Best Tube Amps Of 2021 Part 1
Todd Simpson
Nov 26 2021, 09:38 PM
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Before we run out of year, let’s take a look at some of the best TUBE AMPS of the year that was, 2021. The basic technology of tube amps dates back quite a ways. In some ways, these amps are very similar to what was built many decades ago. Thankfully, advances in materials and such have been made in recent years so that these amps are dependable and travel well. There are many folks who have abandoned tube amps for a processor. Still there are some folks who insist on a traditional tube amp. To wit!

1.)FENDER 64 CUSTOM PRINCETON REVERB ($2,300)
After you recover from the initial sticker shock, or not, you have before you the Fender 64 Custom Princeton Reverb. This amp is somewhat legendary for it’s responsiveness and full bodied chimney tone. It does claens in a way that just impresses. When pushed to overdrive, it’s warm and smooth. It features a traditional spring reverb that harkens back to earlier days and still provides great results. The output on this amp is 12 watts. This is more than enough for great gain at home and can be used for gigging as well. Of course, it’s a lower power amp so a mic in front may be called for. Some folks may balk at more than $2k for a 12 watt amp. However, folks who know what this amp can do will be well satisfied.

Attached Image


Preamp: 1 x 12AT7, 3 x 12AX7
Power: 2 X 6V6, 1 x 5AR4 rectifier
Speaker: 10 Inch jensen Alnico P10r
Output : 12 W
Weight: 32 lbs

2.)BLACKSTAR HT-1R MKII COMBO ($320)
Some folks just HATE Blackstar amps. If you are one of those guys, just skip this one and move on to the next one. This is a great deal on a real tube. This guys is built for home use. It’s a practice amp. Thus the output is only 1 watt. It’s not a gigging amp. But if you want tube tone for your practice space, this is a great value. The only real downside is that the speaker is only 8 inches and thus can sound a pinch boxy However, at lower volumes, it’s just fine. It also has a USB recording output so you can connect it to your computer to record your sessions Overall it’s a great value for a real tube amp.

Attached Image

Preamp: 1 X 12AX7
Power: 1 X 12UA7
Speaker: 8 Inch house brand
Output : 1w
Weight: 12 lbls


3.)PRS MT 15 MARK TREMOTI ($750)
This one has been in my roundups before. It’s a little monster of a tube head. It sounds HUGE. Of course, it’s just a head so it needs a speaker cab to go with it. If you have a speaker cab, of any size/type, this will drive it. Even though it’s only rated at 15 watts, it’s loud AF and will push your 4x12 loud enough to gig with. This is, of course, the signature amp for Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge. It’s a high gain monster. It looks small but it punches well above it’s weight. It’s a two channel amp so it’s flexible as well. It’s not a single channel one trick pony. You can trim the power back to 7w if you are practicing at home. 15 watts on this is actually too much for most home uses. This is a best of a little lunch box amp and it’s ready to practice, ready to gig, ready to record.

Attached Image


Preamp: 6 x JJEC835
Power: 2 x JJ 6L6GCMS
Speaker: NA
Output : 15W
Weight: 17lbs




*Get your gain on and try these 70s riffs!
https://www.guitarmasterclass.net/ls/70s-Ha...k-Riff-Bending/

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Caelumamittendum
Nov 29 2021, 09:15 AM
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My Laney Iron Heart half stack is of course not new anymore, but I think it sits at around 1000 USD (including the Laney IRT cabinet) and some 7-8 years back it seemed to make the rounds to guys like Ola Englund, Paul Glover, Rob Chapman played one, Keith Merrow too. I can certainly recommend it too smile.gif

The first release of the IRT60H (60 watt head that I have) does not have a D.I line out unfortunately, but they upgraded it since to have that in the newer versions. I do wish mine had that, as I might use it more, but oh well smile.gif If you buy one of these just be sure that it's the newer version. Both of them have an FX Loop too. I don't think they produce the first one anymore of course, but some stores might not be aware or will sell you one of the first models if they're still carrying those in stock. Go for the second one smile.gif

I just did a search on YouTube and it seems to be going around again a bit:

6 days ago:



1 day ago:



Earlier this year:







Makes me want to use it more watching these smile.gif

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Todd Simpson
Nov 30 2021, 12:38 AM
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That's a beast of an amp to be sure. As you know I also run a full rack rig with a hand built tube preamp and pedal board with a full size cab. I love using a big rig and micing it up. It's an entirely different experience than using plugins in terms of physical response. The entire room becomes part of the experience when one cranks up the volume a bit on a loud guitar amp/rig.

