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

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

Postby spacecadet » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:48 pm

XIIduostang! wrote: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


Ah, well that rules that out then :)

I guess I've sort of decided I want built in reverb anyway (since my reverb pedal sucks) so I guess that narrows the choice down anyway. Gonna check out some others recommended here too. I think I'm probably gonna up my budget just a little bit... Musician's Friend has a Vox AC15C "restock" right now for $479, which is pretty tempting.

Not sure I really want to go the totally used route, as my wife's gonna use this too and she likes things that have never been touched. I think I could convince her to go with an "official" refurb but probably not straight used.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby Johnny Z » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:48 pm

Kind of depends on you. What kind of gigs you plan to play. How much tube and speaker break up you want and personal preferences. I'd say the tone is subjective, between Tubes and Solid State. I've had a few Hybrid amps, I think the best was a 30 watt Legend, it kind of was half Marshall and half Kustom. Nice Oak cabinet.

I like Fender amps, I've owned about 15 over the last 40 years, most were tube amps, still have a few. Many of the newer Fender amps are built cheap, might as well be a Solid State amp, the quality isn't any better. One of my favorite amps is my 80's Roland Spirit 50, kind of like a JC 50, it's great for almost everything, never gives me any trouble and sounds better than some of my old Fender amps.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby noisepunk » Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:14 pm

XIIduostang! wrote:
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


And the problem with all three of these amps is that none of them are built very well, so for gigging you'll be taking a chance that could easily make the amp cost more than it's worth- this is pretty much true of any affordable new amp, and even some of the supposedly higher end one like Oranges.

I'm going to third the musicmaster bass suggestion. They're in the middle of your price range, sound great, and are built like tanks like all old fender amps.
The music won't save you.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby dinoturd » Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:39 pm

+1 on the blues jr
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby spacecadet » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:46 am

Ok, just one more question - anyone have an opinion on the Marshall Haze 40? I think I've realized that I probably am just a Marshall person going back to when I was younger and had that old tube combo amp, but I can't afford one of their professional amps, and that's mostly what they do. I've watched some YouTube videos and the Haze 40 seems like it does basically what I want, though the reverb it has is digital. I'm just not sure about single-channel amps like the Blues Junior, and the fact that I'd probably end up using a bunch of pedals anyway and lose most of the tone of the amp.

I think I've decided that ideally what I'm looking for is a two channel amp, clean and overdrive, with spring reverb. The Haze 40 seems to come closest at this price (the main downside being the digital reverb), and it sounds like a Marshall.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby chrisrnps » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:54 pm

spacecadet wrote:I think I've realized that I probably am just a Marshall person going back to when I was younger and had that old tube combo amp, but I can't afford one of their professional amps, and that's mostly what they do...I think I've decided that ideally what I'm looking for is a two channel amp, clean and overdrive, with spring reverb. The Haze 40 seems to come closest at this price (the main downside being the digital reverb), and it sounds like a Marshall.


That opens up a lot more affordable choices than trying to do Fender or Vox sounds on a budget.

Don't overlook some of the newer 'not-so-big-name' amps, like all the recent lower-to-mid-wattage Blackstars and Egnaters and Traynors and the like that are all over the place now. I picked a Blackstar up for $250 on Craigslist last fall on a whim just because it was cheap, and it actually turned out to be quite nice, particularly after changing out the tubes. Even the reverb's surprisingly usable, if you can live without the 'ccccrassssshhhhh' mechanical-chaos part of the spring reverb sound.

I also see Marshal-esque things like 5150/6260/JSX combos for pretty affordable prices used on CL and elsewhere. The key is to save up some money, research and come up with a list of acceptable models, and then be ready to jump fast when a deal comes up.
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby Johnny Z » Thu Apr 12, 2012 2:16 pm

spacecadet wrote:Ok, just one more question - anyone have an opinion on the Marshall Haze 40? I think I've realized that I probably am just a Marshall person going back to when I was younger and had that old tube combo amp, but I can't afford one of their professional amps, and that's mostly what they do. I've watched some YouTube videos and the Haze 40 seems like it does basically what I want, though the reverb it has is digital. I'm just not sure about single-channel amps like the Blues Junior, and the fact that I'd probably end up using a bunch of pedals anyway and lose most of the tone of the amp.

