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Small amp for recording

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Hi all,

Just something I'm pondering at the moment. My mate plays guitar but we don't get to actually meet up too often, so he sends a lot of ideas and such via skype and we throw ideas back and forth. On the occasions we will get to do some recording and jamming at mine, it's not really practical for him to be dragging a head and cab across Manchester then up three flights of stairs. I'm not a guitarist myself but I love recording, experimenting and I have synths and generally just like to play with sound so I've thought about getting a little valve combo or perhaps head/cab to handle re-amped recording duties. My mate can just record a clean DI when he comes round, he can put the amp feed through the amp and then when he's not around I can re-record, play with mic placement, preamps, effects, etc etc. Purely for recording, not for gigging or practicing.

I'm in a flat, it's very quiet and I have a room for recording - I don't have any neighbours bordering the room but at the same time I'm going to keep it to moderate levels as not to wind anyone up. Super high volume is not important. Ideally I'd like something fairly cheap, valve, with the ability to control the gain and master so I have some tone shaping options at low volume. Tonally my mate favours Vox amps, I'd like something that can do clean and crunchy fairly well as we aim for a sortof blues rock sound but also do a lot of clean stuff. I'd also like the option of doing a bit of modding, as I have a few nice preamp valves lying around and wouldn't mind trying different speakers and such.

Anyone know anything that fits the bill in their experience?

Cheers

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Looks like a good contender! In fact.... I'm almost positive my mate had an AC4 before he got a Night Train, and I'm sure he still has it. I wonder if I could coax him into leaving it at mine, or maybe he'll let me buy it off him... cheers for the recommendation! Oh and just to add, I was thinking about buying 2nd hand so if anyone has anything for sale, let me know :)

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Peavey windsor Studio 15

Great recorded tone from the balanced out (not so good from the speaker itself) - comes with its own attenuator and the ability to run any octal power valve you wish without rebiasing. Ideal valve recording amp that got utterly slayed review wise on release. You should be able to grab one at low cost...

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Although i don't specifically use it for recording, i have a vox AC4 with 8" speaker. I changed the original speaker for celestion eight 15 speaker. The original boxy tone is gone and it sounds really rich and full. I don't use the attenuator as i find it drains tone, but on 4 watt mode i can just get a hint of breakup using a strat or tele then use a Boss Bassman pedal to add a touch of gain and fatness for lead breaks. Works great for blues and vintage rock.
My preference for recording however is the Fender Superchamp xd. Using the straight valve channel i do the same as the vox and use a just breaking up tone and use the Bassman pedal for lead boost. I prefer the more American tone of the amp and the 10" speaker and also like blend the DI sound with the miked sound to keep a bit of attack. Granted, i am not proficient in recording or producing, but it works for me!

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What about a valve preamp / di like the dha vt-1 eq bass drive, not tried it with guitar but there's plenty of valve tone and grit available?

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Thanks for the other sugguestions folks - I've already got plenty of Di's and valve preamps etc. The idea is to make use of a recording room and the vast array of mics and preamps I've collected to do some recording in a room, taking it out of the box so to speak. The issue isn't really getting tone and grit but having something that I can re-amp an already recorded DI signal through, so that I can experiment with mics, pres, placement, room, amp settings, eq etc...

The Valve Junior seems to be a popular option, and I'd quite like to have a go at modding it

Cheers :)

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Have you thought about using a software based approach akin to GarageBand? There are a few good usable amp tones on there. You can share files to iCloud and both work on your parts without ever meeting up. It does require a couple of Apple devices though...just an idea.

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If you like bluesy tones I can recommend the Cornford Harlequin - a stunning UK built all valve amp that's purpose made for recording.

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I also looked at valve jr but ended up buying a Traynor Darkhorse & built an 8" cab using Celestion Eight 15 ... sounds great. Have also used the head on 15w setting thru bass cab & gotten nice results.

