solid state amps, how about this for a new topic?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Ringo, Jun 12, 2003.

  1. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm a die hard tube amp junkie, like a lot of folks here, but you know there are a lot more SS amps out there than tube amps.
    What got me to thinking about this was hearing an old Steely Dan song today and I remember seeing Skunk Baxter years ago using Kustom amps live on TV, now he's probably the first guy I ever saw use a rack of guitar gear when he was with the Doobie Brothers.
    And he always had good tone IMHO.
    So what do ya'll think about this?
    How many artists use/ have used ss amps, and how many hit songs have been recorded using them? More than you'd think I bet!
    I know CCR John Fogarty used Kustom amps, the Doors Robbie Krieger used Acoustic amps, lot's more I'm sure.
    Just a thought for something "different" than the same old tube amps stuff that we always rant about :idea:
     
  2. Dante

    Dante TDPRI Member

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    I can think of a few

    The most obvious famous solid state is the Roland JC-120. I think that thing has been on as many records as the twin reverb. It's pretty standard in Jazz, Lindsey Buckingham uses one, countless others.

    Now I have always been of the humble opinion that the Fender Ultra Chorus is one of the best amps ever made. I sold mine, but I have recordings of this thing that always blow me away. It sounds so good on tape, especially with Paul.

    I have a Vox Pathfinder on the way. SS but real cool, real good sounding I.

    Nothing wrong with them, nothing at all.

    Well, that's not true. They're impossible to fix. Tend to need less fixing though.

    A
     
  3. poboy

    poboy Tele-Meister

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    IMO the recent Fender SS amps (incl. the pre-DSP generation) do an excellent job of emulating the "cleanish" sound of a tube amp.

    I used to think tube amps were a necessity, but for playing out I find that a good SS amp has many advantages-- they are more reliable, consistent (don't care about line voltage), weigh less, and usually less-valuable so you don't mind leaving them in the car.
     
  4. buglecorps

    buglecorps Tele-Holic

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    I have had..

    a number of amps over the years, and they have been about a 50/50 split of Tube/SS. Both can sound very good..depending on what you want, and despite what some think tubes can sound VERY bad if mis applied.

    For example I have yet to play any modern '84 amp that I would consider sturdy enough to gig with excepting the Boogie products...plus many of these simply don't sound all that great. 0f course most modern SS stuff is pretty flimsy too.......

    I find that I prefer the combination of newer guitars, and older amps to give the most bang for the buck. The SS is bad, tubes are good vibe came primarly from the VERY first efforts of most makers. and a nasty distortion of the space time continuium. I wouldn't have a Fender Zodac for free due to reliabilty problems although someone somewhere probably loves them. Many of these early amps just didn't work well..this was new expensive technology that was rushed to market ...just in time for the prefered guitar sound to change from HI-FI clean to blusey tube distortion..the ultimate double whammy!

    By the 70's much of the trouble had been ironed out, and many of these amps sound really cool..not at all like tubes but you can use 'em, and boy are they LOUD!! (and cheap!) Besides the afore mentioned Acoustic, and Kustom, the Sunn stuff is great, esp if you are a pedal head, the '60s US Vox stuff is classic (just ask Tom Petty) Yamaha, Peavey, and Ampeg and Traynor all made some neat stuff in the 70's....tubes were again considered on the way out (only Fender was still all tube) and this stuff is well made and not all that hard to service (some parts can be tricky and some amp techs wont work on SS, check around I once had a guy who did TV's in the 70s work on mine... "piece of cake") and you won't sound or look like every one else!

    By the 80's Fender had a going line that is a good way to get the bang of the II series amps on a beer budget ( I once had a SideKick 20 ,a poor mans Super Champ..mint condition $75.00..from a shop) the Marshalls in the Lead series are UK made with real Celestions and much less $$ than anything in the VS line. After that it's not so much fun, quality goes down, and prices go up, and the sound becomes kinda generic. the individual voices of the differnt makers sorta dissapears as individual circuits with diescriet transistors are replaced with genric stuff using IC chips (Ha you can be a SS Snob!!) If you decide to land one of these..Try to play it first(long and hard)don't pay much in a no warranty/ no return situation (ebay ect.) and if you get a warranty fronm a shop expect that they will want to exchange it rather than fix it. Of course if you are handy with a iron and understand basic stuff you can get broken stuff for next to nothing and often it's a simple fix..if not you can always sell the knobs ect.
     
