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Old 01-29-2018, 04:36 AM   #1
PaulF70
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Default Practice Amp

Hey guys (and girls?). First post. Help a new guy out please. Though, if you're one of those "there are no stupid questions" people, stick around.

I just bought a guitar - a used Les Paul Studio. Kind of a dream piece. Oh, I don't really play guitar. I tried once before and got nowhere. I now realize it's because I didn't practice. I didn't like it. I'm now in my 40s and determined to do this. I know that if I put my mind to it I can at least get moderately decent within a few years.

So, now I need a practice amp.

Even though I'm a huge 50s and 60s jazz fan, I want to be able to play rock & metal. I want my gear to be able to sound like Randy Rhoads, Lifeson, Journey, and similar. Classic 80s-90s rock & metal.

I know I like valve sound, from hearing bands, recordings (and the fact that I love tube hifi gear, though that's different). I would *prefer* a valve amp, but it seems you can get very close to valve sound from solid state now, so I'm open to that.

Budget is pretty wide - maybe up to $1000, and I'll consider used gear, so I could possibly consider amps that retail up to nearly $2K (if there are home/practice amps that pricey).

The amp doesn't need to be technically a "practice" amp either, though I can't imagine needing something huge (like the Japanese girl I saw on utube with two full Marshall stacks in her bedroom).

Right now I am considering a Marshall Ministack and a Yamaha THR10. I really have no other ideas because I don't know this area well at all.

So I would just appreciate some things to look in to.

Thanks.
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Old 01-29-2018, 04:58 AM   #2
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You're going to get 100 different answers. My suggestion is a Fender, "Blues Jr." Its a little small amp but loud as hell. You can play it clean or you can push it and get real dirty. Maybe you want more beef, then maybe a Fender "Blues Deville".
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Old 01-29-2018, 05:10 AM   #3
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Any of the Boss Katana series. It already has everything you will ever need.
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Old 01-29-2018, 05:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by littlebadboy View Post
Any of the Boss Katana series. It already has everything you will ever need.
Forgot about that. Got mine for $165 and it's light.
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Old 01-29-2018, 06:20 AM   #5
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I definitely like what I see in the Blues Jr. The 12AX7 and EL84 are both superb tubes in audio applications (but again that's kinda unrelated cause you don't want distortion in hifi).

That should be plenty big for me. We've got four kids under 8 (did I mention this is a minor midlife crisis solution?) so I won't be blowing the doors down.
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Old 01-29-2018, 06:28 AM   #6
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Ok, now come the stupid questions:

- I see no mention of a distortion "channel" in the Blues Jr. Does that mean it doesn't do dirty?
- If not, can/should I use it with an outboard distortion pedal?

I thought (assumed) virtually all practice amps would come with distortion/overdrive built in. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this one lacks it because it's blues-oriented.
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Old 01-29-2018, 07:00 AM   #7
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Roland Mini Cube, which will run you about 150 bucks. It is a beautiful little amplifier, and what I use.
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Old 01-29-2018, 12:45 PM   #8
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Is this strictly for practice or do you intend to play in a band setting? Certain amps are better suited to Metal, other's to classic rock and blues, others to country or Jazz.

With the right pedals you might coax something kinda like Randy Rhoads out of a Blues jr but it's like driving nails with a screwdriver. You can make it work but it's still the wrong tool.

My advice is to buy a cheap modeling amp or sometghing like the Boss Katana where you can experiment with lots of different tones. Even a MFx unit would do the trick.

After getting some playing experience, you'll have a better feel for what you need.

Here's something to consider. Big amazing, awasome tube amps often sound like crap when they are turned down low for practice at home. The cheap solid state amps often sound pretty good at lower volumes.
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Old 01-29-2018, 06:22 PM   #9
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Practice Amp: Get a THR10

Real amp: Listen to the amps on the THR. Find the one that you favor. Buy the real version of the amp. No compromise... Ex: If you like the emulated DC30, save your pennies and get a real DC30. If you're poor.... Ceriatone.

As pointed out above, tube amps greatly favor being played at their intended volume. It requires a bit of a philosophical change in your playing. When you're plugged into a THR, you strike a string and it makes a sound. When you're plugged into a Plexi, the torrent of electro-sonic mayhem is ever-present and your job is to hold back the undesirable sounds. You will need to learn to balance both playing philosophies. Use the THR to learn to get your hands in the right place. Use the valve amp to learn to shape the sounds and work with guitar->amp feedback interaction.

"But I like the sound of a couple of the emulated amps"
Unfortunately, your wallet isn't going to like my answer...


Last edited by KamaK; 01-29-2018 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 01-29-2018, 06:27 PM   #10
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It seems the THR10 can sound pretty damn good by itself.

What I have learned is that buying an amp is no simpler than buying a guitar, and you can't really "have it all." You're going to get a certain sound and amps have specific applications. (I mean, I kinda knew that - I've never seen a pick of Jim Hall with a Marhsall stack behind him.)

I settled on a Les Paul Studio - finally - because I love the Les Paul sound for rock and had a demo that taught me it can do jazz at least "Ok." I got a later model with coil splitting which may help with that. I know it won't sound like an ES-175 but that's that.

As for playing in a band, probably I should learn to play guitar first. Tentatively, though, this is the rough plan:

- Get really good
- Get in a local band
- Convince wife to allow me to be surrounding by hot chicks
- Get chick posse
- Etc.
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