What to do? Real amp or modeler?

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Like most, I mainly play at home. I do the odd jam session (with drummer), and I am considering getting a band back together again. So I do need volume. But also something that still sounds decent, without upsetting the neighbours. I live in a terraced house, with single glazing...  :#

I'm looking at something that can do modern high gain well...

Do I want a real amp? Mesa Boogie Mark series, Rectifier / Peavey Invective, 6505, 5150 / Engl Fireball etc. Something with a decent master volume / headphone out?

Or should I head down the Helix / Kemper / QC route, with a power cab? They can do high gain + a lot of other stuff, at any volume, or via headphones. 

I’ve only used tube amps before. No experience with modelers. 

I know a tube amp can still sound great at low volume. My first proper amp was a JCM900 4100 head with a 4x12". It sounded great (to my ears) even at really low volumes.

I assume a modeler through an FRFR cab will sound the same at pretty much any volume?

As a rule I've always been a simple soul. I don't really use effects other than a touch of reverb, maybe some delay, and a wah.

Seeing as I don't use much in the way of effects, is a modeler overkill for what I need? I could put together a modest pedal board + combo / head + cab for cheaper than the cost of a modeler + power cab. Or is the modeler all in one solution actually easier and simpler in the long run?

Thoughts? 

I can't help about the shape I'm in, I can't sing I ain't pretty and my legs are thin

But don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to

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Comments

  • DrCorneliusDrCornelius Frets: 7256
    Have a look at the BluGuitar Amp1 Chris, it does plexi through to modern high gain really well and has built in reverb, boost and a noise gate too. Gets very loud when needed (100w IIRC) but equally very happen at home volume too
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  • Might a Marshall DSL40CR do modern high gain well enough? 

    It’s certainly got an excellent master volume (2 in fact), the low power mode means you can play at really low volumes. Serviceable (though not exactly cavernous) built in reverb, footswitchable fx loop which works exactly as you’d want it to, doesn’t lose volume/clarity or add noise.

    Just depends whether the high gain sounds are your bag I suppose. 
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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 10477
    Get both 
    You can pick up a use Pod Go for £250 on a good day ... that's basically got the same amps and cabs as the Helix, and a lot of the same effects. 
    Then get a cheap combo like a DSL and use the Pod Go in the loop for delays, reverbs, tuner and everything else. 

    You will get both of the above for less than a Helix 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • Shameless self promotion alert - I’m selling a JVM 205C, though I don’t know if that’s too bulky for your requirements, or whether southeast London is convenient for you. 
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  • TTBZTTBZ Frets: 2918
    edited August 2023
    Modelers are great at modern high gain. The Badonk in Helix/Pod Go can sound huge.

    Out of all the digital stuff I've tried, Axe FX III is far and away the best imo, expensive but it feels and sounds just like the real thing to me. Currently trying to decide if I should get an FM3. I like real amps but for playing at home it's digital all the way for me.
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  • If you're looking for a sound based around high gain and/or clean, then the AMP1 is a great shout. The Iridium version, perhaps, which is aimed at high gain players. Apart from the reverb, it's analogue, small, light, has the nanovalve in the preamp circuit and you don't need a speaker load to play it. So you can go direct and use the built-in speaker emulation or plug into a cab and blow your windows out. I owned a Silver (original) version for 5 years or so and enjoyed it best when playing at band levels - sounded great and very present in the band mix. At very low volumes it could get a bit fizzy on the overdrive channels unless you adjusted settings, but no worse than a modeller, IMHO. 

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  • I mainly play at home too so gone are the days I can crank a 120 watt head into a 4 x 12 cab in the house (not that I did it often anyway!). 

    3 years ago I bought a Kemper and its the best thing I've ever spent my money on. High gain amps sound great at sensible volumes, I always found with my 6505+ head you had to turn the volume up to about 3 to get tubes cooking. I've stopped using a speaker cabinet too, just run it out of active speaker monitors now. I like how I can have different amps for my clean and dirty sounds and the built-in effects are great. I play direct in now and honestly can't go back to a tube amp anymore. Recording is easier and less noisy to others (I use in-ears). It took years of saving but totally worth it for me.
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 24687
    Modellers don't really sound the same as the volume goes up - the core tone stays the same but as with any system the good old Fletcher Munson curves will affect it just as much as anything else.

