Analog Solid State Amps With Great OD / Dirty Channels

generic202

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Bluguitar Amp1 Mercury Edition.

This amp deserves to be in the great SS od channel discussion!! To my ears, it's definitely the best SS amp that nails plexi tones. The clean channel is also great. It's in a pedal format, lightweight, and 100watt SS power.

Check this video for tones.
 

Stedgett

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80's Analog Peavey Transtubes can be very usable. Not the heavy distortion settings, but I like the lighter stuff. Metal guys might like the heavy settings.

I recently tried a Cambridge 15. Whoo hoo. This thing is fantastic. As close to tube distortion as I've ever heard from an SS amp. Might be the hands down winner. Minimal, light, mid, heavy, it's all good. This was the beginning of VOX using a 12AX7 in the preamp (later named Valvetronix) to produce tube amp distortion. They hit it. It also has chimey VOX highs.

I'd guess this means that the other VOX Valvetronix amps are similarly good. But I haven't actually tried any of them yet.
Actually in Vox's VTX (valvetronic series) the 12AX7 was used in the power amp section and the pre amp was solid state. I had A VTX50?? at one time and used it extensively. It sounded decent and although billed as a modeling amp, it could be worked like a non modeler by just going into manual mode. A nice feature was the attenuater in the rear which went from 50 watts to 1/4 watt- I think. These were really decent, versatile and cheap. It has 22 amp models which were ok but infinitely tweakable along with usable effects. However these were as heavy as a comparable tube amp and built like a tank. I named it the Beast. I ended up leaving it at the church so anyone who needed an amp was free to use it. Darn near indestructible. It had really decent overdrive and distortion. I have never played metal so have no opinion there. I agree Peavey's trantubes are very usuable and practical.
 
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Happy Enchilada

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If you want distortion/OD you can actually CONTROL, plug your favorite pedal of that flavor into the clean channel and go from there. My Roland Blues Cube Stage has a decent "Dirty" channel, and I use it sometimes, but I prefer my OD box through the clean channel for really dialing in a sound.
 

11 Gauge

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If you want distortion/OD you can actually CONTROL, plug your favorite pedal of that flavor into the clean channel and go from there. My Roland Blues Cube Stage has a decent "Dirty" channel, and I use it sometimes, but I prefer my OD box through the clean channel for really dialing in a sound.
That pretty much negates the entire reason for this thread, though.

I think we're all in agreement that there are plenty of SS amps that make great pedal platforms via their clean channels. I've got a few of them myself.
 

regularslinky

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I have the same amp, and very much prefer its clean sounds over the dirty ones, and think it's also an example of a great pedal platform.

For that reason, it has me curious as to if there's a Quilter amp that really does excel specifically at dirty, overdriven tones. I have a feeling that the Superblock UK might be such an animal, but have yet to experience it for myself.
I have a Quilter Mach 3, which has both US and UK-=based sounds. The UK sounds in the Mach 3 (TOP BST and PLEXI) sound great to me, especially at low-mid gain levels which is usually where non-tube amps fail to shine.
 

ruger9

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That pretty much negates the entire reason for this thread, though.

I think we're all in agreement that there are plenty of SS amps that make great pedal platforms via their clean channels. I've got a few of them myself.
Don't listen to anyone who says the dirt on the Cubes isn't very good to great. It is. 90% of the time, in my band, I use the dirt channel exclusively, cranked, with my Artist. For "dirty clean" I use an OD into the clean channel. So that gives me clean, dirty clean, and dirty. And I'm using the Ultimate Blues Tone Capsule, which has more difference between the clean and dirty channels than stock.
 

11 Gauge

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I have a Quilter Mach 3, which has both US and UK-=based sounds. The UK sounds in the Mach 3 (TOP BST and PLEXI) sound great to me, especially at low-mid gain levels which is usually where non-tube amps fail to shine.
That's good to know. Based on at least one of the videos for the UK, it really seems like the potential is there, to the point where I've contemplated getting a SB UK just to confirm it for myself.

And yeah, duly noted on the low-mid gain levels being tepid at best with more than a few non-tube amps.
 

BB

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Another vote for the first generation Roland Blues Cube's.

I bought a minty, sweet BC60 1-12 from a pawn shop years ago and it was my main amp for well over 10 years.

Since I rarely use the drive channel on amps and rely on pedals for dirt tones, it was a real (nice) shocker when I started playing around with the dirt tones. Fist off, the amp gives you two crunch tones via a crunch knob.

However, the real fun starts at gig level volume. I got the coolest Marshally type tones and that amp responded very well when turning down guitars volume.

I'd buy another in a heart beat if I found another great deal on one.

I'd sure love to try a Nextone or the new BC models
 

The Angle

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Roland is very cagey about whether the Blues Cube involves digital sampling. They never come out and say it does, and they never say it doesn't. A statement like "In the Blues Cube, the preamp section uses a [blah blah blah] to preserve the pure guitar signal as it travels throughout the circuit" implies the analog guitar signal is not being converted to digital. But then they throw in "Tube Logic – a marriage of solid-state analog technology and DSP," which implies the analog signal is being converted to digital for specific tone-shaping jobs. I strongly suspect the wavy analog signal is converted to 1s and 0s for at least part of its journey through the amp, but Roland doesn't want to come out and say that because they know a portion of the market immediately assumes digital = junk no matter what their ears and fingers tell them.

