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-   -   Combo Amps Meant For Archtop Jazz (https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=600092)

cheer tunes 12-05-2020 06:50 AM

Combo Amps Meant For Archtop Jazz
 
I'm getting back into archtops after 20 years of not having one. What are the boutique combo amps that are designed for jazz? Back in the day I remember Polytone and the Roland Jazz Chorus. I'm most likely going to get either a Heritage 575 or Guild SF3.
Thanks

Bob Womack 12-05-2020 08:27 AM

Do you want some authentic fun? Track down an Epiphone Electar Zephyr amplifier from the 1930s. It looks like a big band music stand. A friend had one of these when I was young and it was really good looking. The "E" fretwork is a rarity these days.

https://content.invisioncic.com/p286...8fd5f4e0fc.jpg

Failing that, look up an Epiphone Electar Coronet.
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/pr...XndcQB1hRQtJNc

Epiphone also made an Electar Century
https://d3h6k4kfl8m9p0.cloudfront.ne...-Rc1uzqacg.jpg

A couple of years ago they did an 18 watt, short run 75th anniversary version. It had the same aesthetic but was a more modern amp with "pull boost" volume control.

https://media.musiciansfriend.com/is...00-500x500.jpg


You can find these used on Reverb in the $400 range. There's a Vintage Guitar review HERE.

iim7V7IM7 12-05-2020 08:39 AM

All three these companies make solid state amps that are lightweight, road worthy with plenty of clean headroom and are used by archtop playing jazz pros.

- Acoustic Image
- Evans
- Henriksen

cheer tunes 12-05-2020 08:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bob Womack (Post 6567324)
Do you want some authentic fun? Track down an Epiphone Electar Zephyr amplifier from the 1930s. It looks like a big band music stand. A friend had one of these when I was young and it was really good looking. The "E" fretwork is a rarity these days.

https://content.invisioncic.com/p286...8fd5f4e0fc.jpg

Failing that, look up an Epiphone Electar Coronet.
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/pr...XndcQB1hRQtJNc

Epiphone also made an Electar Century
https://d3h6k4kfl8m9p0.cloudfront.ne...-Rc1uzqacg.jpg

A couple of years ago they did an 18 watt, short run 75th anniversary version. It had the same aesthetic but was a more modern amp with "pull boost" volume control.

https://media.musiciansfriend.com/is...00-500x500.jpg


You can find these used on Reverb in the $400 range. There's a Vintage Guitar review HERE.

Interesting but definitely not for me. I should have put in that portability, durability, and ease of transport are also requirements.

cheer tunes 12-05-2020 08:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 6567337)
All three these companies make solid state amps that are lightweight, road worthy with plenty of clean headroom and are used by archtop playing jazz pros.

- Acoustic Image
- Evans
- Henriksen

Thanks! Definitely what I'm looking for

cheer tunes 12-05-2020 09:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 6567337)
All three these companies make solid state amps that are lightweight, road worthy with plenty of clean headroom and are used by archtop playing jazz pros.

- Acoustic Image
- Evans
- Henriksen

Henriksen Bud10 seems like the perfect amp for running guitar and vocals simultaneously.

Mark L 12-05-2020 02:57 PM

Henriksen makes several really nice candidates in 10 and 12 speaker formats.

Also, consider a SF Princeton Reverb, or current reissue.

The Growler 12-05-2020 06:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by iim7V7IM7 (Post 6567337)
All three these companies make solid state amps that are lightweight, road worthy with plenty of clean headroom and are used by archtop playing jazz pros.

- Acoustic Image
- Evans
- Henriksen

Might I also suggest checking out the DV Mark series as well. Might fit the bill.

dc. 12-05-2020 06:38 PM

I'm a jazz guitarist who loves acoustic and archtop guitars. I've never played any amps that I like better than my old octal tube amps.

Some of them are "full range" amps originally intended for PA systems or phono/mic setups. I have a couple from the 1950s that are absolutely stellar for everything from electric to acoustic instruments, and I recently had a small custom octal head built designed for going direct using a cab simulator. It is a top-shelf piece of gear - 1930s/40s technology in a modern format. I remember when I first played through a military octal amp by Stromberg Carlson, I bought it and sold my 1965 Fender Bandmaster immediately.

