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Ashdown CTM-30 "Little Stubby" Owners Input Needed

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by OldFunBass, Apr 10, 2020.


  1. OldFunBass

    OldFunBass

    Nov 5, 2016
    Florida
    I want to get a lower wattage all tube amp to use for home use. I have plenty of great gear already, including several amps in the 500 to 800 watt range for gigging. I just have been wanting to add an all tube head to my collection to play with at home. It will most likely never leave the house.
    I seem to only have a couple of options on the market: The Ampeg PF50T (or 20T) or the Ashdown CTM-30 Little Stubby. I have not played through either, and there does not appear to be one of either in stock anywhere nearby for me to try. I am familiar with Ampeg tube amps from playing through SVT's in the past. I have watched every video I can find on either of these amps, by the manufacturers and by individual reviewers. Sound on videos can be deceiving, but based on everything I have seen I really like the sound of the CTM-30. Also, space is a huge issue in my home music room/home office which is a small back bedroom, with a huge desk taking up most of two walls. The rest of the wall space around is filled with stacks of cabs with amps and pedal boards stacked on top. Due to this, the CTM-30 form would work better since it is more stackable (provided it has ample air space around it for cooling of course). The PF line is not stackable at all, but I would not rule it out for that.
    I am not very concerned with how loud any of these can get. I do play a little loud at home sometimes so I want some headroom (hence the PF50 instead of the PF20), but not worried about playing with a drummer in a loud band mix.
    Also, to keep responses focused, I am not interested in buying a bigger wattage tube head mainly because of physical size and not wanting to spend too much (under $1000). And I don't buy used amps, especially a tube head. I don't want someone else's problems (learned that 40 years ago the hard way), and I do want a warranty.

    So my point of all this is to ask CTM-30 Little Stubby owners what they think of these amps. I have zero experience with Ashdown products, don't even know anyone who has owned one. I read very mixed reports of their quality and reliability on line, but the same can be said for Ampeg recently (not bashing Ampeg, just saying to be fair). So if you own the Ashdown CTM-30 Little Stubby, are you happy with the amp? Any reliability issues over time? Would you buy it again? Overall opinion?

    Thanks for the help.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2020
    MCF likes this.
  2. Pocket4

    Pocket4 Supporting Member

    Dec 9, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I parted with my CTM-30, though it was a very sweet little amp with a lot of grunt. There's not a lot of mystery in the tone stack for the players that understand it, but one day I just got fed up working with the EQ and I decided that was enough. In addition, I would rather have a variable gain knob for the pre-amp, which this one lacks.
     
    OldFunBass likes this.
  3. OldFunBass

    OldFunBass

    Nov 5, 2016
    Florida
    Thanks for the input, pocket4.
    Yeah, I had seen that it has a tone stack, I guess similar to the old Fender tone stack. I have a Harke LH500 that I used to gig with back years ago when I first got it that has something similar. Took me a while to get used to it, but once i did I was able to get a tone I liked out of it. So I would hope I could deal with the same on the CTM-30.
    The no pre-amp gain knob is interesting and a good point. It has a drive control, which I just assumed was a pre-amp gain. If it is not, what does it do? It would be nice to be able to adjust that. The PF models do I believe.
     
  4. Pocket4

    Pocket4 Supporting Member

    Dec 9, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Not really sure if the drive knob is the de facto gain, so I may be wrong about that. BTW, have you looked at the new Traynor tube amp with the small footprint?
     
    MCF and OldFunBass like this.
  5. OldFunBass

    OldFunBass

    Nov 5, 2016
    Florida
    No, first I have heard of it. I will look for it now.
     
    MCF likes this.
  6. foal30

    foal30

    Dec 3, 2007
    New Zealand
    @OldFunBass

    I have the big Ashdown CTM-300
    It is amazing...fantastic amp
    I have been using Ashdown since late 1998

    Hopefully @Wasnex sees this thread
    He knows heaps about Ashdown valve amps. A very helpful contributor to this site.
     
    OldFunBass likes this.
  7. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011

    Yes I have a CTM300 as well as a 427 Small Block.

    I haven't played the LB30, CTM30 or Little Stubby, but I believe they are voiced closer to my 427 than the CTM300. The 427 was part of the Dual Tube series and has the same cosmetics as the LB30. They were both available at the same time. The CTM300 preamp actually looks very similar, but is voiced quite different and uses 12DW7 tubes instead of 12AX7 (ECC83S). The LB30 and CTM30 are essentially the exact some amp, but the cosmetics are different as the Dual Tube line had been discontinued with the CTM30 came out. The Little Stubby has some circuit revisions from the CTM30.
     
  8. OldFunBass

    OldFunBass

    Nov 5, 2016
    Florida
    Thanks for all the input. I had read that the CTM-30 Little Stubby was a different circuit than the earlier CTM-30 or LB. So I tried to focus all my tone research on the newer Little Stubby. But a little confusing.
    Any idea about the reliability of the Little Stubby?
     
  9. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    I don't know for sure, but I think the Little Stubby is just the same circuit as the LB30 and CTM30 with a few tweaks to expand the feature set and improve performance. I believe the voicing of all three amps is fairly similar but the Little Stubby is more adjustable, and also I get the impression the tone controls work a bit better on the Little Stubby. Ashdown tone controls tend to be quirky in my experience.

    The Little Stubby is well reviewed from everything I have read, and the smaller form factor is definitely nice. I am somewhat suspicious of the horizontal tube placement needed for the small form factor though. My impression is EL84s are not the most mechanically rugged tubes to begin with, so I have to wonder if the horizontal orientation of the tubes will reduce their service life.

