Modeling vs Tubes After 10 Years of Modeling

ASATKat

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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.
Try the wonderful Katana for a pleasant change of tone.

Santana Smooth brown mode
 
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pippoman

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Something the audience is really concerned about....
Yeah....
I get the point, but I think some of these guys are referring to bedroom gigs.

But yea, a listening audience couldn’t care less whether you’re using a digital modeling rig, a $20,000 Dumble or a SS poc (not knocking SS; I use them, but some are pieces of crap). Just play a song they like and you own them.
 

ASATKat

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Just to make it clear, are we talking about digital amps with speakers or devices with amp sims, IRs, mic sims and so on or software on a computer or all of these?

I wouldn't know which amp has cascading gain stages but I've always preferred clean amps and dirt boxes over amp distortion, because many two channel amps share the tone stack and the eq setting that works with clean usually doesn't work with driven tones. And do it all Boogies and such are out of my price range.
I bought an original Zendrive 2 OD from Alfonzo himself. I got very close to Robben and SRV tones with my '65 Deluxe.

But seriously, my Katana Mk2 100w outshines that rig without pedals. The Kat's SRV type tones are believable, simply set gain, then the eq.
Easy enough to do on the fly.

I could buy 2 of these amps with money left over if I sold my coveted original Zendrive 2.
 

pippoman

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I have been trying to explain that to people for years!
Perception is reality to the ears.... if they are not played at the same level, you cannot compare the results!
Then crank those jokers up to 11 and tell ‘em to suck it! Play what sounds good to you or makes the band sound good. I love tube amps, especially Fenders, but lately (6 years or so) I’ve been playing through a Quilter.
 

Happy Enchilada

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I get a chuckle out of threads such as this one.
Have you ever presented this kind of thing to a non-guitar player?
Next time you're gigging, go up to the bar on break and find an attractive gal.
Ask her what she prefers ... modeling or cascading gain stages ... or tubes vs. circuits.
Or for that matter, nitro vs. poly paintjobs.
Once she stops staring at you like a deer in the headlights, she'll giggle nervously and make an excuse as to why she immediately needs to use the restroom. Or she'll call the bouncer.
But if you ask her "Did my lead on that last song sound OK?" you might elicit a much more pleasant response.
The average drunk barfly has NO clue about musical equipment.
If they did, they'd probably be your drummer ...
 

Happy Enchilada

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I'm going to get an amp modeling pedal because it's lightweight. Alright, pelalboard set, let's go. Wait, I forgot my power supply. This cable doesn't reach. Let's shuffle things around. I think I can live without the drive pedal. Let's connect it to a PA. Why is it so quiet? I'll just turn this up. Why is it clipping, it's still too damn quiet. Turn up the channel on the mixer. Still clipping. I'll bring the volume on pedal down. Still clipping. Too much bass on guitar, perhaps I can squeeze that TS9 on the board. Modelling pedal is taking too much space. It's dangling right now but I'll fix it later (never fixed). It's too harsh what the hell. Oh, I forgot to turn on the cab modelling. Why are there so many cables all of a sudden? This should have been less complicated than hauling a tube amp around, right?
The answer: POD. Does everything a pedalboard does except need constant fiddling and 9Volts.
All you have to do is find the appropriate patch you tweaked in practice, connect to the PA, and adjust the volume.
Best of all, since it's "obsolete technology," it can be yours for around $100 every day on Reverb.
They also make a Bass POD.
 




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