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Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by Tomm Williams, Aug 16, 2018.
Are you playing through studio monitors at home?
I guess this is where we all struggle? A few points you've brought up, actually.
First the difference in feeling and experience of moving some air or more air! LOL It's hard to get it with a big or small amp, at those quiet volumes. Solid state and modeling amps can get us decent tone at whisper volumes. My experience is that with tubes, you just can't. But,. none of it really feels the same as pushing some volume. So, there has to be a tradeoff. Like others who are regular giggers have mentioned, I don't obsess on my home tone. I've learned it doesn't really matter that much to me, that is not where my tonal pleasure truly lies. I mean, I don't want it to sound like crap... But, I don't need it to match my live tone. I don't even care at band practice. What I am focused on in those situations is learning, improving my abilities. Good tone makes that easier, of course. But, if I get too good of tone, I will spend hours noodling and not working on some of the things I should! LOL
As for lower output vs. higher output... I first struggled with this when I got my Deluxe Reverb. I found I had a very hard time getting a good lower volume tone out of it. The volume knob jumped from too quiet and thin, to too loud in an infinitesimal bit of spin of the dial. I obtained a 2x6l6 Vibroverb ('63 Reissue) and got such beautiful, warm tone at low volumes that the Deluxe rarely got turned on at home again! Since then, I have really bonded with bigger wattage amps, even using them for lower volume play, at home. But, I cannot recommend a Twin Reverb to someone who lives in an apartment, with small children and a wife. I know they can make it work... If they have more experience with it. But, will they ever be able to really enjoy the amp?
My main home amp is a Mark iii mesa stack. Sounds just as awesome at low volume as cranked.
Its semi-retired now as an old JMP Marshall is covering the regular gig duties.
I think the question relates to biases / myths around master volumes being tone sucks or something. If you have experienced a decent MV amp, or one with a good high gain preamp design, you don’t question using it at low level. The mesa’s MV and Graphic EQ combo mean you can big, fat huge sounds at any volume.
If you want the sound of a cranked simple non-MV amp at low volume then you are going to hit a wall.
Not all amps are the same and some MVs are better than others.
Cheap ones, and it sounds fantastic.
Do you feel like you've gotten an answer?
This question is always so funny, it reminds me of that recent "Dad Rock" video.
Why on earth would someone just starting out by a monstrous amp with a 2x12, 4x12, etc.. cab? It's not like on Day 0 you don't play guitar and on Day 1 you are a Pro who needs to play a loud venue. It makes way more sense to buy an amp that has an appropriate volume level to start at and only spend the big bucks on a "gigging amp" if you actually progress to the point you need it.
I started playing in my 30s, I was a grown up. No need to prove my manhood by buying an amp to start playing on that was going to have the neighbors calling the police on me. I also have never played in my bedroom, but I get the desire. Bedroom amp is obviously a figure of speech as anyone who is out of an apartment is not going to play in the bedroom.
There are some amps that get the job done at a range of volumes and some that just don't. Most of the Fender amps I looked at don't get the job done for sounding good at a range of tones and volumes, they're just intended to be used in an environment where volume level can be loud. E.x. Blues Junior, the one I tried had a stupid volume pot that went from nothing to too loud, and it was super clean. I do kind of get the impression I could make a Princeton Reverb work in my house though.
My experience is most OD pedals don't do that good of a job of not making things really loud.
I have an Orange Rocker 15 and a THR5. Both can sound very good and hit any level of distortion at a wide range of volumes without use of pedals. The Rocker 15 could probably take care of any "gig" I'm likely to ever play. If I run the Rocker 15 at full power it could easily generate a call to the police too.
Hearing damage is also a concern here! It always seems like these threads generate a bunch of cranky old men "get off my lawn and get a half stack" responses but then you'll also see the same people discussing the fact that they have hearing loss from playing with big amps!
I don't really get "play your Tele without plugging it in" thing. It plays like a crappy acoustic at that point. Might as well play an actual acoustic guitar. I have an acoustic and I can play that in the same space I play my THR or Orange and my wife and neighbors would never complain. And it will sound glorious compared to an unplugged Tele.
