Are amps like V8’s?

Brek

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Like there ain’t no substitute for cubic inches? All my amps are relatively cheap valve amps, an origin 5 combo (used as a head though) a class 5 head, and a blackstar studio 20 head with 2x el34’s, all have a certain ‘sound’ at high volume, that volume however for home use is still way to loud. My speaker options are probably stupidly varied. I have a 4x10 with celestion ten 30’s, I have a 4x10 with 2 alnico golds, a 10in creamback, and a g10 vintage, The 2x12’s alnico blues are using the same cab as the 4x10’s I am swapping baffles over lol. I have bought a few different overdrive pedals to play with as it’s not something I have used previously. But I can’t help feeling that all I really want is to plug into an amazing sounding low output amp that has those 60’s/70’s blues rock tones. I’m asking for to suggestions as to what amps I could look at. I like the idea of ‘sag’ I think I get how that can be used to create sustain when playing lead and is something I would enjoy trying to master, for e.g. I might be able to stretch to a z-wreck junior head. But would prefer to spend a lot less of there is something that can do what I want.
 

CB91710

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There ain't no substitute for cubic inches.
There is no substitute for moving air.

The speaker cone needs to "work"... and multiple-driver cabinets such as a 212 and 410 do work against us when trying to get good "bedroom" levels.
We are moving 2x or 4x as much air as we really need to, when we are in an environment where we don't need the SPL or dispersion of 2 or 4 drivers.

But the cabinet dimensions also color the tone. The Blues Junior get such mixed reviews because the cabinet, even though it is open-back, is really too small for the 12" speaker. It would sound much better with a 10... or with a larger cabinet.
My Carvin X100 is a 1-12 combo, but the cabinet is the same size as the 4x10 that I built to match it.
By comparison, the Blues Junior is so small that some speaker magnets will hit the components.

Small amps can absolutely sound great.
The tweed Fender 5E3 is probably one of the most recorded amps in classic rock.
The ender 5F1 and 5F2-A Champ and Princeton are right up there, being very commonly heard on American rock albums... yet they are 5w and 15w amps.
Ted Nugen had an old Gibson GA5 cranked into a lot of his mixes to provide a little more dirt on top of his Twins and Showman heads.

The more cones you have, the more air you need to move to get them to sound good.
Like your car works best when it's in the band between peak torque and peak HP, speakers also need to be in the zone... and like engines, they sound awesome right before they blow up :D

Drop back to a 1-12 or even a 1-10 cabinet, and elevate the cabinet off of the floor, and move it away from the wall.
Angle it so the driver is pointed more at you... high frequencies are very directional, and when the speaker is blasting past your ankles, it can sound muffled and muddy.
 

rich85

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Yes. A powerful output transformer pushes the super low frequencies. It doesnt get captured on recordings but if you compare a 100 watt DSL to a 20 watt in the room, at the same volume, the 100 watt just sounds bigger.

I highly suggest a JCM2000 DSL 100 watt head. It does low volumes very well. And sounds amazing. There is a reason they are still seen on stages everywhere and not the new ones.
 

cherrysunburst00

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1)Have you tried the 1/2 in cable trick with your Class 5? That is to take your speaker cable and only insert it like 1/2 way in the amp; it attenuates the Class 5 to (.1) watts

2)The Laney Lionheart (not Ironheart) Studio 5: 1 EL 84, but it has a second input jack that attenuates it to .5 watts (down from 5 watts). The whole idea of the Lionheart series was to get power tube distortion at lower volumes.

3)Look for a (used) Marshall 50th Anni JTM 1 or JMP 1 head. 1 watt, with built in attenuation going down to .1 watts.

