Valve. Amps. ?

What's Hot
TTonyTTony Frets: 19817
In all my years of playing, I've never - ever - had a valve amp.

Ever.

I was booked to do @RiftAmps' build a (valve) amp before lockdown etc happened.  And would have built my own.  But that couldn't happen due to this flu thing.

So I was keeping my eyes open for a cheap (ish) valve amp to buy.  Quietish too, preferably.  And @DrCornelius recently advertised this;


So I bought it.

Mainly, I bought it because I figured if he'd bought it, it couldn't be all bad.

Today, I've enjoyed a few revelations.  

I used to set up my tranny amps to the edge of dirty - because that's the sound that suited what I played, and add a few of the built-in effects and emulations (that's what makes a really good amp, obvs, built-in effects!).  And then, whatever I played, it sounded dirty (and a bit shite too, tbh, but that's my style).  Whatever pedals I put in front of it changed it from a little dirty to a little more dirty.  Whichever guitar I plugged in maybe changed the sound from loud to a little more loud.  But they all sounded pretty similar.

This is not a dirty amp.  (Fender BJ III, rehoused).  It's a wonderfully clean amp.  It's a wonderfully warm amp.  A wonderfully transparent amp.  A wonderfully precise amp.  It showcases the guitars.  It makes guitars sound different from each other.  (Suddenly I have a reason for having so many different guitars).  (Well, some of them).

At first I thought "whooops, bad choice. Dr Con knows nothing".  I could get "dirty" by tweaking vol & master controls, but a slight twitch on the master control and I'm suddenly deafened.  (It's loud).  

Then I remembered I had a pedal or two tucked away in a cupboard.  A Thorpy something.  And a Keeley something.  And a something something.

So I dug them out, dusted them off, and plugged them in.

Pedals sound better through this amp.  The pedals take it from clean, and warm, and precise ... to - err - various shades of dirty, and warm and precise.  But even the pedals sound better through this amp than through any of my others.  They *do* more.  And sound better doing it.  Now I realise why there's a fuss about these pedals.  I thought my ears were defective before, but now I hear them.  This amp makes sure I do.


It's been a while since I've had so much fun playing guitar.  Different guitars that actually sound properly different.


Someones can now come along and tell me that there are so many, so better, valve amps.  Don't.  Not just yet.


For now, I'm pretty happy with this one.  Cheers Con!
0reaction image LOL 3reaction image Wow! 3reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
«1

Comments

  • Rich210Rich210 Frets: 322
    A Beautiful moment! Enjoy Tony
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • Hey Tony, that's a great post! I wasn't aware that you'd never had a valve amp before.

    I won't start girthing myself all over the shop about valve amps. Not yet :)

    But, grab a reverb pedal! A Boss RV5 would do it, and put it in front of the amp. Then dial the pedal in for a small amount of reverb, and then start really digging into your guitar strings with it activated. Really nice swooshies!!!
    TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER
    THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!!! FOUR LIGHTS!!!
    ばりしつエンドウ豆
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • TTonyTTony Frets: 19817
    Cheers @Rich210 - I'm planning some more enjoyment time tomorrow  ;)

     @WiresDreamDisasters - My Boss ME80 is getting plugged in tomorrow :+1:  


    Feel like I've been missing out for the last few years tbh.


    Ok, last few decades.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • DrCorneliusDrCornelius Frets: 2553
    I’m wiping away tears of joy here . To think I helped make that happen !
    5reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • TTonyTTony Frets: 19817
    The dog's happy here too @DrCornelius ;
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • pintspillerpintspiller Frets: 917
    really find it odd that somebody with boutique pedals wouldn't have had a valve amp previously. That may say more about me though.

    I'm not saying they are better, but I do seem to prefer a valve amp. I think it's the way I think they appear to respond to the way I play (probably a lot less dynamic than I think). 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • dazzajldazzajl Frets: 1666
    edited October 17
    Congratulations on a great buy. There are thousands of other valve amps out there but I’m sure none could have made you happier than that one. So you can definitely count it as the best there is
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • TheMarlinTheMarlin Frets: 3399
    Wow, that nice!
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • LebarqueLebarque Frets: 1687
    Valve amps are better than trannie amps? Who knew?!
    1reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • Rich210Rich210 Frets: 322
    I had the same kind of experience Tony! My musicman amps at the front end behave like solid state amps so I never really got that 'living on the edge of breakup' thing, and as soon as I tried a little class A champ all of a sudden my guitars took on new dimensions. Different tube amps definitely behave differently with different guitars! 

