Modeling vs Tubes After 10 Years of Modeling

fuzzbite

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I'm sure I can't tell the difference between modeled and not on other people's recordings, most of the time anyway. But for me if I'm using a modeler it's the paralysis of choice, whereas with a tube amp it's just plug in and go. I like the limited options with tube amps and the super wide sweet spot.

This is why I think the new breed of modeler pedals will sell well. They sound good, are easy to control and will fit on any pedalboard.
In fact I am very happy with my Walrus Audio ACS-1 with the WA DI. Just recorded an EP with it and have used it live and at rehearsal, too.

I do love tube amps and still have a Fender Blues Junior IV with a Neo speaker as my main amp for smaller amps and sometimes I play larger Fenders and Voxes live. But my ACS-1 has done really well for me.

Am currently thinking about buying a UAFX The Dream modeler pedal as well as getting another tube amp. Both are great tools to me. 🙂
 

THX1123

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Who has heard an actual JTM45 in person, a 5F6a, or any number of classic amps that ceased production over 50 years ago. A friend of mine wrote a "Lucky Charms" article about the Fender Deluxe. In this case Leo kept changing the Deluxe, and then so did CBS, and it continues to this day.
Check it out. 5E3 User Intervention
Well, firstly, we've all heard those amps on classic records. Secondly, I can speak to my own experience, and that is that I've been lucky to have played and recorded with a great many vintage amps. I suggest plugging into a 59 Bassman or Tweed Deluxe or Bluesbreaker will never be the same as selecting a preset. Ever. Close? Yes. The same? Never.

That said, how can one argue one thing is equal to another without actually experiencing both? Belief?

Thirdly, Leo had a goal. His R&D and changes were arguably to improve his product to suit his market, and not change it into something else that was more profitable, but also ultimately wasn't the same (or suited to his market's tastes). CBS and subsequent management did that.
 
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Terrygh1949

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This is just MY thoughts on it but i'd be interested in what others think. First, my take on tube amps that's necessary to explain how I feel about modeling vs tubes. I've had more tube amps than I can remember starting with Silverfaces in the 70's then Boogies, Marshals, etc. Tube amps IMO need to be broken up into 2 distinctly different categories, those with cascaded gain stages that are designed so that distortion is generated in the preamp with little to no concern for generating great output distortion. These amps generally are not designed with that in mind and when cranked way up they ofter don't sound as good. Some do like the first Marshall cascaded designs and even some later ones. The second category are non master amps OR those with masters but no cascaded gain stages in the pre. This category is as different from the first IMO as modeling is from tubes., They are a completely different sounding beast and this category is the sound that modelers try and cop for the most part. That output distortion and clean tones u get by riding the guitar pot are just so different. Theres a completely different dynamic and body to the sound than the distortion generated in a cascaded preamp stages.

Here's where I think modelers fall short for some. Those who are used the more vintage tube amps for cleans or distortion be it with pedals or by getting really loud are I think the people who never get real happy with modeling. And the reason i say that is that to my ear at least modeling's strength is copping cascaded master volume amps, not vintage amps. Modeling IMO has not come real close at all to either cranked vintage style tube amp tones or clean tube tones. So just my opinion, but i feel thats where the split is between players who love modeling and those who don't. Those like myself who've used tube amps with cascaded preamps for many years love modeling because it can do those tones with authentic tone AND touch as well as that type of tube amp. To my are at least, none have come real close to the other category. Thats why i believe i like modeling so much and haven't felt the need to go back to tube amps for years. I used tube amps like that for decades and i was very happy with that tone even tho i DID note that i could not bet that cranked amp tone the same as a real cranked vintage style amp. But i didn't care because in some ways i liked it more and it was infinitely more convenient.

This is a generalization and there are of course exceptions, but thats the way my ears and fingers feel about it. In fact one of the biggest reasons i prefer modeling over cascaded tube amps is somehow modeling does 2 things far far better then any tube amp i've ever owned. 1-shows the difference between my guitar like nite and day, whicle most tube amps i didn't even have to tweakn the amp when switching guitars. More convenient sure, but also made having different guitars much less fun. 2- consistency. Modeling for me has been amazing in that it sounds basically the same nite after nite room to room barring rooms with hideously bad acoustics. I battled ny tube amps for decades due to thier propensity to sound like god one nite and manure the next.

