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Gear Heads => Amps => Topic started by: MomaDan on September 20, 2012, 07:56:06 PM



Title: Small amps
Post by: MomaDan on September 20, 2012, 07:56:06 PM
I'm moving away from Fl and my current amp is not coming with me. I've been researching a few different smaller amp options for a city apartment. So far my list contains the Vox Pathfinder, Fender Mustang, Vox AC4TV, some lesser known 5 watt tube amps and the Blues Jr. Some people have said the BJr is even too loud for an apt. Being the resident Blues Jr enthusiast, whats your opinion happy? Or anyone's opinion on other options listed or not here.

 


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: the_great_lemon on September 20, 2012, 10:02:02 PM
I think you're right about the Blues Jr. being a bit loud for a small city apartment.  Maybe a Pro jr. would be more suitable?

I've played the Vox AC-4 a few times and thought it sounded quite good, and its cheap get.  The built in wattage control works fairly well at suppressing the volume when cranking.  Only upgrade I might make to it is maybe a better speaker...maybe one from eminence? There lines have a lot of variety so I'm sure you could find something suitable for fairly cheap. Happy hunting!


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: IamWILSON on September 21, 2012, 03:55:15 AM
I have a great, all be it expensive idea for you.  Get a Swart 6v6se and the night light (attenuator) that they offer too.   It would probably cost you $1k new for that stuff (find them used for around $750), but you will have the best tone you can get at whisper volumes.  No joke, the highest attenuated setting is barely louder than your guitar strings, but with great tone!!!  And you don't have to attenuate it that much either, but it's perfect for apartment living and a quick grab and go to jams that don't involve the loudest drummer in the world.  These swart amps are really 3 dimensional too.  If I remember correctly the circuit is a cross between a princeton and champ.

Edit: I'll also add that I bought the Vox AC4TV and returned it after 3 weeks.  It just sounded way to small and boxy.  I prefer the Fender Champ 600 to the Vox, but it still has to be turned up to get good tones out of it. 


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: ColForbin on September 21, 2012, 05:57:21 AM
I have to +1 the pro jr. option.  I just got one actually, and they sound quite good at lower volumes.  You are into the $400 range, and it can sound pretty big through an 8 ohm 2x12 hard truckers cab (like the one I have) for added versatility.  Later on, if you want it to get louder it can be a sweet amp for going straight in and getting some overdrive, if that's your bag.  It is more portable than a blues jr as well.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: sour d on September 21, 2012, 08:38:22 AM
Silverface fender champ.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: fulltone1989 on September 21, 2012, 09:41:25 AM
Silverface fender champ.

I came in to say this, they go for $300 all day, sound great for what they do and you can throw in a new speaker or NOS glass if thats your thing for relatively cheap.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: raisingfreen on September 21, 2012, 01:40:23 PM
+1 on both the Silverface Champ and or the Pro Junior.

I have both. The PJ will get you closer to Trey sounds (on its own) due to the EL84s (boogie'ish). It can also get really loud if you want but takes longer on the dial to break up. It's basically a beefed up Champ. Even the brochure says this.

The Champ will break up at more manageable volume however it only has a 8" speaker. The Pro Junior has a 10" Speaker.

I had my Silverface Champ modded to add an extra preamp stage (3 preamp tubes instead of 2) as well as a preamp line out jack and it makes it a nice little amp to get tone out of without being too loud. I can also plug in into another power amp or recording device.

PM if as I would be interested in selling either one. The Pro Junior I have is an early one with Laquered Tweed and 10" Jenson.
The Champ I have has a 8" Weber Alinco Blue Pup.



Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: Happyorange27 on September 21, 2012, 02:51:28 PM
Chiming in late here but yeah these suggestions all sound good to me.  The BJ is just very loud and I think you would need to spend to much in mods to get it where you love it.

Also consider an isolation box.  Look them up if you are not familiar.  Then you can crank any amp and not disturb the neighbors.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: Heady Jam Fan on September 21, 2012, 03:43:57 PM
Chiming in late here but yeah these suggestions all sound good to me.  The BJ is just very loud and I think you would need to spend to much in mods to get it where you love it.

