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Travis

Pedal platform amp opinions..?

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Still weighing my options on amps. With today’s availability in guitar amplifiers it almost seems like there are too many to choose from. 

In terms of pedal platform amps, I know the trademarks are real popular around here. I’m curious what others like. There are some really compact, high watt solid state amps out there that have tons of clean headroom. There are also quite a few tube amps, like those in the fender camp, that offer a great platform but still offer the tube sensitivity that’s so desirable. 

What do you all use and what do you like/dislike about your setups?

thanks in advance. 

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I think you just have to try a few to see what fits. Anything with a lot of headroom and an efficient speaker. 

If it was me, I'd go for something like an old, Music Man RD combo and an EV or JBL speaker. They have a solid state preamp and a tube output stage. 

 

Edited by RobB
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I use a vintage blackface Princeton Reverb with a greenback. The cons are from my living situation where I can't crank up my amp since I live in a duplex. I used to live out in the stix and could crank the amp up as loud as I'd want... it's basically become a pedal platform out of necessity.

The pros are portability, great reverb/vibrato and a depth of tone. It is a bit overkill for a pedal platform though as far as cost is concerned.

But if I didn't have this amp, I would RUN out and buy a Marshall Artist head and a 4x12 cabinet (or even the right 15 inch cabinet).

The 3203 Marshall Artist has the tube output and phase inverters of a JCM 800 2204... the caveat is it's solid state preamp (that is actually pretty darned good & very similar to a Marshall Guv'nor pedal). They were made in the UK and are in the JCM800 family that also includes the Lead MOSFET 100 which was identical to the Artist except for the tubes being replaced with a MOSFET power circuit. They can be purchased for as low as $400 which leaves plenty of extra for a 4x12 cabinet.

You'll get the depth of tone that quality tube amps provide, sweet Accutronics reverb and a footswitchable  "Guv'nor pedal-esque" style distortion. A perfect & inexpensive pedal platform if there ever was one IMHO. They are a little smaller than a 2204 and used to come with these shite 4x10 cabinets.

Edited by zenmindbeginner
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Great suggestions above. +1 on @zenmindbeginner Black Face Fenders. Princetons are great. I also am a large fan of and use BF Vibrolux Reverbs and BF DRs. They make fantastic pedal platform amps, and unlike many master volume, two + channel amps, ALL GUITARS SOUND GREAT on BF Fenders, and tweed Fenders too 🙂

You’re right, there are so many (almost too many) choices out there. If you’re looking at a master volume or MV two channel amp, they vary so much in tone, the best thing to do is bring your guitar to demo the amps to see what sounds good with your guitar. There are a lot of great deals on high quality used amps. One amp line that is similar to the Hamer brand, in that they don’t have great resale value, but offer up GOBS of tone is Laney. I’ve been a Laney fan for thirty years now. Look for a used Laney Lionheart series. They are class A, spring reverb two channel beasts that you have to play to believe just how good they are. They make them in 5w and 20w combos and heads. They used to make 50w and 100w, all with EL84 tubes! The 100 has TEN power tubes IIRC! Look for those used, and try if you can find one locally. They’re insanely good for hard and classic rock, blues and jazz. Laney Ironhearts are their heavy metal amps. 

Try different amps with your #1 guitar to find a good fit. Ordering an unknown amp online can turn into quite a disappointment.

Edited by gtrdaddy
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For me, it depends upon the application....I have found the best pedal platform for me is my Mesa TA15....offers 5 modes...Vox TB (which is perfect..worthy the price of admission alone) Normal, which sounds like a clean JTM to me,  BF Fender, Marshall, and early MK Boogies. All in one  little head with surprising headroom....mix and match cabs to taste. 
 

I also like running my Lil Dawg tweed Champ with pedals. Not much headroom, but it does sound incredible.....especially cranked. Loves a Klone or treble booster.

You have millions of choices. Will you be gigging this amp? Recording? Playing at home? How loud do you need it to be?

