If every successive generation of DSP/SS Amps is better and more tube-like than the one before...

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Mike Eskimo, Oct 1, 2019.

  1. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm like mgreene-- already full up on amps. But I have to admit that the Premier Guitar video review of the new Tonemaster Deluxe Reverb modeling amp got me thinking.
    If my house burned down and I needed to go buy an amp I would probably give the Tonemaster series a hard look. Or if my tube amp tech
    moves away that would be another reason to go with the new fangled option. Yes the sound is slightly different-- maybe a little thin in the mids and
    a little brighter-- part of which could just be the neo speaker. But a quick adjustment with an EQ pedal would probably pretty much compensate, and/or
    in a gig setting no one can even tell.

    The "22 watts" is really just marketing as far as I can tell. Solid state watts are totally different from tube watts. I assume their intent was to make it able to put
    out at least as many dB as the amp they are emulating.

    My only experience with using modelers in a live setting was with an original POD and also with an early Line 6 Spider combo. Both of them sounded pretty good in the bedroom and
    when recording direct out, but they seemed to disappear in the mix when playing live. The POD also had a brittleness to it in a live situation even though it sounded truly
    excellent for direct recording. I don't know if the latest offerings have mitigated this issue....but hopefully they have.

    What's really stopping me at this point is I have some truly wonderful tube amps, and I have a great tube amp tech that lives within 10 miles of me. So there's no reason to
    change at this time.
     
  2. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Watts are watts, truly.

    What is different is that a tube power amp can (typically) be driven into clipping w/o sounding bad. With a SS power amp, that's basically a hard threshold that you never want to cross.

    ...And with a combo amp, for the most part, manufacturers decided that it didn't make sense to provide a power amp that could be driven, cleanly, up to the equivalent point where a tube amp was clipping.

    Bass amps have been primarily SS for a long time now, and there are plenty of those that have more than sufficient power. And unlike guitar amps, clipping is obviously to be totally avoided.

    The big game changer really is the class D power amp, IMO. You get to have your cake and eat it too - super lightweight, and more than powerful enough. I got a Quilter 101 Mini a few years back, and was honestly shocked to discover that it's as loud as my '67 SR, and louder than my '71 VR. And - it can produce more bass cleanly without flubbing out.

    ...Equally as shocking is the Vox MV50 Boutique that I got a couple of months ago. Even at 8 ohms, which is just roughly 25 watts, it can get to be surprisingly loud. It's easily louder than the '79 DR that I used to have, and that's if using a Cannabis Rex with either one.

    I also got a Boss Katana 50 a few months back, and while that one doesn't use a class D power amp, it's still no slouch.

    I'll be the first to admit that there was a time when the typical SS combo came up short even when compared to a 15 watt tube amp, but that's not where things are now...
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  3. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Meister

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    Interesting, I've read different information I guess.

    The part you originally mentioned about it being illegal is what I was more curious about.

    I think that's not accurate, though, since there are U.S.-based tube manufacturers.

    I wonder where that comes from, I've seen it mentioned before.

    It might be one of those plausible things that seems like it could be true.

    This of course has little to do with the topic, apologies for the detour!

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
     
  4. schenkadere

    schenkadere Friend of Leo's

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    I wonder if the original popular guitar amps were solid state, would anyone care or long for tubes?
     
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  5. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    We already know the answer to that. Guitarists seem to have the most conservative gear preferences there are, when taken as a whole group. I think we're the only ones who require some overwhelming burden of proof that something new is indeed better, and even then we may not opt for it.

    Isn't it just a little bit odd that even in the 21st century, a solidbody guitar is still made out of wood? The rest of the world must think we're nuts with our fascination of tubes, and I think I'd agree with them, most of the time.
     
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  6. schenkadere

    schenkadere Friend of Leo's

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    I agree with you. Vintage this, vintage that. Very slow to embrace technology.

    I for one love the carbon fiber acoustics I’ve played for example. And locking tuners. Why doesn’t every guitar have them?
     
  7. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Slow? Some of us never embrace anything, it seems! I'm oftentimes guilty myself, but I try to get outside my comfort zone, and at least try things out.
     
  8. TwangerWannabe

    TwangerWannabe Tele-Meister

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    Same case with cars. Why bother buying a new car when you know in a year or few the same model will be updated and be arguably "better"? Eventually though, you'll probably just have to bite the bullet and buy something.

    I bought a THR10 as soon as they came out years ago and was wondering, "what if they eventually make something better down the line?" Well, they arguably have and I'm still happy with my original THR10. Still is an awesome coffee table amp that is great for dialing in really nice sounds at home that don't require ear-splitting levels in a very small footprint that also looks cool.

