I honestly can't hear a difference between tube and solid state amps.

ChicknPickn

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Challenge accepted, but I want to play p90s on the edge of distortion: you can set the amps up. Happy to wear a blindfold if that will help you believe that some of us feel something different
Have your local shop set up a three amp test and see.
 

TheCheapGuitarist

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I am surprised anyone on here cannot tell a tube/ss difference. Maybe we play different music. I don't think if Howlin Wolf were alive he would go through ss. Nor Hendrix, nor Muddy Waters, but I can't get upset if you can't tell any difference
It's fun to speculate, but considering all the older guitarists who are still playing but are now using the latest technology, it's not a stretch to think Wolf, Waters, or Hendrix if alive would be going all-digital, or at least S.S. today.
 

Silverface

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From my perspective there are far too few really good tech shops still in business, with a very small minority of gigging players working with a single tech - or one guitar and one amp tech in the same shop - having their gear truly optimized for their playing style, musical style(s), band size and other players' gear in use; sizes and types of venues played and working WITH them to get the best out of all parts of their equipment.

Over the past 20 years guitar techs seem to primarily fix things that break or wear out - but have a small set of professional, semi pro and thoughtful, discerning players that prefer specific fretwire , neck radii, pickups, preamp gain, speakers, cabinet types, several amps with each optimized for certain uses and so on.

Then there's the other type of customers - who either are DIY types but don't own proper tools (or knowledge) and want free advice or even "loaner" tools (but have Gerald Weber, or Dan Torres amp books and Stewmac, YouTube and guitar mag "expert advice", making them able to properly set up or repair their amp & instruments - and match up the several amps needed by a working guitarist with the professionally/properly set up and adjusted instruments. the player owns.

I'm leaving about 90% out of this post. But I think it's rather sad that the guitar and amp world has lost so many professional tech businesses, and companies hawking parts and kits "sell" players on the "fact" that they can do everything themselves and don't need help except from "this" book or "that" Youtube video or a full service website just be sure to buy the books, tools, "advanced" website access and you too will be creating perfect tone and tweaking flawlessly playing instruments without a tech's professional help for only $39.95

So it's no wonder that players walk out when told a full guitar setup starts at $165...or a refret at $360...or are confused as to why a filter and bias capacitor replacement on a 60's Fender is roughly $200 - and the same job on a 20 year old, printed circuit board reissue of the SAME amp is $350.

Boiling down to this - I've heard the same "I can't hear the difference between solid state and tube amps" claim before.

And NONE of those players have ever had a professional setup; their amp(s) - plural if they play different sizes/types of venues - optimized and properly serviced; and had their tech LISTEN to them play through their regular gear to determine what changes/adjustments - if any - need to be made, AND advice given to the player.

Instead the ones I've heard that from are the ones who buy "off the rack" guitars and amps, never have any setup or adjustment work done (except DIY work per something they read), in most cases don't know how to check and adjust the bias in a fixed bias amp when changing power tubes, think new "Mullard" tubes MUST be good - everyone has talked about them for decades (just ONE example)....

And can't tell the difference between a tube and solid state amp.

I believe them.
 

Piggy Stu

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Have your local shop set up a three amp test and see.
Already achieved through playing different amps over the years. Tube and ss are very different. Accepted, there are some very good ss amps, but that isn't the title. If people think they are equal we have different ears
 

Ronkirn

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"I honestly can't hear a difference between tube and solid state amps."

I'm not at all surprised.. the transistor was invented in 1947... 75 years ago.... and, pretty much since the inception the cork sniffers among us, and I was one, have been glad to point out the sucky sound emanating from Solid State audio gear...

Those manufacturing the gear have taken notice.. they have been attacking the assumption pretty much since it was first discussed in the 50's ,, and today, with contemporary technology.. does anyone really think the manufacturers of, particularly better gear are not putting the products through rigorous comparative testing? Humm? Well do ya? AND do ya think YOU guys hear the sonic issues better than the audio analysts doing the listening?? well Do ya??

Point is.. no one is ever gonna walk up to a accomplished guitarist playing a Squire through a Line 6 ss amp and complain about their gear's sound... It's not the gear, it will NEVER BE the gear.. it is now, and forever will be, what YOU can do with the gear you have at your disposal now.. Solid state or not...

These discussions are part of the quest for tone.. well guys if ya wanna improve your tone.. go practice your ass off . . . clean... so you can hear the sloppy fretting.. the half missed picked notes.. clean up your act and damn, you're gonna sound better than that dork that spent 5000.00 for a custom amp, and 7000.00 for a master built playing Stairway again that thinks he's Jimmy Page incarnate. It ain't the gear...

Oh, I own a 5000. custom TUBE amp, and well, guitars just aren't a problem.. and with my chopped off fingers, I gotta learn how to play all over again... kinda makes me the dork supreme..:rolleyes:
 

peaveycaster

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I must admit, this has been an entertaining thread. When I saw the title, my first reaction was, "Cork Sniffers -- Assemble!" and I wasn't disappointed.