Also consider an isolation box.  Look them up if you are not familiar.  Then you can crank any amp and not disturb the neighbors.

Yes - I built one, put my neighbors in it, and they can't hear a thing.

Jokes aside, I wanted one, but never got around to it.

I agree the Blue Junior gets pretty loud at its sweet spot. Too much for a typical apartment, though I get away with playing pretty loud since there are only 4 apartments in my building, one on each floor and I only play at reasonable hours - really depends on the building and people living there, for us, its mostly grad students.

The first thing that came to my mind was an SF champ. The Pro Jr at 15w could probably still even stir up some neighbors, even if it fits the bill better. I personally would probably keep a gig-able amp and then a really small one for practicing. I had a 5w amps for a bit from the 50's that sounded awesome - even that thing was pretty damn loud to be honest.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: Happyorange27 on September 21, 2012, 03:50:33 PM
Good one about the neighbors^!

Yeah my 5 watt tweed champ is really freaking loud actually.  Look for a 2 watt amp! :P


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: MomaDan on September 21, 2012, 05:07:22 PM
Thanks for the info! The Swart sounds pretty cool but its way too expensive for my purposes at the moment. I've also been looking at the Vox Lil Night train i think its 5 or less watts. Theres so many choices which is a good thing I guess.

This is the only Champ I see right now on CL, opinions? Its not silverface though. http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/msg/3279399750.html


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: picture_of_nectar on September 21, 2012, 05:35:04 PM
Honestly, with those kind of amps I think you are gunna hear better tone using a POD or Axeeffects unit and headphones.

That said, I don't think you can beat a Princeton Reverb!


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: Heady Jam Fan on September 21, 2012, 09:17:52 PM
Sorry PON, but I pride myself on never having touched a POD, lol.

I would probably look for an SF Champ if you go that route, for a little more cash, you will get a much better amp that holds its value. But if I am completely honest, in that situation, I would be tempted to get a 60 year old 5w, single ended, two knob, lunch-box lookin' amp. Super midrangy with mild creamy overdrive - a hollowbody with a delay pedal would be a sweet setup. Those usually run $3-400 and sound incredible and bluesy to me, nice compression so you can back off with your volume knob for rhythm. I know its not in the jammy/phish/trey realm, but might have better results in an apartment.

The other option I would suggest looking at is a BF clone, but definitely go used if you go that route as they lose value quickly. There are a bunch of companies that make low-watt BF clones.

Also, two great ways to get good low-volume sounds out of higher wattage amps include PPIV (or PPIMV, same thing - Post Phase Inverter Master Volume) and VVR or Power Scaling. Some amps come with it, others can be modded. It would probably cost $150, maybe a bit more, but then one amp can be your practice and gig amp.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: sour d on September 21, 2012, 09:53:54 PM
The good thing about champs is that the circuit was the same from like 64 to 82.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: picture_of_nectar on September 23, 2012, 11:40:14 AM
Sorry PON, but I pride myself on never having touched a POD, lol.


I hear ya, me neither.

But...i just can't sem to play real quiet with a tube amp. When i rehearse pretty much my whole neighborhood knows about it...;)


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: fulltone1989 on September 23, 2012, 10:54:27 PM
What about a Rivera Champ? I think those are 15w and handwired.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: Happyorange27 on September 24, 2012, 04:21:53 AM
The Mesa Express looks interesting. All hand wired, lots of options and switch between 5, 25 and 50 watts!


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: manicstarseed on September 24, 2012, 05:49:37 PM
The Mesa Express looks interesting. All hand wired, lots of options and switch between 5, 25 and 50 watts!

That is the 5:50+ model - 6L6s
the new 5:25+ model does 5/15/25 with EL84s.

