Amp recommendations ~ something for shimmering Fender type cleans

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ChrisMusicChrisMusic Frets: 1118
edited August 2014 in Amps

Amp recommendations ~ something for shimmering Fender type cleans


So I am back in newbie mode here.


My only real experience of playing Fender amps (that I recall) was with Twin Reverbs a long time ago, and yes my ears bled.  The clean tone was shimmering and beautiful, tons of headroom, but trying to get a non MV Twin to crunch was a life threatening experience, buildings were demolished in the attempt Yes, I know better now.


Several guitarists who I have great respect for, have used both Fender and Marshall in the same rig, such as Jan Akkerman and Andy Timmons.


I am not even sure about the descriptive words to use for my impression of the archetypal Fender clean tone in my head.  Shimmering, chimey, glassy (as in clear and crystalline, *not* sharp or spiky) come to mind.  “Sterile” is a word to be avoided, which is how I felt about many British amp cleans.  So a little help with the words to better communicate the sounds may be helpful too.

I don’t even know the difference between Tweeds and Black/Silver Faced Fenders, so please educate me, and be gentle.


What is out there, what recommendations do you have ?


• Ideally I am thinking 20 to 50 Watt (100 at a push), maybe dual channel, reverb is not essential though, crunch and gain are nice but not essential, especially if it works well with pedals.

• Doesn’t have to be Fender, and whilst simple is good, flexible is nice, reliable is a must.  I do like the way Mesa give loads of tonal options with just a few switches.

• How much difference do the power valves make to this, i.e. 6L6 vs EL84 in the lower wattage options ?

• It needs to be able to take pedals (I think), but I assume that most good clean amps do that well anyway.

• As an aside, do any pedals get you close to this Fender clean sound when put into a British style amp ?

• Secondhand availability is a bonus, as it makes most things accessible, so maybe a few different budget options would be good too.


So with an open mind, what do you suggest goes on the shortlist ?


Links or YouTube videos would be great too.


Thanks for your help.


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Comments

  • MajorscaleMajorscale Frets: 817
    Budget?
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  • You appear to have just described a Deluxe Reverb - either the 65 or 68 reissues. The 68 reissue has just come out and I understand they've tweaked the circuit so it crunches a bit more readily, and you can also get trem/reverb on the 'normal' channel. The '68 is also cheaper as it's made in Mexico rather than USA.

    The '65 *does* take pedals, though a bit of dialling in is needed with some of them, depending on which amp channel and input you're using, due to the amp's tendency to emphasise the very top end and make the pedals sound a bit scratchy. Some pedals do work better than others, and there are a couple of threads on this forum about this. It just takes a bit of experimenting till you find the right settings/input.






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  • JohnPerryJohnPerry Frets: 1376
    Carr Slant. Channel 1 is basically a blackface Deluxe Reverb. I was able to compare them side by side for hours a couple of years back. Best Fender cleans I've ever heard. Channel 2 is a Marshally Voxy Tweedy hybrid. Fantastically well built. Two used ones in Coda. 40w but steps down to half-power if needed. If i could only have one amp I reckon that would be it.

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  • ChrisMusicChrisMusic Frets: 1118
    edited August 2014
    Well then @Majorscale, good question, and one I thought that I had diplomatically sidestepped by the "secondhand availability is a bonus, as it makes most things accessible, so maybe a few different budget options would be good too." comment.

    It rather depends on where the options suggested lead me, and whether it really is worth pushing the boat out and spending more a little further down the line.  Ideally I am thinking second hand, circa £1k maximum, but ideally less if I want to do it soon(ish), maybe a bit more if it really is worth waiting a while, realistically I would want to keep it under £2k absolute max.  I want to educate myself about the options before making any sort of decision, and I am not in a hurry.  And there is no point over spending, or under achieving, come to that: all things in life need balance.

    edit:  Maybe it is realistic to consider second hand budget brackets of up to £600, up to £1,000, and over £1,000, I think that makes sense ?

