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  1. #51

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    Wow, a lot of replies to this thread. I guess that's to be expected and everyone's touting their current amp or "the one that got away." Heck, I'll bite and throw my two cents in, too.

    Equipment is easy to recommend to someone else but real hard to buy based solely on someone else's verbal or written endorsement. After 45 years of playing I understand that completely. Forgive me for using a cliche but I don't know how else to put it. That is, I've owned and played through most everything. Jazz amps? I have a bunch of Polytones and old Fender stuff but for the last 10 years I've used an Acoustic Image 2R with a Raezers Edge "Twin 8" cabinet.

    The AI is great. I love it. It is so nice. It's XLR out is really handy, too.

    Some don't like RE cabinets. I'd just caution making a blanket opinion about them based on a single model's use. The different models all sound different. The Twin-8, Stealth 10, Stealth 12 and New York 8 that I own all sound different with each having its own characteristics. That opinion is made using the same Acoustic Image through all of them. I just tend toward the Twin-8.

    Thanks for letting me get my 2-cents in.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52

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    ArchieTop,

    The OP asked which amp sounded most like the Polytone. We have wandered a bit from that.

    I don't think that the AI/RE Twin 8 sounds much like the Polytone, as it happens. However, in many ways I think it sounds _better_ than the Polytone. The AI is an excellent amplifier. I think you are correct about some people's views concerning the RE cabs, but I suspect that the binomial distribution of views is due to the old vs new cabinets experiences. The old ones sound amazing...the new ones, not so much. This being said, I think that the Twin 8 is the best sounding stand alone guitar cabinet for jazz in the business. It might be the best sounding stand alone cabinet for jazz ever made. Your rig is simply outstanding with an archtop. +1

  4. #53
    Thanks to everyone who replied to my post! I learned a lot and the information helped me to narrow my search.



    A few highlights for me were the Mambo Amp sounds good—but unfortunately not easy amp to audition on a gig here in the USA. Maybe an Evans amp or Wholetone 80—but again a bit hard to audition.



    I was surprised to learn about the Fender Twin tone controls (and other Fender tone controls where setting all controls at 5 does not give you a flat response!). I have played through a Fender Twin and agree it is an awesome amp—but aside from the weight it does not fit into my car. BTW somewhere on YouTube a guy did a compilation of about six different jazz amps in actual live performances—the Fender Twin really sounded nice—wish I could find that video again!


    I think an Acoustic Image with the Twin 8 Raezer Edge might be worth a listen – I think a fellow guitarist in my area has one.



    In addition to the above the Polytone still is high on my list – sounds like the favorite Polytone with the group are the Mini Brutes with the Diamond Tolex. But I still like my Mini Brute V – has the metal grill.

    Again thanks to everyone!
    Bill

  5. #54

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    I think you are referring to the mini S12L. I have just bought one today and hear some people feels it gives a tighter, better sound to the mini brute even though it has the same preamp/power amp and reverb. It looks like it has 2 tweeters in the cab that may make a difference but I'm not sure whether the other models have that too.

  6. #55

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    Hi everyone!

    Today I use a small solid state amp and want advices from you about how to achieve the sound of Polytones. Generally, what amp settings will be useful to sound like Polytones?

  7. #56

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    What amp are you using?

  8. #57

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    Hiwatt Maxwatt G20R. Originally a british-voiced amp but still works great for jazz.


    What amp has the closest sound to a Polytone?-hiwatt-g20r-jpg

  9. #58

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  10. #59

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    I have no experience with Hiwatts, but their tone stacks look similar to Fenders with a lot of emphasis on bass and treble, and where the mid control only serves to cut the mids even more. Polytones and Ampegs have Baxandal tone stacks, which jave a fairly flat response at mid position. Try starting with bass and treble set to zero and mid set to ten. Set your volume where you want it, then dial in a little more bass and treble to taste. If bringing up the treble and bass still leaves you with too much mid, try dialing the mid control down a little at a time. The mid control may tend to reduce some of the bass and treble as well, so you might need to raise your volume control a little as you reduce the mids.

    Speakers can make a huge difference though, and I have no idea how your Hiwatt speaker might compare to a Polytone.

