Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Clean tone – solid state and tube – a very personal estimation

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by nosuch, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. FrontPU

    FrontPU Tele-Holic

    Jul 6, 2008
    Because the 2 knobs on BF/SF Fender amps are designed to be flat by keeping them at 0. No MIDDLE knob means that MIDDLE is always 0. So if you set the 2 knobs (BASS and TREBLE) more than o, you hear the scooped sound.

    FYI, a line graph of BF Champ drawn by a Japanese amp builder.
    A) Both tone knobs (BASS and TREBLE) are 0.
    B) BASS 10, TREBLE 0.
    C) BASS 0, TREBLE 10.
    D) BASS 10, TREBLE 10.
    nosuch likes this.
  2. NiceTele

    NiceTele Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 20, 2012
    I'm mostly using my Kat 50 for gigs now(usually miked up through a PA)- there's just a nice sweet spot I can hit on that particular amp. My wife keeps asking why I spent good money on my "bigger amps" but don't use them any more!
    John E likes this.
  3. galaxiex

    galaxiex Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    ....... and that's because for lots of guitar sounds, that mid scoop sounds good....

    ... but not for all guitar sounds...

    ........that's why we have things like a tube screamer and their ilk...
    Those type of pedals have a "mid hump" and that can help "cut thru the mix"....
  4. bsman

    bsman Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 8, 2003
    Santa Clara
    I’ve been down that rabbit-hole a bunch in my life, and one thing I’ve figured out is this: No matter how much difference you “hear” or “feel”, it makes no difference to the audience!

    * Disclaimer: I’m currently playing pretty much exclusively through one of three tube amps, and only very occasionally through a Blackstar ID:Core Beam.
    galaxiex likes this.
  5. Manual Slim

    Manual Slim Tele-Holic

    Mar 21, 2017
    I don’t mean to make light of the quest for tone as such, but we are an obsessive bunch.
    I have dialed up so many sounds that I’ve been in love with. I’ll never hear them again.
    John E and galaxiex like this.
  6. rjp68

    rjp68 TDPRI Member

    Jan 6, 2019
    Central California
    I agree, the output transformer interaction with the speaker is a huge influence on the sound.
  7. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

    Jul 5, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    A big part of the pleasing clean sound of tubes is the warmth added by low levels of second harmonic distortion that are lacking in SS amps. As we all have known for decades, in guitar amps, distortion of the right kind in the right amount is a good thing that improves the sound of an electric guitar.
    But, as others have pointed out, it's the sum of all the designer's choices that make or break an amp. There's no disputing that we've all heard great sounding SS amps and terrible sounding tube amps.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  8. FrontPU

    FrontPU Tele-Holic

    Jul 6, 2008
    Jazz guitar players tend to be clean tone hunters and many of them use SS amps like AER, Acoustic Image, Roland Cube series, etc.
    I have used both AER and Fender BF/SF amps and personally prefer Fenders, but most friends of mine prefer those SS jazz/acoustic amps to tube amps.
    nosuch likes this.
  9. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2008
    Interesting. The last time I played the vibrolux I set it near A (with nearly all treble and bass dialed out) to get the tone I was desiring.
  10. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2008
    When I was playing in a jazz trio like 12 years ago I had an AER compact 60 (I played an archtop then) – that thing got lost in the mix as soon as the drummer had a beer between sets. So I got myself an expensive polytone amp – it had to be ordered by a local dealer and the cost was more than 1000 € if I remember correctly.
    Our bass player had a Blues jr, which he brought to concerts for me occasionally and let me use on recordings in his home studio. It was like a blanket had been pulled away from my tone. I remember we were making recordings with both amps and we all agreed that we liked the Fender amp (approximately half the price of the polytone) better.
  11. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2008
  12. stratclub

    stratclub Tele-Meister

    Mar 15, 2018
    It is true that the technology of tube amps is dying out. In 50 or 100 years no one will even know what a tube amp sounds like but will wonder why their electric guitar sound with all the DSP available to emulate tubes sounds is so Meh sounding..........

    Kinda close and is are completely different things. To me, tube amps being punished like the dirty girls they are is the sound of R&R. It is a sound that few will ever experience playing in their bedrooms through head phones.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  13. maxvintage

    maxvintage Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 16, 2003
    Arlington, VA

    They're before. They're what the speaker "sees."

    The fender scooped tone is obviously incredibly popular. And it's a very pretty tone. Bass players who are into slap use a very similar "smile" eq, so they get all thump and bright chank. Marcus Miller is the most famous example.

    My personal tastes run more towards the tweed amps, which have a lot more midrange content. That fits the style of music I tend to play better. I do find that giving up too much midrange makes it very hard to find room in the band--you are competing with the bass player at the low end and with the snare, cymbals and keys at the high end; and i find that having more midrange sounds less pretty but more effective in the mix.

    I like Baxandall type tone controls, because you can start from dead flat and sculpt it more to taste; with Fender's tone stack the only way to get a flat eq curve is to dime the midrange and zero bass and treble. Supposedly that's what grant green did.

