Other Amps

Tell me about Modern World amps

1

I'm old school so know Fender/Ampeg/Vox including Thomas, of course)/Supro, etc. Familiar w/ early Marshall and Sunn. Appreciate solid state pioneers like Kustom and Acoustic, Aware of Peavey but who cares. Of course I know there's a whole boutique vintage amp new- build scene.

But I am seeing all these new (to me) names. Blackheart, BadCat, Bugera, Egnater, Line 6, Blackstar, etc.

Someone here said Bugera is just re-branded Behringer dogmeat.

I guess some are modeling, others are all about a dozen distortion settings, so I doubt there's anything here for me, but wondered you all think of Amps of the 21st Century.

2

Mixed feelings. I love my VOX and Fender tube guitar amps, so in that aspect I'm pretty much a Luddite. I don't use FX other than reverb and occasionally echo, so I get by. On the other hand, my keyboard rig is ultra modern. Easier to carry, cheaper, and sounds close enough to the originals to suit me. My Korg SV-1 has 36 vintage keyboard for the price of one unit. Seemed like a no-brainier to me.

3

You mean as opposed to lugging a B3+Leslie around ?

Seems to be the same for bass : SVT + fridge are still the reference but a good class D amp+ neodymium 2x10 does the job most times (or even going DI).

For guitar I'm not so sure there's such "progress", some SS amps (Quilter or such) seem interesting, but I don't know if our gigging friends around here are ready to let go of their tube amps...

4

From my (limited) experience, I would put Bad Cat amps in the "boutique" group. They are very fine amps -- hand made, hand wired, etc. From those I've seen and played I think they rank up there with Carr, Swart, Victoria, etc.

5

Blackheart, BadCat, Bugera, Egnater, Line 6, Blackstar, etc.

BadCat are expensive high quality boutique amps. Whether you like them or not is a taste thing, but they're not junk. Blackstar, Bugera and Line 6 definitely are.

6

The Bugera V5 isn't dogmeat, it's a super cheap but nevertheless good sounding tube-5 watter. Best of the el cheapos for sure. The signal ist all analogue, only the (good sounding) reverb is digital. Change the chinese tubes for good ones, the speaker for a Celestion and you're ready to go with some real nice vintage-like sounds for your bedroom playin'. And it's a solid built, cool looker. I'm playin a SWART Ast Master and I can tell good from bad tone.

7

The Bugera V5 isn't dogmeat, it's a super cheap but nevertheless good sounding tube-5 watter. Best of the el cheapos for sure. The signal ist all analogue, only the (good sounding) reverb is digital. Change the chinese tubes for good ones, the speaker for a Celestion and you're ready to go with some real nice vintage-like sounds for your bedroom playin'. And it's a solid built, cool looker. I'm playin a SWART Ast Master and I can tell good from bad tone.

8

Amps sound like what they're made of. Always have. You can't make solid state sound like tubes. Can't happen. Everyone is battling for shelf space at Guitar Center. Corners have to be cut to compete. There are some older US made solid state amps that do clean pretty well. Emulators and mosfet gain stages sound like bad MP3's. The newer Far East amps are made of the cheapest stuff possible. Let your ears guide you.

I'd keep on hunting down old Thomas Vox amps made in California. Safe bet.

9

I have a friend that has several Line 6/ Bogner amps. Even though they have all kinds of relays and switching inside it is a lot like a giant Mesa Transatlantic with various types of preamp configurations. To me the best part is the power amp in where you can run a preamp or in his case a modeling amp into the Bogner power amp section. I think it puts out like 80W. It would give my amp tech nightmares but I bet it would sound good with my Frenzel preamp. I think he only paid 200.00-300.00 each. Interesting but I don't need one as I guess I am a luddite also. Thanks John

10

Like most things in life there are good, not so good and poor amps of any generation.

I still have my 1965 AC30 which produces great sounds and a Vibro-King from the first batch back in 1993. Something about the power of 6L6 tubes has always grabbed my attention and several 21st Century makers do use them. I just don't hear that tone from solid state or amps with DSP effects although I've also used a Music Man for years and it does have a solid state preamp.

There are some great modern amp builders around who have evolved the classic designs into their own models. Steve Carr makes great amps as does Vic Mason with his Mojave models. Of course, these guys are small operations so cannot get the economy of scale that the big makers do but for me anyway, the improvement in tone is worth the extra cash.

11

Why do they all start with "B"? Is there some market research that says people buy amps with a "B"?

12

Why do they all start with "B"? Is there some market research that says people buy amps with a "B"?

– Otter

All very interesting.

Bogner, Blackcat, Blackstar, Bugera... maybe even more?

13

Avoid the ones that sound like booger.

14

There are so many " boutique" brands that use old-school construction methods (and circuits). I have experience with (and own amps made by) Carr, Victoria, Hi-Tone, Bad Cat, Dr. Z, and Park. Our fellow member here, Winnie Thomas, makes an excellent sounding amp also - check out his Cyclone (15 watt) or Typhoon (5 watt) amps.

I also own several Fender blackpanel and silverface amps and some from the brown panel era and any of these mentioned compare favorably with the vintage ones for build quality.

15

I think Badcat is a terrible name for a very good amp. I've had a few Badcats, and still have a (modified by me!) Badcat Hotcat 2x12. I don't play it much these days - it weighs a ton and I have loads of other amps. Badcat amps started out as an off-shoot of guys from Matchless, and still have Matchless branded caps in them. Some of their models are very similar to Matchless models, but I find overall the Badcats are a little less brittle sounding than Matchless and have a more robust low-end.

Mostly they are built PTP with top quality parts, but there is one recent model (Cougar?) which is PCB and made in China. It's a lot cheaper than the other Badcats!

It would appear that young players expect a lot more from their amps than an old Vox AC30, tweed Bassman or Marshall Superlead can provide. At least that's what manufacturers seem to think. Building an amp with 3-4 channels and various boosts is expensive and difficult to do on tagboard, so they are generally made PCB. With surface mount components, ribbon cables, and board-mounted sockets. Cheap, efficient, easy to produce and generally quite bland sounding.

But oddly enough they all reference the sounds of the simpler amps of the 50s, 60s and 70s. And sound like a pale imitation.

There are some incredible amps being built these days, but not by the mainstream manufacturers. It is a great time to be looking for an amp because there are people building fantastic reproductions of old amps but without the some of the issues the old ones had, plus new features the old ones didn't have. But you will pay for them, just like you did way back when. A good, well built amp has never been cheap. As Jeff H says, a lot of the boutiques compare very favourably with the old Fenders, Voxes and Marshalls of the vintage eras.

17

There's a guy in Sydney that builds amps out of old parts, trannies etc and often uses busted solid state amps as cabs. Great amps too.

My only complaint about,doe, modern amps is that they try to do too much... cover too much ground

18

I think some of tody's BOUTIQUE amps are easily as good as, and in some ways BETTER than, the old Fender/etc. "vintage" stuff. More pro players than I can count have attested to the fact that we are living in a "golden age" of music gear- including amps.

For me, it's Swart. I WILL own one. And if I can scratch together the cash after that, a Nocturne.


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