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Which Amp, I know I know...

3496 Views 32 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  carlos grijalva
Thats a topic that has been beat to death. But the reason I am asking is because out of 12 years of playing I have never ventured much into the world of true head/cab combinations. I am playing through a Line6 AX2 that was upgraded from the original Axsys 212. So I have been a Line6 user for a long while. I am now to a point where I want an amp that will cut through Anything while playing Anything. Basically put I play everything from jazz to metal and as it stands my little AX2 is putting out enough to hang with and even make the other players in the group reconsider everything they may have heard about line6 and combo amps. I just want to get a head and cab now. So heres what I want from it. I want an amp that can truely hold a strong clear clean channel with lots of headroom so it wont fuzz out on me but at the same time have a drive channel that will be suitable for the hardest of metal groups. I have considered sticking to line6 and going for the hd147 but I would like to venture away from modeling amps. So any suggestions as to this "perfect amp" would be helpful. Thanks for sticking with the post for this long,
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heh, my JSX fits most of that criteria.

The clean channel will not break up (ive tested it, had the channel and master on about 8 and it was still clean). The crunch channel is nice (good for blues, possibly jazz, im not a jazz player). And the ultra channel is great, plenty of sustain, good for anything from rock to metal. But i wouldnt say its the best heavy metal channel, ozzy is more my area :p

But yeah, definatly worth checking out, very versatile amp, has a noise gate for dist. channels, a presence and resonance knobs (alters high and low frequencies, great imo).
My younger brother had a JCM2000, I found that to be a great amp. Really nice clean tones as well as some beefy overdrive for metal.

Depending on how hard you like your metal... it might be worth checking these out. It was especially good when it came to gigs, never let us down... we used to crank it right up and the clean tones would still hold without breakin into distortion.

If I was you, I'd take my favourite gat around to all the guitar stores and try every head/cab combo I could... They are not cheap so you'll want something you're going to be 100% happy with.

Don't be afraid to ask if you can play these amps at 75%/full volume, I find that only by testing the amps at a high volume output, you can really gauge the quality properly.
how much are you willing to spend? Mesa Mark IVs and Nomads are very versatile amps that i've tried. ones that seem like they would be versatile that i haven't tried are the Ibanez Thermion, Randall modular series, Carvin V3. and other boutique amps that are a bunch more money
Let me suggesst the Carvin V3, it does most of that.
Mesa Mark IV, III, or the elusive II c+. These amps are pretty much ideal for the parameters that you gave. The new stilletto is also very very good. It has more of a Marshallesque vibe. I would stay away from the rectos, and really high gain stuff from Marshall ie (mode 4). I have a lonestar that has the best clean that I have ever played through, and the dirty channel is kind of 18 watt Marshall like. I have a Digitech ds-7 and it gives me great distortion variety.

Of course there is always the holy grail of guitar amps... Extacy. The Bogner Extacy does it all, but will cost you your soul... or about 3500 bucks USD, for the head. maybe less used.

Good luck.
The Krank Revolution, VHT Deliverance, Genz Benz El Diablo, and the
Hughes and Kettner Warp X are really good amps for clean and distortion sounds. However, these amps may not be in your price range. Some other less expensive amps I'd recommend are the Peavey 6505+, the B-52 AT-100, the Randall RM100M, and the Ibanez Thermion TN120

BTW, replace *************** with musicians-friend without the -.

To hear some sound clips of amps go Here. :D
Mesa/Boogie Mark IIC+, Mark IV, or if you want most bang for the buck, Mark III. All used of course.

If you've got the cash to blow, Diezel Herberts, and ENGL SE's are pretty damn close to the perfect amp too.
ENGL Screamer. I love that amp. On par with the Mesa Mark IV. A fantastic clean sound and amazing dirty sound. I'm getting one myself
First off thanks for all of the replies. The only Problem I have is that unfortunantely even though I live in "Music City USA" there are very few actual locations that have more than a small crappy assortment of low end models. As for my price range, it doesnt matter. I cant afford anything yet but I am working towards a goal and I am trying to find any and all amp suggestions. So basically put, I am willing to work my ass off to get this thing if I know it is what I want. All of the suggestions so far have been good and varied like in all of the other posts I have read and even in the guide to buying a new amp at the top of the forum, however, only a few of them really break down into some details. I'm asking a lot of all of you I know but I would like to know more specifically about some of these amps. For example could I take a Mesa and crank the clean up to say... 5 and be able to be heard in a club venue over drums bass another guitar and vocals and have it stay truely clean? And can I take it a play some metallica song with heavy distortion and the switch channels and play Autumn Leaves as a chord solo without any hint that I had just gone from octane lit metal to warm fat, but not fuzzy, clean sound? Thanks so much for your help and my apologies for such a long response.
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The mesa nomad that I had didn't have a lot of headroom on the clean side, it was the 45 2x12 combo..great amp thought, no doubt.

