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  1. #1
    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.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    When you're aiming for low volume playing at home, in an apartment then almost any decent small combo amp will get you a nice "trad" Jazz tone, be it with a Tele or an achtop. The DV Mark models, pretty much all Henriksen amps, all of the various Princeton incarnations, any small Polytone - the choice is limitless and only your personal taste and hands-on experience can be a guide. There is a def. sonic/feel difference between a closed and an open back cab but IMHO at bedroom volume levels the presence or absence of tubes will play a very minor if not any role at all. Campilongo rides his Princetons wide open to tap into the power-tube distortion, Frisell plays at very low volume levels and sounds the same through a Vox, a Twin, a deluxe reverb, a Blues Deville, any amp that the venue provides. Julian Lage used new Supro amps for quite a while , then he switched to the tiny Fender amp for a dirty tone and who knows what amp(s) he uses when he is recording.
    A Vibro Champ can be found for relatively small money and a speaker upgrade would help most of them. It probably won't give you the rotund, punchy and classic archtop jazz sound though - no real bass/lower midrange, almost no clean headroom, very constrained EQ section, ...

  4. #3

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    Why not an amp simulator run through your computer? Much more control, lots of sound variability, and less to dust. Possibly but not necessarily cheaper.

    I'm using Scuffham S-Gear, which models several (dare I say) classic amps including Fenders, which are the models I use almost always. It's easy to get a jazz tone from this software. There are many other offerings from many companies.

    All of the amp sims I investigated included both VSTs (for DAWs) and standalone versions. Unless I'm recording I usually use the standalone version. You'll also need a guitar interface, e.g. Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.

  5. #4

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    I've owned lots of Princetons and Princeton type amps. I always found that the ones loaded with a 12 needed to get too loud to get a really nice at-home (or even small gig) sound. At least to me, they are much more satisfying with a 10" speaker.

  6. #5

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    I live in an apartment and have a PR (with a Jensen C10Q instead of the stock C10R). Turned up to the point where the tone really starts to sing (3-ish on the volume knob), it's loud. It's also got a fair amount of bass. Turned up to the point where there's some overdrive, it's seriously loud. At a more more apartment friendly volume it still sounds nice, but not nnnnniiiiccccce the way it does turned up a bit more.

    Something more Champ-like (i.e., 5-ish watts and an 8") might be more practical for your uses. Either that, or something with more power that can also be switched to lower power, such as this: Stage Right by Monoprice 15-Watt, 1x12 Guitar Combo Tube Amp with Celestion Speaker and Spring Reverb - Monoprice.com

  7. #6

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    Appartment (or bedroom) level won't get you the sound of the players you mentioned because even when they play at comparatively low volume it'll still be too loud for an appartment. If the thought that some amp or speaker/amp combo may be too bassy (or too trebly or whatever) consider an Equalizer pedal (I use a BOSS GE 7) to fine tune your sound.

  8. #7

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    Can't be more happy. 1 watt (pentode) plus tube reverb.

    https://www.mpf-sound.es/en/amplifiers/room-one-reverb/

  9. #8

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    Apartment level volumes can really frustrating...

    even really low watt amps can get loud. I never really get to turn up my amps at home. I am using an old Princeton right now. It sounds great at low volumes but, I am not getting that rich harmonic thickness that happens when I start to push the amp.

    There are ways to compensate. Pedals help.

    Another issue to take into account is how much the room (and stuff in it) is taking away from the sound.

    For me, I just wait till rehearsals or jams to be able to push my low watt amps. For higher watt amps, I use an attenuator. I know it is not perfect but my hearing is more important, then basking in the (perfect) rich sound of a Bluesbreaker (or another one of my too loud amps).

    Another option is the Fender tonemaster amps. (I know it is not tube). I love those, except they do not take dirt or fuzz well. If I was only playing Jazz, I would get a Tonemaster Twin, and use the (fake) attenuation. It works pretty well.