There are a few guys making very nice new octal tube combos similar to old Supros and Gibson amps. If you buy a small, low wattage amp with a 10" speaker or something in that ballpark, you'll end up spending about the same as you would on a Henriksen and it will be very portable. Here are a couple of examples, but there are a number of these kinds of builders around:

http://www.vintage47amps.com/

https://www.raezers-edge.com/product.../#sequelcombos

The Henriksen "The Bud" is quite popular and definitely super small and light, although how small and light do you need it to be? If you're taking a subway and walking to a gig I understand it, but personally I will skip the 6" speaker and 9" square box in favour of a 10" speaker, a little bigger box and a better sound (to my ears anyway), and still end up with a very lightweight combo. I am interested in trying the new model, "The Bud Ten", but haven't had a chance to yet.

Best of luck!

Steve DeRosa 12-05-2020 09:17 PM

Since I didn't see any mention of weight in the OP, I'll assume that's an open-ended requirement...

First off, you don't make it clear what you mean by "designed for jazz," which could mean anything from a prewar Gibson EH-150 (or the aforementioned Epiphone "bandstand" combos) to a modeling rig that specializes in clean tones or anything in between, tube or solid state; that said, when it comes to a go-to amp this old guy favors "big-clean" tone: harmonically rich, loads of headroom, sufficient volume for any gig I'm likely to play (up to a 600-700 seat hall), and 12" or 15" speaker(s) to adequately reproduce that characteristic creamy low end in something larger than a small-club setting...

Inasmuch as the term "boutique" appears in your opening question, it's a pretty safe guess that you're prepared to spend whatever funds necessary to achieve your signature tone. Once again, a bit of clarification would be helpful: are you looking for the slight wooliness of prewar combos, classic '50s Bop-era warmth, the equally classic '60s tube-driven clarity exemplified by blackface Fender and blue-check Ampeg gear, '70s/80s first-generation solid-state clean (Roland JC, Polytone, Randall "orange/grey-panel" two-channel combos), "modern" Class-A tube tone, pre-2K MOSFET/JFET "tube wannabe," new-gen Class-D big-power featherweight, or a modeler that can call up all of the above (as well as a bunch we haven't touched on yet) at the push of a button? Needless to say. keep your artistic preferences in mind when you make your selection - IMO your choice of instruments (Heritage 575 and Guild Starfire III) suggest a broader-based approach, and since the amp is at least 50% of your final tone you'll need something that not only reflects your versatility, but accurately captures the tones you're hearing in your head and complements both guitars equally...

I don't know how much prior experience you have with electric guitar amps in general (and those that will serve you well as a "jazz amp" in particular), but in the grand scheme you can't go wrong with a classic medium-/high-power 1x12"/2x12"/1x15" American-style tube combo - meaning 6V6/6L6/7027/6CA7 power section and American-voiced (Jensen, JBL, EV, Oxford, Utah, current Eminence Patriot series) speakers; although I've seen a couple guys press a Vox AC15 into service, British EQ/speakers don't really work well for jazz (one possible exception - if you install an American replacement speaker - might be the 1x12" VoxAC30S1 that recently received a $200 factory-authorized price drop). Thankfully Fender has reissued their blackface Twin/Deluxe Reverb combos, and while the Twin is a real monster in terms of both volume and weight the Deluxe might be a viable choice - in fact, the best straight-ahead jazz tone I ever heard was a two-pickup Gibson Johnny Smith through a JBL-equipped Deluxe Reverb - especially if you need something versatile enough to cover both the Heritage and the Guild; if you still crave the big box but don't want to deal with the weight, the digital Tonemaster Twin comes in around ten pounds and $200 less than the all-tube Deluxe (FYI there's also a 23-pound Deluxe version), boasts all the key features of the tube Twin, and has a scalable power section (1W - 85W) that'll let you use it for any size gig as well as late-night practice...

