Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

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Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Steve Sawyer » Mon May 14, 2018 9:28 pm

My playing doesn't require a whole lot of "effects". They're fun to play with, but to be honest, I have all the pedals I need to get the sound I want from an amp - a good overdrive and a good reverb (a Tube Screamer and a Holy Grail respectively). Well, I would like a CryBaby wah pedal, but that's pretty much it.

I am running a Fender Mustang II right now, and I pretty much keep this set to a "clean" tone all the time and use my pedals to adjust the sound. I wouldn't be thinking of replacing it, but I use the headphone out jack both for headphones and as an input into my digital audio interface, and the crappy 1/8" jack is giving me the flux. I was going to just replace the jack with a good 1/4" jack, but discovered that the damn thing is soldered directly to the circuit board so that will be a major PITA. I was starting to look at a basic tube amp, but discovered that these usually do NOT have any kind of line out or headphone jack - at least not one that cuts out the speaker - because tube amps need a constant load on the power amp circuit.

So, back to solid-state amps, but I have yet to find one that is NOT a modelling amp with a gazillion goofy effects. Is there no such thing as a plain-vanilla solid-state guitar amp with nothing more than maybe an overdrive and reverb built-in?
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Brian Evans » Tue May 15, 2018 10:23 am

Acoustic image (used by Pat Martino, which is how I found this company just yesterday) make plain solid state amps. http://www.acousticimg.com/#/home Pat uses a Clarus, which is pretty simple, small, and light (6 lbs I think) and 600 watts (!). The thing is that it's extremely high quality, extremely high specification, and very expensive. When you look at the entry level amps, it's so cheap to add the fancy junk (probably one chip, and the potentiometers for the adjusting, maybe a switch) that why wouldn't you do it? And the power is free these days, Class D amps are cheap as chips for hundreds of watts of extremely clean power, and fit into tiny little boxes.
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Steve Sawyer » Tue May 15, 2018 11:22 am

Thanks, Brian. As I was heading down this path I was thinking that what I'm looking for is probably available only as some high-end boutique offering, and Acoustic Image bears this out!

The most modest offering I could see on their site is a 300 watt model for $1100! Overkill X 2!! :D

I think you're right about why all the low-end amps come loaded up with all the bells & whistles. I just bought a digital keyboard for not much more than you used to pay for a "toy" - 88 keys, about 20 different sounds and has keys that swear-to-God feel like a real piano. Amazing.
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Brian Evans » Tue May 15, 2018 2:10 pm

Well, my amp is a 1980's Polytone Teeny Brute bass amp. Tiny size, 40 watts, 10" speaker, three knobs, and a bright/normal/dark switch. I added a Boss RV-2 digital reverb pedal. They are good until they aren't, they are basically impossible to repair if one of the custom chips blows. 1980's Polytones defined the jazz tone in a lot of ways.
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby John Clifford » Tue May 15, 2018 2:43 pm

I recently bought a Roland Blues Cube Stage amp (the 60-watt version) and I'm very happy with it. It sounds and functions very much like a classic tube amp, but with the benefits of solid state - light weight, line out and head phone jacks, variable power supply, no warm-up, no fussy tubes. No effects other than reverb. If you step up to the "Artist" model, you get tremolo, an effects loop and more power, but I didn't need any of that.
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Joshua Levin-Epstein » Tue May 15, 2018 2:50 pm

When I was selling musical equipment, nothing had anything more than reverb and vibrato. Then Mesa Boogie showed how to use a master volume (not quite that simple but). Most everything had gain and a master volume and that kept the people in the front row from bleeding too much. There are a few amps from that era that might work for you. Some of it depends on how loud you want to get.
I've played bass (acoustic and electric) through several high end amps. The double bass sounds great, the electric not so much. My impression is that these amps are made to be very flat and clean with a lot of headroom. When I've played a solid body guitar through them I've been underwhelmed. I also feel (no empirical proof and very little motivation) that a good Twin Reverb would leave that 600 watt amp in the dust, volume wise. Tone is a different story.

You might want to look at some older amps. I hesitate to call them vintage. If you wanted a basic clean sound, a Peavey Pacer (45 watts, solid state) would probably work for you. If you needed more volume or headroom, a Yamaha G100 112 might do OK. My personal choice from way back when was the Fender Concert (not the brown 4x10) which I think was 60 watts. Small and very heavy. and tubes.

I'm cheap so I have an aversion to the class D "natural" amplifiers. That being said I recently treated myself to a Markbass JB Players (or whatever). This is their affordable 1x15 combo. It took literally one note from the double bass to make up my mind. Enough about me. I used a Polytone Mini Brute for years.