I have the 5:25 that does 5/25W.. This thing is a mini monster 5W is LOUD. I love the tones the new plus series has even better cleans. I am gasing over it and I love my Experss 5:25. Fairly light to carry too.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: sour d on September 24, 2012, 07:54:53 PM
I can't stop playing through this amp
(http://i771.photobucket.com/albums/xx358/mixervw/2012-08-31142845.jpg)

6 watts and a 12" speaker
(http://i771.photobucket.com/albums/xx358/mixervw/2012-08-31142859.jpg)


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: dontpanic on December 23, 2015, 12:14:33 PM
Sour d, have you tried anything higher in wattage than that 15 watt blue? Curious because I just bought an extension cab for my small amp rig (tweed champ and 80's sidekick 15 watt) and am trying to max out headroom on the champ. I know the blues are some of the best speakers for this amp, but I am really wanting to put something > 15 watts in it if it will sound pleasing. Curious to hear successful champ, or 5 watt amp, and 12 inch speaker combos.



Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: Heady Jam Fan on December 23, 2015, 01:24:06 PM
Sour d, have you tried anything higher in wattage than that 15 watt blue? Curious because I just bought an extension cab for my small amp rig (tweed champ and 80's sidekick 15 watt) and am trying to max out headroom on the champ. I know the blues are some of the best speakers for this amp, but I am really wanting to put something > 15 watts in it if it will sound pleasing. Curious to hear successful champ, or 5 watt amp, and 12 inch speaker combos.



I tend to like my speakers to be able to handle much more wattage than my amp puts out. I'm not big on speaker distortion. Rather than just thinking about small amps, consider ratio. Trey used his 22w Deluxe Reverb (a small amp by some standards) with at least a 4x12 of Celestions Blue's totaling 60w power handling. Some people use 1 Celestion Blue for a Deluxe, so he has 2-3 times the power handling necessary, plus I believe he at least sometimes kept the combo's internal speaker plugged in. At some point in time, he was using a 50w Weber Blue Dog; if he used this with the 412, it would total 110w power handling for a 22w amp.

Similarly, he uses at least a 212 with V30's for his Mesa Boogie Mark III. The 2x12 would handle 120 watts. His Mark III is Simulclass in Class-A mode, which usually puts out 15w with EL34's, but he uses 6L6's, so his Mesa would probably max at 30w in that mode. Not to mention his master volume is on 3 out of 10. So again, he is using at least 4 times the power handling than required by his amp. Not to mention if he uses both 212s, then he has over 8 times the power handling indicated by the amps max output based upon his settings.

The Mesa originally came with a 200w EVM12L speaker, which is about 3x the power handling of the amp in Simul-Class mode. Likewise, I think many amps come stock with speakers that would be unlikely to get fried by the amp. Fender sold various versions of the 15w Blues Junior including ones with a 50w handling C-Rex or 60w handling V30.

Conversely, there are many people out there with the opinion that you have to push a speaker near its limit to get it to give up the goods. That is not my opinion. I could see that for some heavier classic rock tones, like the ones made popular by a cranked 100w Marshal Plexi going into a 412 cabinet with Greenbacks that handle 25w each. Then you have a 1-1 ratio of power output and power handling. However, this is not the sound I go for most of the time, and not a sound I think is ideal if your aiming for a jammy tone a la Trey.

However, other aspects of sound will be influenced by increasing power handling. For example, going from a Blue to a Gold will be warmer top-end and less bouncy with a punchier bass. Of course you could go from a 1x12 with a Blue to a 2x12 or 4x12. You'd get a bit more warmth in the bass without too much effect on the top-end of the speaker (retain more chime than switching to the Gold possibly). You might retain a bit more of the bouncy feel that goes along with lower-wattage power handling speakers. And the speaker(s) would be less likely to distort as the amp's volume increases.

