My issue with modern SS amps...

Frodebro

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Comparing modern amps that were built to fill a low price point to vintage amps that were big bucks when they were new isn't really an honest or accurate approach. And just because a current production amplifier has tubes in it doesn't mean that it is built to the same quality level as the old amps, either (I'm talking about YOU, Fender).

I have tube amps ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to over $2,000, and also digital units spanning the same range. The cheaper ones are cheaper, the expensive ones are built like tanks.
 

Blazer

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Comparing modern amps that were built to fill a low price point to vintage amps that were big bucks when they were new isn't really an honest or accurate approach. And just because a current production amplifier has tubes in it doesn't mean that it is built to the same quality level as the old amps, either (I'm talking about YOU, Fender).

I have tube amps ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to over $2,000, and also digital units spanning the same range. The cheaper ones are cheaper, the expensive ones are built like tanks.
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You do the math...
 

Maguchi

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There are a ton of good sounding SS amps out there these days, and thinking about another amp. However, I'm reluctant to drop hundreds of dollars on a good one, as the newer models seem to all be "throw away" models...cheap enough to purchase, but not economical to repair. OTOH, there are tube amps that have been around since the 50s and 60s that just keep on truckin' and sound every bit as killer today as they did when they were built. A component takes a dump, you replace it and rock on!
Of course, you don't get the plethora of sound a SS or modeling amp does, nor features like attenuation and such.
Is there an SS amp that has a great track record on longevity and few maintenance issues, or like everything else today, it's still a crap shoot?

find my SS amps to be every bit as reliable (or more so) as my tube amps, and every bit as cheap to have worked on.

I don’t use anything digital. Analog SS is the key. Maybe digital reverb, but then loads of newer tube amps go that direction as well.

If you aren’t spending boucoup bucks on a hand wired tube amp, you aren’t getting anything more reliable or easier to work on than your average analog SS amp.

Are the new Peavy Bandits built like the old ones? My late 90’s ‘silver-stripe’ is a beast. It’s dropped off of table tops, tailgates and chairs. The only thing to break was the speaker coil came loose.
Get a pre-2015 Peavey SS amp. Even as far back as the '80s Peavey was making good sounding, indestructible amps that are holding up well after being played and toured all over the place.

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Mowgli

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I find my SS amps to be every bit as reliable (or more so) as my tube amps, and every bit as cheap to have worked on.

I don’t use anything digital. Analog SS is the key. Maybe digital reverb, but then loads of newer tube amps go that direction as well.

If you aren’t spending boucoup bucks on a hand wired tube amp, you aren’t getting anything more reliable or easier to work on than your average analog SS amp.

I currently have a Peavey Bandit, and an Orange Crush 35RT. I also have tube amps by Engl, Budda, and a local boutique builder. I don’t worry about any of them.

I have an amp tech. He says when it comes to analog amps, parts is parts. You take out the old, you put in the new. Same/same between tube and SS. Then again, he’s a real engineer. Most amps techs aren’t. They’re just guys who learned to work on old style tube amps, so that’s all they do, and they have a whole narrative that goes with it that says other things are too expensive or impossible to work on. What this translates to in reality is “I don’t know how to do it, don’t want to learn, and I want to protect my income, so buy old style stuff.” This is why you find real tech shops that will fix your mixer, rack gear, pedals, stereo receiver, CB radio, and everything else, and then you will find an “amp tech” who only works on non-PCB tube amps. Cause that’s all he can do.

Digital and modeling is a whole different ball game. Basically computers. Which should not be hard or expensive. Getting computers fixed is relatively easy to do. And usually not terribly costly. But we’re living in a weird time where the industry for it hasn’t caught on yet. As of right now, computer techs don’t work on amps, and amp techs don’t work on computers. There will eventually be a crossover and business will be brisk. But until then, we’re kinda stuck.
I agree with what you said but would add three things to consider.

As solid state builds become smaller and smaller even knowledgeable repair people may find that working on some “surface mounted” components requires expensive tools that can’t be justified buying and experience they may not have to pull off the repair. Tiny surface mounted components are the future of electronics in general.

Some of the old transistors and opamps are no longer made and some even lack usable substitutes. In those cases no repair person can fix it for lack of replacement parts.

Lastly, home repairs of most handwired tube amps require old tech equipment which is relatively inexpensive (DMM, VOM, old scope, old signal generator, decent school Weller or Haiko iron) and, with a little bit of education, can routinely be repaired and even modded at home - VERSUS - (IMO) solid state tech requires more education and more controlled repair environments (e.g. to prevent electrostatic discharge, more attention to the power rails, etc) and additional equipment to check components. Plus, SS amps are rarely modifiable.

