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Author Topic: cheap guitar amp for clean tones  (Read 14185 times)

Benmrx

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cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« on: August 30, 2005, 06:52:22 PM »

I'm wondering if anyone knows of a decent, yet cheap guitar amp for getting clean tones.  This seems to be the big trouble spot in my studio.  Bands usually bring in amps that can get some decent crunch sounds and the big distortion, but I can never get a good honest clean tone and at this point I'm convinced that the problem is with the amp, and not the guitar, mic or preamp.  It seems this becomes the most problematic when trying to get down a nice picked out section.

I have a Gibson SG, and there is usually a Telecaster around in addition to what the band brings.

Any ideas?.......I would love to keep it under $300.  

anyone used one of these before?

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=guitar/search/detail/b ase_pid/480040/
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bounce

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2005, 07:30:12 PM »

I think that would be an Excellent choice for clean tones with your guitars depending on what pickups are in them, of course ; ) Tech 21 amps are really punchy and have round snappy clean tones without being harsh in my experience but, of course, that was with my guitars...
Le Paul seemed to like them ; )

mckay
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McKay Garner
Bounce Inventive Audio
Los Angeles

Benmrx

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2005, 10:08:20 PM »

I've heard nothing but great reviews on their bass DI's, so I figured their guitar amps couldn't be too bad.
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Chad Sims

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2005, 10:40:59 PM »

Everybody is gonna hate me for saying it but some of the best clean tones I have ever recorded are with a Roland Jazz Chorus. I haven't looked but they can't be that pricey used.
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Jack Schitt

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2005, 05:41:44 AM »

Peavey Classic 30 or Fender Blues Jr.
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floodstage

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2005, 06:46:12 AM »

Denny W. wrote on Wed, 31 August 2005 04:41

Peavey Classic 30 or Fender Blues Jr.


Both of those are very useful amps.  

A bit above your budget, but I can't help but gloat somewhere....
I just scored a blackface Princeton Reverb for 400!

[evil scientist laugh on] woo hoo hoo ho ho ho woo hoo hoo ho ho ho! [/evil scientist laugh off]
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kayagum

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2005, 09:03:49 AM »

Go direct. Either use a good DI box (Avalon, Groove Tubes, Radial, Countryman) with a good preamp, or use an amp simulator- I like the SansAmp and the Hughes&Kettner Tubeman.
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archtop

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2005, 09:26:39 AM »

For clean tones

I still miss my Peavey Special 130


130 watts > single 12"



I  got mine for $200
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Richard Williams

hargerst

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2005, 09:47:41 AM »

We use the Sansamp TRI-O.D. box with the Tweed (Fender) setting.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

josh

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2005, 02:09:04 PM »

I have a tweed-tolex Classic 30 ...  with the stock speaker the clean tone was nothing great.  With an Eminence Private Jack wired into the ext. speaker jack, in sounds extremely good (voxy, loves my Tele).  Plugged into my other cab with Weber P12R, it's simply heavenly.

I get some pretty good clean tone out of my POD 2.0.  Takes some tweaking.  Some guitarists don't like the feel.

I tried one of those little Vox AD30VT amps the other day, it sounds pretty good clean, certainly good enough for most things.  The 15W sounds alright too but the little speaker is not worth it.  The little 15W Vox VT amp would be great if it had a 12" alnico 20W speaker.

Checked out a Fender Pro Jr...  not great.  Speaker stinks.  Maybe into an external cabinet it'd be ok.  Haven't tried it.

redfro

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2005, 07:12:49 PM »

Denny W. wrote on Wed, 31 August 2005 04:41

Peavey Classic 30 or Fender Blues Jr.


As Josh kinda said, the key to these 2 amps is speaker replacement. Put a Weber in either one and you'll not only get great clean tones but also some really gritty tones as well. Well worth the money.

But, YMMV...
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Wes Pitzer
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Beezoboy

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2005, 08:40:49 PM »

A vox pathfinder and a 57 can be pretty cool. They are only $119 too. They also have a great tremelo sound.

