Modeling vs Tubes After 10 Years of Modeling

fender4life

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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.
True, but i look at it like this. Digital amps cost about 1/2 of a reissue type fender tube and if they last 1/2 as long u r in the same ballpark. But even if not, truth is ew people are going to hang onto them that long anyways because by the time they break down u will long since moved on to the next generation of modeling. I can do my own repairs but even if i couldn't it doesn't bother me because of whatb i just mentioned. At the moment i have a line 6 catalyst and paid $375 out the door. I have paid more then that in tubes with any tube amp i have owned very long. Not to mention i had to buy effects where most modelers have their own. I could go on and on with reasons i don't feel repairability is much of an issue. I WILL say there are some brands like fender where it can be because having owned 3 mustangs one of each gen. But in general i don't worry about it and i don't think most do because what i mentioned earlier. By the way, someone elsewhere whos a tech tore his down and posted pics sayoing and showing that the catalyst is better build than most low end amps. Thats something yamaha (who now owns L6) has always been known for. And not having a data heel makes it even moreso because thats the #1 part to worry about next to jacks.
 

Spooky88

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I’m making this comment without reading anything other than the OP. When I have more time I’ll revisit this thread.

I just got back from Germany where I was at the Ohmbachseefest. Very cool and fun community event with some of the best local and regional talent on display. I spent most of my time talking to the sound engineer and light engineer at the event, Martin and Julian. Those guys were superstars IMO. Every band sounded great! The drums for every band were awesome (I suppose 8 passive subwoofers packed at the front of the stage will do that). Even the dude that was “sight” reading in the rock group he had just started playing drums for (3rd time they’d been together). He was the best part of their band and he was the oldest at age 65. As far as guitar, Regardless of whether the guitar players were using a tube amp, solid state, or a modeling amp the sound coming out of the mains was pretty consistent (sound engineer was using a soundcraft Vi) and I have nothing negative to say about any of the guitar players tone. I’m a tube amp guy, all my guitar amps are tube, I’m not a fan of modeling amps But if you’re on a stage with a good sound man, maybe it doesn’t matter. Crazy thing is, Julian and Martin were hired to run the equipment “after” it had been initially installed. So it wasn’t even the gear they normally use. Man, those stacked subwoofers though………
 

Fiesta Red

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True, but i look at it like this. Digital amps cost about 1/2 of a reissue type fender tube and if they last 1/2 as long u r in the same ballpark. But even if not, truth is ew people are going to hang onto them that long anyways because by the time they break down u will long since moved on to the next generation of modeling. I can do my own repairs but even if i couldn't it doesn't bother me because of whatb i just mentioned. At the moment i have a line 6 catalyst and paid $375 out the door. I have paid more then that in tubes with any tube amp i have owned very long. Not to mention i had to buy effects where most modelers have their own. I could go on and on with reasons i don't feel repairability is much of an issue. I WILL say there are some brands like fender where it can be because having owned 3 mustangs one of each gen. But in general i don't worry about it and i don't think most do because what i mentioned earlier. By the way, someone elsewhere whos a tech tore his down and posted pics sayoing and showing that the catalyst is better build than most low end amps. Thats something yamaha (who now owns L6) has always been known for. And not having a data heel makes it even moreso because thats the #1 part to worry about next to jacks.
True, but…

I paid $500 (new in the box) for my ‘63-reissue Vibroverb in 1992…that’s the equivalent of $1055 in 2022.

The stock Oxfart- (ahem) Oxford-style speakers of this amp were the only weak link of the amp (this is generally agreed-upon by all users and enthusiasts of the 63RIVV), and mine survived 8-9 years of HEAVY use. I replaced them with some middle-of-the-road Eminences (the best I could afford at the time) and it cost me around $100, in ~2000. I’m still using those speakers in it.

One of the stock preamp tubes went bad—this was after approximately 15-16 years of heavy use as well. I went ahead and replaced the whole tube contingency because I was gigging heavily at the time and didn’t want to have to worry about anything (I kept the original tubes as backups, except the bad preamp tube). I also replaced the preamp tube in the NORMAL channel with a 12AY7 (it came stock with a 12AX7) to better facilitate using that channel for harp/harmonica.

All told, I have less than $800 (including original purchase price) in this amp, after 30 years (a little less than $1700 in 2022 equivalency).