    This is really an exploration to get an idea of what is out there, what the options are in various budget categories, and what is really good, so I can make an educated choice, and pick something that is right for me, with a little help from my friends.  :)

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  • spacecadetspacecadet Frets: 664
    I have become totally reliant on my Budda Superdrive V series. I have a V-20 head and V-40 combo. Basically exactly what you described. Typical Fender/ Dumble style 3D cleans, takes any OD or boost pedal like a boss, devastatingly loud (even the 20w) and has never let me down in 4 years (touching wood as I have a gig tonight!). Worth looking at. Others I have been looking at as a backup/ alternative are Morgan and the Deluxe Reverb. That said, if your budget is £1k you get 2 Hot Rod Deluxes, get the mod kits for them and you have a spare if one goes down!
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  • @spacecadet what's the drive like on the buddas? I've heard great things about them.

    Chris, you could do much worse than to go into pretty much any guitar shop and just play a few fender amps - they're mostly very good sounding, and even the small pro junior has a really nice fender clean. I suspect you'll like the already mentioned reissues.

    There are other great clean, fendery amps, too. If you want hand built, ask @martinw and @jpf - boutique is all well and good, but I doubt they do anything a British builder can't, and these guys consistently show their knowledge. Easy access support, too, being based in the same country and all that :)
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  • CatthanCatthan Frets: 196
    edited August 2014
    If you like your cleans a bit driven like I do then either a Mesa with lonestar cleans (a few options there as most post-lonestar mesas offer some lonestar character) or a Suhr Badger-any one. 
    my problem with the fenders is that the cleans are a bit punchy and stiff in the mids which may be the purpose mix-wise but don't "feel" quite right in my hands. 
    they are obviously great for pure cleans and the DRI and Twin I've gigged with take pedals well too.
    I would try a Mesa Express 5:25+.
    I also hear good things about Matchless and Hiwatts but haven't played one and don't know how they would fit your budget
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  • MajorscaleMajorscale Frets: 817
    For not much money second hand, Rivera amps are great for cleans. Paul Rivera designed many Fender amps after all. Plus they are usually bursting with features including gain channels.

    I used to own a Chubster and the cleans were glorious, chimey and probably exactly what you are looking for.
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  • spacecadetspacecadet Frets: 664
    @ThePrettyDamned depends on which sound you're after. I've had most of them and tried them all. The 18, 30 and 45 win for my tastes. They have that hot rodded Marshall thing in buckets. The preamp is apparently the same as a Brown Eye. The 80 and V series are a little more contemporary pop rock. Much more tight and modern sounding. All of them sound great though.
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  • hotpickupshotpickups Frets: 1121
    There was a Lazy J40 sold here recently that might have done it for you. Or is that too pricey?
    Link to my trading feedback:  http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/59452/
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  • ChrisMusicChrisMusic Frets: 1118
    edited August 2014
    Thanks for your responses so far.  Both the Carr and the Budda sound pretty good in the YT reviews, so I will short list them to go and check out in the real world.  Both brands are new to me.  As is the Rivera.  The Budda V40 sounded much better than the V30, I don't know if that is the 6v6s or just the quality of the YT demo.  I know nothing about 6v6 valves, so a bit of info on them would be great.

    The older version of the Carr appears to have an FX loop, which seems to have been dropped on the current spec, is that the case, and why would they remove a feature like that, do you know @JohnPerry

    I haven't discounted Fender either, but as I said in the OP, I am a complete newbie about the tones on these amps, so much that I am not really sure of the difference in characteristics between the black faces and the tweeds.  If someone could clarify that, I would be grateful.  What are the SuperSonics like, do they still retain the magic, or is it ameliorated in the hunt for gain ?

    I saw the Lazy J40, I am not sure what to make of them, the reason for this discussion really.  But I am more in information gathering rather than buying mode right now.  The aesthetics suggest Tweedy origins, so I need to clarify that really.

