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Unread 04-11-2011, 06:49 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

The JCM 800 blew them all out the back door and 500 yards down the alley.



Dunno. Had to do something with entertainment value. This is just another amp review from a different perspective.



I had been wanting to test drive some small amps to use for recording. My mastering studio is very small, especially for the JCM 800. I can handle cranking it, but due to the area I record in the sound pressure is too much for my mics. Have not run into this issue before in other studios, but there it is.

So off I went to find some tiny tube monsters in search of that semi-clean crunch that the JCM 800s do so nicely for rhythm, and playing chords with passing tones without losing definition. Sort of that 'Angus' type sound.

The guys at GC set me up with a closed back 2x12 cab and a Leslie West Dean to check these heads out.

The Jet City Picovalve was the first I was interested in from the specs and reviews. Sadly, it was the first to fall. All settings revealed a sharp sandpapery metalic edge in the treble tones that would have been hard to disguise in a recording and maintain clarity. Now I'm not saying with the right tubes it might be different - but I was working with a new stock amp.

The Blackstar HT5RH showed great promise, and generally speaking is a smokin' little amp. Better at the big bottom OD sounds for heavier music, IMHO... but the mids hit a wall when cleaning up to get that crunch sound I'm after. Nice clean channel, tho. It would certainly make an awesome low volume bedroom amp.

I tried an Egnater Rebel when they first hit GC, and did not like it at all; so I was not inclined to spend any time with the Tweaker. After some prodding, I caved and gave it a shot. The sales guy set it up with a big bottom scooped sound that he apparently was keen on, but I don't have one of those faces that hides my thoughts well. He quickly flipped switches and tweaked the knobs, and suddenly it felt pretty damn close. That sparked my interest, and began fine tuning. It didn't 'feel' any louder than the 5 watt amps I had been checking out, but there was an excellent approximation of that dynamic touch responsive crunchy tone I was hunting. I had planned to check out the Orange Tiny Terror, but the Tweaker took up the rest of my visiting time.

I'm not one of those guys who can just put down a chunk of money on demand, but I've started a jar for the Tweaker. Heard a lot of possibilty in this one.

Don't know if this helps anyone else out that is on the hunt - it takes a lot of little descriptive terms to feel out if a tester is looking for the same things as you - but I hope it does.
Cheers!
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Unread 04-11-2011, 11:16 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

I think the Tweaker is a great little amp. My favorite feature is being able to run just about any octal power tube in it (5881s are GREAT). It takes tube changes and pedals very well. It's not perfect, but it's a great little amp if you need a lot of sounds on-tap. It's close enough to be convincing on just about every setting. You're right about the responsiveness, too.
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Unread 04-11-2011, 11:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

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Originally Posted by RiverRatt View Post
My favorite feature is being able to run just about any octal power tube in it (5881s are GREAT).
What?! I didn't see that in the manual. Does it self-bias too?
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Unread 04-11-2011, 11:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

Yup. You won't see it in the manual. I kept reading about it on the web and emailed customer support. The tech guy who answered said that yes, it will use any common octal power tube, and his favorite was his strat tone running it with EL34s. You have to take the top grate off for taller tubes, but it'll usually go back on after you get them in.

I've been running some 1978 Russian 6P3Cs in it and it really sounds huge for such a little amp. I like my old Tung-Sol 5881s in it, too. I posted some sound clips awhile back. This was with the 5881s.

http://www.upload-mp3.com/files/2627...7/shotdown.mp3
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Unread 04-11-2011, 11:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

So-weet! Thanks ~ good to know.

... crap! There goes that G.A.S. again.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 12:00 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

Thanks! That was through a Marshall 1966 2x12 with some well broken in G12T75s.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 03:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

Here's the same settings but with 6V6s. I liked the lower mid punch of the 5881s better. Same mic and settings as before - Brit tone stack, bright off, tight setting, master and gain at 1 o'clock. I know the playing ain't much, but you can hear that the power tubes tubes really do change the sound of the amp.

http://www.upload-mp3.com/files/2627...otdown_6V6.mp3
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Unread 04-12-2011, 03:35 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

Sorry to flood. I just remembered that I have the original email here at work. I was looking for it last night at home and thought it might be here.

What you heard it true. You can put any Power Tube (not including EL84) as you like. I put in EL34 but it made the amp darker and perfect for Fender Strats. If you are going to use a Les Paul, put in 6v6 or 6L6s. So as far as the output, it will be the same. It still remains 15w.

--
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Unread 04-12-2011, 07:44 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

Yer killin' me bro! I'm trying to scrape together quick cash for a guitar I don't want to loose, and the GAS for this amp is eatin' at me.

Sounds good. I like the definition of the notes in the 6V6 better (which surprised me). Isn't that what comes stock in the Tweaker? That was your LP, right?

I might break down and go with Zzounds to get the 4 payment CC split... although the local GC will give me a better price for cash in hand.

