~5 watt amp options

Discussion in 'The Squawk Box' started by cynic79, Feb 11, 2011.

  1. cynic79

    cynic79 Senior Member

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    I'm moving to a new place this month, and I will finally have a basement area where I can jam to my heart's content without bugging the neighbors. I've already played around with my Egnater Rebel 20 in the new place, which has taught me that even 20 watts is more than I require, at least for playing at home.

    I'm considering getting a five watt head or combo to run through my Egnater Rebel cabinet for jamming at home. I've already got a couple of other five watters that I really like (Gretsch Electromatic and Fender Vibro Champ XD), but I'm particularly interested in a non-master volume amp with a good crunch when cranked. As I said, this would primarily be an amp that I would crank at home while my wife is away, although a good clean tone at lower volumes would be a plus.

    The three amps I am considering are the VHT Special 6, the Blackheart Little Giant, and the Marshall Class 5. I tried the VHT at Andy's Guitars in Tallahassee a few months back and I really liked the clean tone at low volumes, although I was not able to try out the overdrive. I also tried out the Class 5, but I was not in a position to crank it up; it's low volume tones did not impress me. The Blackheart is an unknown for me, but others have spoken highly of it.

    Aside from the Class 5, I probably won't have a chance to play any of these again before purchasing. Based on my limited experiences and online reviews, I am leaning towards the VHT. It seems to sound great at almost any volume level, and appears to be capable of nice overdrive tones at volumes that won't annoy my wife and son.

    I'd like to know what the forum members think about these amps. In particular, I'm curious about the variety of tones each amp is capable of, or whether a particular amp is just a one trick pony (not necessarily a bad thing), and how loud each amp can get in comparison to the others. I'm also open to suggestions regarding other amps that might fit my needs. In terms of price, I'd rather not go above the cost of the Class 5 right now (~$399).

    Thanks!
     
  2. LPV

    LPV Senior Member

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    I had the little giant for a while. Its ok for an amp that costs the price of a fuzz pedal. At first I was wow this is great but then that fades and its just not that rewarding to play. An SE el84 just sounds squawky to me. My opinion on low watt amps is that for "most people" it will end up being the amp they spend the most of their time on. So it better sound damn good. There are a few in your range that won't leave you hanging. Look for a good used deal somewhere. I won't suggest what because there are just so damn many.
     
  3. TWANG

    TWANG Senior Member

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    For me.. the BH5 is pretty ok.... good quality components and build.. nice design.. but really rocks with a few mods.

    For instance, I've not had anyone disappointed with the tone stack bypass switch.. which increases gain considerably.
    There are other changes, too.

    I've not heard the VHT but I have talked to owners and modders and even one of the guys who helped design those amps, and like the BH5, I'm impressed with the good sense of it.. easy to mod.. well made.. good basic tones.

    I've not played the marshall though I keep meaning to!

    The BH5 has some pretty good features.. the tone stack is nice.. the pentode triode switch really I have to say that 3 watts is not all that much less than 5 when you get it cranking .. but, it does let you get some crunch at lower volume and is a good thing.

    As to a variety of tones, it does have some nice control.. swapping guitars/pickups
    you use the tone stack and it works. But it's not dramatically different until you go to near extremes..
    these are all five watt two tube amps.. you're going to get the character of those tubes, period.

    One BH5 I modded got the full ride for board mods, standby, tone stack bypass, etc..
    and that was a much more versatile amp.

    I know a guy who has a used, perfect condition, bh5 combo with an extenstion cabinet for sale, FYI.

    I also feel that I can say a used blackheart is probably going to be very good.. maybe used up tubes the only problem if the cabinet itself is in good shape.
    I picked up a combo for 200.00 a couple of months ago..but that is not typical that I've seen.
     
  4. TeleDog

    TeleDog V.I.P. Member

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    I'd get a VJ and send it to TWANG for some magic. Those 5W SE amps have a lot of that raw crunch when properly moded with the good stuff.
     
  5. Deftone

    Deftone Senior Member

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    $329.99 at MF.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. cynic79

    cynic79 Senior Member

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    I thought about that one. I even ordered one a while back (returned because it didn't work). I just don't know if it's the sound I'm looking for. I'd like to try out some non-master volume amps and see what I think of that kind of sound. In addition, I've lately been using single channel amps and getting my clean and semi-clean tones by working the tone and volume knobs on my guitar, and I don't think that is the forte of the Blackstar.

    I do greatly appreciate the suggestion.
     
  7. delander

    delander Senior Member

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  8. tojo

    tojo Senior Member

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    I think he said he was looking at non MV amps which would not fit the Cyg-7 - though it is a great amp.

    For the $ range you're looking at, and an MV amp - you might consider a SilverFace Fender Champ.

    Just a thought - you can find them around for $300 - $350. There always seems to be a bunch of them kicking around.
     
  9. TeleDog

    TeleDog V.I.P. Member

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    Interesting, but yeah, don't ignore boutique amps, there are a lot of good builds out there, so check them out if you can.

    Trying the amp out is a great way to check them out, but don't forget you already have the speaker cabinet, so you'll have to try the amp with that cab in particular, not so easy when you think about it.