  11. #60

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    0,10,0 is flat on a Fender, Vox,Marshall. ..just like 5,5,5 on a Polytone.

  12. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    0,10,0 is flat on a Fender, Vox,Marshall. ..just like 5,5,5 on a Polytone.
    I have seen this many times and it just always makes me wonder how Fender amps are so ubiquitous. Just seems like a terribly limited “starting position” because you can only adjust in one direction. I’ve seen so many “ how to tame the brightness on my blackface” threads across the internet it just astounds me. That along with having no mids control is for me a recipe for an amp I can’t work with. I’ve had one blackface amp and realized it was the antithesis of what I want in an amp.

  13. #62

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    On Fenders with only bass and treble controls, the flat position is bass just a hair above zero, and treble just a hair above zero. There is a middle fixed resistor on these tone stacks that takes care of "mid on ten."

    Try it. It really does put you in the ballpark of an Ampeg or a Polytone on 5,5.

    If you set a Fender Deluxe Reverb on bass = 5, treble = 5, you get a big "smile," i.e., a bass hump and a treble hump. It's not displeasing, but it's the classic "Fender sound."

  14. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    On Fenders with only bass and treble controls, the flat position is bass just a hair above zero, and treble just a hair above zero. There is a middle fixed resistor on these tone stacks that takes care of "mid on ten."

    Try it. It really does put you in the ballpark of an Ampeg or a Polytone on 5,5.
    This is why I eventually gave up on Fenders 20yrs ago. In college, I used to set the treble and bass at around 2, and volume under 3, for Princetons, Deluxe Reverbs, etc, to get what sounded to me to the cleanest and closest to “true” sound of my guitars without knowing much about the circuit design.
    As much as I liked many BF/SF amps in these settings, there was just no headroom for gigs, especially with inefficient speakers.
    When I tried a Mesa Mark I Reissue, I finally was ready to dump the last Fender I owned (a ‘66 Showman Head).
    Now, my Ampegs....that’s a wholenudder story.

  15. #64

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    Yes. In comparison to Fender, Mesa amps are much more midrange oriented. I used to think MB (Mesa Boogie) also meant midrange bark.

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    On Fenders with only bass and treble controls, the flat position is bass just a hair above zero, and treble just a hair above zero. There is a middle fixed resistor on these tone stacks that takes care of "mid on ten."
    Deluxe reverb mid resistor is 6800ohms, which amounts to mid control being around 7.
    Attached Images Attached Images What amp has the closest sound to a Polytone?-tone_stack_calculator-jpg 

  17. #66

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    Here's the same tone stack calculator set for Fender, with the bass=0.5, middle = 7 (fixed resistor), and treble=0.5. It is virtually a flat response, i.e., like an Ampeg/Polytone on bass=5, treble=5.
    What amp has the closest sound to a Polytone?-fender-070-jpg

  18. #67

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    Tone stack is flat but I think negative feedback ads some scoop later in the signal path. Speaker is another factor. With a mid-emphasized speaker, it's possible to get a flat eq on a DR. Of course there is always an eq pedal option.

  19. #68

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    Many people speculate online that Fender didn't add mid control on their lower powered amps to cut costs. That doesn't make any sense, there's not that much difference in price between Princeton, DR, Vibrolux Reverb, Super Reverb and Twin. Not a difference that can't be explained by power difference alone (and shipping costs due to size and weight increase).
    I think the reason Fender didn't put mid control to lower powered amps can be easily seen with the tone stack calculator. Turn bass and treble to 0, now adjust mids. You'll see adding mids is just increasing the signal level across the board. It's a headroom issue. Lower powered amps just don't have enough headroom to push the mids higher at reasonable volumes.

  20. #69

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    Sure, you can change the speaker or use a pedal. However, it's pretty easy just to roll the bass and treble controls back. This actually works. Doesn't cost a penny.

    Of course, the bass=5, treble=5 "Fender smile" sounds nice, too.

