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  1. #1

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    I have a telecaster and am looking for a tube amp. One that sounds optimal at lower volumes since I've damaged my hearing over the years.
    Would a Princeton 65 or 68 RI's be best ?
    I like Tim Lerch's tone for one. Warm and mellow.
    Thank you.
    Last edited by d115; 09-28-2020 at 06:46 PM.

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  3. #2

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    Five watts, all-tube, spring reverb, built in Tubescreamer. I paid under 500$ US. Love it.

    Also:

  4. #3

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    I am absolutely loving my Gries 5 watt head based on the blackface Champ—slightly different than the full-fledged 5-watt combo but hits the sweet spot for home practice volume. $450 brand new + a used cab with a speaker of your choice and you'd be in business. Right now I have mine paired with an 15" alnico Altec 418B, which gives a balanced, full sound with just a bit of sparkle even at low volume.

  5. #4

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    I’m selling a Swart Atomic Space Tone Tweed (here and on Reverb), nominally 5w with a 12” speaker, luscious reverb, low/high power switch and the capacity to switch out the 6V6 for a 6L6 or EL34. Worth listening to comparative samples, if you can find any that don’t automatically emphasize/glorify tube saturation.

    Also worth mentioning are the Emery Micro/Superbaby amps. I have a Micro that drives a 12” openback just fine. (I also have tinnitus, and so have similar reasons for managing volume/sound pressure.)

  6. #5

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    A princeton and a tele are a great match, that Swart is probably perfect too

  7. #6
    Thank you everyone for your responses. My first thought was a princeton custom RI because of the darker tones as opposed to the 65RI. I too thought it would go perfect with a tele. But any loud playing will cause my tinnitus to intensify for days afterwards. If i only knew back then what i know now about hearing protection.
    Would i be able to play the 68 at low volumes and enjoy it or would it be a waste?
    I will look into your suggestions and perhaps try and plug into a few low wattage amps.

    Thank you again for your help.

    Dave

  8. #7

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    Tinnitus is so idiopathic (idiotic, too; but it doesn’t flinch at insults or tears) from person to person that you must ultimately rely on your own experience—set routine boundaries for volume/exposure, hearing protection, etc.

    Someone else might be able to enjoy that Princeton breakup close by, but you or I will need a long cord, amp isolation, closed headphones—and we may still suffer afterward.

    No doubt players here remember episodes when, after attending something thunderous (for me, Marshall Crenshaw Band @116dB measured on the soundboard in the Iron Horse, Northampton Mass ca 1987) they could feel ringing for days—and feel a presentment of having made a mistake with longterm consequences.

    I write this not only for you or me, but also for those who read this thread but haven’t crossed over to constant continual tinnitus which, let’s be clear, means the end of the peace of silence in one’s life.

    This is a tremendous loss, a paradox that many cannot grasp until they have lost the restful resource of silence forever. Until their interior signal-to-noise ratio contains perpetual feedback.

    My Crenshaw concert was 2 decades before my tinnitus became 24/7 during a severe fever at age 56. In the first months of 24/7 tinnitus, I passed through stages of unsuppressible anxiety about external noise, insomnia, mental pain, suicide ideation. I used Hearos, in-ear noise cancellation, etc. whenever circumstances were likely to aggravate my condition. The good news is that as a musician I gradually adapted to limitations and preferences.

    Where this leads, of course, is to a question about the necessity for any electric amplification. We have’t had it for most of the musical lifetimes preceding us.

    This isn’t to suggest you should give up the Princeton or pursue a purely acoustic musical life. I would be interested in your thoughts and feelings, though, about tinnitus and amplification.

    I use my amplifiers less, and quiet rooms more. But I’m still not ready to sell the amps and the guitars with pickups; they’ve been part of my dreams and daily life since I was 10.

    Good luck with all this.

  9. #8

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    I have Meniere's disease, which means that my tinnitus is congenital. It's been with me since 1993 and affects most of my gear decisions and to me a 12 or 15 watt tube amp is still going to be too much. If you must have a tube amp get something with built in attenuation, something that will allow you to drop down to one watt or less.

    For my part, I've mostly given up on tube amps. There are many excellent solid state amps these days, (Henriksen,Quilter, etc.) that's where I would be looking. But to each their own.

