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New amp, Tube or Kemper?

Discussion in 'Modeling Amps, Plugins and Apps' started by golfnut, May 9, 2020.

  1. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

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    So I'm looking at getting a second amp to go along side my Tone King Sky King. I'm thinking something in the "loosely based on a Vox, to go along side the blackface\tweed\marshall of the Sky King.
    I may be coming to a crossroads wondering whether I should just get another tube amp or take the leap in to modeling, such as the Kemper.
    One of the major things I like about tube amps is that they're simple. I generally like simplicity in the tone stack such as found on Dr Z's. One of my favorite Dr Z amps is the Carmen Ghia with its 2 knob config, vol and tone.
    So going with modeling may take the philosophy in a potentially unpleasant direction.
    I really don't like to fiddle and spend lots of time with set up. Not knowing much about the Kemper profiling I don't know if this is something that I would like or not.
    I know that one of the pros of the Kemper system is I could have several types of amps at my disposal. Which is a fantastic benefit. Even if I stick with tube amps there will only be 2, so I'll be limited.
    One of the potential cons is that the Kemper would not have the exact feel and sound of a tube amp. Anything less and I may be in for disappointment.
    My budget regardless of which way I go is $2,500 ($1,800 US) give or take a couple hundred but certainly no more than $2,700 ($2,000 US) all in.
    When it comes to tube amps I know exactly what I want and what is potentially available to me in my budget so I don't need any advice in that way.
    However when it comes to the Kemper I'm as dumb as a stump. I've seen things like "unpowered and powered". FRFR blah blah. I have an inkling of what all that means but really don't know.
    So I wouldn't mind some advice on what it would take to have a full complete system down to amp with a cabinet. What the advantages are what the cons are, etc.
    Maybe some online resources for educating my self with kemper. How much time is spent with fiddling with parameters. How close is it to tubes. I'm sure its indistinguishable to an audience in a club but I want it to be indistinguishable to me. Maybe I'd be expecting too much of it and should stick with tubes. If you think so tell me that to.
    One of the greatest fears I have is will I invest in this thing, which is basically a computer and 3 years down the road its obsolete and I have to invest in another one. Unlike tube amps that are what they are for the next 50 years.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
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  2. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Poster Extraordinaire

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    There are already Kemper profiles of great amplifiers that you can download. I don't think you have to do a whole lot of fiddling.
     
  3. Jesse414

    Jesse414 TDPRI Member

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    I'm going to have to say tube because tubes are yummy , delicious , and full of magical mojo and unicorn dust. And the smell of a hot tube amp is awesome and the sound from cooking tubes makes most guitar players happy and they are way faster to dial in. This is just my opinion so its ok if people don't agree with me. :)
     
  4. bftfender

    bftfender Poster Extraordinaire

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    every amp i get these days is going back in years as i settle into my zone. only going to keep 9 in the studio. It has been a blast having amps around & learning what fits me & being able to direct compare & not go off memory.

    Just had a 73 Fender Pro Reverb w/Weber f150's lt doping running vol on 5 with a Fender Duo Sonic & clean boost & J&H & Klon Cl..wife had to come get me..i lost time...the dynamics ..the simplicity..the fullness & the nuances..guitar vol on 5 for clean ..then the break slowly starts & dime for leads..no knob twiddling...thinking bout anything cept working that guitar
     
  5. ASATKat

    ASATKat Friend of Leo's

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    You said you're concerned it won't sound or feel like a tube amp. This is not 1999. Digital gear has reached that benchmark, or at least a few companies. Kemper is definitely one of the best. But there are choices, Fractal is a company to check out, same with Line6 Helix, and the Boss GT1000. Those are my top 3 choices.

    As crazy as it sounds the Boss GT1000 has the Boss Katana as part of its arsenal. The Katana is a digital combo that gives you five modes, clean, crunch, drive, and brown.

    The clean is wonderful. It's capable of many distinct shades of clean, from a great SRV Lenny tone to Bill Frisell and Julian Lage tones to Wes to clean Beatles, and all sound great, totally gigable.