    In my most humble experiences, there are really great sounding SS amps and really bad sounding SS amps... and a whole bunch in the middle. The ones in the middle now days are sounding surprisingly good compared to the past years. For example the DV Mark Jazz.

  10. #9

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    The Supra Delta King 8 and 10 are both great little amps for home use. I played with them for quite a while at Sam Ash, and I’d be very happy with either one. The 10 would probably even be great for small solo or duo gigs. Either one cries the blues like a champ (pun intended).

    The current custom shop Champ is a wonderful little amp that sounds fabulous and is perfect for apartment use. It has plenty of clean volume for home use, although it reaches a very sweet tube breakup point if pushed on a gig, even in a drumless trio. That breakup is smooth and transparent, which makes it perfect for blues - I’ve played through a friend’s CS Champ at blues jams and it’s got guts. But it’s purely a home or small gig amp for clean jazz.

    The downside is that the Champ is very expensive (close to $1k new) for a 5 watt 8” amp, and I haven’t seen many used ones advertised. The Monoprice tube amp suggested by John A is also a fine option for you, although I prefer the sound of the Champ and the sound plus flexibility of the Supro 10.

    I know you seem to want a tube amp, but FWIW, I bought a Little Jazz for home and small gig use and haven’t used any of my other amps for months (except for my “home” club’s backline). I used the LJ Wednesday night with bass and drums at an outdoor party with about 60 guests, and with amp volume at 12 o’clock I kept the guitar volume at about 2/3 and had plenty of clean sound even for chord melody. And it lives in our den as my practice amp. For $300 when on sale (which is often), it’s another great option that many of us have chosen.

  11. #10

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    Fender custom champ is a wonderful amp I owned one and sold it to a friend so still get to hear it. I now own a Victoria 518 which is his version of a fender tweed champ. The Victoria 518 has a slightly larger cabinet which provides a little more low end and “air”. While they are both great amps the Victoria is superior in my opinion.

    A tweed champ is the perfect apartment amplifier. Pure tube circuit hand wired. 8” speaker and 5 watts. Great tube breakup at volume 5 and above. Back off on your guitar volume or attack and it cleans up beautifully. There is only one knob, volume, so it forces you to play with the knobs on your guitar which I find to be a very rewarding thing. Also note that a tweed champ does not have reverb but with those light pine cabinets you almost don’t need it.

    Beautiful jazz tones with the volume at about three or four with single coils. Plug into input 2 with humbuckers.

    I have been using mine at rehearsals with a drummer in a small room. I put an EP booster in front of it and I have no problem keeping up with the drums.
    Attached Images Attached Images Guidance on Jazz and Low Volume Amps - Fender Princeton 1x12"?-e33ea8f0-d998-4bb9-9317-cdec573d72c5-jpg 
    Last edited by alltunes; 10-16-2021 at 12:30 PM.

  12. #11

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    I have a Princeton Reverb with a Celestion Gold 10” that I love. I had a 12” baffle made and had a Cannabis Rex in it for a while, but it was too loud (the Cannabis is now in a Deluxe and sounds fantastic—great speaker). Either way, I wouldn’t be comfortable playing it in an apartment.

    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 know you want tubes and don’t want modeling. But, respectfully, I suggest you check out the Yamaha THR10 II or it’s more expensive wireless sibling. Quick rundown of features: 20 watts, 2 x 3” speakers, tuner, stereo effects (the reverb is really good), Bluetooth (play along with backing tracks and iReal Pro, etc.), recording interface (has USB out for direct connection to your computer, phone or tablet), and multiple presets. It’s the perfect amp for apartment living and most importantly, it sounds great.

    Just another option to consider. Good luck!

    Roli

  13. #12

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    I get a fine jazz sound at home practice room volume out of a 35 watt Vibrolux clone with a 12” speaker in a Deluxe Reverb-sized cab. I’d be very surprised if you couldn’t get a similar sound out of the Princeton you’re looking at. I do think a 10” speaker / smaller cab makes it easier to control the low-end.

