Other Amps

Roland Blues Cube Artist - MIGHTILY IMPRESSED!

1

Just spent all afternoon with this thing, right beside my Fender Supersonic 22, and had I been blindfolded, I would have been hard pressed to tell you which one was tube, based on tone AND FEEL.

Roland really got it right with this one...

And it IS a modeler, of sorts... apparently a blend of analog/solid state and DSP... I don't care WHAT it is, it sounds AND FEELS great. The true test will be next week at rehearsal...

It has a DSP so it's analog to digital to analog which is in effect modeling. Solid State is all analog. Here's Roland's own blog on it.

"The final result was Tube Logic – a marriage of solid-state analog technology and DSP that goes way beyond modelling, and enables the creation of amplifiers that exhibit the precise behaviour and tone of a vintage tube amplifier using modern, reliable, lightweight technology."

Here's the link.

https://www.rolandcorp.com....

2

I had hi-hopes for Roland Blues Cube 30 Hot -- small package with a 12, decent reverb, different power settings, good clean sound/didn't listen to distorted sound. but still my complaint about most amps -- not enough lo-end. So it just passed thru. But still that Tube Logic thing works. Like on low power settings if you hit hard it breaks up some. Will check out your model.

3

The Artist is the biggest cab of the combos, so it does have a decent amount of low end. It's not all that firm, being modeled after a tweed Bassman, but it's there... I'm only running the bass at 5-6...

4

Roland does things in painstaking detail. The newer Cube amps are expensive (some would say too expensive for digital/solid state), but the truth is that quality is going to cost $$$, regardless of the technology. In fact, the tube/solid state thing should not even be a factor in price - quality should.

5

"The Artist is the biggest cab of the combos, so it does have a decent amount of low end. It's not all that firm, being modeled after a tweed Bassman, but it's there... I'm only running the bass at 5-6..."

Part of the reason I got into building amps was to try to get the low-end firmer and tighter than most fender amps produce. So if Roland goes to all the trouble of DSP etc to reproduce that farty low-end I just couldn't stomach it! I used to gig with a Bassman 4x10 RI and the farty low-end drove me crazy! Still, it was better than the Custom Vibrolux I owned briefly...

I'm not anti SS amps at all. As soon as I hear one which is lighter than my 1x12 tweed Super, not too expensive and sounds just as good I will buy it. But I need the lovely big but tight low-end my amp can deliver.

6

Jimmy,

That's what the Tone Capsules are for. I'm looking for an "Ultimate Blues" Tone Capsule, which is a Super Reverb on the clean channel (more headroom, tighter low end), and a Marshall Super Lead on the crunch channel (which would be good for the rock stuff I play.)

That's the whole idea behind these amps: buy one amp, then the tone capsules can turn the amp into something a bit different.

Stock amp = tweed Bassman
Ultimate Blues = Super Reverb/Super Lead
NY Blues = Vox

...they also have signature capsules:

Eric Johnson
Steve Vai
Robben Ford (supposed to be Dumble-like)

Plus, the Artist takes pedals incredibly well... better than a few tube amps I have owned.

7

I might have to look closer at these. As it is I've been impressed with the video demos I've seen of the Boss Tube Amp Expander - until I saw the price! Still, it looks very impressive and a real problem solver if it does as it promises.

8

A. It's a dumb name. Blues Cube. Pfft. The Roland Cubes were so-named because they were, wait for it, cubical in shape. This one isn't. Dumb names aren't necessarily the kiss of death, but they create a hurdle for me (at least) to get over.

B. The price seemed "pricey" to me for a modeling amp (tricky nomenclature for hybrid technology notwithstanding).

C. "Tone capsules" seem to me a way to extract revenue from the buyer all over again for something that could just as easily be delivered via a software download/upgrade - or, fer gawd sake, be built in from the git-go (as with most other modeling platforms).

But between these Blues Cubes and Fender's new modeled versions of single existing amps, I reckon the industry has finally seen what it takes to convince tubers to take a serious look at modeling: make them cost nearly as much as tube amps. (They've also waited for age, gravity, and the awareness of tinnitus to gradually convince us all that heavy iron may no longer be worth the effort.)

Who knew!


Note: all of the above takes a purified devil's advocate approach. I don't necessarily subscribe whole-heartedly to any of the observations. Most significantly, I haven't heard or played through a Blues Cube, so the uncharitable could put my modeled objections up to sour grapes.