    Mesa are also on the shortlist, with the LoneStar, and it may be worth checking some others out too.  I like their approach, if not the UK pricing

    Are the "boutique" amps worth the extra cost over standard Fender issues ?  Genuine question as to what separates them.  I used to have pretty well developed hearing, so I hope that is coming back too now too, and I really want to shortlist what I will be happy with longer term.

    I have owned Hiwatts amongst loads of others back in my past life, but I don't remember them as fondly as the regard they seem to be held in now.  But I was a lot younger back then, and hopefully my tastes have matured a bit.

    You are right @ThePrettyDamned, getting to a good guitar shop is what I intend to do once I have got to grips with the options.  It is all too easy to get overwhelmed with choice in a shop, and lose focus, and they are not the best environment for relaxed appraisal.  The most local shop only carries cheap gear, so I have to make a special journey of an hour plus to anywhere worth visiting with a selection.  And that is easier said than done right now.  Although World Guitars is reasonably close.  I need to find somewhere that carries the majority of the models on the shortlist, for a reasonable comparison, once that is done.

    So thanks again for your help, keep the suggestions coming

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  • hotpickupshotpickups Frets: 1121
    I like to think of the boutique amps as amps that will give the classic sound some of us prefer but knowing that the amp won't need constant attention for years to come so more reliable when compared to an old original etc ;)
    Link to my trading feedback:  http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/59452/
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  • JohnPerryJohnPerry Frets: 1376
    @ChrisMusic no idea why they dumped the loop on the newer Slants. Seems odd but Steve Carr no doubt had a good reason. Coda now have three used Slants, including a blonde with the loop in it (the pix are wrong at the mo...they have it pictured in black but i saw this thing myself last week and it's a beaut). 2x12 though...not the smallest. As for being under pressure in a guitar shop, i don't think you'd find that in Coda. I didn't. I guess the trick is to go on a weekday and try to secure an hour in their amp-packed back room undisturbed

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  • ToneControlToneControl Frets: 5737
    edited August 2014

    I would really recommend a Ceriatone HRM Bluesmaster 50 dumble clone, with Celestion Golds

    Basic sounds is a refined Blackface clean. I have often played this amp in preference to at least 5 high-end brand amps

    in addition, this amp has a large number of very flexible and effective switching options, low boost, mid boost, OD with 3 pots to control sound (one is effectively a separate master volume for OD - extremely useful). You can do slightly gritty OD up to Santana OD, it will not do Marshall tones- best to use it clean with a pedal for that

    The head is about £1200 new, you might see some used for £800

    Good UK builders can make this circuit too of course - MJW for example


    valves: for me, 6L6 is the gold standard for Fender tones, solid bottom end and a lot of percussive power in the notes. 6v6s always seem softer to me. You can design sparkly clean El34 amps with this, in a non-Marshall style, Matchless and Carr have done this well, but not the budget you are looking at. I've never been happy with EL84 amps trying to do Fender sounds really. Most break up very early, I think you can use them in a way to avoid this, but even then, their is a lot missing to my ears

    I think British sound pedals into an ultra clean 6L6 amp works well - but I have never got a satisfying clean sound from a British style (Marshall I assume you mean) amp, other than a JTM45 clone - these can be bought cheap if you shop around. KT66s sound very nice

    The other amp I have that does a stunning shimmery tone is a tremolux 6G9-A (with power tube bias-tremolo) with a 2x12 Jensen cab. This is just the right volume, and may even be in your price range if you can find one



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  • Forget the looks, and Try a Fender Machete.  £2k at launch but didnt sell due to the perception (not least due to looks) af being a high gainer.  Channel 2 is indeed capable of high gain, but also lower gain levels.  The clean channel is perhaps a little harder in attack compared to older fenders but its very nice, and the pull crunch option is a bonus and well judged.  Its EQ is extremely reactive, and with a notch filter on each channel and a master damping option you can pretty much get any tone you want.