I don’t think I’d be quick to dump $1250 (the average cost of a new Tonemaster Super Reverb amp, which sounds closest to my 63RIVV) into a device that I’m not sure will last 5 years, especially after owning a device that lasted 30 years but for which I only I paid $500 (1992)/$1055 (2022)…

So it doesn’t cost half as much—it actually costs more—and I doubt it will last even half as long if I gigged it the way I did with Vibroverb all those years. I played regularly, I played long sets (sometimes all-day or all-night jams), I played in Texas heat and Texas blue northerns, I played in venues with unstable “dirty” electricity, I played loud…I didn’t bang it around or treat it rough…I just used the crap out of it and it’s still rockin’, 30 years on.

But these digital amps are basically laptops with speakers. How many of you have a laptop that has lasted more than six years?

Plus, I can get the Vibroverb repaired, even rebuilt or resurrected from a catastrophic electronic situation.

After Fender Tonemaster dies, it would probably not be able to be repaired; at best, the cabinet and speakers might be able to be used as a platform to build an amp…I could see someone slipping a tube amp brain into one of those cabinets.

I know there are other digital amps—I’ve used a Line 6 POD for 20+ years, mostly for recording—but I keep referring to the Fender Tonemaster amps because I really like the way they sound (especially that Super Reverb)…

In not interested in the Mustang amps, because I don’t want want a computer-with-speakers that emulates 175 amps and 250 effects that are hard to find on the fly…I want a great-sounding two-channel amp with vibrato/tremolo/whatever.

(I will admit I was impressed with the sound and weight of a larger Mustang amp a young friend of mine owns—that was a great-sounding amp…but when he had a hard time getting it to link to his phone by Bluetooth so he could access all his sounds, it drove home my point of a butt-simple tube amp designed in 1963 being the better choice)

Between the tone, weight and the scalable power/volume, I think the Tonemasters are spectacular amps—and if Fender made a Tweed ‘59-reissue Bassman Tonemaster, I’d DEFINITELY be looking very hard at that amp…but I’d be very disappointed if and when it failed and was unrepairable.
 
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HandOfIke

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I
But these digital amps are basically laptops with speakers. How many of you have a laptop that has lasted more than six years
I still have an iMac from 2009 that is going strong and I run Amplitube 5 on it for practice works wonderfully. I have another old Core Duo Windows machine that's at least 12 years running things in a server that's never let me down. My previous MacBook was around 10 years old when I replaced it, was working perfectly fine just wanted a new one.

I think you're confusing longevity of computers/laptops/digital with the rapidity of advancement of new tech; but if a modeling amp sounds great now it'll still sound the same in 10+ years.

Granted if you spilt a beer in a CPU amp vs a Tube amp the tube will be fixable the CPU likely would end up skipped.

One thing that segues from what you've said tho is that once past firmware updates a CPU based amp isn't upgradable so if you're a tweaker modeling isn't for you (unless you can code).

So many top professionals are using Kemper for live shows these days with IRs of their 'physical' rigs and not just as redundancy units but as their main source and those guys don't skimp on tone.
 

fender4life

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True, but…

I paid $500 (new in the box) for my ‘63-reissue Vibroverb in 1992…that’s the equivalent of $1055 in 2022.

The stock Oxfart- (ahem) Oxford-style speakers of this amp were the only weak link of the amp (this is generally agreed-upon by all users and enthusiasts of the 63RIVV), and mine survived 8-9 years of HEAVY use. I replaced them with some middle-of-the-road Eminences (the best I could afford at the time) and it cost me around $100, in ~2000. I’m still using those speakers in it.

One of the stock preamp tubes went bad—this was after approximately 15-16 years of heavy use as well. I went ahead and replaced the whole tube contingency because I was gigging heavily at the time and didn’t want to have to worry about anything (I kept the original tubes as backups, except the bad preamp tube). I also replaced the preamp tube in the NORMAL channel with a 12AY7 (it came stock with a 12AX7) to better facilitate using that channel for harp/harmonica.

All told, I have less than $800 (including original purchase price) in this amp, after 30 years (a little less than $1700 in 2022 equivalency).

I don’t think I’d be quick to dump $1250 (the average cost of a new Tonemaster Super Reverb amp, which sounds closest to my 63RIVV) into a device that I’m not sure will last 5 years, especially after owning a device that lasted 30 years but for which I only I paid $500 (1992)/$1055 (2022)…

So it doesn’t cost half as much—it actually costs more—and I doubt it will last even half as long if I gigged it the way I did with Vibroverb all those years. I played regularly, I played long sets (sometimes all-day or all-night jams), I played in Texas heat and Texas blue northerns, I played in venues with unstable “dirty” electricity, I played loud…I didn’t bang it around or treat it rough…I just used the crap out of it and it’s still rockin’, 30 years on.