I am in general as much a fan of current state-of-the-art modeling as I am of good tube amps, so despite my whining, I'd be prepared to welcome the Cube with open arms - if I needed even the 30 watts of the little one. I'm also a fan of Roland/Boss, and have been since my first "String Machine" in 1978.

But I don't feel compelled to open my wallet as wide as my arms here, mostly because I can already make every guitar noise I can imagine with the stuff I already have (and surely many noises I'm too limited to imagine). But if the price point was more in line with other modeling amps, I might not be able to resist.

9

" Most significantly, I haven't heard or played through a Blues Cube,"

Now that THAT is out of the way...

A. pfft.

B. Just like with a TUBE amp, I care more about how it sounds than how it costs. $2250 for a Swart?!?!?! Highway robbery! Except.... it sounds great. So $950 for the BCA doesn't seem out of the realm of reasonableness to me. Heck, some nutbags shell out thousands for "vintage" gear simply because it's OLD.

C. OR... they've developed a platform to get more than 1 sound out of one amp, and kept the control interface LIKE AN AMP.... no digital menus, LCD screens.... just knobs. Because it's just an amp. Just like all the other amps.

D. It's funny how people poo-poo, or run down, or eye conspicuously, an amp that has something other than tubes in... yet have ZERO problem putting a plethora of devices at their feet that run on transistors... that they plug into BEFORE then running into their "magical tube" amp

10

Good point Ruger9, especially about pedals in front of the amp. I think a lot of us would love to have a go on the new Cube series, or even own one. The sound has got to be the number one reason. I do sympathise with anyone with physically compromising situations but apart from that come on guys, put a bit of muscle into it and heave those 20w amps to the bar room and get playing.

11

Vince,

I'll never give up my tubes! If only for "romantic" reasons LOL.... I dig old tech. Just looking for something versatile and trouble-free for my cover band (the lighter weight helps too!)

But if I had a blues gig, where all I needed was a 1-channel'er, I'd likely do tubes all the way.

The cool thing about the BCA is it has FOUR levels of clean/gain, with onboard tremolo and reverb. Plus an effects loop. All of that goes a long way to getting all the different sounds for the classic rock cover band. My Fender Supersonic 60 has the volume, 2 channels, reverb, and a loop... it does the job fine, but it's REALLY heavy... and no one at a bar band gig is going to care if I'm using tubes or not... the BCA "makes life easier"... and the pedalboard a bit smaller.

I still won't know until I get it into battle- at least to rehearsal next week.

12

C. Roland could easily accommodate multiple amp models and still maintain a purely traditional amp-like control panel/interface. (Knobs and switches are, after all, an interface.) You're already switching FOUR levels of clean/gain, which would be functionally little different than switching between multiple amp models. Or you easily have another knob to select from several amp models which were downloaded once into the "amp" via USB. (You do have a computer, and I'm sure you've done downloads.) It would still be just an amp. Just like all the other amps.

D. I can't imagine you're talking to me. One, I've never been a tube snob. Two, no one is more open to pedals of whatever technology. Three, on both counts I therefore have no credibility.

As I said, I'm prepared to love the BCA. I just wish I could imagine a way to even remotely need one.

13

Hope you didn't miss the

Just doing an op-ed to your ed, that's all

For me, it's strictly utility. Cover band, versatile, light, loud (or quiet.) And I don't have to be as precious with it as I would a Mesa Lonestar, Swart AST, or whatever. Actually, my SS60 does a fine job, it's just VERY heavy... and I'm not sure the extra weight (or the tubes) lend anything over what the BCA has... especially since I can't really use the SS60 at home, it's just too darned loud, and... like almost all tube amps... doesn't sound as good at lower volumes... "the right size amp for the venue" is a mantra with tube amps, not with SS/modelers. I see them having their "purpose", just like a precious, expensive, hand-wired, real tweed covered, tube reverb'd, tube bias tremolo'd, TUBE amp would have sitting in my family room, for my life-long personal enjoyment

14

I think we're pretty much in agreement really, we'd like to try the amp, it should be judged in its own right ( I'm tired of the comparison with tube amps).....I'm sure it sounds mighty fine.

I do see your point Tim. There's other modelling (or whatever) amps that I'd like to romance for an evening. Wish they had a Link Wray capsule. Joking of course I'd prefer they didn't do the name tagging

15

Hope you didn't miss the [emoticon]

Just doing an op-ed to your ed, that's all [emoticon]

Of course. No feathers ruffled. Just collegial banter in the interest of ventilating all sides of a question - not to mention the entertainment value.

