Talk me into, or out of, getting a tube amp

VintageSG

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First, buy a cab. A 1x12" is a good start. Now you have all the excuse you need to buy heads. Heads take up less space, therefore more amps per shlef. It's my logic and my excuse, and I'm sticking with it.

There are a few low powered valve amps out there. Very few come close to the value offered by the VHT Special 6 and Ultra 6 heads. They're well made, sound fantastic and you can play about with swapping tyhe valves out too, if it floats your cabbages.
I bought a Special 6 with the intent of modding it or flipping it. I then found a sound, the sound, which means it's a keeper. They feature a pentode/triode mode ( 5W or 3W plus some differences when the power stage is pushed ), and a bypassable tone control. I prefer the triode sound with the boost engaged ( tone bypassed ).
Other low powered valve heads are available. Randall, Jet City, Hayden, Vox and Marshall are all there for you, among many others.

For band practice, having a cab means pulling the more powerful head from the shelf. 15W isn't going to stay super clean with a drummer, but it may be all you need. There's fantastic choice in the 15W - 50W market. Second hand Randall, Jet City, Orange and many others offer great bang per buck. Used is the way to go.

-or-

Get a cab as above and go solid state or hybrid.

In the solid state low power market, the Hotone Nano heads offer a heck of a lot of sound, but not much power. Still quite loud, a Watt is a Watt, and tiny. Fantastic sound, which is what matters. Not a valve in sight.
They do a floor model with a heck of a lot more power too. Two Hotone amps and you're sorted.

There's hybrids. The Orange Micro Terror and Micro dark compete with the Joyo Bantamp range. The Bantamps have been revised of late, and the features of the newer models may appeal.

Vox NuTube stuff may work for you too. The good thing solid state has over hollow state is at low volumes. Even a 1 Watt valve amp can be barking loud. A 5 Watt amp can bring the police. Solid state can sound better at low volume. This annoys glass sniffers.

-or-

Keep ypur money until the Champ can't handle it.
 

Ronzo

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I think that the Champion 20 is a great amp for home use. See if you can play a few tube amps, preferably in a practice room alongside a Champion 20. The advantages a tube amp might enjoy in an enormous room like a guitar shop vs. your Champion 20 might be minimal or even net negatives for the style you play at home. If a tube amp is better all around or gives you an additional voice you can't get from your Champion 20, go for it, but I wouldn't buy one just to have one.
Personally, I think the Champion 20 is a kick-ass small amp. I’ve bought them for both my daughter-in-law (a pretty fair player), and for my older granddaughter. IOW, I’ve put my money where my mouth is.
If you like the Champion 20 you can get anything and it'll be better than that. I know, I had one. :p

For home use/practice I would get a Katana 50. That would give you a few more options, headphones, line out, built-in effects, etc. And it will sound way better than the C20. And zero maintenance - you can leave it on forever (not something that is recommended for tubes).

If you go budget tube I would go Monoprice 15W over the 5W one because it has a separate gain and master volumes (comes in handy for that breakup and normal levels), decent EQ, reverb, FX loop, speaker out, etc.
My older granddaughter’s Dad (my son-in-law) is a very good acoustic player who realized a lifetime dream when he bought a USA PRS Custom 24 last year. He got a Katana 50 to go with it. My granddaughter wanted an electric to jam with him (she plays acoustic, ukulele, and is a first-chair violist in her HS orchestra), so she got an entry-level electric from me - which I set up - and the Champion 20 amp.

Her Dad is still trying to get quality tone out of the Katana. He gets my granddaughter’s tone dialed in faster. Just sayin’.
 

Call Me Al

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So just get yourself a tube amp then.

Always. Treat yourself
Done!! :D

NAD!
Thread 'NAD! Vox AC4 TV 10”- my first tubes!'
https://www.tdpri.com/threads/nad-vox-ac4-tv-10”-my-first-tubes.1091368/

ACA38A37-00E5-400B-ACBA-6D65065EC151.jpeg


if you buy another amp and it's not a tube amp you will always have that "I wonder what this would sound like on a real tube amp" in the back your head until you get a tube amp
This exact thought crossed my mind. Learned that the hard way with bass gear!

spend it on lessons.
Also crossed my mind. I’m using Active Melody right now, and a little Justin Guitar. Online lessons aren’t the same an private teacher, but I do well with the self directed format. Making incredible progress. I do see some “real” lessons on my horizon though.

Also, I would advise against buying one of the first two amps you test. I would go and play more amps to get a better idea.
Generally I agree. But im in a “one guitar store” town and I like to support them as much as I can. Any other store is 1-2 hours away, and not really finding that time these days! Pretty confident with the one I got, If nothing wowed me I was totally prepared to walk empty handed.


These are warm and full and plenty loud with great Reverb. I have the head and I play it through a 2 x 12 cab at night. Delightful and affordable.
This was top of my list! Loaded with features. But ultimately I decided I wasn’t trying to replace my Champion, but get another beast entirely.
 
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Neptical

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Mostly been in favorable of SS the past couple years. It's been a tough(er) ride to hold on to my collectable tube amps.

