Most versatile tube amp?

LPCrafty

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I'm just going to throw out the Blackstar Club HT40. They go for about $700 (I paid $400 for mine years ago) and they have an ISF knob that blends between Marshall and Fender tones, and a switch for Modern/Vintage gain on the OD channel. I bought it because Marshall was out of my budget at the time and I wanted the EL34 sound over the Fender sound, but it will do both pretty well. It's been a reliable amp for the last 8 years and I'm completely satisfied with the range of tones I can get out of it with any of my guitars, from LPs to Teles, Strats, and Super Strats.
 

zdoggie

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get your self a fuchs I have an odsII that I absolutely love. they are expensive but well worth the cost the options on this head is amazing try to find a clip of andy fuchs demo at a namm show and you'll see why I took the plunge

zdog
 

DBDM

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Kind of depends on you and your personality type. Some guys feel like the only possible place to buy a piece of equipment or an instrument is at the brand new retail store and would not dream of buying one elsewhere. Other guys (me) would likely not consider EVER buying one at full retail price when there are less expensive and potentially better options out there. Since I am the latter, I would recommend a used Trace Elliot Veolcette or a Gibson Branded Goldtone or Super Goldtone. I have 2, one Goldtone GA-15 and one Super Goldtone GA-30. They are SO much my favorite amps ever that it I lost all my gear today, the FIRST thing I would get is another one before I even had a guitar to plug into them. That is just my opinion (and likely should be yours but that is also just my opinion).

I am also in the camp that a good amp is more important to an electric guitar player than a guitar but that is another story. Also in case you don't know this, the Goldtone variety of Gibson amps are really just Trace Elliots rebranded as Gibson. The "Super Goldtone" variety are still really based on TE, but slightly different (some say improved, some say "same") but no one says the goldtones are anything other than a TE with a different name on it. TEs are cheaper but not as cool if you are a Gibson homer (like me).

Those are my favorite but in reality it is hard to go wrong with a good tube amp. Marshall, Fender, Mesa, Vox--all great amps. With some exception--the tubes themselves (which are changable) and the settings you pick with the dials are likely just as important as the brand on the front if you go with an all tube, well made amp. There are obvious exceptions. For example, if you only desire the Marshall sound you should likely just get a Marshall...If you want to sound exactly like EVH, get an EVH 5150....etc...

Edit--in reality in 2021 as I type this, there are simply too many variables to answer a general quesiton like "which amp". If you get one and don't like the reverb, get a reverb pedal you like. If you get an old school amp and want downloadable options like on a modeling amp, get a multi effects pedal with downloadable options. If you want an amp that has an effects loop and choose one that does not have one, get a multi pedal with an effects loop....there are many many ways to get what you want if you choose a GOOD amp but find it is missing a detail you wish you have.
 
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gtimach1

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A used Mesa Transatlantic TA-15 Head or a TA-30 Head or combo will get you lots of versatility. Fender Tweed, Marshall, Mesa, and VOX channels and all sound really good.

And don’t let the small size of the TA-15 fool you. It is a potent little powerhouse of tone. I have had one for over 8 years. One of my all time favorite amps.
8D66B8B7-7379-4F0E-8262-6AF356D8A962.jpeg
 

Peter Mac

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My recommendation would be the Hughes & Kettner Statesman Quad EL84 40w .
All valve, single 12" , Channel switching, Boost, Crunch, Clean and Twang settings, Reverb tank, 21kg (48lbs) Footswitchable. 2x 12AX7 preamp + 4x EL84 power amp.
The Clean and Twang channel have all the Fender Twin Reverb tones happening - with and without the reverb - and change to the Crunch and Boost channel for the Marshall/HiWatt tones.
It even has the old Bluebreaker / Tweed appearance.
I've been using mine for over 7 years now and it has never let me down . . . oh yeah, it is Made in Germany too so high quality componants. You can even add quad boxes to it.
 