I’m not a tube purist; I really like my Peavey, Yamaha and Quilter SS amps. I haven’t had to repair my old or new SS amps either (very reliable). But there are some cons to them per above. FWIW, I played my ‘68 Bandmaster and Music Man 65 watt hybrid (SS-tube) through vintage Jensens earlier tonight. Both sounded great.
 

zhyla

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Digital and modeling is a whole different ball game. Basically computers. Which should not be hard or expensive. Getting computers fixed is relatively easy to do. And usually not terribly costly.
No. Having someone swap a component out like a motherboard is cheap and easy. Same with phones. But that’s because replacement components exist.

Go fry your ToneMaster DSP board and take it to your tech. He may be able to swap simple components on that board but there’s things there only Fender has. Absolutely repairable, but not today by normal people.

They’re also much harder to troubleshoot.
 

Jakedog

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No. Having someone swap a component out like a motherboard is cheap and easy. Same with phones. But that’s because replacement components exist.

Go fry your ToneMaster DSP board and take it to your tech. He may be able to swap simple components on that board but there’s things there only Fender has. Absolutely repairable, but not today by normal people.

They’re also much harder to troubleshoot.
Which is basically the very next thing I said- We’re not there *yet*.
 
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Telecastoff1

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The last two years, I sold off my complete collection of vintage Fender tube amps. I kept one Fender tube amp, one that is not vintage. I gig regularly, most every weekend....and the ones doing the work are my beloved 80's Peavey Special 130's. Great sounding, reliable, excellent amps that will do the job anytime and anywhere. Hands down the best amps I have owned. Old school Solid State.
 

Jim622

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I’ve had a Tech 21 TM60 as my main amp for over 25 years now. They are out of production. It’s not a modeler. I believe the word they use is emulator. You can coax some great sounds out of them. Other than spraying the pots with cleaner, I’ve never had to fix a thing. If you find a used one, jump on. Made in NYC.
 
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WireLine

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As a mostly clean player, SS suits me just fine. The thing that bothers me about the is the lack of tweaking ability. Can’t swap tubes for different flavors, or add a midrange control to a 65 Bassman

That, and what you hear are basically idealized versions of what someone else heard in a classic tube amp of the past, and converted that sound to 1s and 0s.
 

teletail

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You know, everyone talks about tube amps lasting 50 or 60 years, I never hear about how much it costs to keep one running for that long. My DRRI was rock solid for almost 30 years, but it’s been in the shop twice this year and the reverb is not working again. My ‘66 Bandmaster was in last year and it just shut down this week.

I’m not complaining, I love my tube amps, but I’m really sick of people acting like the tube amp they bought in 1966 for $200 hasn’t cost them a penny since.

If you want to compare costs of SS vs tube, you need to calculate the ENTIRE cost of ownership.
 

Askwhy

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Comparing modern amps that were built to fill a low price point to vintage amps that were big bucks when they were new isn't really an honest or accurate approach. And just because a current production amplifier has tubes in it doesn't mean that it is built to the same quality level as the old amps, either (I'm talking about YOU, Fender).

I have tube amps ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to over $2,000, and also digital units spanning the same range. The cheaper ones are cheaper, the expensive ones are built like tanks.
Great point!!! A Deluxe Reverb in 1965, todays dollars would be around $2200. There are very high quality ss amps that will likely outlive you, but not for 300 bucks. There were tube amps for the equivalent of a couple hundred bucks todays dollars back then too. Where are they? Landfills and you have likely never heard of them.
 

Papanate

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There are a ton of good sounding SS amps out there these days, and thinking about another amp. However, I'm reluctant to drop hundreds of dollars on a good one, as the newer models seem to all be "throw away" models...cheap enough to purchase, but not economical to repair. OTOH, there are tube amps that have been around since the 50s and 60s that just keep on truckin' and sound every bit as killer today as they did when they were built. A component takes a dump, you replace it and rock on!
Of course, you don't get the plethora of sound a SS or modeling amp does, nor features like attenuation and such.
Is there an SS amp that has a great track record on longevity and few maintenance issues, or like everything else today, it's still a crap shoot?
Line 6 Helix.
 

BrettFuzz

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Modelling amps are computers...it's all in the firmware/software; the hardware is useless without it. Much like your smartphone. Can you imagine if you could fix your smartphone from even just 10 years ago... would you want to use it today?
 

PhredE

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Just to nit-pick and stir the pot a bit..

SS analog <> SS digital

There are fine amps based on both architectures. A modeling amp can be analog just as well as digital.
 
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