If you're into vintage tube gear I'd recommend seeking out a good blue-check Ampeg Gemini II 30W 1x15" combo which, unlike their blackface Fender contemporaries, can still be had for well under $1K. These amps - along with the relatively rare 60W/2x12" B-12XT Portaflex (Ampeg's would-be "Twin-killer" and IMO one of the greatest - and least-appreciated - amps of all time) and iconic B-15 bass amp - were the mainstays of the New York studio/club scene in the 1960's; FYI the studio models were equipped with cylinder locks, with keys issued by AFM Local 802 only to A-list players (the origin of the "Key Club," New York's answer to the Funk Brothers and Wrecking Crew) - and if you're familiar with the period work of Tony Mottola, George Barnes, Al Caiola, Artie Ryerson, Hy White et al. that's the tone you're hearing. Thing is, although these amps were conceived as jazz boxes (Ampeg founder/CEO Everett Hull hated rock music with a passion) they make excellent rock and country amps as well - I rented them (along with the baby-brother 1x12" Gemini I) back in the day for gigs where my '64 top-panel/non-reverb Rocket wouldn't cut it - and if you see yourself crossing over to the dark side on occasion (or plan to use a stompbox or two as sweetener) it's an ideal choice IMO. Absent the availability of a suitable example, I modified my first-generation "blue-light" Bugera V22 22W 1x12" to "Key Club" Ampeg tone-clone specs with an Eminence Swamp Thang speaker, a set of Soviet mil-spec replacement tubes, and a mild rebias (the current Infinium version is self-biasing); for a total investment of around $650 you can have a brand-new, all-tube rig that'll cover about 95%+ of the gigs you're likely to play, with tone that IME will open the eyes/ears (and furrow the brows :mad:) of owners of boutique amps at two and three times the price - and if you still need more clean headroom the V55 55-watter will give it to you in spades, for about $50 more,,,

Good luck with your search... :guitar:

cheer tunes 12-06-2020 06:50 AM

Yeah, my spec was pretty loose. Portability and solid state are also things I'm interested in. Want to be able to move it around easily. I'd like to sing though channel 2 so the Bud10 seems like it would do well with that.
But hard to say if that little box can circulate enough sound for a small room.

Steve DeRosa 12-06-2020 11:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cheer tunes (Post 6568189)
...Portability and solid state are also things I'm interested in. Want to be able to move it around easily. I'd like to sing though channel 2 so the Bud 10 seems like it would do well with that. But hard to say if that little box can circulate enough sound for a small room.

You're right on all counts; as a solo act, job one is quick-in/quick-setup/quick-out - and sound good doing it - and there are several ways to approach that, some better than others:
  • Old-school two-channel guitar amp: this is how it was done back in the day, vocals through the bare-bones channel (channel 1 on a Fender-style combo) and guitar through the trem/verb channel. While you'll get excellent guitar tone, unless you sing like Pavarotti the advantages of a one-box rig are outweighed by the lack of control over your vocals - in addition to which you'll need some sort of transformer/adapter/DI box to allow you to plug in with the now-universal XLR mic plug (pre-1970's mics used 1/4" plugs): OK in a pinch, but not in the long run...
  • Acoustic-guitar amp: a popular option, affording control over both guitar and vocals along with onboard enhancement (reverb/delay. chorus, etc.). While you'll get a very clean tone, what works for acoustic guitar doesn't necessarily cut it as an electric jazz-guitar amp - IME the character inherent in a purpose-built guitar combo is sorely lacking - and if you go this route you'll likely need some sort of outboard processor (preferably tube-based) to "warm up" your tone; since amps of this type tend to be smaller and use small (usually 6-8", sometimes 10") drivers, there's also the previously-raised question of adequate audience coverage...
  • Head/cabinet-style PA: no worries about adequate volume/spread but similar issues to acoustic-guitar amp, to which we can add weight/bulk and the need for ancillary equipment (speaker stands/cables, outboard processor)...
  • Column-style PA: a Bose-style single-unit system is compact, lightweight, and powerful enough for most situations, and several companies produce them at a variety of price points - again, you'll need an external processor to warm up your tone...
FYI a few years ago my wife and I attended a function where a solo guitarist provided cocktail-hour music with a sonically-impressive - and flexible - setup consisting of a Bose column PA, Epiphone ES-175 Premium, Fender Frontman 25R combo amp with replacement Eminence Lil' Buddy speaker, and wireless packs (headset for vocals, "bug" for guitar); not only did this allow each piece of equipment to do what it was best suited for, but he was able to do the "strolling guitarist" thing while allowing other tables to listen in comfortably over the PA/amp in a fairly- good-sized room (about 100 people at the function, room capacity 250) - and load out in one trip after the gig. While your choice of gear might differ, given your situation a setup of this type might in fact be the ideal solution...

