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The Campy Forum

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Just for fun: amp recommendations?
  • I'm interested in getting a tube amp (using a Mustang now) and, naturally enough for someone on this forum, I'm mostly considering some sort of Princeton. Let me give you a little context and then ask for the recommendation. I play at home for the most part, but occasionally will jam with friends. I'm mostly an acoustic player (I've been playing for 45+ years), but I've been playing more electric over the last few years. I've got an American Special Tele, a Strat knock-off (with Lollars), and a recent Ibanez AS153 semi-hollow body. Stylistically I (try to) play a range of stuff: some of Jim's material and styles that he's associated with (would that I were young again and maybe I could really learn some of this stuff), some straight ahead jazz, some blues, and some more distorted jazz-ish stuff (Frisell, Monder, etc). But, fundamentally I'm a complete novice when it comes to equipment, and especially amps. The array of choices is somewhat bewildering. I think that what I'd like is an amp that has warm clean (Fender-ish?) tones at low volumes and breaks up a bit at slightly higher volumes. From reading and listening on the web, this leads me to lean toward the '68 Custom Reverb. But there's also the '65 reissue, and I have the opportunity to get a 1970 Princeton (no reverb), but that's over twice as expensive as the other two. So, if anyone wants to weigh in with any observations, opinions, or recommendations, I'd be most grateful. -Paul
  • One other question: if I buy it online, any recommendations as to where to buy it from?
  • I think a Princeton, either a '68 Custom or '65 Reissue, is a good place to start. Deciding between the 65 and 68, is really a matter of personal taste, playing them both at the same shop would be ideal, if possible. They are both good amps, they just sound a little different from one another.

    If you want any kind of amp breakup at all, stay away from the non-reverb princeton. It's clean all the way up to 10. And it's loud.

    As far as online retailers, I buy from many, and usually from whoever has the best price or has a sale going on, but I seem to use Sweetwater more these days than Musicians Friend. Also, eBay sellers sometimes sell NEW gear for prices a little lower than the big online retailers.
  • Ruger9, Thanks for the advice. I think my opinion flipped a bit last night as I listened to more and more demos (unfortunately, I won't be able to easily go somewhere to try them both out). I think that, on the whole, I like the '65 better. There's something Fender-ish about the basic tone that I find very appealing. If I buy new, Sweetwater is likely where, but the have a demo version of a Deluxe that's essentially the price of the '65 PRRI. Likely I'll stick with the PRRI. Everyone at home can hear me; I don't really need a Deluxe. It's just tempting.
  • This is in danger of becoming my own close-looped thread, nevertheless...

    I decided to go with the '65 PRRI. I did as much listening and research as I could do at a distance (not optimal, I know), and just resonated (no pun) better to the '65 than either the '68 custom or the briefly considered Deluxe reissue. If anyone has suggestions about tubes, speakers, etc. I'm all ears! I'm really inexperienced and I would value others insights. Thanks - Paul
  • I will say this... I had a 65 PRRI, and I tried some mods, and different speakers, etc....

    If I got another one (which I do plan to do in the future), the first (and maybe only) thing I would do is change the speaker. The stock speaker sounds good but does not handle volume and bass frequencies very well. Personally, I will probably put a Celestion G10 Gold Alnico in mine, but they are expensive... you would do well with the Celestion G10 Vintage, which is in several of Jim's amps.
  • Thanks for the advice. I'll look into it. The amp arrived on Friday and I've been putting it through its paces since then. I live in a small house so I don't need much volume (sort of a shame because I can't often explore what the amp can do at higher volumes). Nevertheless, I'll probably looking to making mods once I've gotten a feel for what it does and doesn't do. Right now, I have to say that I'm very happy I made this choice!
  • As long as you keep it at lower volumes, like 4-5, I don't think you'll need any mods or speaker changes. It's when you turn the volume up higher that things start to get dicey with the stock speaker.

    Keep in mine, the way Jim generally runs his (I don't want to speak for him, but I'm a huge fan and gear head), he basically puts the volume on 10, then controls the clean/dirty blend from his guitar's volume knob. But it can get very loud very fast doing it that way, the Princeton is much louder than it gets credit for, and THAT is the area where a better speaker can really make a difference.

    I still say a PR/PRRI on 4-5 with the reverb on 3-4 is the most beautiful clean sound I've ever heard. (Tele neck or middle position)
  • So far, as to volume on 4-5 and reverb on 3-4, I agree. My Tele is being worked on right now, and waiting on a Callaham bridge, so right now I'm playing the Ibanez AS153, which is a sort of Gibson 335 type of semi-hollow body. It's a very nice guitar, but it's not a Tele!
  • Did a speaker swap last week . With the celestion G10 vintage , it sounds british , and the response on the bass strings are real tight . Worth noting too is the increased sonic detail throughout the spectrum
  • So, Broadcaster, would you give a thumbs up, or thumbs down (or neither) to the G10? Just curious.
  • And, what does "sounds British" mean? You amp now has an accent? ;)
  • I think I know what that means, at least with respect to amps from the '60s. Vox amps sounded different than Fenders for sure. Actually, even though I couldn't describe it very accurately, my impression was that the '68 Custom Princeton Reverb Reissue sounded more "British" somehow (I'm wrong a lot though...). It's one of the reasons I liked the '65 more.
  • I was half-joking; "British" with regards to speakers generally means more mids and high-mids... compared the the American Jensens, which were more top & bottom, with less mids.

