Holy Grail Amplifiers

Discussion in 'Amplifiers' started by LSchefman, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    In keeping with the spirit of the ‘holy grail PRS’ thread, I thought it might be fun to talk about holy grail amplifiers.

    I have one of mine, and one of my two runners-up is still in my studio. The third left ten years ago, and I regret letting it go.

    So. Tops:

    1. PRS HXDA - I could go into a zillion reasons why this works well for me, but it’s the closest thing to two vintage plexis in one, and is better than I ever imagined a modern amp could be. It’s been my #1 since the day it was delivered.

    First Runner-Up. PRS DG30 - The yin to the HXDA’s yang. At first, I didn’t know quite how to get the most out of this amp, but once the light bulb went on, blammo! It’s an absolutely killer design, and works in a mix extremely well with the HXDA (or most other amps, to be honest).

    Second Runner-up. Two-Rock Onyx Signature V2 - Two-Rock is known for their single-channel, cascading gain amps, but the Onyx was a true two-channel amp with separate tone and gain controls for each channel (and tone stack bypass for when you wanted everything on ‘11’). Could do Dumble, could do Marshall, could do Fender-ish clean tones. I had four versions of the Onyx at different times, but the V2 Sig was the penultimate, and I tubed it with NOS glass just to make things even more awesome. I wound up preferring the more vintage tones of the other two amps I listed, but this was a great amp.

    I’m also digging Mesa’s new Fillmore, but it’s too soon to know whether it’ll ascend the Mountain of Holy Grails. ;)
     
  2. dogrocketp

    dogrocketp I drank the PRS kool aid, and it was tasty!

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    Believe it or not, I have an SE 2 channel 30 combo that Paul “modified.” Even Doug Sewell doesn’t know what he did. The cleans are almost Fendery in clarity, and the lead channel can be anything I want. Thick, syrupy and clear as a bell, roaring 70’s to the edge of destruction, blues with great sustain, it’s all there. It’s my wheel of fortune amp. Spin the dials and see what prize you get.
     
  3. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    My DG30 has me not looking at other amps.... does that mean it’s my Holy Grail?
     
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  4. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Yes, but you can have a holy grail in each category, if you like. Makes sense to me, anyway. ;)

    So maybe you could have the DG30 as your #1 holy grail, but have, say a holy grail AC30 or Fender, etc., because they’re different types of amps.

    Like, for me a great example of a ‘63-‘65 AC30 would be a holy grail item - again, stressing that it’d have to be a stellar example of that model. I didn’t list it because I’ve never owned one; played through some, worked in the studio with later versions, etc., but I hesitate to list it in my grail list because I haven’t lived with one.

    I like to live with an amp before I’d give it the holy grail moniker, but no one else needs to do that.
     
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  5. Great Gazoo

    Great Gazoo New Member

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  6. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    Ahh, okay. In that case I have to add my old Mesa/Boogie Strategy 500 power amp... that thing was amazing! I greatly preferred it to the 50/50 I eventually replaced it with.

    Sadly, I would have no place to use a 200 watt per side power amp anymore, unless it was to drown out jet aircrafts or stun a hippopotamus.
     
  7. Tucson Thump

    Tucson Thump Mint Heavy Relic

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    Yes, but you're probably saving up for the DG cabinet and so can't look at other amps.
     
  8. veinbuster

    veinbuster Freeze zone

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    You not looking at anything else kind of makes it my Holy Grail.

    That said, if I was going to pick one more amp from the known universe, it would probably be Boogie’s Super Dallas - that thing is sprinkled with a triple helping of Sewell magic.
     
  9. bodia

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

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    Giggle!
     
  10. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    I can always count on you guys. :p
     
  11. bodia

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

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    We're here for ya!
     