    The Blackhearts are great IMHO, better than the stock Champ 600. I'm gonna say something strange now so don't fall off your chair. Does it have to be a tube amp?

    I mean, for practice and experimenting, you can get a real nice SS amp or a hybrid, and they come with a headphones out so you can jam without annoying anybody.
     
  10. cynic79

    cynic79 Senior Member

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    I've got a Digitech RP255 that I use for practice, and I quite like it for what it is. I've also got a Line 6 Flextone that I plug in on occasion. At this point, I'm primarily interested in experimenting with a non-MV amp. I'm not prepared to deal with the volume levels associated with a big amp, which is why I'm looking at amps in the five watt range. I've been able to crank a few five watters in the past, and while they certainly can get loud, they aren't as ear melting as a 50 or 100 watt Marshall.

    I may keep an eye out locally (and here!) for some used silverface Fenders, although I'm still rather enamored of the VHT. The Fender might be a better buy in the long run though.
     
  11. Tuya Customs

    Tuya Customs Senior Member

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    +1 on the Champ. Because it will hold its value. If you decide you don't like it then sell it.
     
  12. mono

    mono Senior Member

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    See that little Orange thing on the table? Get one of those!! (Orange AD-5, hard to find but seriously bad ass).
    I know brettk7 will disagree, but I haven't played a nicer 5watter.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Case24

    Case24 Senior Member

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    +2 on the silverface Champ. Prices keep going up but sometimes you can get 'em cheap. You can crank it up to get the tubes working without making your ears bleed and the tone is fantastic; especially through a 10" speaker.
     
  14. TeleDog

    TeleDog V.I.P. Member

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    If you don't mind dropping some serious cash, consider the Mesa Transatlantic. That thing's a face melter but comes with a very ugly price tag.

    The Blackheart is a good amp, it sounds more expensive that it actually is, if that makes sense to you. Another amp that's nice is the AC4 by Vox. It doesn't have a master volume, but it comes with an attenuator, this will come handy when you realize that in a house, without the street noise and all that, 5W can came the windows rattle.

    The Champ and the Gretsch are the same thing I would suggest, made by the same company. However, if you mod it a bit, the Champ 600 is a great amp. For a cheap experimental platform get a used EVJ, you can then pump some cash into it and make it sound incredible.

    Stock, the Blackheart is good IMHO, and unline the champ, you can get a head.

    If you want to experiment with tube amps, and it seems you're after the vintage vibe, don't get the Blackstar. The Blackstar is a hybrid, it sounds real nice but it's not the classic tube amp circuit.
     
  15. TWANG

    TWANG Senior Member

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    Thanks Teledog!

    I didn't want to push the idea myself.. but look..
    the vj is the best basic platform out there.
    The PT is keepable. A fantastic usa made replacement only 40.00.
    You're going to change tubes on any of these five watters, most likely.

    With a modded vj.. for your use.. we'd add a pentode triode switch for half power..
    and a gain pot... combined with hi/lo input, using the lo.. you can get a lot of overdrive..
    pushing either preamp gain or tube crunch, at pretty low volume.
    A tone pot is cheap and easy and makes that all work even better.

    The basic amp mod replaces almost every capacitor and resistor. and add some as well.

    Figure 100.00 for a used one.. and another 110.00 for mods and you have a very inexpensive killer amp tweaked in the direction you want.

    Whatever you get, I hope you're happy. and look forward to a review!
    (my albums this forum show some of my amp mod work)
     
  16. Indyclone

    Indyclone Senior Member

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    Vox AC4TV-8 is my suggestion... price is nice too.

    I like the 8 because of the 1/10th watt attenuator. Full power tube saturation at bedroom volume. The 8" speaker doesn't have good low range, but does make it super portable. The 16 Ohm output to my 1x12 Tweaker Cabinet is perfect for me.
     
  17. cynic79

    cynic79 Senior Member

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    Can you work your magic on a VJ combo? There might still be a new one hiding at the local GC for $79...

    Also, have you done any work on the Fender Champion 600? I've got the Gretsch branded version of that amp, and while it sounds okay, it could certainly sound a lot better.
     
  18. Tuya Customs

    Tuya Customs Senior Member

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    IMO I thought my AC4 sounded cheap an undefined in comparison to the Silverface champ. But thats just me.
     
  19. cynic79

    cynic79 Senior Member

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    I tried the AC4, and while it sounded okay, I agree that it sounded a bit "undefined." It's definitely a cool amp, and the attenuator works surprisingly well, but I don't think it's for me.
     
  20. Indyclone

    Indyclone Senior Member

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    I think the speaker in the AC4TV combos takes away from it, not very good...even the 1x12 Voxcab that's a match for it is only marginally better, but with a 1x12 tweaker cab with the Vintage 30 it sounds nice, IMO.

    And as for your criteria, I thought it fit pretty well. Attenuator instead of a master, low wattage. Only 1/10 watter I know of... And I was thinking you were still planning to use your rebel cabinet... so 16 ohm speaker out would be a match there too. I think the Fender is 4 ohm.

    I love the 1/10 watt setting on mine for overdriven, and the 4 watt setting under 3 on the volume has pretty decent cleans.. for a low watt Vox at least.
     

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