I fully suggest that every player, at some point, buys a real amp or rack with tubes in there somewhere for tone sake. It requires one to learn a new set of skills (hopefully transferring some from plugins) and learn how to mic up an amp!

They made a smaller "studio" version of the IronHeart as well with a 15 watt amp and a usb recording connection. Either way it's a great foundation.



QUOTE (Caelumamittendum @ Nov 29 2021, 04:15 AM) *
My Laney Iron Heart half stack is of course not new anymore, but I think it sits at around 1000 USD

Makes me want to use it more watching these smile.gif

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Caelumamittendum
Nov 30 2021, 01:02 AM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Nov 30 2021, 01:38 AM) *
That's a beast of an amp to be sure. As you know I also run a full rack rig with a hand built tube preamp and pedal board with a full size cab. I love using a big rig and micing it up. It's an entirely different experience than using plugins in terms of physical response. The entire room becomes part of the experience when one cranks up the volume a bit on a loud guitar amp/rig.

I fully suggest that every player, at some point, buys a real amp or rack with tubes in there somewhere for tone sake. It requires one to learn a new set of skills (hopefully transferring some from plugins) and learn how to mic up an amp!

They made a smaller "studio" version of the IronHeart as well with a 15 watt amp and a usb recording connection. Either way it's a great foundation.



Despite some bigger names using it (Ola, Keith Merrow) I think it never really caught on THAT much, actually. It does show up from time to time it seems, and especially the very last video I posted makes me want to crank mine up smile.gif

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Todd Simpson
Nov 30 2021, 07:50 AM
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I have seen a lot of vids with them and folks seem to really dig em. Killer tone, great looks, its' all there. It's a beast of a head with wads of versatility. It get come in to a complicated time in the market. Wads of options and the flood of processor/plugin options. Still, it's a wonderful thing to have an actual rig imho. As much as I love plugins for recording, I still head up my rack for practice. It's a 300 watt power amp with the tube pre and processor for fx. Loads of fun smile.gif I have found that I like my MXL 990 condenser mic more than my trusty sm57 for micing the amp as it picks up a LOT more bass. Sometimes i'll use both and blend them.

QUOTE (Caelumamittendum @ Nov 29 2021, 08:02 PM) *
Despite some bigger names using it (Ola, Keith Merrow) I think it never really caught on THAT much, actually. It does show up from time to time it seems, and especially the very last video I posted makes me want to crank mine up smile.gif

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Caelumamittendum
Nov 30 2021, 08:52 AM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Nov 30 2021, 08:50 AM) *
I have seen a lot of vids with them and folks seem to really dig em. Killer tone, great looks, its' all there. It's a beast of a head with wads of versatility. It get come in to a complicated time in the market. Wads of options and the flood of processor/plugin options. Still, it's a wonderful thing to have an actual rig imho. As much as I love plugins for recording, I still head up my rack for practice. It's a 300 watt power amp with the tube pre and processor for fx. Loads of fun smile.gif I have found that I like my MXL 990 condenser mic more than my trusty sm57 for micing the amp as it picks up a LOT more bass. Sometimes i'll use both and blend them.


Yeah, mic'ing up is an art in itself! I do still feel a tube amp sounds more "alive" than a plugin, but there are pros and cons. I do wish my Laney had the DI output as the new versions of the same head has. I wonder if it can be modded to have it, as it would be a nice option to have.

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Todd Simpson
Dec 1 2021, 03:06 AM
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Whats on the back panel of your Laney? Is there an output with speaker simulation?


QUOTE (Caelumamittendum @ Nov 30 2021, 03:52 AM) *
Yeah, mic'ing up is an art in itself! I do still feel a tube amp sounds more "alive" than a plugin, but there are pros and cons. I do wish my Laney had the DI output as the new versions of the same head has. I wonder if it can be modded to have it, as it would be a nice option to have.

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Caelumamittendum
Dec 1 2021, 06:26 AM
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This is the one I have, version 1

Attached Image




And here's the newer version of the same amp, same model name etc just produced later

Attached Image

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Todd Simpson
Dec 2 2021, 09:10 PM
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Is there a line out with speaker sim?


