0% Interest for 36 Months! Learn more »
(800) 222-4700
  • Español: (800) 222-4701
Cart
Presidents' Day Sale! Ends Today

Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

After 15 years of great discussions, the Sweetwater Forums are now closed and preserved as a "read-only" resource. For discussions about current gear, check us out on Facebook, YouTube, inSync, and our Knowledge Base.

To tube or not tube?

shteven

Hello everybody.
I am going to buy an amplifier. but i'm not sure what kind to buy. I realize the tone delivered by a tube amp is something that usually cannot be achieved by solid state amps. The things is, i prefer to run a clean channel and rely on my pedals for all the effects of overdrive, delay, and such.
My question is this: Would buying a tube amp make sense since I would only be only using its clean channel and not the coveted 'tube sound?' and if I buy a solid state, any suggestions?
i dont need much power (50 watts would be sufficient) since the shows i play are relatively medium in size and my amp is always miked. I run a fairly simple setup consisting of an ibanez (double humbucker) with various stompboxes ( fulltone, boss, digitech, etc.) my budget is around 500 buckaroos.
thanks for any input.
-shteven
April 17, 2010 @12:56am
Landon

Get the tube. Even running clean, the physics of the tube trump solid state amplification. The only thing that a solid state has over the tube is the compact/light weight aspects. Try getting the same gain in a solid state amplifier with equal wattage
April 17, 2010 @01:14am
timkeys

Get the tube. Even running clean, the physics of the tube trump solid state amplification. The only thing that a solid state has over the tube is the compact/light weight aspects. Try getting the same gain in a solid state amplifier with equal wattage

You left out price.
April 17, 2010 @03:00am
Landon

You left out price.

This is true....
April 17, 2010 @04:12am
timkeys

This is true....

To be real honest ,,, with todays digital effects you can extract some pretty good tone out of solid state amps. While nothing will have the mojo of an old black face twin, modern gear does pretty darn good. Most of the tone is in the fingers and phrasing of the player. I grew up on black face fenders playing combo organs in the 60s. a single mackie srm 450 will whop ass on my old bassman rig with a double bottom and a fender leslie. While there is no substitute for the mechanical spin up and spin down of the leslie.... for output and tone ,, solid state powered speakers wipe that old fender out at a fraction of the size and weight. A small tube combo for guitar is nice , but I question if i would buy vintage or even the F brand. Its not rocket science and bang for the buck you can do better even with tubes than the trowback re issue stuff.
April 17, 2010 @01:43pm
Landon

I just remember how well my old guitarist's Mesa 100W all tube amp sounded :) Granted, with tube pres, and other technology like the transtube and other processing, things can sound pretty good. Still yet, when comparing apples to apples, a modern tube amp will outperform a solid state.
April 17, 2010 @07:09pm
Trumpetguy7

Years ago I tried all sorts of small guitar amps because I wanted to use one to record at home. The first one the dude showed me was a tube amp. A Fender Pro Junior. I thought it was ridiculous cuz it only gave 15 watts into a ten inch speaker. The sound blew me away.
He then showed me bigger amps with more effects and tone shapers and even some with digital effects but my mind kept going back to the way the little fender sounded. I told him..."nah man...these don't sound like the first one." He said, "Yeah I know, it's cuz the Fender is a tube." I was sold on it. I bought it.
So, in my opinion, with your budget, I'd get a Fender Blues Junior which is the same but witha 12 inch speaker. They are loud! I thought they'd be weak since they say 15 watts, but they were pretty darn loud and(my favorite part) CLEAN!
Just my opinion. GO TUBE!
April 18, 2010 @12:18am
timkeys

I just remember how well my old guitarist's Mesa 100W all tube amp sounded :) Granted, with tube pres, and other technology like the transtube and other processing, things can sound pretty good. Still yet, when comparing apples to apples, a modern tube amp will outperform a solid state.

Modern everything pretty well out performs the old stuff. Electronics have come along way in 40 years.
April 18, 2010 @02:36am
DAS

While there is no substitute for the mechanical spin up and spin down of the leslie....