    Try messing with a compressor pedal or something similar you can really dial in a tubey tone that you want to hit consistently. Enjoy!
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • Alex2678Alex2678 Frets: 89
    I had the same moment a few years ago. Just sounds more ‘real’ with valves.

    There may well be ‘better’ amps out there. But you could spend 5k and there’ll still be ‘better’ amps out there. The only time it’s worth worrying about is when you’re looking to buy. When you’re playing and enjoying it,  no other amps have a say
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 3reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • munckeemunckee Frets: 6110
     Blues jrs get flack but they are the best selling amp ever for a reason. 

    Right size, reverb, master volume and sound great. 
    1reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • TTony said:
    My Boss ME80 is getting plugged in tomorrow :+1: 
    Nope...you need to start obsessing about buffers and true bypass now ;)
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • martmart Frets: 4093
    You’ve only just discovered the joys of valve amps? And with a Blues Junior? Oh boy, you’ve just started yourself down a very long and very expensive road. :)
    2reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 4reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • LastMantraLastMantra Frets: 1131
    I'm not only surprised you've never had a valve amp, I'm surprised you've never built one!


    MYMUSIC

    I wanna be a door
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • ICBMICBM Frets: 50177
    munckee said:
     Blues jrs get flack but they are the best selling amp ever for a reason.
    I find their popularity at the price they are new baffling. The reasons they get flack are perfectly valid - but this one has had one of their biggest faults corrected, which is the awful stock cabinet. I changed a couple recently for a customer and I was really surprised at the difference it made - it cured the normal constipated sound they had before completely and made them sound really nice.

    Just make sure that the voltage is set to 240V not 230V and they have less of a tendency to catch fire as well :).

    (I think the Hotrod Deluxe is actually the best-selling valve amp ever, if it matters - and that really is for a good reason.)

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • TTonyTTony Frets: 19817
    edited October 18
    I'm not only surprised you've never had a valve amp, I'm surprised you've never built one!

    Well, I was supposed to have done earlier this year ... and then I was looking at the ampmaker & Vyse kits ... and then I just bought this one.

    Of course, that doesn't stop me building one some time in the future @LastMantra ;;  


    mart said:
    You’ve only just discovered the joys of valve amps? And with a Blues Junior? Oh boy, you’ve just started yourself down a very long and very expensive road. :)
    Errrrrm, @mart ;  ...
    TTony said: Someones can now come along and tell me that there are so many, so better, valve amps.  Don't.  Not just yet.
    I'll have to shift a few other large noisy boxes before I buy (or build) another large noisy box ...
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 19359
    mart said:
    You’ve only just discovered the joys of valve amps? And with a Blues Junior? Oh boy, you’ve just started yourself down a very long and very expensive road. :)
    It's been rehoused, which means it'll probably sound way closer to an expensive valve amp than it did before. 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • TTonyTTony Frets: 19817
    TTony said:
    In all my years of playing, I've never - ever - had a valve amp.

    I am a LIAR.

    LIAR, LIAR, LIAR.

    I had an Epi Valve Jr for a while, many moons ago.  My old pub mate @Phil_aka_Pip bought that.  

    Hope he’s found himself a decent pub again ...

    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • ICBMICBM Frets: 50177
    TTony said:

    I had an Epi Valve Jr for a while, many moons ago.  My old pub mate @Phil_aka_Pip bought that.  

    Hope he’s found himself a decent pub again ...
    And a decent amp ;).

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

    5reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • dindudedindude Frets: 7143
    I had the same moment but very early on in my playing days when a relative gave me a (probably unsafe) valve amp of unknown original found in a loft. I had a boss metal zone at the time and the difference it made plugged into the crappy valve amp compared to my sessionette was unreal. I’ve never not owned a valve amp since (getting on for almost 30 years ago).
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • ArchtopDaveArchtopDave Frets: 732
    edited October 18
    I've thought about doing Maestro Rift's Course as well @TTony . Only trouble, from my point of view, is that I own three of his Amps already.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • martmart Frets: 4093
    edited October 19
    TTony said:
    ..... 
    Errrrrm, @mart ;
    TTony said:
    ..... 
    Someones can now come along and tell me that there are so many, so better, valve amps.  Don't.  Not just yet.
    I'll have to shift a few other large noisy boxes before I buy (or build) another large noisy box ...  
    Pffft, you expect me to a have read all of your post?
    TTony said:
    ...
    I had an Epi Valve Jr for a while, many moons ago.  My old pub mate @Phil_aka_Pip bought that.  

