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Is something like the Little Mark II in the guitar world?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by naturalkinds, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. naturalkinds


    Jan 22, 2009
    Savannah, GA
    I am hoping to get a fancier amplifier for my guitar, and was wondering if the guitar world had an amp which occupied the same sort of position that the Little Mark II occupies in the bass world. I guess the requirements would be something as follows.

    1. Small and light. (So a solid-state, or very little tube amp would be something like what I had in mind.)

    2. Currently in production. (This is a convenience I particularly like about the LM.)

    3. Usable in a variety of settings. (LM users play jazz, rock, blues, country and everything else under the sun, unlike -- and I say this knowing it is a contentious claim -- users of Eden or Ampeg or Mesa gear.)

    4. Relatively inexpensive, by Talkbass standards. (Under $1200 for a combo amp, Under $900 for the head.)

    5. Easy to dial in a usable tone. (The LM is king for this.)

    AND... the most important...

    6. Considered by a overwhelming majority of the people in the guitar world to be an excellent amplifier, and with an appealing value. (No need to explain the comparison to the LM here!)

    Anything you have in mind would be greatly appreciated. For the record, I play a Telecaster, and typically play harmonically complex rock with a clean, warm tone. (Describing the type of music you play is always so embarrassing.)

    : )
  2. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Good guitar tones comes from a tube amp, IMHO. Tube amps are inherently not pocket size, thus I doubt you'll be able to score something as cheap, lightweight and portable as the LMII when it comes to guitar. The Fender Blues Jr. would fit the bill.
  3. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    For #1-5 there are some Acoustic Image & Walter Woods heads that fit the bill...but since they are almost exclusively used by *JAZZ* guitarists, they don't really fulfill your criteria #6. ("Overwhelming majority of people in the guitar world" and "Jazz" are pretty mutually exclusive terms!)

    You might want to check out the Epiphone Valve Jr. Definitely earns its #6, is reasonably small, and ferchrissakes it's under $200!
  4. It's not the equivalent to the LMII of the guitar world, but it satisfies your criteria IMO

    The Vox Valvetronix silver-grilled series

    It's a tube hybrid amp, just has one tube. I am very picky about tone and I am very happy with mine.
  5. there is that Crate Powerblock that (to me) satisfies 1,3,4 and 5 but its not in production AFAIK
  6. thats what i was going to suggest haha. that thing cant weigh 10 pounds.

    perhaps an orange tiny terror? they are small tube amps that ive heard giant sounds come out of.
  7. naturalkinds


    Jan 22, 2009
    Savannah, GA
    Thanks for all of your responses. I guess it just goes to show that there's no real consensus on guitar amps like there is on the LM.

    I guess I'd be leaning toward something more on the clean side, like a Polytone or Acoustic Image. Though they dominate the jazz world, I like how clean they can get.

    But what about smaller tube amps? I've heard great things about the Tiny Terror. Any Mesa gear you might suggest?
  8. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    I play with some guys who use the small Roland guitar amps, and they sound AMAZING. It's the 'Cube' series I'm talking about. GREAT tone in a small box that won't break the bank!
  9. matt bass

    matt bass

    Apr 28, 2003
    Staffs, England
    Orange Tiny Terror?
  10. Godbody


    May 27, 2008
    I'll go on record as saying the LMII is a decent amp, but I'd never buy one... :bag:

    There's probably others like me too. The point being, why worry about what everyone else likes?

    I'll add my recommendation to the Vox Valvetronix. I occasionally borrow one for rhythm guitar work, and it sounds great through a 4x12 slant with Celestions.
  11. koobie


    Jul 11, 2007
    Portland OR
    The original tiny but relatively powerful guitar amps were the solid-state GK amps of the early 80's. Some people really liked them, I would have described their tones to be somewhere between sterile and harsh. I was in a band many moons ago and the other guitarists' GK sounded like a toy compared to my old Vibrolux Reverb.

    Since you've said you want a small great tube amp on the cleaner end of the spectrum, I'd start with a Carr Mercury, very nice for recording or small gigs. You can dial the output section from anywhere from .5 watt to 8 watts. But I prefer the tone of it's bigger brother the Rambler which puts out about 25 watts. Think of an updated, no-compromise Fender Deluxe Reverb, just a perfect club amp. You're going to pay about $2k for one, they're on the pricey side. And it's not a flyweight, the 1-12 combo weighs about 40 lbs.