4)If you're looking at a Z, perhaps the Cure instead of the Z-Wreck

5)If you REALLY want to go balls to the wall, find a Carr Mercury (discontinued, but available used for about the price of a Z-Wreck). The Mercury V replaced it, but that's way more expensive. Mercury is an 8 watter, with attenuation of 2 or 1/2 or 1/10 watt. No master volume but all power tube distortion. Absolutely amazing for home-use, and with 8 watts, you can probably jam out with friends.
This video convinced me to get one several years back. I sold it (GRRRR) and had to get another
 

Brek

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I am fighting the room for sure, it’s 10x10ft square, I guess I hadn’t really though it through building that cab for that size room. :rofl:
although I am sometimes only using one speaker in it. I have listened to a few you tube demos of the Marshall one watters and they do sound pretty damn good, I did notice in reference to what rich85 mentions that there is a difference when compared to the full fat versions of those amps, there was just more of the sound. I should have mentioned the class 5 has an OPR circuit so does low volume overdrive quite well, looking at the circuit it’s looks to have an op amp as part of the design is that what gives the overdrive sound I wonder? They chap who delivery driver who dropped off my alnico blues asked if I was a guitar player, turns out he played in 60’s blues rock cover band and had a laney 5 water he wanted to sell. Not sure if I’ll find a carr amp in the U.K. but will have a look. I am asking for two contradictory things I guess, big amp tone at low volumes. Edit: first search finds a used one at peach guitars who also sell the z-wreck jr head, sods fuckinglaw we are locked down again so they have shut the shop to visitors. Although I could buy mail order and try it and them pop down and try the z wreckonce they are open again. They are asking £1779 for the carr.
 
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Brek

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The is a used FBJ clone for sale, which has been worked over by Rat amps, 2xel84’s I am wondering how that would do? Has a 12in Jensen speaker fitted.
 

rich85

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Also another factor is the valves. Maybe simply going to an EL34 amp will give you the bigger sound you are after.

The Origin 20 and DSL 20 watt heads are an absolute bargain and are both 2 x EL34. Just add in a Tubescreamer to tighten up the EQ. A genuine TS9 or 808 is still the best IMO
 

ARandall

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You are seemingly confusing 2 issues.
Any amp can sound good. Doesn't matter on size, a 5w Fender champ can be just as satisfying for someone as a 200w Marshall major as 'good tone' is subjective.
But if you are trying to get the same tone as a large amp from something smaller, then you might struggle. But are you just comparing online vids with your in room sound?
That's not the way to do it at all. Like for like. Otherwise it's pointless.
 

NotScott

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There ain't no substitute for cubic inches.
There is no substitute for moving air.

The speaker cone needs to "work"... and multiple-driver cabinets such as a 212 and 410 do work against us when trying to get good "bedroom" levels.
We are moving 2x or 4x as much air as we really need to, when we are in an environment where we don't need the SPL or dispersion of 2 or 4 drivers.

But the cabinet dimensions also color the tone. The Blues Junior get such mixed reviews because the cabinet, even though it is open-back, is really too small for the 12" speaker. It would sound much better with a 10... or with a larger cabinet.
My Carvin X100 is a 1-12 combo, but the cabinet is the same size as the 4x10 that I built to match it.
By comparison, the Blues Junior is so small that some speaker magnets will hit the components.

Small amps can absolutely sound great.
The tweed Fender 5E3 is probably one of the most recorded amps in classic rock.
The ender 5F1 and 5F2-A Champ and Princeton are right up there, being very commonly heard on American rock albums... yet they are 5w and 15w amps.
Ted Nugen had an old Gibson GA5 cranked into a lot of his mixes to provide a little more dirt on top of his Twins and Showman heads.

The more cones you have, the more air you need to move to get them to sound good.
Like your car works best when it's in the band between peak torque and peak HP, speakers also need to be in the zone... and like engines, they sound awesome right before they blow up :D

Drop back to a 1-12 or even a 1-10 cabinet, and elevate the cabinet off of the floor, and move it away from the wall.
Angle it so the driver is pointed more at you... high frequencies are very directional, and when the speaker is blasting past your ankles, it can sound muffled and muddy.
All of this!

Big sound requires moving lots of air and big iron sounds bigger than little iron.

Another issue is your room dimensions. a 10'x10'x8' room is going to have serious standing waves. Standing waves are nodes or dead spots in the frequency response of a room. They are particularly severe in rooms with 2 and 3 identical dimensions. If you walk around the room while playing, you will hear your low end disappear at some locations and boom in others. There is no fix for this short of changing room dimensions. However, you can shift the effect to an area of the room you don't use with an old hi-fi audio trick. Set your guitar amp at your typical listening/playing position. Play your guitar and walk the room. Take note of how full the sound is at various locations. Find a few locations that you like and mark those spots. Now move your amp to those spots and play from your typical listening/playing position. Please note that nodes are 3-dimensional wave phenomena so you may want to try listening at different heights as well. Eventually you will find the best place for your amp using this method.