    The crunch is just voiced so well, from great Fender Deluxe and Princeton like tones all the way to the Stones and AC/DC etc. It's just a classic blues wonder machine, many artist tones.

    The drive mode is an absolute amazing piece of digital art. Never have I owned an amp and pedals that can truly cop SRV's burning Fender Tremoverb, and with a few eq tweaks and you get sweet 60s Peter Green tones, from Oh Well to his sweet slow blues tones. A couple more twists and you get Dumble flavors ala Robben and heavy Carlton blues tone. Etc,,,

    The brown mode is really for the metalheads which I am not. I found a great Santana sound, a couple actually. And I can also get a stunning Gary Moore Still Got The Blues tone. That is a monstrous tone, go to YouTube and give it a listen. The Katana does it just great.But it seems most people like the metal sounds, I think the "mass" of the sound will suffer without 3 more speakers and 100 more watts. IYNWIM. Fortunately that's not a problem when recording, very believable heavy sounds.

    The best part of this amp is,,,, I love the tone. I owned a Kemper for a year and dialed in many of these tones, similar enough. So with both the Kemper and the Katana I aimed for the same kind of sounds. The difference is the Kemper is EASY to get sort of lost because at every turn there are two more ways to go. Then I would focus the sound over the next month always thinking I could dial it in better. It's endless lol. The Katana I have the mode, drive, 3 knob eq, and some reverb. 10 minutes and I was smiling.

    Every Kat tone I described used no outboard pedals or deep editing, all tones got dialed in with the factory settings on the front panal. If you want to hear my amp and what I think is great tone, I have a ripe soundcloud to share.
     
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  6. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    There is a large difference between modelers and the Kemper technology. There is plenty of info on the web but the profiler from Kemper takes a complete picture of a particular amp including various gain stages, speakers, and so forth, if effect it is that amp. There are folks out there marketing profiles of just about every amp you can think of. I don't think you can buy the complete setup for your budget but you could get the head and build into the rest of the system. There are modelers available that are simple as well. My old Flextone II for example you select the amp model and then dial everything in just like you would a tube amp. Good luck on your search!
     
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  7. Jubal81

    Jubal81 Tele-Meister

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    I think the only upside to the Kemper is the tweaking - downloading profiles, updating firmware, saving presets in a memory bank.

    If you're digital curious, maybe dip a toe in. With your budget, you could get a Dr. Z Jetta and have enough leftover for a used digital toy to mess around with.
     
  8. Qstick

    Qstick TDPRI Member

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    I’ve been sticking with amps but with the caveat of a Suhr reactive load IR to monitors to save my hearing.

    I haven’t made the jump to digital because I have a bassman from about 50 years ago that’s still super relevant and useful. Digital is always evolving and the companies want to sell you something else, etc...it’s just a rabbit hole I don’t want to go down. I know that any quality tube amp I buy today will serve for decades if desired.
     
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  9. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

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    Impulse responses are the thing to look at, especially when one has a $2500 budget to work with and a need to control volume and to do direct in recording.
     
  10. noname_dragon

    noname_dragon Tele-Meister

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    What speaker system works with a Kemper for an outdoor stage, for example? With a sorta loud band.
     
  11. Milspec

    Milspec Poster Extraordinaire

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    It all depends on what you want out of your amp. Tones will be similar enough to be a wash and the subjective feel is reportedly also a wash, so if you don't mind the look or the technology of a Kemper, then go that route.

    This is a lot like the dscussion I had with my flooring installer about 20 years ago.

    Installer: This new engineered flooring looks and feels just like real hardwood.
    Me: But it isn't actually real hardwood
    Installer: No, but you will never know the difference
    Me: You just told me they were different, so I will know.

    That is how I feel about modelers and things like richlite. Regardless of how good they feel or look, they are subtitutes for the real thing....I want the real thing.
     
