full sound? The amp will primarily be mic'd. I have been looking at some fender princeton tube amps, but I'm afraid they won't give me enough low end.


Nate Tschetter Wed, 07/09/2003 - 06:48


What keyboard are you playing through it? Open backed guitar cabinets won't generate a lot of real bottom.

I have three systems I use. A [=""]JBL EON10G2[/]="http://www.jblpro.c…"]JBL EON10G2[/], 2 12" Yamaha MS150s or two [[url=http://="http://www.jblpro.c…"]JBL EON15G2[/]="http://www.jblpro.c…"]JBL EON15G2[/]. For small and portable, I like the MS150s. If I have cartage, I like the 15G2s. For the rehearsals and gags (gigs that don't pay...I avoid these but sometimes...) I like the 10G2.

None of these use tubes. Why do you need tubes?

About your only hope if you have to have tubes a [[url=http://[/URL]="http://www.motion-s…"]Motion Sound[/]="http://www.motion-s…"]Motion Sound[/] amp.

Nate Tschetter Wed, 07/09/2003 - 08:14


I don't think you'll get a full sound out of a small guitar amp. Driving an instrument level input with a line level output might result in pretty much the opposite of what you're after. Its one thing to plug a Rhodes or Wuril (which have instrument level outputs) into a guitar amp but quite another to put a synth (that has line level outputs) into one. Although, as my Dad always says, its the kind of thing you like if you like that kind of thing.

Maybe consider one of the powered monitors I mentioned coupled with a DI of some sort. Avalon, Demeter, Aguilar all make one. If not, I've tried the Motion Sound amp and it sounds pretty good, its just really expensive.

I've not found a keyboard amp from Roland or Peavy that sounds good to my ears. Barbetta has or used to have quite a nice one.

lambchop Thu, 07/10/2003 - 07:30

I don't understand why someone would want to use a tube amp, especially a small one, to amplify a complex signal like a keyboard.

FYI, I used to use a Quadrasynth + Piano myself for gigging with a small PA system, Yorkville Elite Series from Canada. The speakers had a 10" woofer and horn and the head was a whopping 100 watts. It was good for small to midsize venues, delivering acceptable amplification with depth and warmth. I still use the same speakers with my current gigging keyboard (RD700), but now have a 300 watt stereo Samson head. Since the Alesis is also stereo, I would definately go the small PA route. It's easy to carry, customizable (you can use only one speaker, if necessary), and delivers the best soundscape by nature of the separated speakers.

Oh, and also it's relatively inexpensive.

Rod Gervais Thu, 07/10/2003 - 07:49

Originally posted by lambchop:
I don't understand why someone would want to use a tube amp, especially a small one, to amplify a complex signal like a keyboard.

i can understand why someone would want the warmth that you get from a tube - but please explain to me (and i am not being sarcastic here - i'm really interested) how an anolog signal coming through a 1/4" jack is too complex for a small tube amp to handle.

It makes sense to me that a line level output (vrs an instrument level output) may create a problem (although it also seems that as long as the level itself were handled properly leaving the keyboard even this wouldn't be a problem) - but a complex signal?

That one i just can't figure out.

So ok folks - educate me..........

Thanks and happy hunting


Nate Tschetter Thu, 07/10/2003 - 09:04

Hi Rod

Guitar amps are as much a part of a guitar sound as the guitar is. A guitar's output is a (relatively) simple waveform. Its the amplifier that makes it "complex". After the amplifier, the speaker gives it additional "character" and shapes the tone further via the cabinet and speaker design which, typically, is _not_ full frequency.

Its why very few guitar players plug their instrument directly into the desk and play through the mains or straight to tape. Its not the sound they (usually) want. Although people do this, its more the exception than the rule. Some people do this so they can later run the sound through a guitar amp.

Synths generally contain all of their "character" within the instrument. Therefore, one wants a full bandwidth speaker system to reproduce that character faithfully. Of course, this isn't _always_ the case but you get the idea.

