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Noodler

Help deciding on amp ~ AC30

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Noodler    1

Hi guys,

I'm looking to upgrade to a "forever amp" ie an amp that I expect to keep for a while and grow into.

The styles of music I mostly play are rockabilly/ country/ blues/ rock and roll and classic rock.

Examples of dream amps would be a Fender Bassman, or something like this:

However, I can't find or can't afford amps of that level.

So I'm looking at 3 in particular, that I can afford

1. Hughes and Kettner Statesman (Dual EL84 model)

2. Vox AC 30

3. Vox AC 15

Which would be closer to the amps that are my dream amps that I love? How important is an effects loop? I love pedals, but the AC15 does not come with an effects loop. Does it matter if you go guitar ->pedals->amp input? Is the AC15 just a smaller exact same thing as the AC15 or are they different?

At first the amp would be for home use, but I expect to be back jamming and playing in a group within a few years. I've gigged before doing pub rock, but I want to play more rock and roll and country stuff now. So I'm buying the amp to "grow into" while enjoying great tone now as I learn my chops in the new styles I like.

Note: I don't like Fender Hotrod amps (too trebly and unforgiving), and prices in Australia seem to be about 50% more than US in real terms, so a Bassman costs $3000 here, and I'm not joking. Hence trying to find something cheaper. Please don't give me a link to a US site for Musician's Friend or whatever saying that they're only $1500, because that's just teasing! I'm in Australia.

Help much appreciated.

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fly135    5

The FX loop is pretty important if you are getting your dirt from the amp. You usually want most of your modulation, delay, and reverb FX after the dirt. I put my delay, chorus, eq, magicstomp, and volume pedal in the FX loop of my C30.

The AC30 is an awesome amp. I'd love to have one.

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Noodler    1

To be specific, the AC30CC I am interested in has a 112 Wharfedale. It retails for $1699, so $1,500 might be more like the real price. They come with Alnico Blue 212 versions, but that's unaffordable for me.

So, no FX loop rules the AC15 out?

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Stratrat    0

I love that chimey, honk-y AC30 sound, so that's where my vote goes (at least out of the amps you listed). Very heavy and very loud, but versatile - it can easily cover all of the genres you mentioned.

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Noodler    1

I've added Peavey Classic 30 to the list to try out. They are very affordable for what they are. $1100 is cheap for an amp of that calibre in Australia. They seem to be very musical amps. Sing-song is the term that comes to mind. Nice on the ears, like an Irish accent. :clover:

I'm thinking that a Classic 30 with a Bassman pedal may get me very close indeed to what I want.

Do you guys reckon that warehouse speaker demo vid has any other mods than the speaker? Seems like a huge difference, especially considering you can already upgrade to an Alnico Blue but it doesn't sound like that.

It seems like the AC15 will be loud enough for the level of gigs that I hope to get, just no FX loop, and it doesn't have the myriad of features of the AC30. I'll take a pedal when I try them out. I know some incredibly good players who own Fender Twins, etc but never get to use them because the venues are too small.

fly, do you love your C30?

By the way, is there an amp which sounds similar to a Fender Bassman, but a lot smaller, say a 30W 112?

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fly135    5

I'm very happy with my C30. I also have a Fender Pro Jr, Laney LC15, and an Epi Valve Jr. The C30 beats them all. I only use the clean channel. My distortion pedals provide all the dirt, and I use a Magicstomp, F&C EQ, DoD chorus, and Digidelay in the FX loop.

I use the following distortion pedals...

Big Muff

Nady TD-1 (12AX7)

English Muffin (2 - 12AX7)

Jeckyll & Hyde

Both the Nady and Eng Muff cover the same territory but I can't bring myself to take either off the board. So I can just set them up differently for a quick change up. The tube sound definitely comes through in these pedals despite being low voltage. I like them both better than the gain channel on the C30. Mostly because they are more tweakable.

The Big Muff is a sound to it's own that I like. The J&H isn't as "airy" sounding as the 12AX7 pedals but covers a lot of territory. The right channel can do a Rat. Hence I've removed my Rat from my board. The left channel is supposibly a tubescreamer. That's what I hear, I've never had a TS, but it sounds good.