    Good luck.

  10. #9

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    jimmy raney suffered for thirty years from Ménière's disease, a degenerative condition that led to near deafness in both ears, although this did not stop him from playing. He died of heart failure in Louisville on May 10, 1995.


    princeton '68 is very nice amp..has a bit of nice edginess at low volumes

    luck

    cheers

  11. #10

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    What is your definition of "low volume" ? Compare it to your TV for instance or the background noise in traffic, in a restaurant, etc. That way you get a better perspective and some point of reference. One other important aspect is the crucial frequency (frequencies) that really bothers you. For the most part the guitar tones we love (in a "jazz" context) "live" in the realm between 80 and 4500 Hz at the most. The lower part is not harmful even when above living room level but above 2000 it can become problematic but then only at stage volume. If you own a smartphone then you could download a db/frequency measuring app which can tell you very precisely how loud your surrounding is and which frequencies are prominent. Might be helpful and it's cheap, too !
    As for the type of amp you should choose - well, if you really need the "amp in the room" sound and feel then that amp/speaker needs to move some air in order to develop and show it's sonic character. At speaking levels that does not happen IMHO. However, a decent modeling amp/software hooked up to a hifi monitor on your desk or bookshelf could do the trick at VERY low levels.

  12. #11

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    ^ agree wholeheartedly about the problem being frequency specific...its not just pure volume..its a certain frequency range at loud volume..it's the two combined that is trouble...

    an amp with an extended eq section or using an eq pedal might be helpful

    some think diet is also related...dairy being problematic


    luck to all sufferers

    cheers

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by d115 View Post
    I have a telecaster and am looking for a tube amp. One that sounds optimal at lower volumes since I've damaged my hearing over the years.
    Would a Princeton 65 or 68 RI's be best ?
    I like Tim Lerch's tone for one. Warm and mellow.
    Thank you.
    It really depends on one's definitions of "Loud" and "optimal". My Princeton Reverb sounds best for jazz between 3 and 4 on the volume knob. It's pretty loud (loud enough to play with a drummer in a small venue; loud enough to be heard in the apartment next door), but not painfully rock band loud. On ~2, it's a lot quieter (loud enough to bother my family, but not my neighbors), but does not have the same full, singing tone to it. So by my definition, not optimal, but OK for truly low volume playing. Optimal tone kicks at volumes that are are too loud for, say, evening playing chez moi, but not too loud from a hearing protection perspective. But it's very difficult to say how that fits in with your perceptions. All that said PR's are great sounding amps that work in a lot of contexts. I have no regrets whatsoever about trading away bigger/louder Fender amp for one.

    John

  14. #13
    Yes, the tinnitus is unbearable at times. I play with my friends and use foam plugs. They're about 35-40 db reduction. I'm actually going tomorrow to get molded musician plugs. At $350, if the provide some protection while allowing me to hear conservation and the musical colors....its a small price. Since tube amps sing at higher volumes, maybe I'm better off with a small solid state bedroom amp. Perhaps a small cube? Any suggestions for an amp that will give a warmer tone with my telecaster?
    I am appreciative of this community with all your responses.

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk

  15. #14

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    I say if you want a tube amp buy one. I play pretty quietly at home on a variety of tube amps with varying wattages: 5 watt, 14 watt, 30 watt. They all sound really good. I actually just sold a switchable 12 watt/6 watt Bogner New Yorker because it was a roaring class A beast that reached volumes my 30 watt Ampeg can’t even dream of. It went from whisper quiet to too loud with very little movement of the dial. On the other hand, my 14 watt Ivy League (Fender tweed-era Harvard clone) hits the sweet spot for jazz tone at a very comfortable home volume. I think if you get either of those Princetons and decouple it from the floor with a chair, milk crate, or amp stand to tame to boominess, you’ll do just fine.

  16. #15

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    Speaking of earplugs : I got my first made-to-measure pair when I was playing long gigs with a bigband , the trumpets blaring in one ear and the drummer's cymbals crashing into the other. Since then (20 years + years ago) the are an integral part of my stage gear when I'm playing with a larger/louder band. Highly recommended !!! You can have them molded to your ears and choose between damping-inserts of minus 15, minus 20 and minus 25 db and the neat things is that you'll still be able to hear/understand when someone is talking to you. They don't become uncomfortable since the material is soft and pliable silicone.