    In regards to tech of any kind they will always be early adopters and late adopters. That won't ever really change. I've owned all kinds of vintage Fender Silverface amps from numerous Champs and Vibro Champs, to a couple Princeton Reverbs, a Deluxe Reverb and probably half a dozen Twin Reverbs. I've also owned several DRRI's, TRRI and a PRRI. Most have been awesome amps. Currently the only amp I have is the THR10 believe it or not. I'm sort of in the Market for an amp, primarily for home use, and although I don't play out anymore, it would be nice to have something that would be adequate for an impromptu jam with friends. I'm heavily considering the Tone Master Deluxe. The Twin actually seems like the best of the two as far as bang for your buck, but I really don't have a need for something that powerful and dont want something that large in my living room, and the TM Deluxe seems like it fits the bill perfectly. I'm not really attracted to the Roland Cubes and Boss Katana amps because (call me superficial) aesthetically they look horrible and cheap, and I'm not a fan of onboard effects. I think those are things that would become outdated and like how Fender put so much of the processing power to the actual sound of the amp and the reverb and vibrato. I'd rather one option of a really nice Deluxe Sound and killer reverb and vibrato than a bunch of different amp sounds, numbers effects that I won't use, etc.

    I'm really shocked at how so many are trashing the Tone Masters. Since the dawn of time people have been whining and complaining about how heavy their Twin Reverbs are and how they would own one again if they didn't weigh so much because of how glorious they sound. Now that the TM Twin is out they're finding new things to complain about. Whining they cost too much for what they are and think they should cost less for whatever reason(s) apparently saying it didn't cost Fender much to develop and they should pass the speculated cost savings to the customer, etc. Just seems like more things for people to whine and complain about. Fender solved the weight problem with the Twin, so what else can me cry and moan about?

    Dare I say that many of the people being overly critical and complaining that there aren't tubes, etc., etc., yet probably couldn't distinguish a TM Twin Reverb and a tube Twin Reverb in a mix, and they themselves probably aren't even that great of players where it really would make a difference. I bet we see the pro's adopting these Tone Matters for their consistency from one amp to another and (to be determined) reliability, and once that happens I think the consumer market will follow suit. Many of us who insist on tubes being the be all end are just going along with the herd, and many of us are enthusiasts and/or hobbyists and bedroom players where it really dosn't make a massive difference and the Tone masters, Katanas, Roland Cubes, etc., are more than convincing and adequate. Although I dont have any experience with Fractal or Kemper stuff, it seems like A LOT of pros are using these and people swear by them.

    I personally think the Tone Master Amps are overpriced. Roland and Boss modeling amps seem to be a more frugal alternative for those on a budget but want a ton of options as far as amp models and effects. The Fractal and Kemper rigs are much more expensive in comparison and are super in depth and loaded with everything you could want, but these are just processors and you still need an amp and speakers. The Tone Masters sit right in the middle for those who just want that classic Fender tone as they're platform and dont want or need all the amp and effects options, dont want to deal with patches, menus and submenus and just want the traditional interface and sound of the old Fender tube amps.

    It's only a matter of time before the modeling amps will be commonplace. I feel like in some regards they already are. And as someone who had always played tube amps, from my first tube amp that was a 50 watt JCM800 with a 4x12 cab in the 90's to an old Silverface Twin to all the other amps listed above, I really would have no hesitation to play though and own a Tone Master Deluxe as my only amp.

    I'm still shocked at all the negative comments about the Tone Master Twin Reverb. Sonically this amp gets rave reviews and can be picked up with one or two fingers, so what's not to like?!

    Some people won't ever be happy I guess.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  9. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    The statement that somehow guitarists are so conservative they won't try a SS amp makes no sense at all with any objective analysis.

    Jazz players have wholeheartedly embraced SS amps, and is anyone really going to claim jazz players are less conservative than Rock/Blues players?

    As far as guitars being made of wood, it's cheap and it grows on trees.
     
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  10. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Jazz players have embraced SS amps for the same reason that bass players have - they actually don't want any distortion from the amp itself. It's an apples-to-oranges comparison WRT the blues/rock/country/surf/rockabilly/metal/etc. players, who want fluid distortion, coloration, twang, brown sound, woman tone, balls, haunting mids, note flipping, natural warmth, endless sustain, aggressive mids, tight lows, etc. Most of those terms/phrases seem to be (rightly or wrongly) attributed to tubes, at least partially, and sometimes completely.

    Except when it isn't cheap, which is oftentimes the case with rosewood, mahogany, ebony, flamed/quilted maple, etc.

    My point was that there's probably some type of composite or non-organic material that would have as good or better tonal properties, and would probably be more consistent, from one guitar to the next. And, for stuff like necks, there's the potential for greater stability, with no twisting/bowing/warping/etc. There's also probably materials that would be much better for neck refretting. Also, there are materials that won't be susceptible to rotting, denting, splintering, or damage from water, oils, etc. Also, with non-wood, you have no waste portions where there are voids, discoloration, knots, etc.

    ...And if you don't have to grow something and wait to harvest it, you can potentially greatly reduce your costs for yielding the raw material itself.

