Small Amp needed, The tech help at stores has been lacking.

Discussion in 'Ampage Area' started by KA1J, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. KA1J

    KA1J Electromatic

    Jan 9, 2019
    Guitar is a G6120T-59 Vintage Select which uses TV Classic pickups. I like the acoustic jazz sound, Chet Atkins and 60's country. I normally play acoustic with Bluegrass and Celtic lead styles. I've always been into natural tones than produced tones.

    I have a 1965 Gibson Saturn which for "big" amp needs, will do it all. I need something for the living room which is where I'll be needing a small amp and that's what I'm needing help & suggestions with.

    My lady has ears I wish I had, she can hear a fly fart at 20 feet. She sleeps so badly because of this so there's no way I can use the Saturn at 3AM when I wake up and need to work something out. So I need headphone outputs that mute any higher level signal. During the day I want something where I can do solos and get a really decent sound out. I have a tube McIntosh pre & amp which might work out well with this guitar and if I turned off the amp, I could use headphones with the pre. I'm not sure what input on the pre would be good for Humbuckers and though I couldn't get a cleaner sound, I suspect it wouldn't be an ideal situation. I have four Klipsch speakers & was going to use all four as in two pairs with the stereo but it didn't sound quite right so I have a pair of Forte with 12" woofers, horn mids, and horn tweeters on top of the Chorus that aren't being used. From my old recording days I have a Daking Mic Pre one which though not tube, is one of the best SS pres made.

    It seems like a small tube amp would be my best solution and I could surely use the extra Klipsch for cabinets so I wouldn't need more than a head as I won't be moving this from room to room. I have some pretty decent tubes that are NOS that I bought for the McIntosh and have several varieties from the 60's that will be great to replace the 12AX7. I have quite a few tubes from my Dad who repaired TV & stereo back in the 50's-60's so if I get an inexpensive amp, I can upgrade the tubes easily.

    So here's where I've run into dead ends with the salespeople I've called; either they have never seen one of the amps that their company sells and they can only read from the sales info on the web, or they have seen/demoed the amps but really have no memory of the particulars or don't have a great recollection. Some of the salespeople tried leading me to nice amps which had no headphone out. They just didn't get my needs so I'm asking here.

    All I need is max of 5W.
    I need the headphone to ether mute the speaker output or be able to manually disconnect the speaker without the no load condition damaging the amp.
    I don't know if the emulated headphone output is a good fit for being controlled by the amp settings or if it creates artificial sound that I'll be hearing.
    I don't know if the studio preamp I have is of any benefit to any of the low powered amps or if it's a bad fit.

    Some of the small amps like the Bugera G5 Infinium look ideal but then I see the selection of the tone stack is not part of the "Clean" pathway. When I want clean, I also want control over the tonal characteristics. However it has the emulated headphones.
    The Blackstar HT-5H looks to be the same as the Bugera G5.
    The Marshall DSL1HR 1 watt tube head has a small jack out for headphones and it's also emulated.
    The Bugera T5 Infinium is a dirt cheap 5W amp and looks to be a stripped down version of the G5 Infinium and only has Gain Treble Bass Reverb & Volume. But if that's a "clean" pathway, it seems to offer more than the G5 in its "clean" mode, and it also has a phones only output which is the only headphone kind of output I've ever used.

    So I don't know about how the "emulated" headphone outs play with accurate sound, I don't want a head devoted to overdrive as in much rock requires and I need a headphone out that allows muting of the amp. I also wonder if using my standalone pre is of any value as there's no bypass to insert this in lieu of the amplifier's 12AX7 tube.

    I'm thinking that the cheap Bugera T5 with top end tubes might be ideal because it allows treble and bass control whereas the Marshall and Bugera G5 seemingly do not in the "clean" pathway.

    Any thoughts on these amps, their headphone outs & any other good 5W or below amps to consider?
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2019
  2. wabash slim

    wabash slim Friend of Fred

    Feb 10, 2010
    lafayette in
    I'd highly recommend NOT running your guitar thru stereo gear. It's basically apples and oranges. Your top notch MacIntosh and Klipsch gear could handle it with ease, but the sound response from stereo gear and instrument amplifiers are totally different. The input impedances are also an issue, tho a dedicated guitar preamp could go straight into your power amp.

