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Unread 02-27-2012, 05:02 PM   #1
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Looking for High Gain "lunchbox" amp head!

Hey guys.

Wondering if I can get some advice.

I'm in the market for a lunchbox style amp head with the following features:

Great clean tone and lots of high gain thats good for metal.

Power attenuation/watt selection/power soak/whatever you want to call it.
I want to be able to practice at bedroom volumes, track on my computer, jam with my band and be able to do small to medium sized gigs with it.

3 channel Footswitch. No less.
I need to be able to go from clean to overdrive and then crank up the gain a bit more.

Anywhere from 15 - 50 watts should suffice for everything I want to do with it I suspect, but i'd prefer 20 +

So that's what i'm looking for folks. I've been looking around for a bit and the Carvin V3M seems like it could be a great choice for a good price, but I checked on some forums and people tend to be not to impressed with the sound of the distortion (Too compressed/unclean sounding I guess) and I want to make sure it's a great sounding amp all around. However, Being into metal, I believe compressed distortion would be what i'm looking for and suit me just fine, correct?

Engl Gigmaster. I'd prefer the 30 over the 15, but sadly the 30 doesn't have the power soak feature.

Suggestions welcome! xD
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Unread 02-27-2012, 05:14 PM   #2
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H&K tubemister (spelling?) 18?
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Unread 02-27-2012, 05:39 PM   #3
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You're screwed if you want 3 channels from a Micro. The V3M is the only one out there that does that, IIRC.

However, if you're willing to go with two channels and maybe an OD pedal, you can get:
-Jet City JCA22H
-Mesa/Boogie Mini Rectifier
-Mesa/Boogie TransAtlantic 15 or 30
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Unread 02-27-2012, 05:51 PM   #4
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The Tubemeister 18 effectively has 3 channels with the lead boost. Not sure if it'll have enough gain for you but I'm guessing it won't really have much less gain on tap than the other mini heads. People say the Blackstar HT-1 and HT-5 need a boost for metal but I get along fine running straight into the amp and I also run my TriAmp without a boost so it's hard to say what your preference will be. The Tubemeister definitely has a lot of features, though. It's supposed to have really good cleans as well.
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Unread 02-27-2012, 05:54 PM   #5
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With all those requirements limited to a lunch box sized amp, you really don't have a lot of options. Most of these won't fit your requirements, but they're good options if you're willing to compromise.

Orange Dark Terror (15W/7W, single channel)
Soldano Astroverb (20W, single channel)
Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister (18W/5W/1W, clean/lead/boost channels)
Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier (25W/10W, clean or pushed channel and vintage or modern channel)
EVH 5150 III (50W, clean/rhythm/lead channels)
ENGL Gigmaster (15W/5W/1W, clean/lead channels)
Egnater Rebel 20 (20W-1W, single channel)
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Unread 02-27-2012, 06:08 PM   #6
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There's also the Rebel 30 which has 2 channels.
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Unread 02-27-2012, 06:49 PM   #7
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The answer you're looking for is EVH 5150 III Mini. Seriously, can't think of anything at all that fits your requirements but that, though it doesn't have a power soak. You're asking a hell of a lot, buddy. :P Engl Gigmaster's a solid amp. I do boost mine, though, depending on what I'm running into it. My Mockingbird with more vintage-style pickups sounds pretty vicious if I boost it with a Bad Monkey. My Stealth and S-1 with X2N's go in dry and sound pretty brutal. That said, the cleans aren't great. They aren't -bad,- but they're pretty dark, not Fender-like at all.

Couldn't tell you, as far as the V3M goes. No experience whatsoever with Carvin products, but I hear people rave about them often enough.
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Unread 02-27-2012, 07:37 PM   #8
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what your asking for doesn't exist but these will get you close and i think you'd be happy with any one out of the three. i myself would go with the 5150 3 mini.

Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister
Mesa Boogie Mini Rectifier
EVH 5150 III Mini
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Unread 02-27-2012, 08:01 PM   #9
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I had a V3M and imho the distortion was lacking. Great cleans but the best way I can describe the distortion tones was honky. Even when playing 3 note power chords it was if I was playing single notes. It was odd as I really dug it at first but that just really bugged me.

I would say to look at the Transatlantic series from Mesa. If you need uber amounts of gain though without a boost it might be lacking. Have you thought about a full sized head that can go down to the wattage you need? Three channel lunchbox heads are very limited. You really only have the V3M and carvins new Legacy 3 thats coming out.
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Unread 02-27-2012, 08:02 PM   #10
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my mesa mark iv is pretty small, like 19" across or whatever, ya know you wanna
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Unread 02-27-2012, 08:19 PM   #11
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Forgot to mention, it isn't a lunchbox, but the Laney Ironheart 60 can be scaled to less than 1 watt all the way up to 60, has three channels, foot switchable, very nice cleans, great distortion, built in boost. As much gain as you could want.
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Unread 02-27-2012, 08:37 PM   #12
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Does it need to be tube? What about something like a POD HD500 or a GSP1101 or somesuch?
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Unread 02-27-2012, 09:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrafnkel View Post
Forgot to mention, it isn't a lunchbox, but the Laney Ironheart 60 can be scaled to less than 1 watt all the way up to 60, has three channels, foot switchable, very nice cleans, great distortion, built in boost. As much gain as you could want.
i forgot about the laney. it might be the best option for you.
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Unread 02-27-2012, 10:31 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hrafnkel View Post
Forgot to mention, it isn't a lunchbox, but the Laney Ironheart 60 can be scaled to less than 1 watt all the way up to 60, has three channels, foot switchable, very nice cleans, great distortion, built in boost. As much gain as you could want.

