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Tiny Tube Amps

by vaughn skow March 29, 2011 2 min read

More speaker shoot-outs this week!   In a way, this week’s blog is an extension of the work we started with last week’s speaker shoot outs; but in another way, it’s the exact opposite!   Last week we were comparing rock tones as dished out by a fire-breathing Marshall JCM 900.  This week’s tones will be coming to you via a couple of "tiny tube amps", an Eppiphone Valve Jr., and a Vox lil’ Night Train.  These amps reflect a trend that we’ve seen in the last couple of years towards low-wattage tube amps.  These are not amps that will keep up with a slammin’ drummer on a gig, but they can dish out some pretty cool tube-amp-on-eleven tones at a bedroom volume.  Plus, recording engineers will love you for NOT bringing your 100-watt stack to a session!  This week, I’m using one of Todd Tillaman’s Gibson Robot Les Pauls.  Todd insisted I play in tune!  So, shall we let the low wattage fun begin? Read on to watch all the shoot-outs.

First, we pitted the Celestion G12H55 against the WGS Reaper55Hz through the little Eppi.  These little amps really don’t sound all that great, but they are very popular because they can be had on the cheap, and they make a nice platform for mods, too.   Like it or not, for a lot of young players, the little Valve Jr. is their jumping-off point into the world of tube amps.  In this shoot-out, the Celestion definitely has more upper midrange bite, and the WGS speaker has more bottom end girth and warmth.  Which is best?  Depends on what you’re going for! Here is the video, make up your own mind:

Next we pitted a Celestion Vintage 30 against a WGS Veteran 30.   Again the Vet 30 was smoother and had less bite in the upper-mids.  To me, the Veteran 30 was more "inspiring" to play through.  The WGS speaker especially sounded bigger/better when trying to coax clean tones out of the little tube gal.  Here is that video:

Last, I switched to the Vox lil’ Night Train.  This amp is about four times as spendy as the little Eppi, and offers up a more refined tonal palate; in fact, I gotta tell ya that I really love the tone of both the Night Train and the lil’ Night Train! The speakers I compared were a Celestion Green-Back in a Vox Night-Train (open back) cab and a WGS Reaper in my Burriss cab, also running open-back.  Quite honestly, both speakers sounded great with the little Vox.  The winner was tough to call in this race.  One note, I noticed when previewing the video, that the left and right sides seem to have gotten flipped when I uploaded this video ... either that, or I just plain got it backwards while I was filming - but I doubt that, because my buddy Todd was present, and he would have set me straight right away if I started messing up THAT big-time.  At any rate, here’s the vid:

Next week I’m talking Beatles.  Just because...


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