    But you can easily have patches for home use and then tweaked patches for live volumes. 

    If you end up gigging in regular places you can even have a set of patches per venue. Saves loads of time for soundcheck.
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  • flying_pieflying_pie Frets: 1822
    I use a Victory Kraken pre-amp pedal for my high gain stuff. I run it into a Boss GT100 but that's pretty much only for effects and I might rarely use a clean amp sim.

    I usually pair it with a IR pedal into the PA as I also sing and just use my monitor to hear myself, but it can also run into any old amp FX return at rehearsal rooms or if venue backline was to be used.

    For home practice I can use headphones or run it into my monitors, or my now largely redundant amp.
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  • As stupid and moronic as it sounds given that existing gear allows you to get there easily anyway*, I just wish that Line 6 would offer the amp side of Helix series into a head unit - new Vetta, anyone?

    Essentially take a HX Stomp, arrange it in a different layout with the full list of pre-amp, power-amp, and (bypassable) cabinet models & IRs, perhaps with room for 1-2 FX slots for inbuilt reverb, and that's it.  Load it with an fx loop, channel switching (2ch? 4ch? 999?), a robust Class D power amp that's got controllable range for home use too, and... BAM, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. Just ensure that all the key controls are accessible at any time for the current patch (i.e. gain, TMB, vol, master, FX lvl) and you would have the best of both worlds in my opinion.

    The HX amp tones are more than good enough for my needs, but I love having the flexibility (and GAS-outlet) of individual stompboxes. The DT25 was a pretty great attempt at this, but it uses the older HD/pre-HX firmware and was limited to just four amp models. It also had valve-tech, but otherwise ticked most of the boxes.  I'm guessing sales numbers for the DT line have killed off any chance of seeing a HX amp materialise though. :(



    *i.e. Yes, I know I could just go and buy a HX something and a power amp/cab/FRFR setup... but I've done that before, twice! :persevere: 
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  • CHRISB50CHRISB50 Frets: 4336
    Thanks for the responses.

    @DrCornelius @BigDipper never heard of the BluGuitar Amp1 before. I'll check it out. Seems to get a lot of love here and online. Looks pretty simple to use as well.

    @Danny1969 hadn't considered a POD, but will check it out as well. 

    Hadn't looked at Marshall which is a bit silly seeing as I loved my JCM900. Will check out the DSL40 and the JVM205C. Will let you know if I'm interested @noisepolluter ;

    I think my head says modeler, while my heart still prefers the idea of a real amp.

    I can't help about the shape I'm in, I can't sing I ain't pretty and my legs are thin

    But don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to

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  • SassafrasSassafras Frets: 30319
    Rat pedal covers a lot of ground cheaply.
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  • YorkieYorkie Frets: 1527
    Can’t go wrong with a DSL40
    Adopted northerner with Asperger syndrome. I sometimes struggle with empathy and sarcasm – please bear with me.   
    My trading feedback: https://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/210335/yorkie

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  • BarneyBarney Frets: 616
    I use a computer plugin at home ..Biasfx2 it's handy for recording as well I put it into the computer with a focusrite Forte ....a lot of the time ai practice unplugged so that might be a option ....live I always use valve amps cos nothing else sounds the same I have a EQ and delay in the loop and that's it ....plus my way of thinking iff using a kemper or blackstar  amp 1 or similar..you still need to cart a speaker about so my opinion is it's better to just take a combo and it's probably more portable ....
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  • noisepolluternoisepolluter Frets: 811
    edited August 2023
    Yorkie said:
    Can’t go wrong with a DSL40
    The tone shift button on the latest version works very well to tighten up the two ‘ultra’ gain modes. Iron Maiden and Early Megadeth/Metallica sounds are about as modern/high gain as I get, but I’m very happy with how the DSL does them. Others’ mileage may vary.

