Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by NateD81 » Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:37 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Sun Nov 04, 2018 6:20 pm
To the OP--

I'd choose the black panel PRRI over the silver panel one. The silver panel one is paired with a strange speaker, IMO, and doesn't make the PRRI its best.

The DRRI is also a cool amp; I like the tremolo on the PRRI a bit more. The DRRI with its 12" speaker is a somewhat bigger sound, which in an ensemble context isn't always an advantage for me. Both are great amps. I personally am happier to see a PRRI show up than a DRRI for what I do, but many would just as easily feel the opposite way. The DRRI is a bit louder of an amp, but not drastically so. The main thing is that it has a bit more clean headroom.

For what you want, I would definitely skip all of the Rolands and all of the emulators. I have no doubt that some people like them and are happy with them-- I might be as well, in certain applications-- but in your case, and for the vast majority of things people consider "good guitar sound," you will be happier with a PRRI or maybe a DRRI.
I've been all over the place researching amps. I definitely don't need a loud amp, hoping to sell my condo and move into a house soon so noise wouldn't be a huge deal but I want to keep things reasonable. Everything I've read and heard on youtube confirms what you said about a blackface PRRI. Now I just need to save and wait for one to pop up in my budget!

Thank you for your response -- feedback is super helpful!

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by tele_pathic » Mon Nov 05, 2018 6:51 am

If you're still looking, if this is primarily for around the house, I'd suggest a Fender Mustang III v2. And here's why:

1. For practice, it has a headphone out and an AUX in. You can plug in your phone, or whatever, and jam through headphones all night long.
2. If you do play out, it's loud enough to play out. I've played noisy barrooms with this amp.

Don't worry too much about "there's so much to fiddle with" mentality. I set it on a Fender Twin setting and don't move it off that.

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by cestlamort » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:47 am

My experience:

I have (and adore) both a JC-77 and a 70s Princeton Reverb, and, if they're in the same room, I'll almost always plug into the Fender.

The Princeton has had real trouble keeping up with drums and other guitars, however, but the JC-77 shines in that situation. (Princeton now has a JBL e110, which sounds amazing. But I haven't tried in a band situation yet. Maybe because it's reaaaally heavy now).

I'd had a Bronco Amp (vibro champ) + vanamps solemate for the "fender reverb at home" role and enjoyed that, but sold it to fund the PR.

Maybe also keep an eye out for an 80s Fender Concert in addition to the PRII and DRII. (I had the 4x10 and the cleans were great, I'd suspect the 1x12 or 2x10 to deliver, too. Ignore the 2nd channel). I'd avoid the red knob Super 60 family though. Heavy, uninspiring and people (myself included at one point) think they're hidden gems (they're not) and were also designed by Paul Rivera (they're not).

In your shoes, I'd consider actually taking up the big box stores on their generous return policy and try stuff out in the real environment.

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by øøøøøøø » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:57 am

One thing to think about here: Musical instruments tend to hold value over time. The better ones even keep place with inflation, or even (rarely) increase in value relative to inflation. Tech goods (like smartphones, computers, tablets, etc) almost always lose value relative to inflation, often precipitously.

You need to decide whether you'd rather buy a musical instrument, or a tech good that functions (in the short term) like a musical instrument.

A modeling amplifier is a piece of computer hardware that's designed to emulate a tube amplifier. Sometimes, this computer hardware is grafted onto an actual speaker and placed in a cabinet to make it seem more like a musical instrument, but when its computer becomes obsoleted by superior technology (or manufacturer abandonment), it reveals its true nature as a tech good by becoming practicaly-worthless.

There are scenarios when both things are useful, but if I were picking one thing to own, I'd choose an actual tube amplifier.

I look at it thusly: electric guitar playing has always been a rather low-tech proposition. But tech became SO profitable in the early 21st century that businesses in all discipines began to investigate ways to make their industry into a "tech industry." Musical instruments were no exception.

A good businessman can convince an eager customer of almost anything. In this case, they've collectively made a powerful case that a computer capable of imitating 20 amps is more useful than one actual amp.

Call me old-school, but musically, as someone who uses this equipment to make my living every single day, I remain broadly unconvinced that this is so. Not just because of the sound (which I admit is getting better all the time, at least on the high end Kemper stuff)--but even more so because of the way I like to interact with my instruments as a performer and recording musician. It gets almost a little metaphysical, and I can go into it if pressed, but the short version is that I enjoy the experience of firing up a tube amp, plugging into it, having it influence the process in some immediate way, responding to that influence, etc. It feels more like "guitar playing" to me.

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by NateD81 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:32 pm

cestlamort wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:47 am
My experience:

I have (and adore) both a JC-77 and a 70s Princeton Reverb, and, if they're in the same room, I'll almost always plug into the Fender.

