Gear advice.

Don't worry, I'm not gunna ask you to value a banjo left to me by my uncles mates third cousin's dog. :roll: :lol:

Over the past few weeks I've been considering buying a guitar (I've been playing bass for about 5yrs now) mainly just for something to do and mix it up a bit.

I LOVE the tone of tube amps especially when they start to break up and get a bit of crunch but as I'm on a limited(read: stingy) budget and playing in a bedroom it's gunna have to be something small and relatively cheap, this led me to looking at the little Epi Valve Jr head (And the Harley Benton GA5H (I know, har har) which is apparently exactly the same but with a tone knob) and I've only heard one that's been modified (Different tubes and a couple of caps changed I believe) does anybody have an opinion on these stock? I've read a few reviews on harmony central but I tend not to trust em too much. Also I've read the epi cab isn't much cop, does anybody have a recommendation for a 1x12/2x12 cab (preferably cheapish).

Another thing is I know nothing about very little about tube amps and I'm worried a little about noise level, I've read an attenuator helps push it and get the tone at any volume, do you sacrifice anything for this?

Another issue is the lack of a headphone jack for late night practicing, is there any way around this or should I just stop whinging and get a small solid state practice amp?

Last question, I've been reading a bit on 'vintage' guitars, apparently the older ones are crap but post 2002 (I think) when they got the wilkinson hardware they're pretty hard to beat for cheapo stuff, any idea how true this is and what they're like? I've played a MusicMan bass copy which wasn't up to much but that thing was fairly old.

Thanks, Lebowski.

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For what they cost i think the Epi and Benton look very good for the money, I think 1bassleft will give you the run down on the WEM dominators, the MK III seems a very decent amp,and will increase in value rather than lose like the 2 small amps. also you might want to look at the Laney LC15 or the LC15R, they are very good, especialy if you upgrade the speaker. They both feature a gain control, so playing at a low volume won't be a problem.
If you are lookin to play through headphones then have you looked at the Pandora PX4? fantastic little gadget.
Or if you have a good speaker system on your PC the have you considered a Guitar port?
Problem with attenuators is they cost money, but in my experience work exremley well.

Thanks for the reply mate.

I've just had a look at the Laney amps, look like nice bits of kit I'll have to see if there's anywhere around here that stocks em (Not that it'll make a difference as I can't play, I'll rope somebody else into it I think :P ).

I considered going the route of connecting up to my hifi amp/computer but wasn't sure what kinda sound I'd get and how it'd react, current setup is a Cambridge Audio Azure 640 and some KEF Q5's.

Yeah as for playing through headphones (strictly for night playing) I had looked at the POD v2, any thoughts on the PX4 vs POD?

Any thoughts on 'Vintage' guitars or other cheapies (used is fine) just for learning on? What are the square std strats like as I heard the quality is a bit naff on recent guitars?

Thanks

Lebowski.

There's another thread here, but I'm pestered by sproggy to get off so I'll be brief. The Harley Benton is the Epiphone, except it's cheaper because it doesn't have the (awful) DSP FX of the Epiphone. An outstanding bargain, even though people tweak them to make them better. I. personally, would change the valves (at not great expense) for my first tweak.

Do not waste money on an attenuator. These are 5W amps and if pushing a bit of distortion is causing complaints you must have very thin walls. An attenuator is over a hundred quid anyway. The WEM Dominator III is a great 15W combo of the 70s but is now getting more expensive. I easily sold a pair for 350 quid but they're still well worth it. The H-B 5 is well worth purchasing but I did think they had a headphone socket. You sure they have none?

and there's always valve-based overdrive pedals...although you're back into the money there...worth looking at if you do decide on the straight to PC etc route.

Dave Hall (I think...) of DHA post on here ocasionally and he builds valve pedals, never played one myself but 1bassleft has I believe and (although you're right not to trust it fully) HC seems to love them:

http://reviews.harmony-central.com/reviews/Effects/product/DHA/VT1-Purist/10/1

1bassleft wrote:
There's another thread here, but I'm pestered by sproggy to get off so I'll be brief. The Harley Benton is the Epiphone, except it's cheaper because it doesn't have the (awful) DSP FX of the Epiphone. An outstanding bargain, even though people tweak them to make them better. I. personally, would change the valves (at not great expense) for my first tweak.

Do not waste money on an attenuator. These are 5W amps and if pushing a bit of distortion is causing complaints you must have very thin walls. An attenuator is over a hundred quid anyway. The WEM Dominator III is a great 15W combo of the 70s but is now getting more expensive. I easily sold a pair for 350 quid but they're still well worth it. The H-B 5 is well worth purchasing but I did think they had a headphone socket. You sure they have none?

Hiya mate, thanks for the input.

Are you thinking of the Valve Special mate? AFAIK the Valve Jr doesn't have DSP. Both the Valve Jr and the Benton have no headphone socket, just a volume knob and on the benton a tone knob aswell.

The attenuator was more for being a bit considerate as the people who live with me' work hours fluctuate a bit so they're often knackered at normalish times.

