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  1. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by coelacanthing
    Greetings all, this is my first post after years of using this forum for advice. It is regarding a tube amp for apartment usage; not intending to play out or in a loud band setting, I'm looking to stay clean and quiet. I'm looking for something that could give me a "stereotypical" jazz tone but similar to Bill Frisell, Jim Campilongo, and Julian Lage. My current setup is a Vox Pathfinder 15r, which I can get a nice clean tone out of with added fullness of a reverb pedal. I'm mainly using an Epiphone casino, guitar upgrade will follow a new amp. I'm not really interested in another solid state or modeling amp right now, want those tubes!

    A local seller has the Sweetwater exclusive Fender Princeton 1x12" at a very good rate. I'm mildly hesitant as in regards to this model for a few reasons, mostly regarding it's speaker. It has a 12" Cannabis Rex speaker, which I understand can be bassy and my current guitar can be pretty bassy. Will this larger speaker be louder, I'm looking to stay quiet. For those familiar, would I better off with the stock 10"Jensen speaker in the standard Fender Princeton '65 reissue? Lastly, will this amp be too much for my apartment purposes? I am also very interested in the vibro champ (I love tremolo, what can I say?), vintage models can be attained at relatively low price and will retain value while these reissues will decrease. Fender did just come out with a new vibro champ with a 10" speaker and digital reverb which looks snazzy but hasn't really hit the secondary market yet.

    Would someone playing mostly in their apartment have much use for an amp like this 1x12" Princeton? Would a vintage vibro champ with an 8" speaker even give me a good jazz tone? Any other small tube amps with reverb or tremolo come to mind, vintage or new? Thanks for reading and all responses are appreciated.
    Props for "coelacanth" reference. My vintage Vibro Champ does just fine in the jazz tone department, as well as other tones. Five watts is plenty in a livable space. I do miss my Princetons, but am taking steps on that front. Good luck in your quest.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by coelacanthing
    That smear tone is EXACTLY what I'm after. I was thinking a vibro champ would help create that at home as they break up at a lower volume, from what I have observed in videos online. I am worried the Princeton will be a waste in my current situation, and might not sound much better than the solid state Vox Pathfinder at low volume. I have had few modeling amps over the years, want to stick to an amp with one sound that is shaped with pedals at this point. However, the super champ xd has nice aesthetics and I have considered it.

    I got the casino because of es-330 users Grant Green and my favorite non-jazz guitarist Elliott Smith. I do want to replace the casino with an es-330...preferably a longneck walnut model, but those are pretty dang expensive. New 330s aren't much less than said walnut model either, wish Gibson would come out with a budget friendly 330 other than the casino!!!
    I still have a Casino. It's a Korean model from the 90s and I have a love/hate thing with it. It seems to alternate between playing great and then getting loads of fret buzz and rattles. I've had the pickups rewound to something a lot lower output but the sound is still not quite there. I keep debating whether to get new P90s, or give it away and stop throwing good money after bad! Absolutely love the Casino/330 sound though. Bought a 330 long neck once but sent it back to Gibson due to several issues I wouldn't accept on an Epiphone, much less something costing 5x as much! The new USA made Casinos look wonderful and I'd like to try one. Plus it's the ultimate inverse snobbery to spend a few grand on something people will assume is a Chinese guitar.

    Despite owning the Casino, and it sounding jazzy with flatwounds, I've gone and bought a cheap Ibanez archtop for my latest foray into jazz. There's just something so sexy about a jazzbox and (I think) picking it up puts me into a different headspace than the Casino, which I still tend to want to bash out noisy rock/pop stuff on!

