Crate VC508 - 5 watt 1x8 all tube combo. $250.
pstevenson at stlouismusic.com
I demo'd this thoroughly in Guitar Center. I don't think the preamp or dinky speaker/cabinet are very good. But the power amp could be worth the $200 street price. Here is how I got the purest power-tube saturation tone: Compressor, EQ for bass cut, huge increase in signal level without any distortion, guitar cable plugged halfway into the headphone jack so that I'm going into the FX return thus bypassing the Crate preamp entirely and going straight to the power tubes. Turn the crate volume up all the way. You definitely hear power tube saturation this way. The next step would be to slip the speaker wire connectors off of the speaker tabs, and use Radio Shack tabs and a 1/4 mono inline jack, to form an adapter. Then run a speaker cable between that adapter and a 4x12 cabinet or mic'd speaker isolation cabinet. This way, I'm ignoring the Crate's preamp and speaker and cabinet entirely, using my own preamp and speaker and cabinet instead.
Official VC508 product page.
user comments. Excerpts:
Street price: US $159-179 Very versatile for the music I'm playing (rock, blues jazz-rock), although the live performance versatility is limited by the single channel nature of the amp. It has 3 controls: gain, tone, and volume. The effects loop is called "line out" and requires a male stereo 1/4" plug to 2 mono male female jacks adapter for use. It doesn't have reverb, but with my Alesis Midiverb II, it sounds unbelievable! Gain, tone and volume knobs. On/Off switch. Single EL84 power tube running in class A, single 12ax7 preamptube, solid state rectifier. Preamp out jack. One eight inch Celestion speaker. Cab: particle board painted black. Single channel, all tube (5) watt screaming tone machine.It has one (8) inch speaker, one EL-84 and 0ne 12AX7 tube and it weighs (18) pounds. It comes with these controls, gain,tone, and volume control. The tone control is kinda funky- the center is neutral, the right is a boots to highs AND lows, to the left is a mid boost. This actually works pretty well, but takes a little getting used to. All-tube 5 watt (five!) practice amp, 8" Ceseltion speaker. (1) 12AX7 in the Pre-amp, (1) EL84 in the power amp. Came equiped with Sovtek tubes. Volume, Gain, Tone - Line Out/Effects insert that's it. Painted particle board construction (I said Cheap!) and all-metal grill.
5 watts is still too loud
I bought this as an alternative to the Fender Blues Junior or Pro Junior. I was primarily interested in a small, all-tube practice amp that sounded good at low levels. Even the 15 watts of the Fenders was a bit much. [TAKE NOTE! - Michael] The distortion is so-so, but remember, I haven't cranked it up yet (Damn this apartment life!)"2" on the volume knob is plenty loud, and I have a hunch this little amp can put out a surprising amount of volume for it's wattage and size. [take note!]
Not much clean headroom above gain set on 3, master volume on 10. It would be nice if it could go a little longer before breaking up. Many solid state practice amps, including Crates own products, have a tighter and louder clean channel. Even with the master volume on 10, there was little clean headroom in this amp. Distortion starts in with the gain level at about 3, and significantly increases from there. Lots of saturation on tap once the gain level is above 4 or 5, and feedback is attainable even with an American Standard Strat's single coil pickups if gain is above 7 or 8. A Les Paul with Duncan Antiquity humbuckers results in heavier distortion and feedback. Nice if you're really into heavy distortion, but a bit much for my taste. Both my guitars started losing their character very quickly, and there was not the kind of sweetness i was hoping to find even at lower gain settings. Little difference in sounds of neck or bridge pickups once gain was above 4 or 5.
One other thing: annoying buzz somewhere inside (I took the first one back for this same reason). I have opened it up, tightened it up, and may be about to "give up" and try one more from the store. Anyone know why this is happening?? At louder volumes, recording at high gain, etc., it is not noticeable but at lower practice volumes it is little things like this that become a major pain in the ass. Maybe Crate will do fix. Mine is one of the first production units so maybe this has already been take care of. Slight buzzing sound I noticed at high volumes. This is not a hum, it's a rattle caused by something vibrating. I took the amp to guitar center, and they tightened up the screws, which seems to help.