    And thanks to CNC, 3D printing, etc. - you could potentially make a neck from any suitable material that would feel "worn in" from day one.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  11. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    Sure there are materials that have advantages over wood.
    For the most part they are way more expensive than wood.
     
  12. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Except when they aren't. I'm not saying they have to be stuff like kevlar or graphite. There are almost a limitless number of cost-effective materials that could potentially be used, and they don't have to be grown or harvested. They don't have to be dried in a kiln, they don't have to be shipped from the only place in the world where they grow.

    There's a reason why some furniture isn't made out of wood but there's an attempt to make it look like wood - it costs less!

    Besides - costs aside, don't you also choose a guitar for tone reasons? What if there was a material that had all the tonal benefits of mahogany or southern swamp ash, but was absolutely consistent from piece to piece, both tonally and weight-wise, and was 100% stable for thousands of years? Why would you pick wood over it?

    ...The rejection of a solidbody guitar made from non-woods is basically somewhat synonymous to the rejection of an amp that's sans-tubes, IMO. There's a perception that in order for it to sound good, the original designs and materials must be used, and anything else will always be an inferior substitute.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  13. 2 Headed Goat

    2 Headed Goat Tele-Afflicted

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    Haven't used a modelling amp in a live setting tho I have used all tube amps (old school Super Champ, Vibro Champ, Peavey 5150 head, Jansen Bassman 50) Great tones, no surprise there.
    The surprise came tho when I played a club where I sat in with the house band and plugged my old school ASAT into the amp provided - a coloured knob 80's Peavey Backstage 30.
    Cringing when I saw what I would be playing thru, I was stunned with how good it sounded and after the set, several folks complimenting me on 'my' tone. Since that time, I have played thru similar model Peavey's in similar settings with similar results... this amps generally don't sound all that stellar in a bedroom or basement setting but live, its a different scenario altogether. They cut thru the mix and all the harshness/brittleness dissipates...
    What I want to know is, how did Hartley suss this out when designing these amps or was it just a fluke??
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
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  14. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

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    There will be much rejoicing.

    :D:cool::D
     
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  15. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Tele-Afflicted

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    While I agree with this, I also think that it's OK for people to hold opinions on gear that may be based on things other than measurable differences. Nobody's really hurt by it.

    I've been playing guitar a long time, but most of that was acoustic and only in the past few years have I started playing electric a lot. Never owned a tube amp. Had some cheapo Digitech multi fx that I got rid of pretty fast. I don't play live and I don't play very loud around the house. So to me the lack of a tube amp means nothing. At the same time I don't see much point in arguing with people who like tube amps. Friend of mine has 8 Fenders and a Music Man. They make him happy.
     
  16. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    You can pinpoint the exact moment your bias slipped out the back door and your mind opened. I had a similar experience in my late teens... listening to a cover band in a club (yes, I was under age and shouldn't have been there). The guitar player consistently nailed the tones for anything he played. In talking to him on a break I learned he had a Yamaha G100 2x12 behind the curtain ;). I used a Hiwatt at the time... that was humbling!

    Hartley got his gear into the hands of the working musician... then he listened to the comments/concerns of those working musicians.

    What surprises me is that Peavey has moved so far away from those amps. IMO - that was when Peavey had carved their niche in the market with their own distinct sound. Some liked it, some didn't... but it was unique. I have an '83 Special 130 that has never had any problem holding it's own on any stage... beside any amp. Tone & Power!
     
  17. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    FWIW.... that statement goes both ways.
    I don't see much point in arguing with people who like SS amps and Modelers either, yet there is plenty of it here ;)

    It shouldn't matter how the tone is produced...
     
  18. horax

    horax Tele-Holic

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    In my opinion, the major difference in modellers and tubes is the feel of the amp itself while playing the guitar.

    The Vox valvetronix line is SUPER close to the feel of a tube amp (and sound), and the BOSS is right there with it. The mustang never felt good to me. Sound? Sure, it was good, but FEEL wasn't.

    I think the blind tests online show how most people can't tell the difference in tone anymore, but if you're playing you'll be able to tell due to feel.

    Eventually (maybe now) that line will be so close nobody could be able to tell much difference anymore.

    Also, if Joe Bonnamassa came onstage and played a BOSS, everybdoy in the world would exclai that tubes are dead....it's all a matter of perspective.
     
  19. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

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    I think blind tests would debunk this more often than not ;)
     
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  20. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Some Andertons vids are good support for that.

    He's a tube snob. Avowed. And he has an interest in selling tube amps, even modest ones, which tend to be a bit more expensive than the modelers.

    But yet each time they do a blind test, he seems to prefer the SS/modeler, convinced that it is the tube amp.

    Then when the blindfold comes off, cognitive dissonance sets in, and rationalization. Well, I'm slightly closer to the digital amp, that must be why I was fooled/preferred it. That sort of thing. Which of course doesn't explain why he preferred the feel.
     
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