Sometimes I feel it would have been nice to start off with my knowledge of today with an SS amp back in the day. Alas, I delved right in to tube amps as a beginner. These days, my SS amps in tandem with my ODs, reverb and modulation are giving me the fattest tones I could want - and I own a few Mark Boogies and JCM Marshalls. Literally found the less is more approach in the best way.

Get yourself a good SS with your ODs and throw in the towel.
 

Cosmic Cowboy

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Cant think of any recordings of any real stature that are known as great guitar sounds which were not recorded with a tube amp.

There is a reason. Tube amps sound better. Thats not to say you cannot achieve a good sound by other means. But there is no substitute for having a nice tube amp in the room. Capturing with a microphone and recording it is another skill entirely.

And get yourself a decent amp. The monoprice and chinese stuff is ok..I guess. But the Blues Jr is a much more robust piece of gear that will last you decades if its treated well.

The talk of tube amps needing extra maintenance and care is misnomer. And you can prob sell it for what you paid for it when you are done.
 

Call Me Al

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Mods, If you see this: feel free to edit title/post 1 or close thread as you see fit, as I’ve made a decision. Thanks!
 

Telecastoff1

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Lots of good responses here from experienced users of both SS and Tube. I own quite a few amps, and pretty much an even split now between SS and tube amps. I own what I like and need. But there are days, and who knows why, but on those days none of my amps will sound good to me. That's probably why I own so many of them. Each amp has it's day as "The Best" amp I own, and the the following week, I might wonder why I keep it. So, I keep what I have, as it's a love-hate relationship for me with these amps.....all of them....SS and tube. So, play lots of amps then decide which one you just gotta have on that particular day, because it will change.
 

JustABluesGuy

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Mostly been in favorable of SS the past couple years. It's been a tough(er) ride to hold on to my collectable tube amps.

Sometimes I feel it would have been nice to start off with my knowledge of today with an SS amp back in the day. Alas, I delved right in to tube amps as a beginner. These days, my SS amps in tandem with my ODs, reverb and modulation are giving me the fattest tones I could want - and I own a few Mark Boogies and JCM Marshalls. Literally found the less is more approach in the best way.

Get yourself a good SS with your ODs and throw in the towel.

I started with SS and waited years to buy a tube amp. I now use both depending on the situation.
 

roeg

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Either or, really. My first amp was a SS. Yamaha. It had a decent distortion channel. Clean was very clean! I was surprised to learn recently the same model is a favorite of Mike Stern, today! He is also a well known Tele player...to the extent that Yamaha has authored the Mike Stern signature Tele-type guitar.

I owned a Roland Cube 40 many years ago, but sold it. I really feel i should not have. idk.

Today, the solid state choices are numerous (unlike my experience many years ago), i cannot comment, except to say the modelers give you far more flexibility in tones, from what i've read...fun factor. You might like the options to play with.

They say you have to reveal your affiliations...for bias. I am a dedicated tube amp man. I like the tone. But not all tube amps have great tone, often because they need maintenance. But when they are, they sound great, but simply don't have the variety a modeler can give you. Only based on what i've read, not first hand experience. Good luck!
 

Skyhook

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I generally like fuss-free stuff in my life

This thing right here!
Tube amps are not fuss free. They sound beautiful and are any way and amount of classic and real and old sk00l you could ever
wish for them to be. But they are most definitely not fuss free.

Based on that comment I'd say you're happier with a modeler run through a good solid state amp.
I've heard shimmeringly beautiful blackface sounds from Line6 products. YMMV(Your Modeler May Vary).

I'm not saying "don't get a tube amp"... I'm saying, make damn sure you're up for the upkeep before you do.
 

tfarny

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I think the best amp for someone in your situation is probably 2 amps - a SS / digital thing that has headphones and USB out, AND a small-ish tube amp loud enough to play with others. Some people claim tubes are where it's at, others claim the differences are too small to matter. I try to avoid thinking about those questions. I think that if you're not sure where you stand, the only thing to do is get a good tube amp and see for yourself.

I've been through a bunch of amps over the past few years, both SS and tube. I am currently very happy with a Yamaha THR10C for "bedroom playing" and two tube combos - an AC30 and a boutique Fender-ish amp, and I've sold a Katana and a Roland Blues Cube. That doesn't mean I won't buy a Quilter or something one day, just that my own "tone quest" led me to a couple of nice tube amps.

I think that the 1 -5 watt tube amps are sort of the worst of all worlds, frankly. They still won't get you a good distorted tone at low volume, and the clean tone is no better than SS, and yet they are not loud enough to gig and rehearse with in most situations.
 

Call Me Al

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best amp for someone in your situation is probably 2 amps - a SS / digital thing that has headphones and USB out, AND a small-ish tube amp loud enough to play with others.
I ultimately decided it wouldn’t hurt to have multiple amps around the house. I generally woodshed in the living room, record in the den and drums/keyboard are in the basement. So would be nice to just leave amps in 2/3 of those locations. (Plus my bass amps make pretty good guitar amps too!)

I landed on a 4w/10” with an extension out and figure if I get a second 10” that should cover me for jams. Idk if I wanna play with the kinda folks that rig wouldn’t cover! 🤣 I like to keep the dBs under control.

I also think the jamming might be a ways off (seeing as I’m still actively playing bass too) and if I do need to pick up something bigger down the road that’s cool with me too.
 




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