Beez
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cjogo

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2005, 09:08:50 PM »

We keep a CRATE GTX 30 around---  'bout $100 used on Ebay....
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brandondrury

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2005, 12:46:33 AM »

Weird.  I've found clean guitar to be the easiest instrument to record in the universe.  Maybe you are just pickier than me or something.

Honesty is an interesting word.  To me that means that your clean tone isn't magically sparkly fairy princess sounding like a really bad Digitech pedalboard preset.  

Last week I did quite a bit of clean guitar.  He brought his Crate combo amp in and had a very usable clean tone.  It was a little sterile to me, but not bad at all.  We also used my Rivera Knucklehead and a borrowed late 70s Marshall 50 watter for clean.

All sounded different, but great for their respective parts.

Brandon

josh

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #14 on: September 01, 2005, 08:54:27 AM »

The reason I think a lot of cheap amps get decent OD tone but not good clean tone is because they are relying on tone stack and preamp distortion to get the OD tone, and there's a lot of "shape" in that tone.  Not only that, the heavy overdrive masks a lot of detail and dynamics of the guitar that are bare in a clean tone.  So in those same amps, that rely on the preamp clipping to make "overdrive" tone, there's really nothing there to give any dimension to the clean tone when you turn the gain down.

So the key to an amp with good clean tone is balance throughout the whole thing, all the way to the speaker.

Most of the crap clean tone I hear from guitar amps is due to no real amp compression happening, poor detail (aka masking the guitar's tone), crummy pickups or a guitar that just sounds bad acoustically, and/or the amp is just not turned up loud enough to make this happen.

So like my Princeton Reverb with the Weber P12R will get the most glorious clean tone on earth when you crank it until it gets some crunch, then turn down the volume knob the smallest amount you can turn it...  This really is an overdriven tone but you don't really notice the overdrive.  But it's driving the speaker hard enough to get it to compress and the amp is contributing some 2nd order harmonics to the tone to give it some "richness", but the amp is not clipping heavily enough to mask the shimmer and texture of the guitar tone.  Put a decent LDC or even my ECM8000 in front of it and you can't miss.

My Classic 30 clean tone was like dog breath with the stock speaker, mostly because the stock speaker didn't really have any decent top end and instead of compressing, when you cranked it enough, it just kind of went "splat".  Crank it a little bit too much and it gets buzzy (3rd order distortion).  So you are left turning it down too low to get any compression out of the amp, or any harmonic addition at all... way too clean and sounds sort of like the guitar's plugged into a DI with EQ.  Put in a speaker that'll take some heat and give you a bit of compression and viola.  In my case I wanted a British type of tone from the amp and get it in spades with the Eminence Private Jack.

Crap speaker in the Pro Jr. does that "splat" thing really well, but on top of that, it also has no top end or bottom end.  Just a midrangey mess.  Same for the AD15VT.  It takes a real special 10" speaker to get any useful bottom end, and likewise it takes a special 12" to get shimmery top end.

I second the Weber speakers ...  but for half price, don't overlook Eminence.  Go hit avatarspeakers.com and order a 2x12 cabinet, put an Eminence American-style alnico speaker in one side, and a Private Jack in the other, wire it in stereo and plug clients' amps into whichever side works for the tune (either you want Plexi, or you want Fender).  I bet the fix-it for most tube amps' clean tones is getting a decent speaker in there.

doc willie

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #15 on: September 01, 2005, 08:58:32 AM »

Chad Sims wrote on Tue, 30 August 2005 20:40

Everybody is gonna hate me for saying it but some of the best clean tones I have ever recorded are with a Roland Jazz Chorus. I haven't looked but they can't be that pricey used.


They'll have to hate me too. I have a JC-120, and it is indeed the king of clean amps. It does have some problems/limitations, though.

The first, in this context, is not really a problem, and that is the the built in distortion sucks big time and is worthless.

Second, is that these amps have a considerable about of background hiss. This can be easily controlled with mic selection.

Third, these amps are LOUD. Getting the right tone in the studio might be a problem in balance in some situations.

Fourth, maybe irrelevant, the chorus is great sounding, but the speed is not adjustable, only the depth.

Fifth, relevant on the road only, the damn things are heavy.