All that being said, I am the biggest vintage tube amp snob you will find around here. However, IMO, if you really want cranked tube amp tone in a 10'x10' room at any volume, your best bet is a modeler with good headphones or run through your monitors. Nowadays, most modelers can mimic cranked Marshall tones with ease and the amount of tone tweaking you can do with them will keep you from getting bored.
 

Brek

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I think you may have nailed it, I am not sure what I am after, what I find with the Marshall 5 watters is they feel compressed, very fast response though with a 10 inch speaker, but they sound ‘hard’ and thumpy, but not in a good way. I think what I mean is I want an amp built properly with no shortcuts, and wondered if a single tube power section can give my a big amp feel, Friedman make the claim about one of their 20 watt amps gives the same feel as playing through a 100w for example. I quite like my blackstar 20, but it’s all about gain, I even tried ecc81’s in the preamp, gain was still all or nothing kinda thing, although I don’t think I have tried it since playing with guitar set at 1/2 mast. Will try it and see if it gives me any ideas about what I am after So I can tell you guys so you can better suggest. I had a cornford Carrera and found the sound not to my liking, had an edge that my ears didn’t like. Regarding my methodology there wasn’t one, I just listened to a few amps like the 1 watt Marshall’s, did like the , they all seem close mic’d I assumed maybe wrongly that that would negate the room. I get your point, that won’t reveal how they would sound in my room. Modelling amps are probably the solution, I play with pc’s for a living, so my escape is plugging in and playing. do not ever want to post ‘can I get an IR of someone’ lol.
 

Brek

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All of this!

Big sound requires moving lots of air and big iron sounds bigger than little iron.

Another issue is your room dimensions. a 10'x10'x8' room is going to have serious standing waves. Standing waves are nodes or dead spots in the frequency response of a room. They are particularly severe in rooms with 2 and 3 identical dimensions. If you walk around the room while playing, you will hear your low end disappear at some locations and boom in others. There is no fix for this short of changing room dimensions. However, you can shift the effect to an area of the room you don't use with an old hi-fi audio trick. Set your guitar amp at your typical listening/playing position. Play your guitar and walk the room. Take note of how full the sound is at various locations. Find a few locations that you like and mark those spots. Now move your amp to those spots and play from your typical listening/playing position. Please note that nodes are 3-dimensional wave phenomena so you may want to try listening at different heights as well. Eventually you will find the best place for your amp using this method.

All that being said, I am the biggest vintage tube amp snob you will find around here. However, IMO, if you really want cranked tube amp tone in a 10'x10' room at any volume, your best bet is a modeler with good headphones or run through your monitors. Nowadays, most modelers can mimic cranked Marshall tones with ease and the amount of tone tweaking you can do with them will keep you from getting bored.
Ha just mentioned modelling, your right, but I don’t want to go there. But thanks for the acoustics tips, it’s funny because that’s exactly what I do when setting a hifi up in a room, did not once dawn on me that the same rules apply to any amplified systems. I walk around listening for humps, dips and nodal points (especially for the sub in a home cinema setup). So I will try to sort room out a bit acoustically before plunging headlong into a new amp. I cannot change the room, acoustic foam is a lot less expensive from last time I bought some, so will treat room then move forward. I know a fair bit about sound and sound systems and room interactions, just forgot I knew it as been so long since I was playing/working professionally in music.
 

rich85

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The Blackstar 20 watt is a decent amp on the clean channel for pedals but the overdrive channel is basically a solid state distortion pedal and has no bass.

Maybe the first step is to simply to try the Class 5 head through an Orange 1x12 V30 cab. Super loud and powerful speaker. A TS pedal is essential with this as it is such a bass heavy amp. I used to gig with that set up. Good fun.

But yes. All your gear is great for studio and home use because it will compress at lower volumes. But you may have too much of it.
 