But these digital amps are basically laptops with speakers. How many of you have a laptop that has lasted more than six years?

Plus, I can get the Vibroverb repaired, even rebuilt or resurrected from a catastrophic electronic situation.

After Fender Tonemaster dies, it would probably not be able to be repaired; at best, the cabinet and speakers might be able to be used as a platform to build an amp…I could see someone slipping a tube amp brain into one of those cabinets.

I know there are other digital amps—I’ve used a Line 6 POD for 20+ years, mostly for recording—but I keep referring to the Fender Tonemaster amps because I really like the way they sound (especially that Super Reverb)…

In not interested in the Mustang amps, because I don’t want want a computer-with-speakers that emulates 175 amps and 250 effects that are hard to find on the fly…I want a great-sounding two-channel amp with vibrato/tremolo/whatever.

(I will admit I was impressed with the sound and weight of a larger Mustang amp a young friend of mine owns—that was a great-sounding amp…but when he had a hard time getting it to link to his phone by Bluetooth so he could access all his sounds, it drove home my point of a butt-simple tube amp designed in 1963 being the better choice)

Between the tone, weight and the scalable power/volume, I think the Tonemasters are spectacular amps—and if Fender made a Tweed ‘59-reissue Bassman Tonemaster, I’d DEFINITELY be looking very hard at that amp…but I’d be very disappointed if and when it failed and was unrepairable.
I have a mustang too, the newest GTX. Also had the older models. But the catalyst sounds better and more real and is built much better. Just depends on what you buy. But it WAS far cheaper than a deluxe. Today sweetwater has deluxes for $1600. Thats well over double the cost i paid for my catalyst to put it mildly. I could buy 4 catalysts. My oldest modeler was in perfect condition and 5 years old when i moved to the newer version. If my cat lasts 5 years and then i upgrade i could do that 4 times for the cost of that deluxe, 20 years. And i have no doubt the amp i had 5 years woulda lasted far longer. By the way i have a old laptop with XP on thats still going strong....when was XP the current OS?
Yeah....we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. Tube amps have their charm but i have yet to own one (had probably 100 of em since the 70s) that comes remotely close to my modelers as far as consistency of tone from nite to nite, room to room, or the ability to hear the differences between guitar which is even MORE nite and day compared to any tube amp i hav had. So if u r one of those who have issues with the logo on a guitar headstock regardless of the fact it could be better or as good as the real thing, then i can see how that translates to amps and makes you feel wierd about using "a computer with a speaker". But i don't think about that because my computer with a speaker sounds and feels great, works better in a band mix than probably 90% of the tube amps i have owned due to the aforementioned consistency, and weight nothing plus built in tuner and effects. I guess i just look at it from the POV that for all intents and purposes, if it looks sounds and walks like a duck, it's a duck.
 

bobio

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I have a mustang too, the newest GTX. Also had the older models. But the catalyst sounds better and more real and is built much better. Just depends on what you buy. But it WAS far cheaper than a deluxe. Today sweetwater has deluxes for $1600. Thats well over double the cost i paid for my catalyst to put it mildly. I could buy 4 catalysts. My oldest modeler was in perfect condition and 5 years old when i moved to the newer version. If my cat lasts 5 years and then i upgrade i could do that 4 times for the cost of that deluxe, 20 years. And i have no doubt the amp i had 5 years woulda lasted far longer. By the way i have a old laptop with XP on thats still going strong....when was XP the current OS?
Yeah....we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. Tube amps have their charm but i have yet to own one (had probably 100 of em since the 70s) that comes remotely close to my modelers as far as consistency of tone from nite to nite, room to room, or the ability to hear the differences between guitar which is even MORE nite and day compared to any tube amp i hav had. So if u r one of those who have issues with the logo on a guitar headstock regardless of the fact it could be better or as good as the real thing, then i can see how that translates to amps and makes you feel wierd about using "a computer with a speaker". But i don't think about that because my computer with a speaker sounds and feels great, works better in a band mix than probably 90% of the tube amps i have owned due to the aforementioned consistency, and weight nothing plus built in tuner and effects. I guess i just look at it from the POV that for all intents and purposes, if it looks sounds and walks like a duck, it's a duck.
👆👆 👍👍

I am an IT guy (35 years), and a techno-nerd. I don't have a nostalgic bone in my body so neither vintage guitars nor vintage amps hold ANY appeal for me. I got tubes out of my system 12 years ago and have been digital ever since.