    Having said that, despite your wanting tubes, a Quilter Superblock US and cab of your choice will get you very, very close to what you’re looking for, and has the advantages of recording versatility, effects loop, master volume, etc. I use mine in regular rotation with three tube amps and it fits right in.

    You really have to know your gear and how to tweak it. Different amps respond to different guitars in different ways. Tone knob interactivity varies from amp to amp. Amp choice is just one part of the equation for getting “that” (or any sound), and is arguably less important than, say, string gauge and wind style, type of guitar, even pick thickness. Julian Lage did a spell with a Tele through a Champ. The rest is, well, Julian Lage.

  14. #13

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    I built myself a 5F1 clone for the exact purpose you describe
    Good sound at bedroom (apartment) volume
    And I'm very proud of using it because I built it myself :-)
    Guidance on Jazz and Low Volume Amps - Fender Princeton 1x12"?-img_0286-jpg
    Other options available from different builders if you don't feel safe with the build

  15. #14

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    Yeah, IDK.. I have a PRRI w/12" Alnico Cream in it, and it's not "too loud" (I feel I could play it in an apartment, it's no louder than listening to a movie loud in the living room). I don't know how it would be with YOUR neighbors, but a PRRI can absolutely give out a very nice jazz tone at friendly volumes, regardless of whether it has a 10" or 12" speaker.

    And actually, if I lived in an apartment (I have many times), and wanted a low-volume jazz amp, I'd get a PRRI. Well, I'd get a vintage GA-50 if I could find and afford it LOL. But IMHO the Princeton will serve very well for your task.

    Altho I would also be considering all the standard jazz amps talked about here (Henrickson, Quilter, etc etc), if any are in your price range.

  16. #15

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    Having owned a few low-powered valve, sorry tube (I'm in the UK) amps at home, I honestly haven't found any that work that well at practice volume.

    I've kept a Super Champ XD as it was the best (and cheapest by far) of them for home use. The clean "blackface" channel is great and the first few modelling voices are also fantastic, giving some tweed sounds and a bit more drive if you need it.

    When I listen to records, I hear quite a bit of drive in the jazz tones used on the early Grant Green and Kenny Burrell albums. It's not quite in "crunch" territory but what I'd call "smear" tone, that elusive sound on the cusp of breakup that really barks out when you pick hard.

    The Princeton will be a wonderful amp but I'm not sure you'll hear the best from it at home. Modelling technology has come on so far in recent years that it might be worth looking into. I rarely even turn on the Super Champ these days as I just go into Amplitube on my PC.

    As a wildcard, if you're spending Princeton money, it might be worth checking out the Fender Tone Master Deluxe reverb: https://www.fender.com/en-US/guitar-...274100000.html

    Before you cry "digital schmigital", it's had great reviews and it has a power selector that brings the volume right down to home levels yet can be increased to fit the venue and still keep up with the original Deluxe at full power. It's also much lighter than the tube Deluxe (or Princeton!). Being quite new, I've not heard one in the flesh yet but I guess you'd have access to one in the US.

    That said, I'd just find a modelling amp that does a nice Fender Blackface or Tweed sound and put the money saved into the guitar fund! Not that there's anything wrong with a Casino. It's basically and ES-330 and Grant Green made great use of one on his early albums.

  17. #16

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    I am a retired apartment dweller and play every day. My amp of choice is a 1964 Fender Princeton non-reverb with a 10” Weber. Sounds great at moderately low volume. A 12” requires more push to sound right and would throw excess bottom around the building. Don’t need it. I also have a 5f1 tweed champ with 8” that I built and, although it’s great with a tele, it just makes my archtops sound too tiny for my taste. My neighbors (upstairs and downstairs) can hear when I’m playing, but say it’s fine… not a problem. I’ve asked them to tell me if it gets too loud and I’ll turn it down. I’d go with the PR and be considerate of others.