    Hope he’s found himself a decent pub again ...
    And a decent takeaway.
    1reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • ennspekennspek Frets: 1180
    My first amps were valve amps. Over the years I have started to use solid state and then modellers more and more. Still can't part with the big valves I can't use anymore though.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 6452
    Yup, I used exclusively solid state for quite a while. Had tried mates’ Blues Jnr and Marshall DSL40 but only at bedroom volumes and wasn’t impressed. Then used an AC10 at an open mic - Wow! Once a valve amp once is turned up (which I really can’t do at home) it really does come to life. On the strength of that I bought myself a Blackstar Studio 10 6L6 (Compared to an AC10 in the shop the Blackstar was louder, more musical (to my ears) and had more ‘thump’ to it). I don’t see myself ever buying another solid state amp. Once the current restrictions are over I’d like to buy a 15-20W amp but for the time being 10W is plenty.
    I play guitar because I enjoy it rather than because I’m any good at it
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • ChairsChairs Frets: 44
    It was a few years back when I popped over to grab a guitar from @TheMarlin (remember that Raygun Relics tele with the single Rebel Yell? Still loving it by the way!). I'm not sure what he was using at the time but he had a reverb tank plugged into it and it sounded gorgeous - ended up giving me GAS for a Suhr Badger 18w. I'll never look back.
    I've been around since MusicRadar as Schpudd. Current feedback here. Or eBay feedback on request.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • TINMAN82TINMAN82 Frets: 875
    Hallelujah 
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • I started on a SS amp with a multi effects, then moved onto a Marshall half stack when I had the room/money. I totally missed the versatility of SS/modelling/multifx however so now have a POD Go which sounds great after a bit of tweaking and getting used to the feel of it. 

    Only trouble is I now want something I can plug my tele into with maybe a TS and some reverb in front and just play away. I should have all bases covered by then. I really like modelling for high gain stuff, less so for the more natural, nuanced playing I also like to do.
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • dogloaddogload Frets: 1455
    I also had that revelation @TTony ; - tranny amps set with a bit of edge but was starting to find the sound just wasn't doing it for me; felt like the aural equivalent of slapping the flat of one's hand against a concrete wall!

    So a few years ago I started using a 70's Selmer T&B that I had access to and that was it! Depth, warmth, clarity etc., etc. 

    Just makes me wish I'd discovered this years ago when you could get 'classic' valve amps for peanuts when everyone was getting all the latest solid state stuff!




    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 1reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
  • I had a Musicman valve combo some 30 years ago. If I remember correctly, it had a 12" speaker with a built in phase and was able to do quiet home use and miked up gig use. It was great, albeit fragile. Eventually I needed a bass amp for the band I was in, so sadly I had to sell it to get the cash together.

    Since then I have mainly played through either Fender or Vox transistor guitar amps (for home use). So, now the common problem - as I really really want to find a valve amp that is small enough to use in my attic (as in small enough with a volume and a gain in order to get a little crunch or saturation).

    I tried a Vox AC10, but it was still so powerful that I couldn't achieve a good sound at low volume. I tried a vintage Fender Super Champ, and whilst it was good for home, it needed a level of technical curating that was not for me.

    So, am currently playing through a Vox AV15, which is actually very good, and I get the versatility found in the transistor or hybrid amp for low volume - although it still does not quite have the chime/warmth that I crave. 

    TTony - your rehoused BJ III seems to be the ticket for you, albeit sounds like you are using pedals for your sound. Would you or anyone else have any other contemporary recommendations (I did wonder about the now defunct Princeton Recording amp ?) ?

    I find it strange that the major manufacturers do not seem to be targeting this market...
    0reaction image LOL 0reaction image Wow! 0reaction image Wisdom · Share on Facebook Share on Twitter
Sign In or Register to comment.