For stellar cleans with enough gain for other things I'd look at some used Riveras. The cleans have tons of headroom and the gain side is insanely versatile. I've sung the praises of both the mesa and the rivera, but the rivera is the only one still sitting beside me right now. Not all models are created equal so if you find one, it might pay to call Rivera customer service and talk to someone about it prior to buying a used one that you can't play in person. His amps are built like tanks, huge transformers and enough push pull pots to make a NASA engineer giddy. Solids amps all around, but new they're pretty steep...used market is where you'll get a deal.
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Ok so I have a question. The Line6 HD147 and a few others claim 300w or more worth of output. A lot of these amps that are being suggested do good to hit 150w. Aside from the obvious, what is the difference. Do tubes put out more sound than solid state even if the wattage is less than that of said solid state amp? What are the opinions of the HD147 by the way? Also just a reminder, I have no idea about tubes. The first true guitar amp I ever had was a Fender 110 Champion(solid state) followed by the Line6 AxSys212(solid state combo, later converted to the AX2) so any and all explinations would be great. Assume you are talking to a newbie, at least when it comes to tube amps, because you are. Thanks guys.
ENGL Powerball will do it all and do it well.
By the way, this is on e bay 7382109516.
yes tube amps tend to have a bigger output than transistor amps. For memory a 30 watt valve amp compares in volume to a 100 transistor amp
Wow, thats a substantiel difference. So if I get a 150w tube amp I should be able to blow a solid state amp of the same wattage away. Thats cool, I can handle that. Thanks for clearing that up for me.
speedy mcfeely said:
I have a lonestar that has the best clean that I have ever played through, and the dirty channel is kind of 18 watt Marshall like.
Can you explain what you mean by the 18-watt Marshall reference? I'm considering a Lonestar Special and I'm interested in your comment.
ric232: Check out 18watt.com for some samples of what an 18 watt sounds like.

First let me tell you that the Lonestar Special will not disappoint. It is hands down the best amp that I have ever played through. It has the best clean that I have ever heard, so dynamic and full. infinately tweakable, and the active eq is just nuts. The pots have an emmense range.

The 18 watt reference is in how the amp breaks up. The OD is so fluid and smooth, yet has this element of disorder. I have an american deluxe strat HSS, with the SCN singles it sounds very black face, yet when I switch to the HB it sounds more dense, and rich. With the drive active, and about 12 o'clock, and the gain at 12 o'clock you can acheive this very sensitive, and dynamic vibe where you play softly and the amp sounds very clean, but if you dig into it, then it breaks up without begoming muddy. Every note holds this clarity that is unbelievable. You have control over your tone and feel just by how you play. I have only heard of two other amps that had this feel, mojo, or whatever it is; they were a Matchless DC30, and an 18 watt Marshall.

One thing to note is the power section. The amp resonds differnently in 30, 15, or single ended 5 watt modes. The power amp can be set independently for both channels. I have the clean on 30 for the headroom, and the dirty on 5 for the single ended class A push.

If you want one of these, then jump on it before Mesa changes their mind about these and quits making them. like the heartbreaker, blue angle, maverick etc.
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So what are opinions on the Satriani amp, the JSX? Would it be a good all around amp to play anything through or what? Thanks again for all of your comments.
the jsx is a good all the way around amp . great distortion and cleans are good and sparkly .

any amp can have gain and good cleans but the voicing is the major concern of getting a new amp (aside from other given basics). I'd advise you to try a whole bunch of different amps even if you know for sure that it may not be what you want . If nothing else this gives you a good idea of comparisions that are made between amps.

Like i think that an xxx's ultra channle sounds simlular to a compressed mesa dual rectro, and the amber sounds like a smooth fluid marshall style gain that is very rounded and not sharp or that a 5150 can do marshall style crunch to full on metal .
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