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Whats the Budget? Black Face, Silver Face, Orange, EAST (would be my recommendation), all great pedals amps, but the East let all my pedals sound come through. I would used a Fane, EV, Rajin Cajin, something that is pretty flat for a speaker no mater what the amp. That allows for the Amp and the effects to have a flat platform and you will here things in the effects that you didn't before. 

Notable mention: If you get a Silver Face Princeton and swap the 10 for a Eminence RC you will have a nice all tube home friendly amp. 

 

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Another vote for the Princeton Reverb.  Mine's from 1970 and has been put into a 1x12 cab, sounds glorious.  

The other amp that has been out of production for a while now, but made for a great pedal platform is the Genz Benz Black Pearl, if you see one local for short money, grab it.

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Fender SuperChamp X2.

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Just musing here. Don't really have the exposure to these, but, and its a big butt Larry...

 

DR Z Carmen Ghia. I read again and again how well this works with everything.

Anything with an EF86 front end, like some Vox circuits. The power tubes typically distort before the preamp in such a setup. I have an 18 watt EL84 power amp fed by an EF86 and an ax7 splitter. Its loud as hell though.

or, in the same vein, a parallelled 12AX7, both triodes driven in parallel to a splitter. Like a Matchless Spitfire circuit, but with the aforementioned paralleling (stock is a single triode IIFC) and 6V6s vice EL84s.

Trademark 60. Bedroom levels up to gig. Great with pedals on the clean channel. You can do a lot with the drive channel and a good overdrive (like a Tim😊).

Trinity TC15 Kit is an EL84 kit that gives you both preamp tube choices.

RubyBottom.jpg

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2 hours ago, Jakeboy said:

For me, it depends upon the application....

You have millions of choices. Will you be gigging this amp? Recording? Playing at home? How loud do you need it to be?

It will be primarily for home but ideally loud enough to jam in a garage band setting. I’ve been looking at the Marshall Studio series a lot because they’re switchable down to 5 watts. Then, I started checking out a lot of the Fender stuff thinking I might do well with a crystal clear clean and then run my heavy gain with a pedal. Not set up for recording at the moment so I would say that capability would be the lowest on the list of priorities. 

2 hours ago, bubs_42 said:

Whats the Budget?

 

I don’t mind spending some cash for something I’ll be blown away by. $1,200–$1,300 isn’t out of the question but if I could get something I absolutely loved for half that, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it. 

I’m not biased towards combos or heads. I’ve got a couple of cabinets I can run with a head but if the right combo came along I’d snag it. 

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Princeton. With or without reverb. Baller pedal amp.

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Lot's of good choices already mentioned. I'd add a Palmer DREI if you can find one. 5-15 watts and clean to mean with choice of 3 different power tubes.

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7 minutes ago, joshoowah said:

Princeton. With or without reverb. Baller pedal amp.

Listening to some Princeton clips right now...

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Things I have found useful in an amp used as a pedal platform:

Good headroom, but not too much- it's good for the amp to be able to break up eventually, and it should be pleasing distortion however much there is. A lot of overdrive, distortion and fuzz pedals sound their best when they're able to push the amp into singing a bit on its own. For this reason, tube amps have given me the best results. 

Controllable mids. If you run a scooped sounding pedal into an amp that is scooped by nature, it's harder work to make either sound its best. Similarly, a mid-focused overdrive, such as many Dumble style drives running into fat sounding amp can get bloated pretty quickly. Being able to adjust the amp eq to best pair with the character of pedals helps a lot. This especially applies to fuzz.

I like blackface base tones, but being able to control the scoop, and I like 25-40W as the sweet spot for headroom and achievable amp breakup at reasonable volumes. The pedal platform I've been using for a while now is this Frenzel deluxe plus 25 which are handwired to order, point to point, and less than $600.  I've got it paired with a thiele style Hermida cab that I bought from Bubs, with a scumback M75. Does everything pretty well. 

