I’ve been looking for a low-wattage tube combo amp for quite some time. I did a lot of preliminary research on the web, and I thought I was going to like either a Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb ReIssue or a Fender ’65 Princeton ReIssue. I came to that conclusion based on my identified criteria:
- plenty of clean gain, for when I use it in jazz settings
- tube breakup when I need it, but controllable and not too loud (Master Volume important)
- over all I feel I need something between 10 and 20 watts.
- compliments the tones from my extensive pedalboard
- not too bright – I like a balanced overall frequency spectrum
- portable – I’d love to be able to throw it in the back seat and go.
- multiple channels, for small gigs where I don’t bring my pedalboard
- reverb would be nice but not essential
So I’ve gone to several stores and shops and tried out a lot of amps recently. One of the first things I noticed on side-by-side comparisons? ALL FENDERS ARE TOO STINKING BRIGHT. Compared to other brands, the Fenders are like an ice pick in the ear. Other brands I eliminated?
- Epiphone – I think they’re simultaneously muddy and abrasive.
- Marshall – I’ve just never been a Marshall guy. I don’t get it.
- Boogie – I had high hopes, but alas, it just wasn’t for me.
- Orange – I really don’t like the top end on this brand.
- Hughes & Kettner – nope.
- Laney Lionheart – loved the overdrive tone, but not enough clean gain.
SO WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE US? Here’s my narrowed down list. I like all these amps. Look at the extreme price differential! The Bogner is clearly my favorite, but I just don’t have $2500 to spend on an amp.
So all you guitar players out there – what did I miss? Where is my thinking wrong? I admit I’d be nervous about buying a Bugera (basically a Behringer). There are lots of unknowns about its reliability. But come on VOX – no ‘verb? Really? In a $1500 amp?