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Underrated Sleeper Amps

Discussion in 'Amp Input - Normal or Bright' started by Boodreaux, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. Boodreaux

    Boodreaux Strat-Talker

    Mar 8, 2013
    Middle Tennessee
    I've owned a lot of amps in my time and have found some that are pretty cool sounding but have stayed under the radar and can be had used for cheap (under $500 used). I'm always horse trading and exploring different sounds but would like to know what relatively under-appreciated amps have you taken a liking to?

    For me it would be the following:

    1. Mesa Studio Caliber. It's a 22watt two channel amp that is much louder than you'd expect 22 watts to be. It can get a nice Boogie crunch and even get into the scooped metal territory with the contour switch. The cleans are nice but a bit dark and it has surprisingly nice headroom. I've seen them on Craigslist for as little as $450.

    2. Ampeg Jet. I loved these amps, at least the older ones. It's a low wattage amp, I think 15 watts. But with a Strat it's magical. It gets more of a low midrangey tone that breaks up a bit when cranked. With an overdrive pedal you can get some nice blues tones with it. It would be good for recording, not so much for gigging. I've given as little as $150 for these.

    3. Carvin Belair. Yes, the soak channel CAN be muddy. But this is the best sounding clean amp for the money I've ever found. $250 used for a 50 watt 2x12 tube amp that sounds this good clean? Like I mentioned before, the overdrive can be muddy but I don't push it too hard so it breaks up ok. But I'm going to do some of the Hasserl mods to it and see how it sounds. Even if it just had the clean channel it would be well worth the $250 I paid.

    4. Peavey Blues Classic. The 50 watt 1x15 and the 30 watt 1x12 are the two I have experience with. They have a nice full clean tone, especially the 1x15 model. However, the one with the 12 inch speaker sounds much better for distorted tones. If you are a blues player, the 1x15 is bliss with a TS909 in front of it. The biggest drawback is they can be a bit noisy and the reverb sucks. It sounds like it uses solid state to drive the reverb, because it sounds so dull and lifeless next to the dry signal. I've seen them for $350.
    carver likes this.

  2. mw13068

    mw13068 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 29, 2009
    Ithaca, NY
    The Peavey Bandit and its Transtube kin have to be the most underrated amps of all.

    Not that I'm complaining, I've been able to pick up a couple of U.S.-made Peavey transtube amps for almost nothing. They really rock. Great cleans, great overdrive, great distortion.


  3. blasphemoustrat

    blasphemoustrat Most Honored Senior Member

    Jan 9, 2011
    Pretty much the entire traynor line. I picked up a ycv 80 (list price 1399) for 350...
    aiabx and LaWnDaRt like this.

  4. bbarott

    bbarott Most Honored Senior Member

    Mar 29, 2010
    Marietta Georgia
    Beat me to it. Traynors are magnificent amps.

    KyStratman and savofenno like this.

  5. vibrasonic

    vibrasonic Strat-Talker

    Dec 26, 2011
    Silverface Bassman would be my pick ( head )
    ProSonicLive and moullineaux like this.

  6. Boodreaux

    Boodreaux Strat-Talker

    Mar 8, 2013
    Middle Tennessee
    What kind of character do they have? I might have to try one out.

    I've had a couple of heads and I loved them.
    KyStratman likes this.

  7. Southy

    Southy Strat-Talker

    Jul 24, 2011
    Agree completely on the Boogie and Peavey amps. My cousin played through a studio caliber 22 for years....GREAT amp. I owned a classic 30 for a while and honestly, it was more "Fender" sounding than a number of Fenders I've had.
    savofenno likes this.

  8. blasphemoustrat

    blasphemoustrat Most Honored Senior Member

    Jan 9, 2011
    Traynors are sort of a hot fender sound. The clean is real nice and fairly fender twinish, with the dirt channel being very smooth and creamy. They also have a boost button on the dirt channel that gives it a great extra hit of gain.

  9. PetesWindmill

    PetesWindmill Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 27, 2012
    The Peavey Valve King line is very good for the price, Kinda like the Hot Rods but a nicer gain channel.

  10. Hugh

    Hugh Got Punch ? Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 26, 2009
    Louisville (KY)
    Peavey Delta Blues 210

    Get it up off the floor and dig the tight punchy bass and blackface-like sweetness.
    gwjensen likes this.

  11. scott223

    scott223 Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 16, 2013
    The Mesa Studio Caliber 22 is great. Wish I never sold it. The best solid state amp I ever played was a Galien Kreuger Backline. Really nice amp.

  12. Stratoskater

    Stratoskater Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 8, 2011
    Raleigh NC
    My Carvin Nomad (1x12 version of the Bel Air as mentioned above).

  13. irish1980

    irish1980 Senior Stratmaster

    Love my carvin v3 combo. Most players seem to think its a metal amp, but I get nice blues and classic rock tones from it.

  14. oatsoda

    oatsoda Puck of Paradox Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 10, 2011
    The Shack, Nova Scotia
    Fender Princeton 112 plus. Made in Corona, California. Solid state tone monster. Still see them on the used pages for $150 or less. They have the ultimate Fender clean with a real spring reverb which is footswitchable, as is the channel. Pretty darn loud, and sounds great soft too. Bang it around in the back of the truck and no sissy breakable "Oh no, is it room temp yet so I can turn it on?" tubes to worry about. And it looks like a classic blackface. And it doesn't weigh 7000 pounds. If it was one of the four food groups, it would be grains. Not cheesy, not fruity. Certainly meatier amps out there, but this thing is a staple.
    carolinaeasy likes this.

  15. albala

    albala Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 10, 2012
    stamford, CT

  16. Boodreaux

    Boodreaux Strat-Talker

    Mar 8, 2013
    Middle Tennessee
    I have a guy wanting to trade for my Blues Classic 50w 1x15 combo. I'm always game for horse trading and this amp is physically too big for me. He has a PV Classic 20, an Ampeg Superjet SJ12-T with EL34s, and a brown Gibson GA-15 with the 10" speaker (basically a Trace Elliot Velocette). Are any of those 'sleepers'?

    Sent from my iPhone using Strat Forum

  17. steve26

    steve26 Strat-Talker

    Nov 5, 2012
    Lake Forest, Ca
    One more vote for the Princeton 112 Plus.

  18. twangless

    twangless Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 22, 2010
    I have the Princeton 112, which is the earlier version and rated at 35 watts. I hated it at first :mad:, but when I took out the stock Eminence FS12 speaker and replaced it with a Celestion Vintage 30 it sounded a whole lot better. The clean channel is very Fender, but the overdrive channel sounds more like a Marshall with the Celestion speaker. :D

  19. Robins

    Robins Dr. von Loudster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 22, 2010

  20. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musician, Composer, Teacher Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    The Crate Vintage Club series, which can be had cheap on the used market, are wonderful EL84 type amps, somewhere between a Vox AC15 and a Marshall 18W.

    gwjensen likes this.