dc. 12-06-2020 02:13 PM

Steve has outlined the options well here I think..! I'm in the process of sorting out a couple of these for myself.

Re. tube amps, I'm betting that his suggestion of the old Ampeg is very good advice - he's not the first person with experience I've heard talk about the quality of these amps. Old Ampegs are also sought after for their reverb and tremolo. The problem here of course is the typical one with great old tube amps - the Gemini I weighs in the ballpark of 50 lbs, and I'm guessing the Gemini II and Portaflex are even heavier.

Incidentally Steve, I have a 1960s Sound Electronics Corp X305R amp with a single Jensen 15" speaker. There's not much information about these online but my understanding is that they were built by John Dougherty, a former Ampeg employee. The quality of the cabinet is quite high, and the amp has a very nice reverb and a spectacular tremolo. I'm guessing it is similar to Ampegs from the same period.

Steve DeRosa 12-06-2020 04:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dc. (Post 6568598)
... I have a 1960s Sound Electronics Corp X305R amp with a single Jensen 15" speaker. There's not much information about these online but my understanding is that they were built by John Dougherty, a former Ampeg employee. The quality of the cabinet is quite high, and the amp has a very nice reverb and a spectacular tremolo. I'm guessing it is similar to Ampegs from the same period.

As you said there's very little information, but I do remember seeing them in some of the Brooklyn music stores that couldn't score an Ampeg franchise; unfortunately I never tried one myself so I can't attest to its tonal merits, but it does bear a passing resemblance to the '68 Ampeg B-22X Jupiter 55W/2x12" vertical combo owned by our last band's bass player (who used it for both guitar and bass):

https://images.reverb.com/image/uplo...p7jr39eqja.jpg

FWIW it's the vertical 2x12" version I remember from this time - slightly taller than yours, and IIRC also equipped with the then-trendy metal-dustcap speakers seen in the Jupiter photo...

I'd be very interested in the tube complement - if it's a true Ampeg-derived circuit you're probably looking at 7027 or 7591 power tubes running Class AB (7868's were generally used as a 7591 substitute in lower-powered Class-A amps like the Jet/Rocket, and I suspect yours is closer to the Gemini/Jupiter topology), as well as a couple of oddball preamp tubes; FWIW I understand from word-of-mouth info the other Ampeg offshoots like Oliver and Andre might have used more conventional glassware in their circuits (TMK Teneyck was strictly solid-state) - again, I've never examined the latter two and it's been about fifty years since I last saw anything with the Oliver name, so don't regard this information as hard fact. Although Jess Oliver, Gene Andre, and Dennis Kager are unfortunately no longer with us (FYI Dennis was my amp tech, the guy who built my '64 top-panel/no 'verb Rocket - told me it was one of the very first amps he worked on when he came to Ampeg - and the last living link to the blue-check era) Gene Andre Jr. has a LinkedIn page where he lists himself as owner/operator of Andre Audio-tronics, the firm founded by his father; might be a long shot, but here's the page link if you think he can shed any light on your amp:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/gene-andre-9b24b166

dc. 12-06-2020 06:01 PM

Steve,

I took some pictures of the amp for you but I can't seem to post them. I even downloaded the app and tried the + button, but no dice.

Anyway, the power tubes are 2x 7868 and there are 5x preamp tubes with metal jackets. It's kind of hard to get in there so I only uncovered one of the preamp tubes and found a 12AU7. The transformers look unusually large and high quality for a typical guitar amp.


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