UncleBob58 Thu, 07/10/2003 - 09:47

Nate - Yeah, the Barbettas sound very nice and not as heavy as the competition; about the same ballpark pricewise.

Rod - It's not the tube amp that that is being objected to, it's the fact that it is a guitar amp, which will not reproduce the full spectrum of frequencies that a keyboard amp will reproduce. When I was forced to use a guitar amp I couldn't get the crisp clean highs and the solid lows that I was used to.

Before I retired from performing I used a Toa keyboard mixer, a Rane 31 band graphic EQ, a Carver power amp (1200 watts bridged mono) and a Toa cabinet with a full range 15" JBL PA speaker, Altec driver for the horn, and EV piezos. I pushed the mixer channels very hard (loudest patch on each channel just barely glowed the peak lights) with the channel of the softest keyboard at about 8, mixer main down low and the power amp wide open. Very clean, full, warm, all the volume I ever needed, not that I wanted to use it. "YO! Uncle Bob, TURN UP! We can't here you" "Guys, TURN DOWN if you want to here me!"

:p: :p: :p:

lambchop Tue, 07/22/2003 - 07:50

Ah, that brings back memories. I used to play my Rhodes suitcase using two Fender Bandmasters onstage. But, we associated that sound and the Hammond sound with distortion back then. I can hear Garth Brooks playing "The Weight" with all that low growl distortion coming from his B3.

But thusmann is using an Alesis Quadrasynth Plus which is a digital keyboard with over 1300 patches. I don't think that many of them are meant to be distorted. And anyway, some of the Rhodes and Hammond patches already have the distortion included in them. :)

anonymous Mon, 07/28/2003 - 06:53

having owned two of the Sona Barbetta's i have some mixed feelings about them. Both were the 15" plus horn tweeter.

The plusses: the best sounding lightweight keyboard amp I have ever heard. Combination of price, weight, sound and features is unique. gallien-krueger, for instance, isn't even in the same galaxy.

The minuses:

a)might be a little underpowered if used for much more than a personal monitor in a big room.(Compared to, say, the larger Roland amps, which admittedly also weigh twice as much.)

b)not the sturdiest of construction. if using it on the road, rigging up some sort of a foam cover or something even more protective is an absolute must if you have any expectations of the amp working when you get there.

c) no built in fx, if that matters to anyone.

d) it seems to be sort of a one-man operation (Tony), and, while a nice guy, he is better at some aspects of the business than others. Distribution seems to be a weak point - so finding a store that actually keeps a unit in stock to demo can be difficult.

(Note: these comments are based on models and experiences that are now a few years old. Not sure if there have been major design and/or business changes).

By the way, bob, back in the mid-eighties I used that exact same TOA set-up! i don't miss lugging around that 15" cabinet though!

Nate Tschetter Mon, 07/28/2003 - 11:56


Well, now I've pretty much exclusively gone back to my Yamaha MS150s. Not much was really known about them and they were hideously expensive when they came out (about $1k a pair) but they're small (only just bigger than the 12" they enclose) and relatively light.

Each one has three inputs. Two of the input have adjustable gain and one of those inputs can take a mic level input (in a pinch). There's master volume and low / high EQ. You can send a balanced out to the sound dude.

I still have my 15" JBL Eons and they're nice but usually too big and too loud for where I have to play. The MS150s are a nice compromise.

Within the next couple of months, I'll probably check out the Motion Sound amps again.

Todzilla Tue, 07/29/2003 - 04:08

If you're on a tight budget the Peavey keyboard amps don't totally suck. I got a KB-100 for $150 used a while back. It's got a 4 band EQ (global), three inputs, cheesy reverb, a 15" and a piezo. It's not bad, although I'd love a mini PA system approach like some have identified above.

I use a Pro-3 horn and send the low end to the Peavey.

Like I said, it doesn't totally suck. As little as I play out, that's all I need - incomplete suckness.


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