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[quote name='LiamPodmore' timestamp='1388436282' post='2322042']
Blackstar HT-1R or HT-5R would be my choice. Brilliant little amps, and can put out a fair amount of noise if you ever wanted them to.

Liam
[/quote]Guitarist chum of mine just got the 5R, he's very pleased. Fender Super Champ X2 is worth a look too.

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I wouldn't dream of using iAnything to be honest :P Hehe, I'm sure there are plenty of ways of managing such projects now too and it'd be a good idea to use them but he doesn't really have a stringent approach to recording quality like I do. Despite both of us doing the same course at uni, he never really seemed interested in the actual technical recording side of things (strange really, considering the nature of the course was about 50% just that). So I have the decent interface, mics, preamps, etc etc and he is happy to plug a strat into a laptop and strum away. One of the major problems I've noticed is timing - he doesn't think about things such as latency compensation and compresssion. I have a lot of outboard gear but if the input is bad, it's only going to get worse as it goes through various stages of AD/DA.

Anyway, I digress - the issue isn't really that, but rather thatI am the one who likes to do the recording and experimentation (not just with guitars too - I have a fair few synths and also would reamp drums and other instruments for effects) and I don't do guitar. The Cornford sounded like it would be just right but apparently production has ceased indefinitely. I'm more interested in buying something used, probably a head/cab combo so my mate can plug his Night Train into it if he brings that round. The Fenders sound interesting but I don't fancy the digital DSP much - I just want something simple and to the point - clean, valve grit when required, separate control over gain and volume.

The Valve Jr. is looking like it might be a good modding platform when paired with a suitable cab ans plus it's nice and cheap. A decent valve and new transformer would be a good start I'm sure!

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One of the known issues with Valve Jrs is the hum. YMMV. There are kits on ebay for this and other issues. They are also surprisingly loud.

FWIW, I spent some time with a chum's VJ and found it lacked headroom. From a whisper to a roar with not much in between unless one dialled the guitar right back. Subbed a 12AT7 into it, which improved matters until the valve blew.

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That's the main concern I've considered with it. Something that costs so little isn't going to be particularly reliable or well constructed I'd imagine. The headroom would probably be a real issue. Hmmm I'll keep reading up! Cheers for the info :)

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You're welcome to come over to Bingley & try the Traynor Darkhorse (2w - 15w) .... :)

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Keep your eye open on Ebay for a Cornford Harlequin if you like the sound of them - They come up for sale fairly regularly.
I bought mine used from Ebay with no problems.

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Cheers for that - do you have any idea what they go for roughly? I've found a few Cornford models on the old gummytree but they're bigger and more expensive than I can afford

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Always found the Cornford amps highly overrated. The Hellcat was probably the best - but even then they had a high noise floor... :/ Even when I spoke to Cornford about it, they blamed poor valve and transformer placement as the reason. Like all Cornford amps, it still got 5 across the board in Guitarist magazine. Hmm.

I reckon you can do better with the budget stuff now anyway. At the time, the Harlequin was one of the few small wattage valve amps. The market has certainly opened up since then.

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FWIW I've a Peavey Royal 8. Stock, it sounded a bit boxey and harsh, but running it through a separate cab fitted with an old Celestion G10-60 completely transforms the sound.

Cheap as chips too, and lots of modding info out there.

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[quote name='LiamPodmore' timestamp='1388436282' post='2322042']
Blackstar HT-1R or HT-5R would be my choice. Brilliant little amps, and can put out a fair amount of noise if you ever wanted them to.

Liam
[/quote]

I have a HT-5S (Older non reverb model) for my own noodling and any visiting guitarists.

The tiny little head looks cute as a button sat atop it's pair of matching 1x12 cabs. It makes a very lovely noise on either the clean or dirty channels.

The infinite shape feature is more than a gimmick, it really does help to get anywhere from a traditional British Marshall sound right through to a modern heavy weight distortion.

I'd definitely consider one.

The 5W combos can be picked up for very little cash.

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