So the difference is probably largely preference. I went with a 212 with V30's because nothing else sounds the same and they are affordable. 212's sound a bit better than 1x12s, but are less portable. I don't think a Blue that handles 15w will distort in a 5w champ. A Gold might sound bigger and warmer, but somewhat less bouncy/lively. A 212 with Blues might sound a bit bigger while retaining the bouncy feel, but I don't think it would be cleaner or louder (since even a single 15w Blue would not be pushed near its max) - it would largely be due to the bigger cabinet.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: dontpanic on December 27, 2015, 10:18:06 PM
Thanks Heady, very insightful. I totally agree that a 1-1 ratio of power is not the goal for a jammy tone. I had recently played the champ through a 50w cannibis rex and it was pretty inaudible. This was most likely due to the 4/8 ohm mismatch. Really bassey. Anyways, it kinda of raised a flag with the wattage issue for me as well, and has me  leaning towards a lower wattage 12" speaker for the amp.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: Heady Jam Fan on December 29, 2015, 05:53:30 PM
Thanks Heady, very insightful. I totally agree that a 1-1 ratio of power is not the goal for a jammy tone. I had recently played the champ through a 50w cannibis rex and it was pretty inaudible. This was most likely due to the 4/8 ohm mismatch. Really bassey. Anyways, it kinda of raised a flag with the wattage issue for me as well, and has me  leaning towards a lower wattage 12" speaker for the amp.

I think your right - probably the mismatch, especially since the T-Rex is an efficient speaker. Its also definitely a dark speaker from what I remember having had it in a Blues Junior.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: Poster on January 04, 2019, 11:23:27 AM
go to reverb and just search "vintage small amp" most small amp designs are just rehashings of old Valco, Harmony, Gibson stuff. If you research the backlines at your favorite recording studios, youll notice very few use these newer low wattage amps, as they are usually pretty overpriced for what they are, or made of plastic. Zappa cranked pignoses. Jimmy page loved to crank anything under 10 watts that was handy. Get several and see for yourself. The small amp market is kinda a joke. That being said there are some awesome ones out there.

the Fuchs lucky 7 MKi is my favorite right now. Comes in a giant head size. Loaded with NOS 50's glass, and a 6l6, its loud and does the pushed fender thing very well. Based on Ken Fischers trainwreck express, but with some mods to the circuit, it wails. The single ended OT can handle 2 6l6's. You read that right. They heyboer tranny is huge and can dish out over 20w... Technically you could make a non reverb trainwreck fender beast just by adding a socket and a second bias point. The lucky 7 can also run any power tube, and a decent variety of preamp valves. Once you get familiar you can make it a poor mans studio backline or rehearsal monster.


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: Arafel on January 04, 2019, 04:16:31 PM
go to reverb and just search "vintage small amp" most small amp designs are just rehashings of old Valco, Harmony, Gibson stuff. If you research the backlines at your favorite recording studios, youll notice very few use these newer low wattage amps, as they are usually pretty overpriced for what they are, or made of plastic. Zappa cranked pignoses. Jimmy page loved to crank anything under 10 watts that was handy. Get several and see for yourself. The small amp market is kinda a joke. That being said there are some awesome ones out there.

the Fuchs lucky 7 MKi is my favorite right now. Comes in a giant head size. Loaded with NOS 50's glass, and a 6l6, its loud and does the pushed fender thing very well. Based on Ken Fischers trainwreck express, but with some mods to the circuit, it wails. The single ended OT can handle 2 6l6's. You read that right. They heyboer tranny is huge and can dish out over 20w... Technically you could make a non reverb trainwreck fender beast just by adding a socket and a second bias point. The lucky 7 can also run any power tube, and a decent variety of preamp valves. Once you get familiar you can make it a poor mans studio backline or rehearsal monster.

I got a Swart Atomic Space Tone Jr about a year and a half ago on a whim. It's really loud for 5W. I have no problem using it with a full band, but it won't play clean when i do. Still, it's an absolutely astonishingly good amp. I used it to record this song in the studio:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j57-8TXVBvY


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: Poster on January 04, 2019, 04:45:50 PM
yup STR is a take on the old fender tweed circuit, with some reverb on top. Once you start digging through those classic recording amps - youll either really get why you dig the swart, or just discover a variety of classic recordings were made with all the small watt amps in the 60s-70s


Title: Re: Small amps
Post by: picture_of_nectar on February 08, 2019, 11:16:24 PM
I rock a 1965 Princeton Reverb at home. I love it.