    Speaking of the "smear" sound, here's my latest holy grail of guitar tone. Kenny is almost overdriven here (not too far off the tone you get using a very low gain overdrive pedal) and I love this sound. I've never managed to get anything like it. It's almost like the pick is sticking to the strings and making a syrupy "thrup" as it comes off the string. Weird way to describe it but that's the nearest I can get. I can only assume it's an amp played right on the edge of breakup (i.e. pretty loud) and I'm guessing the speaker being pushed, room sound and some very high quality mics are probably part of it too. Whatever, it's just an amazingly expressive sound (IMO):

    Kenny Burrell, Hot Bossa:

  4. #28

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    I find the small (black?) Yamaha thr10c just about perfect in this context. But everyone’s environment is different.
    points in favour: built in reverb etc, headphone out, aux in, separate gain/master vol controls, plenty of good amp models + flat & bass if you instead want to precondition the signal with a joyo or tech21 ‘character’ pedal, bedroom friendly to the max. Battery powered if you wish.
    against: outside it sounds like a tiny solid state amp, higher volumes the speaker can distort before the preamp model does.
    All in all though, for portability, flexibility and accessibility this little thing punches well for its weight and overall package price.

  5. #29

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    Going up in wattage, a character pedal in front of something like an AER compact or a katana etc works with pretty much the same feature set but you are racking up $$, size & weight for the same dB outcome imho.

    in my world, late night or quiet time practice in our house is my reality and tubes, despite their glory, have no place here without some sort of re-amp attenuator type thing to enable headphones.

    if I were a performing muso that needed that type of amp though, the attenuator/ gadget would totally be a legit option (price permitting)

    good luck mate
    M

  6. #30

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    As far as 10" vs 12" for a Princeton, if you are planning to use it only for home playing you may actually like the tone of the 12" at low levels. However, if you ever plan to play out, even in a quiet little restaurant trio, you might find that a 12" moves a little too much air and a hollow body may be subject to feedback - small venues can be a very cozy situation where you may not be able to get very far from the amp. Of all my amps, the only one that I can use in performance with my hollow body jazz box is my Princeton with a 10" speaker (and it works great). All my other amps have too much moving speaker paper and I can't get far enough from them even for a quiet trio. Just saying, do check out the 12" - it might be closer to that "amp breathing" tone of a slightly pushed performance volume stage amp when playing soft levels at home... a little more mid-bass punch.

    As others have suggested, I don't think you will get all the way to the tone you want at low apartment level. My philosophy is not to even try to get performance tone at home. Think of dogs; they only really get a chance to act like dogs (freely able to pee, poop, dig, bark, run, chase, chew, etc.) when out of the house.

  7. #31

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    As you consider all the great info put forward in this thread, please give the following clips a spin:


  8. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by coelacanthing
    Wow, these look beautiful and I'm sure the sound even better! I have a feeling they might be out of my price range...sadly.
    I completely forgot about the other amp I own, that is PERFECT for old-school jazz tones at low levels... it's an Octal like the V47 stuff. It's the Reissue Harmony 8418. I'm not currently using mine, it's in the closet, but only because I have too many amps right now... it's absolutely perfect for low volume playing... as a matter of fact, it can't even DO loud volumes.

    I don't see any from the reverb seller who had them, so IDK if any new ones are left, but you could look around... keep an eye out for a used one...

    Guidance on Jazz and Low Volume Amps - Fender Princeton 1x12"?-jpg

  9. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9
    I completely forgot about the other amp I own, that is PERFECT for old-school jazz tones at low levels... it's an Octal like the V47 stuff. It's the Reissue Harmony 8418. I'm not currently using mine, it's in the closet, but only because I have too many amps right now... it's absolutely perfect for low volume playing... as a matter of fact, it can't even DO loud volumes.

    I don't see any from the reverb seller who had them, so IDK if any new ones are left, but you could look around... keep an eye out for a used one...

    Guidance on Jazz and Low Volume Amps - Fender Princeton 1x12"?-jpg
    I had looked at this amp in the past! I believe it is out of production now…they did just introduce some new amps, 6 series I think? Nothing like this though.

    When I was younger, I was on a huge harmony kick. It’s nice the brand is back and quality looks great.

  10. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by rolijen
    The Tone Master Twin Reverb is fantastic. I have one in my teaching studio and it’s probably my favorite amp. Part of the magic of the Twin is the pair of 12” speakers. Sounds great, but way too much for an apartment.
    I have a question. Let me preface by stating, I have only played a TM Twin at the store.