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  12. Bill SAS 513

    Bill SAS 513 Just another old guy in a T-shirt

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    So this too, might be...cyclical. ( my favorite word...lol) Right now, I'm in full pedal OD/ Dist mode, so a clean full sounding tube amp is exactly what the doctor ordered. Dr Z Z-28 and KT 45 are two of the nicest clean amps I've ever played through. So they're my Holy Grail, for now, anyway.
    Side note: I did just pick up a used PRS MT-15 for crunch, and it has that for days!! HOLY MOLY!!
    And it actually cleans up really well too. I put effects pedals through the front, in line with the guitar. No extra buzzes, hums, or noise at all. ( was a major concern, after reading some reviews). Especially with a Mike Mushok baritone...Loving it , for sure.

    With that being said, I have heard a couple over driven Dumbles live, which do , IMHO, have something incredible inside. They'd probably fall into the Amp holy grail category for me.
     
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  13. markd21

    markd21 New Member

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    For years my "Holy Grail" was the Rivera M/S series. I liked the mono amps (M) when I needed less power live. Rivera really pioneered the power-scaling thing. My 1990 M100 could be 100/50/25/12 watts. I was always able to get the right preamp/power amp interaction regardless of application. Once I got the stereo head (S) I was able to ditch the big rack for the wet/dry set-up and control it all from one head. I had the 2-channel preamp with two 60 watt power amps, again with individual power-scaling (60/30/15/7 per side). I could also run four cabs off one head. Didn't do it very often, but I could. Those were my amps for 25 years.

    Recently, via my use of modeling, I realized I really like Class A amps like Matchless. So, while I still have a Rivera head/cab in the gear closet, I have gravitated to Bad Cat amps. I have two. One is like a really good AC15 - it has an EF86 channel and a 12ax7 channel, a boost, a simple tone stack, the tone cut circuit, a GREAT master volume, and a sweet 15 watt power section with a tube rectifier. The other is a two channel, high gain Class A amp that runs at 30 watts. Both give me a different flavor than the Rivera.

    I have ALWAYS been a Fender amp guy at heart. While I play with gain, and would always need an amp other than a Fender, I do almost ALL my "technique" practice on a clean Fender. It helps me develop articulation. The only Fender I currently have left is a transitional 63-64, blonde tolex/gold grille cloth, Blackface Tremolux head. I use it with my 1x12 Bad Cat cabinet. At 35 watts it is the PERFECT Fender wattage as far as I am concerned. I always thought the Deluxe broke up to quickly, and the Bassman is too loud. The Tremolux is right in between.
     
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  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Excellent posts, and fun reads, everyone!

    And everyone’s made good-sounding, cool-amp, choices, IMHO. Keep ‘em coming. I love reading what everyone has to say. It’s so interesting.

    Incidentally, my Bad Cat Hot Cat filled a big hole in my AC30 desires, even though it’s not all that AC30-ish, it still had that elusive “crushed glass” thing going. It’s really one of my favorite sounds. They make a great amp, as does Mesa, as does Dr. Z.
     
  15. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

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    Paul Smith has a Dumble.
     
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  16. Em7

    Em7 deus ex machina

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    Actually, all of the cathode-biased Matchless and Vox amps are not true class A amps when used for guitar amplification. The bias point shifts under heavy load due to an increase in the voltage drop across the cathode resistor, resulting in the amp switching from class A to class AB. I know because the sole remaining amp that I designed and built in the mid-90s is based on the same base Mullard circuit on which the EF86-based AC15 is based. My amp is stripped down to an EF86, a 5751, and two EL84s. I also designed a solid-state, bridge rectified power supply that contains more capacitance than is found in the EF86-based AC15 and reduced the size of the coupling caps. The result is a much beefier overdrive tone. The reality is that the secret sauce in these amps is that they run with zero negative feedback. No attempt is made to keep the power section operating linearly, which results a more harmonically-rich output (i.e., the VOX chime).
     
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  17. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    Oh yeah? Did he take it apart yet and find out what’s under the goo?
     
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  18. markd21

    markd21 New Member

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  19. Song

    Song In Nomine Dilectio

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  20. 11top

    11top Cousin Eddie's cousin

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    It wasn’t in pieces when he played through it in his home.
     
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