  17. #16

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    I’ve used musicians’ earplugs for the past 15-20 years, but the $10 kind. Foam plugs cut out way too much high frequency. My two friends with custom fit plugs say they are great—very little affect on the sound, other than reducing volume. I considered getting some, but between the $10 plugs and avoiding high sound levels my tinnitus seems to have very gradually improved—or my brain has rewired to ignore it most of the time.

    I had the most problems with bass and drums. Most earplugs attenuate little of the bass frequencies. I learned to distance myself on the bandstand, even if it put my in an awkward position. That helped, but eventually I dropped out of louder bands. Now I’ll only play with folks that are happy to play at living room or wine bar volumes.

    Most my amps range from 22 to 120 watts, some SS and some tube. I’m happy playing at living room volumes with any of them. However, with a high powered amp you’re more likely to have hum or noise generated by the circuitry after the volume controls. And of course, you won’t be able to drive them hard at those volumes. For those reasons I really like having a master volume control. I have a silverface Fender Twin Reverb with a master volume, and when I set that low the noise drops a bit and I can raise the channel volume to the point where at least one of the preamp tubes is getting a strong signal, warming things up. I’m fine with that even at living room volumes. If I need some dirt I must add a pedal.

    The tube amp I use most of the time has a Princeton-type preamp but Deluxe output stage for about 22 watts. That’s still a lot of power for living room volumes. I wish it had a master volume. I’m tempted to add one, but it would be tricky to squeeze it into the chassis.

    I could easily squeeze in switch though. Rob Robinette suggests putting something like a 5K ohm 1/2 watt resister between the grids of the output tubes for bedroom volume, with a switch to disable it. That’s tempting.
    Rob Robinette AB763 Mods
    Last edited by KirkP; 10-01-2020 at 04:00 PM.

  18. #17

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    A couple of thoughts.

    I have a pair of Etymotic custom earplugs. They work, but after a while I had trouble with the seal. When they'd leak, I'd think the bass was too loud and not realize it was the earplugs allowing lows but not highs.

    Eventually I bought a pair of Hearos Musician's earplugs, which sell for about a tenth the price. They work better. Maybe not as good as the custom ones worked at first, but that's hard to remember. The Hearos do work.

    The problem I have, aside from tinnitus and high frequency loss, is that when the music gets too loud for me (which happens at a lower level than it should), I lose detail. It all becomes a dull roar. So, I prefer playing more quietly than most of the people I play with. I prefer a quiet band to wearing earplugs in a loud one (even the custom earplugs seemed to dull the sound, not just reduce the volume).

    As far as quiet amps go, I've never had an amp that sounded bad when played quietly. Maybe I'm just not picky. My practice amp is an old Crate GFX15, which you can buy used typically for $40. Great sounding amp. 12 watts, solid state, so it's not loud.

    Other amps I've had all sounded fine to me at practice volumes.

    I've posted before that I compared the Little Jazz to my vintage Ampeg Reverberocket (which I bought new in 1964) and has been completely gone over recently by a good tech. The LJ sounded a lot like the Ampeg -- the EQ made more difference than switching amps. Since then, the Ampeg lives in the closet and I use the LJ for almost everything I do. Are tube amps better? I don't know -- but I can get my sound from the LJ. Last year I heard a guy play a Fender D'Aquisto designed archtop through a Twin and I thought it was as good as any guitar sound I'd ever heard.

    But I think I'd prefer the sound of the LJ, at least up a long flight of stairs.

  19. #18

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    Sometimes comes up on the used market, lexicon signature 284. Single ended class A, stereo 3 + 3 W. Has simulated speaker output option if connecting to PA. Stereo effect loop. Early breakup with the EL84's.

    Bought it years ago after not being able to use bassman 410 for practice / recording purposes.

  20. #19

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    Depends on the size of the room and how close you will be to the amp. Even a 70's Champ can do hearing damage in a small room if you've got it turned up to 'warm' edge of breakup. Another problem with inexpensive tube amps is many/most have transformer hum (physical hum you can hear even if the amp is in standby) that's noticeable if the amp is really low to protect your hearing, this can be worse with amps with a single power tube as they're not cancelling hum in the circuit. I've been using solid state amps lately to keep the hum(s) from interfering with low volume playing (the Quilter Interblock 45 is a good little amp).