I feel like I can cover most any sound that I want. No problem getting the sound of the AC30 in your youtube video. I can't say how the C30 would sound live as I only play in a garage converted room. But I'm guessing it would be even better cranked.

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Noodler    1

I'll try the Classic 30 out for sure. It seems very musical, whereas the Vox is sounding a bit "rougher around the edges."

So you're telling me the C30 takes pedals well, which is good because I love pedals! :smilinguitar: Apparently the AC CC series doesn't like pedals so much.

...runs out the door to work

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Noodler    1

I tried the Hotrod Deluxe and the Classic 30 tonight. First go through a tube amp (that I can remember). :scared:

Um Wow!!! I feel like giving up the guitar right now. Quitting. Just throwing my hands in the air going, "I can't play" and walking away...:oops:

Such a different feel. I was told the Hotrod Deluxe was unforgiving, and it was. Any strings slightly out of tune, or holding down a note too hard and raising it's pitch, and you know about it. But mainly it's clean punch left me feeling like Marty McFly at the start of Back to the Future I! :jawdrop::thumbdown It would flatter a very neat and tidy player. Not me.

The classic 30 was rounder, not as bright and definitely more flattering of my playing. I was still very surprised at how every little detail gets picked up and amplified 100x even on a clean setting. But what frustrates/disappoints me most is that percussive strumming and strumming hard has more volume than I expected and it sounds average to play that way. Of the two the classic 30 was my pick but i'm still going to try the Hughes and Kettner.

I think I might actually like solid state better!

I'm told the Vox is even brighter than the Hotrod, so that's out. Off the list, folks.

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Stratrat    0

It's true that a good tube amp will leave you feeling naked with nothing to hide behind - but you did say you wanted an amp you could grow into, right? I'm going through the same pains with my 'Z, but I like the fact that it forces me to play cleaner/better.

But what frustrates/disappoints me most is that percussive strumming and strumming hard has more volume than I expected and it sounds average to play that way.

That's "dynamics" - probably the biggest difference between tube and SS amps. Once you learn how to use it to your advantage, it opens up a whole new realm of versatility....pick/strum softer for a cleaner sound, dig into the strings harder to get some "hair" on it.

I'm still in the learning stages with my amp, too - playing with different settings, working on the dynamics, learning to use the volume knob on my guitar to vary the degree of 'dirt', etc. While it's more comforting in the short-term to just plug into my Micro Cube, dial in some distortion and delay to "hide" behind and sound OK, I know that in the long term I'll be rewarded by what I'm learning from subjecting myself to the "nakedness" of those glowing glass bottles (tubes)! :yes:

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Noodler    1

That's awesome. You understand exactly! :winkthumb:

Thanks for the encouragement. Yeah I was thinking of hiding out behind a Valvetronix...or quitting guitar, when I left the store.

I was just a bit surprised beacuse the OD sounds rounder than SS on valve amps, so I expected to sound better, not like a hack. So that feeling like you're being punched in the head when you hit the strings hard is normal? Nothing like the Micro-Cube!

As a question, I'm told the Vox is even more trebly than the Hotrod Deluxe, but if I listen to Robert Cray who plays a Twin the treble isn't piercing. What gives? It's clear but mellow. The Hotrod was clear but punchy and overbearing. Any comment on that?

Definitley sound better when you're confident about a lick and throw in vibrato, etc. ie finesse comes through.

Thanks again for the encouragement.

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Stratrat    0
I was just a bit surprised beacuse the OD sounds rounder than SS on valve amps, so I expected to sound better, not like a hack. So that feeling like you're being punched in the head when you hit the strings hard is normal? Nothing like the Micro-Cube!

The OD is rounder/fuller on tube amps - the circuitry reacts differently with tubes than it does with solid-state components. But even so, the clipping waveform is different, so things don't just "mush" together into one sound. The downside of that is that it exposes everything. The upside is also that it exposes everything - once you're a good enough player than you *want* it exposed! (not saying that I am yet, by any means).