Sixth, and the main reason I do not use it, is too much emphasis on the high end. Getting a mellow jazz tone requires turning the treble down all the way to 0 AND trimming the tone on the guitar.

But, great clean tones.

Wanna buy mine?

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covert

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #16 on: September 01, 2005, 09:06:45 AM »

It depends largely on what you mean by clean.  The Roland JC series does indeed produce some very nice clean tones.  Look for the smaller one, JC55, JC75.  Some of the smaller fenders are great.  I prefer the ones that have master volumes, to the juniors.  On the other hand, there's much to be said for a SF champ, in this application.  
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Tom Hicks

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #17 on: September 01, 2005, 02:42:41 PM »

I have a 58 Gibson GA6, which is sort of a Deluxe clone. 12 watts from 2 6V6s. The old Gibbys don't have the vintage cachet that Fenders have, but are great little amps still reasonable in price.

http://search.ebay.com/gibson-amp_W0QQbsZSearchQQcatrefZC6QQ fromZR10QQfsooZ1QQfsopZ1QQsacatZQ2d1QQsargnZQ2d1QQsaslcZ2QQs brftogZ1QQsofocusZbs
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bloodstone

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #18 on: September 09, 2005, 06:46:15 AM »

As long as you don't need tons of volume, I'd get a Fender Amp Can.  That thing does clean very well.  $179.99 at Musician's Friend.  I own one and like it.
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Punkity

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #19 on: September 09, 2005, 12:28:43 PM »

I noticed a couple votes for the Fender Princeton. I did some clean guitar tracking a couple of weeks ago. The guy brought 4 different amps and we put them all to the test. Ampeg 501, Fender POS modeling amp (can't stand any sounds from these contemporary modeling things, at least not yet), Fender Champ (don't know the year, but old combo), and a borrowed Fender Princeton (late 60's/early 70's) head with a simple channel and a tremolo channel. Hands down the Princeton won (the heads were run through a strange, but good sounding, home-made 4x10). It simply had the most deluxe, silky, 3-D sound (especially the 3-D aspect, the difference was unreal). We ran the simple channel because the tremolo channel was busted somehow.

We used an old SG with original P90 pickups, a modern Chinese Strat, and a Robin of mine. They all sounded great on it, and we used different guitars for the different tones we needed for the songs. There are a couple on ebay right now around the $300 range. If I had the extra $$$ I would get one today.

Oh yeah. There were some distorted guitar parts. The Princeton driven with a Sebatron VMP (in the DI, line out) was instant Pete Townshend. The guitarist, who normally uses a Roland all-in-one multi-switch stomp box for all his tones, quietly said "oh my" and got really quiet for a while. Too bad I didn't have access to a Sovtek Mig60. Dimed it would have made him weep for all the wasted years.
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mjau

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2005, 01:45:45 PM »

A Laney lc15 can be had used for cheap, and gets a very nice clean tone for the price.
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Weird Geoff

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #21 on: September 12, 2005, 08:06:09 AM »

I've had good luck with and will second the recommendation for the vox pathfinder 15r, classic 30, princeton, and blues Jr.

I will add these as well which are also killer imho..

musicman combos or heads..i have a 210 hd130, then for cheaper amps the kalamazoo model II, Gibson Falcon, really any of those old low watt tube amps are great for a clean sound imo..and of course the Fender Champ/Vibro Champ, etc..I have used 50's tube RTR decks that had built in amps and speakers too with great luck..namely the Voice Of Music model from '55, not bad for 20$ at a thrift shop..

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disco stu

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2005, 05:34:27 PM »

See if a different mic setup works better for you - i found the best clean tones i got from using just an omni room mic (behringer ECM8000)

Also if you are getting a hard sounding top end its probably because the cabs are producing nasty whistly harmonics which while not prominent in the sound, if removed, smoothen up the tone significantly

To do this EQ high Q value +18dB gain move it around between 1-10kHz find the whistling frequencies and notch them out, standard fare in my mixes especially with distorted guitar and particularly for solos theres always at least 4 frequencies annoying thing is i usually have to use 2 EQ plugins to notch them all out as one only has 6 bands, ahh how i long for a 2.5GHz mac  Very Happy

Might work might not but its worth a try before you go spending more money

Stu
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josh

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2005, 10:46:35 AM »

disco stu wrote on Sat, 17 September 2005 22:34

 (behringer ECM8000)


I love that mic on guitar cabinets, but more for overdrive guitar tone with the mic capsule pressed into the grille.  It also works great in the back of a guitar cabinet.

