Moving to a Tube Amp

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by RyanSmuz, Apr 24, 2019.

  1. RyanSmuz

    RyanSmuz TDPRI Member

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    I am going to move to a tube amp for playing around the house. I am thinking of going the Blues Junior route with a small pedal board. Right now I am thinking the Blues Junior, A blues driver or EHX soul food, and maybe a decent tremolo pedal.

    Any advice would be appreciated. It has been a while since I owned a tube amp and I have never owned a blues junior.

    Thanks!
     
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  2. SolidSteak

    SolidSteak Friend of Leo's

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    Advice? I'd say just go ahead and play the heck out of it, preferably with a tele!
     
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  3. heltershelton

    heltershelton Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    in my opinion, the blues jr is a meh amp. much better choices out there. I would take an ac15 over that any day. even the newer marshall dsl20 cr amps rock it.
     
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  4. cc50fralin

    cc50fralin Tele-Meister

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    I have a Blues Driver Waza pedal, the deluxe one, and I think it's worth the extra money to have it.

    Good luck.

    Mike
     
  5. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    A Blues Junior isn't a bad choice, but is a fairly loud amp for home use (an AC15 VERY loud!). It'll be pretty hard to open it up and fully drive the output stage/speaker, and pedals don't get you the same sound as an overdriven tube amp. They get you solid-state distortion. The term "overdrive pedal" originally applied to clean boost pedals meant to push a tube amp into its OWN distortion - not create distortion in the pedal itself. The term has become muddied and now simply means "low gain distortion pedal".

    If you want a tube amp that you can push into actual output tube distortion and transformer saturation (NOT preamp tube via a master volume!) I suggest looking a lower-output amps. A *good* 5-10 watt amp equipped with a good 12" speaker will actually get you better "tube amp sound" at reasonable volume than the Blues Junior will.

    The right 12" speaker will sound more full and "round" than a comparable 10" and get you a "big" (but not loud) sound with a low-powered amp - especially when cranked up.

    There are plenty of lower-powered combos and heads available, as there's been a shift to lower-output tube amps for both home and studio use. Do a bit of searching and you'll find plenty of reviews. Be cautious listening to Youtube demos and comparisons, though, as most computer speakers and monitors don't reflect the real sound - plus it's usually impossible to tell how they were recorded and processed.

    Most of the "commodity" amps (i.e. not $1500-2000 boutique heads) will need immediate tube upgrades (most come stock with the cheapest production tubes available, so it pays to do some research into preamp and power tube comparisons. Google is your best friend here!).

    Nearly all will benefit a huge amount by speaker upgrades. A great budget 12" speaker is the Warehouse Speakers ET65, a copy of the Celestion Creamback. While it handles 65 watts it's a full, round sounding speaker with lower-powered amps.

    Hope that helps!
     
  6. perttime

    perttime Tele-Afflicted

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    My 1 Watt Marshall DSL combo with 8" speaker gets plenty loud, as long as I'm in the same room. As in: I cannot turn up the clean channel in the apartment. The head version with a sensitive 12" cab might be even better.
     
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  7. Garruchal

    Garruchal Tele-Meister

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    I got myself a Bugera 5w head to use around the house, and it is perfect for that purpose (the same amp is also sold as a combo, but I haven't tried it. I use an Orange 8" cab.) For gigs I have a Princeton, but I probably wouldn't have gotten if I hadn't had the Bugera first and fell in love with the tube sound.
    I've heard some guitarists around here getting some fantastic tones with Blues Jr. amps. But, they are LOUD when it gets into overdrive range. I spent an extra $100 on a Swart Night Light Jr. for my Princeton for playing quietly; that would work with a Blues Jr. as well.
     
  8. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    What do you mean by home volumes?

    Do you need it no louder than a polite talking voice?

    Than loud conversation levels/normal TV volumes?

    Loud TV volumes?

    If you need to stay at any of those levels, find an amp intended for home use. Not one that can do rehearsal/gig use.

    1w or less, with an inefficient speaker.

    My Boss Microcube can annoy my family on a separate floor if opened up. But can get acceptable tone at normal TV volumes. Same with my Champion 20.

    These are the best home options I've found so far. But like any amp, they sound better the louder I get them.

    This from someone who uses a DRRI on 5-7 for band use, for rehearsal and smaller shows, and a HRD for louder shows.

    I like tube amps and gig amps just fine. But a 15w tube amp is not a good home solution IME. YMMV.
     
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  9. grolan1

    grolan1 Friend of Leo's

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    Everyone has a thought they could/would share - I don't dislike the Blues Jr, like the Pr Jr better but both are fine. I totally disagree about having to drive your amp into distortion/overdrive but that's me... I like a solid clean thick sound and great pedals can do the rest of the heavy lifting and it's not hard for me to get that base sound out of about any great tube amp, was a bit tougher out of my Super Reverb though I have to admit. :D
     
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  10. NJ Deadhead

    NJ Deadhead Tele-Meister

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    I see a lot of amp advice here, which is cool. I just thought you wanted advice on playing through a tube amp.