Brek

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Yes I do have too much, think I'll sellthe blackstar and have a bash at lyles mods on the two Marshall's go for two different tones with the mods. one to dirty up a bit more and one to clean up a bit. I have them so may as well use them.
 

cybermgk

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I am asking for two contradictory things I guess, big amp tone at low volumes.
Not contradictory, but hard to get with tube amps. What follows is imho, and as always ymmv.

First, what many players consider 'big amp' tone, is the visceral aspect of an amp making a speaker or speakers really move air. This is also usually larger speakers moving larger air. The only way to duplicate that is with largish speakers, really working and moving a lot of air. THis generally equates to higher volumes. And yes, this CAN be achieved with both tube amps and modellers. I get it with my Axe FX into a matrix amp really pounding my Xitone 2x12. But it's loud.

So you have to determine if that is what your missing/wanting in 'big amp' tone. If it is, well there really only one way to get it.

Often, however, what people call 'big amp tone' is a combination of an amp running hotter, or into distortion, and the interaction of those driven tubes, output transformer and speaker. It is both to, but also response of the amp with the player, and vice versa.

THis, is where, imho, tube amps, with power scaling fall short. They get part of that equation. THe tubes can still be hit hard, react somewhat the same, sound the same. But, depending on how it is accomplished, the power scaling, the amp will have varying degrees of similar reaction with the OT. And ALL of them will never match the same interaction with the speaker. It can't, it's never driving the speaker as hard, let alone how that affects the OT. Using different speakers MIGHT be able to get the same interaction, but will also just sound different by definition.

In reality, this is why, imho I think a GOOD reactive load box is a better choice than these power scaling amps. YOu can still have the amp cranked up, which gets all the same interaction of tubes, OT and speaker. Where THIS system often fails, is when it is then used to drive a normal speaker cab. See above, about lower volume signals in bigger speakers, air moving etc. Now, if it is something like one of the Torpedo products, that also uses IRs of large Cabs etc, and designed to then drive smaller speakers, that reproduce the full spectrum, like studio monitors, imho that is the best of this route. The only thing you miss, imho is the air moving visceral thing. But, again, can only get that one way.

And, if all you want is getting that tone, and playing feel, without shaking the walls, there is also Isolation boxes. However, imho, this is not a great option, unless recording. For everyday play, outside the box, you will REALLY not like the results.

And then there is the Fletcher Munson effect on ALL of our hearing. Just taking a tone, and lowering it's volume WILL sound different to our ears. Which effects ALL of the above approaches, unless they account for it, which generally only something like the Torpedo load box products do (or modellers).

BUT, if that guitar, tubes, ot, speaker interaction above is NOT what you're not 'hearing' (more like feeling), then ye power scaling amps can get you there.

ALL of which, is why I went the modelling route. At low volumes, I get all of the above, the tone, the feel of all those parts interacting as a cranked or hot amp would, with the high end modellers, in spades. I even get the amp in the room tone. And now, even lower end modellers are getting damn close on all fronts. I am continually amazed at the inexpensive Spark amp, in this regard. The only thing I am not getting at low volume is the visceral air moving of a loud amp. That is unless I play my rig loud. And, trust me, the Axe through the Matrix at 500 watts per channel into the Xitone 2x12, can get as loud as any large watt tube amp (actually a tad louder) .

I went all of the routes above, low watt tube amps, power scaling, reactive load boxes etc etc. But, I settled on the modelling rig because, it was just a lot easier, for me, took a lot less space (As I DO like to use a lot of different amp tones, which would otherwise equate to a lot of amps and Cabs, and it was for a while).

So, bottom line, is you need to identify what YOU mean by 'big amp' tone, Once you have that, and hopefully I have helped in that regard, you can determine the best approach to take.
 
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Brek

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yeah that's great cyber, food for thought for sure. I am beginning to think maybe I might give those new boss waza headphones a demo when I can get to a store. My solution maybe made from both then, what you outline above certainly has appeal, and makes sense. I night see if I can either get somewhere close with one or both of the marshalls for a purely plug in and relax workflow, tone will be set and left. Then for my 'fiddling about' a good modeling system, god I never thought I would say that.
 

ARandall

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60's and 70's blues rock tones don't necessarily need big size.
One of the most recorded amps of that era is a tweed deluxe (12W), Billy Gibbons did a number of classic songs on a brown deluxe (halfway between blackface and tweed)
And the Layla album was done on 2 Fender Champs.