20180130_113238.jpg

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The other thing I'd add to this discussion:

If you buy a vintage style amp, something based on a tweed or blackface Fender, consider ones with an fx loop. I run almost everything almost all the time into the front end of my amps, but it is fun to put reverb or modulation through the loop sometimes for slightly different flavors. (I have 2 Kendricks, one 4x10 and one 2x10, both based on the 59 Bassman 5F6A circuit, in addition to my 62 Princeton. The fx loop/extra gain stage provides some additional flexibility a straight replica or vintage original doesn't have. Food for thought.)

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I've been using the Egnater Rebel 20 setup for clean.  Has both el84s and 6v6s, which you can blend. 

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2 hours ago, soli'd said:

Things I have found useful in an amp used as a pedal platform:

Good headroom, but not too much- it's good for the amp to be able to break up eventually, and it should be pleasing distortion however much there is. A lot of overdrive, distortion and fuzz pedals sound their best when they're able to push the amp into singing a bit on its own. For this reason, tube amps have given me the best results. 

Controllable mids. If you run a scooped sounding pedal into an amp that is scooped by nature, it's harder work to make either sound its best. Similarly, a mid-focused overdrive, such as many Dumble style drives running into fat sounding amp can get bloated pretty quickly. Being able to adjust the amp eq to best pair with the character of pedals helps a lot. This especially applies to fuzz.

I like blackface base tones, but being able to control the scoop, and I like 25-40W as the sweet spot for headroom and achievable amp breakup at reasonable volumes. The pedal platform I've been using for a while now is this Frenzel deluxe plus 25 which are handwired to order, point to point, and less than $600.  I've got it paired with a thiele style Hermida cab that I bought from Bubs, with a scumback M75. Does everything pretty well. 

20180130_113238.jpg

I came across the frenzel name earlier this morning when I was researching. Wasn’t familiar with him before. Would it be fair to say you’re not pleased with the amp and its performance for the price?

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2 hours ago, Travis said:

Listening to some Princeton clips right now...

If you have cabinets, another amp you can get for a fair price is the Bandmaster. 

Edited by bubs_42
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24 minutes ago, bubs_42 said:

If you have cabinets, another amp you can get for a fair price is the Bandmaster. 

Hmm...  you may be onto something here...

https://wgsusa.com/blog/eddie-van-halen-secret-amp-fender-bandmaster

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4 minutes ago, Travis said:

Now be careful with folklore and legends. ;) Now all the early Montrose on the other hand was a Tweed Bandmaster 3x10, but don't get your hopes up... $$$$$ LOL 

Oh and FOCUS!!! Pedals into amp, not a cranked amp! 

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1 hour ago, Travis said:

I came across the frenzel name earlier this morning when I was researching. Wasn’t familiar with him before. Would it be fair to say you’re not pleased with the amp and its performance for the price?

No, in fact if that's what I implied I misspoke. I am VERY pleased with the amp, especially considering the price. The amount of work that goes into them far exceeds the cost, and they're built to order in 6-8 wks. Look at these guts! 

20171101_145552.jpg

I've been using it as a pedal platform for a couple years now with no reason to switch. It works very well in that role, namely for the reasons i mentioned earlier. Just playing it on its own it may come across as a bit tight or kinda plain vanilla, but those attributes also make it a good pedal platform.

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1 hour ago, bubs_42 said:

My other (main) amp is a custom Fargen 2-ch 4x6V6 monster. It happens to be a great pedal platform, but it stands on its own, really doesn't need pedals at all.

He does great mods with fender-based circuits as well. Can't recommend highly enough. 

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1 hour ago, Travis said:

I remember reading this in the Guitar Player cover story. He said, "you end up blowing a transformer every six weeks, but it's well worth it", or some such. "WTF", sez I, "I'll give it a shot." 

It worked. Instant, massive OD at 11PM volumes. Never blew the amp up. Wish I still had it.

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