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  12. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

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    Funny you bring up the difference between the flooring types. My understanding of engineered wood is that its actually different layers of real wood sandwiched together with the grains running opposite for strength. So you are actually walking on a layer of real wood.
    My experience, 8 years ago I got rid of all carpet on the main floor. I started with the master bedroom which is on the main floor. I put in high quality laminate which looked almost indistinguishable from hard wood.
    I then switched gears and decided for living room, dining room and the hall down to bedrooms I'd do real 3/4' hardwood. I figured no big deal that the bedroom was laminate. After it was all done and I'd be walking from the bedroom to the hall it was like walking off something cold and dead feeling on to the hardwood that felt warm and rich feeling. After a couple months I ripped up the laminate and had the installers come back and do all the bedrooms in the same hardwood. The hardwood feels just more alive if that makes sense. Its a joy to walk on. The laminate felt cold and sterile.
    With amp modelers will I have the same experience?
    Any way I'm currently researching the Line 6 modelers, Helix and HX stomp.
    I think if I go this route I'm going to have to do a lot of research and maybe just going to have to do some in home demos to see for my self.
     
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  13. slickoneuk

    slickoneuk Tele-Meister

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    I love tube amps but I want them all! I cannot have them all! This is why I would go the Kemper route. I can have 99% of the sound from any amp all in one box. Also my ears are a bit buggered from competitive shooting so I will only ever get 70% on a good day. I would however still have a cab which looks like a proper amp as they just look awesome!
     
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  14. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    Even though I strongly disagree, you are certainly not alone in this belief.

    The problem is.... if this is what you believe then you will always believe it. Any modeler/profiler is going to let you down, only because you KNOW you are plugged into one! That's how confimation bias works! Before going the route of a Kemper (or any modeler) you need to get over this notion that it will never be as good!

    IMO... how you monitor your amp is the deciding factor. If you buy a tube combo the speaker is already matched and if you buy a head you will spend the money on a cabinet that matches nicely. YET - with modelers and profilers this is where people often cut costs then claim it doesn't sound/feel as good. Speaker choice/style/quality is not the place to compromise.

    FWIW... I'm a Helix user and I love it! Keep in mind that modeling (Line 6, Fractal) is not the same as profiling (Kemper). The end results are similar, but the approach is very different.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
  15. naveed211

    naveed211 Tele-Afflicted

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    Are you going to gig?

    Honestly, I’d consider a Kemper/similar if I was going to gig. In fact, I have a pedalboard with a preamp that could conceivably go direct if I get a Cab sim on there.

    That’s why I like the notion of Kempers, and it would take me knowing I was going to do heavy gigging to deal with the learning curve. Because I also prefer the simplicity of amps, but also know Kempers and alike are super practical for gigging.

    In that scenario, it’d be worth it to me. If I was playing at home or recording as a hobby, or just jamming with buds occasionally, I’d stick with amps.
     
  16. Stedgett

    Stedgett NEW MEMBER!

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    Like you I do not like to spend a lot of time with set up and "finding" that sweet place. I am becoming more and more just guitar to amp player I have been a digital/modeler user since they first came on the general market and find I end up using 2 models setups although I have anywhere from 10 to 22 amp models to choose from. I have only read of Kemper and have never tried one. A article regarding Mark Knopfler's use of the Kemper (which shocked the guitar world) stated this:

    “Mark’s long-serving guitar tech, Glenn Saggers along with Mark (when he wasn’t in Edinburgh with me preparing the Local Hero musical) has devoted much of his time in the past six months to recreating Mark’s unique sounds and has done an amazing job.”

    That alone ended my research. Granted, Glenn was trying to profile Mark's unique tones and quality of artistry, I am sure the Kemper is a top notch quality device and can achieve great tones. I am not trying to discourage you by any means. I just identified about not liking to spend a lot of time fiddling and setting up. I enjoy playing too much to spend time trying to figure out how things work.
     
  17. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

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    I'm not going to gig more than 5 or 6 times a year or more, fill in as needed. Mostly for home play.
    I only have interest in a couple of sound. Blackface inspired as done well with my Tone King Sky King and Some sort of vox sound. I'm currently considering the Z Wreck Jr. And then a pedalboard.
    The more I research this the more it feels I'm better off with 2 quality tube amps.
     