And I'm with you, Vince: the comparisons by now seem irrelevant. Still, I get that there are behavioral characteristics typically associated with tube amps cranked to the magic tick on the dial that many would like to hear from any amp, whatever the tech - and mentioning that behavior invariably raises the smell of hot tubes, even when it's just the behavior (and not the tubes) we mean to invoke.

16

I go along with Tim on this one. I have a hard time figuring out why this amp is $1,000.00. Is it made in Japan, with its' high labor costs or Roland's Malaysian factory? Either way, I'd guess that most of the chips are made in China, anyway.

Like Tim I haven't tried one but I will.

I can see the appeal for cover bands but I'm much happier with the few amp sounds that I like which really seems to help me play better too.

And, yes, I don't put pedals in front of my amp as I don't like what they do to the smooth sound of my guitar / amp combination which clearly puts me in the minority.

Horses for courses, I suppose but for me, I'd rather pay the extra for one of Steve Carr's creations

17

Oh, and I should’ve congratulated and wished you well, Ruger, on your new amp day. It does me some vicarious good to see a forum brother pleased with a new thang. I hope it continues to please and exceed expectations. Churlish of me not to lead off with that sentiment!

18

"The right size amp for the room"... That is the issue for me right there. I need an amp which: breaks up just the right amount for the songs I need a dirty sound for, but can be loud and clean when I don't need dirt. And when dirty or clean has a tight, full low end for the twangy bass string boogie stuff common in rockabilly. I want to have my delay after the dirt.

So my reluctant response to all of this was (initially) to use an amp just loud enough to work clean with my band - a Bassman RI. To keep things sounding "tubey" I used various tube OD units - the Badcat Two-tone works so well with a Gretsch and captures that elusive "amp-just-beginning-to-break-up" sound, plus I could put my delay after it but before the amp.

But after a while I discovered that I could use a regular SS pedal to fill the role the tube OD filled. If I used the right pedal I couldn't tell which was tube and which was SS if I blind-tested. So that simplified things. But the pedal is very important - no tubescreamers!

I have tried lots of amps with dirt channels but it seems they are all aimed at blues or hard rock players. I couldn't find an overdrive sound which worked particularly well with a Gretsch. They have too much dirt and sound fizzy when you turn them down. And they do start to get heavy and pricey. And even the Bassman, then the Vibroking, then the Super Reverb RI all were flabbier in the low end than I wanted - and anything smaller in an amp was worse.

I don't like 99% of the OD pedals I try. They mostly sound like pedals. But of you get the right one and learn how to use it they can be a wonderful thing. Like amps I build my own these days, but there are some very solid, simple pedals around which work with a Gretsch very well indeed.

19

Jimmy,

I bought a used Vibro-King twenty years ago but had the same problem as you.....until I discovered an original pair of GE 6L6 power tubes from the sixties. Problem solved. The whole audio range of the amp sounded much better too.

I really like that amp, especially with its' original Eminence "blue frame" 10" speakers but dragging it around is no fun at all. It really has to be a big room or a very special event for me to use that amp at live gigs.

Sounds great at home though!

20

Tone Capsules hmm...?

21

Tone Capsules hmm...?

– WB

Just ignore the silly marketing hype, and that it's supposed to look like a tube LOL. All it is, is re-programming the gain profile and EQ of the amp to model something different.

For example, the amp, as stock, is modeled after a tweed Bassman, on both channels. Altho it probably has more gain on the crunch channel than a Bassman does, even cranked.

But put the "Ultimate Blues Tone Capsule" in there, and it changes the clean channel to be modeled after a Super Reverb (more headroom, tighter low end), and the crunch channel becomes a Marshall Super Lead.... this combo would be perfect for me.

The signature one (Eric Johnson, Robben Ford, etc) I ignore- I'm not looking to sound like anyone else. Just want an amp that's versatile enough- without adding multiple gain pedals- to cover a wide range of gain, at any volume. The "at any volume" part is paramount as well.... just makes life easier depending on the drummer, the venue, the sound man, and whether or not the amps are miked. A "Swiss Army Knife" amp, if you will.

22

Here's a demo of the Ultimate Blues Tone Capsule, with Kirk Fletcher:

23

That Blues Cube Artist looks like a real winner. I am of the belief that electronic equipment is constantly improving and it was just a matter of time before solid state amps could give tube amps serious competition. Looks like you’re there. Congrats

24

Thought my BC 30 Hot was a good deal for $300... but just came up short with the tone I needed.

25

Ultimate Blooze Tone Capsule no less!?! Do those come with bowling shirts and cargo shorts?


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