    65 PRRI = American
    68 CPR = British
  • Yeah, I'm kind of sleepy today. After I posted the comment, I got the sense that you might be joking. Slow on the uptake.
  • Think brian may's solo im Bohemian Rhapsody. It just sticks out.
  • I just purchased a Fender Princeton Reverb ‘65 Re-Issue “Limited Edition” (Blue Tolex instead of black) with a 12-inch speaker (Celestion G12 Alinco Blue) instead of a 10-inch. It really sounds quite good. Only has about 15 hours on it so it will be interesting to hear what it sounds like at 100 hours. I have always played amps with 12’s so I wanted to migrate to the Princeton with a 12-inch speaker.
  • Michael,

    That sounds like a good buy! Where did you get it? Eventually I did get PRRI 65 reissue and was planning on modding it, but before I got around to it, I ended up buying a Carr Skylark, which is just heaven. Occasionally I play through both at the same time: the Skylark has a built in attenuator which means you can set it to very low wattage, run the volume to an overdriven range and play the PRRI on a clean volume and get some great tones.
  • Here is a list of the many tube amps I've tried or owned over the years:
    Vintage Sound 20 watt
    Louis Electric Columbia
    Traynor 20 watt
    Goodsell 17 Mk iii and iv
    Swart AMT Tremolo
    Jazzkat Tomkat -- had a tube preamp
    Fender Princeton 68 reissue
    Fender Princeton 65 reissue
    Mesa Boogie Mark V 25
    Bolt 50 Watt Combo
    Vox AC10
    Supro Termoverb
    I am sure there are more that I am forgetting,
    But I now own only one tube amp -- The Fender Princeton 65 reissue. That would be my recommendation. The only downside, in my opinion and for my style of playing, is the lack of a mid control which I like. But if you use a preamp it's not problem.
    If you want a really great solid state amp, I recommend the Quilter Steelaire.
    BTW. The Bolt 50 watt was an awesome amp. One of the best I ever owned, but it was too heavy for me as I got older -- neck problems -- but if you come across one, I would recommend trying it. They are no longer made.

    Joe
  • There is one I forgot to list above:
    Amped J12T - Reverb and tremolo. Would put this next after the Princeton 65 Reissue. Is less expensive. Sounds great. Excellent tube amp for the $$ that is light weight and loud. No longer made but can fine good ones used. Only draw back is that it has only a single tone control. Can be a little noisy.
  • Sorry...meant...Ampeg J12T
  • For an economical amp that is impressive...check out the Fender Pro Jr.III. 15watts, 10" speaker, w/ EL84 powert tubes. Volume, Tone..On/Off switch..that's it! Easy to hook-up a decent reverb pedal if you can't live without reverb...which I can't:)
  • I have read ALOT of raves on that little Pro Jr. over the years.... especially the older ones with the alnico blueframe speaker in it. It's still on my list to try...
  • Mine is new..It has the typical low-cost, not ideal, Fender Hot Rod series printed circuit board and input jack connected directly-to-it ...but I have grown to LOVE this little amp for every reason you would love an amp! The EL84 power tube growl is cool...with this amp on 10 it can be a beast!
  • the Fender Blues Jr. Tweed (basically the pro Jr. Tweed, with reverb).

    it has changed a little over the years. speaker is now anlico instead of ceramic. there have been some other tweaks. AKA: Blues Jr Tweed, Limited, NOS, Hot Rod/III.

    a while back they made a "relic" version (literally called the "relic" blues jr) with stained/ripped/relic'd tweed, but it had different specs and did not sound as good as the "NOS/Limited" tweed jr- so id steer clear of the "relic."

    i also like siverface vibro champs, that one has vibrato, and the jr has reverb. i can run them stereo, passively thru my pedal rig (Boss DD-6). I have not done that yet but need to, likely the easiest way for me to have it all, at a *somewhat reasonable volume. all the bigger Fender amps are just too loud for what I want to do with them.

    the pro jr is also excellent.

    I also like super clean amps but just need to find a nice small, lower wattage one. i want to try a Fender Champ 12 from the early 80s with 1 6L6, a 12 inch speaker, and some increased wattage. sounds like something id be looking for. but i read it still sounds like a Fender, and the overdrive channel sounds really bad, without some mods...might not really be what i'm looking for.

    ive had some vitange Guild amps (still have a couple), the tones are super clean and the prices were right, but they are big loud beasts.
  • A Fender Champ from the '70 is my first Amp and till today it sounds awesome!

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