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Iconic

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You just described Friedman BE-50 Deluxe. It has 3 channels. 2 of them is Marshall on stereoids if you want. And the clean channel is pure Fender shimmer. This is the best amp Ive tried and own. And I had a lot of Marshalls trough the years.
 

decoy205

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I agree nothing will sound the same as the real deal of both of those amps but I think many amps will get you very close. Mesa or Friedman have models that will do it for sure.
 

fry

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You just described Friedman BE-50 Deluxe. It has 3 channels. 2 of them is Marshall on stereoids if you want. And the clean channel is pure Fender shimmer. This is the best amp Ive tried and own. And I had a lot of Marshalls trough the years.
Budget was stated at $1500. Friedman is awesome stuff, but not too many of them available at that price.
 

USTTRM

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The older Peavey Amps I have to agree upon reflection..covers a lot of bases.
 
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matthew bear

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of you found one used, an orange rockerverb 50mk III is very versatile. Big and heavy though! But it does gorgeous cleans, classic crunch, and will even chug. Used would still be at the top of the range, but damn it’s my favorite tube amp to date :)
 

Recklessrog

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Having owned several Fender twin reverbs, Marshall amps, Vox ac 30's, a couple of Mesa boogies etc, 2 things all these superb amps have in common is... High price, and Weight !
In recent years, I too was looking for a reasonably priced, good versatile amp that had Fender "Clean" and Marshall breakup and drive, but also didn't cripple me when carrying it.
Low and behold, just by chance, I came across a second hand Laney LC30 Mk11 for £150.00.
On first trying it out, it sounded quite good, but two of the pre-amp valves (tubes) had become microphonic. I decided to buy a set of selected JJ pre-amp Valves ( these are less bright than some other brands), the original EL84 output valves were fine.
After extensive testing, I was amazed at how versatile this amp is, the clean channel really can be glass like clean through to crunch when really driven hard. The drive channel is so very versatile, and in many ways like a Mesa Boogie. You can dial in more ore less any Marshall or Fender overdrive sound you want plus many uniquely tailored tones, and is very responsive to control from the guitars volume control.
Some people say that the original speaker lets it down but I disagree. I have fitted a Celestion CreamBack in mine, and while it is a little "warmer," the original stock speaker is a celestion 70-80, (not the horrendous H&H thing they fitted in the MK1's) which although is a budget speaker, gets a lot of criticism simply because it is "cheap." honestly, it's not that bad, a little clinically bright maybe, but not excessively so.
If the amp sounds too bright when in the drive channel, turn the treble down, that's what the control is for. certainly the creamback has more "bottom".
The schematic is freely available, and being an electronics design engineer before I retired, I found a capacitor in the whole signal train, that by simply doubling its value, completely tames any brigtness or fizz, much cheaper than changing the speaker! but again, this is so easily controlled with the treble control.

As a side note, they have fitted a very good quality reverb unit that is way bettter than most others.
These amps are LOUD! might only be 30 Watts, but being a Valve amp, you are getting 70-90 watts instantaneous music power peaks. Think Vox AC30!
If that's not loud enough, try the LC50, same pre-amp circuit, and if thats still not enough, go and get you hearing tested :)
 
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vaguely

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I'm looking into getting a good tube amp, and I'd like get something that's versatile enough to get close to Fender's clean tone and also dirty enough to mimmic a Marshall. Anyone have any suggestions? My budget is about $1,500, if that helps.
the Morgan RCA35 is a wonderful amp. the cleans are absolutely stunning and it has a lot of headroom. it takes pedals perfectly. you can swap the power tubes out without re-biasing. it's fully loud enough to gig with and does not sound lame, when quiet. you can crank the gain and get into Marshall territory. it also looks amazing and is made 100% in the US; at least mine was. full disclosure: I am thinking of selling mine to help fund a Les Paul. in my opinion, it takes pedals, way, way better than my Fender dual showman (which is essentially a twin reverb in non-combo form). I have a bunch of great amps including a vintage Marshall and an Orange Rockerverb. I have found that the most versatile amp is the Morgan. I gig the Orange because I got it cheap and it's great in its own way. My Marshall and Fender are vintage units that I don't want leaving my studio. I'd not even considering selling the Morgan if I wasn't frothing on a guitar purchase... Hit me up if you become interested. Otherwise, good luck on your quest!
 

vaguely

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of you found one used, an orange rockerverb 50mk III is very versatile. Big and heavy though! But it does gorgeous cleans, classic crunch, and will even chug. Used would still be at the top of the range, but damn it’s my favorite tube amp to date :)
+1 on the Rockerverb. I have a RV50 MKI and I really love it. Oh, and if you have eyes and care at all about esthetics (you should!) the Orange looks fuggin Great! Have a look at PJ Harvey in front of a big Orange and you'll see what I'm talking about.


