Best "grab-and-go" PRS combo amp?

Discussion in 'Amplifiers' started by shinksma, Oct 1, 2019.

  1. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    A couple of weekends ago my band played an open mike. We also hosted it with our equipment. Just a small local affair. As part of the hosting duties we are often asked by other acts to play along, if they are looking for additional guitar, backing vocals, whatever.

    A guitarist named Roberto (IIRC) asked me to play along we him. He had a very nice looking CU24 (10 top, I think) with what he thought was a custom color - looked like Charcoal with a blue burst (which sounds very custom-color). This was the only time I have seen someone else with a PRS at open mikes or the festivals we play (other than my wife when she plays bass on her Kingfisher, which is becoming more and more frequent).

    Anyway, he played into a 100W combo amp, no effects. I honestly can't remember the brand, not the usual Fender, Mesa Boogie, etc, but it was two channel, and sounded very Archon-like - I wanna say "Diamond", but I can't find any 100W combos made by them. I have a 100W Archon Head and 2x12 cab at home. His sound was very nice - good low end, clear and crunchy, etc. What we all like in a good rock'n'roll high gain amp.

    I was playing my usual "folk-rock" rig, with a pedal board that includes an amp emulator going into a Fishman Loudbox - at least half of what we play is acoustic, so I compromise on the dirt.

    My rig sounds good when I am the only one playing "rock'n'roll", and it certainly loud and dirty enough for the typical open mike crowd we hang with (lots of solo artists with an acoustic guitar singing Beatles or Tom Petty or James Taylor or originals in the same veins, etc). But next to Roberto's rock/metal machine, I realized I could use a bit more oomph.

    Taking my 100W Archon head and cab out is not practical - too big, too heavy, too complicated. So the 25W combo (~42lbs) seems like a fair compromise.

    My HXDA is a combo amp, but I think I'll want/need a 2-channel for the material I would play. And it is just that extra bit heavier at 50lbs, and bit bulkier - a couple inches in height and width compared to the Archon 25W combo.

    I assume (!) the Sonzera is good as a pedal platform but it doesn't seem to get super heavy by itself. At least what I could hear in the official PRS and other YouTube videos.

    An MT15 combo would fit the bill. But doesn't exist.

    Any other PRS combo amps that are great rock'n'roll grab'n'go?
     
  2. elvis

    elvis Hamfisted String Banger

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    2 Chan H or classic would be my choice.

    You could easily run the HXDA with the volume knob on your guitar and/or a dirt pedal like the Carl Martin Plexi or Friedman BEOD.

    Phil X plays single channel amps.
     
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  3. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    H or Custom 20/50
    The Custom 50 is about 60lbs though.
    I love the 50 for its versatility.
     
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  4. Tone-y

    Tone-y New Member

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    I know it's not a PRS amp, but check out the Bluguitar amp 1. Combined with their nanocab this would tick a lot of your boxes for a lightweight easily transportable rig that would still have punch. You'd have 100 watts of power, and your two channels (there are 4 different channels, but generally you switch between the clean channel and whatever you've selected of one of the 3 overdrive channels. All voiced to cover classic rock and roll tones from Marshall bluesbreaker thru JCM800 to duel rec/soldano type gain.
    And because all of the heavy lifting is being done by a solid state class D power amp, you can easily dial the volume to whatever level you need rather than whatever the power tubes are working best at.
    Checkout Thomas Blug's videos on youtube where he demos it.
     
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  5. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    I can't get a "good pseudo-acoustic" (clean elec with some acoustic overtones via some sort of acoustic pedal) sound out of the HXDA, which no matter what I do, is gonna be something I need in my tonal palette. Maybe I just haven't dialed it in, but I did try. It just sounds too much like an electric guitar! I can get a good-enough pseudo-acoustic sound using my Sweet 16 (head and cab mini-stack), which is obviously not so Marshally out of the gate, and the 100W Archon clean channel can do OK too, which is why I started leaning that way.

    Note that I use piezo-equipped PRSi like a P24 or P245SH or Hollowbody, and I will try the mag pups as well as the piezo or blend to see what could work.

    Right now I am trying to stick with PRS amps, because I just like them so much. But I may end up having to stray a bit from the brand, as it were. I recently "upgraded" the Fishman Loudbox I use to an Artist (was using a Mini), but I considered a Boss Katana, which apparently has an acoustic-sim mode (though I thought it sounded pretty lousy from the YouTube vids I watched).

    But I am really looking for that tube punch. Which reading reviews it appears the BluGuitar Am 1 provides...hmmm, need some more research! Lightweight, use a cab or direct into PA, hmm...
     
  6. Tone-y

    Tone-y New Member

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    Right, I appreciate you're keen to keep with PRS, but wanted to suggest the amp 1 as it ticks a lot of your boxes. Flexible and light weight
     
  7. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    So I spent some time at lunch (working from home today) comparing my pedalboard going into the Fishman Loudbox Artist vs my Archon 100 lead channel, with the Archon controls set to pretty well "noon" on all except overall channel volume. That's the Archon tone I am looking to replicate to some degree.

