Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

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Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby spacecadet » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:43 pm

I realize this is a variation on the same question that's asked 20 times a day, but it seems like everybody's situation is a tiny bit different and that changes the answers up completely.

I know next to nothing about amps - in all the time I've been playing, I've pretty much just played whatever was easily accessible in my area and had a big name on it. I had a Peavey solid state amp when I was younger, then some Marshall tube combo amp which is long gone. Now I have a cheap little Marshall digital practice amp and I'm wanting to upgrade and get something I could play out with.

First, does it really make much difference to the sound if an amp is "pure" tube vs. a hybrid? I was looking at the Fender Super Champ X2; I wouldn't mind having some effects built in, but I do like tubes. Any other recommendations in that range for a combo amp? I like a warm clean tone and a dirty tone with some character to it. I play rock music and I like a thick sound.

I might be persuaded to spend a tiny bit more if there's a standout amp that a lot of people like that's just a bit more money. I'm selling a bunch of my vintage video games to pay for this so not really sure how much I'm gonna have; the $300-$400 range is me being conservative.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby XIIduostang! » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:04 pm

A great option could be a pro junior, an old Gibson amp like a discoverer (before 67 because after is solid state), or a blues junior.
Hope this helps. :w00t:
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby PJazzmaster » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:13 pm

XIIduostang! wrote:A great option could be a pro junior, an old Gibson amp like a discoverer (before 67 because after is solid state), or a blues junior.
Hope this helps.


thats it !!! 8) .... some used small tube amp!
I'm still in love with my Blues Junior that I bought 10 years ago on the used market! And it's loud enough for everything, even live gigs (I played 300-400 shows with mine).
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby David Watts » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:44 pm

I'm happy with my Peavey classic 30 tube amp and it should be right in your price range.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby Hoops » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:04 pm

+1 for the Pro Junior and Classic 30, both really great sounding amps and good value.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby spacecadet » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:07 pm

XIIduostang! wrote:A great option could be a pro junior, an old Gibson amp like a discoverer (before 67 because after is solid state), or a blues junior.
Hope this helps.


This? http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifie ... -combo-amp

I see they have a regular one too but I like the look of that thing. I'm not sure if Jensen speakers are any good, though.

What is the advantage of a Pro Junior over the Super Champ X2? To my untrained eye, it seems like the Super Champ is basically similar except it has an extra channel for effects?
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby secndshft » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:09 pm

You'd be surprised what you find for $300-400. I would encourage you to be patient, gather up your funds and then look. Generally speaking, you'll score a better deal on CL than on a board. We all need to sell our stuff to recoup costs or to buy the next thing. Craigslist can yield real finds from time to time. I have scored a half dozen amps (all vintage) in CL over the years. Heck, I sold a Pro Reverb to a forumite (semi-local) for just over that a month or so ago. That's a heck of a lot of amp for $400ish.

Good luck.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby jacobyjd » Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:05 pm

To add to the used pile, you could look for one of the low-wattage tube amps that have been super popular in the last couple years. 4-5w will make a lot of loud noise. In this group, I'd recommend the Vox AC4 and the Blackheart LIttle Giant. With your budget, you could easily score a head +cab version of either of those.

Also, anything from the Crate Vintage Club series (dug has a 20w combo for dirt cheap in the For Sale section :ph34r: ). I've been playing for 20 years, and I have yet to find an amp in the $300 range that'll beat my 30w Crate VC.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby mastermorya » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:53 am

Create a google alert for "silverface amp" posted on your local craigslist. Check the price when you get a hit against completed auctions on ebay. Post here for advice when you see something you might want. For the same price as a chinese sweatshop PCB amp you'll get a hand-wired all-tube amp, a champ, vibro champ, bronco (same thing as a vibro champ) or music master bass that is rugged and easily repairable and upgradable. If you want to gig, they may be too quiet without mic'ing into a PA but they are great amps for screwing around at home or recording.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby adumb112 » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:31 am

the fender blues junior is a good little amp and they can easily be found in your price range. 15w tube is plenty loud and in live situations, if needed, throw a 57 on it.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby SamCSleepwalker » Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:57 am

Used Vox AC15. You should be able to find one on the upper end of your price range. They're great amps. I have one of the Chinese models, a CC1, and am very happy with it. The seperate gain knob means you can dial in Vox's famous chiming overdrive at any volume level, and the reverb and tremolo are really nice.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby Wessel.v.l » Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:36 am

Epiphone valve junior, I have the head and cab version. it is really cheap and has nice cleans, and there are alot of mods for it that are cheap and make them even sound better. i did this to. It now has a tone and a master volume.
I like shortscale and offset's
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby andrewdoeshair » Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:43 am

Look out for a 70's musicmaster bass amp. It's like, 12 watts, all tube, very simple hand wired circuit, 12" speaker, and you can find em for $300-$400 pretty easily. The way I see it, is that new amps are often trying to emulate what this amp actualy IS. you know? Here's what mine sounds like with my Jag (volume at 2, 5, then 10)

http://andrewwritesmusic.bandcamp.com/t ... ith-jaguar
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby spacecadet » Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:37 am

SamCSleepwalker wrote:Used Vox AC15. You should be able to find one on the upper end of your price range.


I've always gone back and forth on Vox amps, but I'm considering an AC15 now. I saw a YouTube video comparing an AC15 and I think a Fender Blues Junior, and the AC15 just had a much more distinctive sound. I know that to be the case, but sometimes I don't like that distinctiveness... though sometimes I don't like the more generic sound I hear from a lot of other popular amps either. I probably really need one of each.

Does anyone have any experience with the Marshall Class 5? I think I've really got it narrowed down to either the AC15 or the Blues Junior NOS (depending on my mood the day I pull the trigger, and how much money I end up with), but that Marshall amp is kind of a wild card. It seems to be their entry into the low-end tube combo amp thing, but it doesn't seem all that popular for some reason. (I do like the fact that the two others have reverb, though.)
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby XIIduostang! » Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:14 am

spacecadet wrote:
SamCSleepwalker wrote:Used Vox AC15. You should be able to find one on the upper end of your price range.


I've always gone back and forth on Vox amps, but I'm considering an AC15 now. I saw a YouTube video comparing an AC15 and I think a Fender Blues Junior, and the AC15 just had a much more distinctive sound. I know that to be the case, but sometimes I don't like that distinctiveness... though sometimes I don't like the more generic sound I hear from a lot of other popular amps either. I probably really need one of each.

Does anyone have any experience with the Marshall Class 5? I think I've really got it narrowed down to either the AC15 or the Blues Junior NOS (depending on my mood the day I pull the trigger, and how much money I end up with), but that Marshall amp is kind of a wild card. It seems to be their entry into the low-end tube combo amp thing, but it doesn't seem all that popular for some reason. (I do like the fact that the two others have reverb, though.)

The problem with the class 5 is that it distorts with the volume 1/4 of the way up which equals no loud clean sounds
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