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OK so I've gone the other way on the big vs small amp low volume thing

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by Whatizitman, Oct 15, 2020.

  1. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    [​IMG]

    OK not always. But here's the thing. Cranking small amps for the power tube toanz typically makes them too loud for home play, anyway. And you still have puny low end and boxiness. Even master volume amps. Yeah, cab size can help with that. But there's something to be said about bigger iron for room filling joy, even at lower volumes. If cranking any tube amp to get the good toanz is not always an option, you're gonna have to use pedals, anyway. And some big iron amps sound better at low volumes, with or without pedals, than others.

    SF/BF Fenders, to be exact. Bigger Marshalls, not so much. At least not in my experience. Marshall cleans/low volume is anemic and lacks sustain. Big old Fenders, OTOH, are warm and full, and sustaaaaaaaaaiiiinnnn even at lower volumes. Forget about the "must engage power tube" nonsense. Use a good drive pedal for some dirt, and rock the man cave with some low volume, chewy room filling goodness.

    That is all. :twisted:
     
  2. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    An SFTR with volume on 1 or 1 1/2 is a big, beautiful, living room-filling clean. Room-filling doesn't mean loud.
     
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  3. Diytelecaster

    Diytelecaster Tele-Meister

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    As an Englishman, an American saying I love is 'there's no replacement for displacement'
     
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  4. MrCoolGuy

    MrCoolGuy Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Tweed Bassmans sounds fantastic at bedroom level... better cranked, but still good. Not to mention how well they take pedals.
     
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  5. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

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    All depends on what you want.

    The Tele crowd seems to be mostly about clean, and so I couldn't disagree with you.

    But a small amp with a preamp setup for distortion + master volume beats pedals IMO. Power amp distortion is super hard to get at quiet volumes with even 0.5w-1w. But preamp tube distortion is not at all hard to get at a moderate level.

    The pedal is just a preamp. It's no different. You could get an expensive pedal with a tube in it, at which point you're just doing the exact same thing an amp with a dirty preamp channel + master volume is doing, you just had to get a pedal to do it. If you're going to do that I'd argue a tube pedal is going to sound better than a SS pedal.

    This whole thing with "too hard to get distortion whether the amp is big or small" is only an issue with Fender's classic style amps that are only designed for power section distortion IMO.

    You can argue having this extra stuff in the amp is expensive.. but Fender's amps are priced awfully high for what they are + where they're built + their build quality anyway, so it's not that hard to find a competing amp that does all this dirt stuff at a range of volumes at a similar price.

    Another part of the problem is IMO a lot of the drive pedals sound bad at low volume anyway. Some sound better at low volume, but then if you take them out they don't sound as good at higher volumes, so you're working on an artificial setup when playing at lower volume levels.
     
  6. glenlivet

    glenlivet Tele-Holic

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    Well said.
    Completely agree....which is why I'm having such a hard time letting go of my old SF Twin..... a lot of other amps get the sound (or close to it), but none of them move the air and fill up a room like the SFTR.
     
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  7. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I think my Classic 50 twin fills my little music room just right. I'm probably wrong.
     
  8. Dukex

    Dukex Tele-Holic

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    I wouldn't know, and I will remain gleefully ignorant while playing my Vintage Sound PR, Lil Dawg 5e3, and AC4HW1.:D
     
  9. scelestus

    scelestus Tele-Holic

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    I don't disagree, but I find that if you want to use an attenuator small amps can make that path a little less expensive, too.

    But there's something about the thump of a big cabinet for sure!
     
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  10. Boil

    Boil Tele-Holic

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    Agreed, Twins at low volumes sound marvelous, they make the perfect bedroom amp, just about the right height to put a lamp and clock radio on seeing as its too heavy to carry anywhere.

    Mine stays in the basement set to 1 with the 25w switch flipped. The little Traynor YGL1 gets to travel.
     
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  11. Marc Morfei

    Marc Morfei Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Eh, whatever works.
    These days I am a proponent of using the right tool for the job. Sure, a big amp with lots of headroom may sound great at low volume. So if that's what you have, you're in business. But a small amp with natural gain sounds pretty great too, and (1) doesn't require pedals, (2) probably costs less, (3) definitely weighs less, and (4) you don't need a $400 attenuator. With a smaller amp, you just need enough headroom to get a clean sound when you want it.
     
  12. Askwhy

    Askwhy Tele-Meister

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    Lots of folks used big amps with the volume down and were happy until the interwebz told them they had to have the power tubes cooking or the tone was anemic. I used a SF Twin with JBLs as my main and bedroom amp for years and it sounded great at low volume. No attenuator or MV, just nice room filling cleans at low volume. Pedal for OD. A simpler time, lol
     
  13. CJM3309

    CJM3309 Tele-Meister

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    I have a silverface twin that is my only amp. I do not play out and just play at home. For any other silverface twin users, are you running the master all the way up and then bringing up the volume for living room level? I may be odd (it sounds good to me ears at least), but I set the master and channel volume at about 5-6 each. I am curious how others set their twins.
     
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  14. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Yup.
    Same with Super Reverbs.
    On paper, they're totally different, but I find them very similar onstage.
     
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  15. loopfinding

    loopfinding Tele-Holic

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    IME The amp and speaker just have to hit a perceived level of loudness to sound good (which isn’t super loud or super quiet). Whether it’s a big or small amp, doesn’t matter to me, just a case by case basis. I always really liked pulling the shared gain stage tube on an ab165 bassman, since the signal still gets through to the power section, but at small room levels. Maybe you just like the sound of 6L6s more. I guess it’s ultimately better to not get stuck with your pants down with a 15 watter if you can make due at bedroom levels with a larger amp. I think 25-40 watts is a nice range.
     
  16. dickey

    dickey Friend of Leo's

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    Small amps have small sound.
    Big amps just sound better!
    My SFTR w/JBLs sounds much better on 1 than a Princeton Reverb would cranked. Just add a compressor & you're good to go; don't even need a dirty pedal.

    People like to say "less is more" but less is just that...LESS!
    More is better.
     
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  17. Cali Dude

    Cali Dude Tele-Holic

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    I like a few theories. I enjoy a loud amp with an attenuator, or a smaller amp for home use. If possible, I think using the right amp for the room makes a lot of sense. But, some don't have that many amps. However, my favorite amp for home use is my Tone King Gremlin. It has 8 watts, 2 channels, an attenuator, and a 12" speaker.
     
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  18. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    WTH is a big amp and WTH is a small amp?

    Back when the biggest amp made was a "big amp" and one was never enough, 50w was a small amp.

    So up until the time when our mind makes a promise that our body can't fill, 50w is both big and not big, small and not small.
     
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  19. tubeToaster

    tubeToaster TDPRI Member

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    A 5 watt amp into a 2x12 cabinet can sound big at low volumes but you will still have to have a big amp for gigs. So if you have just one amp it should be big.
     
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  20. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    My experience, too. I had a UL Pro Reverb way back when that was my everything amp - bedroom, gig, table, clothes hanger. You name it. I remember never thinking it sounded "bad" at whisper volumes. That's how I practiced at home. For band practice and gigs I turned it up.

    It wasn't until the early 00s that I must have drank small amp kool-aid. Granted, I did have a JMP 50watt and 4x12 around that time. It did NOT sound very good at bedroom levels. But that's not necessarily why I sold it. I wasn't gigging at the time, and I needed money. Otherwise, I would have kept it and just used it when I could. Until a few days ago, that was the last big amp I owned. After years of floundering around in the world of small amps, I'm done. At least for now. It's good to be back.
     
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