C'mon, those Mesa amps are, ahem, yeah, (shudder)...
 

100LL

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3rd Power Kitchen Sink 6VEL

I want one badly, but it is quite expensive. Pretty incredible amp with all its features and hooks. I mean, you can select between tube and solid state rectifiers! It provides easy bias set probe points! 2 different power sections. Lots of cool stuff going on here.

 

Nintari

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Wow, didn't expect this much of a response. Thanks so much guys! There are so many amps on here that I've never even heard of, let alone tried. I've literally made a handwritten list of the ones which sound the most interesting, and when I get a chance, I'm going to try out each and every one.

But for now, I've decided to just get a 65 Fender Twin and then sculpt my sounds with pedals. The reasoning is that I can't justify buying some of these suggestions sight-hearing-unseen. Well, I mean, I could... but that could end up getting ugly really fast, especially since some of them are no longer in production and I'd have to go the Reverb route lol. So for now, it's the Twin and pedals and then down the line, after I've tried some of these amps out, I'll go for that coveted Marshall sound to round out my rig.

Until then though, anyone have any suggestions for the best Marshall-sounding pedals? Good EQ's maybe?
 

efstop

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A pedal can make an amp behave like a Marshall as far as dynamics and overdrive, but it can't actually make it sound like a Marshall, although it may introduce certain tonalities to approximate one.
I have one cheap pedal that overdrives an amp based on pick attack (Outlaw Deputy Marshal), but I also have four low powered Marshalls :)
Class 5, DSL1HR, DSL5C, Origin 5
 

TXOldRedRocker

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I'd say a two-in-one pedal would be excellent considering what you're after. Especially with a Fender. Lacks the EQ control of a Marshall, Mesa, Friedman, etc.

I like 3 band EQ pedals that shape tone too. Examples that could help you achieve varied tones that I like are:
Friedman Buxom Boost. 3 Band EQ. Boost control. Tight control. (Some other Friedman pedals are similar.)
Fender Engager Boost. 3 Band EQ. Frequency control.
Tumnus Deluxe. 3 Band EQ. Double Gain Controls.
 

screamingdaisy

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A pedal can make an amp behave like a Marshall as far as dynamics and overdrive, but it can't actually make it sound like a Marshall, although it may introduce certain tonalities to approximate one.
I have one cheap pedal that overdrives an amp based on pick attack (Outlaw Deputy Marshal), but I also have four low powered Marshalls :)
Class 5, DSL1HR, DSL5C, Origin 5
Agreed. I think it comes down to the speakers. A Fender with Jensens is never going to replicate the sound of a Marshall with Celestions.

If I were the OP with a bit higher budget I’d get a Fender Deluxe and some sort of 50w Marshall on a 1960. Probably cheaper than trying buying a boutique that attempts to accomplish the same thing.

For $1500, I’d get a Deluxe and put a Greenback in it. Hit that with a fuzz or overdrive and it sounds like rock and roll.

IMO/YMMV.
 

TXOldRedRocker

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Agreed. I think it comes down to the speakers. A Fender with Jensens is never going to replicate the sound of a Marshall with Celestions.

If I were the OP with a bit higher budget I’d get a Fender Deluxe and some sort of 50w Marshall on a 1960. Probably cheaper than trying buying a boutique that attempts to accomplish the same thing.

For $1500, I’d get a Deluxe and put a Greenback in it. Hit that with a fuzz or overdrive and it sounds like rock and roll.

IMO/YMMV.
Excellent point. I have one Fender combo myself. It doesn't have the original speaker. I put one in that I consider more versatile.
 

screamingdaisy

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Excellent point. I have one Fender combo myself. It doesn't have the original speaker. I put one in that I consider more versatile.
I’m firmly in the Mesa camp, so channel switchers for me, but… hearing that little Deluxe with a Greenback roaring away was enough to make me question all the decisions I’d made up until that point.
 

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