Other Amps

Tube VS solid state

51

I've owned all kinds of amps - digital, analog solid state, tube... I've concluded this: low cost tube amps are not very good. If your budget is $250 or less, go solid state/digital. You'll get better tone from a solid state amp in that price range than a cheap tube amp. Around $350 on up, tube starts to show its strengths and is the way to go (with the exception of the really good solid state offerings, like the Roland Cube-type amps, Kemper, Helix, etc.).

My opinion is we've reached the point where good solid state/digital has matched the tone and in many cases, the "feel" and responsiveness of tube amps. In the area of around $1,000 or so, tube and digital offerings, sound and feel-wise, are probably indistinguishable.

52

Weren't the LAB series amps the further development by Norlin of the Standel SS amps? Or am I thinking of another brand.

– Don Birchett

Lab series were kind of a collaboration between Norlin ( Gibson) and Bob Moog. Getting Moog's hands and mind involved are probably why they were such good amps even by todays standards. Buddy of mine had a L11 stack that sounded very good and could punish 3 adjacent counties with volume

53

In the area of around $1,000 or so, tube and digital offerings, sound and feel-wise, are probably indistinguishable.

Between there and 2k, any given modeler or profiler is likely indistinguishable from a couple dozen tube amps...

54

The guy in the video mentioned something I'm now realizing; lots of guitarists aren't as young as they used to be, and carrying around 100 pounds of amp is no longer a smart option. In my 20's I would stuff a Marshall JCM900 half-stack into my VW bug, and gig like that. Last year I bought a used Peavey 5150 4X12 to play my Vox AC10C1 through. And while it sounded great, it literally weighed just under 100 pounds. Got rid of it.

Any great-sounding amp that doesn't weigh a ton is fine by me.

55

Tube amps sound good due to their simplicity. Like BZ says, it also makes them simple to repair. It's analog in, analog out. No matter how much digital processing you have, it's still an analog signal from guitar and an analog signal at the speaker. Most solid state gear is now chip based, and often those chips are proprietary. Even QSC used their own power transistors and we couldn't match them up to repair the amp. So, new amp time.

Luckily with modern PA systems, a 15 watt amp with a good mike will work well without being too large and heavy to deal with. There's no real need for 100 watt amps and stacks of 4X12" cabs anymore.

56

12 watts is plenty these days. It's all about tone now.

57

Is that what you use in X?

58

Weren't the LAB series amps the further development by Norlin of the Standel SS amps? Or am I thinking of another brand.

– Don Birchett

I'm going to answer my own question, just in case someone is interested (which is probably doubtful) but I was thinking of the SG amps not LAB.

59

Just ordered a Roland Blues Cube Artist. Hopefully it'll sound very good (doesn't have to be a "holy grail" amp or anything), and solve my gigging amp problems (mostly: loud enough no matter what, light(er), sounds good at any volume -unlike tube amps where you need the right size/wattage amp for the job).

It's got to have a really good crunch on it's own, and it's got to take pedals well. For my band (a classic rock cover band), I use alot of various effects, many through the effects loop, and I use a channel switcher as I need both dead clean and crunch, adding a gain pedal for the higher gain stuff)

60

ruger, this is long but showcases it. I know you did your research first but I thought I would post this. Great sounding amp.

61

polecat,

yeah I posted that video in either this thread or another one, and it is a big reason why I decided to give solid state a shot.

For the record, in case anybody is wondering- the Blues Cubes are not modelers/digital; they are analog solid state. If that matters to anyone.

62

polecat,

yeah I posted that video in either this thread or another one, and it is a big reason why I decided to give solid state a shot.

For the record, in case anybody is wondering- the Blues Cubes are not modelers/digital; they are analog solid state. If that matters to anyone.

– ruger9

I missed your posting of the video. I just bought used an Orange CR60 because I wanted a solid state amp that I felt sounded good at any volumes and I think they do.

63

Solid-State can sound like tubes...it just usually doesn't. The standard implementation of loads of global negative feedback, and high damping factors reduce measured distortion, but it also effectively cancels out the tone of the speaker. For HiFi, this is desirable. It makes amps more transparent and eliminates the interaction between the amp and the speaker load, which can color the sound. Most modern amps are also based on IC opamp chips, which themselfes introduce tons of negative feedback. None of this is desirable in a guitar amp. It removes what we refer to as "tone". Modern SS guitar amps then usually incorporate a distortion & tone circuit built into the preamp section, in an attempt to imitate the sound of a tube amp with low damping & minimal negative feedback. It doesn't have to be that way, but younger engineers don't know any better. Personally, I'll only tour with a tube amp, because I don't trust the reliability of transistors, and they're way too hard to repair on the road. Parts for tube amps are also easy to source anywhere. There are only a handful of tube types used in audio amps. THere are literally hundreds of thousands of transistors and opamps...many very much obsolete ever after just a few years. When I'm not on the road, I generally use a Randall RG80 transistor amp from about 1980. It's small and has as much of a tube sound as any tube amp. Of course, it's a simpe circuit that doesn't use opamps or lots of feedback. The negative feed back they do use provides a Constant Current output that allows the amp to to interact with the speaker and provide real "tone".

64

BTW, that was the "short" answer. Negative feedback is a method of reducing distortion and coloration in the sound. High damping factor is essentially an amplifiers ability to ignore and compensate for variations in the speaker's impedance, inductance, & capacitance.

65

There definitely was a period in the early eighties when some good sounding SS amps were produced. The Randall amp that Billy mentions comes to mind as does the LAB series mentioned earlier and the hybrid SS preamp / Tube power amps from Music Man.

I still use my Music Man amp today. Makes every Fender guitar sound as it should!

66

Solid-State can sound like tubes...it just usually doesn't. The standard implementation of loads of global negative feedback, and high damping factors reduce measured distortion, but it also effectively cancels out the tone of the speaker. For HiFi, this is desirable. It makes amps more transparent and eliminates the interaction between the amp and the speaker load, which can color the sound. Most modern amps are also based on IC opamp chips, which themselfes introduce tons of negative feedback. None of this is desirable in a guitar amp. It removes what we refer to as "tone". Modern SS guitar amps then usually incorporate a distortion & tone circuit built into the preamp section, in an attempt to imitate the sound of a tube amp with low damping & minimal negative feedback. It doesn't have to be that way, but younger engineers don't know any better. Personally, I'll only tour with a tube amp, because I don't trust the reliability of transistors, and they're way too hard to repair on the road. Parts for tube amps are also easy to source anywhere. There are only a handful of tube types used in audio amps. THere are literally hundreds of thousands of transistors and opamps...many very much obsolete ever after just a few years. When I'm not on the road, I generally use a Randall RG80 transistor amp from about 1980. It's small and has as much of a tube sound as any tube amp. Of course, it's a simpe circuit that doesn't use opamps or lots of feedback. The negative feed back they do use provides a Constant Current output that allows the amp to to interact with the speaker and provide real "tone".

– Billy Zoom

The guitar player used one of those Randall amps on this track. I am the drummer.


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