I don't know what I want but I want it

Alex Kenivel

Rock Star
TGF Recording Artist
Messages
2,952
Help a brother out! I feel like I want a tube amp but I don't really know what I want.

For most of my guitar playing life, I had never really known or understood the differences between amp "flavors" - I've usually just played "whatever is available" and made them "work".

Then while recording and having a terrible time with my tone I decided to make a switch. At the time I didn't know wtf I wanted, just something that sounded better than my Carvin MTS3200 for modern metal but still had those "boomer dad" tones I was raised on. I descovered amp sim plugins - the TSE X50 and Overloud TH2 and while still very green in what all these models where, I had found a large pallette of sounds at my fingertips, soon descovered hardware modeling and aimed for that.

I bought a Pod HD in 2013 and I've been rocking a Helix since 2016. Sold off the amp and cab I wasn't happy with, got a wedge speaker, and eventually bought a Katana combo that is used as a poweramp/cab.

I feel like I have a more refined ear after modeling and studying music production/live sound for a few years so I know when something sounds good/bad just not what sounds good/bad.

I like options, hence the easy bond with modeling, but I feel like I'm missing out on some real deal experiences these days. I can't remember what my old 4x12 or 2x12 sounded like, only that they were enjoyable for some reason.

I feel like I need to get back to that - to at least have a reality check against years of sculpting tones with digital modeling.

I have an AC15C1 but its a one trick pony. In Helix land I gravitate toward the Essex A30 (AC30), Placater Dirty (BE-100) and L6 Badonk (modded triple rec or so I read) - so that's where my tastes live. I want something that can do modern high gain, dad rock tones, and has a nice chimey clean. I know fuck-all about different tube types. I'll most likely be using a modeler with it for effects so FX loop, maybe midi, built in load perhaps, something that can be loud enough for a club gig (whenever I decide to get back to that life) but tame enough for the family in the next room.

I have my heart set on a vertical 2x12 of some type. Not sure about speakers. I had a 2x12 with V30s that I enjoyed but really like my G12M 65.

Where should I start? TIA
 
I want something that can do modern high gain, dad rock tones, and has a nice chimey clean. I know f**k-all about different tube types. I'll most likely be using a modeler with it for effects so FX loop, maybe midi, built in load perhaps, something that can be loud enough for a club gig (whenever I decide to get back to that life) but tame enough for the family in the next room.

This list puts you in the 3k$+ category.
What's your max?
 
I want something that can do modern high gain, dad rock tones, and has a nice chimey clean. I know f**k-all about different tube types. I'll most likely be using a modeler with it for effects so FX loop, maybe midi, built in load perhaps, something that can be loud enough for a club gig (whenever I decide to get back to that life) but tame enough for the family in the next room.

I have my heart set on a vertical 2x12 of some type. Not sure about speakers. I had a 2x12 with V30s that I enjoyed but really like my G12M 65.

Where should I start? TIA

You basically just described a Mesa TA-30. Great amp. Get a head + a reactive load box.
 
Someone has to recommend the Badlander - so I will - check out the Mesa Badlander! Great tones - good variety in a single amp. Good for rock / hard rock / etc. I’ve also been impressed with the cleans and edge-of-break up too.
 
def. under that bracket! Up to 1.5k perhaps.

Don't need to have every box ticked. Bare minimum options would be FX loop, 2 channel and okay at bedroom level.

Dont know much about them -- but probably too $$$?

Damn, I didn't realize the head was $1600! The rack is like $800 or so? Then the modules are $300-$400 depending on if you buy used or not, but that'd cover all the territory you wanted to and you don't have to buy all the modules up front. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
Damn, I didn't realize the head was $1600! The rack is like $800 or so? Then the modules are $300-$400 depending on if you buy used or not, but that'd cover all the territory you wanted to and you don't have to buy all the modules up front. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I like what I hear from the Morgan module. That could def cover clean/dad territory. Toss in another module for high gain and im over 2k without considering a cab even if going used. Criminy!
 
Just buy a poweramp and a guitar cab you like for your Helix. That should satisfy your cravings for a more traditional sounding rig.
Will it though? Is there really not that much of a difference between a traditional tube amp and a digital model? I defer to anyone else's judgment than mine as Ive stayed on my own lawn for too long.

