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> Sleeper Amps, and other hidden gems
Mudbone
post May 24 2014, 07:36 PM
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The guitar equipment industry is massive and diverse. There are few other industries that I know of that have as many manufacturers for such a small segment of consumers. It's also an industry that has survived the trend of outsourcing manufacturing to Southeast Asia. Sure, much of the equipment that is on the market today is produced in a Chinese sweatshop, but the boutique industry in North America/Europe is alive and well. In fact, having a sticker that says, "Made in USA" or "Made in UK" is actually a marketing asset. There is a demand for American/British/European goods, and wherever there is a demand, there is a supplier trying to satisfy it.

This has caused a flood of amps, pedals, and guitars in to the market. Some of it is great, some not so great. Some have sold well, while others have gotten pushed to the side. This doesn't mean that the equipment was bad, but its relegation into obscurity was usually the result of poor marketing, and finicky consumers. Guitarists are not savvy consumers, but rather emotional ones.

One classic example of this is the Ampeg VL series amps. In the early 90's, Ampeg, traditionally known for their bass equipment, decided they wanted a piece of the booming high gain amp market. In order to produce a competitive product, they brought on board Lee Jackson, who earned his fame modding Marshalls for many of the famous 80's metal bands. Together they produced a great amp, but it had one fatal flaw - the badge. Nobody wanted an amp produced by a vintage bass company.

Today you can find one of these amps in the $300-500 range. I seen one not too long ago for $350, but unfortunately I did not have the money at the time to drop on yet another amp head.

Here are a few other pieces of sleeper equipment:
- Peavey Rockmaster preamp
- Crate Blue Voodoo
- Acoustic GT-50

So, what sleeper equipment do you know of?

It doesn't have to be manufactured in the west, or even a discontinued model. I'm curious what other storied pieces of equipment are out there that killer performers.



P.S. - I know I'm kind of stretching the use of the word "sleeper", but I couldn't think of a more suitable word tongue.gif

This post has been edited by Mudbone: May 24 2014, 07:37 PM


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PosterBoy
post May 24 2014, 08:12 PM
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Pretty sure Paul Gilbert endorsed the Ampeg amp for a while between the ADA preamp and Laney amp, so that would have been the first and maybe second Mr Big records, it was the amp that brought attenuators to my knowledge, as it has one inbuilt


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klasaine
post May 25 2014, 12:38 AM
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Not necessarily 'cheap' but super high quality. Hand wired, USA 'Groove Tubes' amps.
Solo 45, 75 and single.
https://www.google.com/search?q=groove+tube...309&bih=676



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Mudbone
post May 25 2014, 01:19 AM
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QUOTE (klasaine @ May 24 2014, 06:38 PM) *
Not necessarily 'cheap' but super high quality. Hand wired, USA 'Groove Tubes' amps.
Solo 45, 75 and single.
https://www.google.com/search?q=groove+tube...309&bih=676


Cool, this is what I like to see, sort of a hidden gem. How much do these go for now?


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He who laughs last thinks slowest.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens


Gear:

Guitars: Uncle Rufus' Twanger Classic
Amps: Mississippi Boom Box
Mojo: Hammer of Odin and a pair of Ox gonads
Inspiration: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Zero to Hero: 1,387/10,000

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SeeJay
post May 25 2014, 03:22 AM
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AMPEG!!!

I LOVE Ampeg gear. Their biggest issue over the years was that they were bought out soooo many times. In the early days, they also put out a LOT of amps and it can be quite confusing. I've had about 12 or so Vintage Ampeg pieces. There's a great book about Ampegs. CHECK IT

The Lee Jackson stuff is great. Held in high regard with the people who actually know what they are looking at. My only beef with them is the look.

Fender was what probably made Ampeg work with Lee Jackson. They had their Rivera amps in the 80s to try and stay modern.

Sleeper is the right word though. There are definitely some solid series of amplifiers that have been manufactured that only lasted a few years. Off the top of my head is the Crate Vintage Club series in the 90s. Say what you will about Crate (who actually owns Ampeg now) but those amps are killer. The VC30 is a great stage amp. 30 watts, 1x12 (celestian I believe). Came in a black or eggshell off white.


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klasaine
post May 25 2014, 07:14 AM
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QUOTE (SeeJay @ May 24 2014, 07:22 PM) *
Off the top of my head is the Crate Vintage Club series in the 90s. Say what you will about Crate (who actually owns Ampeg now) but those amps are killer. The VC30 is a great stage amp. 30 watts, 1x12 (celestian I believe). Came in a black or eggshell off white.


Great f'n amp! I had a creme one.

Groove Tubes amps go for anywhere from $550 to $2000 depending on the model and condition. They're not always easy to find.


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Ben Higgins
post May 25 2014, 12:26 PM
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I remember reading in the liner notes of the live Ozzy album 'Live and Loud', Zakk Wylde giving thanks to Ampeg and wondering what the hell they were !

I remember seeing Marty Friedman endorsing the Blue Voodoo amps in an old guitar mag.

I hadn't heard either being played though.

Maybe not a sleeper by your parameters but the Peavey Ultra and Peavey XXX are perhaps not as popular as their contemporaries ?

Have you still got your Ultra, 'Bone ? I sold mine last year. Sad but it had to be done sad.gif


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SeeJay
post May 25 2014, 06:08 PM
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Those Groove Tube amps are interesting to me. Always kept an eye out for one, but they are always a bit pricey for me.

QUOTE (klasaine @ May 25 2014, 06:14 AM) *
Great f'n amp! I had a creme one.

Groove Tubes amps go for anywhere from $550 to $2000 depending on the model and condition. They're not always easy to find.



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Mudbone
post May 25 2014, 08:19 PM
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QUOTE (Ben Higgins @ May 25 2014, 07:26 AM) *
I remember reading in the liner notes of the live Ozzy album 'Live and Loud', Zakk Wylde giving thanks to Ampeg and wondering what the hell they were !

I remember seeing Marty Friedman endorsing the Blue Voodoo amps in an old guitar mag.

I hadn't heard either being played though.

Maybe not a sleeper by your parameters but the Peavey Ultra and Peavey XXX are perhaps not as popular as their contemporaries ?

Have you still got your Ultra, 'Bone ? I sold mine last year. Sad but it had to be done sad.gif



Yup I still got the Ultra Plus. Can't really play it though, because I live in an apartment complex with paper thin walls. I know my neighbor is lactose intolerant because I can hear his flatulence right after breakfast.

The Ultra Plus definitely is a sleeper. It's pretty much the Rockmaster preamp put in to a head. It was released right before the 5150, and from what I know, didn't receive much artist endorsement. It's too bad you had to get rid of yours. Unfortunately people are starting to rediscover older gear and the prices are going up. I got mine for around $300, but they're approaching the $500 price range now.



This post has been edited by Mudbone: May 25 2014, 08:20 PM


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He who laughs last thinks slowest.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence." - Christopher Hitchens


Gear:

Guitars: Uncle Rufus' Twanger Classic
Amps: Mississippi Boom Box
Mojo: Hammer of Odin and a pair of Ox gonads
Inspiration: Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Zero to Hero: 1,387/10,000

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Cosmin Lupu
post May 25 2014, 08:40 PM
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Hey guys, I currently own a Crate Blue Voodoo 120 head - USA made that rocks the socks! It's an extremely heavy piece of gear, but I like it - it has enough gain and definition for what I need to do with Days of Confusion and I will test it with the Pantera tribute band soon enough smile.gif

Here's a shot of my stage rig:



This post has been edited by Cosmin Lupu: May 25 2014, 08:41 PM


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