    You're heading up the right path looking for a small 5 watt amp. With earphone outputs, you're looking art solid state gear. Tubes want a load on the output. Just find a good solid state rig---there are many to choose from like the Vox DA series, among others. The good part is that they're inexpensive, and come with many options and FX if you so choose.

    A friend has the 5 watt Bugera and loves it. Monoprice also has one in that range. Tavo Vega, a member here, has just come out with a 5 watt amp as well, tho I'm unsure of the headphone out situation on it.
    Sid Nitzerglobin likes this.
  3. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    Try to play Marshall Class 5 if you can, IMO. I wouldn't screw around w/ your hifi stuff w/ that personally, just play the amp. IME, the only way to tell if you want to use the cab emulation on the headphone/line out is to try it. Usually it would sound better to me w/ but some of them are fairly bad.
  4. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    Also, Blackstar HT-5 is worth a try if you haven't already. I've never owed one but it checks all the boxes and has produced nice dirt and cleans for me when I've checked them out.

    Edit: the tone stack is shared by both clean and dirty channels on the ones I've played.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
  5. RG7X

    RG7X Gretschie

    Nov 11, 2018
    Los Angeles
    Tone King Gremlin? I had one for about a month to try out. Pretty good little amp with a built in attenuator and 2 different "channels". A little on the pricey side but you can find good deals if you keep an eye out for one.
  6. Bertotti

    Bertotti Country Gent

    Jul 20, 2017
    South Dakota
    If you want an inexpensive hybrid that is very small and portable look at the little Joyo Bantamp but it is 20 watts. I have the AtomiC and quite like it. Headphone out and Bluetooth to play into. Only a 1/8' headphone out, 8-ohm minimum cab. Respectable tone and I picked it up for 120$ it was well worth it. Small portable and quiet if needed. Certainly not all tube but some tube flavor thanks to the 12ax7 pre. I do play it through a nice 2x12 with Weber silver bell and blue dog which certainly helps as well, can't skimp on a nice speaker. Just a thought they aren't for everyone. I just had a bit of little amp gas and wound up with it and a micro dark which I wouldn't suggest it is kind of a one trick pony to me, it has a sweet spot for gain and sounds really good but it doesn't have the range of tones I think you are looking for. I have one of Tavo's small amps ordered up, Baby Blondeshell, but haven't had a chance to try it yet but if you have the cash that is the one I would go for, He knows his gear!

    Scroll down to hear it.
    Baby Blondeshell

    Joyo products

    Joyo Amps
  7. KA1J

    KA1J Electromatic

    Jan 9, 2019
    Thanks for the replies. I'll have more to say when I get back, I have an Early morning meeting to get to in 45 minutes. I did look at the Blonde Bombshell but it has no headphone output so it won't do my needs. I keep wondering if the Bugera T5 Infinium with good tubes in it might be what I need. It has the basics. Almost seems like it offers more options to playing clean than the G5 does. Different headphone out.

    I do want to stick with tubes, the only SS amp I have is a gathering dust stereo NAD that weighs 60 pounds because of the toroid transformer. I'm looking to keep with tubes from now on so I'm not looking at hybrid combos. Not that they're not good, it's not what I'm choosing from.

  8. Tony65x55

    Tony65x55 Gretschified

    Sep 23, 2011
    The 'Shwa, Ontario, Canada
    The Bugera V5 is a good little amp that definitely needs a bright cap and decent tubes. Do that and it sounds good.

    I'd be seriously looking at a Quilter 101 Reverb. While it is a 50w amp it sounds good at whisper volumes and has an excellent headphone out. Ir also weight two pounds and is the size of a thick paperback.

    PS: I know you said tubes but the Quilter feels and sounds like a tube amp. Put it through an 10" Eminence Legend and it's plenty loud enough to gig.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
    pmac11 likes this.
  9. pmac11

    pmac11 Country Gent

    Mar 4, 2018
    Toronto, Ontario
    Find a used Valco National 1210. One knob wonder, sweet little amp.
    No headphone out, but still worth a look.
    Charlie westside and wildeman like this.
  10. Charlie westside

    Charlie westside Country Gent

    Jul 27, 2018
    Sylmar Califirnia
    Bugera v5 199.00 all tube check it out.
    wildeman and Bertotti like this.
  11. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    I tried one of them little Monoprice amps and it wasn't at all bad.
    Charlie westside likes this.
  12. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    Yeah man, little Valco's are awesome. My Tremo Verb is killer, expensive though.
    pmac11 and Charlie westside like this.
  13. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    Your red Tremo-Verb is more than that, wildeman : it's even premium condition... ;)

    pmac11 likes this.
  14. Lizardkinged

    Lizardkinged Friend of Fred

    Oct 5, 2009
    I owned the G5 and thought it was garbage. It looked fairly nice, but just didn't have any real response and the attenuation is emulated with a SS amp. It's heavy for it's profile too.