  21. #70

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    I didn't realize that I had chopped off so much frequency bandwidth in my first pic. Here is the Fender "flat" setting from 10-20KHz. You can see that there is no "scoop" to speak of. The result is achieved by setting the Deluxe Reverb at bass=0.5, treble=0.5.
    What amp has the closest sound to a Polytone?-fender-flat-jpg

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Tone stack is flat but I think negative feedback ads some scoop later in the signal path. Speaker is another factor. With a mid-emphasized speaker, it's possible to get a flat eq on a DR. Of course there is always an eq pedal option.
    It’s true that a tone stack with a flat response doesn’t necessarily mean the amp’s response is flat, as there are other ways to affect frequency response. I guess scooping could be done via negative feedback if the feedback loop filtered out the highs and lows so that only the mids were subject to negative feedback, but I doubt Polytone did that.

  23. #72

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    Among my 6 amps are a Polytone, a Fender and a Mesa. Using the tone controls on the amps I can get a great jazz tone at any volume with all three. The right speaker is an important part if the equation to be sure.

  24. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zhahn
    This is why I eventually gave up on Fenders 20yrs ago. In college, I used to set the treble and bass at around 2, and volume under 3, for Princetons, Deluxe Reverbs, etc, to get what sounded to me to the cleanest and closest to “true” sound of my guitars without knowing much about the circuit design.
    As much as I liked many BF/SF amps in these settings, there was just no headroom for gigs, especially with inefficient speakers.
    When I tried a Mesa Mark I Reissue, I finally was ready to dump the last Fender I owned (a ‘66 Showman Head).
    Now, my Ampegs....that’s a wholenudder story.
    The Fender tone stack achieves the scooped response by severely attenuating the signal after the first stage of amplification, then allowing treble and bass frequencies to bypass that attenuator via the treble and bass pots. If you prefer low treble and bass settings (for a fairly flat response) but you feel the preamp is lacking in gain, you can remove a lot of that attenuation by increasing the value of the resistor I’ve highlighted below.

    If a Fender amp has a mid control, you could achieve a similar result by putting another resistor in series with the mid pot. The effect of the treble and bass pots will be reduced, so you might find yourself using higher settings than before.

    You could even remove all attenuation by snipping the connection of that resistor to ground (infinite resistance). Then you’d have nearly flat EQ (at that stage, not necessarily the entire amp). The treble and bass controls would then have no effect, so I wouldn’t recommend going to that extreme.

    I should mention that while removing attenuation from the tone stack increases gain in the preamp, it doesn’t necessarily increase headroom. The power section puts an upper limit on headroom. Once the power stage goes nonlinear or clips, more gain in the preamp won’t add headroom.
    Last edited by KirkP; 07-12-2019 at 07:02 PM.

  25. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    Among my 6 amps are a Polytone, a Fender and a Mesa. Using the tone controls on the amps I can get a great jazz tone at any volume with all three. The right speaker is an important part if the equation to be sure.
    I agree.
    The cab design and speakers are crucial. I’ve played polytones for a couple of decades, but found them to be usually boxy and, some times too low-fi. Had an old head that was great with a 15” cab till it died on me sometime in the 90’s.

    It’s a dance where every aspect of your entire rig works in harmony to produce your sound: just like playing jazz, the more you understand and can hear, the better you sound.

  26. #75

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    Hi everyone again!

    For two weeks ago I got advices from you about how to achieve a Polytone sound with my Hiwatt solid state amp. I’ve tried several different amp settings this afternoon and feel that flat EQ (0, 10, 0) sounds closest to a Polytone with my amp.

    Thanks everyone for your contributions to this thread,

    Bbmaj7#5#9

  27. #76

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    For myself, what’s more important is the feel of a polytone. They have an ever so slightly compressed feel, unlike modern super fast SS designs.

    A smile of compression might help get you closer.

  28. #77

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    True...like an old tube amp

  29. #78

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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove
    They have an ever so slightly compressed feel, unlike modern super fast SS designs.
    Good specimen of old Polytone would have that squishy feel without being “muffled” or too low-fi.

    On a side note, at one point (sometime in the early 2000’s), I finally gave up on Polytones altogether- old and new, due to the company’s archaic approach to design and business model in general.
    Ironically, the conclusion came after visiting and talking with the corporate hq for some time (I was local then).
    It seemed painfully apparent to me that it was the end of an era.

    It seems to me now that there are more and better options for that old sound and then some, at various price points.