I treat my amps like I treat my computers, I upgrade them when the technological advancements warrant it. Before my current amps, I had a Mustang I and a Mustang III as well as a Line 6 Spyder. Had them all for around 10 years and all were still working perfectly, never had an issue with them. I traded them into Guitar Center and went home with a Fender Tone Master Deluxe and have been extremely happy with the TMDR. I have also recently added a BOSS Katana 100 MKII Artist, a BOSS Nextone Special as well as a Positive Grid Spark 40 and Spark Mini. Picked up a Katana Mini for my daughter and a Yamaha THR-10 for my son. I recently picked up a Fender Mustang Micro for middle of the night, sitting on the couch playing. Been working on a home/bedroom studio and have been pinching the pennies and searching the couch cushions to fund a BOSS GX-100 to incorporate into the recording rig.

I figure somewhere around another 5 years and it will probably be time to start seeing where things are again.
 
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GearGeek01

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Where the rubber meets the road for me is the (often) "War and Peace" sized manuals and all the butt time needed to figure out anything called "modeling". For one, I do not learn by text. There are 4 ways a human can ;learn:

- Visual (images, graphics, colors and maps)
- Auditory (listen to a lecture, etc)
- Reading/textual
- Kinesthetic (manipulate or touch material to learn)

Not too long ago I bought a Boss GT-1 all-in-one pedalboard doo-dad. I did this because there are at least 50 if not 100 great hands on (no manual necessary) tutorials online. The down side is that there is no "off" or "bypass" feature, unless you do the butt time and learn how to somehow make your own user preset that is an all-off preset. Now how easy would it have been to add a double tap to one of the switches from the factory that turns all the effects off... NOT... I think it's real strength is in being a battery powered headphone amp for practice. It has some nice sounds when using headphones, but when plugged in between the guitar and the amp the effects are really weak sounding, or too over the top to be use-able. It as only $200-something, so I didn't waste a lot of money on it. It has amp/speaker/preamp modeling somewhere hidden inside, but to get there, even with a bah-zillion how-to videos is more pain than it is worth. I much prefer single stomp boxes to all this tech-no glorp. The GT-1 is back in the box and on a shelf in my closet. One of the most hated things I have ever bought in my life.

Best bang-for-the-buck pedals I have discovered as an old guy (60) who has played single pedals his whole life (since 1975) are the Source Audio One Series of pedals...

1) no matter which one you choose, even the Nemesis Delay and the Ventris Reverb, no butt time is necessary right out of the box to understand the intuitive front panel and get great sound on day one, minute one - perfect for old school one pedal at a time guys like me

2) If you want to dive deeper, they have a free Neuro Desktop Editor... which gives all of their pedals now multiple algorithms. Plus their editor doesn't take a PhD in butt time manual reading to use. I am fairly familiar with DAW plugins and their usual interfaces, and the SA Neuro Editor is very simple to look at and figure out. So really no butt time required... which for me is the total winner...Unless you purposely WANT to dig... some of these modeling doo-dads don't even give you a shovel. They expect you to learn Chinese by reading a book about Chinese. That just doesn't work for me at all. I do not in any way shape or form ever learn to do by reading. I actually HATE reading. (even though my posts are usually 50 pages long, I love to write, haha)

3) If you are a snooty, snobby "gotta be made in the USA" type of folk, then SA is NOT for you. They are designed and quality controlled from AMERICA, but constructed in the same country that gave us Shoalin Kung Fu... proving that the Chinese human being can do wondrous things Americans can't dream of doing (includes making great guitars, too... that for me in a world of $3,000-4000 NOT affordable Gibsons or Paul Smith WAY over-priced guitars... this is a wonderful find...)... maybe in the 1960s or 1970s China basically made all crap stuff... with the advent of Globalization and western quality control management, that is no longer the case.

Here is a scale model of my mostly Source Audio board I made in Microsoft Excel. I'm showing this because most of my stuff got sold during 2020 and Covid BS... so I'm re-building now... I had all but 2 od these SA pedals...

!!Pedalboard 7-23-22 (proposed scale model).jpg


My most recent SA pedal is the Atlas Compressor they just came out with...

Plus all of the SA One Series pedals are stereo. So, once my signal comes out of the Keeley Mini Katana boost into the Atlas Compressor, it is (or can be, doesn't have to be) stereo the entire way.