    I don't have any actual reliability data, and I don't see much on the internet to indicate the amp has reliability problems.
     
    OldFunBass likes this.
  10. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    Here's a demo.
     
  11. Playbyear

    Playbyear

    Nov 20, 2019
    MA
    Not having played any of these, I don’t have much to add.

    However, I was looking at The Traynor website last week.
    YBA100 – Traynor Amps
     
    OldFunBass likes this.
  12. ThinCrappyTone

    ThinCrappyTone Guest

    Oct 1, 2011
    that sounds great to me
     
    OldFunBass and Wasnex like this.
  13. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    You must mean the original CTM30, rather than the Little Stubby version? The CTM30 is a non-master volume amp. The Lil Stubby has input gain, labeled "Drive", and also a master volume, labeled "Volume," so it's a bit more flexible.

    I totally get what you mean about Ashdown tone controls, they can be really quirky and frustrating IMHO. I have read comments that the tone controls on the Little Stubby are a bit more intuitive than on the CTM30 and LB30; hopefully that's correct. MY CTM300 really drove me nuts for a few months. FYI, The Little Stubby does not have the Mid-Shift, Bass-Shift, or Bright Switch found on the earlier amps.
     
  14. Pocket4

    Pocket4 Supporting Member

    Dec 9, 2013
    New Hampshire
    So right, my experience is with the earlier Little Bastard.
     
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  15. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    I admit that I have been tempted by these low powered amps, but my collection is more about the other end of the wattage spectrum. If for some reason I need a low powered amp, I have a vintage Princeton at 12.5W and a JMI era Vox AC30, and both sound fabulous with bass. Ultra compact is not really a concern for me.

    As far as stackability. The Little Stubby does look really modular since it's nice and squared off, but I would not recommend stacking stuff on top of it. I wouldn't want to scratch up the case, and there is a big vent on top designed to allow heat from the tubes to escape.

    One advantage that Ampeg PF50T and PF20T have over the Ashdowns is a built in dummy load. This means you can run them without a speaker. They have balanced outputs that are taken right of the output transformer, so you get your "tubey" sound for silent recording...or perhaps you like to run your amp into a small mixer and use headphones and a media player to practice.

    I suspect the Ashdown and Ampeg offerings sound quite different. The best advice is try them all out and pick the one that you think sounds best. Unfortunately that is not always possible :(.
     
    OldFunBass likes this.
  16. FronTowardEnemy

    FronTowardEnemy It is better to go unnoticed, than to suck

    Sep 19, 2006
    Plainfield Illinois
    I don’t think there are a lot of owners of the Little Stubby here yet, so you might not get many responses.

    I have owned an LB-30 for about 5 years now, the build quality and reliability are top notch. It handles tube rolling very well also. I would imagine the Little Stubby would be the same, and if I needed another low wattage tube amp I sure wouldn’t hesitate to grab one.

    I know that doesn’t help much, sorry.
     
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  17. Manticore

    Manticore

    Feb 27, 2016
    SoCal
    I own both CTM300 and a CTM30. I've not had any difficulty working with the tone stack, but I can see how some might be frustrated by it. I really miss the pre-gain in the 30, but I believe this was rectified in the stubby. I bought the 30 on a whim. I still have it, which is a testament to how it performs as a low-power tube amp.
     
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  18. Wasnex

    Wasnex

    Dec 25, 2011
    The trick I eventually learned with the CTM300 is start with the tone controls around 9:00 and keep them within +/- 2 clock face hour settings. Within that range, the Bass and Mid control are intuitive and there is a wide variety of sounds you can dial in. Outside of the proposed range, the results can be unpredictable and confounding.

    Quirks: The Bass control seems to max out around 10:00. Then, if you turn the Mid control much above about 11:00 it swamps the Bass and Treble control, meaning they have no effect. The Treble control doesn't do much if you have the Bass and Mid turned up, except it actually seems to work backwards somewhat as the clearest highs seem to be with the Treble all the way down. As the Treble control is turned CW, there is slight boost in the low mids and then it starts sucking sub lows out. So basically by the time you start getting a boost in the high mids and treble, you are also loosing low end. If you turn the Mids all the way down, then the Treble works a bit more like you would expect, except it effects mids more the treble. So it's sort of like the amp has two mid range controls that don't really work well together. If you turn the Bass and Mid controls all the way down, and just turn up the Treble, there is a surprising amount of bass.

    The position of the various push buttons have quite a bit of impact on how the amp sounds and how effective the rotary controls are.

    Aside from the quirky EQ, it's a really fabulous amp that gets loud and is capable of a wide variety of sounds. Although this is essentially a variation of a Fender tone stack, it has some baked voicing that makes it sound sort of mid forward to me.

    I think it should be said that the tone stack was intentionally designed so the controls are extremely interactive with one another. Fender setup his tones stacks so they were a lot more intuitive and well behaved. The trade offs for predictability are the voicing is different and perhaps not as many sounds are possible.

    I believe the LB30/CTM30 sound more like a Fender, and are a bit more intuitive. Supposedly the Little Stubby tone stack is even better behaved. None of them have the CTM300s unique voicing, which you may love or hate. If you are interested in less power, the CTM100 has the same preamp design as the CTM300.
     
  19. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Never even seen the other models, I've only played the LB in a friend's rehearsal room. If you're after that old school tube sound, it has it in spades. Definitely not a "flat" sounding amp. 30 watts is freaking loud, too. Paired with the right cab, I could easily do bar gigs with it.
     
    OldFunBass likes this.
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  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    Mar 1, 2021

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