    Again, if you can hear the sound you like and know how to dial in what you hear, we live in a pretty decent time in terms of having fun with relatively little coinage. Sounds like OP had some success.

  30. #79

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    My IV is more dynamic than my II also, though both are great amps. I have a Polytone IV extension speaker. Run the II into it and you get a very dynamic sound. It's the cabinet volume and the 15" speaker.

  31. #80

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    Actually it might be best to stop trying to get a particular amp sound, and learn to use lots of amps to get your own sound. Define what it is y ou like about the Polytone sound and learn to get it from different kinds of amps. I'm amazed that whatever Kenny Burrell plays through, he always gets his signature tone. Wes Montgomery as well. I'm NOT saying "it's in the fingers" (thought lots of it is). It's also in the ears, and in the skill at setting up the instrument and amp to do the job.

    I have a bunch of different kinds of amps. But if I play one a while, it begins to sound like my other amps. That's because I keep tweaking it to "my" sound. It's easier, of course, on amps that by default sound like what I want, but I feel more and more like I could get the tone I want from most any decent amp except maybe one that started distorting on 2.

    Says a guy who can't stop buying amps...

  32. #81

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    Yes, that’s true. In my opinion a sound really sits in the fingers. I want a Polytone sound thanks to the flat and neutral character of it. In other words I don’t want an amp sound that ruins my general playing technique and attitude to music as a communication medium. This is the reason why I made a decision for a while ago to never use distortion again. The distortion color my ”own sound” too much and makes me uncomfortable. I need an amp that let my playing technique shine through and never color my ”own sound” too much. In my opinion a sound is mostly based on how you’re phrasing, what picking technique you’re using and if dynamics is a key part when you’re playing. The Polytone sound helps me to find what I’m looking for musically. In other words I want a sound that doesn’t sound like a sound.
    Last edited by Bbmaj7#5#9; 10-30-2019 at 05:24 AM.

  33. #82

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    My amps consist of a Fender Vibrolux, a Polytone (15") an Evans AH200, with various speakers
    and lastly ,but certainly not least , a Mambo 12' , the Mambo was originally conceived as an
    up to date or improvement on the Polytone amps, and I would not disagree with that. It stands
    apart from the others because it works well with any good Archtop, and i suggest that the OP's
    comments are met by the Mambo's neutrality of sound in similar character to the Polytones of
    yesteryear with no hum hiss or other extraneous noise.
    The downside is that the Mambo is not readily available in the USA, yet there are rarely any
    negative views of it.

  34. #83

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    If I get a chance in future to try a Mambo I’ll do it. Generally the market of jazz guitar amps in Sweden is very small and limited. There are some shops that sells Henriksen and DV Mark amps, but apart from that it’s a poor sortiment. Even Polytones, neither vintage or modern, are rare to find. Last summer I bought an Ibanez WT-80 Wholetone in a shop, but the 15 inch speaker was broken so the amp was returned quite fast. The salesman thought it was an acoustic amp!

  35. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bbmaj7#5#9
    Yes, that’s true. In my opinion a sound really sits in the fingers. I want a Polytone sound thanks to the flat and neutral character of it. In other words I don’t want an amp sound that ruins my general playing technique and attitude to music as a communication medium. This is the reason why I made a decision for a while ago to never use distortion again. The distortion color my ”own sound” too much and makes me uncomfortable. I need an amp that let my playing technique shine through and never color my ”own sound” too much. In my opinion a sound is mostly based on how you’re phrasing, what picking technique you’re using and if dynamics is a key part when you’re playing. The Polytone sound helps me to find what I’m looking for musically. In other words I want a sound that doesn’t sound like a sound.
    Funny but I never thought the Polytone sound was "neutral." Yes he Baxendall tone stack gives you a flat EQ, but the rest of the amp powerfully colors the tone so that almost any guitar I play through the Polytone ends up sounding very similar. That amp is a marvel, I confess. I don't know all the calculus, but the combination of a simple circuit, primitive components, some mis-matched stuff, a massively heavy low-impedance speaker, and household insulation... somehow it all produces an unmistakable "Polytone" sound from anything. Even my solid-body Hagstrom I sounds "Polytonish" through it.

    When I want "neutral" these days, the best I can do is the Quilter Interblock 45 set on the FRFR settings both for EQ and for the output. Even then, I'm not sure.