  5. Poppatwang

    Poppatwang Friend of Leo's

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    '60s Vox...

    a groovy thang. Just disconnect the horn in the
    speaker cab (Royal Guardsman).
    I had a Vox Viscount (2x12 combo) with chrome tilt rack.
    It sounded fabulous. I'm pining away for it still.
    Sold it to pay the rent once upon a long ago.
     
  6. porklash

    porklash Tele-Meister

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    I´m using a HH electronics SS amp.
    It´s perfect for my "percussive" rythmplaying.

    Albert King used an Acoustic amp for years.

    pEr
     
  7. 'ol hank pank

    'ol hank pank Tele-Holic

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    My 2 pennies

    I currently have a Gallien Kreuger 250 head, and it sounds great all by itself , but I use it w a modeler for playing w/ my computer. I run that thru a 4x10 cab, with the j station, I can keep myself entertained for hours.

    I also have tube amp and it is my main amp.

    I had an acoustic 180 (the 4x10 cab is what's left) and it had serious nutz. Really loud and clean. Really loud, did I say loud? :eek:

    The head now belongs to a bass player friend. You can still get them cheap, basically bulletproof. Tony Iommi (I beilve) used them alot.

    I think anything that makes noise can be fun.
     
  8. John E

    John E Tele-Afflicted

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    I've tried a few cool ones...

    I actually had to sit in for somebody at a gig and was supplied an L5 amp... I totally dug it... that was a fat amp, probably because it had built in comp that I was able to dial in real subtle.

    Also, my current gig backup is a $100 Vox Pathfinder and this thing kicks butt... it weighs about a pound and is LOUD thru a speaker cab(hell it's even pretty loud on it's own). I just throw it in my car in case my tube amp dies.

    Roland JC-120 - nuff said

    Ya know, I played a Peavey Bandit recently and it wasn't horrible.

    There is a small Hughes and Kettner combo that I played recently also, I thought it was a Tube amp and I noodled on it for about an hour and a half with one of my tele's... than the store owner(who is a vintage junkie and has tons of cool old tube amps) tells me with a big smile "that's solid state you know... sounds pretty good don't it?"

    Marshall Super Lead(I think) had to use a rental one of these at a gig one time and it smoked.

    Sure I prefer tube amps but I don't buy that you can't sound good thru a Solid state amp...
     
  9. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Santana used a solid state amp at Woodstock sounded great Albert King used solid state amps I can list lots more but I think you get my drift.

    Good players sound good no matter what they are using.
     
  10. dangerine49

    dangerine49 Tele-Afflicted

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    It's funny that this was posted today because I just picked up my old '72 Kustom 150 combo (75W X 2 channels, 4 X 10" speakers) from some minor repair work today. I had a 3 prong cord installed and the unit checked out by a guy who used to work for Ampeg in the old days. The only thing I ever did to this amp previously was replace the speakers with Jensens about four years ago. The thing still sounds great and still looks brand new.
     
  11. z8894

    z8894 Tele-Meister

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    I'm trying a different direction

    I needed another practice amp and was having the tube/SS debate. I had heard that Kustom had a small hybrid amp, the Tube 12. It has a tube pre-amp and a SS power amp. I got one for $79.95
    You can really get some tube like tones out of this thing. The concept seems to work. Tube tones and solid state reliability. It has 1 12AX7. The Harmony-Central reviews were good. A lot of people were swapping tubes and speakers for a change in tone but for my use, I'm happy with it the way it is. This is just a practice amp though.
    This is the second Kustom amp I've owned. I played bass though one back in the 70s. Red metal flake, rolled and pleated. It looked and played LOUD. The only problem I had was, you couldn't use it right at sundown. It would pick up a clear channel AM station out of Canada. As the sun went down, the station would fade out and it was ready to go.
     
  12. VoodooVox

    VoodooVox Tele-Meister

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    Vox SS Amps

    I have owned quite a few of the American made Vox SS amps over the years, Pacemakers, Cambridge Reverbs, Berkeley IIs, etc and had one of the Pathfinder RIs. Nice amps, they met my needs.