Damn that looks awesome!!! Definitely going to consider this!!!

Jeff

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Unread 02-28-2012, 12:27 AM   #15
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Wow. I didn't expect so many responses so quickly. Thanks a lot guys! You guys definitely gave me some options to consider. I doesn't HAVE to be a lunchbox style amp. I just think they're cool and convenient. I'll probably do some shows with it so I was thinking it would be nice to just get one and a 2 1x12 cabs to make my life easier.

That said, I was seriously very close to getting a H&K Switchblade head a few months back. I still may. I tried the head and loved it. It doesn't have the power attenuation option unfortunately, but it looks like compromises will have to be made anyway!
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Unread 02-28-2012, 01:00 AM   #16
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Antoher vote for the Tubemeister, I run mine with a boost, bit it is not always necessary. not to mention the the red box(I think its called) cab sim isnt half bad.

Oh and blue leds give off a darn good glow.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 01:11 AM   #17
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Mini Rec and 212mesacab. Turn cab on it's side when you need smaller footprint or don't want to bend over to turn knobs.

Or even better, find a 212vertical cab.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 03:05 AM   #18
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Quote:
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Mini Rec and 212mesacab. Turn cab on it's side when you need smaller footprint or don't want to bend over to turn knobs.

Or even better, find a 212vertical cab.
Like the Mesa Recto vertical 212, for example. Pretty sweet cab, that'n.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 06:23 AM   #19
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Or just get a head actually meant for what you're after - unless the Mini Rectifier does it for you, of course.

Regarding 212s, I urge you to check out the new PRS SE 212 cabs - I was happily surprised when I tried one out .

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Unread 02-28-2012, 06:54 AM   #20
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EVH 5150-III 50W... more of a full meal than a lunchbox. Comes with the built in depth mod now which was a serious flaw on the 100 W. This might be the best amp on the market under $2k... I def recommend trying one. It is very similar to a Peavey 5150, but less fizzy and with a dedicated clean.

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Unread 02-28-2012, 07:02 AM   #21
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The Mark V is a pretty small head and probably better than any of the mini amps if it's small enough for you.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 08:13 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by budda View Post
Or just get a head actually meant for what you're after - unless the Mini Rectifier does it for you, of course.

Regarding 212s, I urge you to check out the new PRS SE 212 cabs - I was happily surprised when I tried one out .
The PRS 2x12 deep cabinet is insanely good too, tons of thump with great clarity.

Mini rec + prs deep 2x12 =
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Unread 02-28-2012, 11:34 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thisnameistaken View Post
I doesn't HAVE to be a lunchbox style amp.
There are plenty of full sized amp heads that can go down to low wattage. You could look at something like the Blackstar Series One 50. You can go anywhere between 5W and 50W. It has two channels; one clean and one overdrive. It's very versatile in that the clean channel can be set as "warm" or "bright" and the overdrive channel can be set as "crunch" or "super crunch". To top it all off, there's an ISF knob on each channel which allows you to set the voicing of the amp to be British or American and anything in between. It also has some other cool features like an emulated output for recording or playing live without a microphone on your cabinet. It's a pretty cool amp; definitely something to look at.
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Unread 02-28-2012, 11:42 AM   #24
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Be different lol... I heard a Budda Superdrive II 18W with a OD808 in front and it was surprisingly metal! They are the loudest 18/30/45/80 watt amps I've ever heard. The Superdrive-II 45W hurt my ears and sounded louder than my 5150 did...

I still stand by the EVH 5150-III 50W though... I haven't seen anyone try one and walk away without at least a moderate musical chubby...

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Unread 02-28-2012, 12:54 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USMarine75 View Post
Be different lol... I heard a Budda Superdrive II 18W with a OD808 in front and it was surprisingly metal! They are the loudest 18/30/45/80 watt amps I've ever heard. The Superdrive-II 45W hurt my ears and sounded louder than my 5150 did...

I still stand by the EVH 5150-III 50W though... I haven't seen anyone try one and walk away without at least a moderate musical chubby...
Not cheap or common, but my main amp is a Budda Superdrive 30. VERY loud, great overdrive and lead sounds for everything from metal on down, pretty decent bold cleans.

Only two channels though. But yes, I love mine.

Another solid possibility is an old Mesa DC or F-series. The F-series has two channels plus a footswitchable "Contour" channel that adds extra gain and bass/treble response to the drive channel. I love mine, and it's pretty damn small.



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