Which tonal compromise should I choose in an amp?

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Hey guys!

I've been on the search for a tube amp for a while now. I've been using solid state amps my whole life and have consequently become used to very pure clean channels (minimal breakup). The difficulty with tube amps is achieving true versatility unless I buy something like a Mesa Boogie, which is too expensive. 

I play such a wide variety of genres ranging from jazz to mayer/clapton blues and all the way up to loads Iron Maiden and Metallica. 

I've tested loads and loads of amps and my favorite two are Orange Rocker 15 Terror and Fender Hot Rod Deluxe. Now, these are obviously two very different amps but their respective tones are very important for my taste. So my dilemma is this:

The Orange Rocker 15 Terror has my favorite rock and metal tones I've tested so far, however, the natural channel is not purely clean by any measure. So do I compromise the clean tone and buy an Orange and maybe buy EQ, reverb and delay pedals to help with my clean sound?

OR

Buy a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe and use overdrive and distortion pedals to achieve the high gain sounds?

My budget would be somewhere around £1000 (head/cab or combo)

Thanks in advance guys!
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Comments

  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 9932
    If those are your only choices I'd go with the latter.

    I have recently had a long term loan of an old Marshall 2204, I've been able to replicate that sound pretty well using my HRD and pedals.

    You can add dirt, but it's very hard to add cleans. 
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  • p90fool said:
    If those are your only choices I'd go with the latter.

    I have recently had a long term loan of an old Marshall 2204, I've been able to replicate that sound pretty well using my HRD and pedals.

    You can add dirt, but it's very hard to add cleans. 
    You're especially right about that last part, thanks for the insight!

    Do you have any other amp recommendations? 
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 10208
    You could get a used Mesa 5:25 or 5:50 under 1k, I think? 

    Covers all bases nicely
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 34791
    You cannot make the Orange cleaner with pedals - the clean channel is already as clean as it can be.

    You can get a good high-gain sound from the Hotrod with pedals, but not great - it’s just not tight enough really.

    A Mesa Express will do both better, and as stickyfiddle said, are within your budget second hand. I wouldn’t buy a Mesa new in the UK anyway, they’re overpriced.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • ICBM said:
    You cannot make the Orange cleaner with pedals - the clean channel is already as clean as it can be.

    You can get a good high-gain sound from the Hotrod with pedals, but not great - it’s just not tight enough really.
    That said, do you think the orange cleans are good?

    And would changing the speaker in the Hot Rod help?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 34791
    KareemMonzer said:

    That said, do you think the orange cleans are good?
    Yes, but they’re not ‘clean clean’, as you say there’s a bit of grit. If you want the Orange sound you could look at the Rocker 30 - the older discontinued model - which has a cleaner clean sound, but it’s still not a Fender-like clean. The guitarist in my band has both - but he never plays truly clean. The Rocker 30 also has slightly less gain on the dirty channel - but neither of them are actually what I would call high-gain amps.

    I haven’t heard the new Rocker 32 yet so I don’t know if it’s the same.


    And would changing the speaker in the Hot Rod help?
    Maybe, but not that much. The amp is simply designed for a looser, more vintage sound.

    Another suggestion - inspired by @jdgm :) - an old Fender Super 60, or the bigger red-knob (or later black-knob version) ‘The Twin’. These have a huge-sounding, very clean clean channel with almost solid-state-like dynamics but valve tone, and the Twin has a very versatile dirty channel, although it’s fussy to dial in. You can easily buy either for well under half your budget.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • John_AJohn_A Frets: 1941
    edited January 9
    Try. Jet City Custom 22, or an ENGL Ironball, both very versatile but both head and cab rather than combo.  For a combo you could do a lot worse than a Blackstar Series One
    Do me a favour and like this:

    https://www.facebook.com/MarkedCoversBand
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  • MayneheadMaynehead Frets: 1365
    Look for an Engl Thunder. 4 channels from pristine clean to scooped high gain and everything in between. It will be well under budget too.

    I had one, I shouldn’t have sold it!
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  • uncledickuncledick Frets: 247
    Clean amp and something like an OCD for tight high gain sounds. 