As a question, I'm told the Vox is even more trebly than the Hotrod Deluxe, but if I listen to Robert Cray who plays a Twin the treble isn't piercing. What gives? It's clear but mellow. The Hotrod was clear but punchy and overbearing. Any comment on that?

Don't confuse a Twin (as in Twin Reverb) with a Hotrod Deluxe....they're two entirely different amps. (Don't count out Robert Cray's picking dynamics, either!) I've never played a HRD, but I've heard a lot of people say they're not fond of their sound - I've heard it characterized as brittle/sterile on the clean channel and very raspy on the OD channel. I have played a Twin - they're very, *very* clean amps, but can be nice and full-sounding (they can also be "ice-picky" if not EQ'd right!). However, they're also very heavy and VERY loud. The glory of a tube amp comes when you can crank it up enough to saturate the power tubes - that's their "sweet spot", where they get full and "fat" sounding, with plenty of sustain...with an amp like the Twin Reverb, cranking it to that level in anything short of a very large venue will have your ears bleeding! :isaynothing: I don't know how much you played with the tone controls or how loud you had the HRD cranked up....but if you were playing it at very low volume, you weren't hearing it at it's best (see above about power tube saturation). At low volumes all you're getting is a bit of drive from the preamp tubes, which doesn't sound the same as full-on power tube saturation.

I've read where people who are pretty savvy about amps say that the majority of guitarists have way more amp than they need - and after reading their reasoning I can totally buy into their theory. A guy goes and buys a 100W Marshall stack for his bedroom because he wants to be a "rawker", but can't turn it up above '1' on the volume knob without blowing the windows out of his house - then he complains that the amp sounds "thin" and weak, with no sustain. Yeah, because that amp's sweet spot, where it's going to have that classic Marshall sound, is somewhere up in the 7-10 range on that knob! Many people think of Angus Young (AC/DC) for the classic Marshall sound - okay, but he didn't get that tone at bedroom levels...he had those amps cranked and screaming for mercy! In a home/bedroom/practice situation, you'd get a fatter sound out of a 5-watt amp, because you could crank it up and get the power tubes involved. My 'Z is "only" 18 watts into a 2x10 cabinet, and I have to use an attenuator at home to have any hope of cranking it into power tube saturation - without the attenuator, it would be so loud that my neighbors four houses away on either side could probably hear it!

As far as the Vox being more trebly than the HRD - different amps have different "voicings" (so do different speakers, but that's a whole 'nother can of worms). The classic Fender "blackface" sound is somewhat mid-scooped, while the Vox sound accentuates the mids more. It can get those "icepick" highs (depending on what guitar/pickups you're using), but the tone and "cut" knobs can dial that out. Even so, it still leaves you with a more bright, "chimey", mid-accented sound than a blackface Fender.

NOTE: Don't let me fool you into thinking that I know more than I actually do - I play around with new/different gear every chance I get, but more often I just read a lot and try to digest every bit of information I can get my hands on! :yes: Learning through the experiences of others is still learning.

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Noodler    1

They did let me open it up a bit, which meant that as soon as I pressed the "more drive" button on the HR we were squealing with feedback and I didn't get to try that channel. I was close to the amp in a closed room. The sales guy who is a very clean player made the HR sound very nice, but that's not my style. I like to hit it pretty hard. I usually practice on an unplugged electric guitar.

Perhaps the Vox might sound bright but not as brittle? I might still try it out.

I played with the EQ of both. The Fender had more knobs but seemed less versatile...but then again I didn't get to drive it all the way up like the Peavey. But the Peavey got oh so close to that county sound I love, and I'm sure I could dial it in with time.

I've never played a HRD, but I've heard a lot of people say they're not fond of their sound - I've heard it characterized as brittle/sterile on the clean channel and very raspy on the OD channel. I have played a Twin - they're very, *very* clean amps, but can be nice and full-sounding
Thanks, this makes me feel better. Yes, it seems like the Peavey and HRD are like entry level for valve amps and that better sounds are to be had for much more money...about exactly twice as much money.

Thanks again stratrat. Appreciate your input as always.

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SlickCat    1

Noodler..

In my opinion you cant go wrong with the Peavey Classic 30. Its a real nice versatile amp.

