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

msalama

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Why do you care that he cares?

'cuz he's a bit of a song and dance man not unlike my good self + it does wonders for stale popcorn anyway

No but seriously, most geezers here like tubes, and yeah, I like them too - per say. But you don't absolutely need them anymore in order to sound good, which is something some folks seemingly can't either understand or accept. Well their loss...
 

Bluego1

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'cuz he's a bit of a song and dance man not unlike my good self + it does wonders for stale popcorn anyway

No but seriously, most geezers here like tubes, and yeah, I like them too - per say. But you don't absolutely need them anymore in order to sound good, which is something some folks seemingly can't either understand or accept. Well their loss...
In general, solid state is of little interest it seems, on most forums. I posted this a few days ago and it generated zero discussion, though it did garner some likes. Or maybe it’s just me:lol:. Anyhoo, I can’t stop playing this thing. I doubt many could;).
 

chris m.

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I've been dipping my toes in the SS waters but so far I still prefer my tube amps. The SS amp I really like is the BluGuitar Amp1 Mercury, and I've been gigging with it. It sounds fantastic. Better than other options I've tried, which include Quilter and Helix.

If I didn't already own tube amps I'd probably be just fine. But since I own some really great ones I just keep playing them. I probably should sell some of them, but can't bring myself to do it (yet). I'll probably miss "Peak Tube Amp Value" and end up dumping them at a loss one day when no one can buy tubes and no one knows how to fix them anymore.

One thing I've been noticing is that tube amps really don't like crummy power. My BluGuitar Amp1 seems less sensitive to shoddy power in clubs so that's a definite advantage. In a lot of clubs we play at the power is pretty dodgy, with only one circuit and a couple of outlets available to power the entire band.
 

monkeybanana

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Plenty of great music has been done with both but we all know that.
I don't go on a car enthusiasts forum and go, Oh my Corolla gets me to Costco just as well as your model XYZ. If you can't tell the difference great!

Here is where we split hairs and and discuss the minutiae. Also I love staring at my brown Princeton in my living room. I also have a nice Vox next to it and it reminds me of the Beatles. I can't say I would enjoy looking at a Cube in its spot. Nothing wrong with a Cube in fact my tube amps sound just as good as a Cube.
 
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TheCheapGuitarist

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I'm thinking that the whole "tube vs. solid state" thing resulted from the fact that solid state is cheaper technology to produce, a lot of really low-quality budget gear (beginners amplifiers, etc.) we're/are produced this way. So most people's experience with solid state gear is at the very low end of the price range. Most tube gear is more expensive, so even the cheapest (aka, budget, e.g. Bugera, etc) tube gear is more expensive than a lot of solid state gear.

My best-sounding amplifiers were Marshall JCM 800 and 900, and Mesa Boogie (tube), plus the aforementioned Hughes & Kettner, and a 2X12 Ampeg (both solid state), and a solid state Kustom that I'm currently in love with. I'm not including digital in any of this because that's a completely different animal altogether. My worst-sounding amps were solid state (an 80's Ibanez 1X12 combo) and tube Vox Night Train NT-15, AC4C1-12.

But I'm differentiating "best" from "worst" based on tone, I really can't distinguish between one technology and the other, audibly.
 
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11 Gauge

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What probably cracks me up more than anything is that there's a large number of players who use pedals for OD/breakup, because they can't run an amp at that volume to get the same effect.

...Or - someone wants a squeaky clean base tone with a simple single channel amp, and then they use pedals for OD/breakup.

...Or - someone wants loud and clean only.

IMO, most of the above players really aren't going to benefit from tubes the way they might think that they do.

I personally don't care any longer what tech any given amp is using, as long as I can dial it in to sound and respond like I want it to. My last dozen amp purchases have been a mix of tube or SS because of that. The last two were tube (IIRC), but the next one will probably not be.

I really agree with what Jakedog said, regarding trying more recent SS amps. In my personal experience, it happened when I got my Vox AD15VT back in '05. It was really just supposed to be a little practice amp, to provide more flexibility than my '67 Champ was giving me. I've still got that AD15VT to this day, and it's opened up my thinking enough that I've gotten a bunch of other non-tube amps because of it.
 

Sargent Pepper

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I'm a singer who plays some guitar and don't even think of myself a guitarist, though I can manipulate one as well as a lot of players that do think they are guitarists (they are wrong), but I can get a nice overdrive tone out of a decent tube amp that I can't with a SS without pedals. But maybe I just never played through the proper SS amps. I do have a 90's Fender Princeton Chorus that I like though.

edit to note the harsh distortion I seem to always get straight into the SS amps isn't nice overdrive tone, imo
 

Chiogtr4x

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What probably cracks me up more than anything is that there's a large number of players who use pedals for OD/breakup, because they can't run an amp at that volume to get the same effect.

...Or - someone wants a squeaky clean base tone with a simple single channel amp, and then they use pedals for OD/breakup.

...Or - someone wants loud and clean only.

IMO, most of the above players really aren't going to benefit from tubes the way they might think that they do.

I personally don't care any longer what tech any given amp is using, as long as I can dial it in to sound and respond like I want it to. My last dozen amp purchases have been a mix of tube or SS because of that. The last two were tube (IIRC), but the next one will probably not be.

I really agree with what Jakedog said, regarding trying more recent SS amps. In my personal experience, it happened when I got my Vox AD15VT back in '05. It was really just supposed to be a little practice amp, to provide more flexibility than my '67 Champ was giving me. I've still got that AD15VT to this day, and it's opened up my thinking enough that I've gotten a bunch of other non-tube amps because of it.
Hey @11Gauge,

You described me ( & my gig experience) exactly,
in that I've played tube amps forever (now both SS or tube), but not at the amp volume to 'get those tubes cookin', and get that great overdrive...'
So I learned ( over time) to get good OD sounds using tube amps ( at low/moderate volume) + pedals. No regrets, and still what I do.