Also... all of the SA pedals are MIDI capable. I haven't crossed the Bifrost Bridge into the Vahalla of MIDI yet, but that is my next endeavor if I am going to spend butt time with anything. I have the "Neuro Hub" that connects all of their smaller form factor One Series pedals to a standard MIDI DIN connector system... They connect via an included TRS cable made for that purpose.

And for example, the SA L.A. Lady overdrive has 50 more distortion, fuzz, overdrive, and preamp and bass overdrive algorithms when using their editor. (The most of any of their One Series pedals)... So, buy one in the series, and get the rest of that type in the series...

Source Audio One Series is my personal answer to all things modeling, MIDI, and versatile. You'll never see me with a Line 6 anything, or any of the Kemper stuff, no Fractal for me, and none of those icky Boss 200 or 500 series butt wrangler need a manual pedals.

That's my 11 cents...
 
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Frodebro

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Every Modeler, Profiler that I have heard does not sound/feel EXACTLY like a tube amp, or even a good solid state for that matter. They DO sound good but to me, that sound like a recording of a great guitar tone. The new Boss stuff is very good, of course Fractal, Kemper, Neural are excellent. The strength of the Modeler/Profiler is the reliability, consistency and convenience. Most places don't even need an amp, they have very good to excellent PA's. You walk in, plug in the power, plug in the PA's XLR and you're done. Also at a live gig, 80% of those listening don't give a rat's ass what you are playing though or on.
Which feel, and which tube amp? My DRRI doesn't feel anything like my Mark V.
 

Fiesta Red

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I still have an iMac from 2009 that is going strong and I run Amplitube 5 on it for practice works wonderfully. I have another old Core Duo Windows machine that's at least 12 years running things in a server that's never let me down. My previous MacBook was around 10 years old when I replaced it, was working perfectly fine just wanted a new one.

I think you're confusing longevity of computers/laptops/digital with the rapidity of advancement of new tech; but if a modeling amp sounds great now it'll still sound the same in 10+ years.

Granted if you spilt a beer in a CPU amp vs a Tube amp the tube will be fixable the CPU likely would end up skipped.

One thing that segues from what you've said tho is that once past firmware updates a CPU based amp isn't upgradable so if you're a tweaker modeling isn't for you (unless you can code).

So many top professionals are using Kemper for live shows these days with IRs of their 'physical' rigs and not just as redundancy units but as their main source and those guys don't skimp on tone.

I have a mustang too, the newest GTX. Also had the older models. But the catalyst sounds better and more real and is built much better. Just depends on what you buy. But it WAS far cheaper than a deluxe. Today sweetwater has deluxes for $1600. Thats well over double the cost i paid for my catalyst to put it mildly. I could buy 4 catalysts. My oldest modeler was in perfect condition and 5 years old when i moved to the newer version. If my cat lasts 5 years and then i upgrade i could do that 4 times for the cost of that deluxe, 20 years. And i have no doubt the amp i had 5 years woulda lasted far longer. By the way i have a old laptop with XP on thats still going strong....when was XP the current OS?
Yeah....we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one. Tube amps have their charm but i have yet to own one (had probably 100 of em since the 70s) that comes remotely close to my modelers as far as consistency of tone from nite to nite, room to room, or the ability to hear the differences between guitar which is even MORE nite and day compared to any tube amp i hav had. So if u r one of those who have issues with the logo on a guitar headstock regardless of the fact it could be better or as good as the real thing, then i can see how that translates to amps and makes you feel wierd about using "a computer with a speaker". But i don't think about that because my computer with a speaker sounds and feels great, works better in a band mix than probably 90% of the tube amps i have owned due to the aforementioned consistency, and weight nothing plus built in tuner and effects. I guess i just look at it from the POV that for all intents and purposes, if it looks sounds and walks like a duck, it's a duck.
I see your points, and I was (slightly) exaggerating about the lifespan of computers…but I am also (perhaps unfairly) basing the usable lifespan of digital amps on the early Johnson amps and the (disgustingly horrible, IMO) Fender Cyber amps.

Also, we’ve used a Korg DAW for recording for ever 15 years—but as the various membrane switches and interfaces are wearing out, we are having a terrible time finding a way to repair it—so the heart of our home studio is dying.