    Most important advice I can give is remember that your guitar has volume and tone knobs and USE THEM. These really matter when using a tube amp. I usually set my "clean sound" with volume around 5. This way, if I start to turn my guitar volume up, it adds some nice natural tube dirt.
    Also, tube amps are more sensitive to your picking attack. Play gently, you will get lower volume and cleaner sound. Pick harder and you'll bring out the grit.
     
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  11. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I don't dislike the Blues JR either but for home volumes a master volume + attenuator are really nice things to have. I haven't played the latest Blues Jr. necessarily but the ones I have played had issues around poorly chosen pots for the knobs which resulted in "No Volume... No Volume... TOO MUCH!" for home setups.

    I have played the AC15 in the store and it's master volume worked pretty well, I wouldn't necessarily be worried about playing that in my home practice setup.

    Speaker is a big deal. I play an Orange Rocker 15 and I run it at 1W most of the time at home, but the speaker is 101dB, it can still get really loud on the 1W setting, particularly if you start kicking on boosts & drives & fuzzes.

    Some of the stuff NJ Deadhead is mentioning is immensely important.. there is so much fascinating stuff to learn with a tube amp, a lot of your effects have all kind of magical side effects when you're using them on a tube amp and you start playing with the volume on the guitar.

    E.x.:
    - Fuzz or drive combined w/dirty AMP + varying guitar volume
    - Boosting dirty vs clean amp
    - Compression effects happening in the amp, pick effects around the "sweet spot"
    - Different effects changing the compression & picking characteristics

    I think learning how some of this stuff happens can make you a better player.
     
  12. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I would love for folks to post videos of their idea of solid home tone, along with a db meter reading. That would be very instructive. I bet the actual db readings would surprise some folks who think they are playing at quiet volumes.

    I fell into that too, mind.

    Until I realized that pushing 1w of power into a 93db speaker (not very efficient at all) produces a volume level akin to the average lawnmower. No wonder my ears were ringing even though I only had my amp on 1.7 . . .
     
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  13. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire

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    The BJ is a good choice and that's why there are so many out there. EL84 amps tend to have a good tone at lower volumes, just due to the characteristics of the power tube. Big bold punchy lows and mids. The BJ has a ton of competitors that sound similar, Peavey Classic 30, Peavey Delta Blues and on up to Dr Z amps in a few varieties. As far as Vox, you either like them or you dont, they tend to be too brittle lacking bottom for me, but some people love them.
     
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  14. grolan1

    grolan1 Friend of Leo's

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    Where someone is in regards to the speakers path makes a huge difference as well. Right in front of it (or aimed at you and fairly close) is WAY different that you standing to the side.
     
  15. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    75-80db for me most of the time.. that's with the dB meter set about 2m from the amp directly inline with the cone on my music stand. 1w Tube amp w/101dB speaker. I have 2 channels, the clean channel never goes above 5 (1/2 way) The dirty channel has a master volume setup, so that one stays lower, in the 3-4 range. If I turn the amp to 7W the volume is going to be way down.. between 2-3, which is barely getting the amp going so it seems pointless.

    If I start getting into the 85-90dB range for too long I'm going to start feeling it in my ears.

    I sanity check my volume levels every so often as if I go too long without doing so I inevitably start creeping the volume up since it sounds better.

    Lawn mowers don't have very good tone so it's no loss to wear earplugs when you are using them. :)
     
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  16. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Yes and no. 95db in a house is still extremely loud for the rest of the house, and the neighbors, depending how much insulation you have I guess.
     
  17. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Holic

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    For home, maybe contact Jim at Lil Dawg amps and have him build you something in a chassis head? Champster? Chainsaw? five watt Vox style? Build your own 10" or 12" speaker cab and add speaker of your choice. Rock on.
     
  18. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    The 10-12" speakers we use are very "beamy" though.

    When I stand directly in line with the amp I think it makes it a lot louder for me but a lot of those frequencies are really directed and aren't bouncing around the house as much. I have my amp elevated off the floor on a table/bookshelf I built so it's decoupled from the floor too.

    What I don't get is the guys who say they use their 50-100w 2x12 or 4x12 setup and say it gets better lower volume tone than small amps and they just keep the volume down really low. Those setups strike me as capable of putting out really deep/loud powerful bass, and bass is more omnidirectional and passes through structures more easily. Those are the people who I often wonder if they are lying about their volume level and are not ever checking with a dB meter.

    I've played stuff like the DRRI in the store at 2-3 and it sounds good but it is still getting way loud really fast and forget about getting the amp to compress or overdrive at home.
     
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  19. Henry Mars

    Henry Mars Tele-Afflicted

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    Jr can get loud. IMO the amp really shines when it is loud ... at low volume you miss out. If you are jamming with a band at home it is a good choice. If you are playing alone ai would stick with the Solid State amps.
    I had a Valve Jr (5W) that I actually gigged with and it was too loud for the house. I don't want to steer you off of tubes, but there are practical considerations. The Blues Jr is loud enough to keep up with most sane bands. S.... you might want to think about it before you plunge.
     
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  20. grolan1

    grolan1 Friend of Leo's

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    OK, I feel completely out of touch now - I do not consider 80-90db very loud, not quiet but not that loud. I know my motorcycle is way louder than that and I can drive it for hours without issues. So I'll bow out of this conversation as I guess I'm not in the normal, when I left the normal, I don't know! :D
     
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