    Another option for you: the famous "Polytone in a Pedal" through the DVMark Micro50 is, to my ear, really amazing. Put that Micro50 through a 4 Ohm 10" speaker and you get pretty close.

    I might make a clip on this. That pedal is really got some serious Polytone stuff happening.

    Contact the user "jazzmus" if you are interested.

  36. #85

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    What modern amp is most similar to a Polytone/would get me closest to the classic Polytone sound?

  37. #86

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  38. #87

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    Pretty much any modern amp can sound like a Polytone. All you need to do is cover the amp with a wet blanket.

    I say this with great respect for you and the many Polytone fans on the forum, but I don't get the fascination with Polytone. They're not necessarily bad amps, but after gigging with 2 different Polytones for years, I found pretty much any Fender Deluxe or Princeton, Roland Jazz Chorus or Roland Cube to be more musical and tunable to the venue. I will say that my minibrutes were very useful for those times I had to play bass. But for guitar, I feel there are many better sounding, more reliable, less limiting amp options available these days. Just my opinion.

    Roli

  39. #88

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    I will kindly disagree with you. The first time i plugged a guitar and play a single note in a Minibrute two tone controls i said "fuckkkkkk what is this warm sound????". I was unbiased since i didnt know about them, at the begining i thought it was the guitar, so i asked the seller to connect it to a roland jc40 and thought "ahhh the key is the amp!!!".

    The guitar was a marvelous L-5 Wesmo.

    I never got more inspired to play than with that amp: i tried everthing, henriksen, rolands, fender twins... The sound of polytone is unique.
    One key to it is that it has big a low cut and some bump in the middle bass to compensate (around 350hz at least 6db). With such a cut and boost you dont even need to roll of your treble in the amp or the guitar. I am still trying to emulate it via DI.
    Probably a good equalizer pedal can take you there. I dont know about polytone in pedal. Never tried it.

  40. #89

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    I’m happy you found a sound you like. I just got tired of the Polytone sound. I was playing ES-165s and 175s in those days and grew weary of the muffled sound. The MB II had a more pleasing sound. But my MB IV with it’s larger speaker and hf driver sounded muddy and awful to me. Someone once told me it had something to do with “odd-order harmonics”? Fortunately, my beautiful L-5 Wesmo sounds fat and wonderful through most amps, especially my Fender tube amps.

    Lately, I have been enjoying my Yamaha THR10 II for home use and recording. The sound is very pleasant and the USB output can be adjusted for a very warm and fat jazz tone with my L-5 and other guitars. I really enjoy it.

    Soy yanqui. Mi tia era argentina y yo vivía alla (en Mar Del Plata y en Bahía Blanca) por dos años cuando era joven. Ella era porteña y hablaba el francés, el italiano y el castellano. Hace muchísimos años desde que visitara a la Argentina. Mi esposa y yo queremos hacer el viaje en la primavera sí sea posible (ese Octubre o Noviembre).

    Gustavo, I enjoy your playing and your beautiful tone! ¡Que sigas adelante con tu música extraordinaria!

  41. #90

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    I had a Polytone Mini Brute like 15 years ago. It was nice, good tone, very portable. Before getting my own I was able to burrow one from a fellow guitarist and found the tone nicer than the Sessionette I had then. Played it for a couple of years.
    Then ... Our bass player had a Fender Blues junior. We were recording in his home/studio. I changed amps between tracks. Listening to the tracks everybody in the band agreed that the little fender is much better – with roughly half the cost. I've been playing Fender tube amps ever since.

  42. #91

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    Quote Originally Posted by rolijen
    Pretty much any modern amp can sound like a Polytone. All you need to do is cover the amp with a wet blanket.

    you're' almost right, a wet cardboard box over the blanket, speaker kicked in, treble circuit disconnected. with the reverb in continous drone mode, then combine with 1o year old rusted flatwounds coated in bitumen, played with gardening gloves.

  43. #92

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    Polytone amps. Love em' or hate em' I guess.

    I became a fan in the 70's and owned 6 Mini Brute 2's over the years and played many, many gigs with a Polytone and was happy with the dark, thick tone.

