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Thread: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

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    Default Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Hi, I'm looking for my first tube amp. I like 80s thrash metal, power metal, glam and some death. I want to play in a metal band at some point, but I ind it difficult to find people. I currently jam with friends who are not huge metal heads(one like glam and ozzy though) that like to play pop and alternative rock. Are the tube amps like peavy 6505 mh, Hughes & Kettner tubemeister, etc worth the investment given my interest?. If so or not, what would you recommend? I'm kind of on a budget because I am looking to get a new guitar as well( Jackson King V). I have a Les paul studio and I will be replacing the stock pups. It may not be necessary to spend money on a new guitar so I am willing to spend a decent amount on a tube amp.

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    Mojo's Minions Lake Placid Blues's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Your going to end up with a tube amp eventually. We all do. At least for awhile. For now something like the Boss Katana will get you by and not break your budget.

    The 15-25 watt tube amps with around a 5 watt low power mode are quite useful to modern playing of all styles. 20 watts is practically not far behind the loudness and girth of 50 watts for playing with a drummer. You don't need the master volume turned down to 2 before people stop yelling at you that you need to turn it down some more. Around 5 watts works for rehearsal and jams. Plus you don't need a roadie to help you haul it around and set up your rig.

    I really like the new breed of lower watt amps that use big bottle tubes.

    If you plan on eventually playing modern medal styles a 100 watt amp with a master volume is not obsolete though. Even set to low volume they have a more solid and punchy, and tight, bottom end.

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    Toneologist regan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Whats your budget?
    A 15-20 watt amp is probably the most useful amp you can own.

    If you like rock & metal look on the used market for mesa studio 22's/calibers, marshall dsl15's, orange terrors, they come up often & are affordable if you're patient

    fender deluxe reverbs & vox ac15's are absolute classic must have amplifiers but may be too vintage sounding for your tastes without a pedal driving them.

    If you can find a studio 22 (or similar 20watt mesa) locally grab it, you wont regret it
    Last edited by regan; 06-11-2019 at 02:19 PM.

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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    I have a Tubemeister 18. Doubt I'd use it onstage, but I could. And I'd think a Marshall would be better suited for what you do. And don't discount a solid state Randall...
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    Mojo's Minions Gtrjunior's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Blackstar HT-20 Studio are great amps for short money too.

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    PenultimateTone Member Demanic's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    I love my Picovalve because it will run any octal tube out there. At 5 watts, I wouldn't gig with it, but it's great for recording. Too bad they don't make them anymore. But it does make me curious about the JC 22 watt.

    Sent from my Alcatel_5044C using Tapatalk

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    firstlessonologist guitfiddle's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    The Jet City 20 is a great amp, and will get you into early metal tones easily, and later tones with a good pedal. The 22 will do modern without any help.

    The Orange Terror series will do the same, with more of a low mid grunt(except the Brent Hinds one...it's voiced to sound like a little JMP MArshall), especially the Dark Terror. It's at the top of the heap for metal tones from a 15 watt amp, and you won't need a pedal to get you into the more modern tones.
    Last edited by guitfiddle; 06-11-2019 at 05:18 PM.
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    Mojo's Minions dystrust's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Demanic View Post
    I love my Picovalve because it will run any octal tube out there. At 5 watts, I wouldn't gig with it, but it's great for recording. Too bad they don't make them anymore. But it does make me curious about the JC 22 watt.

    Sent from my Alcatel_5044C using Tapatalk
    The JCA22H sounds very similar to the Soldano SP-77 preamp I ran in the early 2000s. The biggest differences I notice are that the clarity isn't quite as good, the stock tubes are pretty harsh sounding, and the gain knob has a REALLY aggressive taper. It really doesn't have have much clean headroom; the crunch channel starts to sound like SRV with the gain on 2-3. IMO a better a way to use it is to set the crunch channel for a JCM800-like tone, which it'll do with the gain at about 1-2 o'clock and roll down to clean up. As an added bonus, there's more gain on tap if you want it and the tone controls are FAR more powerful. The lead channel sounds very close to a Soldano Hot Rod, with the previously mentioned compromises. Not a bad deal at $279, and I hear that new tubes and a re-bias improve it dramatically. I still have the factory EL-84s, but JJ ECC83s in V1, V2, & V3 smoothed out the gain and tamed down the harsh high end wonderfully.