    My experience is that, the “fake” attenuation control, works very well. I was not thinking about home, but being able to get that full twin sound, without the amp being ungodly loud. I probably was thinking about a situation with drums. (In other words, I have others amps that I would prefer for non-drummer things).

    I also noticed, I did not like it when I would turn the attenuation to the highest level (ie: most attention, lowest volume).

    On the second to highest level,I liked the way it worked.

    So I am assuming that even at that level the amp is too loud for home use. Is that your experience?

    (I almost bought one, but for me a Twin should be able to function as a great pedal amp, which includes Fuzz. The fuzz is badly fizzy on the TM. I do not know if it is the modeling or the neo-mag speakers, but that high sounding ugly thing is present. I have alway wanted a Twin but because of the issues I have included in the post, and the weight, I will never be able to have ine. On the flip side, my Marshal Bluesbreaker with attenuation is a beautiful, moveable amp... but I have never thought about trying that for Jazz).

  11. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by st.bede
    I have a question. Let me preface by stating, I have only played a TM Twin at the store.

    My experience is that, the “fake” attenuation control, works very well. I was not thinking about home, but being able to get that full twin sound, without the amp being ungodly loud. I probably was thinking about a situation with drums. (In other words, I have others amps that I would prefer for non-drummer things).

    I also noticed, I did not like it when I would turn the attenuation to the highest level (ie: most attention, lowest volume).

    On the second to highest level,I liked the way it worked.

    So I am assuming that even at that level the amp is too loud for home use. Is that your experience?

    (I almost bought one, but for me a Twin should be able to function as a great pedal amp, which includes Fuzz. The fuzz is badly fizzy on the TM. I do not know if it is the modeling or the neo-mag speakers, but that high sounding ugly thing is present. I have alway wanted a Twin but because of the issues I have included in the post, and the weight, I will never be able to have ine. On the flip side, my Marshal Bluesbreaker with attenuation is a beautiful, moveable amp... but I have never thought about trying that for Jazz).
    I don’t like this Twin on the lowest wattage setting either! But I keep it on the second lowest and run the volume about 4 in the vibrato channel with the Bright switch off.
    It sounds amazing and is fine for use in my home. I haven’t tried any pedals with it as I use it for clean playing only.
    Guidance on Jazz and Low Volume Amps - Fender Princeton 1x12"?-c698812d-c3c9-4be5-8611-a725e3173c3d-jpg

    The one thing I am glad I did was to update the firmware to tame the over-the-top reverb. Once that’s done, it is a marvelous amp with power to spare. You could even get by in an apartment setting if you were careful. But it sounds best with the volume up a bit and those 12s move a lot of air. Despite having many other great tube amps, the main amp I use for my archtops is the TMTR.

    But, I live in a house. Even then, for living room playing, with people around, my Yamaha desktop amp is the ticket. In fact, I keep it tucked under an end table for Sunday play along sessions. It’s full sounding and wonderful. It doesn’t bother my lovely wife keeping it there and it makes it easy to play when the opportunities come. I’d think that would be similarly appropriate for situations where you live in close proximity to other tenants.
    Last edited by rolijen; 10-17-2021 at 06:08 PM.

  12. #36

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    Concerning the Casino: try an Eastman T64. Much cheaper than the ES330 and the two Gibsons I tried sounded not as good as my T64 (which seems to sound even better now that's it getting used more).

    Amps wise: don't know where you live, but I love my Elfring Little Gem: 5 watts tube and 10" speaker. Handmade (not handwired though) in The Netherlands, with a real reverb.

    Guidance on Jazz and Low Volume Amps - Fender Princeton 1x12"?-img_6179-jpg

  13. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by rolijen
    I don’t like this Twin on the lowest wattage setting either! But I keep it on the second lowest and run the volume about 4 in the vibrato channel with the Bright switch off.
    It sounds amazing and is fine for use in my home. I haven’t tried any pedals with it as I use it for clean playing only.
    Guidance on Jazz and Low Volume Amps - Fender Princeton 1x12"?-c698812d-c3c9-4be5-8611-a725e3173c3d-jpg

    The one thing I am glad I did was to update the firmware to tame the over-the-top reverb. Once that’s done, it is a marvelous amp with power to spare. You could even get by in an apartment setting if you were careful. But it sounds best with the volume up a bit and those 12s move a lot of air. Despite having many other great tube amps, the main amp I use for my archtops is the TMTR.

