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Home Practice amp

Postby BigElectricCat » Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:25 am

Hi guys,

It seems that 'her indoors' does not approve of my 40w Marshall DSL401 for home practice. To be fair I can see her point, even at what I call low volumes it overpowers the TV in the next room.

I'm looking for an acceptable, but cheap home practice amp. It's been a while since I looked at that area of the market and I see some well respected names represented and at very low prices. I suppose solid state will have to do....

Obviously I'll be using my Marshall for gigging and recording (although it would be nice if the practice amp could be pressed into service to proved alternative tones), I'm just looking for something to practice on during the week that can be quiet and still give me a bit of tone satisfaction. I got the amplitube iphone app but I'm not a great fan of wearing headphones all the time.

So far I've had a look at the Roland Micro Cube. I like its portability and the inclusion of digital effects is nice if they are musical and useable. Does anyone have any experience of using it? How about the Fenders and Voxes at this price point? Orange Crush Pix12? Any other recommendations in the quiet and cheap range?

Thanks in advance,

Tony.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby The Blue Boy » Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:12 am

I've found the Vox Pathfinder 15 to be a really great little amp.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby ElecTrika-MixTek » Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:58 am

I strongly reccommend you try out the valvetronix vt40+ by vox - it's very tricky to understand how to use it right away but set it to manual mode, select an amp type and test in the usual way. Paul white reviewed it recently and liked it as do I.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Richie Royale » Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:02 am

I stumbled upon this the other day.

http://www.voxamps.com/amplug/

Not quite what you are looking for, but it a solution to some extent! I've no idea what they sound like, but it is a novel idea.

Otherwise for 1 Watt of power you could get a Smokey Amp.

http://www.smokeyamps.com/

Marshall do something similar as well.

http://marshallamps.com/product.asp?productCode=MS-2%20and%20MS-4

Possibly all too small for you, but a few alternatives.

I've just got a .22 Calibre EH pedal that is a 22 Watt power amp, but you need to hook it to a speaker cabinet.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby ef37a » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:01 am

Morning Tony.
Be a bit careful what you wish for! If it is practice at socially acceptable levels you are after even one watt into a decent guitar speaker (and nothing else will sound right!) will kick around 97-100dB! Spoil 'er Eastenders that.

I must not mention names but I know of a good 1W amp and a truly excellent 5watter that now comes with a 12"speaker and reverb and is the dogs' for recording having emulated outs and FX send/rtn at the two common OP levels. It is also the quietest guitar amp on the planet IMO! But again I have to say they are intrisically loud (peeps gig with the 5watter!) but they do have o/d and master volumes and many people find a nice sound at modest levels.

Another route is a power soak for the 40watter?

Dave.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby brucie » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:02 am

I would also have a look at the Blackstar HT-1 or HT-5! Pretty fantastic amps!
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby ef37a » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:29 am

brucie wrote:I would also have a look at the Blackstar HT-1 or HT-5! Pretty fantastic amps!

Heh! Heh!
Thanks Brucie.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby brucie » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:33 am

Timimg is everything Dave

Or is it great minds thinking alike?
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby ef37a » Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:06 am

brucie wrote:Timimg is everything Dave

Or is it great minds thinking alike?

Great minds, great timing, great amps! I guess you have or sell one or the other?

Dave.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby BigElectricCat » Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:27 am

ef37a wrote:Morning Tony.
Be a bit careful what you wish for! If it is practice at socially acceptable levels you are after even one watt into a decent guitar speaker (and nothing else will sound right!) will kick around 97-100dB! Spoil 'er Eastenders that.

Yeah that was why I was thinking it'll have to be a solid state amp that does a decent enough job at low volume. The sound on the Marshall isn't so much loud but it just seems BIG and gets everywhere. That's one of the reasons I love it!

But I must be practical and spend around 100 quid, find something solid state that will be quiet, portable, and hopefully have a wee bit of mojo if I'm lucky. It probably means a wee speaker too.

Thanks for the suggestions so far guys.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Findo » Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:35 am

what about turning it down and using a pedal for distortion?
it's what you would do with a solid state after all.
and as well as staying within your budget you actually give yourself more options later on.
for £40 or so you could get a rat, and you'll never regret it..
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Music Wolf » Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:47 pm

BigElectricCat wrote:I got the amplitube iphone app but I'm not a great fan of wearing headphones all the time.

You could just get a set of powered studio monitors. I practice with a pre amp into my Adam A5s (because that's what I have in my studio) or into a set of headphones if the family are in bed. I've used a set of Fostex PM0.4 in the past which were fine.