    OR - make me an offer for my Boogie MkV :)
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  • Dave_McDave_Mc Frets: 1059
    edited January 9
    I just assumed that you were in the USA since (IIRC) you listed your budget over at Ultimate Guitar in dollars. I was a bit vague on options over there because I'm not that well up on prices in the USA. I'd say there should definitely be options at the £1000 mark if you want both clean and distortion (though if you have your heart set on exact copies of the Fender HRD clean tone and the Orange dirt tone you'll probably have to compromise a bit).

    Ah I just went back to UG and it seems your in Dubai. and as a result will probably have to buy new... it'd probably be worth adding that to your original post so people making recommendations can adjust those recommendations accordingly...

    I wonder would maybe Haydens or Matamp maybe be worth a look? I haven't tried any of their channel switchers, though...
    ICBM said:
    Maybe, but not that much. The amp is simply designed for a looser, more vintage sound.
    Plus you run the risk of killing the cleans. I remember trying one of the limited edition (older) versions of the HRD with a vintage 30 speaker- it upgraded the drive channel from "terrible" to "middling", but the problem was it also dropped the clean channel down from "great" to "middling".
    p90fool said:
    If those are your only choices I'd go with the latter.

    I have recently had a long term loan of an old Marshall 2204, I've been able to replicate that sound pretty well using my HRD and pedals.

    You can add dirt, but it's very hard to add cleans. 
    That's technically true, but at the same time it's kind of misleading. I think it depends on what type of player you are- for example, even though it's true, it wouldn't really suit me since I like distortion tones so much, I'll just put up with the clean channel. I don't dislike pedals, but for (tube amp-style) distortion, they don't really sound or feel the same. At least the ones I've tried. If you're more of a "pedals for dirt" player, then it makes plenty of sense.

    I know @KareemMonzer plays a pretty even mix of both (as he said on his thread over at Ultimate Guitar) so it might be worth considering, but you need to be careful you don't put too much stock in it because it sounds kind of profound... when actually it's maybe a bit glib.

    EDIT: If that sounds like I'm trying to be argumentative, I'm not, honest :D

    I guess it just seems to me that that way of looking at it is a bit of an oversimplification- it's taking two extremes (the great clean amp with poor, or at least unsuitable, distortion and the great dirty amp with poor, or at least unsuitable, cleans) and acting like those are the only two options.

    Sure, with an HRD you can use a pedal and maybe it'll get you "close enough". Or it might not and you might still be annoyed.

    Another thing that might get you "close enough" (and IMO, in most instances, though perhaps not in this case with the awkward "orange-voiced dirty tones" requirement, closer) is a channel switcher, which the "you can't remove dirt with pedals" argument ignores completely...
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 34791
    Dave_Mc said:

    I remember trying one of the limited edition (older) versions of the HRD with a vintage 30 speaker- it upgraded the drive channel from "terrible" to "middling", but the problem was it also dropped the clean channel down from "great" to "middling".
    As you probably know I actually like the HRD drive channel - but I think the V30 made it worse, because it’s *not* a Marshall-type overdrive. It’s not meant to be... it’s meant to sound like an overdriven Fender, which it does very well. A V30 just makes it sound like a half-arsed attempt at a Marshall. Not a good choice for this amp at all.

    If I wanted to put in a different speaker which would improve it without ruining the clean sound I would pick something like a Celestion G12-65, or an EV - although I’m not sure that will physically fit.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • Mark1960Mark1960 Frets: 71
    I have a peavey Classic 30 up for sale - See classified amps - Good clean, awsome drive, spring reverb?
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  • Dave_McDave_Mc Frets: 1059
    edited January 9
    ICBM said:
    Dave_Mc said:

    I remember trying one of the limited edition (older) versions of the HRD with a vintage 30 speaker- it upgraded the drive channel from "terrible" to "middling", but the problem was it also dropped the clean channel down from "great" to "middling".
    As you probably know I actually like the HRD drive channel - but I think the V30 made it worse, because it’s *not* a Marshall-type overdrive. It’s not meant to be... it’s meant to sound like an overdriven Fender, which it does very well. A V30 just makes it sound like a half-arsed attempt at a Marshall. Not a good choice for this amp at all.