    I’ll add that it’s well behaved in terms of circuit noise at higher gain settings too, which is a definite bonus if you’re playing at home. 

    It’s also got external bias adjust points so you don’t need to open the chassis or lug it to a tech every time you replace the EL34’s. 
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 24687
    As stupid and moronic as it sounds given that existing gear allows you to get there easily anyway*, I just wish that Line 6 would offer the amp side of Helix series into a head unit - new Vetta, anyone?

    Essentially take a HX Stomp, arrange it in a different layout with the full list of pre-amp, power-amp, and (bypassable) cabinet models & IRs, perhaps with room for 1-2 FX slots for inbuilt reverb, and that's it.  Load it with an fx loop, channel switching (2ch? 4ch? 999?), a robust Class D power amp that's got controllable range for home use too, and... BAM, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. Just ensure that all the key controls are accessible at any time for the current patch (i.e. gain, TMB, vol, master, FX lvl) and you would have the best of both worlds in my opinion.

    The HX amp tones are more than good enough for my needs, but I love having the flexibility (and GAS-outlet) of individual stompboxes. The DT25 was a pretty great attempt at this, but it uses the older HD/pre-HX firmware and was limited to just four amp models. It also had valve-tech, but otherwise ticked most of the boxes.  I'm guessing sales numbers for the DT line have killed off any chance of seeing a HX amp materialise though. :(



    *i.e. Yes, I know I could just go and buy a HX something and a power amp/cab/FRFR setup... but I've done that before, twice! :persevere: 
    Get the rack Helix and a rack power amp then!

    A class D power amp will be nice and light. Or go stupid and get a Marshall 9200 and a back brace!
    You can still use all your pedals then.
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  • CaseOfAceCaseOfAce Frets: 1371
    edited August 2023
    Terrace house, single glazing??  - personally if it were me I'd get a Boss Dual Cube - stick it on the Hi Gain or Metal Stack setting (+ the built in effects) and let rip. 
    Money burning a hole in my pocket? - I'd go out and get a very fine humbucking guitar. 

    Jam session with a drummer occassionally ? Rent a room with backline supplied.


    ...she's got Dickie Davies eyes...
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  • prlgmnrprlgmnr Frets: 3993
    CHRISB50 said:

    Do I want a real amp? Mesa Boogie Mark series, Rectifier / Peavey Invective, 6505, 5150 
    This list would all do the job nicely but spans a pretty large range as far as budget goes

    If the drummer is playing real drums you want a real amp
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  • duotoneduotone Frets: 996
    As stupid and moronic as it sounds given that existing gear allows you to get there easily anyway*, I just wish that Line 6 would offer the amp side of Helix series into a head unit - new Vetta, anyone?

    Essentially take a HX Stomp, arrange it in a different layout with the full list of pre-amp, power-amp, and (bypassable) cabinet models & IRs, perhaps with room for 1-2 FX slots for inbuilt reverb, and that's it.  Load it with an fx loop, channel switching (2ch? 4ch? 999?), a robust Class D power amp that's got controllable range for home use too, and... BAM, I'd buy one in a heartbeat. Just ensure that all the key controls are accessible at any time for the current patch (i.e. gain, TMB, vol, master, FX lvl) and you would have the best of both worlds in my opinion.

    The HX amp tones are more than good enough for my needs, but I love having the flexibility (and GAS-outlet) of individual stompboxes. The DT25 was a pretty great attempt at this, but it uses the older HD/pre-HX firmware and was limited to just four amp models. It also had valve-tech, but otherwise ticked most of the boxes.  I'm guessing sales numbers for the DT line have killed off any chance of seeing a HX amp materialise though. :(



    *i.e. Yes, I know I could just go and buy a HX something and a power amp/cab/FRFR setup... but I've done that before, twice! :persevere: 
    I remember listening to Line6 demos when it was released. It was a collaboration with Reinhold Bognor iirc. 
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  • PALPAL Frets: 543
    As a valve amp user ( Rift.Dr Z. Fender ) I would suggest Boss Katana MK II  EX 50. I have one and have the Boss Sneaky
     Amps and it does sound much better.
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