However, this year, I first-hand, finally heard the sound of a tube amp turned all the way up, indeed ' with tubes cookin'...' when I got the little 5-watter Monoprice amp ( I deliberately bought that size amp to hopefully, hear this...), and I gotta say, it is a great sound!
 

loopfinding

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What probably cracks me up more than anything is that there's a large number of players who use pedals for OD/breakup, because they can't run an amp at that volume to get the same effect.

...Or - someone wants a squeaky clean base tone with a simple single channel amp, and then they use pedals for OD/breakup.

...Or - someone wants loud and clean only.

IMO, most of the above players really aren't going to benefit from tubes the way they might think that they do.

exactly. this is the most head-scratchy aspect.

q: "why does it have to be tube if you're trying to operate it as linearly as possible?"
a: "because tube is just good, it has to be tube, end of story."
 
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TheCheapGuitarist

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Hey @11Gauge,

You described me ( & my gig experience) exactly,
in that I've played tube amps forever (now both SS or tube), but not at the amp volume to 'get those tubes cookin', and get that great overdrive...'
So I learned ( over time) to get good OD sounds using tube amps ( at low/moderate volume) + pedals. No regrets, and still what I do.

However, this year, I first-hand, finally heard the sound of a tube amp turned all the way up, indeed ' with tubes cookin'...' when I got the little 5-watter Monoprice amp ( I deliberately bought that size amp to hopefully, hear this...), and I gotta say, it is a great sound!
The "tubes cookin'" thing might be a thing - I did crank up an AC4TVH and heard what you're talking about, and it's similar to sound that the Marshalls I used to have would make when turned up. But, even with my little 4-watt amp it was seriously freakin' loud before that sound kicked in. I guess what I'm really saying is that, playing at moderate volume levels, I don't hear a difference between tube and solid state. It might be that "tube characteristics" occur when the power section is pushed. So perhaps I don't hear a difference between tube and solid state preamp overdrive. And since, even while playing a gig, I don't have my amp that loud these days, all I'm hearing is preamp distortion, which might be indistinguishable between tube and solid state.

This would explain the ADA MP-1 thing in my OP.
 

Sargent Pepper

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I guess what I'm really saying is that, playing at moderate volume levels, I don't hear a difference between tube and solid state.
Playing at moderate volume at home, I don't hear music so much anyway like I do in a live situation, with or without a band, or in a recording session. Might as well be playing an acoustic. I guess I don't really get why anybody would spend much money on an amp, anyway, it they only ever play at home for themselves.
 

bottlenecker

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Edge of breakup dynamics are absolutely possible with many solid state amps. If they weren’t, I wouldn’t use them.

Man I want to believe, but every time someone has set that expectation with me, it's just not there. Maybe I just don't play them right, or I'm listening for a different dynamic change than what they offer. Or I haven't tried the right one. I don't have a ton of experience, but I've crossed off quilter, tonemasters, and some amp in a box pedals.
 

LOSTVENTURE

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The newer digital models are getting really close. I was pleasently surprised when I tried out my TMTR and found out how close it was to the actual Twin. That, and add the power attenuator and the DO and it's a winner in my mind.
 

mexicanyella

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I can relate to how it would be nice to sit on the couch and just vibe on the look of a brownface Fender combo across from you—maybe instead of a fire in the fireplace, even—and I know it is fun to get your pants flapped by a cookin’ Marshall halfstack and so on.

But an electric guitar through ANY amp, played by even the most rank beginner, is still not just a note on/note off device. It has huge open avenues of expressiveness waiting to be put to use.

And obviously lots of expressive, idiosyncratic music has been performed by many on instruments that ARE essentially note on/note off devices.

So I submit that being able to tell the difference between tube and solid state amps is no big whoop. If you have an amp that sounds good to you, go play something through it and make your voice known.
 

chris m.

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There's another change that affects the comparison between tube and SS amps: the availability of a plethora of amazing dirt pedals.

Way back in the dark ages-- for me it was the mid to late 70s-- you could either get a tube amp or an analog solid state amp. The analog solid state amps were designed to be clean and did not sound good at all distorted. The tube amps were also originally designed to sound clean, but there was this serendipitous discovery that they sounded glorious for rock and roll when cranked.

I think it was around 1981 or '82 where I would actually plug into a cranked Pignose and mike it through my solid state Ampeg
half stack to get decent sounding distortion. And then the MXR Distortion+ came around, which was a game changer. Sure, there were also fuzz boxes, and I used a BeeBaa back in the day, but fuzz didn't sound anywhere close to real tube distortion from a cranked tube amp. The MXR Distortion+ wasn't that great an emulation either, but it was very acceptable to me and all I could afford at that time.

But nowadays it is totally viable to plug in a curated selection of dirt pedals into a "clean pedal platform" and get a fantastic tone. So many fantastic sounding dirt pedals out there!! SS or tube does not matter a whole lot as long as it has lots of headroom, good quality speakers, and a decent sized cabinet. Sure, there are nuances of tone, but by and large it's pretty darn decent. The use of dirt pedals to get your preferred variety of classic rock tone just wasn't an option back in the day. Now it is, significantly diminishing the importance of having an actual tube amp for the vast majority of players, IMO.

And the dirt pedal revolution actually feeds back into the SS amp world. SS amps will often have a clean channel, and then the dirty channel will essentially be a dirt pedal circuit inside the amp. So as dirt pedals have improved in tone, those improvements have fed back into SS amp design, which is why their dirt channels can actually sound pretty darn decent these days.
 




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