The Princeton has had real trouble keeping up with drums and other guitars, however, but the JC-77 shines in that situation. (Princeton now has a JBL e110, which sounds amazing. But I haven't tried in a band situation yet. Maybe because it's reaaaally heavy now).

I'd had a Bronco Amp (vibro champ) + vanamps solemate for the "fender reverb at home" role and enjoyed that, but sold it to fund the PR.

Maybe also keep an eye out for an 80s Fender Concert in addition to the PRII and DRII. (I had the 4x10 and the cleans were great, I'd suspect the 1x12 or 2x10 to deliver, too. Ignore the 2nd channel). I'd avoid the red knob Super 60 family though. Heavy, uninspiring and people (myself included at one point) think they're hidden gems (they're not) and were also designed by Paul Rivera (they're not).

In your shoes, I'd consider actually taking up the big box stores on their generous return policy and try stuff out in the real environment.
I literally have a guy offering to trade an Epi acoustic I have for a 1983 concert II 2x12 — assuming it’s all functional, can anyone recommend this amp? I was two when the sucker came out so I have no experience with it and I’m afraid have 2 12s in it I won’t be able to play it quietly.

Thanks for your suggestion re the big box stores, that’s not a terrible idea and I just might do that!

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by NateD81 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:37 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:57 am
One thing to think about here: Musical instruments tend to hold value over time. The better ones even keep place with inflation, or even (rarely) increase in value relative to inflation. Tech goods (like smartphones, computers, tablets, etc) almost always lose value relative to inflation, often precipitously.

You need to decide whether you'd rather buy a musical instrument, or a tech good that functions (in the short term) like a musical instrument.

A modeling amplifier is a piece of computer hardware that's designed to emulate a tube amplifier. Sometimes, this computer hardware is grafted onto an actual speaker and placed in a cabinet to make it seem more like a musical instrument, but when its computer becomes obsoleted by superior technology (or manufacturer abandonment), it reveals its true nature as a tech good by becoming practicaly-worthless.

There are scenarios when both things are useful, but if I were picking one thing to own, I'd choose an actual tube amplifier.

I look at it thusly: electric guitar playing has always been a rather low-tech proposition. But tech became SO profitable in the early 21st century that businesses in all discipines began to investigate ways to make their industry into a "tech industry." Musical instruments were no exception.

A good businessman can convince an eager customer of almost anything. In this case, they've collectively made a powerful case that a computer capable of imitating 20 amps is more useful than one actual amp.

Call me old-school, but musically, as someone who uses this equipment to make my living every single day, I remain broadly unconvinced that this is so. Not just because of the sound (which I admit is getting better all the time, at least on the high end Kemper stuff)--but even more so because of the way I like to interact with my instruments as a performer and recording musician. It gets almost a little metaphysical, and I can go into it if pressed, but the short version is that I enjoy the experience of firing up a tube amp, plugging into it, having it influence the process in some immediate way, responding to that influence, etc. It feels more like "guitar playing" to me.
I definitely appreciate where you’re coming from, and I think I’m of the same mind as you. I bought a champ X2 which I don’t mind, but I don’t love because I don’t like fiddling with all the programs. I honestly typically keep it on channel 1 and play, but I want something they I can dial in without having to plug in a computer. Also, I’m of an age now where I can afford to invest a little bit in something quality that will hold value down the road if my ‘needs’ change.

Thanks for the input!

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by øøøøøøø » Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:58 pm

NateD81 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:32 pm
1983 concert II 2x12 — assuming it’s all functional, can anyone recommend this amp?
It's an OK amp. Not the best Fender ever made, but not the worst. Relatively well-made, durable, and unlikely to lose value.

You say 2x12-- I assume that means it's a head and cab version, and not a combo? The only combo versions they made, to my knowledge, were 1x12, 2x10 and 4x10

For me they're a bit overwrought in their design; a bit too packed with features. Effects loop, channel switching, line out, etc. Some people like those things, but I prefer my tube amps to be rather basic, as a rule. I like an amp that just sounds great and doesn't need a lot more besides that.

I think the clean sound of the Concert II is not quite as happening as the earlier Fender designs. The distortion channel sound is better than earlier (and some later) attempts at that kind of thing from Fender, but not good enough to make me choose to use it often.

But compared to so many other things it's better... you could do much, much worse than a Concert II.

The only one of the Rivera-era Fender amps I truly like is the Super Champ.

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by NateD81 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 4:46 pm

øøøøøøø wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 3:58 pm
NateD81 wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 12:32 pm
1983 concert II 2x12 — assuming it’s all functional, can anyone recommend this amp?
It's an OK amp. Not the best Fender ever made, but not the worst. Relatively well-made, durable, and unlikely to lose value.