    If this is for home use I'd recommend not getting a 12" speaker, 10" is good and in a small space an 8" in a decent sized cabinet sounds pretty good (Tone Tubby Humboldt 8" is a great speaker). I have a friend with tinnitus and 12" speakers for home use cause problems after 10 minutes but the right 10" or 8" and he's playing for hours. Smaller and less efficient speakers will let you turn the amp up a bit more without the volume of an efficient 12" speaker. If you've got an open back cabinet try putting an acoustic foam (egg crate) panel behind the amp to reduce the amount of sound coming from the back of the amp (just leave room for venting when using a tube amp).

    Also look at a "Mitchell Donut" to control the beaminess of the speaker - these can reduce the harshness of the speaker. Even turning the cabinet to the side a bit so you're listening off-axis can help ease the stress on your ears.
    Guitar Amplifier Directivity Modifier : 5 Steps - Instructables

    Also, to warm up the circuit look to a preamp/overdrive pedal that'll add warmth but not necessarily distortion. The Xotic RC Booster works well as does the Catalinbread 5f6 or SFT.

    Yes, Princeton's are great home use amps.
    Last edited by MaxTwang; 10-02-2020 at 07:58 PM.

  21. #20
    "Also, to warm up the circuit look to a preamp/overdrive pedal that'll add warmth but not necessarily distortion. The Xotic RC Booster works well as does the Lovepedal 5f6 or SFT." These are Catalinbread pedals. I have the SFT and the Formula No. 55. The Formula No. 55 is great for warming up a Dr. Z Jetta (a loud, clean and allegedly Ampeg-like amp) at low volume.

  22. #21
    Went to guitar center to check out the princetons and they didn't have any on the floor, lol. Only deluxe reverbs.

    A couple of people mentioned quilter. Heard Tim Lerch's tone a on YouTube and yeah, I want that. I'm assuming since its solid state, that tone should be attainable at lower volumes. Anyone have the 101 reverb? If so what did you couple it with?

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikepittarelli View Post
    "Also, to warm up the circuit look to a preamp/overdrive pedal that'll add warmth but not necessarily distortion. The Xotic RC Booster works well as does the Lovepedal 5f6 or SFT." These are Catalinbread pedals. I have the SFT and the Formula No. 55. The Formula No. 55 is great for warming up a Dr. Z Jetta (a loud, clean and allegedly Ampeg-like amp) at low volume.
    Oops, I caught that when I wrote the post then forgot to fix b4 posting


    From Catalinbread's website on the Formula 55

    Next-generation 5E3 Tweed Deluxe inspired Foundation Overdrive with incredible range - from Grant Green to Crazy Horse!

    Big and powerful, yet refined, the Formula No. 55 melts into your amp, transforming it into a wide ranging tweed monster!

    The Formula No. 55 is a Foundation Overdrive that reproduces, in exact detail, the preamp section of the classic Fender™ tweed 5E3 Deluxe using an all-discrete JFET-based signal path. The Volume and Tone controls replicate, part for part, the circuitry of the 5E3, giving you authentic tweed amp response. The output section is designed to give you punch and volume with a low output impedance to drive your amp perfectly. Set the Hi-Lo button to "Lo" for the cleaner response of a vintage tweed. "Hi" is like hot rodding your amp by swapping in higher gain tubes.

  24. #23
    T o me princetons dont have enough head room so I like the Fender Deluxe Reverb RI pointed somewhat away from right in my ear so maybe it can bloom a little.

  25. #24

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    At low volumes with any amp, you run into the Fletcher-Munson Effect. Even 1 watt into a typical 97.5dB/W to 100.5dB/W SPL speaker-driver is very very loud.

    So, you don't need a low-watt amplifier; you just need an amp that sounds good at low volume. An EQ pedal will help to boost the low and high frequencies at low volume; it is very much what the Loudness button in home audio consoles does to compensate for the Fletcher-Munson Effect at low volume.

    I have come round to a tube preamp stage driving a Class D power amp stage. One of my darlings at the moment is the Cream Milkman The Amp 50W or the Black Milkman The Amp 100W.