... hey, can I interest you in a mint ESP LTD PB-401 with freshly dressed frets? lol.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 07:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

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...I like the definition of the notes in the 6V6 better (which surprised me). Isn't that what comes stock in the Tweaker?...
I don't have another 6V6 amp so that might be part of the fun for me but I have not changed a single tube yet in mine and I totally enjoy it. I like running it semi-clean but cranked so the output tubes are working.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 07:53 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

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...Same mic and settings as before...
Alan not sure I heard this clip before but it sounds real good. What mic was it?

JV
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My Strats: early '80s '62 RI, '87 Strat plus, '10 EJ maple neck; many partscasters; Gibson: '08 Firebird V, '11 SG, '66 Melody Maker, '81 ES-347, '04 ES-335, '05 LP Std DC; various others
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Unread 04-12-2011, 08:50 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

It was my LP. I used an SM58 about 8" back on axis. I couldn't get my SM57 in the sweet spot - it was sounding kinda lifeless and boxy. The 58 sounds really close to what the amp was doing.

IIRC the 6V6 clip was using an old pair of GE's. I've got more 6V6s lying around than I know what to do with.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 08:56 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

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...I've got more 6V6s lying around than I know what to do with.
Well in that case, PM me about a nice pair you want to sell
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My Strats: early '80s '62 RI, '87 Strat plus, '10 EJ maple neck; many partscasters; Gibson: '08 Firebird V, '11 SG, '66 Melody Maker, '81 ES-347, '04 ES-335, '05 LP Std DC; various others
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Unread 04-12-2011, 09:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

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Yer killin' me bro! I'm trying to scrape together quick cash for a guitar I don't want to loose, and the GAS for this amp is eatin' at me.

Sounds good. I like the definition of the notes in the 6V6 better (which surprised me). Isn't that what comes stock in the Tweaker? That was your LP, right?

I might break down and go with Zzounds to get the 4 payment CC split... although the local GC will give me a better price for cash in hand.

... hey, can I interest you in a mint ESP LTD PB-401 with freshly dressed frets? lol.
You do know that there are two new models coming out soon. There's the 6L6 Tweaker 40 and the Tweaker 88 with KT88 tubes. I might could handle the 40 watter, but I don't know about KT88s. Don't know if they are cathode biased like the 15 watt, either.

Everybody's ears are different. The note definition is a little more crisp with the 6V6s, but I like the lower-mid shift of the 5881s better. It sounds more Marshally to me. The Fender cleans seem to do well with bigger bottles, too.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 09:16 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

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Well in that case, PM me about a nice pair you want to sell
I don't know if I have a matched pair other than the GE's! I think I counted 18 tubes and there's one Magnavox (RCA) pair that might match up. Let me do some testing and I'll let you know. I've got a couple of metal ones that don't sound bad, but they kinda creep me out. I don't like not being able to see what's going on inside.
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Unread 04-12-2011, 11:45 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

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You do know that there are two new models coming out soon. There's the 6L6 Tweaker 40
Been eyeballin' the forum discussions and ads ever since I played the 15watt. It's still very much a wait'n'see tho... might be nothing like this amp. Supposed to be due out this month.
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Unread 04-13-2011, 01:59 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

it sparked my interest honestly. you seem to have had the same impression i did with the rebel which is to say i literally felt RAPED after playing it it was so damned bad. dry and boxy are not even close to descriptive terms for it. I'd take an MG series over the rebel ANY DAY. in fact, i rther liked the MG's comparetively. the rebel's probably one of the WORST amps (in my OPINION) out there. i think you picked the right one then. the tiny terror does metal gain level plexi tones. it's very plexi like imo. it can do some amazing cleans and in betweens though but, it's got that plexi voicing where the 800 sound it does not really have imo. i love the tiny honestly. i think the night train's better once retubed though. both are modified VOX AC15's apparently though.
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Unread 04-13-2011, 10:42 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

Yeah, the Rebel was one of the amps I test drove before buying the Haze last year. Felt like a Fender Champ... kinda flat and uninspiring. The experience with the Tweaker the other day caught me completely off guard. I only tested it to humor the sales guy at GC, but boy was I surprised. I'm working on my budget now to get one... but I've also got a guitar I'm trying to snag before it disappears. So I'm doggedly hunting new clients and side work to bolster the budget.
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Unread 04-14-2011, 11:52 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

Oiy! Where's the GC rant thread when you need it?! Growmph!

The other day, the guy that helped me out with the Tweaker was talking a blue streak to get me to buy it before I left, but I just didn't have the money right then. After some scramblin', I went back there today. He had intimated that I could get the floor model for $350 - so that's what I offered. He acts all surprised and did the 'go talk to the manager thing' (I've worked in music stores, and I know exactly what that means), then comes back and says he can 'let' me have it for the sticker price... that mayyybe he could eat the tax or throw in some strings. WTF?! I guess when some guys are ready to buy, they'll give in 'cause they want it so bad. He wound up getting animated about it and so did I - as I left the store.

