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Guitar Player Review - Ampeg

Guitar Player Review - Ampeg

Guitar Player Review - Ampeg

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GearROUNDUP<strong>Ampeg</strong>GVT5-110, GVT15H, and GVT52-112TESTED BY ART THOMPSON96 HOLIDAY 2011 GUITARPLAYER.COM


GearROUNDUPSPECIFICATIONSCONTACT<strong>Ampeg</strong>, (866) 858-5832; ampeg.comThe <strong>Ampeg</strong> GVT112EW speakercabinet that we also tested with theseamps is a unique closed-back typethat features <strong>Ampeg</strong>’s classic Portaflexdouble-baffle design. We ranthe GVTs though a GVT112E 1x12cab ($249 street), the slightly smaller,non-Portaflex version, as well as aBag End S12B ported 1x12 cabinet,which is another very efficientclosed-back design. Our test guitarsincluded a G&L Korina ASAT Classic,a Gibson ’59 reissue Les Paul,and a PRS SC-58. Lastly, a DunlopJoe Bonamassa Signature Fuzz Facewas also plugged in occasionally tosample how the amps sounded withpedal-generated distortion.M O R E O N L I N EGVT5-110The smallest model in the GVTseries, the GVT5-110 is a 5-watt1x10 combo with a simple complementof Volume, Treble, and Basscontrols. The amp is heavy for itssize and power, which is primarilya result of solid construction and a10" speaker. For reference, my 5-wattFender Vibro-Champ weighs aboutnine pounds less.The GVT5 doesn’t have muchfront-end gain, so getting grind tonesfrom it requires that you crank it upto get the 6V6 cooking. The maximumvolume at the five-watt settingis on par with most small tubecombos of similar power, but if youGVT5-110PRICE$559 retail/$399 streetCHANNELS OneCONTROLS Volume, Treble, BassTUBESOne 12AX7 preamp tube, one 6V6GT power tube,solid-state rectificationPOWER5 watts, class AEXTRAS1x16Ω, 2x4Ω, and 2x8Ω speaker outs. Half-powerswitchSPEAKER Custom designed Celestion Tube 10WEIGHT26.4 lbsBUILTSouth KoreaKUDOSQuality construction. Classic look. Good tonalrange.CONCERNS NoneGVT15HPRICE$699 retail/$499 streetCHANNELS OneCONTROLS Gain, Treble, Middle, Bass, Volume, ReverbTUBESTwo 12AX7 preamp tubes, two 6V6GT powertubes, solid-state rectificationPOWER15 watts, class AEXTRAS1x16Ω, 2x4Ω, and 2x8Ω speaker outs. Half-powerswitch. Footswitchable true-bypass effects loop.Spring reverb.SPEAKERN/AWEIGHT26 lbsBUILTSouth KoreaKUDOSQuality construction. Classic look. Tough soundingand dynamic.CONCERNS Footswitch for reverb and effects loop not included.GVT52-112PRICE$1,049 retail/$749 streetCHANNELS TwoCONTROLS Gain, Treble, Middle, Bass, Volume (Channel 1).Gain, Treble, Middle, Bass, Volume (Channel 2).Reverb, MasterTUBESThree 12AX7 preamp tubes, two 6L6GT outputtubes, solid-state rectificationPOWER50 watts, class ABEXTRAS1x16Ω, 2x4Ω, and 2x8 speaker outs. Half-powerswitch. Footswitchable channel select and gain/level boost. Footswitchable true-bypass effectsloop. Spring reverb.SPEAKER12" Celestion Seventy/80WEIGHT52.2 lbsBUILTSouth KoreaKUDOSQuality construction. Great clean-to-mean rangeon the clean channel. Tons of sustain on Channel 2.CONCERNS Footswitch for reverb and effects loop not included.• Get more details on the GVT5-110• Read more about the GVT15H.• Further explore the GVT52-112.Get these links and more at guitarplayer.com/holiday201198 HOLIDAY 2011 GUITARPLAYER.COM


