I sold my last tube amp. Who else loves solid state?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by DeepDangler, Apr 2, 2021.

  1. aging_rocker

    aging_rocker Friend of Leo's

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    Interesting perspectives from everyone, and a few of the usual 'faith-based' dismissals both ways :D

    I sold my last tube amp (Marshall plexi) in the mid 80s, for pocket change. Not much demand for them then, everyone wanted the shiny new JCM800s with master volume control...:rolleyes:

    I deeply wish I still had it, but in all honesty it would be a beast to live with for me now - I don't play out anymore, I don't play particularly loud (tinnitus) so I'd have to have attenuators, etc. and all that malarkey.

    I owned 3 Marshalls over time, all were gigged by me and all worked fine. I also had a couple of SS amps, including a HH combo that was also quite good for home use (unlike the Marshalls) but a couple of nasty ones too.

    But, when I wanted to get back into playing electrics again a couple of years ago, I fully expected to end up with a low-watt Orange, Marshall or something like that, maybe a Blackstar even, but I wanted to listen with my ears and not my eyes...

    And I came home with a Katana 50, because that was the one that I just kept coming back to in the store and I realised after a while that I was looking for reasons NOT to buy it because, mainly, it's not a Marshall. But it can sound very like (a small) one, in the applications I need it for.

    I'm happy with it, it does everything I need (and a lot that I don't, but hey...) - I just mostly use the front-panel controls to get what tone I want and run my DIY Guv'nor clone into it when I'm feeling in a 'filthy' mood. :cool:
     
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  2. Tony474

    Tony474 Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    I have enough amps to stock a small shop and most of them are solid state. There are two exceptions: a Peavey Classic 50 in a custom solid pine tweed-covered 2x10 cabinet, and a Carr Rambler 1x12 in custom wine-red vinyl. I'll come back to those in a minute or several.

    For my purposes I've found that a GOOD solid-state amp does everything I need, which is predominantly inclined towards clean sound. One thing that makes a big difference is a current feedback circuit in the output stage, which enables the speaker to interact with the power section in the same way that it would with the output transformer in a valve amp, reducing damping, allowing the speaker-generated harmonics to develop naturally and affording greater perceived loudness for a given power output. This kind of thing is seemingly present in a lot of recent SS amps, such as the original 1997 Roland Blues Cube BC-60 that's one of my favourites, and my 1985 Sessionette 75 with the 2012 RetroTone modifications that is my usual grab-and go gigging weapon of choice.

    I also have Tech 21 Trademarks 60 and 30. The TM60's excellent and pretty loud but ultimately lacks some low-end warmth. The TM30 is a handy lightweight little package but not really loud enough for most gigs. It does slave up nicely through the PA, though.

    A nice little amp of mine is a 1979 Lab Series L3, fairly light in weight and with a very sweet sound. However the original CTS speaker it came with was pretty horrible and I replaced that with a NOS made-in-England Celestion G12H-100 in 4 ohms, rare as hens' teeth and which cost me more than the whole amp had in the first place. But it transformed it; still not the loudest allegedly 60-watt amp you ever heard but now with at least usable volume for smaller gigs.

    Additionally I have a Gallien-Krueger 206MLE, with which I enjoy astonishing people with what comes out of such a tiny item. But it is relatively heavy and I don't use it often. Also in my armoury is a '70s Cornell Big Wimp 1x10, one of very few Dennis made, and that is sadly the kind of amp that used to give SS amps a bad name.

    All of the above are analogue solid state, and it's important to distinguish between that and digital modelling. For the latter I have three Roland Cubes; a 60, a 20 and a Micro Cube. The 60 is OK and giggable, the 20 is strangely voiced and I hardly use it at all now that I have the TM30, and the Micro Cube does what it's supposed to at its limited volume. I've never found a Line 6 amp I didn't hate and I couldn't for love or money get a decent sound out of a Fender Mustang or my pal's Boss Katana 50.

    At my age and with a bad back, I'm very conscious of the weight of an amp. Even the little Sessionette I normally use weighs around 36 lbs with the G12H-100 Celestion in it. The TM60 has a G12K-100 and weighs some 39 lbs now, while the Blues Cube BC-60 is some 44 lbs, a bit outrageous for a SS 1x12 combo. I said I'd come back to my valve amps, and the 2x10 Peavey Classic 50 in the custom pine cabinet only weighs that much and is immensely loud – and therefore only used when I need an immensely loud amp. which is rare these days.

    My Carr Rambler also weighs just over 40 lbs and is a totally wonderful-sounding amp, as it damn well ought to be for the money it cost me! :) However, it is so beautifully built and generally nice that it's far too good to take on gigs at the sleazy dives I generally get to work at... I just enjoy knowing I own it!

    Anyway, weight being an important consideration, I've just ordered a Quilter Aviator Cub, which is purportedly loud, toneful and very light at 21 lbs, so let's see how I get on with that when it arrives in a couple of weeks from time of writing.
     
