Boutique? Stock? Whatever? If you are low on cheese but want to add some boutique-esque vibe to your amp set up I’ve got some amps for you. Here are some of my tips for amps under $500 for all of you cheap bastards! Epiphone Valve Junior Half Stack
It’s the ultimate in simplicity and tone delivered in one little package - it’s the Valve Junior half stack from Epiphone. The Valve Junior Head and matching cab make for a distinct vintage style and undeniably powerful tube tone.
Much like Master Yoda don’t be fooled by its small size. This straight-forward single-ended Class A tube amp has been applauded for it’s tube tone and style and leaving you more than enough cash in pocket for other necessities – like gas! The head delivers 5W power with one 12AX7 tube in the preamp and an EL84 in the power amp. The lunchbox can work a 4x12 cab and can deliver some great overdrive all dimed out. The cab features birch plywood construction and a 16 ohm 12" Eminence Lady Luck Speaker rated for 70 watts RMS.
If you want killer looks and great tube tone that won’t break the bank (or your back) be sure to check out Epi’s Valve Junior half stack! PS – The mods to this amp are KILLER and are also worth researching! Check out my previous TONE FREQ LINK OF THE WEEK: BITMO MODSGretsch Electromatic G5222 – Street price $195.00
Classic looks, great price and the Gretsch name – what’s not to love? If you are looking for some vintage tone for home recording or just playing the coffee shop down the road give this five watt hat box a shot.
This two input combo has a specially designed 6” 6 ohm speaker, single volume control, external speaker jack (way cool) and is powered by a tube preamp and tube power amp (one 12AX7 tube; one 6V6 tube). The tweed look alone had me at “hello!” Marshall AS50D – Street price $385.00
Speaking of the coffee shop I didn’t forget about you acoustic bangers. The critically acclaimed Marshall AS50D is a 50-watt, is one of my favorite acoustic amps. Not just because of its pedigree but because of the number of features! The 2 x 8" acoustic guitar combo amp has 2 channels, including a phantom-powered microphone channel, a crispy tweeter, digital chorus and reverb, and an anti-feedback notch filter! Each channel sports its own volume, EQ, FX loop, and D.I. output. Master volume, line out and RCA inputs round things out nicely.
I love playing through this amp and consider this a MUST own for the acoustic musician. I have even used this amp in conjunction with a POD and it sounds pretty good for the rehearsal room! Kudos to Marshall!
Although you might be able to find some great deals at pawn shops, garage sales and scratch-n-dents my research and hands-on use find these new models some of the best in their price points. (Manufactures please feel free to prove me wrong and send me some gear to review!) Next time I’ll examine some bigger combos and half stacks. In the meantime - happy hunting! “Tone Freq” Aljon Go is considered to be a “pedal junkie” by his peers often asked for advice when building pedal boards. He toured the world with his award winning band Mink and was the artist relations/marketing pro for a musical accessory company. He currently spends his time bringing new and exciting tones to regional acts Jaux King and JonesWorld. He is also host of the long running “Local Buzz” radio show in Nashville and product specialist for a leading instrument company.
Freq’n out? E-mail Aljon: tonefreq(at)gmail(dot)com.