    I'd look at something like a Peavy classic 20mh. They're a little nicer, have a HP out, also attenuates to 5w and 1w. Can be used without a speaker connected, run to a PA, run to headphones. Seem to like a lot of cabs. I don't own one. I got a Supersonic22 Head instead when I was at this decision with the G5 after I returned it. I wouldn't go cheaper w/ a Bugera in this situation, eventually it will sit around and start collecting dust like a lot of mini amps do. I'd go with most versatile for the price... Smaller venue amp. Jam/practice session amp. Whatever you want. Don't pay for the combo/speaker in place of a few more features for your situation if you're not going to use its speaker itself very often. They usually sound like junk in little packages anyway choking the potential of any amp that size.

    Good review here.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2019
    pmac11, Robbie and TSims1 like this.
  15. rcboals

    rcboals Country Gent

    Nov 21, 2008
    Springfield Oregon
    The Quilter would be the Bees Knees. As a former tube snob I have crossed over.
    pmac11 and TSims1 like this.
  16. TSims1

    TSims1 Gretschified

    Jun 18, 2013
    Yeah, I got say Quilter sounds like a good option for your desires. Not tube, but it doesn’t sound or feel solid state. Try one....!
    pmac11 and hcsterg like this.
  17. thunder58

    thunder58 Super Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 23, 2010
    tappan ny
    Admin Post
    I know you want tube but .... if you go solid state , I have a Roland JC-40 . Yes , little more beefier than the Blackstar HT-5 I had before it . I wanted something with a little more kick to it at the time . So I sold the HT-5 and picked up the Roland JC-40 . Yes they both have headphone jacks which completely cut out the speakers . One thing about solid state is... if you go solid state , you go Roland . That's what they do . Clean sound too . Headphone jack was important to me too as I'm in a small house myself . ( you're from Connecticut , remember those old military housing neighborhoods Uncle Sam built during WW II , I'm in one of those type of houses . Camp Shanks to be exact )
    Speaking of Bluegrass / Connecticut depending how close you are to the NY border line .... Have you ever heard of the Westchester County Bluegrass Club . Located in Purdys ( Lake ) NY . About 2 miles off Rte 684 . Always a good time . I do try to get there each month to hear the bands but it's an hour drive and life gets in the way most time .
    Hears a photo of the Roland JC-40 for comparison in size

    Attached Files:

  18. loudnlousy

    loudnlousy Friend of Fred

    Oct 18, 2015
    Hildesheim, Germany
    I experienced that no tubeamp with a headphone-out delivers a pleasant tone over the headphones. The reason is that the ambience of a room is missing. If you still consider feeding something into your stereo maybe you should try a line6 Pod?
    wabash slim and thunder58 like this.
  19. hcsterg

    hcsterg Country Gent

    Feb 13, 2012
    Reading you, Guys, I quickly looked on the web for this famous Quilter 101 Reverb plus its Quilter The BlockDock 10TC.

    It appears to be the portable, lightweight, compact, simple to operate and good-sounding "modern" guitar amp I ever thought about... :rolleyes:

    In the same vein, our bass player has a MarkBass CMD101P and he's got an amazing tone... :eek:

    As for my bassist with his MarkBass, would this Quilter 101 complete setup be enough powered with 50W to allow me to play clean in my (monster) band ? o_O


    By the way, I think I'll have to find locally a dealer who has a Quilter 101 Reverb for evaluation test ! :cool:

    Thanks Tony65x55, rcboals and TSims1 for that tip... ;)

  20. pmac11

    pmac11 Country Gent

    Mar 4, 2018
    Toronto, Ontario
    Plus 1 on the Quilter option.They're great.

    Sent from my SM-T560NU using Tapatalk
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