The Vox AC30 is a real pro amp. Its LOUD!! and versatile and a step above the classic 30. I would love to own a Vox AC30...however would be totally happy with the Peavey. :dunno:

The guitar matters also...a Tele is Bright. Here is a AC30 with a Les Paul....not too bright on this video.

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Noodler    1

I liked everything about that clip. Great tone, great playing, great guitar, nice tidy room, it had it all. So the Vox sounds great with a Les Paul, but I don't own one...yet.

My head is going around in circles between Vox (I love it but may be harshish for casual non-guitaring listeners), the H & K and the Peavey. Also between the fact that the AC30 has loads of features but is too loud, while the AC15 is the right "size" but doesn't even have an effects loop. :dunno:

I can't say the Peavey has the most excting clean tone ever (boring it seemed to me), and the Vox would be better for jazzy stuff. Hell, I haven't even ruled out an Orange Tiny Terror and separate cab. Each seems to do one or two things really well. I'm just going to play some more tomorrow. Something should give me a smile on my dial huh? At the moment, the Peavey seems to get close, but not quite there, to tones I like.

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fly135    5

It's worth noting that the Vox youtube was using a Rat for distortion. You could get the same tones from the C30 with a Rat. I also have a Hafler T3 preamp that has a great sounding clean channel when played through the C30. The clean channel is FET as opposed to tube through the distortion channels. The T3 is rack mount. I'd love to have a single pedal that would give me that same clean tone. Sounds weird to want a clean tone pedal, but after using the T3 it makes sense.

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Noodler    1

fly, I guess the real question is "How good is the C30 stock?"

I'm reading things like that the tubes rattle (apparently you have to buy some special padded holder jobby), just about everyone changes the tubes for jj's, changes the speaker to a Celestion Vintage, etc. I worry when I read "for the price you can't beat it." I want to just hear that it's good. Period. It is quite affordable as a deal in Aus-land, so I've saved enough cash to buy it today. The footswitch I am told is an extra A$100.

Are there any advantages to having 4 EL84's rather than 2? And if the clean channel of the C30 is good, why do you need a clean pedal (just asking).

I meant to reply to your earlier comment, too. Of course I'll still be playing with my pedals and multi-fx. I might ask for a Bassman pedal for my B'Day, and I'm definitely getting some sort of TS.

By contrast, the H & K is supposed to be good stock. Comes with a footswitch, protective cover, Eminince Rock Cream speaker. SO you'd just buy it and go. It has an FX loop.

Not sure if this link will work, but here's Geoff Whitehorn demoing the Statesman. The question is, is it better than the C30? It's an interesting watch anyway. The guy plays/ed for Paul Rogers.

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SlickCat    1

There are two schools of thought when buying a tube amp.

(1) buy a tube amp with glorious clean tones and add pedals for effects. Example: Fender Twin Reverb (2)Buy a tube amp that has a nice clean tone, but an overdrive when cranked that kills! Example: Marshall Plexi

Now #3....

Most tube amps have a signature tone.....thats great, however you must realize it limits the versatility. Most great tube amps have only one or two classic tones.

I think the digital amps have the most versatility. the Line 6 and Vox digital amps cover a huge range of tones and give 90% of the real tube tone.

Some tube amps have great tone....others not so great.

Its really not a easy decision to purchase a versatile do everything amp. I dont think it exists.

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Noodler    1

The H&K seems to have 2 great tones that I like:

1. Twanging for country leads (I want to be in a rock and roll/country/r'billy band once I've got those chops up)

2. The "Orange-ish" harmonically rich OD.

The C30 does the whole Van Halen thing really well, and I love the 80's but I'm not going to be doing Van Halen covers. I'm never going to be that good. Clean seems similar to the H & K, except for twang switch on H & K which might be handy for a countryish player!

But the H&K is A$400 more.

Slickcat, I so000 agree with you about amps like the Valvetronix. My wife has actually talked me out of one of those because I have modelling amps already (although I think they're great! :claping: ) but I've heard and seen samples of the Valvetronix I could swear were "real valve amps." They capture the flavours of the amps really well and are very clear. The difference is a thinness in the modeller when you listen to the model and the real deal side by side.