    I like the brighter Fender/tube amp sound as well and for overdriven sounds pretty much require a tube amp.

    Here are some of my thoughts after reading the posts in this thread:

    Polytones with a 15 inch speaker are best for bass or a very bright guitar. The 12 inch speaker (or smaller) does better with a dark sounding jazz guitar.

    While I have a Polytone Mini-Brian in my collection, I get that dark, thick solid state sound from a Clarus/Raezer's Edge combo with greater clarity and reliability (I know some guys like the early breakup that a Polytone delivers, I do not). I use my Mini-Brain with my Raezer's Edge Cabinets from time to time and it sounds great, but the Clarus has way more tone control to adjust for different rooms, something that is useful for a professional musician. And the Clarus stays clean, no matter the volume.

    Henriksen advertised itself as the Polytone for a new millennium when they started. I do not think their early amps were quite in the Polytone ballpark, but their newer class D amps are there. That would be my choice today.

    If you have a Polytone and like it, may she serve you well. If you do not, be careful. They are old amps these days and may require expensive work to keep running. And the original speakers are no longer being made, which, IMO, was part of their particular sound.

    For those that prefer the Fender/tube amp sound there are a lot of great choices today. Find one you like, but there is really no reason to slam the venerable Polytone amps. They were used by guitarists better than me (Joe Pass, Herb Ellis, George Benson and Jim Hall come to mind), and I would bet those guitarists are/were better than you too. Just sayin'

  44. #93

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    IN my practicer area I have a Polytone Minibrute II 90's pre-sonic circuit, a Fender Princeton Reverb Re-issue with 12" CR speaker, a Fender Tonemaster Twin Reverb, a Quilter TB202 played through 2 10" speakers. I love all of these amps, each has its sound. Honestly I never understood the "wet blanket" concept of the Polytone sound. My Polytone MB2 has a well rounded sound that is easy to tweak. It can be a little nasally or boxy, but not extremely so. It has been extremely reliable in the 25 years or so that I've had it. I change the amp I use every day just for fun, and I always look forward to plugging into my Polytone. That said, I'm crazy about my PRRI, consider the TMTR my best amp, and feel like the Quilter TB202 is the most versatile.

  45. #94

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    . Honestly I never understood the "wet blanket" concept of the Polytone sound.

    neither have i they can sound bright if you want. the problem is probably since they were really designed for Jazz, that sound is generally going to be more in that domain, darker.

    I think most most amps including Fender were designed for general music including rock, Amps like Blue Junior and that ilk, i think were designed probably with blues in mind.

  46. #95

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    There was nothing better to schlep around NYC, a gig bag, a polytone on a hand truck could get me anywhere i needed to go...
    The sound is great, but I prefer Fender tube amps, which i would never want to abuse the way i did my polytone
    as far as the original question, i'm not sure... I think Henriksen are in the ballpark

  47. #96

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    Hello,
    The first DV Mark amp I tried was the 50 watt mini amp head. It was called Micro 50, I think. I plugged into a 12 inch Bognor open back, insulated cabinet.
    It sounded very rich and warm, like a Polytone I had played years before. I could put the bass on 1/10 and it was still really warm sounding.
    At first I enjoyed that sound, but I tired of it after a while and traded it for some other gear. But, it was a very decent piece of gear which could be practical for a gigging player. (the reverb I thought strange and useless).
    The next one I tried was the DV Mark Jazz 12, only because the amp was priced at $379 (usually $500). It was not as warm sounding as the Micro50, which was surprising. It sounded brighter than I expected, but it was portable, and functional. However, I enjoyed playing through a Zoom G5n unit much more than the Jazz 12. I played the Jazz 12 for 10 days and then returned it for a refund (Musician Friend).

    If I wanted a Polytone sound for live gigs, I would probably try the DV Mark Lil Jazz amp. It sounds good based on their (DVM) video examples and it is easy to carry.
    Of course, for recording, you can get that sound with any DI device.

    PD

  48. #97

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    Back to the OP's original post...

    Modelling amps have the best chance of doing the job but, in my experience the value line modelers will not get as close.

    I tried a Kemper briefly and it was remarkable. My Positive grid with two 12" bass cabs does a great job of nailing my Polytone 102.