Of course, if you're just looking for an excuse to buy a tasty little valve amp then we understand. You're amongst friends here.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Shambolic Charm » Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:56 pm

Another call for the Blackstar HT-1 I just bought one and am seriously impressed!
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby gofodwr » Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:08 pm

For "tone satisfaction" at bedroom levels I'd normally suggest trying a 5W Vox or Roland modelling amp and seeing which you prefer; but everybody who seems to have tried a Fender Mustang recently has only good words for it, so that would be my priority.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Madman_Greg » Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:11 pm


Just word of warning and advice. A 5 Watt Valve amp is pretty loud

I have an HT5 and its not really that wife friendly volume wise.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby ef37a » Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:31 pm

Madman_Greg wrote:
Just word of warning and advice. A 5 Watt Valve amp is pretty loud

I have an HT5 and its not really that wife friendly volume wise.

Well don't scare him off Greg! Yes the 5 can make a racket but you can set the overdrive gain and volume so as to get a good sound at low levels. This "artificial" od sound may not be to everyones taste but it is better many say to modelling amps?

The reason the 5 is so "strong" BTW is because unlike almost all other 5W valve amps it uses a push pull, fixed biased class AB op stage so although the 5 produces only 5 clean watts (just!)if you drive the bits off it it kicks out almost 10watts. The push pull stage also accounts for the virtually audiophile hum level...i.e. there ain't any!

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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Music Wolf » Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:35 pm

Agreed

I had a 5w Epiphone, which had a lovely sound, but was just way too loud for home use. Remember that 5w is only 10dB quieter than 50w (if I've got my formulae right). I think that I'm right in saying that a 6 to 10dB reduction in level is perceived as being 'half as loud'?
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Jay Menon » Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:18 pm

The amps by Andy Dokken of Rat Electronics are seriously good. He can pretty much take any low watt amp and incorporate powerscaling, which reduces the voltage across the output valves, such they saturate at low volumes - prolongs valve life too...

I have two - and they truly are exceptional.

Check this out...and no, I don't work for him!
http://www.ratvalveamps.com/

Regards
Jay
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Madman_Greg » Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:34 pm

ef37a wrote:
Madman_Greg wrote:
Just word of warning and advice. A 5 Watt Valve amp is pretty loud

I have an HT5 and its not really that wife friendly volume wise.

Well don't scare him off Greg! Yes the 5 can make a racket but you can set the overdrive gain and volume so as to get a good sound at low levels. This "artificial" od sound may not be to everyones taste but it is better many say to modelling amps?

The reason the 5 is so "strong" BTW is because unlike almost all other 5W valve amps it uses a push pull, fixed biased class AB op stage so although the 5 produces only 5 clean watts (just!)if you drive the bits off it it kicks out almost 10watts. The push pull stage also accounts for the virtually audiophile hum level...i.e. there ain't any!

Dave.

Sorry Dave, just trying to help the chap make an informed decision.

Agree with all you say on the gain and volume

But my personal favourite is the clean channel on 10 to get into Vox crunch sound arena so hence my comment about the beast being loud, as thats the setting I use it on most for the music I like to play. But I am fortunate to be able to have the speakers in one room and mic it and monitor through my studio monitors
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Henry-S » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:01 pm

My girlfriend got me the Blackstar HT-1RH (the head version of the 1 watt ht) and it is bloody lovely! I sat down with my telecaster and a pair of DT150's and the cleans on the amp are really clear and glassy. The overdrive/distortion is also very nice and especially if you select the more treble end of the spectrum (american eq) it actually gives a nice gritty sound

The only complaint with the amp is no way of a single footswitch between channels which would have been ideal. No idea why they didnt include a footswitch but maybe because it is geared towards recording where you might just want to be either clean or distorted and not switch. But hey for £170 it blows all the other praccy amps I have played out of the water

Go and buy one!!
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby . . . Delete This User . . . » Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:28 pm

love the blackstar stuff.... just bought a series 100 6L6 model for our other guitarist,....

Feck me it aint a practice amp.....







but the Ht1 is a very VERY cool little bugger...

and Dave,. you retired, therefore you're no longer in their employ.... therefore, mention names by all means as far as i'm concerned..... just be sure to say you USED to work for them...... and all is fair dinkum .
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Frisonic » Fri Sep 02, 2011 11:45 pm

Looking at this thread Tony started I have to agree that a decent, smaller amp, even a 5 watt one turned down low is as good as you are going to get when it comes to late night noodling. The Roland Cube was mentioned in the initial list, and I have one which I haven't played for ages. I think I bought it as a battery powered beach toy to go with an unremarkable travel guitar I also have that I don't mind too much if it gets run over by a bus. Anyway, I got out my Roland Cube, put in new batteries and tried it objectively, in the context of this question. It didn't wake anyone up. Not even me. I instantly remembered why I hadn't played it for ages... as rewarding as cold, congealed porridge. Still perfect for the beach though, provided plenty of anesthetic has been administered first and the surf is running at a healthy roar that drowns out any sound emanating from said Roland Cube. Enough said.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby zenguitar » Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:01 am

Yes Dave, don't be afraid to name names. You are now free to speak your mind, what's the point of all that experience if you can't share it now you are retired

The HT1 and HT5 are on my list too, although the Zvex Nano does a fine job at 1/2W And that's still scarily loud through a decent speaker.