    Edit: On the original topic, a Marshall 2525H Mini Jubilee has been my primary amp since mid-2017 and it supplanted a 100W Jubilee 2555 that I've owned and loved since mid-2001. The 2555 is a great amp, but it's a bit heavy to carry and ungodly loud. It has a great master, but 2 is plenty loud for most rooms and it doesn't start to really sound good until 2.5-4. The 2525H at 20W is loud enough for a drummer, but still manageable; it's actually possible to get into that 2.5-4 sweet spot. The best part is that the head is 22lbs vs 47lbs and my ported 1x12 is 20lbs or less vs 55lbs for the 2x12 or 96lbs for the 4x12. I'm keeping the 2555 because it means a lot to me and I still play it now and then, but most of the time the 2525H is just more practical. It also sounds so close to its bigger brother that I can't tell them apart unless I'm literally swapping cables between them.
    Last edited by dystrust; 06-11-2019 at 07:24 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by crusty philtrum View Post
    And that's probably because most people with electric guitars seem more interested in their own performance rather than the effect on the listener ... in fact i don't think many people who own electric guitars even give a poop about the effect on a listener. Which is why many people play electric guitars but very very few of them are actually musicians.

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    Mojo's Minions Lake Placid Blues's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by dystrust View Post

    Edit: On the original topic, a Marshall 2525H Mini Jubilee has been my primary amp since mid-2017 and it supplanted a 100W Jubilee 2555 that I've owned and loved since mid-2001. The 2555 is a great amp, but it's a bit heavy to carry and ungodly loud. It has a great master, but 2 is plenty loud for most rooms and it doesn't start to really sound good until 2.5-4. The 2525H at 20W is loud enough for a drummer, but still manageable; it's actually possible to get into that 2.5-4 sweet spot. The best part is that the head is 22lbs vs 47lbs and my ported 1x12 is 20lbs or less vs 55lbs for the 2x12 or 96lbs for the 4x12. I'm keeping the 2555 because it means a lot to me and I still play it now and then, but most of the time the 2525H is just more practical. It also sounds so close to its bigger brother that I can't tell them apart unless I'm literally swapping cables between them.
    My 2525H has become my number 1 amp too. Such a great amp.

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    Toneologist LonePhantom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    I use an Orange Jim Root Terror on stage, with a mic-ed pa and without. The 15 watts has rarely been an issue. Sound guys love it, and it sounds monsterous through a 4 X12 and not far off on my V30 equipped 1 x 12

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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Yes, some of the mini/micro heads are worth it. I've owned many of them, as well as many of the higher-end full-sized heads and I will say that most of the smaller heads do just fine. For instance, my Friedman Wildwood Pink Taco 20 watt head held its own with the BE100 that I had at the same time. Same with the Friedman Dirty Shirley Mini versus the full sized Shirley I had. The Hughes & Kettner Grandmeister series holds their own against the Triamp (I had both of those as well). The Tubemeisters have never moved me, but the Grandmeisters do. Sometimes smaller is even better. I've got another Deluxe Reverb Reissue FSR on the way because I miss the one I had a few years ago. I prefer the Deluxe series over the Twins I had. It all depends on the individual brands and models that you're interested in, but I no longer feel the urge to have to have the 50 or 100 watt tube amps that I used to.