    I have always been partial to Vox's and right now I still own a Vox tube Pacemaker and an AD60VT Combo. SS amps over the years received a bad wrap due to quality and reliability of the early amps. Lots of artists have used SS amps, including the Beatles. If it sounds good, play it and don't worry about whats being said on the BBs. :lol:
     
  13. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Saw Redd V. last year...

    ...at the Birchmere. He was the only Tele player there on the Twangbangers tour who dared to play a SS amp. It was a super loud super clean Wells amp, which reportedly is a big deal with the pedal steel crowd (sorry, I don't play pedal steel).

    His tone was at least as good as, if not better than the other guys who were using Fender and Vox tube amps. To compound matters, I saw his "pedal board": just 3 pedals, all Boss, and the stuff that gets ragged on here repeatedly: a Blues Driver, the latest compressor (#3) and the latest digital delay (#3). Sorry I don't know the model #'s, but most people know them by heart.

    And he nailed or even excelled at the tones on his first album!

    If that's not proof that it's more in the skill of the player than the vintage of the equipment or $ value of the equipment, then I don't know what is. And to me, live is always the definitive test. And if I understand correctly, Redd used Fender Dual Pro amps in the studio, and I believe Fender does (did) them custom for him.

    Then again he was playing an old 50 sumpthin' Tele with a Charlie Christian pup in the neck. But lotsa folks at this forum have made the argument that it's more the amp than the guitar... But I bet Redd coulda been playing a MIM RI and it would have sounded just as good.

    I guess this is all proof that if your chops and self esteem are good enough, then just about any gear will do. YMMV.

    -.011
     
  14. joe c

    joe c Tele-Meister

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  15. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Re: Vox SS Amps

    "If it sounds good, play it and don't worry about whats being said on the BBs. "
    That last line is good advice. ...don't worry about whats being said and alll......the Beatles never played through that Thomas Organ Co. Solid State junk. The only good thing in those amps are the Celestion speakers. Thomas Organ Co. virtually ruined Vox, England with those amps. They were and are some of the most inferior SS amps ever built,imho. The designs were entirely Thomas Organ Co. and have no relationship to Vox, England or the Beatles. The original contract as Vox understood it was for distribution by Thomas Organ of the Vox, England products in the U.S. The SS stuff sold due to the Beatles 'connection, but it did not take long before people understood what they had bought. Vox was hurt by the negative reaction by the playing public.
    As for what the Beatles played, after they used the 50 and 100 Vox, England all tube amps, they were partial to Fender products. Check out the film "Let it Be" and the equipment is plain to see....Twin Reverbs for the guitars, I think.
    The Lab Series by Norlin with Moog designed-circuitry is the best SS amp I have ever played through.
    And, yes, great players are great no matter what the equipment. They are just greater with great equipment.
     
  16. buglecorps

    buglecorps Tele-Holic

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    While I admire...

    Wally's enthuasiam, and the bulk of his facts are correct, a few things are not.

    Most Thomas Vox amps were not equiped with Celestions, (some were) the most common speakers were the "bulldogs" with gold lables..(esp in the combo amps) the bulk of these were sourced from Utah. respeakering can improve the tone of these amps.

    The Beatles did use various SS/hybrid Vox amps in the studio, these were UK designed and made, but did show some US influence. They did play thru US product on at least one US tour.

    While Thomas Vox product may not have the vibe or the sound of the classic JMI AC- series amps, to cast it all into the "Junk" pile is short sighted..they have been used by a number of more ..interesting... players over the years, and are capable of producing some very usable tones. They are a unique design and do need to be well sorted, but no more than most other early SS designs (It's probably easier to put one in top condition today than anytime in recent memory). and I wouldn't call a unsorted AC-anything reliable....

    While the Thomas agreement, is viewed by many hard core Vox fans as the death of Vox, the real story is more complicated, and like so many of these things, the demise of JMI was hastend by a whole string of poor business decisions, coupled with a depressed market situation.




    :( :(
     
  17. Ringo

    Ringo Poster Extraordinaire

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    re US Vox amps

    Cool post! I saw Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers about 20 years ago, guess what they were using, SS Vox Super Beatle amps, and they sounded GREAT!!!
    And I've read that Billy Gibbons has a SS Vox that he has used on occasion, "Fool for your Stockings" was supposedly recorded on it.
    While they aren't the same as the English made tube Vox amps ( which have a reputation for catching on fire at times!) SS Vox amps can be cool!
     