I already have a 2500w SS poweramp I could use, and just get a 2x12 if that's the case. Seriously thinking about it after looking at prices of amps!
 
Will it though? Is there really not that much of a difference between a traditional tube amp and a digital model? I defer to anyone else's judgment than mine as Ive stayed on my own lawn for too long.

I already have a 2500w SS poweramp I could use, and just get a 2x12 if that's the case. Seriously thinking about it after looking at prices of amps!
Since you already have half the rig, get the 2x12 and judge for yourself.

My take on all this is that it does not matter what the tech is if you are getting sounds you like. It took me a long time to get out of the "tube amps are the real deal, everything else will be just an imitation" mentality when my ears were saying "what you are hearing from this modeler sounds really good".

I consider the main convenience of real tube amps to be simplicity. If all you want is a Fender sound, then you might not care about having three dozen other tones.

The cab is ultimately a limitation with any real amp rig because different amps pair best with particular speakers. I mean just listen to this recent Johan Segeborn clip - Marshall JMP50 into a 4x10 with uncommon speakers. It sounds a lot more Fendery than if you were to run it into say Greenbacks. But it's a cool tone in its own right.

 
You basically just described a Mesa TA-30. Great amp. Get a head + a reactive load box.

This. Might be my favourite amp ever made. So versatile. Kind of insane that they can
pack Vox, Fender Tweed and Blackface, Marshall, and Mesa tones in one box. I gigged
the piss out of mine for about 5 years in a variety of settings and it shined. Now it sits
next to me in my music room and I look over at it and smile lovingly. :love


Not the sexiest option, but $900 and game over. I have never heard a bad word about
them from any owner.
 
Priority 1: a good sounding cab…or 2..stereo @home pays of.
2: decent tube powersection…(or return of combo)(which should be a good sounding cab)

the already recommended IRT…check the studio irt...good preamp, works as a poweramp using the return, enough headroom for a club gig.

those old Mesa 50/50/peavey 50/50/Marshall 9100..pretty affordabl..and as good as it gets.
Peavey classic/egnater rebel/Bogner alchemist/fender bassbreaker/hrd…all affordable great sounding platforms for a modeler.
 
My take on all this is that it does not matter what the tech is if you are getting sounds you like. It took me a long time to get out of the "tube amps are the real deal, everything else will be just an imitation" mentality when my ears were saying "what you are hearing from this modeler sounds really good".
I can get along with the fact that it may all be in my head and I'm overthinking things. I played the HX into the Katana today and shook the room with my 8 string. It put a smile on my face and I thought maybe I dont need to shell out $1k+ on basicly a whole rig just to see if the grass is greener although I was THIS CLOSE to snagging IRT studio from Reverb for under $600 shipped...
 
The TA-30 combo from Walmart gave me a chuckle:
Screenshot_20230128_225752_Chrome.jpg
 
Just buy a poweramp and a guitar cab you like for your Helix. That should satisfy your cravings for a more traditional sounding rig.
This actually isn't a bad idea, and no, you probably won't notice much of a difference between that (a tube power amp), and a standalone amp, when it comes to sound and feel.

These days I rock an H&K Grandmeister, you could get them used under a grand. It is admittedly a jack of all trades/master of none kind of thing, but I don't mind that. I'm not chasing a specific tone, I'm actually more about something that sounds like itself, so, that doesn't bother me.
 
Will it though? Is there really not that much of a difference between a traditional tube amp and a digital model? I defer to anyone else's judgment than mine as Ive stayed on my own lawn for too long.

I already have a 2500w SS poweramp I could use, and just get a 2x12 if that's the case. Seriously thinking about it after looking at prices of amps!

Whatever differences occur between them, I prefer. IE- not needing to crank a tube amp to get it distorting. I love playing through Bassman and JTM45 models, but if I had real ones, I’d blow out my ear drums doing the same things with them. Being able to get those same tones, through real cabs, at lower volumes is f*ckin’ ace.

I bought that ‘65 Deluxe thinking I’d be using that thing all the time for couch noodling, but nope, my FM9 gets turned on every time. I haven’t turned that amp on since the first week I got it and it’s been almost 2 months. I think it’s time I turn it into a guitar.
 
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