I couldn't care less. My Boss Drive Special is simply glorious. As satisfying as any tube amp I've played, without any tubes to fret over or heavy transformers to schlep.
 

dukewellington

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PolyTone made a Brute (can’t remember which one) that had a great OD feature. It had plenty of clean volume but the amp really excelled when it got foggy and loud, with a touch of drive and lots of low mids. Never should have traded it!

My two cents on a solid state amplifier with a drive channel is this: Turn on the drive feature, and crank the treble and volume up. It will sound terrible. Then back the treble down to where it sounds better. Some of them will respond better than others.
 

telemnemonics

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I always love that sweet seeing sustain that Carlos got. Back long before the Internet, rumor had it that "that guy" at Mesa was customizing amps for him. So we always figured it was sweet, overdriven, custom Mesa with a BMPi on the front end giving him that sustain.

I was shocked to see a video years later and learn later on that not only was it solid-state sound with Carlos plugged directly into the amp, but the sustain was actually just Carlos riding the volume knob.
By "riding the volume knob" I assume you basically mean getting feedback sustain from amp volume?

I bet 90% of dirt pedal repeat buying is just trying to get volume based sounds without the volume.

To me, the sustaining electric guitar is a complete closed loop where speaker drives strings drives pickup drives amp driving speaker.

Clean sounds dont need that closed loop but any dirty sustaining sound below feedback volume is just always going to be a compromise.
Thats my finding anyhow.

Thats also why players so often tend to get buzzy fizzy SS pedal sustain (at below feedback volume, meaning clipping and compression simulate volume based feedback) and feel they got cranked tube amp sound.
Thats the cranked tube amp experience but to me not the sound.

Really, to me I must play at that volume to maintain my muting technique. I dont see how you can practice at bedroom or headphone volume then have tight muting chops when plugged into a feedback level amp that really sings without compression of a bunch of diodes clipping.
Of course stage volumes are down but you can get feedback sustain from a 5w Champ if you stand near the speaker.
Sometimes I want buzz grind fizz and rasp.
But what cranked tube amps do thats hard to replicate with SS and at modest OSHA volumes is the cleaner sustain.
 

11 Gauge

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Roland is very cagey about whether the Blues Cube involves digital sampling. They never come out and say it does, and they never say it doesn't. A statement like "In the Blues Cube, the preamp section uses a [blah blah blah] to preserve the pure guitar signal as it travels throughout the circuit" implies the analog guitar signal is not being converted to digital. But then they throw in "Tube Logic – a marriage of solid-state analog technology and DSP," which implies the analog signal is being converted to digital for specific tone-shaping jobs. I strongly suspect the wavy analog signal is converted to 1s and 0s for at least part of its journey through the amp, but Roland doesn't want to come out and say that because they know a portion of the market immediately assumes digital = junk no matter what their ears and fingers tell them.

I couldn't care less. My Boss Drive Special is simply glorious. As satisfying as any tube amp I've played, without any tubes to fret over or heavy transformers to schlep.
Based on the verbiage that I've read, it looks like Roland uses a hybrid analog and DSP approach both in the preamp and the power amp.

Given how both Roland and Boss have been developing many of their products for a few years now, this has become their proven and vetted method, IMO - carefully combining analog and DSP, thereby leveraging the advantages of both.

Also IMO - the weight of these amps kind of potentially gives away this hybrid construction, because analog SS only would require much more circuitry, both for all of the signal path stuff, as well as all of the 'discrete switching', too.

I'm surprised that more owners haven't pulled the chassis to see just what kind of processors are on the PCB. If the number of processors is greater than zero, then it doesn't matter what Roland/Boss says. But as many owners of these amps have said, they don't care how Roland/Boss did it - the important part is how the amps sound, regardless of whatever tech was leveraged.

The other thing that's slightly weird or funny is that Roland seems to prefer that people think that it's all analog. Since it's SS one way or the other, I don't think the average user would care that much.
 

ruger9

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I'm surprised that more owners haven't pulled the chassis to see just what kind of processors are on the PCB.
I haven't because the thing sounds FANTASTIC. So I don't care. I haven't pulled the chassis on my Hot Cat either, LOL.

Since it's SS one way or the other, I don't think the average user would care that much.
I certainly don't. I bought the Artists for 3 reasons:

1) sounds THE SAME at ANY volume (no tube amp can do that), which makes it the perfect gigging amp for any size venue.

2) it's 80W, so it's loud enough for any venue.

3) it's light as a feather, compared to even my PRRI with 12" alnico.

My ONLY complaint: I wish they had made the combos with an external (additional) speaker jack, it would be wonderful to be able to add another 1x12 cabinet to it for bigger stages. The Tour version (head) might have this? I'm not sure...