    If I wanted to put in a different speaker which would improve it without ruining the clean sound I would pick something like a Celestion G12-65, or an EV - although I’m not sure that will physically fit.
    Yeah. I was going to say (but I didn't want to make my post any longer! D ) that the V30 was probably an extreme case, and if I were picking from scratch I could probably have found a speaker which improved the dirty channel but which still had decent cleans.

    I still reckon that's a bit of an awkward way of going about it, though. I think a channel switcher, as you suggested earlier (or as I suggested over at UG or in my edit here) is probably an easier way to do it. As long as one can be found which sounds close enough to that Orange on the dirty channel, of course... it's a good bit harder to find that than a Fendery clean channel since most clean channels in channel switchers are usually aiming at the Fendery thing (apart from Orange! D and maybe Marshall etc.. )

    EDIT: Or at least, it's worth considering as one possible way of solving this. As I said over at UG, it really depends on whether you'd rather have a solution where half the tones can be achieved perfectly, but where there's significant compromise for the other half, or whether you'd rather have a solution where all of the tones can be got reasonably well, but still with some compromise.

    Just depends on which you prefer.
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 19961
    If I have to I would always compromise the clean channel because I play clean about 10% of the time and pretty much any amp will clean up with the volume control enough for my tastes.

    If you want that crystal clean 80's tone then go for the clean sound + high gain pedals.
    IMHO the high gain tone is never tight enough.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback

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  • robertyroberty Frets: 714
    edited January 9
    Clean with pedals every time

    I play my Marshall 2204 clone through the clean input with distortion pedals

    If you can get your cleans just before breakup so they're compressing you can use less distortion on the pedals and still get a fat/singing sound, more so I think
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  • prlgmnrprlgmnr Frets: 627
    My immediate thought was as follows:



    Which doesn't particularly help you choose.
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 9750
    I used to gig with a Fender Blues Deluxe and use an AMT R2 or AMT P2 for drive. Both very tight pedals and the amp coped very well.

    But for £1000 - I'd get a used Helix and a powered cab and have it all.

    "My belief is that bands are made up of bass, drums and a bunch of novelty acts."

    - Nick Mason.

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  • ricorico Frets: 963
    You should be able to get a Orange Rockerverb III used for under £1k?
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  • prlgmnrprlgmnr Frets: 627
    Sensible answer: more headroom gives more options.
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  • grungebobgrungebob Frets: 1203
    Go clean with a Friedman BE OD pedal or a bogner blue exctasy pedal. 
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  • onyironyir Frets: 4
    You should try a Hughes and Kettner tubemeister 36. 3 channels, multiple power options, (digital) reverb and fx loop. I would buy separate head and cab, though, I don't think the V30 in the combo (or in H&K cabs) is the best match for it.
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  • newi123newi123 Frets: 367
    @KareemMonzer ;

    what is your current solid state amp and do you like it? Are you playing low volume at home or gigging? And why do you want to go valve?


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  • newi123 said:
    @KareemMonzer ;

    what is your current solid state amp and do you like it? Are you playing low volume at home or gigging? And why do you want to go valve?


    I have a Marshall MG15 and I hate the obviously digital sounds. I also sold my Line 6 Pod XT Live because I really just got sick of the digital high gain tones. In fairness though, I mostly play at home in a medium sized room and rarely with a drummer. 
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  • I've also been considering the new Marshall DSL40 - it seems to have a good variety of tones at a relatively affordable price point. Does anyone have any feedback on the amp?

    Thanks again for all the help!
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 34791
    KareemMonzer said:

    I have a Marshall MG15 and I hate the obviously digital sounds.
    The MG15 is analogue.

    You can do a *lot* better with either analogue solid-state or digital. Don’t write off non-valve amps just because you have a very cheap solid-state practice amp :).
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • teradaterada Frets: 3671
    edited January 13
    It’s technically not for sale anymore (I was selling mine last year but still have it). But an ampeg gvt 52 sounds like a hrd clean and filthy as hell dirty. Might be worth a look. 

    ICBM is dead on (as per usual  ) about better solid state amps. As an example, the jazz chorus is one of the best amps I’ve used

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