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. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2008
    Stigma? What stigma? You may read a bit too much of the internet's opinions?
  2. mad dog

    mad dog Friend of Leo's

    Jun 27, 2005
    Montclair, NJ
    Tubes will probably always be my preference. There is some depth or resonance in the sound of a good tube amp that just does it. At the same time, I actually spend more time playing these days (practicing jazz) through an old Polytone Minibrute II. Which is probably the best SS amp I've tried, and has its own compelling virtues.

    Both are useful. Both offer a great deal tonally.
    nosuch and bftfender like this.
  3. Euphonica

    Euphonica TDPRI Member

    Nov 28, 2018
    New Orleans, LA
    I have two completely unprovable theories about folks who once preferred tube sound but now like SS:

    Part 1:
    As they age, ears don’t hear as well; at some point both tube and SS do actually sound identical.

    Part 2:
    Kids who prefer SS amps over tube have been conditioned to think that cold, precise, and digital sounds better than a warm and less-precise tube amp.
    JodanOrNoDan likes this.
  4. steve v

    steve v Tele-Holic

    Jun 18, 2009
    Albany, NY
    Quilter rig + always-on Blackface type pedal = happy Steve V. Sold all of my tube amps, including a pricey Princeton clone. To be honest, I think my current rig sounds better than anything I've previously owned.
    nosuch likes this.
  5. gwjensen

    gwjensen Friend of Leo's

    I like the edge of break up with tube amps where I'm playing clean and get a little hair around the tone when I dig in.
    Greggorios, bftfender and nosuch like this.
  6. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

    Dec 21, 2017
    York PA
    yes sir..the key to your vol and tone knob on guitar and just play..dime for leads back off for rhythm simple
    nosuch likes this.
  7. John E

    John E Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 17, 2003
    This is actually what I love about the Katana. It really is sensitive to guitar volume. I can set the Gain/Vol/Master in a way that it becomes super responsive to pick attack and get some grunge and ballz when you strike it hard... and all without bringing the police from the next town over... lol
    MilwMark and Rhyming Orange like this.
  8. jrblue

    jrblue Tele-Holic

    Nov 14, 2010
    Santa Barbara
    It's ridiculous to claim, as some do, that anyone who uses a tube amp does so because they're living in the past, a curmudgeon, unadventurous, or a copycat. I don't know anyone like that. People use what works best for them. No, Music Man didn't pioneer some great hybrid technology; they came up with a line of amps that are pretty good for some players and pretty unpopular with many. People weren't biased agains them -- they wanted to buy them! But they quickly realized they simply liked other amps better, for good reason. And why do some posts talk dismissively as though this is about "tone"? For may of us, it's possible to get good tones through lots of amps, but what is harder to get is a fluid responsiveness and response. I am eager to leave tubes behind because the very heart of tube amp design -- good tubes -- is fatally problematic. I'll go SS when I encounter something good enough to use. And I'll get the first neodymium speaker that sounds as good as others. I don't give a hoot in hell what circuitry is in my amp as long as it responds musically. If I played with conventional jazz tones, I'd be in business w/ SS, but I don't, so I'm not. This is hardly a bias.
  9. DuckDodgers

    DuckDodgers Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Nov 5, 2015
    Dee-troit City
    Just bought a used Quilter 101 Reverb which I’m using with a DIY reflex cabinet with an Eminence Beta 8-A. It’s very close to that classic blackface Fender sound I’ve been looking for, it weighs a lot less than even my Champ, and should be more reliable. Cheaper, too. If I had a lot of money to burn I’d buy a vintage Vibro Champ, Princeton Reverb, Deluxe, and Vibrolux. But I don’t.
  10. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 24, 2010
    Most of the sound of an amp is due to the speaker.
    MilwMark likes this.
  11. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2009
    Western Canada
    I've got tube amps, I've got SS amps, I've got modelers. They all have a place, they are all good...
    I never understand these discussions... it's simple, use what works for you and let others use what works for them.
    Dobronaut, John E and DHart like this.
  12. FrontPU