Meh... he did me a favor. I went straight home and bought it from zZounds. Sure, I paid the $400 (and no tax) - but split over 4 months on my credit card. No instant gratification... but sometime next week, I'm havin' a new amp day - and it won't leave a hole in my budget! Lookin' forward to breakin' them tubes in.
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Unread 04-15-2011, 12:01 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

yeah i always buy amps elsewhere anymore. i will test products at GC and buy picks,cables,strings and pedals but, they don't know their ass from a hole in the ground about amp maintanance (or rather have no scruples about selling broken garbage) so i buy new or get used of CL. so far on CL i've been able to get all good shape or with the ILLUSION of defects. like i got an amp not long ago that had a dirty valve socket and the guy thought he got one over on me because it wasn't working. contact cleaner and i had a nice perfectly funtional amp. he still got a fair deal. i don't trade crap unless i say what's up with it personaly.
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Unread 04-15-2011, 12:06 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

I agree... don't need the bad karma or whatever... keep things up front and just push for value.

Cash is King on CL... but no Egnater Tweakers around here. Saw a couple of Rebels tho, lol.
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Unread 04-15-2011, 12:08 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

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I agree... don't need the bad karma or whatever... keep things up front and just push for value.

Cash is King on CL... but no Egnater Tweakers around here. Saw a couple of Rebels tho, lol.
ha ha. yeah. i see rebels too. as soon as you said it had a JCM800 vibe though i was interested. that whole touch sensitive crunch thing.....MAN i LOVE that!
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Unread 04-15-2011, 01:19 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

If you want a touch sensitive low wattage amp find a 25 watt Zinky Blue Velvet. Bought one several years ago and it's am amazing lil tone machine.
Here is a quick clip with mine at super low bedroom volume just the guitar cord and the amp.
Zinky Blue velvet Crunch Demo 1-8-10.mp3 - File Shared from Box.net - Free Online File Storage
Here she is live in a big room unmiced running just the Zinky Eminence in the 1/12 combo just a delay for effects.
Furnace Dec 3 2010 Lovelady Come To The Light Birmingham Wess and RCR.mp3 - File Shared from Box.net - Free Online File Storage
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Unread 04-15-2011, 02:11 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

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If you want a touch sensitive low wattage amp find a 25 watt Zinky Blue Velvet. Bought one several years ago and it's am amazing lil tone machine.
Here is a quick clip with mine at super low bedroom volume just the guitar cord and the amp.
Zinky Blue velvet Crunch Demo 1-8-10.mp3 - File Shared from Box.net - Free Online File Storage
Here she is live in a big room unmiced running just the Zinky Eminence in the 1/12 combo just a delay for effects.
Furnace Dec 3 2010 Lovelady Come To The Light Birmingham Wess and RCR.mp3 - File Shared from Box.net - Free Online File Storage
the tweaker has options for more gain, brit and usa voice, tight,bright and deep. that's a big sway for me. your clip sounds great though, i like that. what options does this thing have EQ wise and gain wise?
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Unread 04-15-2011, 03:02 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

Sounds good Ascension. Already got my Tweaker in route... and like diesect20022000 said, it not only does the crunch thing very well - but has an almost unlimited amount of voices with the switching tweaks. Perfect for the studio (which is what I need it for). Sounds sweet clean, too. When the sales guy first set it up, he had a pretty thumpin' scooped sound going on.

I'm pretty juiced ~ can't wait to start working with it in house.
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Unread 04-15-2011, 03:10 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

yeah i'm going to look for one i think. i wouldn't scoop the mids but, i would brutalize it for sure. i'd run the gamut with it. since i'm starting to write for other people and businesses some small recording amps are going to be needed anyway.
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Unread 03-30-2012, 02:16 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

Quote:
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If you want a touch sensitive low wattage amp find a 25 watt Zinky Blue Velvet. Bought one several years ago and it's am amazing lil tone machine.
<SNIP>

GEE...AND ITS ONLY $1800. Did you notice the amps he mentioned in the original post were priced for mortals? ****, man.
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Unread 04-04-2012, 08:18 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Jet City Picovalve, Blackstar HT5RH & Egnater Tweaker vs Marshall JCM 800...

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GEE...AND ITS ONLY $1800. Did you notice the amps he mentioned in the original post were priced for mortals? ****, man.
I hear that!
I picked up a Blackstar HT5RC a couple of months ago. The thing with this amp is to use an EQ in the loop. That will get ya those mids.
I did a tube an speaker swap (I have the combo) as well. I had a spare Vintage 30 so it didn't cost me additional. I have to say this amp thru the V30 = HUGE difference. The tube swap added about a 15 - 20 % improvement, the speaker swap was like a 70% improvement. I can just about dime the gain on this little beast (at any volume) and it cleans up beautifully with just the guitars volume. I could not do that before the swap.
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