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February 14, 2012

Tube amps in the 15-watt range have become increasingly popular due to their small size, modest weight, and ability to deliver enough volume for live gigs. The GVT15H delivers on all fronts, although at 26 pounds, it is more than double the weight of a Mesa/Boogie TA-15. The GVT15H steps things up with a dual-6V6 output stage, spring reverb, and a 3-band EQ. Here, too, the Baxandall circuit’s isolated response between the controls can be a little confusing at first for those used to more interactive tone stacks. The Ampeg’s tone controls are indeed passive, but they feel active enough that once I found settings that worked for a particular guitar, I tended to want to leave the controls set where they were.

The GVT15H has a lot more gain and headroom than the GVT5, and the addition of a Middle control makes it a lot easier to get good overdriven sounds. In fact, once you get everything set, this amp’s raw, slicing distortion is a blast to play—especially in the half-power mode, where you can more easily push the output stage into distortion. This model delivers the feeling of playing an old-school amp—single-note lines jump out with a fat, mean response and chords kerrang with a Hiwatt–like authority. Turn down your guitar and the tones clean up well for rhythm playing. And here’s where the reverb also shines with its airiness and smooth decay characteristics.

The GVT15H’s spirited tones and excellent touch sensitivity make it an ideal rock amp for smaller venues, and a good candidate for blues, country, and anything else that calls for a lower-powered amp that can kick out tough tube tone.

More from this Roundup:

Ampeg GVT5-110, GVT15H, and GVT52-112
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