    The big iron does tend to have more headroom and a bigger thump down low than the 20 watters. But in the case of the Friedman heads, I actually preferred the WW Taco over the BE100. If the Taco had had a clean and boost channel like the BE, it would have dominated the world. If Dave is able to make his BE Deluxe series in a small box 20 watt format, he'll have the perfect amp for many players. He's real close with the JJ20. I played one last week and it was great. Though it had more of a Vox clean than the Buxom Betty/BE50's breaking glass Fender clean. If he does a BE50 as a BE20, that will be heaven for me.
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Owned several mini heads. Picked up the keeper a couple months ago in a PRS MT 15. Great cleans very fluid and expressive modern high gain tones has a great loop and is quiet. Also own a Mesa Subway Rocket 1/10 20 watt combo and a Zinky 1/12 Blue velvet combo the PRS is tighter and bigger sounding that both are and has the best cleans of the 3. IMO under a grand it's by far the class of the Mini Amp field by far and can out perform a lot of 50 watt amps at many times the price.
    Solo voice with my old Carvin DC 127 Alt 8 and Sentient no effects.
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    Last edited by Ascension; 06-23-2019 at 10:01 PM.
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    I have an EVH 5150 III LBX II and a Krank Rev Jr. Both sound KILLER at just-bellow-full-band volumes. They do pull off playing with a whole band with a loud drummer, but they don't sound their best turned up that high.

    I have heard other mini heads are louder, though. The MT15, for example, is supposed to be one of the louder ones. Don't get me wrong, the LBX and the Krank are loud, but they just don't have that kind of thumpy yet tight low-end that a full-size amp has past a certain point on their master volumes. I'd personally rather have at least 50 watts for some headroom at full-band volumes. It's not just about cleans, I find, but the gain sounds also sound better with a cleaner power section, especially if you're shooting for tighness.
    Last edited by Rex_Rocker; 06-24-2019 at 07:51 AM.

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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex_Rocker View Post
    I have an EVH 5150 III LBX II and a Krank Rev Jr. Both sound KILLER at just-bellow-full-band volumes. They do pull off playing with a whole band with a loud drummer, but they don't sound their best turned up that high.

    I have heard other mini heads are louder, though. The MT15, for example, is supposed to be one of the louder ones. Don't get me wrong, the LBX and the Krank are loud, but they just don't have that kind of thumpy yet tight low-end that a full-size amp has past a certain point on their master volumes. I'd personally rather have at least 50 watts for some headroom at full-band volumes. It's not just about cleans, I find, but the gain sounds also sound better with a cleaner power section, especially if you're shooting for tighness.
    Have 2 pretty high end 20 watt EL 84 amps now ( Mesa Subway Rocket and the Zinky Blue Velvet ) owned a pair of the Jet City JCA22's a regular one and a Custom. You are dead on that most of these little amps get loose and a little sloppy when you really crank them. The little PRS runs a pair of 6L6's and thrives on being pushed will hit just as hard as both my EL34 powered Carvin X50 B and the Mesa DC 5 with 6L6's at high volume. I can't tell t's NOT a 50 watt head by the tightness of tone, clean headroom or by the volume level it's capable of. The little Marshalls that run the EL34's will likely be similar. The little PRS MT 15 is an absolute beast when you really crank it and while small and compact gives up absolutely nothing in performance to my pair of 50 watt full size heads!
    Last edited by Ascension; 06-24-2019 at 08:51 AM.
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    Mojo's Minions dave74's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Had a rev jr years back. Sounded great, especially through my mesa 212 cab.
    It was easier to keep low for alone practicing and it was perfect for playing along with tracks on my sound system, but at any volume my single recto ate it alive in thump and cut.

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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    I have a bunch of them, mostly cheaper & / or lesser known ones ranging from 15-50W and I love them all...

    They all cut through as well as big amp's & don't sound too different from a bigger head through a PA live or in a recording. It's true they don't all make your pants flap around as much as a big amp will when it's cranked ..but there are exceptions (my Brutus sounds nuts when you crank it..30W / Class A is ear-splittingly loud & very thumpy indeed..& it's running 5881's), my Laboga's (4XEL84's) are also very tight & punchy turned up & pretty thumpy too with shockingly little noise...funnily enough the same goes for my little 15W Goldea (2xEL84's) that I bought for $150 new..stays tight and cuts like a knife at any volume..it also retains the punchiness/thump & never sounds strained). I've never dimed my AMT Stonehead though I'm guessing as an SS amp it's probably going to sound it's best at more reasonable volumes...need to check on that actually

    These are just blues rock/medium gain clips that I recorded totally dry (no FX or post processing of any kind) with a cheap chinese "little bear" cab-sim pedal I bought for less than $20 on ebay & my cheap "Julius" reactive load-box that I got from Reverb. Recorded with my 20 year old Zoom MRS-1044 standalone digital recorder.

