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Old March 13th, 2012, 09:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Solid State amp with a "tube" pedal

Take an amp like a solid state Peavey Stereo Chorus 212 or another SS amp you can think of. If you put a pedal with a real 12AX7 tube in it, like an Ibanez Tube King, is this pedal going to really make the solid state amp sound and feel like a tube amp?

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Old March 13th, 2012, 09:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'll be curious to hear what people say, I wonder the same thing. It seems like a lot of people run tube amps clean and use dirt pedals for their dirt, I've wondered if they wouldn't be just as well off using a good solid state amp with their pedals instead. My gut tells me the tube amp would still probably sound better.
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Old March 13th, 2012, 09:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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No. I personally think they are a gimmick. Most tube overdrive pedals run at 12 or 24vdc plate voltage when tube amp preamp tubes run at about 10x that. They just sound fizzy to me. I sold a B.K. Butler 901 tube pedal someone gave me (I got over 100.00 for it on Ebay). No matter what tube I put in it, 12au7, 12at7, 12ax7, made no difference I could hear. It just made for lots of noise, when engaged on my pedal board.

Play through a tube amp, switch it off while your playing, and that fizzy distortion you hear just before the sound fades away is what they sound like. IMHO.
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Old March 13th, 2012, 10:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I get pretty good results with the Seymour Duncan Twin Tube pedals (which run at high voltage). They sound good. We have an ~58 tweed pro in our studio. The SD pedals don't sound as good as the pro, but they still sound good.
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Old March 13th, 2012, 10:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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There are pedals that run at low voltages and ones that run at standard guitar voltages. Some think the low voltages ones sound ok, I played around with tubes at up to 48V on the plate and did not like them. This is kind if timely as I am drawing up a schematic for a tube preamp at the moment.

Tube preamps at higher voltages will give you the distortion characteristics of a tube preamp in a regular tube amp that has a master volume. It will not (generally) give you phase inverter and output tube distortion. It will also not give you sag or cause your output to increase the drive to the speaker at resonance and as the speaker impedance rises with increased frequency. Basically it will not give you some of the quirks of a tube amp output stage.

That being said there is a lot of ground for the pedal yet to cover in the input section of an amplifier. There is a distinct sound to a pentode input, a grid leak bias input, hot or cold biased stages, a cathode follower, a lot of tone in the input stages without the output stage driven to distortion.
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Old March 14th, 2012, 02:55 AM   #6 (permalink)
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IMHO it does not really matter if your OD pedal runs tubes, transistors or cogs and levers. If there is something lacking in your tone, the pedals of course might help you. But if this quality you feel lacking has anything to do with the "magic" tubes is another matter... It could be, naturally. But what you feel lacking lies probably in the output stage. Read the myriad of helpful posts from Stewart Ward on this.
Yes, I use solid state amps.
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Old March 14th, 2012, 05:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Tubes in pedals, transistors in pedals, diodes in pedals, and tube preamps are ALL weak approximations of a tube output section being pushed to it's limit while driving a speaker cabinet. However, most of us can't use a massively overdriven tube power section on stage for many reasons (volume, ability to play clean and loud when needed, etc.).

Overdriven preamp tubes, whether in a pedal or onboard the amp, are no better at approximating the warm, dynamic response of the real deal than are solid-state devices. The proof of this is all around us in the plethora of amazing sounding SS pedals available today. I have yet to hear a tube-based pedal that sounds better than the best SS pedals.

I use both tube and SS amps, clean only, with a small set of SS drive pedals. I've been gigging professionally for nearly 30 years, and I've never had a better sound than I have today. My amps all sound a bit different, but not significantly so because I look for the same thing with them all: a great clean sound with adequate headroom. I tend to prefer more available watts from the SS amps (because I never want to clip the output section).

If you are going to use drive pedals INSTEAD OF output tube distortion or onboard preamp distortion, then choose your amp based on it's clean sound. Look for an inspiring, full tone that makes you want to play clean. That amp may be tube or SS. You will then find you have a great blank canvas to add your pedals to.
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Old March 14th, 2012, 11:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I've found that tubes in an amp only really make a significant difference as far as tone if they are in the power stage, or output stage.
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Old March 14th, 2012, 12:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tele-phone man View Post
If you are going to use drive pedals INSTEAD OF output tube distortion or onboard preamp distortion, then choose your amp based on it's clean sound. Look for an inspiring, full tone that makes you want to play clean. That amp may be tube or SS. You will then find you have a great blank canvas to add your pedals to.
I think this is an excellent point and a reason why you'd want a SS with a good clean channel with lots of headroom. My Peavey beast takes pedals really well, so as Tele-phone man put it, it's a great blank canvas to add your pedals too.

So what I'm hearing is that these pedals with actual tubes are just a gimmick, and that other non tube pedals are going to work just as well for a simulated tube glassy clean sound or more of a tube overdrive, if that's what you want?
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Old March 14th, 2012, 12:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by markw51 View Post
I've found that tubes in an amp only really make a significant difference as far as tone if they are in the power stage, or output stage.
With the Vox Valvetronix series, they put the 12AX7 tube/valve in the power stage instead of the pre amp stage also suggesting that this makes a significant difference.

The Marshall Valvestates and Advanced Valvestates put the 12AX7 in pre amp stage.

I think they are both good sounding hybrid amps, so maybe the circuits are designed differently between the two to get the best tube quality sound. I can't say which amps sound more tube like, yet they each have there own characteristics.
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Old March 14th, 2012, 12:39 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
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So what I'm hearing is that these pedals with actual tubes are just a gimmick, and that other non tube pedals are going to work just as well for a simulated tube glassy clean sound or more of a tube overdrive, if that's what you want?
Exactly. "Gimmick" is maybe too harsh - they can be fine pedals, just not really better from the SS pedals just because they have a 12AX7.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Dep
With the Vox Valvetronix series, they put the 12AX7 tube/valve in the power stage instead of the pre amp stage also suggesting that this makes a significant difference.
The Marshall Valvestates and Advanced Valvestates put the 12AX7 in pre amp stage.
I think they are both good sounding hybrid amps, so maybe the circuits are designed differently between the two to get the best tube quality sound. I can't say which amps sound more tube like, yet they each have there own characteristics.
This is marketing. They do not sound good BECAUSE of the 12AX7. Correlation is not causation

If we are talking about hybrids - Music Man amps, hybrid amps designed by Leo Fender. Tube output section, SS pre.

I use clean SS amps and employ pedals for drive sounds. Two pedals I own and can recommend very strongly are the Award/Session JD-10 and Blackstone Appliances MOSFET Overdrive. Both were designed to work with a clean amp.
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