For clean tone I really like my Studio Projects B1, also one particular SM58, each about a foot away for good clean tone.

You know mics do colors really well and apply that to clean guitar once the guitar tone is worked out in the amp... IOW, once it sounds good "in the room", then just about any mic is going to make a good recording just depends on what you are after.  It's not magic.  Overdrive guitar or distorted guitar, on the other hand, is extremely tricky and takes just the right combo of room, position (of the amp in the room), mic, position (of the mic), pre, etc., and ALSO dialing in an amp tone that may not necessarily be the best "in the room".  

Spiritwalkerpro

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2005, 12:38:43 PM »

I have been recording my Princeton reverb on a stool with a mic on front and one on back.  Great clean tones and turn it up and it drives really nice.  With the album I am recording we have used a marshall head, a 1968 bandmaster with a 212 and sometimes a 410 fender cabinet.  The guitar player has used a Tele, strat and a Cort (Neil Zaza). Out of all the tracks my 1967 Gretch "Viking"into the Princeton is my favorite tone on the album.
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hargerst

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #25 on: September 19, 2005, 03:57:28 PM »

Can't be stressed often enough: put small amps up on a chair or a tall stool.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

Austin

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #26 on: September 29, 2005, 06:43:49 PM »

I went to Guitar Center for a box to ship an amp and I saw an old Ampeg V4 in a room. I went in to check out the Ampeg and a guy was playing through a Crate Palomino V8 amp with a Tele....The amp is currently $279.00 at Musician's Friend. 5 watt Class A they say. 10" Celestion with EL84 output. I was frankly taken aback. The tone was all there. Very nice clean. Surprisingly so. I could see recording with it.  I'm sure it doesn't have a lot of clean headroom, but the cleans were quite good and really sweet and they also sell a V16 15 watt, with a 12" Celestion for $399.00 and I'm sure more clean headroom.
Maybe they are a discontinued deal??? Dunno...but if you are still looking, worth a look I think...Been playing since the 60's so I've been around a few amps if a reference point helps at all...Wink
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rockrev

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #27 on: September 29, 2005, 11:31:36 PM »

I second the Vox Pathfinder - works great for me.

rockrev
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vegas4ever

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2008, 09:50:40 AM »

Austin wrote on Thu, 29 September 2005 17:43

I went to Guitar Center for a box to ship an amp and I saw an old Ampeg V4 in a room. I went in to check out the Ampeg and a guy was playing through a Crate Palomino V8 amp with a Tele....The amp is currently $279.00 at Musician's Friend. 5 watt Class A they say. 10" Celestion with EL84 output. I was frankly taken aback. The tone was all there. Very nice clean. Surprisingly so. I could see recording with it.  I'm sure it doesn't have a lot of clean headroom, but the cleans were quite good and really sweet and they also sell a V16 15 watt, with a 12" Celestion for $399.00 and I'm sure more clean headroom.
Maybe they are a discontinued deal??? Dunno...but if you are still looking, worth a look I think...Been playing since the 60's so I've been around a few amps if a reference point helps at all...Wink


I agree the Palominos are nice clean, but the distortion its easy, bold and sweet.
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C.Cash

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #29 on: April 21, 2008, 01:44:15 PM »

Bang for the buck, it's pretty hard to beat this one;

http://www.pignoseamps.com/index.php?disp=detail&subcat= tubeamps&id=256

I put a Jensen Alnico speaker in mine and it sounds great, lots of bottom end.
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JDNelson

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2008, 01:51:30 PM »

josh wrote on Wed, 31 August 2005 11:09


Checked out a Fender Pro Jr...  not great.  Speaker stinks.  Maybe into an external cabinet it'd be ok.  Haven't tried it.