Personally, I would attempt to repair the jack in your current amp. I like a challenge. and I'm cheap.

Doesn't that amp have an effects send that can feed your digital interface?
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Mario Proulx » Wed May 16, 2018 12:45 pm

My first amp was also a Mustang II, and all the options drove me nuts. I found myself playing with the amp more than the guitar... I sold it after I found a decent mid 90's SS(solid state) Fender "Ultimate Chorus". I've since sold that, also, after scratch-building a blackface Vibrolux Reverb clone.... :)

My advice is to shop for a used amp. A friend has an older SS Champ 30 that is a really good amp, for example. Search your local want ads and pawn shops and thrift stores...
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Steve Sawyer » Wed May 16, 2018 3:06 pm

Thanks to everyone for the info.

Joshua - I might yet replace the jack on this Mustang II, but the places where a jack can be placed are limited, and I may have to put it in the side rather than the top or front. Not my first choice. As to an "effects send", no - these are pretty low-end amps, and the headphone jack is the only output other than the speakers.

John - didn't know that Roland made guitar amps! Looking at their site, the Blues Cube Hot is really more what I'm looking for (I'm not a gigging musician). The price ($500) is a bit steep for me, but something to keep in mind when Marcy asks me what I want for Christmas! :)

Mario - I've never been much of a gear-head, so I'm not knowledgeable enough to know what to look for in terms of an older solid-state amp. I assume the Champ you refer to (Fender Champ, right?) is currently loaded down with effects, so presumably the older models were "cleaner" (no pun intended).
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Joshua Levin-Epstein » Wed May 16, 2018 3:54 pm

I did a quick google search for Peavey Pacers. They go for about $130 used (obviously). The older Peavey stuff was robust and a good price. More importantly, I don't think they have any particular "vintage" value.

I'm with Mario. Find something used. Or maybe he would like to build you a vibrolux, just to keep in practice.
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Peter Wilcox » Wed May 16, 2018 4:31 pm

I have a Pacer. I put in an old EVM12L I had lying around, and for guitar, the clarity and headroom are adequate for an auditorium gig. I used it for 4 string bass, but it doesn't cut it for 5 string. Unfortunately, at my age, now it's too heavy to carry.
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Dave Weir » Thu May 17, 2018 2:01 am

I like the Quilter 101 reverb. The headphone jack doesn’t cut the speaker, but you can unplug it. I use it to record demos.
Their micro pro is a nice combo. It does some modeling but it’s subtle and I normally don’t mess with it. Great reverb. I like to add a blues driver. There is an xlr out, but I haven’t figured out how to get it connected to my computer.
The Orange 20rt for less than $200.00 is also excellent. Reverb is o.k. and has dirty and clean channels. I could easily get by with this one piece of equipment. I don’t remember if the headphone cuts the speaker.
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Beate Ritzert » Thu May 17, 2018 7:58 pm

IMHO most if not all cheap amplifiers, even the low cost practice amps - will profit enormously from a high quality speaker cab.

I would not hesitate to use my old Crate BX15 (bass practice amp) on something like a TL806 with an EV12 L / Oberton 12L300 (its clone) or Eminence Delta 10. And for a Jazz guitar with the Eminence beta 10. I would not hesitate to use the amp or any small or practise amp in such a way. The weakness is usually far less the electronics than speaker + cab.

BTW : if You want to upgrade an 8" combo, have a look at the Eminence Alpha 8. Fair price, nice and universal sound, comparatively large sensitivity. I put it into the crate which turned that little amp into a fairly usable amp for bass as well as for clean guitar playing.
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Steve Sawyer » Sun May 20, 2018 5:07 pm

Thanks for all the information, Folks. I'll keep an eye out for used amps to see what turns up. TBH, that Roland Blues Cube Hot looks to be a really sweet amp, just a lot more than I'm comfortable spending considering it's not a must-have in any way at this point.

Interesting observation re the speaker cabinet, Beate. That might be an interesting project if I can find some guidance on building one.
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Re: Non-modeling solid-state amps - is there such a thing?

Postby Barry Daniels » Sun May 20, 2018 5:40 pm

I had an old Peavy Decade solid state amp for testing repaired electric guitars, but I hated the tone. It hurt the ears even at low levels. So recently when I wanted a bedroom type of amp I tore the guts out of the Decade and replaced the 8" speaker with a G8C from Warehouse Guitar Speakers after reading a few good reviews. For the electronics I built a MOD 102+, 8 amp, tube amp. I used the existing chassis. It was a fun build and the thing sounds nice. It can get crunchy without being too loud.
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