  3. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    That is specifically what most of the amps in the Quilter line are using (I think only the InterBlock 45 and MicroBlock 45 don't use this implementation).

    For anyone who thinks all SS is the same, and hasn't tried an amp that uses this current feedback circuitry, IMO they just don't know what they're missing. No, it admittedly isn't 1:1 with a tube amp, but IMO it approximates all of the important characteristics.
     
  4. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Solid state? No. Modelling? Yes.

    At the volumes I can play at 99.9% of the time, I would not be able to get a decent sound out of tubes. My modelling amps sound decent at those volumes.

    Now, if you go a bit louder? Sure, tubes will sound better. However, that opportunity is one hour every two or three months.

    I use that "good enough", low volume sound from a modeler as my benchmark. A DRRI can be pulled down to 2 on the volume knob and still sounds pretty good - but at 1 or 1.5, not so much.

    That is my experience, anyhow.
     
  5. JeffBlue

    JeffBlue Friend of Leo's

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    NOPE! I have a Mojotone Studio One amp, Fargen ODS modified Bandmaster Reverb, Vibro Champ with modified OT and 10 inch speaker, Mesa Boogie M190 power amp and Fender Super Champ X2 head.

    The tube amps sound fabulous without pedals. I do have, however, a modified Peavey KB-100 and a modified Blackstar Fly 3 that sound really good. The Peavey is used for acoustic guitar and vocals.

    Don't think I could ever go completely solid state.......unless they can emulate tubes perfectly with technology.
     
  6. D_Malone

    D_Malone Tele-Holic

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    I had a Quilter MicroPro Mach 2 for a couple of years and really struggled with it. I sold it with no regrets, but recently picked up a Quilter OD 202 and I absolutely love it. Ironically, I don’t care for the OD channel, but the clean channel is fantastic. You can dial in a little break-up and it sounds/feels a lot like a pushed clean tube amp to me. Dirt pedals sound great and the effects loop is really nice too. I don’t know what Quilter changed but the OD 202 sounds and feels much better than the MicroPro Mach 2.
     
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  7. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    The make or break thing for me with the Quilter stuff has to do more with how they handle the preamp and EQ parts. I have a 101 Mini, and ultimately didn't bond with it for the long haul, due to its nonstandard EQ controls, mostly. More than anything, I really liked using the surf voice, but couldn't roll off enough bass with the tri-Q control set completely clockwise. Conversely, I couldn't properly attenuate the mids of the full-Q or jazz voices, with the tri-Q control rotated back somewhere between 7:00 to 10:30 or so.

    ...I tried running a Joyo American Sound into the return of the 101 Mini's effects loop, and that gave me the EQ control that I needed, but it was a clunky setup, and honestly just didn't feel intuitive or properly refined and integrated.

    The newer stuff also has the limiter control, which I suspect really is a kind of preamp necessity of sorts, for creating a SS preamp that behaves a bit more like a tube one might.

    Anyway, to me, it seems that the most daunting R&D part for Quilter is getting the EQ and response of the preamp section properly designed. Since there's no tubes, it requires a different approach, and I think one of the struggles is coming up with controls that are at least similar to what you have with a tube amp. The other big one is trying to accurately emulate some classic old tube amp, which IMO is a bit of a fool's errand, if just done with 100% analog SS. I only personally care that it's voiced so that it sounds good, and the controls are effective at what they do.

    ...Despite not needing it for any reason, I'll probably end up getting a SuperBlock UK at some point. I just have a feeling that it will work.
     
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  8. D_Malone

    D_Malone Tele-Holic

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    I had similar issues with the MicroPro Mach 2. The surf setting had WAY too much bass (freakin ridiculous IMO), and the other settings had a weird boxy/honky midrange emphasis that could not be dialed out.

    The OD 202, however, seems much more balanced. I'm really pleased with it.
     
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  9. Tony474

    Tony474 Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    Precisely. The two amps I cited are far from the only ones employing such circuitry, but they are those I possess at present. I believe the Fender Deluxe 112 Plus I used to own was similar in that regard, as were others in that range of amps.

    it’s a great shame that Stewart Ward, designer of the Sessionette that was so popular in the UK and Europe and of the more recent BluesBaby amps as well as the JD10 pre-amp pedal, managed to get himself banned from TDPRI some time ago over some disagreement. Otherwise I'm sure he’d be all over this thread like a rash. I don’t know anyone more knowledgeable about solid state circuitry than he is and I’m certain he and Pat Quilter would find much to agree about. I think there are links to some of his articles via his website www.award-session.com. Look under “Gear Talk” in the menu bar.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2021
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  10. Jbnaxx

    Jbnaxx Tele-Holic

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    Princeton is truly one of the iconic amps to my ears. If I owned one, it would be one that I would have to hang on to.
     