As for the Dominator it looks interesting and there are a couple on ebay but having limited knowledge with tube amps I'd be a bit weary buying anything of that era as I don't want to spend money getting it repaired/serviced before I can play it :)

Thanks for the input everyone. I think my best option for now given the situation is to buy a guitar and a POD or PX4 as suggested above and just use headphones/run it into my stereo (hopefully it doesn't sound shite) and save up a bit more and look around for an amp a bit later on, I plan on trying a stock Epi Jr and a Laney LC15.

Thanks.
Lebowski.

If you can run your PC audio out to your stereo then i would go with the GuitarPort, i think it's better than the POD, similar sounds but better front end, it's cheap too, you get the software with it, you can also download lessons from the Line6 website ( i think the subs fee is £3 per month ) and display them inside the GuitarPort window, do yourself a favour, before you lay out on a POD have a look at the Guitarport on the line6 website, i use GP all the time and it is excellent, you have 18 amp types that you can match with 24 cabinet/speaker types, 9 effect types with different manufacturers, all with controllable gain/treble bass/middle etc.
Think of your Benton/Epi... crap little speaker, pony valves, ultra cheap Chinese components made from the leftovers of your local landfill, all enclosed in a quality paper mache cabinet, how long will the appeal of that last? you can kiss a decent clean sound goodbye.
As soon as the volume knob touches number 2 on the Richter scale, it's going to be overdrive followed quickly by distortion, after a 30 minute session you will be using it as a doorstop.
GuitarPort all the way, and ive seen them used on ebay for £60, cheaper than filling up a Mondeo.

:lol: , How can I compete with Lee's "tell it like it is" advice? Seriously, Lee is better placed than I, especially if you're thinking of going through PC, because I avoid all that and stick to smelly old valve amps.

You're right, Chaim, the GA5 (head or combo) is lacking a headphone socket and I was thinking of the GA15. This doesn't have the awful DSP of the Epi equivalent but does have the headphone output as well as close to 15W from its pair of EL84s. I'm sure the internal 10" speaker is probably naff but so what if you use the 'phones a lot and, again, the huge expense of an attenuator is unnecessary until you start getting into 50W territory.

Look into Guitarport, as Lee suggests, if you're inclined toward the Pod and, when you do want to go for an amp or combo, my advice is to consider the Laney (more good advice from Lee) and the Harley Benton over its equivalent Epi.

BTW, we haven't discussed guitars (c'mon Lee :roll: ).

I don't particularly rate "Vintage" as a make; they manage to sound almost exactly, but not quite, unlike the guitar they're copying. If you were in the US, I'd say get an SX from Rondo Music; no argument. However, I suspect you're in Blighty and that's not such an easy option.

You want cheap, right? One possible is (talking 2nd hand here) a Sunn Mustang. The Indian made ones have a logo like the old Sunn; a bit like this: (((O))) whereas the (yuk) Chinese ones have a bucking, "Mustang" horse logo. The Indian ones are actually decent, sub-50quid, guitars and look like Fenders (built under licence). Strange bodywood but nice necks and the bridge pup has a real "quack" that even my proper guitarist likes. Some have a bridge humbucker that's also desirable.

Other than that, a 2nd hand Encore (made in India - probably the same factory Fender used for the Sunn) is made from decent chunks of ash and OK hardware for sub-50. The other obvious is a s/h Yamaha Pacifica.

Proper guitarists should start chiming in with suggestions soon :)

Thanks for the replies everyone.

I've decided to go the route of a cheapie guitar and a POD/Guitarport/Toneport and run things through my pc/stereo amp and speakers for a while until I'm clear on what I want and have a bit more to splash out on a shiny amp.

The only other thing left to decide is which guitar to buy at the moment I'm fairly stumped between a Squier Deluxe QMT strat, a standard fat strat and some sort of Les Paul/SG copy, be it epiphone, vintage or whatever is half decent.

Any advice on this? As for what I'd like to play, the styles I like are reasonably diverse from metal (Maiden, Sabbath, Motorhead, not so much new stuff) to blues to floyd or GnR type stuff, there lies the problem, the strat would probably be more fitting for bluesy stuff and floydesque stuff but not so much other stuff.

Thanks.

Lebowski.

1bassleft wrote:
BTW, we haven't discussed guitars (c'mon Lee :roll: ).

I don't particularly rate "Vintage" as a make; they manage to sound almost exactly, but not quite, unlike the guitar they're copying.

It's not often i disagree with Bass :roll: but.......
I like Vintage as a brand, ever since Trev Wilkinson has had some input in to the company it has got better and better. I think Trev now specialises in the 'Fret-King' guitars made by Vintage, but you also have the signature series which looks excellent, there is a new 'Robbie Gladwell' signature with 3 X P90 pickups which at the turn of a dial emulate single coils, all the hardware is designed by Trev Wilkinson so you know they are quality.
Robbie also did the 'Dr.Robert' slot in 'Guitarist' magazine ( Tech specialist )for many years, and i have a lot of respect for him and his signature looks inovative rather than a Strat copy.
Sure, Vintage do lots of copies, but they also do a lot of cutting edge stuff, i think you should try one before you dismiss it.

Thats my guitar input for the year 1bassleft :lol:

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