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#1 Greg P

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 09:37 AM

My obsession with guitar gear tends to go in cycles. For the last month or so the fever has returned and I've been shopping like a maniac. The two items on my holiday wishlist: a new tube amp and the Electro Harmonix POG.

I had to sell my early 70's Fender Twin Reverb a couple years ago. The amp was the previous possession of one Bruce Johnston of Beach Boys fame (or so i was told by the Nashville broker in 1996) and was just a marvelous-sounding piece of equipment once the tubes got nice and hot. Ever since then I've been "borrowing" a friends modified Carvin Belair. I was never a fan of Carvin gear, but that Belair (with some small mods done to the wiring) is perhaps the sweetest amp I have ever used. For that chiming, clean tone with gobs of warmth, I can only compare it to a boutique amp, like a Bogner or Dr. Z. costing five times the price. Using it with my 1978 Ibanez 2635 hollowbody, a Boss compressor, Ibanez tube screamer, Boss RC 20XL loop station and an Akai Headrush was a marriage(s) made in heaven-- an even better fit for me than the classic (and much more expensive) Fender Twin.

Well, a few months ago, my borrowing privileges were revoked and I sadly had to give the old gal back to her owner. The only amp in my possession now is a tiny Peavey practice amp, which obviously sounds like dung and is useful to me as a Dan Deacon-style "feedback oscillator" and nothing else.

I'm in the market for a small tube amp-- a 10" or 12" speaker, under $500 bucks, but something with major attitude and tone...

Amps that I've got my eye on right now:
* the Carvin Nomad-- basically a smaller version of the Belair (1X12) Same sweet tone and similar wiring. Also, easily modified via a couple snips and solders to the board. Even out-of-the-box it's got a pretty impressive sound.

*Fender Blues Junior-- (anyone have one of these little suckers?) -- a lot has been written about these amps. Their definitely workhorses. You can buy them for under $300 used, and for a couple hundred dollars you can upgrade the speaker and tubes to give you a very tight little setup. For a little more, you can apply BillM's modifications to the circuit board and get something close to a boutique amp with striking tone and clarity.

Any suggestions fellow guitarists? What are you currently using?

The second item on my list is the Electro Harmonix POG (polyphonic octave generator) which churns out a nice twelve-string emulation as well as a some cool, almost analog synth-sounding effects. But the hook for me is the semi-Hammond organ sound you can squeeze from it. A novelty pedal of sorts, but looks and sounds like SO much fun. I love toys. Demo here for anyone who hasn't seen it in action.

Edited by coltrane, 02 November 2007 - 09:41 AM.


#2 mrmando

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 10:03 AM

I have the Blues Jr. and a bunch of old Danelectro pedals, but very little occasion to play electric these days. The Jr. seems to make a pretty decent blues mandolin amp, but I'm not all that demanding about gear, I guess.

I am quite pleased with the Rane MAP33. I used to have to carry around four rack units (two AP13s, an SM26 mixer, and a power conditioner); now the MAP33 will do everything those units did and then some.

#3 Greg P

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 10:41 AM

Out-of-the box, how would you rate the bottom end on the Blues Junior? This is my primary concern about the amp. It's just so danged small i'm worried, even with the mods, I may never get the bass response i'm looking for.

I've read quite a few reviews on Harmony-Central about the the bass and the feedback is mixed.

Edited by coltrane, 02 November 2007 - 10:42 AM.


#4 Jason Panella

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 11:00 AM

I'm really weird with my guitar stuff. I'm able to USE the gear well (as in, I know how to play guitar), but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts I'm lost. Here's what I'm using:

-Fender Toronado: it's a nice workhouse...I use it almost exclusively these days
-knockoff Rickenbacher Model 360: I seriously cannot find the manufacturer. I used it for years, though, and it's starting to sound...off. I don't know how to describe it.
-Peavey bass

For pedals, I rely heavily on a Digitech Tone Driver, DA Fuzz Face, (Russian) Big Muff Pi and Small Stone phaser. I have a Danelectro distortion pedal and I HATE it (it's the Hot Dog, I believe), and a broken Morley wah that I always forget to fix.

I have a small, 15 watt Fender amp that works for practice. I have enough friends with extra gear that let me borrow things if I play with a band or in a larger setting.

#5 draper

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 11:31 AM

If you want the clean tone and full bass response of a Twin, the Blues Jr won't do it. I have a Pro Jr which has the same power section but drives a 10" speaker. The Blues Jr pushes a 12" speaker, which tends to stay cleaner longer and give better bass response.

If you are playing coffee houses, recording or grooving with a couple friends they are great. My Pro Jr is the most recorded amp I have. The trouble is that they just can't keep up with a band or fill a big room. Even if miked they overdrive and fill up the mids and mush out the bottom.

The up side is that they are great sounding within these parameters. Like the Bel-air and the almighty Vox AC-30 they run el-84 tubes in a class A configuration. You could almost consider the little Fenders half a Vox.

If you can take your guitar to a store and play through a Blues Jr, tune it up and I mean all the way. See if it can make the sounds you want.

Fender stuff tends to run towards pricey. You might consider Sansamp and/or Line 6. They both have some good sounding amps within the budget stated.


#6 Greg P

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 12:46 PM

Thanks MP. Yeah, I dont expect the Blues Jr. to touch my old Fender Twin for live settings. The Twin, and even the Belair, can blow doors off in almost any performance scenario-- both have tremendous power and presence. I mainly want an amp at this stage that will allow me to practice at low volume (relatively speaking) at home WITH some tone and bottom end. I'm also recording at home and want to push some air without disturbing the neighbors too much. I dont play at church anymore and I'm not playing with a group at the moment, so i think the Blues Jr. might work nicely.

I actually prefer the Nomad, but they are much harder to come by. I just let one slide on Ebay about a week ago and I'm kicking myself a little. It got up over $400 and i dropped out. I'm really fortunate to have a "tone monster" guitar. I can plug into a crummy solid state amp and still get close to the sound i want.

#7 mrmando

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 01:58 PM

QUOTE (coltrane @ Nov 2 2007, 08:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Out-of-the box, how would you rate the bottom end on the Blues Junior? This is my primary concern about the amp. It's just so danged small i'm worried, even with the mods, I may never get the bass response i'm looking for.

Don't ask a mandolin player about bottom end.

#8 Jason Panella

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 01:00 AM

I'm basically just using one guitar now, a Reverend Buckshot. I've never played anything like it, and love it to death. (Nice picture here, specs and video here.)

I'm also using a Digitech Hardwire delay pedal. The few shows I've played in the past year or so, I've used the looping feature pretty extensively (even creating an e-Bow symphony while I played accordion over it!)

Still using this guy for anything fuzz-related. It's not the most versatile pedal ever, but it covers a nice range that I can work in, and sounds great.

Geez, I sound like an ad.