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Old 12-28-2017, 12:47 AM   #1
JoshHPMusic
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Default Best Rich, Full, Glass-like Clean Amp? ~circa Fender Hot Rod Deluxe...

Hey peeps,

So I got a used H&K Tubemeister 18 Head with a Panama Guitars 1x12 cab, and it just seems that tone hasn't really been cutting it for me. Specifically, I'm looking for a really smooth, rich, and clear clean sound. That's all I ask for. Something good for the likes of jazz, modern R&B/soul, and John Mayer-ish tones.

I've been considering a Fender Hot Rod Deluxe III, used for under $500, but not sure if I want to pull the trigger on that due to reliability issues and the number of people that even say it doesn't sound all that amazing. Before you bring up the volume pot issue, that isn't really one of my concerns as I know I could just replace the V1 preamp tube with something like a 12AY7.

My options can be either a combo amp or just an amplifier head, as I have the Panama cab, but I would like to keep it under $500, new or used. I also plan on getting a Line 6 Helix LT amp modeler/processor, with a PA speaker, but also want a nice tube amp to have in my home studio for jamming and recording purposes.

So should I jump on the HRD, III or original, keep the H&K, just get a Helix, or something else? Recommendations of all makes, large scale or boutique, would be appreciated!

Oh and I am playing mostly through a custom warmoth strat fitted with P90s.

Thanks so much,
-Josh
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Old 12-28-2017, 01:36 AM   #2
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The Matchless Chieftain

A shop I used to frequent had one in a 2x12 combo that I played on every chance I got, I fell in love with the full rich buttery smooth clean tones of that thing, and I have longed for one ever since. If I ever happen to have 4 grand laying around that I don't know what to do with, I will buy a Chieftain.

If you like full rich clean tone you should try one, you will walk away lusting for it.
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Old 12-28-2017, 01:37 AM   #3
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I would go Twin, or Bassman.
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Old 12-28-2017, 01:40 AM   #4
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For a combo amp, I can say my Blues Deluxe is very clean, with LOTS of headroom, and LOUD af. To stay within your budget, you'd have to find a used deal, as I've noticed they hold their value really well. If this is for home use, I'd say it's too loud.

I've only heard the HRDIII is a vast improvement over the original, but no personal experience.

I have a Jet City 22 watt 2112c combo. The cleans aren't pristine, but very manageable at home, lower headroom, and the cleans are pretty good, despite the 2 channels being called Crunch & Overdrive.

If you don't mind SS, the Boss Katana can cover lots of bases, but I've yet to hear anyone say they can get Fender cleans. I have the Kat 50, and the cleans sound a bit too warm to be "Fender clean," but I don't want that clean an amp anymore anyway.

FWIW, I bought the Amplifi TT (tabletop) processor for $85. I can plug it into the front of any amp, or into the the Send (or is it Return?) of my amp loop, and get a million sounds for massively cheap. Downside: only 4 presets on the box, and the hundreds of presets you can save, can only be saved to an app on your smartphone. The app is really intuitive, and for a guy like me that hates programming, it's about as easy as you can get. Oh, it's also an interface, and can be linked to your sound system if you want.

I know nothing about cabs, but it seems like you're trying to cover a lot of ground, and I'm not sure there's a simple answer.
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Old 12-28-2017, 12:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silimtao View Post


If you don't mind SS, the Boss Katana can cover lots of bases, but I've yet to hear anyone say they can get Fender cleans. I have the Kat 50, and the cleans sound a bit too warm to be "Fender clean," but I don't want that clean an amp anymore anyway.

.


I'm seriously considering the 100 and have been doing some research and from what I have read there is a "Twin" patch somewhere that is very Fender. I'm not sure if it is the tone studio thing or sneaky amps or what. I'm like you, I don't want a super clean tone anyway so warm is good for me. In my case I'm just not good enough to pull off crystal clean.
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Old 12-28-2017, 03:02 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Darylb23 View Post
I'm seriously considering the 100 and have been doing some research and from what I have read there is a "Twin" patch somewhere that is very Fender. I'm not sure if it is the tone studio thing or sneaky amps or what. I'm like you, I don't want a super clean tone anyway so warm is good for me. In my case I'm just not good enough to pull off crystal clean.
Supposedly there is now a cleaner setting, after the software upgrade. But I'm not interested enough to find it. When I was younger, I almost always played through a Twin. Since I came back to playing, I bought my Blues Deluxe, which is pretty clean, then spent a lot of time trying to dirty up the sound. I realized I was going about it all wrong, and then bought an amp with lower headroom- my Jet City fits the bill nicely.

The Kats are awesome amps imo. If you use Facebook, look for the Katana FB group. Lots of great tips. I didn't know about the software upgrade until I joined the group.
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Old 12-29-2017, 06:50 AM   #7
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These are all great recommendations- I checked out a lot of them but it's all a bit overwhelming. Seems to me like most of them are all good in their own rights, but none astoundingly great in the clean section and/or within my budget. In the process I realized that it's really just not worth my time and effort right now to find the right amp and shell out the cash too. I'm most definitely going for a Line 6 Helix LT with PA soon, which I know I'll be ale to get a plethora of incredible tones out of.

And in the meantime, I'm thinking I don't hate the Tubemeister quite as much as I thought I did. Mostly because I changed out the power tubes for Saratov's (made a huge difference) and the preamp tubes for a Tone King something-or-other and a JJ.

Now I think the reason it still sounds a little "dead", or lacking in depth and warmth, is probably up to that Panama cab's "V30" style speaker.
Can anyone recommend a good 12" for getting a really smooth, dynamic, warm sound?

Thanks so much,
​​​​​​​-Josh
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Old 12-29-2017, 07:31 AM   #8
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My suggestion....

Sell all of your inexpensive analog gear.

Get a reliable circuit-emulating digital combo for practice, and to hold you over till you are able to afford a real/serious analog amplifier or three.
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Old 12-29-2017, 12:14 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Sixstringplayer View Post
I would go Twin, or Bassman.
^^^

What she said. The best, richest clean tone I've ever heard out of an amp came from a modern version of the Bassman - Fender 60W 4x10 Blues DeVille
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Old 01-02-2018, 03:19 AM   #10
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I used to have a Hot Rod Deluxe. Really loved the clean tone. I used to play lead for a singer and he had a Deville in his practice room. It also had a fantastic clean tone. Too big and heavy for me though.

I traded my Hot Rod for a Blues JR because I was looking for a smaller amp that I could get a nice break up from t a lower volume.
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