  18. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Add Jerry Donahue to the List...

    ...and he doesn't even use an amp! But he does use the Morley JD-10, which is a SS device, straight into mainly SS gear. Most of his stuff is done with this amp emulating direct box.
    I am listening to the Hellecasters right now, and man can this guy play. And he could probably play thru any amp he could possibly want.
    I read an interview with him where someone asked him why he doesn't use tube amps. His reply was that they all seemed to lack the articulation and clarity that his style requires. That right there is a statement to me. This guy needs ultra clean so that every nuance of his playing comes thru, and a solid state device is the only thing that could accomodate him.
    So not only is tone in the hands (and the head), but here is at least one specific application where it has to be solid state. That to me is just cool. And listening to this guy there is just no disputing his creativity and chops. Anyone that can bend 3 strings simultaneously (without any sort of bender!) and make it come out sending beautiful is definitely a Tele Meister of the highest caliber!

    -.011
     
  19. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    J. Donahue...saw him once after an Arlington Guitar Show some years back. I have the autographed CD. It was great to hear them do live what they dubbed together on the album. Ray and Jorgansen played through small Matchless amps while Donahue played through a GT Soul-O(all tube). They are monsters....seemless trade-offs of the most astounding instrumental music I have witnessed in person. I have pictures of their rigs. If anyone is interested, let me know. I don't have a way to post them here.
    The Beatles...I do recall reading that they were forced to put some of the Thomas amps on stage but that the amps did not impress them. Maybe this is one of the reasons that they called it quits for concerts. :lol: There is only one thing that could annoy me more than some screaming teenyboppers. That would be some of those Thomas Super Beatles turned up real loud. :lol:
    The Petty band cannot have made a habit of playing with those Super Beatles for long either. Every setting that I have seen them in a live situation, they have had AC-30's, blonde Fenders, and BF Fenders.
    The only amp that I have ever parted out was a Super Beatle. The chassis/head was spoken for and I ended up buying the speaker cab and the stands. I pulled out the 'silver bulldogs' and sold everything else. I would gladly have rather had the complete amp. They were going for $1300 or so at that time! bunch of bucks for that product, imho. What did P.T. Barnum have to say about that...one born how often? :lol: Anyway, one of those 'bulldog' Celestions brought my '65 Epi (2XEL-84) to chiming life. I was glad that Thomas Co. was 'free' with their interpretation of the contract just so I could part out an amp and get such nice speakers for cheap. I'll keep my eyes open for those US Vox SS amps...I can tell that ya'll are anxious to get your hands on them. It will be a good deal for everyone! That's what we all want isn't it? Universal happiness!
    Ya'll have a good one.
     
  20. studio1087

    studio1087 Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Nice

    It's nice to know that I'm not alone. I have a Carvin SX-200. 2-12. 100 watts.
    I like it alot. I think it sounds as good as a Jazz Chorus clean (I used to have a Jazz Chorus by the way) and it sounds far better than a Jazz Chorus dirty (which is a dumb statetment because no one buys a jazz chorus to play dirty anyway). The Carvin is very loud and clear like a JC.

    I also purchased a Marshall MG 50 DFX recently, 50 watts, a celestion and a punchy closed cabinette (and yes the dfx, which I don't really use but I guess it's a plus). $350.00! They sound really nice.

    The MG50 lead the way to a toy MG 10 for recording in the basement when the Kids are sleeping. $69.00 toy amp.
    Suprisingy nice tone for recording.

    I like all three of them a lot...my big rig, the medium rig and the teeny tiny rig.

    I'm one of the unfortunate people who can make tubes go funky just by looking at them. I had several Fender and Music Man tube amps when I played out and it was always something. I'm very fussy about things being quiet for recording. Carvin offered a free CD of studio musicians playing the SX series a while back. I ordered a CD on line and listened. I then caved to the solid state world. When your friends still play out (tubes tubes tubes) and you come home with a solid state amp it's kind of like Luke Skywalker switching to the dark side of "the force".

    I'm happy where I'm at. I'll sit back now and receive the usual pro-tube criticism. :D

    Signing off from the dark side of the amp,
    John
     
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