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SlickCat    1
The H&K seems to have 2 great tones that I like:

1. Twanging for country leads (I want to be in a rock and roll/country/r'billy band once I've got those chops up)

2. The "Orange-ish" harmonically rich OD.

The C30 does the whole Van Halen thing really well, and I love the 80's but I'm not going to be doing Van Halen covers. I'm never going to be that good. Clean seems similar to the H & K, except for twang switch on H & K which might be handy for a countryish player!

But the H&K is A$400 more.

Slickcat, I so000 agree with you about amps like the Valvetronix. My wife has actually talked me out of one of those because I have modelling amps already (although I think they're great! :claping: ) but I've heard and seen samples of the Valvetronix I could swear were "real valve amps." They capture the flavours of the amps really well and are very clear. The difference is a thinness in the modeller when you listen to the model and the real deal side by side.

I agree...I can tell a modeller right away! They have a high end sizzle that cant be dialed out. Tubes are warmer.

Bottom line is you have to just try a lot of amps and see which fits YOU the best.

I have had all kinds of amps from Fender Twin to Marshall halfstack to Boogie Blue Angel and Subway Blues. I had a Vox modeller and solid state Peavey. Every amp I owned had at least one tone I was looking for at the time.

Now I have a Repro 5e3 Fender Tweed Deluxe. I get nice cleans at low volume...awsome overdrive when cranked. Its light , portable, I can Mic it for gigs. It has tone like no other small amp that I owned. It cost me $750.00US takes pedals well....but with no effects loop sounds better straight in...guitar...cord ....amp ;)

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fly135    5

Noodler, I think the C30 is great. But then again I'm a hack on the guitar. My Laney LC15 has a "bright" switch on it. The FET preamp on my Hafler changes the character of the C30 the same way the bright switch does on my LC15. I bought my C30 used and haven't changed anything. If you buy the AC30, then you need to go spend another $300 for the Alnico Blue speaker. The Wharfedale in the AC30 is the same one that I put in my 1x12 cab that I use with the Valve Jr. I find it to be a dark speaker. But that might have something to do with a combination of the dark sound of the Vjr and the closed back cab.

I'd stay away from the Valvetronix unless you specifically wanted a modeling practice amp. I found the tones from my Vox Tonelab to be a bit muddy. You'll just end up wanting a tube amp soon anyway. Skip the footswitch and go pedals. I bought a footswitch off eBay for $20, but hardly ever use it. I leave it on the clean channel.

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Noodler    1
You'll just end up wanting a tube amp soon anyway.
+1. My wife just read your post over my shoulder and exclaimed, "That's what I say!"

I'll definitely AB with the Peavey C30 again today. It's in the running with all the recommendations and I can pay cash today. The H & K I'd lay-by.

I agree...I can tell a modeller right away! They have a high end sizzle that cant be dialed out. Tubes are warmer.
Agree with this generally, but have heard some exceptional rockabilly on the AD50VT which fooled me. Less noticeable when they play fast stuff. That high-end sizzle is clear though, and I for one quitle like that voicing. But I still won't get another one. See quote above. :winkthumb:

There are definitley levels of valve amps. The next level up from what I'm looking at would be a 65 Deluxe Reverb. But it's just out of reach ($$$)-read OP about prices here if you think it's affordable. So I'm looking for the best at a price point, and as much as I love the better Fenders, I'm not a fan of brittle ice-pick highs of the HRD's.

I'll visit that link, then I'm off shopping! :clap:

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Noodler    1

Watched that vid last week. I'm up with that. Am taking my own guitar. I need an amp big enough to play small clubs (I'm told 30W is perfect), have my budget, want to try a tube amp, etc. I've already got some great SS amps. In fact, I'd do a gig with the Vox Pathfinder 15R mic'd up. When I was in a band before I used a solid state amp, and people got up and danced, so valves aren't everything...an audience full of alcohol helps. :drinking: But I also want to try a little cork-sniffery, hehehe. Get some smooth singing tones.

I haven't played an amp I'm a huge fan of for the style I like, but the guitarists from my fave local band have recommended the C30 or a Vox.

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