Unless you're after a cranked plexi tone, then there is simply no need to have a massive amp to try and emulate it.
Even so, without volume you just ain't going to get the full experience, and in your room you have no hope of turning up enough.

Really what you need to do is spend some time thinking hard about what you do want (specific tones not broad descriptions) rather than flitting from one thing to the other.
 

Brek

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Thanks Randall, everyone’s replies have helped me in narrowing down what I want , this flitting thing is one of my ‘issues’, I had already recognised it in this case and slowed down my decision making on this one. I have decided on a good quality valve amp with a valve rectifier, I really want to get that natural bloom and sustain and learn to interact with the amps natural response. Not going to spend crazy money though, there are a few hand wired point to point heads I have looked at under £1,000. I suppose the big plexi thing I can get with pedals, interesting you mention the ‘reverend’ I am a fan, but don’t listen to ZZ that often, but his sound is one of the sounds in ‘my head’, so that’s decided on. The other sound isn’t so much page I have now realised, but that American blues sound, more bb king and other black American blues players sounds than say Page or Clapton, it’s a ‘thick’ sound, not high distortion, but overdriven and full.
 

ARandall

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Many of those tones are fenders. But you'll have a hard time trying to get a cranked 6L6 amp happening in a small space + neighbors/family.
In most bedroom scenarios a nice clean platform and a decent pedal will get way closer to recorded tones than turning down a big amp.
Gregor Hilden does great demos of guitars he is selling on just such a setup.
Unless you are gigging or recording in a studio there is no need to have a big amp.

Another option are the Marshall studio 20 series which are classic amps with switchable wattage but still vintage accurate amp 'architecture'
 

Brek

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Aye, the idea of the 6l6 was to use as a pedal platform initially, then I got side tracked, so I think my original idea is the one. The Marshall studio 20 keeps appearing when I search for amps, wasn’t looking at it as assumed that it wouldn’t be what I was after. So will see what they are all about. I still don’t know enough about amps, not something I have really paid any attention too previously, my main amp for my playing had been the Carrera which I sold. As want to step up from that quality and tone wise. Some kinda 6l6/6v6 based head, the bogner phi ticks a lot of boxes, but not going there till I really understand what I want and my playing is at a level that can use an amp in that range. Amps I had been looking at are various modded FBJ, there is a guy in U.K. who takes the chassis and point to point wires them and changes a few things, but two el84 going to be loud though, looked at egnater heads as well. I like the idea of those little 1 watt Marshall's but at £800 for one a bit extravagant for what may be a one trick pony. In replay to your mentioning most of those tones are fenders, I shouldn’t be surprised given they are all American musicians but I am. I don’t associate any fender amps with that kind of sound, looked at the brown face, and it’s the ‘brown sheep’ of the family for sure, but also surprised how many dirty fenders are out there in the wild.
 
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jimmyjames

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1)Have you tried the 1/2 in cable trick with your Class 5? That is to take your speaker cable and only insert it like 1/2 way in the amp; it attenuates the Class 5 to (.1) watts

2)The Laney Lionheart (not Ironheart) Studio 5: 1 EL 84, but it has a second input jack that attenuates it to .5 watts (down from 5 watts). The whole idea of the Lionheart series was to get power tube distortion at lower volumes.

3)Look for a (used) Marshall 50th Anni JTM 1 or JMP 1 head. 1 watt, with built in attenuation going down to .1 watts.

4)If you're looking at a Z, perhaps the Cure instead of the Z-Wreck

5)If you REALLY want to go balls to the wall, find a Carr Mercury (discontinued, but available used for about the price of a Z-Wreck). The Mercury V replaced it, but that's way more expensive. Mercury is an 8 watter, with attenuation of 2 or 1/2 or 1/10 watt. No master volume but all power tube distortion. Absolutely amazing for home-use, and with 8 watts, you can probably jam out with friends.
This video convinced me to get one several years back. I sold it (GRRRR) and had to get another
If you plan to keep playing for years, keep an eye out for a used Mercury V. You still lovin' yours, cherry? I am, it is perfect at high or low volume, and all points in between :yesway:
 


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