I've owned or used dozens of both solid-state and tube amplifiers and I can't honestly say that one is necessarily "better" than the other. Like anything, you get good ones and you get bad ones. I've played high-end tube amps that had absolutely sucky tone, and I've played cheap solid-state amps that sounded and felt like a dream, and everything in between. Point is, if you've got a tube amp you're happy with, that's wonderful. If a solid-state amplifier is really making your sound, that's great, too! Lots of high-end players out there who swear by their Lab Series or Roland JC-120s. And for every amazing tube amp out there, there are lots of duds, too. I know I'm preaching the obvious, but find what works for you and be happy. And I'm sure that if you could be a fly on the wall during many famous recording sessions, you'd be absolutely appalled at what was used to get the sound in the end.

It's the music, not the tool you used to make it, that matters. The audience doesn't care as long as it sounds good to them, and 99.999% really don't give a darn whether it was recorded on a vintage plexi or a Line6 Spider combo (the horrors!).
 

coolrene

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I thought I could, and spent years in a "tube only" phase. But this past week or so, I've come to the realization that it was all in my mind. Now, I can tell the difference between a good and a bad amplifier, regardless of technology. And I have owned bad tube amps and bad solid state amps; however, as far as tube "warmth", "dynamics", etc., I simply don't hear it. The seeds of doubt began a few years ago when I had a Fender Frontman with a built-in LED distortion circuit. I also had an ADA MP-1 which was the rackmount tube preamp of the late-80's into the early 90's. Anyone who was anyone had one of those. I plugged that MP-1 into the Fender Frontman clean channel, A/B'd back and forth between that and the Fender's distortion channel (with the MP-1 bypassed), and with a little gain and EQ tweaking, both sounded identical. The LED distortion of the amp sounded exactly the same as the MP-1.

"Dynamics" is one element that tube amplifiers supposedly excel in (responsiveness to picking), but every single amp I've played through, tube or solid state, would respond dynamically if the gain knob was set right. "Warmth"? I've been fooled plenty of times by what I thought was a tube amp that turned out to be solid state. I thought I got a fantastic deal on a Hughes & Kettner tube rack preamp when I was stationed in Germany. The price was great for what (I though) I was getting based on the tone I heard in the store. I opened it up to see how many 12AX7's were in there and all I saw was a circuit board...

Of course, there are things like tube rectifier "sag" that is exclusive to tube amps, and that is something I've never really had a thing for, though I understand some people love it. But as far as tone itself and dynamics, no - I can't hear the difference. Odd and even-order harmonics? Can't hear the difference.

I'm open to the possibility that if I sat down with one good example of each, and spent some time going back and forth, there might be something I'd notice, but that "something" just might be the difference between two different amplifiers anyway.
I have a rig setup that took me years to put together. My rig is now made of 6 amps (tube, solid state, modeler), 2 1x12 Celestion cabs (Alnico Cream and G12M65 CreamBack) and a wide choice of guitars (acoustic, bass, electrics - humbuckers, single coils, P90) for each sound I can think of.
Since I discovered and use the BluGuitar AMP1, it has changed my (musician's) life. It is light, versatile, powerful, super well sounding and with its corresponding NanoCab, it makes a perfect solution for travelling. The fact it incorporates a real tube makes it sound like the real thing: VOX, JCM 800, Fender, etc. The only thing I was maybe missing is a good Cab simulator, with IR's and a good mic combination.
So, I decided to add the Two Notes Cab M that allows me all that. I've got my pedals: Strymon Flint, TC FlashBack, Bogner Harlow and most of all CmatMods SuperSigna OD/Boost. Can't fail with that, got all my sounds in a lightweight portable rig (I play mostly Blues and Rock) and, although it's not light and compact as the HX stomp for instance, it still fits the overhead compartment of a plane and I won't spend more time in tweaking than playing ;-)
 

tele_jas

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I honestly can't tell the difference in a tube amp and a decent solid state amp, while listening. Or for that matter, a Helix, Kemper, Boss GX-100, PodGo, Headrush, ect... vs a tube amp. Some of the best amps I've heard, while on the road, were 90s Peavy Bandits???

I can tell a difference when playing...Not all the time, but a few songs into a set you miss some of those dynamics. Can the audience tell? No. Can you tell on a recording? No. But I can feel it. It's almost like (Spinal Tap moment here), I'm on 10 and want just a little more.... With a tube amp, you can almost get that little more by picking a lot harder...But with a SS amp, it's like you're up against a wall and can't get any more no matter what you do. But, after playing a SS amp for a string of shows, you don't notice it until you go back to a tube amp and have an "ah-ha" moment. Now, saying that... My Quilter Superblock UK sounds, reacts, and FEELS like a tube amp. I'm not sure I could tell the difference, in any setting?

I will say......I love my AC15, but after playing the last month with a modeler, I played my AC15 yesterday and thought "yuck"! Partially, because it was at a pretty low volume, but it didn't sound like what I remembered (after only a month), but rather it didn't sound like what I wanted it to sound like and had dialed into my modeler.



So, I guess it's what you get used to.
 

gitlvr

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As long as I can get a great sound out of my gear, I don't give a flip. And the amp I choose(or any other piece of gear) is included in that assessment.
I quit tubes in 2003, and haven't missed them.
But everyone should "do you". If "doing you" leads you to prefer one over the other, choose it and never apologize for it.
I ain't.
:D
 

68goldtop

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Hey!
I guess you didn’t read my next post, where I said that I have a silverface Princeton Reverb, a ‘66 Ampeg Jet, and an Allen Chihuahua, which is pretty much all I use in my funk ‘n roll band.
I just wanted to make a "joke" - sorry, if it didn't come across 👍

cheers - 68.
 




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