GearROUNDUPThe GVT112EW cabinet features <strong>Ampeg</strong>’sPortaflex double baffle design.need to wail with even less aural impact,the half-power setting cuts the loudnesssignificantly.Finding the right EQ setting for differentguitars requires a bit of experimentation, asthe GVT5 doesn’t respond quite like a classicfive-watt tube amp. Part of this may be dueto there being no flat setting with a BaxandallEQ. No matter where you set the controls,there’s some tone-shaping going on.Still, it’s not difficult to get happening soundsin the clean to mildly overdriven ranges byadjusting the Bass and Treble controls untilthe balance is right for a particular guitar.For pure distortion, my preference wasto back off the volume enough to get a relativelyclean sound that could be propelledThe GVT112E is a more compact,non-Portaflex cabinet.nicely into the grind realm with the Fuzz Face.The response was also noticeably smootherwhen the GVT5 was driving the GVT112EWcabinet, which isn’t surprising consideringthe difference between a single 10" in anopen-back combo and a 12" Celestion Vintage30 in a double-baffled closed-back cab.The deep, clear response of GVT112EW isimpressive, and the GVT5 definitely soundedlouder and badder through it.Bringing the <strong>Ampeg</strong> mojo into the pintsizeddomain, the GVT5-110 has a niceaffinity for pedals, and would be a greatchoice for studio work or for low volumerehearsals and practice.GVT15HTube amps in the 15-watt range havebecome increasingly popular due to theirsmall size, modest weight, and ability todeliver enough volume for live gigs. TheGVT15H delivers on all fronts, althoughat 26 pounds, it is more than double theweight of a Mesa/Boogie TA-15. TheGVT15H steps things up with a dual-6V6output stage, spring reverb, and a 3-bandEQ. Here, too, the Baxandall circuit’s isolatedresponse between the controls can bea little confusing at first for those used tomore interactive tone stacks. The <strong>Ampeg</strong>’stone controls are indeed passive, but theyfeel active enough that once I found settingsthat worked for a particular guitar,I tended to want to leave the controls setwhere they were.The GVT15H has a lot more gain andheadroom than the GVT5, and the additionof a Middle control makes it a lot easier toget good overdriven sounds. In fact, onceyou get everything set, this amp’s raw, slicingdistortion is a blast to play—especially inthe half-power mode, where you can moreeasily push the output stage into distortion.This model delivers the feeling of playingan old-school amp—single-note lines jumpout with a fat, mean response and chordskerrang with a Hiwatt–like authority. Turndown your guitar and the tones clean upwell for rhythm playing. And here’s wherethe reverb also shines with its airiness andsmooth decay characteristics.The GVT15H’s spirited tones and excellenttouch sensitivity make it an ideal rockamp for smaller venues, and a good candidatefor blues, country, and anything elsethat calls for a lower-powered amp that cankick out tough tube tone.100 HOLIDAY 2011 GUITARPLAYER.COM


GearROUNDUPGVT52-112Well equipped for stage use, the GVT52-112 sports two independent channels,reverb, and a series effects loop that operateson both channels. The 6L6-poweredamp also has a boost function that canbe activated on either channel. As withthe other models in the GVT line, theGVT52-112 has a half-power setting onthe 3-way Standby switch. Toggle it upfrom the center position for 50 watts,and down from center for 25 watts. Theindicator light also changes from red togreen when the amp is taken off standby.The channels can be selected via afront-panel switch or with the includedtwo-button footswitch (which also turnsthe boost on and off). With Channel 1active, the GVT52-112 responds somewhatlike the GVT15H, offering good cleantones at lower gain settings and morphingeasily into grind as you wick up the gain.With more wattage on tap, however, theGVT52-112 has greater clean headroom,and is also much louder and punchier.Adding some reverb to the clean channelmade the tones sound buoyant andopen, while turning up the ’verb with thegain cranked past halfway and the Volumecontrol dimed yielded a cool surf soundwith a slicing edge. Using the Fuzz Faceon channel 1 further pushed the amp intothe kind of heavily saturated tones that’70s-style rockers would dig.Designed to cover the span from hardrock to shred, Channel 2 has a widegain range, lots of sustain, and gooddynamic sensitivity. Metal players mightbe frustrated by the EQ’s inability to dialinto the “scooped” zone, though, and Ialso found it difficult to tame a high-frequencyedge that was most noticeablewhen the Gain knob was cranked to oneo’ clock or higher. A presence control toattenuate treble in the power stage wouldprobably be helpful, though rolling theGain control down to a little below halfwayhelped to subdue the top-end sizzlewhile still providing a good amount ofsustain. Using the 25-watt setting alsoallows you to push the amp harder totake advantage of power tube distortion,which enhances the harmonics and compressionas the 6L6s start to sweat. Andif you still need some extra oomph tolift your lead above the mix, kicking onthe boost (which works on both channels)jacks the gain and volume up significantly.The GVT52-112 offers the most sonicflexibility in the GVT line, and its abundantpower makes it well suited for livegigs. If you’re looking for a channel-switching50-watt combo that puts both classic-and modern-style sounds under yourfingertips, you should give the GVT52-112 a try. gAll the GVT series ampsfeature rugged PCB construction.Here’s a peekinside the GVT15H.102 HOLIDAY 2011 GUITARPLAYER.COM

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