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Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Mr_Martin, Nov 4, 2020.
I'll put it this way - How many performers lug around back-ups for their SS amps vs. tube amps?
I've been playing and gigging with a Roland Blues Cube Artist for over two years, about 60 gigs. I've lost count of the number of guitar players that have come up and said they love my tone and can't believe the amp is solid state. (I tired of tube maintenance and weight very quickly... spoiled by my GK 250ML that is still going after 35 years.)
I rely on the two channels with independent boost to go in steps from clean to a nice saturated distorted tone. Makes for a simple pedal board. We play classic rock and it's perfect (Allman Brothers, Santana, etc.). I usually run at the 45 watt setting (it has 5, 15, 45 and full = 80). There is more dynamic range at the higher power levels, more 'sag' like feel. It weighs about 35lb, has a good, switchable effects loop - really useful if looping. I usually mic it and run through the PA. We mostly play larger bars to outdoor stage gigs. My guitars are HSS strats, and I use most of the available pickup combinations across a gig. The critical tones for me are the neck clean and full distortion, the neck+middle with some dirt, and the bridge distorted.
Now, I am amazed at some of the great tube amps and what it's like to play them when you can really hear everything. But a lot of that gets lost in a band situation unless you're like SRV or John Mayer where the focus is on the guitar enoygh to realky heart it. As others have said, tube at home, ss for the gig... that works.
I've more than kept up with blastbeat metal drummers using SS amps as low as 25 watts.
*Give me a second I'm sure there must be something.
I sent my last tube amp down the road going on ten years ago, when I realized I wasn’t playing it anymore except when I felt guilty about not playing it. My tastes had moved on.
But I one thing I remember about my tube amp ownership phase was how I was into the history and antiquated technology, as you say. It was a lot of fun to learn about. And the smell of an old tube circuit coming up to operating temperature just puts me in musical happyland.
Some cool ideas to think about there. I recently discovered the BandLab app and found that it does some pretty damn competent multitrack recording on my iPhone 6S. Having the “recording rig” be so portable and accessible has been a huge and unexpected leap forward for me. I am fully willing to trade a big screen and lots of i/o connections for an easy handheld way to get stuff down quick and dirty, be able to do a reasonable job with FX processing and quick, effortless file sharing and collaboration with remote musical collaborators. It’s the perfect blend of compromises for me; something I’ve wanted for 25 years.
Dealing with cork sniffers who seem to be the only ones who deeply care about their fetish objects not being revered by us mere plebs?
Are you suggesting that an SS amp can't keep up? You can't be.... can you?
There's a TM Deluxe in my immediate future- trading my 1968 TR for it even up. Love that Twin, but my back (and the rest of me) is applauding the decision. Love me some Fender cleans!
I have memories of being ( in the '90's) in DC-area 'retro-sounding' Blues bands and the style that goes with it.
( side: I could never wear 'Blues-player' clothes, or hats)
And at jams/festivals, you got very dismissive looks if you did NOT play either a blonde Tele, a 3-tone SB Strat ( RW fingerboard), a Tweed or BF Fender ( not even SF) a real pi**ring contest. (I think we were just insecure)
Now, time goes by, you get old, and you just say " F**k it, I'm playing my 19lb. Pathfinder!"
And sound great!
* I love those tube Fenders, but had to sell- so you adjust
Over the last 50 plus years, I've had my fair share of both tube and SS amps. For most of my gigging life though, SS amps have been the staple.
I no longer gig and just play at church on Sundays these days. My amps consist of an 80's Peavey Studio Pro 112 and a Monoprice 15 watt tube amp. I run them in Stereo. Paid $40 for the Peavey and $150 for the Monoprice. Both are great amps for my needs and they sound glorious run stereo.
If I had to have just one amp, I'd opt for the Peavey. Loud, clean, fat tones and reliable. As the saying goes, 'It takes pedals well".....
Don't know why SS gets a bad rep. Just find (tube or SS) and use what works for you and let it go!
I'm ( pleasantly) surprised to see two recent threads here ( the other is really long) in praise of SS amps.
Just not expecting this. And many comments coming from tube amp owners as well.
You just learn with time, when something sounds good, don't complain!
I can mostly relate to this, for similar reasons. I'm about seven years older than you, so I really came up in a time when a lot of the more common guitar gear was mostly still tube, with tubes being cheaply and readily available. Some car radios had tubes in them, as did jukeboxes and other stuff. I even had a reel-to-reel tape recorder as my first recording device, and didn't get something cassette-based until '78 or so.
...So even during the 80's, when we had a really big rise in SS amp production (e.g. lots of models, at all sorts of different wattages, with most being very affordable, to even include heads and such), using a SF Twin Reverb or Super Reverb was actually not totally uncommon. And the Peavey Stereo Chorus 400 that I ended up using in '87 or so was basically as bulky and heavy as a Twin Reverb, anyway!