Again, I really like several digital amps and effects (I have used a POD vs1 for a couple of decades, especially for recording and I cherish the Boss RT-20 Rotary Ensemble my wife bought for our anniversary years ago), but just the throwaway nature of digital effects and amps bothers me.
 

fender4life

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For myself, i base it all on one thing....the end result. So after decades of tube amps then about the last 10 years all modeling but for a couple tube amp ventures during that period, i only really look at the end results and for me in that regard modeling wins. Of course i like tube amps in some ways but the winner is always going to be the one that causes the following....i plug in and play and have the least problems with my tone. It's that simple. In all the years of tube amps i never once felt satisfied with my tone 95% of the time but with modeling i do. Thats all that matters to me. I may not be guthrie govan or greg koch but after 50 years of playing including uncountable gigs i DO know that i know good tone and more importantly touch dynamics/feel. And if i couldn't get that with modeling i'd still be playing tube amps. Again, it's all about the final result and not about nostalgia or how hot tubes smell. Its not even about things tube amps do better or modeling does better. It's how you feel after playing whether it's at home or a gig/jam etc. If you find yourself just happily playing and not thinking about twisting knobs in hopes of improving things, you won. And for me modeling wins. I never felt as content as i have for the last 10 years.
 

enorbet2

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I think the reason is ultra simple... actually simple vs/ complex.

The vintage amps that always sounded best as well as lasted longest were the simplest deigns. The had charachter because they did one, or only a very few, job(s) exceedingly well and often, their technical limitations lent them a character, a unique voice.

Modelers offer less weight, less cost, and a ton of precision and variable options and presets. They offer one-size-fits-all convenience but hey don't excel at a unique voice.

You want convenience and variety? Get a modeler. You want a world class singer? Get a tube amp.
 

teeny

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One hell of a technical discussion for a poor boy out of Belgium. A musician's role is to produce music that stirs an audience - drums/guitars/whistle - whatever....5 notes or 50 bars etc. as an old man I've found that the audience is king/queen for me - to do that the musician needs to feel at ease with whatever they are using - my first group started with a valve radio amp ? watts, but it made an acceptable sound - as we really didn't know how to play the guitars then...second, can you express what your song is about (I don't do covers), whatever the equipment..in my current group we have between us mucho new and vintage gear - we are semi-pro i.e. get paid - still find that the 'magic' comes when, as a guitarist; I, the guitar, amp, audience are all in the loop - (not as often as I would like). Consequence is I have too many guitars Teles/Strats/Gibsons/Burns and a room full of amps (mostly 2nd hand) Marshall/Fender/Laney/Carlsbro - onstage I change quite frequently between guitars/amps for different songs - a Gibson sounds different to a Tele etc. Valve vs latest solid state modelling...
BUT I feel happiest with a valve amp - that was my generation and I'm at ease with them - get the audience with you and they couldn't care less what gear you use.
Have fun, sell the beer, the venue will have you back !!
 

HandOfIke

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I see your points, and I was (slightly) exaggerating about the lifespan of computers…but I am also (perhaps unfairly) basing the usable lifespan of digital amps on the early Johnson amps and the (disgustingly horrible, IMO) Fender Cyber amps.

Also, we’ve used a Korg DAW for recording for ever 15 years—but as the various membrane switches and interfaces are wearing out, we are having a terrible time finding a way to repair it—so the heart of our home studio is dying.

Again, I really like several digital amps and effects (I have used a POD vs1 for a couple of decades, especially for recording and I cherish the Boss RT-20 Rotary Ensemble my wife bought for our anniversary years ago), but just the throwaway nature of digital effects and amps bothers me.
Cool.

It's horses for courses, I'd love to use tube amps all the time but practically I can't crank a Fender non master to breakup at home for recording, inconsistent venues and having to lug around too much kit means medium sized venues it's the DI route for me, smaller gigs tho I'd tube it for sure.

I mainly practice on Amplitube, I'm looking at a Quadcortex in the future. But I have a Vox AC15 too which has a master volume that is great at home.
 

archtop_fjk

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New Hampshire
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.
Regarding the life of modeling amp hardware, if you use the modelers in a controlled environment (studio or venue) they can last for many years. If you look at the life of a typical computer or cell phone, it’s about 10 years or so. A lot of that has to do with the thermal design. If the processor overheats for any reason, it will shorten life considerably. Modern processors give off a lot of heat when fully utilized which is why you hear all those fans going inside your laptop. How many modern guitar modelers have cooling systems? They’re certainly doing a tremendous amount of processing at all times. And if a chip fails, can it be replaced?

As an example of old dsp technology going bad, I offer the Fender Super Champ XD. If the preamp dsp fails, you can’t replace it (as far as I know)…

Finally, for many years I used a Digitech RP1000 as my pedalboard… until it **completely** failed on me during the middle of a gig. I now only use analog pedals for gigs.
 