You say 2x12-- I assume that means it's a head and cab version, and not a combo? The only combo versions they made, to my knowledge, were 1x12, 2x10 and 4x10

For me they're a bit overwrought in their design; a bit too packed with features. Effects loop, channel switching, line out, etc. Some people like those things, but I prefer my tube amps to be rather basic, as a rule. I like an amp that just sounds great and doesn't need a lot more besides that.

I think the clean sound of the Concert II is not quite as happening as the earlier Fender designs. The distortion channel sound is better than earlier (and some later) attempts at that kind of thing from Fender, but not good enough to make me choose to use it often.

But compared to so many other things it's better... you could do much, much worse than a Concert II.

The only one of the Rivera-era Fender amps I truly like is the Super Champ.
You’re totally right - it is the 2x10 version. Do you think it’s going to be extremely loud? I have a super champ X2 with a ragin’ Cajun speaker and when I go past 3 on the volume, it’s starting to be a little loud for my condo. Not the end of the world as my wife and I will be in a detached home in a couple of years but if the Concert II is going to be too loud then that is a non-starter. Again, thank you for your input-i literally know nothing about the concert II. The guy says it’s hand-wired, does that make sense? I didn’t think that was the case with Fenders.

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by Maggieo » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:35 pm

My DRII with a single 12" is punishingly loud. The Concert II is damn near a TR.
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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by NateD81 » Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:50 pm

Maggieo wrote:
Mon Nov 05, 2018 5:35 pm
My DRII with a single 12" is punishingly loud. The Concert II is damn near a TR.
So what you’re saying is that it might be a little overkill? :D Sleep on the couch loud or divorce papers loud? Haha

Any idea what’s realistic for selling something like this on Reverb? Assuming good condition? I’ve seen the 1x12s in good condition do well but am having a hard time finding the 2x10s

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by øøøøøøø » Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:06 am

Concert II is designed for stage use with a band. It is plenty loud in that context. It will be more than enough for you if you mainly play alone at home.

It is indeed hand-wired, one of the last of the Fender mass-production amps to be made that way. Which doesn't really make an enormous difference in performance, truth be told; it does make repairs a bit easier, and helps durability in many cases.

But yes, it's a loud amp; designed to be so. However, it's not an amp that really benefits from being cranked up super loud, so it will still perform sensibly with the volume knob at a lower level.

The PRRI, on the other hand, sounds great clean at lower levels, and will start to overdrive a bit as you crank it. It will present as "loud" at home, without being extremely-so.

It will probably behave similarly to your current amp in terms of its level.

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by cestlamort » Tue Nov 06, 2018 7:44 am

^ well put.

The Concert is basically "generic Fender clean" with lots of headroom, no tremolo, and a pseudo-post-boogie OD channel (which I could never dial in -- way too many gain stages -- including the loop -- for me to get my head around. I ended up making Santana face in a bad way). It'll be loud (60 watts?) and maybe more than you'd ever need at home. In some ways, it doesn't matter how loud an amp can get, but rather when it starts to sound good.
Proprietary footswitch = $ if you can find one. And: not light.

Depending on the guitar, a 2x10 tube amp with reverb for an acoustic could be a good deal. (Get it serviced by a tech though).

Revised evaluation: I had a Concert. I still have a Princeton Reverb. The former is sounds good and does the trick, the latter is inspiring.

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by Paul-T » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:52 am

I used a Concert for many years with my Jazzmaster. It was good; it did feel particularly heavy. It replaced a silverface Bandmaster which I built into a 2 x 10 combo cab; the Concert was more versatile, but didn't quite have that chiming tone. Felt great for gigging but not quite as good for recording as a lower wattage amp cranked up. It's way too much volume for the garage. Princeton II is much more like it. It will be enough for a medium size stage too with decent monitoring.

I have used studio modelling units and loved them, likewise for home recording, but no way would I build my basic sound around them.
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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by NateD81 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:37 pm

So I think I’ve narrowed it down to two amps. One I can actually try out, the other I’m just taking your opinions and reading forums / watching YouTube videos. It seems like people really like the Vox AC10 and the VHT 12/20. I’m leaning toward the 12/20 as it sounds like it’d get me closer to that Princeton sound, plus they seem to be available for around 300-350 which definitely fits my budget. Would this be a decent upgrade over a super champ X2 with a Ragin Cajun speaker? I don’t use the modeling on the X2. I just don’t want to buy a different amp due to the fact that I have GAS (or do I?)

Thanks everyone for you invaluable advice!

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Re: Amp upgrade: Need some wisdom!

Post by øøøøøøø » Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:51 pm

Both of those amps would be quite different from any Fender amp!

If you're unsure of what basic color you want-- Vox, Fender, or a modern (well, modern as in 'post-1970s'), feature-laden hot-rodded concept like the VHT-- it might be best to go to a shop somewhere and try a few things out (best if you can bring your guitar, or at least if the shop has a similar make and model).

Good luck!

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