FWIW, I had a chance to A/B one of these with a Blackface Fender Deluxe Reverb, just for kicks and giggles.  The Pro Jr. sounded like a transistor radio by comparison.  It'd maybe be a good emergency amp for a small bar/restaurant gig or something, throw it in the trunk "just in case", but I wouldn't rate it higher than that.

garret

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #31 on: April 21, 2008, 02:13:28 PM »

The Tech21 Trademark 30 is an interesting little amp for <$300.  It's basically a Sansamp unit in a cabinet, with a clean 30 watt amp, a 10" speaker, and an accutronics spring reverb.

Great for taking to band practice (it's only 14 lbs!), and you can record with the sansamp as a DI.

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A.J.

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #32 on: April 21, 2008, 03:28:26 PM »

I've been gigging with a Tech 21 Trademark 60 for the last bunch of years and I think it has it great tone. The clean channel can do just about any sound pretty well. And like Garrett said, they're easy to lug around. I think mine is 36 lbs.

Ian Visible

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2008, 08:07:03 AM »

Roland Micro Cube

I've been pleasantly surprised by the clean sound both times I've heard it.

It's a sound that sounds like it shouldn't be coming out of a box that small.

Fibes

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2008, 09:31:02 AM »

A good clean sound that sits well is a lot tougher than one that just sounds good. Many times the right ticket is a dual set of DIs into good pres and a healthy dose of the right compression.

Yep, I said direct.

It doesn't have to be papery and lifeless.

Otherwise I'm all about Fender twins (even the red knob ones), Deluxes, and silverface Princetons.

I have enjoyed the Vox Pathfinder but it's not my go to amp for these duties which is my Tone King Imperial (think deluxe).

I always hate to tell people to spend more but a 600 dollar silverface fender will hold its value...
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Nick Sevilla

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2008, 05:43:40 PM »

Even those amps that the bands are bringing in can get clean tones, I'm sur of it.

It just requires tweaking those knobs, especially the "gain" knob before the EQ / output section. Back that off, and the guiar cleans up.

Cheers

PS what kind of amps are they bringing in that don't sound clean?

A 100Watt Marshall will sound clean, if set up properly...
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Secular_Tool

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #36 on: June 15, 2008, 02:31:42 PM »

Late '70/early '80s Peavey Vintage series amps are usually a bargain when you can find them. I paid $200 for mine in '94 and it looks like on they are about the same range on EBAY and other used markets when they appear.

I have the 212 version and it rocks.

Pete Townsend used the 410 version on Rough Mix and Face Dances
 http://www.thewho.net/whotabs/equipment/guitar/equip-peaveyv intage.html

There was a taller 410 or 610 version in the same series.

It is not the much later "classic" series that look very similar but have totally different designs and prices.

I have an early '80s peavey 2x12 classic which seem fairly rare but cheap when you can find them. Mine was around $200 when I found it.

I blew up the Jensen speakers and replaced them with celestions.

There's no master volume so I've never gotten it loud enough to see what the preamp sounds like over driven. I put a variac on it to hear what it sounded like turned up all the way, and it didn't suck.

The clean tones are really, really sweet. Put a ross or dyna comp on it and it's twang heaven.

Putting fuzz boxes on it sounds pretty good as well. Not as good as an amp with a tube front end, but pretty good.

The clean tones are as good as anything I've used.
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hargerst

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #37 on: June 15, 2008, 03:27:23 PM »

You want cheap, clean, AND dirty?  Try a 15 watt Fender Frontman, into a 4x12 Marshall cabinet.
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Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
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SpiderM69

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Re: cheap guitar amp for clean tones
« Reply #38 on: July 19, 2008, 01:05:19 AM »

It's not exactly $200, but the new Princeton Reissue is awesome.  I wasn't in the market for a new amp, didn't need one, didn't want one, but happened to be in a music store getting strings.  Plugged into it for grins, bought it 10 minutes later.  It's that good, I kid you not.  Even at $800 it's a bargain IMHO, compares to amps much more expensive.

PS, I have no vested interest in promoting this amp, was just really surprised.  Quintessential blackface tone.  Perfect volume for recording.  Easy to lift Wink.
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