Mike Eskimo

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True, but…

I paid $500 (new in the box) for my ‘63-reissue Vibroverb in 1992…that’s the equivalent of $1055 in 2022.

The stock Oxfart- (ahem) Oxford-style speakers of this amp were the only weak link of the amp (this is generally agreed-upon by all users and enthusiasts of the 63RIVV), and mine survived 8-9 years of HEAVY use. I replaced them with some middle-of-the-road Eminences (the best I could afford at the time) and it cost me around $100, in ~2000. I’m still using those speakers in it.

One of the stock preamp tubes went bad—this was after approximately 15-16 years of heavy use as well. I went ahead and replaced the whole tube contingency because I was gigging heavily at the time and didn’t want to have to worry about anything (I kept the original tubes as backups, except the bad preamp tube). I also replaced the preamp tube in the NORMAL channel with a 12AY7 (it came stock with a 12AX7) to better facilitate using that channel for harp/harmonica.

All told, I have less than $800 (including original purchase price) in this amp, after 30 years (a little less than $1700 in 2022 equivalency).

I don’t think I’d be quick to dump $1250 (the average cost of a new Tonemaster Super Reverb amp, which sounds closest to my 63RIVV) into a device that I’m not sure will last 5 years, especially after owning a device that lasted 30 years but for which I only I paid $500 (1992)/$1055 (2022)…

So it doesn’t cost half as much—it actually costs more—and I doubt it will last even half as long if I gigged it the way I did with Vibroverb all those years. I played regularly, I played long sets (sometimes all-day or all-night jams), I played in Texas heat and Texas blue northerns, I played in venues with unstable “dirty” electricity, I played loud…I didn’t bang it around or treat it rough…I just used the crap out of it and it’s still rockin’, 30 years on.

But these digital amps are basically laptops with speakers. How many of you have a laptop that has lasted more than six years?

Plus, I can get the Vibroverb repaired, even rebuilt or resurrected from a catastrophic electronic situation.

After Fender Tonemaster dies, it would probably not be able to be repaired; at best, the cabinet and speakers might be able to be used as a platform to build an amp…I could see someone slipping a tube amp brain into one of those cabinets.

I know there are other digital amps—I’ve used a Line 6 POD for 20+ years, mostly for recording—but I keep referring to the Fender Tonemaster amps because I really like the way they sound (especially that Super Reverb)…

In not interested in the Mustang amps, because I don’t want want a computer-with-speakers that emulates 175 amps and 250 effects that are hard to find on the fly…I want a great-sounding two-channel amp with vibrato/tremolo/whatever.

(I will admit I was impressed with the sound and weight of a larger Mustang amp a young friend of mine owns—that was a great-sounding amp…but when he had a hard time getting it to link to his phone by Bluetooth so he could access all his sounds, it drove home my point of a butt-simple tube amp designed in 1963 being the better choice)

Between the tone, weight and the scalable power/volume, I think the Tonemasters are spectacular amps—and if Fender made a Tweed ‘59-reissue Bassman Tonemaster, I’d DEFINITELY be looking very hard at that amp…but I’d be very disappointed if and when it failed and was unrepairable.

Man, those Vibroverb RI’s were everywhere for a while, and then they stopped selling them and then a couple years later they were all over the place being sold secondhand.

I knew they were great And I knew even more importantly fender was probably not going to be doing anything more with the brown face line.

But, it was too much watts for me. I know that they can still be fun playing clean at home at lower volume but…

And now - highly sought after great-sounding amps.

In the post-pandemic “skyrocketing values world” we are truly in the upside down.

And , it’s a tiny tiny thing, but almost all the ones I see secondhand either have barely any grill left or it’s been replaced. What the hell was Fender using on these things?
 

Daveyboy76

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I play tube amps when I need feel, tone and warmth.... all loud enough to play on a stage with any size band.
I play a modeler when I need feel, tone and warmth.... all loud enough to play on a stage with any size band.

When I use a tube amp it is usually a head... so the cabinet I use with it is important. Not the time to go cheap.
When I use a modeler it is a stand alone... so how I monitor it is important. Not the time to go cheap.

When I need a tube amp to sound great at low volume, I use an attenuator. (I'm considering a load box/IR loader as well)
The modeler is already capable... outside of Fletcher Munson, they sound the same at every level.