    I have a Pro Jr. Great amp
  14. FrontPU

    FrontPU Tele-Holic

    Jul 6, 2008
    Many old jazz guitarists like Bucky Pizzarelli set their amp's tone knobs "0" without exception (BASS, TREBLE or MIDDLE). I think that they learned it from their old Fender BF/SF amps to keep the EQ all flat. They do the same even on their modern SS amps whose flat EQ point is at "5" or "12 o'clock". :)
    trouserpress likes this.
  15. FrontPU

    FrontPU Tele-Holic

    Jul 6, 2008
    I don’t know, but guess that it’s “after” the speaker, because if “before” the speaker, the graph A (of BF Champ) would not be that flat but a little more scooped since Leo should have designed that way.
    If I’m not mistaken, all BF/SF models (except “Twin Reberv” and Musicmaster Bass amp) were designed with 2 adjustable tones (with BASS & TREBLE knobs) and 1 fixed tone (MIDDLE), and the non-adjustable MIDDLE is always set at “5” (with 6.8k resistor). But theoretically, you still need to get MIDDLE at “10” and BASS & TREBLE “0” to get the flat EQ (at around -20db), and only Twin Reverb with adjustable MIDDLE knob allow you to do so.
    The graph A (of BF Champ) in the link I attached is flat, however, it’s because of its 8” EV speaker’s tone character, I guess.
    But before or after, I don't think it matters in this topic.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
  16. MilwMark

    MilwMark Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    near Arnold's
    My conclusion is we (and I include myself in this) listen more critically and skeptically to SS gear than Tube gear. And we (including me) are more likely to invest in fixing things we don’t like about tube gear (speaker swaps, etc.). Further, SS gear may also be made more to a price point, not offering the best comparison.

    I was much happier with my JC40 than my “Humboldt” BJR. I was happier with either of those than with a succession of SF/BF DRs, PRs and VRs, fully serviced and with good speakers. I’m happier still (and finally satisfied) with a stock HRD IV and Origin 50 combo. Go figure. Both are tube but PCB (the horror!). So I don’t know if they are “approved” or not.

    And I’ve ditched my carefully selected (but never “done”) small individual pedalboard for a Boss ME80. Which must be digital but I haven’t given that a thought.

    I can’t draw any conclusions about tube vs SS (or analog vs digitial) from any of that. I may draw some Conclusions about how expectations and doubt colored my perception. But it would be presumptious to draw that conclusion regarding others. Though I tend to be skeptical about conclusions I draw that require me to be more perceptive than others.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
    Clarkj734 and Lef T like this.
  17. Euphonica

    Euphonica TDPRI Member

    Nov 28, 2018
    New Orleans, LA
    I prefer tubes because they’re louder.
  18. RoscoeElegante

    RoscoeElegante Friend of Leo's

    Feb 19, 2015
    Well, I grew up in old houses with high ceilings, plaster walls, hardwood floors, drafty windows, and memory-stalking ghosts. So I prefer tube amps because their imperfections--the 2nd order harmonics thing, artifacts, faint buzzing, etc.--sound "natural" to me. Resonant, depth-ful (why not?), responsive, nuanced, real. (And yes, I like lo-fi "character"-rich recording more than pristine hi-tech stuff.)

    Hence, most solid states do sound sterile to me. Dimensionless, fizzy, etc. I do, however, like a good solid state clean when some of the imperfections inherent in even clean-running pedals are added, or when the solid state amp is "blessed" with some on-board effects that don't worse the sterility by adding overly-digital-sounding qualities. E.g, some good tube-ish reverb, some textured delay, etc.

    Oddly, the best bass amp I've ever played has been my battered Fender Princeton Chorus. I like firm bass tones, bassy punch, and the Chorus's 2x10's really give that. So while I try to conjure cars with fins and cities intact with my tube amps, and find tube technology a fascinating thing, I do admit that I only know a small corner of the sound world. Making what I know I like necessarily a matter of chance as much as taste.
  19. Jimmy Dean

    Jimmy Dean Tele-Afflicted

    I have used a lot of different amps over the last 45-50yrs both tube & solid state. I have preferred tube amps since the late 80's. My last tube amp was an Egnator Tweaker 15 head. Picked it up in 2013, on sale at GC for $300. Great tone, takes pedals well, really loved it. 3yr warranty, it dies at 2yr 11mo & get it fixed. I was informed that I was lucky because the repair would have cost me $350. In April of this year it died again. After much thought, I bought a Quilter Route 101 head for $300. 2lb, fits in a gigbag & to my ears, it sounds great.
    Lef T likes this.
  20. alnico357

    alnico357 Tele-Meister

    Jun 2, 2015
    I have a DRRI with an Alnico Blue speaker. It has the Fender clean sound of course, and it sounds great clean, of course. I have a $70 Cube -01 10 watt amp. The clean is modeled on the Roland Jazz chorus amp. When I say the $70 amp sounds as good as the DRRI for cleans sitting around the house, I will be kicked out of the Manly Tube Amp Club. So be it. I call them as I hear them.

    Some guitar players will never admit this about solid state amps because of the stigma attached :eek:
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