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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby ef37a » Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:25 am

zenguitar wrote:Yes Dave, don't be afraid to name names. You are now free to speak your mind, what's the point of all that experience if you can't share it now you are retired

The HT1 and HT5 are on my list too, although the Zvex Nano does a fine job at 1/2W And that's still scarily loud through a decent speaker.

Andy
Thanks Andy. Yes I know "I" can name the names now but does everyone? And it could I think become tiresome "Oh f***Dave banging on about f*** bstar amps again!" The truth is the Blackstar range is all I know (well, pretty clued up about WEM Dommies!)and I am not a player so I can only limit my contributions to factual matters. I am suprised BTW that an HT-5 never got reviewed in SoS? They said nice things about the pedals!
Tony: Got "wrappped" again! Marshall sound? Well maybe a bit has crept in for obvious reasons but the amps can be set way past that. Oh! The HT-1 combo is a back breaking six kgs.

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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Jay Menon » Sat Sep 03, 2011 11:26 am

There's one more factor - use a low sensitivity speaker such as the Celestion G12M Heritage (96dB).

Or possibly better still, one of the new Eminence FDM speakers with a continuously variable sensitivity control 91 - 100dB. (I still cannot believe that on one replied to the thread I recently posted about them - given that a truly overdriven sound at low volume is one of the holy grails of studio guitar playing...!) Looks like I'll have to buy one and see

The powerscaling amps I mentioned before are also seriously good. Incredible, since you can take them down to 0.1 watt - lower than the Z-Vex Nano and the Blackstar. (ask Spyder2 and Stevedog).
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Tony Raven » Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:11 pm

I've got a herd of "small" amps that have their various uses. For watching TV, I have an Epiphone 10S, which has the primary advantage of being tiny & tucking into out-of-the-way corners. When I don't want to share my playing with anyone, I have a Zoom GM-200 amp modeler. The Roland DAC-15D is actually too crisp for me & has become a synth amp. The Epiphone EP-800R is rather nice, but suffering from a broken input jack. A Johnson JA-T15R hybrid has become my all-round amp for the rare times I play out -- great sound, decent volume, easy to lug.

The wattage rating can be deceptive, what with the log nature of dB & all. Last month I got a Kustom Defender 5H head, "only" 5 watts. Good heavens -- I couldn't get it to 9 o'clock without worrying the police were imminent. Excellent sound, lovely breakup, relatively inexpensive. Short of finding an iso box, I may have to just toss an old quilt over the speaker, or break down & try a power soak.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby ef37a » Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:27 pm

Tony,
A soak for a 5 watter really is beer into water to make. Couple of 10W Rs and a 100R WW or Cermet pot, Tin just big enough to take it all, job's a good 'un.

Dave.
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby brucie » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:03 am

Just to throw a spanner in the works.....you might want to have a look at the Tech 21 Trademark 10 (discontinued I think, but might be in the second hand pages.) Not a valve amp, but a great amp all the same!! (i just sold mine as I am getting rid of a few amps, but it was a really good amp, and great for recording!)

Back to the Blackstar discussion now
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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Andi » Thu Sep 15, 2011 12:38 pm

I've been tniking of selling my HT-5; since I got an Egnater Tweaker I don't really need it any more. Trouble is that I find it hard to part with - it isn't as refined as the Tweaker (or the Marshall/Mesa/THD that keep it company) but it't warm and comforting and well made.

I knew something was going wrong when I started to get attached to amps and not just guitars.

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Re: Home Practice amp

Postby Frisonic » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:42 pm

Andi wrote:I knew something was going wrong when I started to get attached to amps and not just guitars.

A.

That's not wrong Andi, that's right! With an electric guitar the amp is half the instrument. Some would go so far as to say it is, more than the guitar itself what will govern your sound. I think we all know its what's in the fingers and hands, and what's driving those that define a guitarists sound but when it comes to gear different amps can have a bigger impact than different guitars. I think so anyway.
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