So I dropped by GC yesterday to pick up some strings (D'Addario balanced tension, my current favorites), and played a few amps, then went to my buddy's shop in my hometown, and played the TA-15 and ROV25 again, but also the TA-30 as well.
1. Valveking 20w(?) mini head. They refreshed the series, and now they've got this little head. Nice feature set on paper (switchable wattage down to 5w, direct out with load, two channels).
Ugh. It reminded me why I sold the VK100 pretty quickly years and years ago. Sounds like there's a blanket over the speaker, really flubby too. At $430, you could either spend a little more and get a much better amp, or do well used. What's notable beyond the tone is two things: I had to check to make sure this thing was on 20 watts, because it is NOT a loud amp. In no way does it compete with a 25 watt Mesa or even a 15 watt Orange. Second, if you thought the build quality of the original series was bad, this is even worse. Really cheap feeling knobs, cabinet, etc.
2. JVM205h and 410h. I just continue to really dig these amps. Just what I hear in my head as THE Marshall sound that I'm familiar with. If I actually wanted a 50w head again, the 205 is a great amp. They do do well at lower volumes though; more so than any older Marshall head I'm familiar with.
3. Orange OR15 head. Pleasantly surprised, actually, since I don't like the TT or DT at all. More of a "vintage-ey" British vibe, loud as hell for a 15 watt head. Not too terribly versatile, but pretty dynamic for a one channel amp. For $700 new, it's a pretty sweet amp.
And at my friend's shop:
1. TA-15. Still love this little guy, still can't buy it because delay doesn't sound right up front. Needs loop! A perfect British amp from Mesa would be a TA-15 series II, for $1099, with loop and verb.
2. ROV25. What can I say, I love this amp. The combo is fun, but the head with a closed back 1x12 is still the ultimate micro stack. Channel 1 on Pushed is THE best breakup tone ever, to me.
3. TA-30. Really, it's more of the 15, but with the loop and verb. The reverb coupled with top boost on channel one is pretty amazing, particularly on 15w class A; very Vox-ey. Hi1 is classic Plexi-ish tones. Apparently there was a hiss/hum associated with this amp early on, but this one didn't have it. I'm guessing Mesa worked out the bugs, because this amp was damn quiet, even with the MV at noon!
I love this amp, BUT.....it's too damn loud, and for what it's offering over the 15, too expensive. Like I said, a TA-15 with the same feature set for $300 more would be a great value.
Fun day off for sure. Also played an acoustic baritone that sounded crazy good. 27" scale, cedar top. Wow.
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I LOVE my JVM1, if you want that ultra high gain modern Marshall sound at very reasonable volumes. The clean channel is a joke though.
The JCM1 is fantastic too.