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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 10:02 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Philippines
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Question Having Trouble Deciding on What Amp to Buy

Hi everyone, I finally got some money to be able to buy my own tube amplifier.

Now I was wondering if you guys could clarify a few things to me:

1. Is it true that Class A tube circuits burn tubes up faster than Class AB designs?
I have read somewhere that in Class A amps, the tubes are always "on" or something, so does that mean the tubes wear out faster on such designs?

2. Is there a GOOD (or at least decent) tube amplifier anywhere that uses 4 preamp tubes and 2 power tubes at most? I know some people hate the Peavey ValveKing (one of my choices) but the only other amp with a similar number of tubes is the expensive Koch Twintone II, which is way above my budget. I am trying to get an amp that would be loud enough, but would require less tubes since our country isn't exactly the go-to place for replacement tubes.

3. Tube amplifiers sound best when the volume is turned up high, right? How about lower volumes? Would it still sound "tubey" or at least better than transistor amplifiers? I currently own a Marshall SS combo and I would like to get an upgrade

I play mostly rock, shred and contemporary music (those with regular radio airplay )) and I get most of my sound from my trusty RP500, but it would be nice to at least have a tube clean and OD.

Overall, I am simply looking for a tube amplifier that would sound good at any level (of course bedroom levels are excluded, I won't use it for that), would not need too much maintenance, has 50 watts of power, and could use its tubes for quite a while before it needs replacement.

And BTW, please don't post any jokes or witty comments especially if you only want to sound funny or smart, I find that very rude and unnecessary. I'm being serious about the questions, I hope you answer seriously as well.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 10:10 AM Thread Starter
 
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Question Re: Having Trouble Deciding on What Amp to Buy

BTW, my budget is a max of $1200, and I prefer brand new stuff to used ones (I'm kinda scared with some user horror stories involving reliability, even with new items) Thanks in advance everyone.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 11:14 AM
 
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Re: Having Trouble Deciding on What Amp to Buy

Ok, I'll take a stab at your questions.

1. Yes, class A tube amps run less efficiently than AB amps and tend to go through the power tubes more quickly. It's not a hard and fast rule and a lot will depend on how often you play and how hard you push your tubes (how loud you're playing).
2. I'm not so sure about your requirements for 4 preamp tubes, but there are several amps that have 2 power tubes or they have 4 with a half-power option. With many 4 power tube (usually 100 watt tubes) you also have an option to pull 2 tubes and reduce the wattage by half. Don't expect a huge volume drop from doing that, but you will get power tube saturation at lower levels and it does alter the feel of the amp.
3. The general opinion is that tube amps sound better with their volume at 4-7 levels. Some will say that they get better at even higher levels but the trade-off is that you go through tubes more quickly. Most will say that tube amps with the volume on 1 or 2 do not sound nearly as good as they do when the volume gets up a little more. If you're looking for low volume options, consider amps that have a master volume (some are better than others) or you might look into getting an attenuator.

Are you looking for a combo amp or head/cab? In what capacity will you be playing most of the time. I'm a firm believer in getting an amp to suit your needs while having the opportunity to "grow into it."
I'd recommend stuff like the Egnater Rebel 20 or the upcoming Rebel 30 as a pretty solid all around contender although the single channel limits this. I also recommend the Peavey Classic series. If you're more of a bedroom player, the Blackstar HT5 has gotten great reviews but I've yet to try one in any of my local stores.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Having Trouble Deciding on What Amp to Buy

smooth55, thank you for answering my questions regarding tube amp characteristics, I'm pretty excited already!
I would like a 50-watt tube combo that can be used for small to medium gigs (horrible-sounding, low-volume tranny amps have been the bane of my life since I started playing out:P)
But I will play with it at home a lot, and it's no issue for me not to be able to bring out the tubes' full splendor by turning down the volume, as long as it sounds better than my MG100DFX (which has been quite useable, mind you, although it farts out when used at higher volumes).
I am looking for a reliable combo that isn't branded "for beginners and those who are just about to go tube for the first time," and can be stood by for tone and reliability, especially because such an opportunity may not come to me again until after another 5 years or so.
I actually considered buying a ValveKing 112 and replacing the tubes and speakers to improue the amp, is this any good at all?
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 03:38 PM
 