Tone comments from several people
I don't need any more power for my practice use, but I would mike it for live use. I'm playing a Japanese strat with stock pickups through it, and I LOVE the tone! I'm running the strat through a DOD compressor into the main input, with a Midiverb II in the effects loop. I can get the best clean strat tone I've ever had with any amp, as well as insane, meaty overdriven tones. The clean sound is limited to lower volumes, which of course can be miked for volume. And there's enough gain available for distortion to a level that is most likely high enough for any reasonable person. The tone control is very useful. Counter-clockwise gives you more midrange, clockwise dials up both bass and treble. I love the way the tone sounds at the mid-point. I am truly in "tone heaven" with this amp. I've been playing for 24 years, and I've owned many amps, admittedly none were expensive (mostly Peavey, but I've had Roland also). I've played through tons of amps, including the Fender Hot Rods, which are very similar to this amp as far as tone. The main thing for me is TONE, and this amp is completely satisfying and inspiring to play through. Designed to be basic and simple to use. Wish it had reverb, otherwise no complaints. The tone control takes some getting used to but is extremely versatile once you figure it out (Fender to Marshall and all points in between). This amp is strictly for practice and , lately, recording which has been a big suprise, a good suprise. If mic'd properly, a little reverb,a little delay, my Les Paul DCS: stand back, prints like a Marshall to tape. try it. Been playing 30 years, partner in a vintage guitar store, played lots of stuff. For a practice combo and for the money, this is a bargain even compared to "vintage" or new "boutique" gear. It takes some getting used to the tone control and balance between gain and volume. Once done, you will probably make this a keeper considering what you paid for it. When this amp warms up, you will be pleasantly suprised at the harmonic overtones coming from the s tock Celestion speaker (a real nice touch other companies should take note of) and class A EL-84. P.S.: I traditionally dislike Crate gear (Fenders rule): however, its' never to late to learn something new. This amp was an eye opener. Tone knob sounds best at 5 (12 o'clock), turing it to the left from this position boosts mids, turing it the other way boosts highs and lows, but any deviation from 5 results in a muddier sound. It's a loud five watts. For an amp of this size, power and price, features are more than adequate (after all, the old tweed champs which this is loosely based on had only a volume knob which doubled as an on/off switch as well). Not a bad amp for the money, but not for my tastes. I shipped it back after about 1 to 2 hours of playing it. I considered trying to substitute a lower gain 12at7 or 12au7 for the higher gain 12ax7 preamp tube, but decided against fooling around with it as the basic sound I wanted just wasn't there. I'm still looking for a small 5 or 6 watt amp which has a tiny bit more natural gain than a blackface champ, but not nearly as much as this. Some of the tweed champ replicas by Fender-copy companies such as Victoria or Clark might fit the bill (I tried the Kendrick version, but found it too clean), but they are expensive ($600 to $700). Mark Baier of Victoria played one over the phone for me one day (with the optional reconed Jensen), and even over the phone, it sounded great. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know. I use this amp for practice in my bedroom and for gigs in small venues.It also has a line out feature. I use this amp for playing blues and boogie style harmonica.I use a "Shaker Dynamic Harmonica Microphone" with this amp backed two clicks from full throttle. I set the amp controls as follows:gain between four and five, tone between one and two, and the volume between two and three.No kidding, this is the amp of my deams; it distorts in a very smooth and creamy way instead of too harsh or edgey.I think this the best little amp on the market,when i tried it out at the music store a old mailman came over and said that it sounded like the old amps he use to hear harp players use back in the old days at Juke Joints when he was younger! It sounds as good to me as my "Matchless" considering it's size. I would definitely buy again, i compared to many other small amps and for harmonica blues,this is the one. This little amp is a flashback to the low-end tube-era practice amps. Think "old" and "cheap." The all-metal grille, "vintage" crate logo and purple (!) jewel power-on light add to it's charm. Feature rating is based on features vs price. Then think how those old, cheap amps are commanding premo prices on the "vintage" market. With the VC508 you get the gain control for distortion that is absent form the Pro Junior, but it lacks the reverb of the Blues Junior. But then again it's roughly 75 bucks less than the Pro junior and 180 less than the Blues junior. I play it with a Fender Am. Standard. Strat at moderate to low volumes. It absolutly sounds better than ANY small transistorized practice amp I've played. It is relatively noise-free. My rating is based on A) Low volumes and B) Price. When you consider that a crappy practice amp will easily set you back $75-125, I think 180 for a cool all-tube job it worth it. I have a long history of disliking Crate amps, primarily because my experience was limited to the cheap transistor practice amps. I am a Fender bigot. However, this little amp changed me. It's essentially 80% of a comperable Fender amp for half the price. Or more precisely, it's that exhorbitantly priced $400 used "vintage" gem in a "vintage" shop for a lot less money (and none of the "prestige".)