    But, I live in a house. Even then, for living room playing, with people around, my Yamaha desktop amp is the ticket. In fact, I keep it tucked under an end table for Sunday play along sessions. It’s full sounding and wonderful. It doesn’t bother my lovely wife keeping it there and it makes it easy to play when the opportunities come. I’d think that would be similarly appropriate for situations where you live in close proximity to other tenants.
    I was at work and had a chance to re-vist the TM Twin.... I would say it opens up at 8 on the second to lowest “attenuation” setting... not loud loud, but I would feel self conscious using that level of volume in my apartment. Maybe only in the early afternoon and only for a little while. 6 was ok but I missed 8 too much.

  14. #38

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    Reverb: Not many Gibson 5-8w amps available just now (or under $1K). There are a few EH-125s from the 1940s, but the one (aside from mine) that looks in best shape is $1595.

    That’s a small octal tube amp that will play well with P90s; the Vintage 47s are based at least partly on those, and there is a 5w tweed V47 with an 8” for $499 on Reverb. There’s a V47 Bronson with a 10” for $700, but one would have to beg them to ship it.

    One of my 1940s fantasy amps was the Magnatone 192-5 Troubadour—great breakup—but when I was looking (long ago) I wasn’t willing to spend $700+, plus complete overhaul. I see several 50s-60s low wattage Magnatones on Reverb, and one Troubadour era 194 (1949) for $989.

    GC has a Gibson BR O6 for $700.

    As for me, I have an Emery Microbaby and a subway-proof upfiring 12” speaker, when I want things quiet with tubes rather than the Henriksen or the 22w combo.

    Good luck, have fun.

  15. #39

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    I got rid of my Twin Reverb and ended up jonesing for a tube amp. Picked up a used Blackstar HT1RMKII and love it. It's incredibly polite, but when I want tubes I've got them.

  16. #40

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    Not a new amp these days, exactly matches your needs, not cheap, used ones in excellent condition pop up regularly:

    Carr Mercury - Manufacturer's Description
    The Mercury inspires visions of a classic cabinet design from a time long ago, but within the chassis of the Mercury you'll discover an inspiring and truly innovative circuit (along with utterly remarkable tone). While it is true that your friends, band mates and family members will admire the Mercury for its good looks and 'polite' power rating, Mercury owners seem to cherish our newest amp for many other practical reasons. Our exclusive power attenuating circuit enables the Mercury to be played at 8, 2, 1/2 and only 1/10 watts, with no appreciable change in tone, yet the Mercury easily yields enough clean headroom for club work. Add our renowned reverb circuit, a 3-position boost switch for subtle-to-intense output tube distortion, plus the incomparably thick and rich tone of a single EL-34 power tube, and the Mercury will earn its rightful place among your most treasured instruments.
    Our new Mini-Mercury has the same electronics as the standard 1x12" Mercury but differs in its smaller cabinet and its warm and smoky 10 inch Eminence Lil Buddy hemp cone speaker. The cabinet measures a friendly 19.5" wide by 15" tall by 10" deep at the bottom sloping to 9" deep on the top. This is 2 inches shorter and 1 3/4 inches narrower than the standard 1x12" Mercury making it very compact.
    Attached Images Attached Images Guidance on Jazz and Low Volume Amps - Fender Princeton 1x12"?-carr-mercury-output-control-jpg Guidance on Jazz and Low Volume Amps - Fender Princeton 1x12"?-carr-mercury-jpg Guidance on Jazz and Low Volume Amps - Fender Princeton 1x12"?-carr-mercury-back-jpg 

  17. #41

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    Another excellent option, that has a built-in attenuator, allowing you to control the volume without altering the tone. Hybrid design that uses some tubes. Significantly less costly than a Carr Mercury, with tons of useful functionality:

    Koch Jupiter 20:
    Koch Jupiter 45 combo - Koch Amps
    Attached Images Attached Images Guidance on Jazz and Low Volume Amps - Fender Princeton 1x12"?-koch-jupiter-jnr-combo-l_orig-jpg 

  18. #42

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    But it sounds like a Princeton loaded with a 12-inch speaker might be suitable in a big band?
    Last edited by Bach5G; 10-29-2021 at 09:41 PM.

