Amp questions.

I currently own a Carvin SX-200(2x12 combo amp)that I am not that fond of. It has a decent clean sound, but the distorted sound just doesn't sound good to me. I love the old Van Halen tone. What would you guys recommend as a replacement for under a grand? thanks.

It may be that what you really want is the sound of tubes.

I've gotten decent clean and dirty tones from solid state amps, but there is a unique response from tube amps that solid state and digital amps are still trying to duplicate. Some players feel that the natural compression that occurs when a tube starts to reach it's saturation point is sort of magical in the way that the amp and guitar become like one big instrument. For me that has happened with solid state amps, but more often with tube rigs.

I think there are a lot of amps, both tube and solid state that can show up your Carvin(I had the SX-15 preamp which is the same front end as your's, so I know the tone). Marshall has tube amps of course, but check out the hybrid AVT series. I copped this from Musicians Friend's site:

The AVT100 is a 100W, three-channel 1x12" combo with digital effects. Three tube pre-amp channels are voiced to give the broadest tonal range possible, from clear, crystal clean to valve-induced crunch and on to the most extreme gain ever found in a Marshall. This third channel also features a scoop switch that you flip to get bone-crushing crunch. Sixteen custom-voiced digital effects are selected and adjusted by three simple knobs: Mix, Adjust, and Select. In addition, a supplied four-way LED footswitch lets you move seamlessly between channels and switch effects off and on. Other features include a headphone jack, speaker-emulated line out, plus an effects loop with level and front panel mix control. Like all the AVTs, its pre-amp section is based on a 12AX7 and delivers great tone. Includes FS-04D footswitch.

Killer tone and built in effects. Clean, crunch, and solo channels. About 50-60 watts as is with 100w power by adding an extention cabinet(because of the lower output impedence. About $700.

Line6, Fender, Vox(Valvetronics Series),man, the list goes on and on of companies that make cool stuff for about a grand. Just go out and play 'em!

Racer X, thanks man, I have been looking into the Marshalls quite a bit based mainly on reputation but was unsure about which series was best. I've looked at ratings for the MG series and AVT. Those are pretty much what I have narrowed the search down to based on price. I appreciate your info, it'll save me some money and time. I just feel like my Carvin sounds kind of cold and sterile(I'm not real good at describing guitar tones because I started on bass). I do think I should check out tubes. Are tube amps difficult to maintain in terms of tube replacement, are the tubes easy to find, if so how often(approximately) do they need to be replaced? Again thanks for the info.

Take the AVT over the MG series for sure. The MG series is the "bang(watts) for the buck" Korean made all solid state set up. The AVT is the tube overdrive(12ax7 tube in the pre-amp stage of the hot channels), reactive transformer, tuned cabinet, cool series that sits just under the all tube DSL and TSL series, and you don't have to replace power tubes.

Thanks!

Great write up on the AVT's X! Answered some questions that I had actually!

Not that I would try and challenge X's knowledge, but have you considered a 5150 from Peavey? It is designed by Eddie after all? I had a 5150 2x12 combo for a while and can tell you that it was a BEAST!!!!!!!

It was built like a tank, the clean channel was not that great, but the crunch and possible volume was devastating. I love the old school chunky thrash distortion, but I could easily dial in the "brown overdrive" that EVH gets. You can get the original 5150's pretty cheap because Peavey is pushing the 5150 II's now.

the 50 watt tweed pevee (sp?)

ov1 and sreiter have both flipped the power switch on the correct and turned it up to 11.

The 5150 is an INSANE crunch monster. If what you want is an amp that needs no boost or distortion pedals to rock, it's a serious contender.The clean tones aren't as clear and complex as some, but this amp wasn't built to be nice. Lots of tubes in there though, so it can cost some bucks to refubish it after the tubes wear out(which they eventually do).

The Peavey Classic 50 is the tweed model I think sreiter is talking about. More Fender-like than the Marshall-on-steroids 5150, I think it has more plesant clean tones, but you need an overdrive or distortion pedal to really get it screamin'.

I have two questions: what are you going to use the amp for and are you willing to buy used.

If you are just playing at home or with friends, you will never be able to fully exploit a 50 Watt tube amp. Hell, 30 watts is usually too much. Some of the best tube amps out there are low wattage tube amps. I have an 18 Watt Aiken Invader that absolutely kills any Marshall (with the exception of an old plexi or super lead).

Also, don't be afraid to buy used. Guitar players tend to be gear whores who are always looking for the next big thing. You can score some great deals if you are patient.

That said, I'd look at:

Mainstream:

Orange or Matamp
Mesa Boogie

Boutique:

Fargen Miniplex
THD Univalve
Budda Superdrive
Allen Class Act
Bogner Metropolis

If you want the Univalve, I'll sell you one with 6 killer power tubes for $500.


1. MXR e.q. set up as midboost (* only occasionally used depending on the guitar) 2. Marshall plexi Super Lead, unmodified, although simple modifications such as a cascaded input stage or added gain through capacitor/resistor exchanges may have been made. 3. Ohmite VARIAC set to approximately 90 Volts A/C 4. Dummy Load 5. MXR Flanger 6. MXR Phase 90 (** This was sometimes put in front of the amp instead of after the dummy load) 7. Echoplex EP3 8. (***Equalization sometimes added prior to power amp) 9. H & H power amp 10. Various Marshall cabinets (sometimes two, sometimes four) used with various Celestion and JBL speakers Don't forget the special request only "Evenly Voiced Harmonic" pickup from Seymour duncan.

Quite the EVH rig yer talkin' there, Ponyboy.