Anyways, i just felt like voicing my thoughts on what i thought about tubes vs modeling and why it's not just a black and white subject at least to me, so there ya go. Wondering also if any others have thought the same.
Well I'm 72 and played tube amps when I started because that's all there was. Mainly Fender. When I started gigging again in the late 1970s solid state was large! I played the heck out of all the SS amps I got my hands on and, never looked back.
When modeling came out it was great! Years went by and, it has got even better!
I now have a Fender Mustang GTX 100 and I Love it!. Everything about this amp is perfect for me. Features, sounds,looks, more built in fx and sounds than you can imagine and, the weight at 21lbs is something I have waited for a long time.
I play this in a duo and, a 4pc classic rock/country band with no problems working with a very dynamic drummer and solid bass player. Master is never above 11oclock. No more tubes for me.
 

Zircon

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I don't like modelers - Lots of reasons - But I'm not inclined to defend or explain my choices - I like lots of amps, both Tube, Solid State and Hybrid but not modelers.
You like them, good!
 

fender4life

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Well I'm 72 and played tube amps when I started because that's all there was. Mainly Fender. When I started gigging again in the late 1970s solid state was large! I played the heck out of all the SS amps I got my hands on and, never looked back.
When modeling came out it was great! Years went by and, it has got even better!
I now have a Fender Mustang GTX 100 and I Love it!. Everything about this amp is perfect for me. Features, sounds,looks, more built in fx and sounds than you can imagine and, the weight at 21lbs is something I have waited for a long time.
I play this in a duo and, a 4pc classic rock/country band with no problems working with a very dynamic drummer and solid bass player. Master is never above 11oclock. No more tubes for me.
I'm 3 years your junior but been playing tube amps about the same amount of time as you. I also have a GTX100 and it's a great amp, tho i recently bought a L6 Catalyst and it's become my main amp. May sell the GTX now. I hated It at first and It took some time to figure out how to get my sound from it but once i did i prefer it. But i will certainly miss the GTX which is far far superior as features go (the list is longer then a trip to mars) and is even 10 Lbs lighter. The cat is dirt simple but for me one great sound trumps everything else so thats the way for me. But thats how it always goes right? You can always find everything you could ever want in 2 different amps or 2 guitars etc, but you can never have it all in one. Guess thats kinda thier way of keeping us in a constant state of GAS. :)
 

Cyberi4n

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I use a modeler through a tube combo. I get the tone of the modeler with the 'push' of a tube amp.

The knock on a lot of modeling amps is that they can't hang in a band situation and get 'swallowed up' and can't project. A tube amp with sufficient headroom ensures that doesn't happen.

- D
Mine was great in a band situation. Cabs modelled, running though a Class D amp, the tone was awesome for metal. I guess atm I just prefer Tubes
 

mikeford

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Like most everyone else, I prefer tube amps for playing live, but as live gigs started drying up, I bought a Roland modeling amp and thought it sounded pretty cool. Until I used it in a big room and it was one of the longest nights of my life. I think the answer is to have both.
 

Blrfl

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By the way, this thread sure went completely off the tracks long ago ! It wasn't about tubes vs modelers but thats exactly what it became pretty much instantly after i started it. Oh well....internet forums...

All this thread is missing is mention of an amp brand that begins with Q.
 

Digital Larry

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I was going to add a photo of a sex doll and one of a real woman as a metaphor but then when I saw how realistic they are starting to look I got scared! Even modelers in the sex doll industry are getting better! Yikes!
That was what Johnson did to advertise their J-Station, but they were comparing themselves to the Pod, not a tube amp. Something like "not all model(ers) are the same". I did own a J-Station but... yeah... I bought it BEFORE that ad came out! Really!
 

Cosmic Cowboy

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I think the Helix/HX family is fantastic. Does it sound like an amp in the room? No. Not at all. It sounds like a mic'd cab, running through a console.

But the end result is consistently very good. The biggest issue I deal with is that an amp has a certain feel that modelers cannot duplicate. Those touch dynamics are very satisfying as a player.

I will always favor an amp, but the modelers are great tools.
 

dspellman1

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Anyways, i just felt like voicing my thoughts on what i thought about tubes vs modeling and why it's not just a black and white subject at least to me, so there ya go. Wondering also if any others have thought the same.
I'm not sure what the original thought was in the original post.