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by gitman
    When you're aiming for low volume playing at home, in an apartment then almost any decent small combo amp will get you a nice "trad" Jazz tone, be it with a Tele or an achtop. The DV Mark models, pretty much all Henriksen amps, all of the various Princeton incarnations, any small Polytone - the choice is limitless and only your personal taste and hands-on experience can be a guide. There is a def. sonic/feel difference between a closed and an open back cab but IMHO at bedroom volume levels the presence or absence of tubes will play a very minor if not any role at all. Campilongo rides his Princetons wide open to tap into the power-tube distortion, Frisell plays at very low volume levels and sounds the same through a Vox, a Twin, a deluxe reverb, a Blues Deville, any amp that the venue provides. Julian Lage used new Supro amps for quite a while , then he switched to the tiny Fender amp for a dirty tone and who knows what amp(s) he uses when he is recording.
    A Vibro Champ can be found for relatively small money and a speaker upgrade would help most of them. It probably won't give you the rotund, punchy and classic archtop jazz sound though - no real bass/lower midrange, almost no clean headroom, very constrained EQ section, ...
    You're probably right about tubes not really playing making a difference at bedroom levels. I'm pretty happy with the tone I get from the pathfinder when paired with a reverb pedal, but by itself it just kind of sounds thin and dull. Some of those jazz specific solid state amps might do me better, I just don't really like the aesthetic on a lot the. Also, you're right on about Frisell, whatever he plays through sounds like Frisell. There is a session he did with Bassist Thomas Morgan floating around where he is using a Vox ac10...Bill sounds just as good as when he uses the any fender or the Gibson amp.

  19. #18

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    Vintage 47
    Octal tube low wattage.
    They have a distinct required sound. I am a big fan..
    Nick

  20. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by vernon
    I am a retired apartment dweller and play every day. My amp of choice is a 1964 Fender Princeton non-reverb with a 10” Weber. Sounds great at moderately low volume. A 12” requires more push to sound right and would throw excess bottom around the building. Don’t need it. I also have a 5f1 tweed champ with 8” that I built and, although it’s great with a tele, it just makes my archtops sound too tiny for my taste. My neighbors (upstairs and downstairs) can hear when I’m playing, but say it’s fine… not a problem. I’ve asked them to tell me if it gets too loud and I’ll turn it down. I’d go with the PR and be considerate of others.
    Appreciate your input! I usually play at the farthest point from my any of my neighbors, closest to a relatively busy street. When I moved my setup one neighbor mentioned they haven't heard me and was wondering if I still played (maybe hoping I had quit lol).

    Everything you say about the 12" speaker is kind of my concern. Another thing is this amp has a tweed lacquer finish, I'm not totally sold on a BF Princeton with the tweed look on it. However, this amp is a mere 15 minute walk away so I do plan to check it out that will I can know for sure what I might be getting into.

  21. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Nick71
    Vintage 47
    Octal tube low wattage.
    They have a distinct required sound. I am a big fan..
    Nick
    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.

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Chrome Dome
    Having owned a few low-powered valve, sorry tube (I'm in the UK) amps at home, I honestly haven't found any that work that well at practice volume.

    I've kept a Super Champ XD as it was the best (and cheapest by far) of them for home use. The clean "blackface" channel is great and the first few modelling voices are also fantastic, giving some tweed sounds and a bit more drive if you need it.

    When I listen to records, I hear quite a bit of drive in the jazz tones used on the early Grant Green and Kenny Burrell albums. It's not quite in "crunch" territory but what I'd call "smear" tone, that elusive sound on the cusp of breakup that really barks out when you pick hard.

    The Princeton will be a wonderful amp but I'm not sure you'll hear the best from it at home. Modelling technology has come on so far in recent years that it might be worth looking into. I rarely even turn on the Super Champ these days as I just go into Amplitube on my PC.