QUOTE (Caelumamittendum @ Dec 1 2021, 01:26 AM) *
This is the one I have, version 1

Attached Image




And here's the newer version of the same amp

Attached Image

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Caelumamittendum
Dec 3 2021, 12:10 AM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Dec 2 2021, 10:10 PM) *
Is there a line out with speaker sim?


I'm not entirely sure what you mean. I don't think I've seen . There's no line out - the picture is of all the outputs that are available on the amp. There's obviously a connection for a cable to the speakers, but those are just your standard speaker cables for 4/8/16 ohms. Nothing that says "out" anyway.

On the second revision of the head the "D.I." section on the back (picture 2 I posted) does what I think you're talking about, but they didn't include this for the first release and for all I've heard there's no option but to mic it up smile.gif I don't think they mentioned anywhere that they changed it for later releases of the same amp. I stumbled on it by accident when I saw a picture of a newer IRT60H and noticed it looked different than mine.

"The XLR-DI out allows you to connect your amplifier to a PA system or recording interface, without the need for micing. It is fully balanced and features a level switch for -30dB (PA/Desk level) or +4dB (Line level) for driving powered cabinets directly. The XLR-DI out also features a ground lift switch is also provided for lowest noise performance. Unlike most other XLR-DI out, the Laney fitted XLR-DI out is post the output section of the amp."
https://www.laney.co.uk/amps/guitar/ironheart/irt60h

There's no headphones out or anything like that either, by the way.

Here are some pics of the front and back smile.gif




Click to see larger version HERE

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Todd Simpson
Dec 7 2021, 03:58 AM
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Yeah! The XLR DI is what I was looking for smile.gif Have you recorded with that directly to your interface?



QUOTE (Caelumamittendum @ Dec 2 2021, 07:10 PM) *
I'm not entirely sure what you mean. I don't think I've seen . There's no line out - the picture is of all the outputs that are

Here are some pics of the front and back smile.gif




Click to see larger version HERE

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Caelumamittendum
Dec 7 2021, 04:48 AM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Dec 7 2021, 04:58 AM) *
Yeah! The XLR DI is what I was looking for smile.gif Have you recorded with that directly to your interface?


The XLR DI is only on the newer versions of the same amp, as said smile.gif Mine is the old version. They released one without it for a couple of years (or maybe more than a couple) and then started production of a newer version under the same model name but with an XLR DI. If you see the pics of "Version 1" I posted it doesn't have the XLR DI. Only the newer version has it smile.gif

It's a bit lame ending up with the old version then figuring out a few years later that there's a newer version produced under the same model name etc.

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Todd Simpson
Dec 7 2021, 07:24 AM
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My bad. I"m with ya now I think smile.gif

QUOTE (Caelumamittendum @ Dec 6 2021, 11:48 PM) *
The XLR DI is only on the newer versions of the same amp, as said smile.gif Mine is the old version. They released one without it for a couple of years (or maybe more than a couple) and then started production of a newer version under the same model name but with an XLR DI. If you see the pics of "Version 1" I posted it doesn't have the XLR DI. Only the newer version has it smile.gif

It's a bit lame ending up with the old version then figuring out a few years later that there's a newer version produced under the same model name etc.

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Caelumamittendum
Dec 7 2021, 03:24 PM
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QUOTE (Todd Simpson @ Dec 7 2021, 08:24 AM) *
My bad. I"m with ya now I think smile.gif


Yeah, no DI on mine unfortunately - or any of the newer features, but it sounds nice mic'ed up anyway.

This was one of the first real recordings I did with it mic'ed up, but it's okay, I think. Room for improvement of course, but that can come.

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Todd Simpson
Dec 8 2021, 04:30 AM
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Love the way a tube amp sounds! I love sims but I'll always have a soft spot for tube tone smile.gif Love the laney sound!!


quote name='Caelumamittendum' date='Dec 7 2021, 10:24 AM' post='794708']
Yeah, no DI on mine unfortunately - or any of the newer features, but it sounds nice mic'ed up anyway.

This was one of the first real recordings I did with it mic'ed up, but it's okay, I think. Room for improvement of course, but that can come.


[/quote]

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