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Solid State amp with a "tube" pedal

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Jim Dep, Mar 13, 2012.

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  1. Jim Dep

    Jim Dep Friend of Leo's

    May 23, 2010
    Northern Colorado
    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?

  2. Leep Dog

    Leep Dog Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 3, 2011
    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.

  3. alnicopu

    alnicopu Friend of Leo's

    Oct 3, 2009
    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.

  4. bpaulsen

    bpaulsen Tele-Meister

    Jun 30, 2009
    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.

  5. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

    May 24, 2010
    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.

  6. Piotr

    Piotr Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 5, 2011
    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.

  7. Tele-phone man

    Tele-phone man Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 11, 2006
    Asheville, NC
    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.

  8. markw51

    markw51 Tele-Afflicted

    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.

  9. Jim Dep

    Jim Dep Friend of Leo's

    May 23, 2010
    Northern Colorado
    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?

  10. Jim Dep

    Jim Dep Friend of Leo's

    May 23, 2010
    Northern Colorado
    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.

  11. Piotr

    Piotr Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 5, 2011
    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.

    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.

  12. perish

    perish TDPRI Member

    Jun 11, 2014
    tube pedals

    Hi. Reading the thread I have a perspective on this. I have been trying a number of pedals/amps, and dont really want to go to the really expensive stuff and I have been trying to avoid tubes completely (especially tube amps). I am finding that amps with MOSFET sound more like power tube overdrive, although a little more jagged, (less warm). I`m guessing the MOSFET pedals basically do this?
    The 12AX7s in tube pedals, can be nice...a little bit different to 12AX7 in amps: maybe because they are using the tubes in a different way (less voltage?) and often there is more than one preamp tube in amps. The single 12AX7 pedals dont tend to give off loads of distortion if thats what you are looking for, but I`m finding they do give off enough of a randomised good thing, and let tone through. I found the 12AX7 pedal sounded better than many other kinds of distortion/overdrive pedals for the price. Also trying different tubes to fine-tune is a bonus. If you are looking for the pedal to entirely reflect a valve amp then maybe it will not, and in this sense maybe it is not better than a solid state pedal...but.... However, the combination of a tube overdrive pedal, and some kind of MOSFET/Transtube/JFET type amp thingy for a bit of extra grunt indeed does kind of get the whole sound like a full tube amp, (but not exactly). What may be missing from the sound is natural cracklyness and maybe a bit of warmth. Hope this helps someone...
    However, generic tube sound is not what i was looking for... I dont want my rig to sound exactly like a tube amp and every other guitarist who uses them particularly..I am looking for something different. I am wondering if there is a kind of pedal that could replace my 12AX7 one for the sake of reliability and to add a hint more uniqueness. Has anyone found an interesting cheapish one? I play punk but that does not mean i am looking for a rubbish sound. ;-) I tried Ibanez tubescreamer years ago and found they actually work a lot better with tube amps! Any ideas? anyone selling a cool distortion/overdrive pedal?

  13. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Tele-Holic

    Apr 12, 2014
    I think the differences between tube and solid state sounds are more obvious on clean sounds than distorted ones. There is a punch to the note that the power amp tubes provide that SS power amps don't really have. That's why putting a 12AX7 in an effect won't really make the sound as tube like as you might expect.

  14. TwangyWhammy

    TwangyWhammy Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 10, 2014
    Under the DownUnder
    Sound characteristics aside, I'm reserved about the idea of incorporating delicate tubes in a small pedal package that can get dropped and kicked around a fair bit.

    Personally I would either go tube amp or transistor amp but not a combination of the two. If you want a tubey sound with the ease and affordability of transistor, it might be better to have a look at the new generation modelling amps.

    This is quite an old thread by the way, and the OP has since embraced the prowess of his Mustang modelling amp, and for good reason. It might be fair to say that Jim Dep has already reached a happy conclusion regarding this explorative proposition? :D

  15. Chris S.

    Chris S. Asst. Admin Staff Member

    Mar 26, 2005
    Near TELE-Town (Wash. DC)
    Admin Post
    Yes, this thread is two years old, so I imagine the original query was resolved some time ago. Closed.

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