    As a wildcard, if you're spending Princeton money, it might be worth checking out the Fender Tone Master Deluxe reverb: https://www.fender.com/en-US/guitar-...274100000.html

    Before you cry "digital schmigital", it's had great reviews and it has a power selector that brings the volume right down to home levels yet can be increased to fit the venue and still keep up with the original Deluxe at full power. It's also much lighter than the tube Deluxe (or Princeton!). Being quite new, I've not heard one in the flesh yet but I guess you'd have access to one in the US.

    That said, I'd just find a modelling amp that does a nice Fender Blackface or Tweed sound and put the money saved into the guitar fund! Not that there's anything wrong with a Casino. It's basically and ES-330 and Grant Green made great use of one on his early albums.
    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!!!

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by ruger9
    Yeah, IDK.. I have a PRRI w/12" Alnico Cream in it, and it's not "too loud" (I feel I could play it in an apartment, it's no louder than listening to a movie loud in the living room). I don't know how it would be with YOUR neighbors, but a PRRI can absolutely give out a very nice jazz tone at friendly volumes, regardless of whether it has a 10" or 12" speaker.

    And actually, if I lived in an apartment (I have many times), and wanted a low-volume jazz amp, I'd get a PRRI. Well, I'd get a vintage GA-50 if I could find and afford it LOL. But IMHO the Princeton will serve very well for your task.

    Altho I would also be considering all the standard jazz amps talked about here (Henrickson, Quilter, etc etc), if any are in your price range.
    Yea, I'm gonna try and head over to the seller with my guitar and try it out. The seller also lives in an apartment and is letting this go, might be due to volume...they apparently never use it. only one way to see if it fits my criteria, play it.

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by rolijen
    I have a Princeton Reverb with a Celestion Gold 10” that I love. I had a 12” baffle made and had a Cannabis Rex in it for a while, but it was too loud (the Cannabis is now in a Deluxe and sounds fantastic—great speaker). Either way, I wouldn’t be comfortable playing it in an apartment.

    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 know you want tubes and don’t want modeling. But, respectfully, I suggest you check out the Yamaha THR10 II or it’s more expensive wireless sibling. Quick rundown of features: 20 watts, 2 x 3” speakers, tuner, stereo effects (the reverb is really good), Bluetooth (play along with backing tracks and iReal Pro, etc.), recording interface (has USB out for direct connection to your computer, phone or tablet), and multiple presets. It’s the perfect amp for apartment living and most importantly, it sounds great.

    Just another option to consider. Good luck!

    Roli
    GOOD TO KNOW ON THE C-REX! I'm not totally sold on it, or the 50s tweed finish this Princeton has...but sound is what matters and I do plan to TRY it.

    Interestingly enough, I have a Yamaha THR5a which was given to me a few years back. It is nice, maybe I should spend more time with it now that my chops have improved. I have heard jazz guitar through an acoustic modeling amp can be a hit. The seller is actually asking $800 for the Princeton, but will take drop it to $700 with the Yamaha.

  25. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Soloway
    I've owned lots of Princetons and Princeton type amps. I always found that the ones loaded with a 12 needed to get too loud to get a really nice at-home (or even small gig) sound. At least to me, they are much more satisfying with a 10" speaker.
    This is my thinking, despite never having played a Princeton in my life...they were designed for 10" speakers. It just sounds kind of excessive the more I read and hear on the subject.

  26. #25
    Thanks to everyone who replied to this thread, some great insight. I'm definitely to try this amp but some of the solid state suggestions are very nice and might fit my needs better.

    Another question...anyone have experience with the lower wattage Gibson amps from the 60s? They're relatively cheap, fraction of a 60s fender price. I have heard a lot of these amps haven't aged well and the maintenance knowledge is not is as widespread as on fender amps...they do look cool and it would be a fun pairing with a Gibson guitar in the future, but do they do jazz?