Oh, and also- it does the "ride the volume knob thing" pretty well. As well as my Hot Cat. Not as well as my NMV Supro.
 

ruger9

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I watched alot of demos, and bought mine mail-order (no one had one locally), but this video is the one that made me pull the trigger:



Had the Fender Tonemaster been out then, I might have tried the Super Reverb, but I love the Roland, still, after 2 years playing it with the band.
 

FortyEight

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Yes, it does, and that's been well established with a multitude of threads about SS amps that make great pedal platforms.

OTOH, having a definitive list of SS amps that require no pedals at all, and sound great on their OD channels, seems to be a much less common discussion.
i havent made it through all 8 pages yet. but to me the issue with both using an amp with ss distortion or any hard driven tube amp for break up is the lack of a effects loop. i dont know a lot about all the amps mentioned but the orange crush 35rt is the only smaller one with a loop that ive seen. its nice if an amp has reverb. and i love tremelo. but if u start adding delay/chorus/flanger while using distortion, it will distort those. that might not matter to some. but after using my wet effects with an effects loop for a bit, i can hear the difference and prefer those wet effects to not get the distorted signal after. they sound muddy and distorted and then also louder. they become less subtle as i mostly use them.
 

ruger9

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i havent made it through all 8 pages yet. but to me the issue with both using an amp with ss distortion or any hard driven tube amp for break up is the lack of a effects loop. i dont know a lot about all the amps mentioned but the orange crush 35rt is the only smaller one with a loop that ive seen. its nice if an amp has reverb. and i love tremelo. but if u start adding delay/chorus/flanger while using distortion, it will distort those. that might not matter to some. but after using my wet effects with an effects loop for a bit, i can hear the difference and prefer those wet effects to not get the distorted signal after. they sound muddy and distorted and then also louder. they become less subtle as i mostly use them.
The Roland BC Artist has an effects loop- a great one- I use it. The Tour has one, and the Stage might also.
 

FortyEight

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Cool! I will check those out! At this moment ive been relying on my jhs morning glory/3 series fuzz/ and mxr dyna comp to do more driven tones. obviously the dynacomp is mostly clean, but it adds sustain. and sometimes adds a different flavor to the other two. the morning glory plus the fuzz can be pretty good.

i would like to find an amp to use some of the dirt on it without affecting reverb and chorus. my vox does not have reverb. so if i wanna use the gain on my vox, which does sound good, it distorts any of the wet pedals i might use. especially reverb.

that all being said, i think the best solution is likely what has been alluded to. if u find an ss amp you like the distortion on, thats usually all you get. just the 1. u almost need more od or boost pedals to change up your sound anyways. then, if so, the speaker has to handle it. i notice this with my small little celestion 8" bulldog, it can get kinda..... oooo whats the word, mushy, non articulate when adding more gain from the other pedals. i got a cabinet with a 12" eminence that handles the presence of more than one gain input more articulately. if that word fits.

im still learning what works and doesnt to my ear daily. i used to just be like give me clean and give me dirty and thats all i need. ive come to want more sounds last few years. lol.

but i think my overall point is that likely the best solution is finding an amp you like the cleans on and how it takes your pedals IF u want more than just one sound. since i sense a lot of guys on hear like to collect gear, having several different amps to get different flavors is definitely a cool thing.

i personally dont like the sound of any modeling curcuits. thus far. i have not tried them all. but the ones i have dont do it for me so i stay away.

of course if u own several guitars, how each one sounds in one amp will change things. ahhhhh the limitless possibility of options we have. i have very little extra money for stuff. and im kinda picky about what guitars feel right to me. and i like things simple. so I think im a good candidate to add pedals for different flavors into any kind of amp that will handle it. either with or without an effects loop. the effects loop would just allow the addition of the amps distorted tone.
 
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11 Gauge

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I watched alot of demos, and bought mine mail-order (no one had one locally), but this video is the one that made me pull the trigger:



Had the Fender Tonemaster been out then, I might have tried the Super Reverb, but I love the Roland, still, after 2 years playing it with the band.

That's a great demo. It's not that often that I like all of the talking and playing, but overall, those guys did a great job.

I like that the bulk of their perceptions are with using the amp at the gig, and that the Blues Cube sounds and responds like tube amps they would have used prior to it, and that the amp has a mostly simple and intuitive layout that is likewise very usable on stage.

That's also the first demo where I got to really hear the trem and reverb, and they both sound really good. The truth be told, I think the reverb is probably more to my liking than what's built into my BF/SF Fenders.

Probably my only criticism is that I don't feel like the overdriven tones really come through on a video (any video, not just this one), but it's not really a criticism per se - that's where the leap of faith is required to actually get the amp (or OD pedal, or whatever), and hear how it sounds in the room, and in the flesh. I certainly hear enough evidence that things are sort of going in the right direction, for sure.

...If I just would have held to my conclusions from the other BC videos/demos I've seen (where they go through the various Tone Capsules in realtime), I probably wouldn't have ever seriously considered getting one. But this video is considerably more compelling and convincing.
 




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