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  18. swingtime

    swingtime Tele-Meister

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    I heard Mark on the last tour (with Kemper) and the one before. I think his electric guitar sound was far better on the previous tour. Just my opinion FWIW ...
     
  19. naveed211

    naveed211 Tele-Afflicted

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    I think you’re right. We’re very similar in our applications and aspirations.

    Never tried a Z Wreck. There are quite a few Vox flavored amps well under your budget that would be nice and you could still have a wad of cash for some nice pedals.

    Between your two amps and well-chosen pedals, you’ll probably have all the sounds you desire, I’d bet.
     
  20. BramptonRob1958

    BramptonRob1958 Tele-Meister

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    I am a home player in my early 60’s. Started when I was in my teens in the 70’s and was weaned on tube amps.

    After a long lay-off I returned to playing about 3 years ago and like many the tone chasing and hunting for amps start with

    Fender Hotrod Deluxe IV then
    Vox AC15 then
    Orange Tiny Terror then
    Orange AD30 Head then
    Fender 65 Twin Reverb RI then
    Fender 68 Custom Deluxe Reverb RI Then
    Boss Katana MKII then
    Fender 57 Custom Champ

    I also did the same thing with pedals, but I won’t bore you with the details.

    Then I started investigating a system that would allow me to get off the carousel but still give me the ability to swap out sounds, tones and amps without having to buy, sell, trade, win some and mostly lose every time I was looking for something other than what I had.

    Enter the Kemper, a leap of faith for me and it took a little while till I settled on the right speaker setup. For me that turned out to be a Friedman ASM-10 or my Beyerdynamic DT880 headphones.

    Kemper is a digital platform that will allow you to capture or profile any amp that you have access to and also play profiles that have already been captured by others. It also allows you to use your “Pedals” or use the on-board effects with your pedals.

    After 5 months, I can say with confidence that my Amp and Pedal needs are taken care of. Now when I read about a different amp that I’d like to try, it’s probably already been profiled so I can have access to it without a major investment.

    I was concerned in the beginning that it was another piece of hardware and and software that be obsolete as soon as I bought it and need to be replaced in a couple of years, however, the Kemper Hardware platform was introduced In 2011 and still in use today. The software has been updated many times since then without requiring the purchase of any additional software or new and improved hardware to keep up with the software.

    When I started investigating I was confused and had many, many, many questions. I spent hours reading and researching and educating myself and even then as I said before, it still felt like a leap of faith!

    The tones, effect and variety of amps/cabs that are truly useful are amazing. The Kemper is shipped with over 300 profiles to start, not all are fantastic but there are gems in the stock offering as well.

    There is also the Kemper Rig Exchange where people share their profiling efforts that is accessible as an open exchange and free of charge.

    There are also professional companies that produce profiles for every amp you’d ever heard of and some you never knew existed.

    The best part is that any amp profile that you use can be modified to your own personal taste. We all hear sounds and tones differently, and what’s ideal for me, may be close but not exactly what you want!
    So adjust away.

    I’ve had multiple amps (at the same time) and it’s not easy to setup, play and stay with the same amp you started with. Even while practicing.

    With the Kemper, I store about 350 rigs on the profiler at any time, however, you can store more or less depending on your needs. So I have one setup and if decide to use a different amp or tone I turn a dial.

    Don’t discount the Kemper just because the Tubes are easier! Don’t get me wrong, I love tube amps. But I’ll never have the budget or access to all the Amps that I can get through the Kemper.

    if you get really adventurous you can buy a second speaker and run Stereo!

    The Kemper will also Acoustic and Bass as well.

    Good luck in your journey. If you have any questions I’d be happy to try and answer them.

    The best place to start is the user forums at the Kemper-amps.com not every registered user is a Kemper owner and some of users have other systems as well. Meaningful information resources at no cost Or obligation.
     
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