  19. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bach5G
    But it sounds like a Princeton loaded with a 12-inch speaker might be suitable in a big band?
    Mic'ed, definitely. Unmiked, not sure.... if you try to turn a Princeton up loud enough to compete with a full horn section, I don't think it's gonna' have the headroom... it's loud enough, but might not be clean enough.

  20. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    Not a new amp these days, exactly matches your needs, not cheap, used ones in excellent condition pop up regularly:

    Carr Mercury - Manufacturer's Description
    The Mercury inspires visions of a classic cabinet design from a time long ago, but within the chassis of the Mercury you'll discover an inspiring and truly innovative circuit (along with utterly remarkable tone). While it is true that your friends, band mates and family members will admire the Mercury for its good looks and 'polite' power rating, Mercury owners seem to cherish our newest amp for many other practical reasons. Our exclusive power attenuating circuit enables the Mercury to be played at 8, 2, 1/2 and only 1/10 watts, with no appreciable change in tone, yet the Mercury easily yields enough clean headroom for club work. Add our renowned reverb circuit, a 3-position boost switch for subtle-to-intense output tube distortion, plus the incomparably thick and rich tone of a single EL-34 power tube, and the Mercury will earn its rightful place among your most treasured instruments.
    Our new Mini-Mercury has the same electronics as the standard 1x12" Mercury but differs in its smaller cabinet and its warm and smoky 10 inch Eminence Lil Buddy hemp cone speaker. The cabinet measures a friendly 19.5" wide by 15" tall by 10" deep at the bottom sloping to 9" deep on the top. This is 2 inches shorter and 1 3/4 inches narrower than the standard 1x12" Mercury making it very compact.
    A fellow jazz guitarist is using his Mercury regularly for gigging but he only plays solo, duo or trio gigs, never in a larger group setting so high headroom is not a pre-requisite for him. The tone he gets is nice but not so drastically different from what I hear with his other low-wattage tube combos (some 5E3 Fender-ish designs, etc.) . I owned a Carr RAMBLER for a while which is like a Deluxe reverb on steroids but it is also a heavy unit and a bit too large for every-day use, not useable at home since the tone only begins to get nice when you turn it up a bit. To my ears at least...
    I guess that Henriksen, Polytone, Milkman, Acoustic Image, Evans and a very few others are the only companies (that I am aware of) in the amp building world who offer designs specifically tailored to the trd. Jazz Guitar clientele which is looking for a clean, warm and stage-worthy (re possible volume/sound pressure) sound in a preferably small and easy to handle package.
    I do not know of a dedicated tube amp which checks all of these boxes - if you want more than 30/40 TRUE watts you need big iron trannies which are heavy. The chassis layout needs to be spaced out for better heat-dissipation. Lower wattage amps start to distort too early. The list goes on .... Milkman opts for a split design with a tube preamp driving a digital power amp - I've not yet had the chance to try one out so I cannot comment. Sounds very interesting though .....
    I'm totally honest here : if I don't have to schlepp it around I have no objection against a Pro Reverb, Twin Reverb, Super Reverb etc. on stage (provided the stage is roomy enough so that the amp does not have sit right behind me) but my band mates and the audience couldn't care less whether there are tubes glowing in the back of the cab or not. All of my amps in active rotation let the unique tone of my guitars come through and THAT is what people comment on.
    At home I have 4 amps placed around my playing area : my old AER Acousticube (also useable for bass) with a broadband 8" speaker, my Henriksen Bud (when it's not in the trunk of my car coming from or going to a gig/rehearsal) and two "Boutique" amps by individual builders. One is a JUKE 1x12" combo , an all-tube design with reverb+tremolo and a switchable power amp that I can cut down from 35 to 8 watts. With some twiddling it can produce a very nice, rotund and sweet jazz sound but nowhere near the volume level I would need for almost any gig except a solo performance. It's super good for Blues, Soul, all of that and the on-board fx are an added bonus. The guy who builds these used to work for Ampeg and has his very own special twist on the eq, trem and reverb circuits. The other combo is made by one guy in Italy and - ta-daa - he designed it specifically for us jazz players !!! It's a 40 watt/1x12" all-tube design with just a volume and a tone control, in a tuned solid-wood open back cab and when you search out Steve Herberman