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  11. rstaaf

    rstaaf Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Sold my tube amps about 8 years ago. I have gone through several iterations of the Fender Mustang line since.
    I now have a Fender Tone Master Deluxe Reverb and a Positive Grid Spark and couldn't be happier.

    20201024_031624855_iOS.jpg 20201024_031615814_iOS.jpg 20200821_144221062_iOS.jpg
     
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  12. Daytona.57

    Daytona.57 Tele-Meister

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    Fairfield Circuitry Barbershop, has a range features, like no other pedal:

    Orginal circuit

    Retains your guitar sounds

    Touch sensitivity

    String separation

    Boost or overdrive

    Preamp like

    Transparent, no mids

    Sag control, for edge of breakup, for solid state, tube guitar and bass amps. Tweed or fuzz sounds.

    Tube emulation, for solid state guitar and bass amps.

    Highly stackable


    Edit: clarify content.
     
  13. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    As much as I love modern technology, I can't say that I use it exclusively. I've got tube amps, solid state amps and modelers... they all have their place in my world.
     
  14. jellodog

    jellodog TDPRI Member

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    In answer to the original question: Yes, I sold my last tube amp (I've had many) including more expensive amps (Mesa Boogie).

    And yes, I love solid state!

    Amusing (to me) anecdote:

    For tube amps, if I was to buy one now, then my ideal small amp for home use would be a Princeton 65 Reissue (more ideally an original). Well, I was in a boutique guitar shop trying out Suhr guitars with my spouse a couple of days ago and we plugged into a Princeton 65 Reissue that they had there, hoping to be blown away and accept that it was better than the solid state amps we have at home... but... well... it was nice enough when we got it to a sweet spot above 3 on the volume dial, but we both came away preferring our SS amps that we've got at home.

    Funny, thing: the Princeton volume dial did nothing on 1; the amp was dead silent until just above 2 (I thought it was broken!), then there was a sudden jump in volume to "on" - no smooth taper. I was disappointed in that.

    We then plugged into a '64 Deluxe Reverb handwired reissue with a frankly ridiculous price tag on it (this is in Canada) and... it was a pretty nice amp and I liked it. But again, we preferred my SS amp which we decided had a more pleasing and "even" frequency response with better EQ control.

    Weird, eh? I was totally open-minded about the HW Deluxe and willing to accept that the expensive tube DR was better. We played another very nice boutique tube amp, but I won't labour the point here and mention any more.

    I appreciate that some of this is down to our personal tastes and that we've gotten used to the sound of our own SS amps, and that some of this could be down to the speaker choice in the Fender amps, but still... it was interesting that we didn't find ourselves lusting after those iconic amps like we feared we might. I'm glad that there was two of us experiencing this at the store, so that I had someone to confirm that my thoughts weren't way off base.

    I don't dislike tube amps, by the way. I like them. Tube amps are fascinating things to me. It's just that there are plenty of other great options out there that are more flexible, just as powerful, lighter, portable and affordable.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2021
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  15. Tone Quest

    Tone Quest TDPRI Member

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    My Boss Katana mk2 is perfect for me. Loud enough for the gigs I play. Quiet enough for home practice. And with the WGS Raptor speaker in it, sounds full and amazing. Plus, it's easy to transport and this senior body appreciates that.
     
  16. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Tele-Holic

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    I own a Quilter Overdrive 200, which I really dig, and an Ampeg 115 bass combo.

    I love the Quilter, but that big Ampeg combo has punched above price in terms of utility. I’ve used it for bass, guitar, as a E-drum amp, PA and acoustic amp and been very pleased with the results every time.

    I could certainly make do with just my SS amps, and frankly, I doubt I’d feel deprived while doing it.
     
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  17. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I've never owned a tube amp. My Mustang III does the trick for me, for now. Maybe I will get something better later, but I'm happy with this at the volumes I get to play (very low).
     
  18. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Tele-Holic

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    I owned one of those and still play it several times a week at church.

    I got tired of lugging it back and forth so I donated it to the good and the welfare.

    They are really cool amps, very versatile and useful across a range of volume levels.

    Contrast that with my Mesa DC3 combo. It’s also versatile, in that you can cover every musical style with this amp. I’ve managed to banish my drive pedals from my board. But it’s got to get pretty danged loud to sound good, unlike my SS amp. That limits its utility to me, since I don’t get to rock out that often.
     
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  19. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    That was my assumption, and why I don't lust for a tube amp. Sure, I'd love to have one, but I can't play loud very often, so I found the "next best thing" that works with low volume.
     
  20. darkwaters

    darkwaters Friend of Leo's

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    Started out with SS amps. Curiosity got the better of me though, so one day I found a mid 60s Gibson Skylark amp. Plugged in and ran thru The Stones’ Love In Vain. Sold my SS (a Roland Cube 30) and a half dozen tube amps later I’ve never looked back.
     
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