    The Orange Tiny Terror is mainly aimed at producing heavy overdrive textures, it's a rocker's amp.
  12. i'll second this one as well--they are really solid amps. My cousin has one and for it's size, it can get a very loud tone--it won't fill a club, but you can always mic it, which imo is what every member of the band should do anyways ;)

    if you are willing to go tube, i'll agree with the tiny terror
  13. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    Genz Benz makes great guitar amps, too.
  14. thumpbass1


    Jul 4, 2004
    Fender's Jazz Master series solid state amp rig that came out a few years back was a reasonably light weight head and cab with formidable tone. It did the rich clean thing very, very well, but dang if it didn't have some peel the paint distortion on board to keep rockers grinning from ear to ear. It's all solid state, but Fender's R&D did a great job of making a warm sounding head that could be used by jazzers and other musicians. It also had a lot of wattage on tap too. Sadly it never found a steady market and is currently out of production from what I can tell from their website.
  15. LeonD

    LeonD Supporting Member

    I check out the Peavey Classic series. I have a Delta Blues 1x15 that sounds great. They also make a Classic 1x12 that's a little smaller.

    Regarding your criteria, tube will weigh more than ss. I think my Delta is around 35 lbs. It's also a little under your price. I got mine used in mint condition for $400. I think they're around $750 new.

    Oh yeah, it's a Peavey. Get over it! (Peavey's tend to get a bad rap in the guitar world).

  16. One option is Tech 21's stuff. Their sansamp technology is really tubey sounding, and they sell all manner of lightweight combos with that in it. The way I do it is by running a tri-ac pedal (awesome) into the power engine 60, which is basically a powered guitar cab and comes in at 33 lbs. Can't sound much better than that for that weight and volume.
  17. naturalkinds


    Jan 22, 2009
    Savannah, GA
    Thanks all! And I really appreciate the advice on the Tiny Terror. I was set to run to the store to get one today, until I read that they might not really appeal to the cleaner side of my tastes.
  18. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    A few hypothetical questions...

    What music styles do you think would be accepting of a product like this?

    What type of customer do you think type of product would appeal to?

    What sorts of features would be desireable?

    How important is size and weight?

    Who "cool" would it have to look... ie. "racing stripes and flames"?

    Performance parameters?

    Effects? (really good reverb only or the full Monty of digital stuff)?

    Distortion? (mild overdrive or would it need over the top stuff?)

    I'm just curious to see if there really is a market, there have been a few products that came and went.
  19. naturalkinds


    Jan 22, 2009
    Savannah, GA

    Thanks for your interest in the topic! Let me do my best to answer your questions.

    1. What music styles do you think would be accepting of a product like this?

    Jazz, indie rock, blues, folk.

    2. What type of customer do you think type of product would appeal to?

    Customers who want a light, simple plug-and-play amp with minimum tweaking required. (No crazy EQ. Maybe something like the Tiny Terror's panel. No tone shaping options.)

    3. What sorts of features would be desireable?

    GREAT reverb, maybe a light drive.

    4. How important is size and weight?

    About as important as with the Little Mark II -- i.e., fairly important. This shouldn't be an attempt at providing a substitute for an all-tube mega rig. Not necessarily as insanely small as an EA Micro 300, or the GB Shuttle, but something lighter than, say, the 12 lb Tiny Terror or the 13 lb iAmp 500. If the combo weighed in a little more than an Acoustic Image or Polytone combo, that would be fine, though I think it'd be great if it were around the same, for, say, a 100 - 200 W solid state guitar amp with 1x12 speaker.

    5. Who "cool" would it have to look... ie. "racing stripes and flames"?

    Not cool at all. Maybe a bit cooler than the all-black-and-grey Acoustic Image stuff, though. That's a little bland for my eyes.

    6. Performance parameters?

    7. Effects? (really good reverb only or the full Monty of digital stuff)?

    Excellent reverb. Maybe some mild drive, like the AG 500 saturation channel.

    8. Distortion? (mild overdrive or would it need over the top stuff?)

    Like the AG.
  20. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    Another question that comes to mind... would something with the capabilities of very high gain overdrive be desireable OR would it be better to concentrate on a more moderate (maybe "old school"?) overdrive and make it more pedal friendly?

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