    I recommend a nice EQ pedal like the Tech 21 Q/Strip or Empress ParaEQ or the Boss EQ-200.

    The tube/valve preamp stage in the Milkman imparts much of the warmth and tonal goodness of a tube/valve amp. The Class D ICE-based stage is silent, cool-running, and at low volumes you don't want to hear any transformer hum or power tube/valve hisses.

    I bought the Tech 21 Q/Strip, Black Milkman 100W-I have the JHS/Milkman F-Stop pedal for tremolo-and a Raezer's Edge 6 cabinet. It is a great combination at any volume. That is one way to go.

    Check out S.F. Bay Area guitarist Hideo Date on Youtube. Great sound.

  26. #25

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    I've been down this road as well, tried attenuators, modelers, etc....

    You can get good tones out of today's modelers for tv-volume playing. But when you've played a tube amp, and want THAT, it's very hard to get THAT from anything else.

    I play with a PRRI, it has a 12" speaker. I play it on about 3-3.5. While that IS "low volume" for a tube amp, if I'm playing my wife can hear me, anywhere in the house. The only tube amp I have played that actually sounds great at tv volumes is the Harmony 8418, which is a little different in that it has an octal preamp tube.. it sounds very old-school/Charlie Christian/T-Bone Walker.

    If a PRRI (or the 5-watt Swart mentioned above) is still too loud for you, I would say you need to look into a SS amp (like the Quilter... which I have heard nothing but raves about), or a modeler ... even possibly the new Fender Tonemaster Deluxe Reverb... because it's a modeling amp, it can be played at very low volumes.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9 View Post
    I've been down this road as well, tried attenuators, modelers, etc....

    You can get good tones out of today's modelers for tv-volume playing. But when you've played a tube amp, and want THAT, it's very hard to get THAT from anything else.

    I play with a PRRI, it has a 12" speaker. I play it on about 3-3.5. While that IS "low volume" for a tube amp, if I'm playing my wife can hear me, anywhere in the house. The only tube amp I have played that actually sounds great at tv volumes is the Harmony 8418, which is a little different in that it has an octal preamp tube.. it sounds very old-school/Charlie Christian/T-Bone Walker.

    If a PRRI (or the 5-watt Swart mentioned above) is still too loud for you, I would say you need to look into a SS amp (like the Quilter... which I have heard nothing but raves about), or a modeler ... even possibly the new Fender Tonemaster Deluxe Reverb... because it's a modeling amp, it can be played at very low volumes.
    +1 for the ToneMaster Deluxe Reverb. I play mine at 0.2 watts late at night and non-one in the house has any problems. During the day I play at 1 or 5 watts depending on how much clean headroom I want. For playing out, I can go up to a full 22 watts if needed......

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
    ... and at low volumes you don't want to hear any transformer hum or power tube/valve hisses.
    Add fan noise to distractions you don't want at low volume. Some power amps have cooling fans and for some reason manufacturers don't spend a couple $ more for a quiet fan which my be OK live but at home or in the studio fans can be a problem (and replacing a fan with a quieter model could void your warranty).

  29. #28
    From what I'm gathering, I'm probably better off with SS. Cant afford any increased issues with my tinnitus
    From this website, a lot of people love the DV Mark little jazz and Quilter 101 reverb(coupled with a Raezers Edge 10er.)
    Musicians friend has the DV Mark for 299 with their coupon applied. Guitar Center matched the price so I ordered it. I'll return it if im not happy. Had to try it at nearly 1/3 the price of the other option.

  30. #29

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    On thing I have found for low volume clean listening is to use a fair amount of good quality reverb and turn the bass up.
    My Boogie MkV:25 sounds really good for low volume cleans with a Hardwire RV7 reverb set on plate of hall.

  31. #30

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    This is probably a BAD idea and of course not a tube amp.

    Supposed to impart a 3-D spatial perception and possibly worth a thought.

    Best of luck to you:

    BOSS - WAZA-AIR | Wireless Personal Guitar Amplification System

  32. #31

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    What a strange add. The woman is playing an acoustic guitar through her headphone . . . .

    Another thought: since a few weeks i use a Koch Jupiter. It's hybrid. It has a dimmer wich allows you to dail in your tone and play it at pretty much any level you feel comfortable with.

    I really like the tone that comes out of the 12 inch speaker!