Learn your gear and compare apples to apples when it comes to budget.
They are both capable of getting great results, they just get there differently.
I was going to say, it’s all in the way you know your gear. I’m confident I can pull a great tone with my valves every time, room to room, day to day with said exception of being in a room that’s just plain wrong for frequency. Anywhere else, i can! It’s a matter of if you’re bothered to sit there and listen and dial for it’s sweet spot to what your ear hears on that day. If you are then you’ll find the right tone always.
I don’t personally use modellers, I’ve got em but I don’t really use them. For me, the warts n all characteristics of a valve amp is perfect enough for me. I love the warmth, the noise, the authenticity of a pure oldskool method, it’s enough for me. To each his own. I actually have fun with modellers. They are fun, be it when rehearsing a part for recording or just having a mess about but for me, when it’s time to go to work and record, I mic up and I start digging for the soul of a valve amp and guitar!
 
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Blrfl

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The down side is that there is no "off" or "bypass" feature, unless you do the butt time ...and learn how to somehow make your own user preset that is an all-off preset. Now how easy would it have been to add a double tap to one of the switches from the factory that turns all the effects off... NOT...

So pretty much the same turn-everything-off maneuver you'd have to do with a pedal board without the inconvenience of having to identify the pedals that are on and stomp them off? Sign me up!

Here's the thing: I have no use for a bypass button. Don't need one, don't want one. Don't even have a patch that does it stored in my modeler. That doesn't make your use case any more- or less-valid than mine, but I'd much rather have that button programmable to do what I want rather than being forced to live with somebody else's preference. We had that in the bad old days because it wasn't practical to do anything else at prices consumers would be willing to pay. These days, there's no need for it and the "everything has to have its own hard control" mentality is what leads to products that look like the dashboard of the Space Shuttle.

Best bang-for-the-buck pedals I have discovered as an old guy (60) who has played single pedals his whole life (since 1975) are the Source Audio One Series of pedals...

About $2,100 for the eight Source Audio pedals on the board you showed is an awful lot of scratch. Even before power, cabling and a board to stick it on, that's $250 north of a Quad Cortex and $200 south of an Axe-FX III.

Old guy Mark Knopfler would like a word. He's 72, spent his whole life with single pedals and still migrated his entire stage show to a Kemper Profiler. Now, he did it with the assistance from Glenn Saggers, his guitar tech, but Saggers doesn't look like he's a spring chicken, either.

Also... all of the SA pedals are MIDI capable. I haven't crossed the Bifrost Bridge into the Vahalla of MIDI yet, but that is my next endeavor if I am going to spend butt time with anything. I

Ewwwww, don't do MIDI. It requires butt time and anything that requires butt time is bad. MIDI not only sucks tone, it will give you cooties and probably wreck the economy. :eek:

I've used MIDI on and off for various things since the 1980s. You're about to embark on a project that will have a steeper learning curve than a fully-integrated modeler and still won't be anywhere near as capable. The end result will still be utterly unable to put the phaser before the overdrive instead of after for that one song where you need it. The GT-1 gathering dust on your shelf can do that in literally three seconds with Tone Studio. (Please tell me you weren't trying to program that thing by fiddling with the front panel.) Don't forget the additional $250+ for a Source Audio Soleman and the trimmings needed to use it. That will nudge the price tag on your rig above that of an Axe FX III.
 

Fiesta Red

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And , it’s a tiny tiny thing, but almost all the ones I see secondhand either have barely any grill left or it’s been replaced. What the hell was Fender using on these things?
Leftover straw from the first little pig’s house…:lol:

I’m fortunate—mine has held up really well, but I always put the cover on it when I’m done playing and while I USE my gear—pretty hard sometimes—I don’t ABUSE it, and I baby it during transport, load-in, load-out, etc.

If my grill ever gets torn up and I can’t find the original style cloth, I’ll probably use some cloth with Indian Blanket pattern or an old coffee bean burlap sack.

AF85A014-260B-4F61-A946-9BD6AB27EB57.jpeg
643B35E2-1D9E-40B1-9E13-77EF7F123369.jpeg
 
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codamedia

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Not too long ago I bought a Boss GT-1 all-in-one pedalboard doo-dad. I did this because there are at least 50 if not 100 great hands on (no manual necessary) tutorials online. The down side is that there is no "off" or "bypass" feature, unless you do the butt time and learn how to somehow make your own user preset that is an all-off preset. Now how easy would it have been to add a double tap to one of the switches from the factory that turns all the effects off... NOT...

Preparing a preset for this is simple and effective... but there are also several "control" options on the GT-1 (CTRL, EXP, 2 External CTRL's) that could be used as a bypass. Yes - you have to program it to behave that way but that's the power of this generation of products. You can make it do whatever you want it to, you are not forced into a feature you may or may not want.
 




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