The funny thing now is that straight-up SS tech is not really much less antiquated than tube stuff, and their designers are using mostly caveman hacks to get their power amp sections to behave like their tube counterparts. It's kind of a similar thing with analog SS preamp tech, just maybe a bit more advanced, thanks mainly to Tech 21 and Peavey (for the TransTube stuff, primarily). Well, and companies like Quilter et al are finally harnessing the advantages of using a class D power amp...
Years back when I was more heavily involved in the sports car world, I had a friend who was a fantastic autocross driver. He regularly beat guys in more expensive cars with his comparatively cheap stock Miata.
One day he showed up at an event and registered his car as having a more robust, after-market front sway bar - a common upgrade for Miatas but one that puts you in a slightly different class for competition. This is a somewhat tricky modification because it can make Miatas prone to front-end skids ("plowing").
Some weeks later I got a chance to ask him how he liked the new sway bar. "I hate it," he said. "The car plows like a pig."
"So why'd you do it?" I asked.
"Because I was sick of being told constantly that I needed to," he said. "This was the only way to get all those other guys at the track to shut up about it."
I sometimes wonder how many people who are perfectly happy with their SS amp wind up buying a tube amp just because they come to a forum like this one and read over and over how they aren't a real guitar player if their amp doesn't have tubes.
I ditched my tube amps in 1979 because of the upcoming tube availability crisis. A quad of KT 88s and 6L6GCs looked likely to become difficult to find and costly if available.
Of course I was wrong. But I did have many years of exclusive SS amp use before I bought another tube amp. The SS Peaveys, Fenders and Yorkvilles all did an acceptable job, especially since I was mostly playing bass during that time. The next ten years I ended up playing mostly guitar and using mostly tube amps.
I sold off most of my amps when I retired, leaving me with two tube amps, a hybrid and two SS amps. I do like the expressiveness of a good tube amp, but a well-designed SS Class D amp can sound very good, too.
Hang out with my Special 130 ... it can keep up with anything .... it is louder than my Deuce
Am not a paid musician, just dick around at home and with friends and acquaintances... I use a SS bass amp for the bass and when I want a super clean amp for my multi-fx unit, but prefer the “feel,” or whatever word you want to use, of a tube amp, just responds differently... and they’re heavy... SS serves it’s purpose and is easier to transport. I like ‘em both, have a need for each, as is
I wish I knew how to post sound clips here. I have some ideas. But don't know how to accomplish (tech challenged).
Anyway, we recorded our last album though:
- one guitar player: his trusty JC77 mic'd. He has used it at every show that requires an amp for 21 years!
- other guitar player: the studio's '73 Deluxe Reverb on about 7, mic'd. Then played another track with all the parts through the studio's early 80's JCM 800 combo, mic'd. The engineer decided how to mix them together or when to use them separately.
Both guitars sound huge, dynamic, and fantastic on the album. And the raw mixes sound great for each.
SS v tube is tired and frustrating. Amps that are not toys/junk with speakers that are not toys/junk sound and play great. Period. A LOT of people can't seem to believe that. OK.
I have NEVER had any issues keeping up with a decent SS amp. My JC40 Has never been over 1/2 on the volume and that's in a big venue with my guitar volume rolled WAY back. Same for my Cube80x. It is, quite simply, ungodly loud. And has a great EQ and "punch" for the mix. Bonus - they both also sound great in "very loud talking" level shows.
I have tube amps. I tend to default to SS for shows because they sound just as good, the feel is great, and they are lighter/I don't have to worry about popping a tube (though in truth I've never had that happen).
I can't discredit or refute other people's experience that they can't get equal quality sound and feel from ANY amp that is SS or digital as from their favorite tube amps. They are very entitled to their view and conclusion. But I truly don't understand why that is the case for them.
And I am petty enough that I get annoyed at those who insist it is hard and objective fact that "tube" amps flat sound better and have better dynamics than "SS" or "digital" amps. And aggressively do so. There's another thread where a guy told me and other posters to "man up" and "get a real" amp in response to our posts about our good experiences with SS amps. I'd say "wtf?" but it doesn't impact me in any real way so "whatevs".
In the mid '90's, I shared a couple pickup blues band gigs with a guy who played an ES-335 thru a Special 130.
I played a Peavey Strat copy ( my avatar pic) thru a '67 Pro Reverb and Tube Screamer.
I could not hear myself.
I'm more than happy with my TM Twin Reverb and will not be going back to tubes- that's after 45 years or so of playing and gigging. I loved my Twins of years gone by, but we need to move on.
You can get a good tone with SS; what you CAN'T get is touch dynamics & good gain compression.
Gotta have hot bottles for that.