    GLB Sound - YouTube

    you can have a listen.... This amp is loud enough and still stays clean for playing on stage with horns and drums. For all larger gigs I rely on an EVANS RE200 combo which is loud enough to peel the paint off the walls while still being small and easy to carry. Again, no tubes involved. If I were to play at home exclusively I'd stick with my Bud and the italian GLB Combo. I live in a converted loft on the 6th floor of a normal appartment building in town and luckily the floor is made of massive concrete so my two downstairs neighbors normally do not hear me play when I keep it down at a realistic level - if they do hear me they are not bothered but tell me that it makes them feel better, there is someone in the house and they are not alone ! I'm blessed in more than one way....

    Long story short : for bedroom level playing (or at least at a level that is louder than the acoustic sound of your guitar) you do not need an expensive boutique tube amp- the choice in small SS amps is larger than ever and you will find something for small $$$ which lets you spend more on the next guitar ;-)

  21. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitman

    Long story short : for bedroom level playing (or at least at a level that is louder than the acoustic sound of your guitar) you do not need an expensive boutique tube amp- the choice in small SS amps is larger than ever and you will find something for small $$$ which lets you spend more on the next guitar ;-)
    That's really what it comes down to. I love my PR (best sounding amp I've ever had, and one of the best I've ever played through], but i'm more likely to use my MicroCube at home.

  22. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    A fellow jazz guitarist is using his Mercury regularly for gigging but he only plays solo, duo or trio gigs, never in a larger group setting so high headroom is not a pre-requisite for him. The tone he gets is nice but not so drastically different from what I hear with his other low-wattage tube combos (some 5E3 Fender-ish designs, etc.) . I owned a Carr RAMBLER for a while which is like a Deluxe reverb on steroids but it is also a heavy unit and a bit too large for every-day use, not useable at home since the tone only begins to get nice when you turn it up a bit. To my ears at least...
    ...
    Unlike the fabulous-sounding Rambler, which cannot attenuate its signal to bedroom playing levels, the Mercury, running at 1/10th of a watt, or 1/2 of a watt, is quite useable in a small apartment with thin walls, and offers the same nice tones as it does at full power.

    Same for the Li'l Jupiter, as well as its big brother, the Jupiter - the "dimmer" control is a decent built-in attenuator, IMO. I think there are a few small tube heads/combos out there with built-in attenuators that do a good job. The only ones I have used are a couple of old THD heads - a Bivalve and a Univalve. Traded the Bivalve with a friend, missed it, and got the Univalve, but haven't gotten a good jazz sound out of it (yet. More tube rolling in order). OTOH, it utterly kills in small clubs for rock/blues/etc. sounds.
    Last edited by Hammertone; 10-30-2021 at 04:18 PM.

  23. #47

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    Don't want to spoil the party, but for home use any small amp will do. If you want to get some breakup, try one with a master volume OR a mild overdrive pedal in front of it.
    Anyway for me the best "home practice tone" I ever had is with a tech 21 fly rig into my monitor speakers. I like to play very quiet and that setup gives me a more satisfying tone than my blues jr. or the small champion 600. It happens to be also my current setup for gigs which frees me from schlepping amps that turn out to be either too loud or too quiet for the band and location. And sound persons love it – no noise from the stage. If you don't need the extras (effects, tuner, XLR) a Harley Benton American True Tone for 29,90 € will do as well btw.