Anything can potentially be simulated to a degree where nobody can truly tell the difference. Funny, and related story: A coworker of mine is a great programmer. He can absolutely NAIL the sound of the Leslie with clever programming. He recently did a gig in which he put a Leslie cabinet on the stage with him. Didn't hook it up. It was just a prop. He said he got noticeably more compliments on his organ sounds, and the Leslie in particular.
When you really strip everything else away and have people judge with ONLY their ears it's amazing what can be done. That said, as a player, I do like playing through a tube amp live. I just like how it feels. Once it gets recorded though, some of that magic gets lost, and that leaves room for emulations to come in and do just as good of a job.
April 19, 2010 @02:06pm
timkeys

Anything can potentially be simulated to a degree where nobody can truly tell the difference. Funny, and related story: A coworker of mine is a great programmer. He can absolutely NAIL the sound of the Leslie with clever programming. He recently did a gig in which he put a Leslie cabinet on the stage with him. Didn't hook it up. It was just a prop. He said he got noticeably more compliments on his organ sounds, and the Leslie in particular.
When you really strip everything else away and have people judge with ONLY their ears it's amazing what can be done. That said, as a player, I do like playing through a tube amp live. I just like how it feels. Once it gets recorded though, some of that magic gets lost, and that leaves room for emulations to come in and do just as good of a job.

I can see where people out front cant tell the difference. From a players point of view , a mechanical leslie has that lead time as it spools up and spools down. I would guess it could be simulated... I havent played around with the new stuff enough to have an opinon on the lesie sims. I do have experience with the real deal.. and no way is the leslie sim even close on my Stage piano. It just comes on and off to quick. That inbetween sound is what I am looking for and its just not there on the RD300sx. I will continue to make do.. no way will I ever be hauling around a real leslie these days. Way too much trouble. Like you said,, the people cant tell the difference.
April 19, 2010 @06:09pm
Bluesman48

Anything can potentially be simulated to a degree where nobody can truly tell the difference. Funny, and related story: A coworker of mine is a great programmer. He can absolutely NAIL the sound of the Leslie with clever programming. He recently did a gig in which he put a Leslie cabinet on the stage with him. Didn't hook it up. It was just a prop. He said he got noticeably more compliments on his organ sounds, and the Leslie in particular.
When you really strip everything else away and have people judge with ONLY their ears it's amazing what can be done. That said, as a player, I do like playing through a tube amp live. I just like how it feels. Once it gets recorded though, some of that magic gets lost, and that leaves room for emulations to come in and do just as good of a job.

I respect your opinion DAS but.... I believe if you use a good mic and pre you don't "lose" anything. I do agree however that using only our ears most of us could probably not hear a difference.:)
May 2, 2010 @11:37pm
Landon

I respect your opinion DAS but.... I believe if you use a good mic and pre you don't "lose" anything. I do agree however that using only our ears most of us could probably not hear a difference.:)

Also the recording format matters a great deal as well :)
May 3, 2010 @02:16am
michaelhoddy

I'm not a guitar player, but I hang out and gig with a bunch, and I record others.
The biggest difference I've noticed between a good tube amp and any solid-state guitar amp is not tone, but dynamic response. And this is clean, saturated, or overdrive.
A good tube amp has a "bloom" and "chime" to it as you begin to dig into it a bit, even when still running clean. Solid-state amps just get louder or quieter. This is a huge dimension to guitar tone, probably unless you're playing balls-to-the-wall distortion all the time, or completely burying your sound in effects like chorus all the time. I didn't realize until shopping a bunch of amps with a guitar player how big a deal this was.
This is why modeling amps like the Line 6 can nail a specific tone or sound, but still not play and sound quite right or completely real. I noticed this when they first came out when I had to mix a record done completely on Line 6 amps and modelers- the sounds were fine, but just somehow "dead." And I've had it confirmed by a bunch of great guitar players over the years as well with other amps.
Nonetheless, if it sounds and plays right to you, it is right. Whatever it is.
May 3, 2010 @02:35am
TimmyP1955

Of all the guitarists I've run sound for, the guy with the best sound by far had a Strat, two Boss pedals, and a Vox modeling amp. It ain't the amp, it's your hands and your ability to make the amp work for you. (The second best sound was from a Les Paul, a TC processor, and - IIRC - a dual rectifier. I expect that most of his tone - other than his hands - was from the TC, not the Mesa.)
May 3, 2010 @02:50am
DAS

I respect your opinion DAS but.... I believe if you use a good mic and pre you don't "lose" anything. I do agree however that using only our ears most of us could probably not hear a difference.:)

To clarify my previous point. There is no recording that fully reproduces the event as if you were really there. I don't care how good your equipment is. The state of the art today still renders a pale imitation of having been there. Go to an orchestra. Now play the finest recording of one through the finest sound system. Are you really fooled? No. Watch the best imaging system you can find. Are you really fooled into thinking you are looking at something for real? No. This is just where we are today. Nothing wrong with that, and I agree that better gear and techniques get us closer. That was the context in which I made the point.
May 3, 2010 @12:32pm