Amps... Again

I don’t know what gets into me and I find myself again looking to buy an amp.
My current one (solid state) doesn’t have footswitchable channels nor an effects loop both of which are somewhat limiting.
Perhaps that’s my excuse to disguise GAS. Whatever. :laughing:

Recently I checked some valve amps. Most of them with one or two exceptions didn’t sound too good at low volumes (think of a bit louder than tv volumes).
Some though, were tempting as they sounded quite OK at low volumes and also have quite good xlr out to record on the pc.

I didn’t buy anything thinking a valve amp is just too loud for home and gave up for a brief few weeks.

Now I started looking into some solid state amps for home and that got me even more confused to the point that things don’t make any sense at all.

The kicker for that was one of the comments in another thread here, about the Orange Crush 35rt having both footswitchable channels and an effects loop, so I though, hey, that sounds great…

Then I checked the price. That’s just around £230. But that’s only marginally less than the Marshall MG50GFX, which has 12" speaker and 4 channels.

So I thought I’m comparing apples and oranges. And in turn, I checked the Orange Crush 60 to compare against the MG50.
Price for the Crush 60 though… ~£430!
Thats the same as a Peavey 6505 MH which is one of the valve amps that sound not bad at low volume and has an xlr out as well!
Or if you were to spend that much, then for another 100 you can get a Tubemeister 20 deluxe…

So… What am I missing? Why is a solid state amp so expensive to be in the same territory as some affordable good valve amps?
What is the value proposition?
What does one get in this case? It’s all so confusing (to me)!!!

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There’s not a linear relationship between “price” and “volume”. Or even features.

From your post I’d assume it’s for home practice… most people end up with a modelling amp, which can sound good on headphones, PC or through the speakers. Work out what you want from one and try some out and do research.

I have a Fender Mustang GTX. Boss Katanas are super popular, as are the Yamaha THR (although I think they might not have an FX loop).

Solid state modelling amps can be super good… to the point where the reasonably recently released Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb is a specific “solid state” modelling amp designed to faithfully emulate an older valve amp.

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I’ll begin by saying that I don’t want a modelling amp.

The relationahip between price and features might not be linear but there sure is one.

So, with that in mind, how is the Orange Crush series good value for money when you can get another SS amp at half the money or a (better?) valve amp at the same price (ok, minus the speaker)?

@Lefteris Mind if I ask why a modelling amp is a definate no. I’m a tube amp person… I just like the warm sound of a tube amp. I have nothing against SS or modelling amps.

Dave

I found this recent video from Anderton interesting. They used some gear to make any valve amp sound good at low volume.

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Hi Dave,

I think, knowing me, if I had a modelling amp I’d waste a lot of time trying to figure out presets and what not, then trying to recall them to play…
Just seems to me that I’d fiddle around more than playing and I want to avoid that. And eventually I think I’d give up altogether and look for another amp again.

Hi Mathieu!

Yes, I know about attenuators. Expensive piece of gear though so the money spent on amp plus this, is on another level. Hence why I was trying to find if any reasonably priced valve amp sounds good at low volumes on it’s own.

“how is the Orange Crush series good value for money when you can get another SS amp at half the money”

I guess it’s not that easy once you move beyond simple face value and cost. You’d need to factor in other economic themes such as quality of components, size and efficiency of company, manufacturing and transportation costs, marketing, customer support, R&D etc… all of which need to be factored into the unit costs of a product. This is why boutique amps normally cost a lot more than those of all larger brands such as BOSS etc. With legacy brands like Orange, Marshall, Fender etc. you are also paying for 50 years of experience in designing effects, electronic circuits and tone - which is probably not the case with your generically rebranded “built in China” cheapo amp.

FWIW - My primary is a Blackstar HT5210 combo valve amp running through a Bugera PS1, and it sounds pretty wicked to me. I also have a Yamaha THR30 and a Blackstar ID Core 10 which both have their place.

Why do you want to have footswitchable channels?
Can the same ends be achieved somehow else? Pedal? Volume control on guitar? Especially in a home setting.

Why do you want an fx loop?
That definitely implies you have or are looking to have fx pedals. Which returns to the first question I asked.

Marshall MG have never been renowned for their clean channel sound if that is important.

Unless you have heard one you wouldn’t know, I know several gigging musicians who use Orange crush amps mostly because they are lighter and cost less than tube amps but sound close enough to a tube amp.
The 35RT is loud enough for pub gigs and quiet enough for home practice, even a 1W tube amp can be too loud for home practice IF YOU WANT IT TO SOUND LIKE A TUBE AMP. Tube amps need to be driven hard to really sound good.

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A lot of the songs I want to play have clean parts and parts with distortion. It’s not practical to stop playing to push the button on the amp to switch channels.
I guess it could be possible to have a distortion pedal and switch that way.

That’s where a looper pedal would go, right?

This!

Sure, you can turn a low-wattage tube amp down to bedroom volumes, and it can still sound good. But it will be operating in its linear range and won’t sound significantly different from a solid state amp.

As @DarrellW says, if you want to take advantage of the tube overdrive and compression, that involves turning the power stage right up, and even on a 1W tube amp, that will be pretty loud.

Cheers,

Keith

Yes, very possible.

What is your current amp?

Yes, a looper is best in your fx loop if you intend playing different tones between looped parts or parts played over the loop.
Do you have a looper currently? Or is it on a wishlist?

If you have an external distortion pedal, the looper could go after that into the front of the amp and would work fine.

The time when an FX loop is really useful for a looper pedal is on a modelling amp where you want to record the built-in FX into the looper. You can only do that if you have an FX loop.

If you are using FX pedals in front of the amp, the looper can go after those.

You.may also want to consider a multifx unit in front of the amp. Some of these also have built-in basic loopers.

Cheers,

Keith

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I have a Marshall MG15 I had bought back in 2004.
I think I need something else now for the reasons I mentioned.

At the moment the only pedal I have is a boss metal zone which I got from someone I knew but it doesn’t sound good at the front of the amp so I don’t use it.

Hi Keith,

I was under the impression that the looper wouldn’t work in front of the amp.

So if I use one with my current amp, which does not have an effects loop it would sound as intended?

Yes, I tried a bunch and they didn’t sound good at low volumes. The exception was the Peavey 6505MH and the Blackstar St James but the latter way too expensive for me.

They loop fine in front of the amp.
Unless you are using the amp to modify the tones (add distortion for example) as Keith describes.
Because the built-in effect gets added to the signal input and that would include not just your playing over the top of the loop but the loop itself.
If you want a clean loop and a distorted tone over it, that route is not one to go down.
If you have fx pedals, they only effect what is fed in to them. If you have a looper after them, beyond their inputs, then the loop remains clean (or dry I should call it).

But if the distortion comes from a pedal then the looper wpuld work?
E.g., looping over some distorted power chords with the distortion coming from a pedal before the looper in the signal chain?

Yes.

With a looper, you need to record the effect. This means the effect has to become before the looper in the signal chain. With effects built into the amp, such as with most modelling amps, the only way to put the looper after the effects is by using an FX loop.

With any amp where you use external effects pedals, the looper can easily be placed after the effect in front of the amp.

Cheers,

Keith