    It's just drums & guitars (no bass guitar)..but as you can see there's no huge difference between the 120 W Bugera (4xEL34) & the other's ranging from 15-50 watts...I mean they don't sound 'weaker' / 'smaller' or get lost in the mix (even with the most basic of mixes like this one with zero processing/FX) ..though their tones/tonal character are all different obviously since they're different amp's..

    Last edited by Phantasmagoria; 06-24-2019 at 10:09 PM.
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Rex_Rocker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ascension View Post
    Have 2 pretty high end 20 watt EL 84 amps now ( Mesa Subway Rocket and the Zinky Blue Velvet ) owned a pair of the Jet City JCA22's a regular one and a Custom. You are dead on that most of these little amps get loose and a little sloppy when you really crank them. The little PRS runs a pair of 6L6's and thrives on being pushed will hit just as hard as both my EL34 powered Carvin X50 B and the Mesa DC 5 with 6L6's at high volume. I can't tell t's NOT a 50 watt head by the tightness of tone, clean headroom or by the volume level it's capable of. The little Marshalls that run the EL34's will likely be similar. The little PRS MT 15 is an absolute beast when you really crank it and while small and compact gives up absolutely nothing in performance to my pair of 50 watt full size heads!
    My EVH actually gets tighter the more you turn it up... to a fault, lol. At full-band levels, there is barely any low-end left. OTOH, my Krank actually runs on 6L6's too, but it gets darker and kinda farty as you turn it up.

    I know big bottle power tubes have something to do with it, but beyond that, I think the MT15 is just an all-around well-designed amp. Then again, I have not tried one. I'd love to, though.
    Last edited by Rex_Rocker; 06-28-2019 at 03:49 PM.

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    I poop in my KISS diapers while I cry that they are mean to me Aceman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by dystrust View Post
    On the original topic, a Marshall 2525H Mini Jubilee has been my primary amp since mid-2017 and it supplanted a 100W Jubilee 2555 that I've owned and loved since mid-2001. The 2555 is a great amp, but it's a bit heavy to carry and ungodly loud. It has a great master, but 2 is plenty loud for most rooms and it doesn't start to really sound good until 2.5-4. The 2525H at 20W is loud enough for a drummer, but still manageable; it's actually possible to get into that 2.5-4 sweet spot. The best part is that the head is 22lbs vs 47lbs and my ported 1x12 is 20lbs or less vs 55lbs for the 2x12 or 96lbs for the 4x12. I'm keeping the 2555 because it means a lot to me and I still play it now and then, but most of the time the 2525H is just more practical. It also sounds so close to its bigger brother that I can't tell them apart unless I'm literally swapping cables between them.
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Get a clean tube amp with the power you need to play at the volumes you want. Then run some of the amazing amp in a box pedals for your drives.

    You can scale up on the amp if needed and not alter your sound too much.

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    Default Re: Are the micro tube amp heads worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vah7 View Post
    Hi, I'm looking for my first tube amp. I like 80s thrash metal, power metal, glam and some death. I want to play in a metal band at some point, but I ind it difficult to find people. I currently jam with friends who are not huge metal heads(one like glam and ozzy though) that like to play pop and alternative rock. Are the tube amps like peavy 6505 mh, Hughes & Kettner tubemeister, etc worth the investment given my interest?. If so or not, what would you recommend? I'm kind of on a budget because I am looking to get a new guitar as well( Jackson King V). I have a Les paul studio and I will be replacing the stock pups. It may not be necessary to spend money on a new guitar so I am willing to spend a decent amount on a tube amp.
    PRS MT15 kills. Crazy loud but for the heavy music you want to play, that’ll do it. Tremonti’s solo and Alter Bridge stuff is super heavy. It’s loud as hell though. Not a practice amp by any means. Gigging and jamming with drummer works great.

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