DejaNews query: vc508
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Date Scr Subject Newsgroup Author 1. 98/10/28 027 Crate VC508...Opinions? alt.guitar.amps Blues4U76 2. 98/10/28 025 Re: Crate VC508...Opinions? alt.guitar.amps William J Chapm 3. 98/10/27 021 Re: Amp emulators, speak#1/3 alt.music.4-track Michael 4. 98/10/27 021 Re: Amp emulators, speak#1/3 alt.guitar Michael 5. 98/10/22 021 Re: Under $200 recommendatio alt.guitar.amps OR120 6. 98/10/27 020 Re: Amp emulators, speak#1/3 alt.music.4-track Chris Gieseke 7. 98/10/15 020 Re: crate amp alt.guitar Wink 8. 98/06/17 020 Re: schematic and or opinion alt.guitar.amps Wink 9. 98/05/05 020 Crate VC508, anybody tried o alt.guitar.amps Pete Kerezman 10. 98/10/25 019 Re: Low-watt power-tube devi alt.music.4-track Michael 11. 98/10/23 019 Low-watt power-tube devices? alt.music.4-track Michael 12. 98/07/07 019 Re: Hognose or Pignose amps? alt.guitar.amps Wink 13. 98/06/23 019 Anyone messed with the littl alt.guitar.amps Ben Dover 14. 98/06/16 019 schematic and or opinions on alt.guitar.amps William Chapman 15. 98/05/06 019 Re: Crate VC508, anybody tri alt.guitar.amps Pete Kerezman 16. 98/05/05 019 Re: Crate VC508, anybody tri alt.guitar.amps Kamchak Tuchuk 17. 98/05/05 019 Re: Crate VC508, anybody tri alt.guitar.amps IceHouse 18. 98/05/05 019 Re: Crate VC508, anybody tri alt.guitar.amps IceHouse 19. 98/03/29 019 VC508 troubles alt.guitar.amps Icehouse 20. 98/03/04 019 Re: Crate VC508 - Does it ex alt.guitar.amps Kevin Hamilton 21. 98/08/11 018 Re: Good amp for apartment d alt.guitar Jim Einarson 22. 98/07/02 018 Re: Small Tube Amp alt.guitar.amps JOHNMALI 23. 98/07/02 018 Re: Small Tube Amp alt.guitar.amps Dave Esmond 24. 98/07/01 018 Re: Small Tube Amp alt.guitar.amps goldtop� 25. 98/06/26 018 Re: Tech 21 SansAmp PSA-1! alt.guitar.amps Wink 26. 98/06/04 018 Re: Help with choosing a tub alt.guitar.amps Wink 27. 98/05/06 018 Re: Crate VC508, anybody tri alt.guitar.amps Kamchak Tuchuk 28. 98/05/05 018 Re: girl needs amp help alt.guitar.amps IceHouse 29. 98/04/28 018 Re: Building a really small alt.guitar.amps Icehouse 30. 98/04/07 018 Re: Trans-Tube? alt.guitar.amps Icehouse 31. 98/03/04 018 Crate VC508 - Does it exist alt.guitar.amps cham0111 32. 98/02/16 018 Crate VC508 ?? alt.guitar.amps cham0111 33. 98/06/24 017 Re: Anyone messed with the l alt.guitar.amps Wink 34. 98/06/03 017 Re: Looking for SMALL, good alt.guitar.amps Jim Einarson 35. 98/04/25 017 Re: Metal/Rock Practice amps alt.guitar.amps Fixxxer 36. 98/04/28 016 Re: Building a really small alt.guitar.amps Michael Buening 37. 98/03/13 016 Re: Pignose g40v tube amp alt.guitar cham0111 38. 98/03/13 016 Re: Pignose g40v tube amp alt.guitar cham0111
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