I think I've decided that ideally what I'm looking for is a two channel amp, clean and overdrive, with spring reverb. The Haze 40 seems to come closest at this price (the main downside being the digital reverb), and it sounds like a Marshall.



Some digital reverbs are pretty good. My friend has a Alessandro 40 watt Working Dog tube amp with digital reverb and it's almost like the reverb in my '83 Super Champ which is very good!
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby spacecadet » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:26 am

chrisrnps wrote:That opens up a lot more affordable choices than trying to do Fender or Vox sounds on a budget.

Don't overlook some of the newer 'not-so-big-name' amps, like all the recent lower-to-mid-wattage Blackstars and Egnaters and Traynors and the like that are all over the place now.


Yeah, I've been trying to listen to some sound clips/demos of those also. Jet City is another one. The only problem is I *really* have no experience with those at all and I think they'd be hard to find locally so they're just a big wild card; I'd have to take a chance totally sight unseen. But I think I'm in danger of overthinking this now anyway; it is just a (relatively) cheap amp, and if I don't like whatever I get I can always sell it later.

I think I've got a better idea of what I want now and also a better idea of what kinds of compromises I will need to make at this price. It seems like I'm not going to get a nice warm/deep clean tone *and* awesome thick/crunchy overdrive (in a switchable channel) *and* real spring reverb at this price. It seems like I can get one or two out of the three, and I just need to decide which of those is/are most important to me. But I have an idea now of which amps will give me which one or two of those things, and I've got it down to probably two or three different possibilities, with the potential of still being swayed if I find something cheaper on my next visit to GC.

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

Postby HP Hovercraft » Sat Apr 14, 2012 12:54 pm

How about the new Fender Excelsior?
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby spacecadet » Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:47 pm

Resurrecting this thread because I finally bought something - bit the bullet and went up to $800: http://r.ebay.com/6NEG6U

Just won it now, so it's not here yet, but that's my amp :)

Most convincing review I read before deciding on this: "This is the sound you want, just close your eyes and spend the money."

Ended up deciding it was a better idea to just get the amp I really want and will probably have forever than trying to find something I can live with temporarily. My wife was actually with me on this so I figured I'd spend the money while I could (and she even tried to convince me to spend the $$$ on a new one!). She has actually been trying to convince me to buy "real" guitars and equipment lately! I still remember her being freaked out when I spent $700 on my Jazzmaster, and now she's actually trying to get me to buy $1,400 amps and $1,800 guitars :)
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby øøøøøøø » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:13 pm

a pretty good choice. I doubt you will ever regret spending the extra money. However... that's a LOT of amp... loud, clean, and heavy to carry!
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby spacecadet » Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:32 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:a pretty good choice. I doubt you will ever regret spending the extra money. However... that's a LOT of amp... loud, clean, and heavy to carry!


Yeah, well I figured I'd be set for life. I probably never have to buy another amp, even if I end up playing Madison Square Garden someday :)

I've still got my 10 watt Marshall practice amp and my Danelectro Honeytone for just noodling around. This purchase was always meant to be my one serious amp. I figured all the others I was looking at were compromises in one way or another.

I'm just gonna use pedals for overdrive/distortion. I know it's impossible to get this thing to distort. I think I've decided I'm in the clean amp/external effects camp (except reverb).
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby gusman2x » Thu Apr 19, 2012 9:58 pm

Peavey delta blues is a mega good amp for the price. Louf, amazing cleans, and takes pedals well
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby Mr T. » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:35 pm

I'm gonna go a couple amps that've been mension a couple times here...

-Fender Pro Jr (no personal experience with the blues jr, but I suppose it's very similar). In your price range, it shouldn't be impossible to find a tweed/mia pro jr either. Among the most sparkly clear cleans I ever heard came from a twee pro jr.


-Peavey Classic 30. A lot of amp for the money. The extra channel might come in handy, and the larger speaker will probably handle heavier genres and fuzzy/distortion stuff a little better than a Pro Jr. Not to mension the 30watt...You'll have no problem cutting through if you ever want to jam with a other people and a drummer.

-I've never played an AC15, but as far as reliabiliy goes...: So far I can say that the overal build quality of my AC30CX1 has partially cured of my prejeduice agains chinese amps:)
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Re: Amp advice for a "beginner" in the $300-$400 range?

Postby Mr T. » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:36 pm

Srry, just now read that you scored a twin reverb. Great amp, congratz. REALLY loud and heavy though :derp:
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