I have a 100watt Marshall Combo Tube Amp. It is WAY TOO POWERFUL for anything at church. I usually have the volume set at .5 out of 10 and it is still pretty loud. Plus it has dual 12's so this thing is big and heavy and I get to haul it to church everytime I play.
My church has given me permission to buy an amp for them. I am thinking a 2 channel, 8 - 15 watt tube amp with one 12 inch or 10 inch speaker. I would prefer something under $700 but it needs to sound good. I am not really interested in Fender. Their crunch is horrid! However, I could try them again. I am looking for an amp that would be a very good all around amp. I use humbucker pickups but other guitarists at church may use single coils.
What do you think?
How important is that crunch tone from the amp? What I'm getting at is that standing in front of the amp in an empty room is far different than having the thing turned up in a band context, blended with other instruments. What I think is shrill and icepicky when I listen solo turns into chimey and fluid when layered with bass, keyboards, drums and a vocal ensemble. When I listen to small tube amps like the AC15 or some of the small Fender combos in a music store context, I loathe the tinny sound that comes out. Put a few well chosen effects in front, mic the cone with a nice old SM57 about halfway out from the dustcap 2" off the grillcloth, and turn up the PA slider, and it sounds completely different. What I like to listen to solo is my homemade JTM clone. Far too thumpy and fat sounding to be conveniently mixed when mic'ed to the PA. Works very nice from stage volume, though. The fashion is single coils into a small tube amp. My preference is low output vintage style covered humbuckers into a fat, flubby sounding Bassman or JTM. Vox AC15, ( I'm not completely sold on the AC15, though the ACs have produced many of the tones worship guitarists are familiar with) Fender Blues Jr, Peavey Classic 30 (I had an old Encore 65 for 25 years before the JTM and loved it. I've worked with guitarists who've gotten good tones from their 30s - underrated because it's Peavey?) have been widely used and serviceable. Many like the boutique way, too, but I haven't got the coin for that.
I tend to agree with Greg on this. Most 15 watt amps like AC15's or Marshall Haze etc. don't usually have very much clean headroom. And even if you're fine with that, their crunch and overdrive primarily comes from diode clipping circuits, not tubes! Thus, they sound like garbage when overdriven - fizzy and tinny. And forget 10" singles, there isn't one that's worthy of gigging. However, a 2x10 can work well in the right amp.
So no matter how you slice it, if you take a typical trendy 15 watt tube amp and load it down with lots of controls like bass, mid, treble etc., you're sucking the power out and you really only end up with 5 watts of decent output and that's not enough to overcome a whole band. Case in point - I have an Allen Hot Fudge that's usually set up for 11 watts (!). It has two controls - volume and tone. (Also a tremolo circuit, but it has no effect on the volume). That amp is louder than my 40 Watt Vibrolux with all it's controls. I can't play it in church above 2. It starts to break up at 4 and will burst your eardrums at 6. There's not an AC15 that can keep up with it. God forbid I have it set up for 22 or 40 watts. Don't be fooled by "wattage" ratings on amps!
I know there will be many opinions here, but for worship, you can't beat the warm clean tones of a Fender and the Hot Rod Deluxe can be had for $400 all day long on eBay. These are well made, have a great range of clean and even crunch tones and are loud enough to keep up with most worship situations. I believe they are set up for 30 or 40 watts (maybe even 50) and are very well proven. I've owned one and my son now owns one and it's a lot of amp for your money.
I'd even recommend a Blues Jr., especially the current Gen III, but I think it's a matter of taste. Blues Jr. do tend to be a bit dark and I'm not crazy about the overdrive. They sound good when pushed into power tube saturation, but only to the limit of the EL84 tubes. I think the 6L6 equipped Hot Rod Deluxe is much more useful in this situation and can be pushed much harder and will produce a greater range of tones. Not enough folks use these.
Greg mentioned the Peavey Classic 30 and it's a sleeper to be sure. I hate it's overdrive / slight breakup tone though. But in general, it's a well made work horse. You want to make sure to get the tube guard for the back.
Pushing your limit to $700 helps some, but I'm not sure where to point you for $700.
I had forgotten about the HRD. +1, though it's 40 watts and they're fairly loud watts. This one I've heard with a Sennheiser e609 in front of it and was very clear and punchy, with good reaction to mild pedal overdrive and delay without turning to mud. This is one of those amps like above that can have a shrill sound at certain settings just listening by yourself, which when blended with the other instruments, fits into the mix perfectly without disappearing. Right close to your $700 limit if bought new, though.
I have tried a couple of solutions for this. I have an ampeg head that is really loud and doesn't sound good until it's really cranked. For a time I had the speaker in an isolated enclosure. For about 200 dollars you could build a 1x12 iso cab and drive it from one of the outputs of your combo amp.
In my previous church and the one I am in now I actually shed my amp completely and go direct out of my POD HD. Purists hate this solution but I have A/B'd the pedal alone and the full amp and found the pedal sounded better. There was more robust frequency response since I no longer had multiple points of failure to deal with. It's extremely clean and allows the monitor to take over. The other players in the band sometimes look at me funny but not because of what they are hearing. The sound crew loves me.
No! Not the POD?
Which aspect did you think sounded better?
When I went and listened with my wireless to the front of house sound it just had an overall better sound. There was more dynamic range, more punch, better gain and much cleaner. The older pod I had wouldn't have pulled it off but the HD series does it quite well.
In another example, my friend mimicked his pedal train in my pod and A/B'd it with his through his amplifier. The tones were just about identical. They really have come a long way.
By the time you account for all the signal loss thru the pedals to the amp then out of the mic you really level the playing field with modeling. It is super easy to control volume and when you want to try different amp flavors they are there. It's a viable church solution. The price is right too, They range from 350 - 500 depending on which model you get.
I started using line 6 a long time ago because I have a large family and my gear budget is always small (when there is a gear budget). Line 6 gave me the most for the price point.
That's certainly a big concern. I still can't warm up to those units - and you still do need some kind of amp. Even the guys who are buying the AXE units are buying a power amp. I can vouch for the nice tone of high quality digital effects like Strymon etc., so no reason to be afraid of them.
I actually run direct to the house system and use a monitor. No amps, speakers or power amps. They are only needed if you want to be miced.
I'm so very unable to trust that in my case, I would have to run it through my own amp to get enough headroom to be heard and hear myself. I have a sound tech who buries the instruments and boosts the voices to the point that you can't hear anything but the piano and drums.
That's a rough deal. In a situation where sound is done correctly the HD is a viable option. In yours it wouldn't be so great. Since I cut over I swear no one knows the difference.
There's an interesting discussion: sound done correctly. We discuss the relative merits of certain amps and multis with the idea that they're plug and play. They're not. The air space, the available sound reinforcement system, the requirements and expectations of leadership, demographics, the preferences of the congregation, the varied skill level of the musicians, the various skill specialties of the musicians, and so many other things I can't think of at the moment, all work together on Sunday morning - or they don't. Because they're doing it and it works doesn't necessarily mean if we do it, it works. It's miraculous when it all just works, and sometimes it's in spite of our best efforts, not because of them.