Re: small amp (VC508 comments)

Date: Fri, 07 Feb 2003 09:34:16 -0500
From: Richard Hunter <turtlehill@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: Re: small amp
I own a Crate VC-508, and I'm very happy with it.  It works well with a
variety of mics, and the people I work with never fail to comment on how
nice it sounds.  For more information, see my page on the $400 setup at
my website at the URL below.
I recommend strongly that you try any amp before buying with the
microphone(s) and pedal(s) (if any) that you intend to use with the
Good luck.
Richard Hunter

Hi there,
I really enjoy Richard's playing and he gets a beautiful tone in his latest

I recently aquired a VC508 based on Richard's recommendations.
Initially it appeared to suit my wants for a small, light, tube amp.
I don't drive anymore you see.
online manual here:

However I have learnt a couple of  things since that I wasn't aware of when I
made the purchase (more likely I plumb forgot and had to be reminded).
It might be worth sharing with the group at this point.
Stephen Schneider has spent a lot of time offlist explaining the ins and outs of
tube amps to me, he owns a VC508 and apparently has squeezed the best from his.

The VC508 has only a preamp tube (12AX7) and power tube (EL84).  It appears to
use a solid state IC circuit for the gain stage, which means the more you turn
up the gain, the more you are using solid state distortion.  It has a solid
state (and therefore high gain) rectifier, which if I'd known I'd prefer to
avoid.  That said the Blues Junior has a SS rectifier too and many trad blues
players enjoy that amp.

If the gain is set to 1 (lowest practical level) to avoid the IC gain circuit,
you can use a hot bullet mic straight into it, turn the amp (and mic) volume to
full to get the most natural distortion from the power tube even with the 12AX7
preamp tube. There no feedback if you step more than 5' away from the amp.  Its
got a lot of volume for such a wee monster, anymore and you'd really be in
feedback city anyway.

With the Sovtek 12AX7 & EL84 tubes it has a crisp sharp quality which I am not
satisfied with.  I'm waiting for an JJ/Tesla EL84 and Ei 12DW7 (thanks for your
help Stephen, and for your recommendations Don) to see if this improves matters.
Also I'm going to wire up the Speaker cable so that I can use a power soak to
either line out the signal from the power stage, or just so I can turn the
volume down while keeping the amp's volume at full for power tube distortion &

Its a very inexpensive, portable amp with plenty of volume for its size. The
TONE knob gives a nice range of colour.   If I can get a tone from it I'm
inspired by I'll definitely hang on to it.
In hindsight, I would've probably preferred an early Champ or Kalamazoo.
Although they are just as hard to find where I am as the VC508, this one is the
first I've seen in this country.

I've learnt a lot more recently about what makes a good harp amp.  As I
mentioned before I'm really quite interested in the Spirit Harp Pro amp, and
since my first email to the group about it I've recieved an offlist
recommendation from a happy owner.
Its quite a lot more than a VC508, but it looks very well designed for trad
blues harmonica tone:
(check out the reviews link below, more information on its design in there)


This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.