    I tried one next to a supersonic, and that felt boxy and bland by comparison.  The clean channel was pretty similar to a Mesa Royal Atlantic sitting next to the Machete - but the Fenders drive channel was nicer - mainly due to the ability to tune it.  It could get thick like a marks drive, or cutting like a recto, and pretty much anywhere in between.

    Trying the Machete next to a Loanstar, and the Loanstars clean was perhaps a touch prettier due to the softer attack - but the gain and crunch modes on the Machete were better for me.

    They are no longer available from Fender - and were being sold off at £800 new.  Got mine a couple of months ago, so dont know if theres any new in the UK left to try - but if you get the chance, definately try one.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 39559
    If you want...

    Mesa
    20-50W
    Great cleans
    Flexible
    Simple
    Reliable
    Takes pedals well
    and are interested in different valve options but not bothered about crunch or high gain

    Then you need to look at the Blue Angel.

    Now discontinued, but it's the "anti-Mesa" - no channel switching, not even a MV, but it has one of the best clean sounds of any amp, runs with 2x6V6 to give 15W, 4xEL84 to give 33W, or both to give 38W, and also has one of the best reverbs of any amp (I know you said that wasn't a priority).

    It was available as a 1x12" combo which is reasonably portable and is the most common, or as a 2x10", 4x10" or head.

    I sometimes wish I hadn't sold mine, but at least it went to a good friend who won't sell it on without asking me first...

    "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

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  • 57Deluxe57Deluxe Frets: 6737
    ...and now tell us you also want to achieve all this on a budget of £300 - £400 max?? !!
    <Vintage BOSS Upgrades>
    __________________________________
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 39559
    57Deluxe said:
    ...and now tell us you also want to achieve all this on a budget of £300 - £400 max?? !!
    Easy. Second hand Hotrod Deluxe.

    "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

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  • ChrisMusicChrisMusic Frets: 1118
    57Deluxe said:  ...and now tell us you also want to achieve all this on a budget of £300 - £400 max?? !!
    ICBM said:  Easy. Second hand Hotrod Deluxe.
    Well then, just got back to this, and yes ICBM is spot on, that is the most obvious contender in the sub £600 bracket, which is one of the reasons for keeping an open mind and looking at the best options within *several price points*.

    Thanks for the new contributions, a bit more homework to do now checking them out.  I really appreciate your input and opinions on this.

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  • KebabkidKebabkid Frets: 1699
    edited August 2014
    Re:pedals, try the Catalinbread 5F6 (supposedly based on a tweed circuit). It sounds good and warms up solid state amps and imparts some Fendery sparkle, chime and bounce into non-Fender amp Re:amps, Deluxe Reverb, Vibrolux or Pro Reverb (heavy) will get you there. I tried out the 5F6 though a Deluxe Reverb Reissue and the pedal made the amp sound even more beautiful!
     www.cairoeast.co.uk - Madness Tribute band (Bass Player) and guitarist elsewhere
    Feedback - http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/57885/
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 39559
    Kebabkid said:
    Re:pedals, try the Catalinbread 5F6 (supposedly based on a tweed circuit). It sounds good and warms up solid state amps and imparts sine Fendery sparkle, chime and bounce into non-Fender amp
    If it really is based on a 5F6 circuit, it would make everything sound like a Marshall :).

    (The Marshall JTM45 is a straight 5F6-A Bassman copy, and all Marshalls up to the 2203 Master Volume are essentially derivatives of that.)

    "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

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  • ChrisMusicChrisMusic Frets: 1118
    @Kebabkid I saw you piece on the 5F6, I would love to get the opportunity to try one.  It was partially reading that which lead to the thought that maybe there is a pedal option which may suit.   It is a steep learning curve, all this stuff with amp tones and pedals and the interactions along the specific signal chains.  I never had anything like these options when I used to play.  Still good for GAS though   :)

    Now you have really got me there ICBM, not being sure what differentiates the various Fender flavours.  A Fender never sounded like a Marshall back in my past life, which is sort of where all this came from.  Now you have got me confused and intrigued in equal measure.

