Digital amp-modelling has come to stay, no doubt about it. But while some form of amp-modelling is used almost daily by many guitarists, the good old valve amp isn’t really fading away. On the contrary – it seems that these days especially low-powered valve amps are experiencing something of a renaissance.
A good example of this type of all-valve amp is Ampeg’s new GVT15-112.
The Ampeg GVT15-112 (current street price in Finland: 620 €) is a relatively compact 15-Watt valve amp, which can also be used at home, thanks to its half-power power amp mode.
Made in South Korea, the combo’s cabinet seems very well made, and the amp’s looks have a stylish retro touch. Our test sample receives a small cosmetic mark-down, because the decorative metal rail below the control panel sits slightly askew.
The clean and understated look carries over onto the Ampeg’s back as well. The cabinet is half-closed, with the Celestion Seventy 80 -speaker visible behind a metal grille.
The Ampeg GVT15-112 is a single-channel design. The controls comprise gain, treble, middle, bass, master volume and reverb level. The standby switch is a three-way toggle giving you the full 15 Watts in the ”up” position, as well as half-power when switched downward.
The preamp section is powered by two 12AX7/ECC83-valves (or ”toobs” as the Americans say), while two 6V6-valves take care of business on the power amp side of things – this means we can expect an American-type tone and response.
The spring reverb has been placed at the bottom of the cabinet, neatly tucked away in its own padded bag.
The back panel is home to the speaker outputs, as well as the connectors for the effects loop. You can also connect a footswitch (not included) to the combo to mute the reverb and the effects loop on the fly.
The Ampeg GVT15-112 has been designed as a classic 1960s clean amp with loads of headroom. Using a guitar with traditional singlecoil pickups, you’d be hard pressed to get the combo to distort even at the highest gain levels.
The sound is warm, big and organic, with a nice ring and sheen in the top end. The Ampeg’s reverb-circuit is one of the best spring reverbs I have heard on a new amp for quite some while.
To coax dirty sounds out of this combo with a Strat or Tele you will have to resort to either a booster or an overdrive/distortion pedal:
Stratocaster + overdrive pedal (Boss SD-1)
The Ampeg also loves humbuckers:
At full gain a humbucker will drive the GVT15-112 into gritty and dynamic break-up overdrive, which some Blues- and slide-enthusiasts may like.
For fat overdrive and singing lead tones you will still need to use a pedal:
SG + overdrive pedal (Boss SD-1)
If you’re into classy clean tones this Ampeg is just the amp for you. The GVT15-112 has a great clean tone and a gorgeous spring reverb. Just pack one or two overdrive pedals, and maybe a chorus or delay – and you’re ready to gig!
Street price: 620 €
Finnish distributor: Soundtools
+ lush spring reverb
– one minor cosmetic wobble (see text)