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Re: Having Trouble Deciding on What Amp to Buy

Well, if you get the chance, I'd recommend playing with the Valveking before you purchase it. Some people really like them, some don't. Considering that you'll drop maybe 100 on a new speaker and then maybe another 50-100 on new tubes and maintenance to swap out the speaker, you might be better off spending a little more on a nicer amp you won't have to upgrade. You say you don't want an amp that is branded "first tube amp" and the valveking, at least to me, is one of those amps that is a first time tube amp. But, if it sounds good, it is good.
Since you say you get most of your sound from your RP500, I'd recommend worrying about the clean channel of the amp most. I'd recommend you look at the Peavey Classic 30/50 as they get great reviews and are good bang for buck amps and take pedals well, there's also the Fender Hot Rod and Blues Deluxes.
I'm not sure what's available in the Philippines, but my best advise would be to try and find what sounds best to you and then (if you have to) save up for it. Be realistic about where you hope to play the amp, but it would be smarter to save/spend a little more so that you aren't stuck with an amp that can't do what you need down the road. Also, remember that 10 watts is half as loud as 100 watts through the same speakers, so when you go for higher/lower wattages, you're really going for headroom rather than volume.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-03-2009, 04:19 PM
 
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Re: Having Trouble Deciding on What Amp to Buy

If you like Mesas, you can get Dual Calibers for around 600- 700 used. The DC -5 is a 50 watt 6l6 amp, which only has 2 power tubes. But I like the Dc-3 which is a 30 watt El84 amp (4 power tubes) ,which to me is the nicest power section for guitar amps. I never worry much about preamp tubes - Get good sounding ones and leave them in untill they start going microphonic. Which usually takes a long time. I used a DC-3 for 5 years then lost it in a storm, replaced it with the "top of the line" Mark IV and was never satisfied with the sound . I have a DC-3 on the way. I hope the amp sounds as good as I remember.

Scott
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-04-2009, 08:53 AM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Having Trouble Deciding on What Amp to Buy

I just checked laney.co.uk and found an amp that's probably what I am looking for:
http://www.laney.co.uk/show_prod.php?prod=LC50-112
Again, I'm trying to keep the number of tubes in the amp down, plus I would prefer if the amp ran in AB config, so this one fits the bill for me. The next problem would be how I'm supposed to get my hands on one (hopefully I get a brand new item), any ideas guys? I don't think we have any Laney LC50-112 distributors here.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-05-2009, 09:00 PM
 
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Re: Having Trouble Deciding on What Amp to Buy

You might be able to order from www.bmusic.com.au, and they can ship it over to you.

Here's a direct link:
http://www.bmusic.com.au/prod3879.htm
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 07:28 AM Thread Starter
 
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Talking Re: Having Trouble Deciding on What Amp to Buy

Hey guys, I got the LC50 last Saturday, I got an older version though (LC50-II). This is the first time that I ever experienced real tube saturation! The headroom on the clean channel is great, though, and with coil splits on my trusty Ibby I was able to play a somewhat bluesy type of clean that is just perfect for Hendrix-y songs

Anyway, back to the drive channel. Holy Steamed Potatoes of Tone! I was blown away at the thick, crunchy drive sounds the amp produced! By rolling down the gain knob and letting the output tubes do most of the work, I was finally able to experience the clean-to-dirty dynamic tone that I have only heard about from tube amp owners, and it was simply wonderful.

I am very happy about the specs of the LC50, especially because they are exactly what I wanted (Class A/B, 4 preamp and 2 poweramp tubes). Thank you guys for the suggestions and taking time to reply to my posts I'm gonna spend a lot of time with this new baby of mine lol
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 11:26 AM
 
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Re: Having Trouble Deciding on What Amp to Buy

Pics and clips or it didn't happen
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 08-10-2009, 12:02 PM
 
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Re: Having Trouble Deciding on What Amp to Buy

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Originally Posted by smooth55 View Post
Pics and clips or it didn't happen


+777
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