    First of all, the Loudbox Artist has much better low end compared to the Mini (which is what I played through at that open mike). So that was an immediate difference, a bit more "punch".

    Secondly, I tweaked my pedalboard settings a fair bit. I was using a RAT clone into an amp emulator pedal that was Fender-ish in intent. I kicked up the gain in the amp emulator, and played with the "filter" and gain settings on the RAT clone. Also tweaked the "EQ" on the Fishman Loudbox, dropping the mids a bit.

    It sounded much closer to what I wanted. But not quite...

    Then I remembered I had an OCD pedal clone. The OCD is known for being a bit more "amp" sounding than many distortion/OD pedals, and the clone I have is known to be pretty close to the OCD, with a tiny bit more low end.

    So, put the OCD clone in place of the Rat clone. AHA! That is much closer to the tone I want. Sure, I'm using an OCD clone, which is "plexi-sounding" into a Fender-like amp emulator. But much better than what I had a couple of weeks ago. At least, for my ears "today".

    It isn't pure tube multi-stage OD bliss, but it'll do for now!

    (But if I find a 25W Archon for a steal, I will probably grab it.)
     
  8. bodia

    bodia Authorities said.....best leave it.....unsolved

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    Custom 50 would get you there.
     
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  9. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    Dude! 60lbs! I'm looking for grab'n'go, not Lift'n'hernia!
     
  10. markd21

    markd21 New Member

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    I played a Sonzera 20 recently. That little thing was killer. If I was looking for a grab-n-go 2 channel combo that would be high on the list. It had enough volume and the bottom stayed tight. I still like my Bad Cat better, but if I didn't still have my Rivera S120 rig I'd get the Sonzera 20.
     
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  11. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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    I know... the Custom 20 is 49lbs I think
     
  12. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    How did you find the dirt channel? How would you compare it to other amps? To me it sounds good, but doesn't get high-gain enough for where I want to go with this.
     
  13. markd21

    markd21 New Member

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    I liked it. I am not about modern high gain anyway. If I can sound like the Scorpions in the 80s I am happy. I was able to do this with the Sonzera. I also tend to boost my mids rather than scoop them. I start with the mids, move to the bass, and then adjust treble and any other EQ.

    As a side note, I used my P22 with 57/08s for the test drive.
     
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  14. Tone-y

    Tone-y New Member

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    Ok, another not PRS option. But needs to be suggested.
    Boss katana. They've just come out with MK2 versions today. Can do all the sounds you want. In fact there's enough FX built in you could do pretty much any set you could think of just with a foot switch and the amp. And they're light weight. And they're cheap! You could get one just whilst you're figuring what else to get!
     
  15. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    I did look at the Boss Katana previously, as I mentioned in my second post in this thread. I found the acoustic mode to be a bit "meh". But I'll check out the video of the MkII - maybe they have improved that element.
     
  16. AP515

    AP515 Mostly Normal

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    They make dollies for a reason...
     
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  17. DreamTheaterRules

    DreamTheaterRules New and improved member

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    This is why I dislike terms like "grab and go." They sound cute and all, but have no real meaning. It's easier to carry a 25lb head and a 25lb cab than a 45lb combo... it just takes two hands. And one guy needs power and volume and a 65lb combo might be the least he can get away with, while another guy wants a 20lb light weight to play at very low volumes. To one guy, a 1oolb Mark III combo is his "grab and go" and to another, his 17lb Fender Mustang 1x8 is a "grab and go."

    Besides... no matter what rig you're taking, it's "grab and go." Right? Full stack, pedal board, 3 guitars, stands, ... grab and go. Or, grab, grab, grab, grab and go. :)
     
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  18. DreamTheaterRules

    DreamTheaterRules New and improved member

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    See, and as soon as you introduce that, it's "roll and go" which carries a whole different meaning.
     
  19. shinksma

    shinksma What? I get a title?

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    Oh, I know all about lugging lots of equipment. We also run a sound production company that can support up to three different stages of "folk-rock" sound (one with double mains, two with a single pair of mains each, typically). (We don't use subwoofers - the venues and styles generally don't lend themselves to it.) 8 to 10 mains speakers, 8 to 10 monitors, about 24 mike stands, 16 DI boxes, three mixing boards, and probably miles of cabling...

    A 17 lb Fender Mustang (or whatever) is exactly what I had in mind when I said "grab'n'go". I have a great 100W Archon head and cab. In theory I can move them with my two hands. But they will stay ensconced in my upstairs music room, probably never to be gigged.

    The Loudbox Artist I have just transitioned to is 25 lbs. That is the weight class I'd find suitable. The Archon 25W Combo at 42lbs is the same weight as my Fender HRDX, and that is about the limit of what I'd call grab'n'go.

    I don't need tons of power, which is why the 25W Archon is in play.

    But to be honest, the Loudbox Artist with the pedal board config I have now is "close enough" to what I was looking for in a rock/metal/crunch sound, while still fully supporting the acoustic tones I need. At least for today. Who knows what the weekend will bring?
     
  20. dmatthews

    dmatthews Dave's not here...

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