I actually *started* with a solid state amp (an original Vox Super Beatle). I have 15 tube amps here in the den. I'm not particularly devoted to any of them.

I mostly use a modeler into a power amp (one way or the other; my main personal amp is a 1500W solid state power amp at the moment, into cabinets that are very wide-range, and the modeler feeds directly into PA mains as well).

Many modelers are essentially 'intentional amputees' that require a power amp as their prosthetic.
This is horsepooo. For years I used rack systems that included tube preamps (Mesa Triaxis, Egnater M4, Carvin Quad-X) feeding into a variety of power amps. The implied perjorative is that if the preamp doesn't feed directly into a power amp that shares the same chassis, there's something wrong with it. Nonsense.
 

dspellman1

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I think the Helix/HX family is fantastic. Does it sound like an amp in the room? No. Not at all. It sounds like a mic'd cab, running through a console.
Not always. It's entirely possible to bypass the cabinet sims altogether, and IRs don't always simulate cabinets. One of my IRs actually simulates a Taylor 314 and no guitar cabinet is ever even considered. I'm not sure that some of the folks commenting in this thread have actually ever used the things they're commenting about.
 

generic202

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What about the player? It’s an unhappy experience if your amp doesn’t react in the way you want it to.
Very true. I could care less about what the audience hears. I just focus on how I could sound/play best and enjoy being in the moment with a good sound for myself. In my experience, when the band is having a good time, the crowd enjoy it even more. Fortunately for me, modelers can get me there just as well as real amps.

I think the Helix/HX family is fantastic. Does it sound like an amp in the room? No. Not at all. It sounds like a mic'd cab, running through a console.
It depends. For live, my preference is to use HX Stomp with a clean SS power amp and a real guitar cab (not frfr and I have cab-sim off on HX). For me, this delivers the amp-in-the-room feel and sound just as well as a real amp.

I mostly use a modeler into a power amp (one way or the other; my main personal amp is a 1500W solid state power amp at the moment, into cabinets that are very wide-range, and the modeler feeds directly into PA mains as well).
Very similar!
 

klasaine

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In my not so humble opinion, no "versus" anymore. I use both equally and both happily. With the current crop of high end modelers (UAFX and Neural), I can't even "feel" a difference, and no one can hear it. I'm 60 and have, up until about two years ago, been playing all manner of tube amps since 1975.
 

Fiesta Red

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My concern has always been the lifespan and lack of repairability of digital amps.

My ‘63-reissue Vibroverb has been used hard for 30 years. One set of blown speakers, one set of tubes*, and one time in the shop to be checked out/serviced (vacuumed out and de-ox’d one potentiometer), and it’s still rocking.

I’m curious how long the average modeling amp will last, and whether it can be repaired (besides speakers) when it develops a problem.

*which wasn’t completely necessary—only one preamp tube was the problem, but I went ahead and changed them all because I overdo things sometimes.
 

Cosmic Cowboy

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Not always. It's entirely possible to bypass the cabinet sims altogether, and IRs don't always simulate cabinets. One of my IRs actually simulates a Taylor 314 and no guitar cabinet is ever even considered. I'm not sure that some of the folks commenting in this thread have actually ever used the things they're commenting about.

So...you are saying it sounds like an amp in the room, by using it through an amp in the room? I see.

Brother, I played on Sundays for 7 years with the Helix floor, own a Helix, a HX Stomp and Native. I have patches on the site people download and use. I don't think you should makes assumptions. We all know what can happen when you assume.
 

Mike Eskimo

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Dirty secret about old tube amps that vintage dealers will go to their graves refuting/disagreeing with :

Exact clones of vintage amps are just as good.

Sure, their are amps that are too cost prohibitive/nearly impossible to clone but - I’ve had 8-10 very desirable vintage Fender/Marshall tube amps and have had the modern day recreation/clones to 3 of them and - my ear said “same”.

But - say you disagree and say “No ! - the golden age of tube amps is ‘55-‘75 !” (Or pick your period) I’d only say this , the same as another thread I started -

The golden age of modeling or ANY tubeless amp is ALWAYS gonna be in front of us.

They’re always gonna be getting better/warmer/real-er/tube-ier.

Isn’t that comforting ?

Now who wants a deal on a 2000 Cube 60 ?
 




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