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Best small valve amp (Sub £350)


Bass_Guardian
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The only one I've tried is a Harley Benton GA5 which is essentially a budget Epiphone Valve Junior. Mine has also been heavily modified for high gain and is still pretty loud and I'm not sure what the stock models are like. I'm sure someone will suggest a Blackstar and I have to say, I've liked every amp I've heard from them so far.

Is it just for home practice and what kind of tone are you after?

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I have had the Blackstar HT5 and it is WAY too loud for home use. I have tried a couple of the smaller valve amps and can't get them to sound good until they are really cooking (which I think is the idea) but far too loud for practice. The Blackstar HT1 is really good, I have tried a friends one and it is much more suitable
But I would suggest not getting a valve one but one of the smaller modelling ones, the small Mustang one if you like the sounds but not the volume, or the Blackstar FLY series or the VOX VX (I use a Vox VX1 for home use)

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[quote name='BigRedX' timestamp='1473753075' post='3132708']
No not at all. Valve Amp > Power Soak > Speaker.
[/quote]

That would be my solution if volume is the issue. IME the sound of output valves being made to work for a living is very hard to simulate. I used to use a Marshall Powerbreak with a 50W Dual Reverb for pub gigs. Don't know if you can still get them though (there's bound to be other technologies out there - didn't Palmer make this kind of kit as well?).

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[quote name='leftybassman392' timestamp='1473762497' post='3132823']
That would be my solution if volume is the issue. IME the sound of output valves being made to work for a living is very hard to simulate. I used to use a Marshall Powerbreak with a 50W Dual Reverb for pub gigs. Don't know if you can still get them though (there's bound to be other technologies out there - didn't Palmer make this kind of kit as well?).
[/quote]

As is speaker break up. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any way to reproduce this at low volumes over than software modelling. I think the OP needs to identify what parts of the valve sound are important to him (pre-amp valves, power amp valves, speaker break up) and work from there.

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I have used a Marshall Power Brake and it was great - I used it with a 50W JCM900 head and 2x12 cab, although it was still rather loud. They come up on eBay every now and then; I have seen them go for peanuts but also listed for rather high amounts so it pays to be patient if you decide to go for one.

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I've used both an Orange Dual Terror on 7W mode through their 2x12, and a Fender 68 Custom Deluxe Reverb in a bedroom situation.

Strangely, despite the 2x12, the Orange is slightly easier to tame to very low levels, but both can easily be tamed. No, you will not get proper 'power' hitting the speakers to drive them properly, but it works, and it allows you to write, play with pedals, etc.

If I had £300-400 now and wanted an all tube amp, I would probably look at a Fender Blues Junior....and save a little more up.

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Don't think you can far wrong with a Blackstar HTR1, it's a great sounding versatile small valve amp with a nice reverb. Only 1 watt output but that can get a lot louder than you might imagine from the rating. The combo version will sit next to a laptop on a typical computer table and you can run drums or mp3s from the laptop into it using the mp3/line input, and the headphone output will keep significant others/neighbours happy.

"Honestly I would like break up at a fairly low level, nothing too loud but still have a decent clean thats not too quiet. Tall order I know!"

It will do all of that. IMO YMMV etc

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Alex, I'm in exactly the same boat as you, I currently have the Vox AD15 XL with 2 speakers and it's up for sale here, way to loud for home use. I'm on the verge of buying the Blackstar HTR-1 'cos from what I've read and heard on youtub it's what I need. (same as you home practice and distortion without blowing the walls down)
I'm playing an Epiphone Sheraton, Korean from 2004.

HTH

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[quote name='SubsonicSimpleton' timestamp='1474107907' post='3135650']
Might be worth giving the Yamaha THR-10 a try alongside the 1 watt Blackstar in a shop with your guitar and let your ears decide.
[/quote]

This. In spades.

Valve amps just don't go with home practice only use. Even a 1W valve amp, when cranked, is massively loud and will annoy neighbours.

The Yamaha THR series, or the Roland Cubes, or the new small SS Blackstars are a far better choice for lounge use.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Might be a bit left field but have you thought about Vyse amps by Dr Barry Vyse.

You can get a handwired champ type amp with a valve rectifier for a little over £200 in his garage sale.

I got one a while ago with a Jensen PR8 speaker, to make the most of the valve goodness,

It might still be a bit loud for home use when the good lady is watching telly, but a bit of a bargain I say.

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And another THR10 vote. Great sound from such a small thing and editing software for iPad or pc adds masses of flexibility. I run my pedalboard in to it too.

For something a little louder I use a Vox Valvetronix VT40X which is also nice

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There are some great boutique clones of 50s Fender Champ amps. THey are quite cheap and were originally designed by Leo as home practice amps. You can swap out tubes for ultra gain to get early breakup without max volume. I got one made made by Cayman Agnew in Dublin, second-hand for about £125.... A few inexpensive upgrades and it is freakin A for home use....

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[quote name='Muppet' timestamp='1475787215' post='3148841']
And another THR10 vote. Great sound from such a small thing and editing software for iPad or pc adds masses of flexibility. I run my pedalboard in to it too.

For something a little louder I use a Vox Valvetronix VT40X which is also nice
[/quote]

Didn't know there was an iPad app!

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[quote name='therealting' timestamp='1475872121' post='3149481']


Didn't know there was an iPad app!
[/quote]

Sorry got my apps muddled. There is a iPad app for the THR10 but it's not an editor like the PC software, apologies!

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And if you're handy with a soldering iron[url="http://www.ampmaker.com/store/WF-55-4w-tweed-style-amp.html"] Ampmaker's WF55 [/url]is a nice 5W valve amp for £155 (you'll need to buy a speaker too). Still too loud for home use though. But its a very satisfying feeling playing through a good quality amp you've made (well, assembled) yourself!

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