    FrontPU Tele-Holic

    Jul 6, 2008
    The main issue with this topic would be the fact that the tube amps you face are NOT always in good, right, or ideal condition; especially when they are old.
    Although a 10 year old electrolytic cap seldom works properly (even if it has no leak and passes the ohm test), people love to keep those originals in the amps from the vintage era. The same can be said of valve tubes, people want to keep moribund tubes on them unless big noise is produced... no matter weak/funny sounding they are. Those old speakers might be dried out but they won't be replaced...
    And even in perfect condition, they still can be better/worse depending on the choice of tube brands/models. Some amps need a variac to transform from ok to the best.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
    DHart likes this.
  13. gitapik

    gitapik Tele-Holic

    Jan 16, 2010
    New York City
    I haven't read all the pages, so please excuse if I'm redundant:

    I love my Quilter 8" Micro Pro Mach 2. It really is an amazing amp. Big full sound for such a small enclosure and light at 19 lbs. The array of tones is very impressive and it does sound like a tube amp. No question. Very happy camper.

    But it doesn't sound like my billM modded Blues Jr. It doesn't sound like my Port City Pearl 50w head through the 1x12 OS Wave cab, either. They both have a very different tone that I do not want to lose.

    All three are keepers in my book. Love to have different flavors.
    DuckDodgers likes this.
  14. beninma

    beninma Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Mar 17, 2017
    I don't really think it has anything to do with the tone stack or EQ.. it costs like $1.00 at scale probably to throw that fender tone stack in front of an SS amp.

    I think it's more the subtle distortion that the Tube amp has even when you think it's clean.

    Weird example but I've been playing Wild Horses lately.. obviously it sounds best on an acoustic guitar. Yesterday I practiced on an Orange Crush 35RT with my Tele... fiddled with the EQ endlessly and it was brutal to get it to sound anything but painful on that amp with the big chords. Really unsatisfying. Played some on my Rocker 15 last night.. the overall sound of these two amps is no night and day. Turn on the clean channel, it has no EQ, that subtle tube distortion even when clean instantly makes those chords not painful to the ear.

    Although flipside I bet I can play that on the Yamaha THR and it'll sound great right away. And there is giant swaths of music that sounds great played through those Orange Crush amps too.
    Greggorios likes this.
  15. luckett

    luckett Friend of Leo's

    Jun 14, 2011
    I have two completely provable theories about folks who once preferred tube sound but now like SS:

    Part 1:
    Older people with bad backs don't like lifting heavy tube amps.

    Part 2:
    Kids prefer cheaper amps.
    MilwMark, codamedia and Greggorios like this.
  16. Greggorios

    Greggorios Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Jun 18, 2016
    Patterson, NY
    I take my guitar(s) to an amp retailer, a friend, someone selling an amp, etc. I plug my guitar in and play some different stuff. I fiddle around with some knobs and settings on both guitar and amp. Some sounds I like, some not so much. I have a limited budget so I can't buy every amp out there. Most of the time I prefer the sounds that my guitar(s) make through the tube amps.

    This is an enjoyable process from time to time but is minor compared to the enjoyment from listening and playing music.

    There is not a tone that can't be improved by me playing and practicing more.
    The Angle and beninma like this.
  17. LGOberean

    LGOberean Poster Extraordinaire

    May 31, 2008
    Corpus Christi, Texas
    Well said. And once again, a great pic. I don't even feel right about calling it a "pic." That's a photograph, done with an artistic eye, not to mention great subject matter. :twisted:
    DHart likes this.
  18. DHart

    DHart Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 12, 2012
    Scottsdale, AZ USA
    Thank you, LGO... that’s very kind of you to say. :)
    LGOberean likes this.
  19. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 22, 2009
    New York
    Tube cleans are about the wave form 'distortions' that don't sound like 'distortion' to our ears. That's why Tube HIFI amps are said to sound 'better' Everyone knows SS can reproduce HIFI more cleanly than tubes, but the subtle distortions that come from the HIFI tube amps will often sound more pleasant to people's ears, due to the added harmonic content of the 'distortion.' Due to the harmonics, and level of THD involved, our ears still perceive this distortion as 'clean' audio production.
  20. Euphonica

    Euphonica TDPRI Member

    Nov 28, 2018
    New Orleans, LA
    I feel like acoustic guitars have semi-similar harmonics and overtones to tube amps, since they’re obviously “clean” (because there is no amp), but any note has some extra dimension to its freq.
    beninma likes this.
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