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  • KebabkidKebabkid Frets: 1699
    edited August 2014
    That's interesting. I use a H&K Tubemeister 36 which has EL84s and I went into Guitar Guitar, told the guy the Fendery, spongy sound I was after and he recommended the 5F6 and it achieved that. I'm talking Nile Rodgers, Sultans of Swing, Long train runnin'
    ICBM knows his onions but try it and see @ChrisMusic (gain should be 9-10 with everything else at midday, maybe knock back the middle a but more) and see what your ears tell you.
     www.cairoeast.co.uk - Madness Tribute band (Bass Player) and guitarist elsewhere
    Feedback - http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/57885/
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 39559
    edited August 2014
    It might of course not be based on a 5F6 - hard to see how it can be accurately unless it's a full valve preamp! - but just called that :).

    There's a world of difference between a Fender *Tweed* clean sound and what is now usually thought of as a 'Fender clean' sound, which is a Blackface/Silverface sound. A Tweed clean sound is in fact much more 'Marshally' - rich and slightly 'hairy' rather than deep and bell-like. So it could be slightly confusing if you're looking for one and get something which gives the other.

    A pedal which will definitely give you more of the Blackface sound is the Boss fender Deluxe Reverb pedal. It doesn't sound exactly like a Deluxe Reverb but it does get roughly into the same ballpark. (Personally I find the knob layout and lack of a separate tremolo footswitch option massively annoying, though... so I didn't buy it.)

    "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

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  • AdjiAdji Frets: 106
    Never heard one in person but everytime I hear a Port City Pearl I think: 'man, that is the base clean tone I want.'

    Fretted Specialist for D'Addario UK
    Please feel free to reach out to me with queries about D'Addario.
    ____________________
    www.adamironside.com
    www.youtube.com/Adji87
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  • VoxmanVoxman Frets: 2368
    edited August 2014

    Perhaps one of the most under-rated (and reasonably priced) British amp manufacturers around is Laney. Two amp lines might suit you, both of which are all tube Class A:

    Laney VC30 which comes in 1x12, 2x12 and 2x10 flavours. Really nice warm shimmering, glassy cleans, with a decent overdrive channel too.   

    Lany Lionheart range is a slightly more boutique version of these, available as 5w and 20w combos, and 20w and 50w heads - here's a demo vid of the Lionheart L20H with 2x12 cab: 


    I started out with nothing..... but I've still got most of it left (Seasick Steve)
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  • richardhomerrichardhomer Frets: 20194
    ^
    That sounds nothing like a 'shimmering Fender'. Cleans on that clip are distinctly 'British'.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 39559
    edited August 2014
    The VCs aren't Class A either - typical hot-running cathode-biased Class AB.

    The Lionhearts are (probably) Class A.

    Not that it matters.

    "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

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  • ThePrettyDamnedThePrettyDamned Frets: 4073
    edited August 2014
    The 20 watt lionheart sounds really quite different from the 50, I though. Though it does sound good, the 50 is very much into fendery clean territory, though not the same - it's still one of the best clean sounds I've ever heard, mind.

    Peavey classic 50 has a great sounding clean, too. Although if you want proper fendery cleans, the hot rod deluxe is really good, and apparently get even nicer after a speaker change.

    I stick by my original statement though - if you want to spend out a bit, British hand made is the way to go. It'll still be cheaper than most USA boutique offerings (and some off the shelf ones!) but it'll kick all the arse and you can specify which fendery sound you want. :)
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  • JohnPerry said:
    Carr Slant. Channel 1 is basically a blackface Deluxe Reverb. I was able to compare them side by side for hours a couple of years back. Best Fender cleans I've ever heard. Channel 2 is a Marshally Voxy Tweedy hybrid. Fantastically well built. Two used ones in Coda. 40w but steps down to half-power if needed. If i could only have one amp I reckon that would be it.

    Great amp. This or a 70's Pro reverb, I always stuck OD and drive pedals in the normal channel to go for more vintage tones, whilst keeping the reverb/vibrato channel for the cleans.
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