If you can carry it, it's a bedroom amp..... That said, I pretty much play acoustic guitars anymore,
@beninma - so many great points.
I do have a suspicion that people sayin they can get good home tones out of powerful gig amosnwoth speakers intended for live work are probably playing much louder than they realize. Again, a 94 dB speaker puts out 94db using only 1 watt! And that’s not even an efficient speaker.
I joined a new band about 6 months ago. They have a tone of great original material. So it was a lot of playing at home to get up to speed. But while we were still figuring out if I was a good fit I was lugging my Katana 100 back and forth to the space and using it to practice.
I was all excited because it has a .5w setting and I could get a great tone and feel at “home” volumes with the Gain at 2 o’clock, the Volume at 11 o’clock and the Master At 10 o’clock on the Crunch channel.
... until my very patient wife was finally like - do you have any idea how loud you are practicing? And then it dawned on me that my ears had been ringing just a tiny bit after practicing.
Because of the settings, my brain convinced me I must be at “home” volumes. But I was probably pushing close to 90db? And the I finally did the “van I sing over this” test - no flipping way.
Lesson learned. That’s when I pulled out the Microcube.
Pretty hard to beat a Rocker 15 /THR pair. Amazing gear there. Really as good as it gets.
All my vintage gear is now gone. Got a Red Stripe Envoy and a AC15 c1 w Creamback and a few upgrades. Bedroom magic and fun is now coming via Headrush and Sennheiser. The Headrush has also taken over as gig rig plugging into venue backline big iron. I don’t need to own any of those beloved vintage monsters anymore. This is no small change for a old school cat like me!
I still like the vintage big iron tho but I don’t need em in the house. They all reside in the Headrush.
What a great time/ era to be playing guitar!
There are a number of ways to get TV-level sound. There is no way to get full tube saturation AND drive the speaker(s) to get breakup and compression at conversation level.
My Tone King Sky King comes the closest possible to "bedroom tube tone." In Ultralinear mode (it has both pentode and UL architecture), using the 4 ohm setting (instead of 8 ohm) with the Iron Man attenuator maxed out, and the treble sweetened slightly, it sounds sexy. The Iron Man has a tuned reactive load to compensate for the frequencies usually messed up by turning down a master volume. It also has separate attenuator controls for the rhythm and lead channels to match output volumes without the usual JUMP.
What is missing is the contribution the speaker makes in breakup and compression. This is all straight from the manual written by the evil genius creator, Mark Bartel.
It would be interesting to experiment with an 8" extension speaker designed for lower output.
So, whether you use a solid-state amp, big rig with pedals, or a modeller with studio monitors, quiet playing will always be missing a bit of mojo in speaker energy.
Here's my spare bedroom
Blackstar Fly - 3 watts
No-one mentioned Attenuators yet ?
I use one (Weber MASS) with great results, no complaints on tone. Vox AC30 HWH, master vol. bypassed, into attenuator and sounds great - can seriously cane the output valves at low level.
You do lose the 'pushing air' and touch response of playing at volume, but not a big deal at home.
Seems a bit like we're tying ourselves in knots to find a solution, and physics is against us. Loud is loud.
Personally, if I like the sound of my amp cooking then the attenuator gives me that sound but with a volume control.
Oh, and portable too. Use it on any amp.
It doesn't bother me to play at low volume at home knowing my tube amp will not sound as good.
I'm just practicing and I know it "sings" when playing out.
Ooops! Sorry missed that.
You could be right about trying a smaller speaker, or maybe less sensitive speaker ?
Here in the living room
The first line I don't completely agree with. I guess it depends on what you consider decent and what SS or modeling system. A Fractal or Kemper - yes.
If your experience with tubes is that you can't I have to think your experience with low output tube amps is limited. Champs and AC4's (with the right speaker(s)) and micro tube amps like the ZVex Nano can get excellent tone at reasonable volume levels. Although the amps may have been cranked a bit higher than bedroom levels it's still a reasonable example - "Layla" was recorded with Champs.
This is in direct opposition to "regular giggers" I've worked with and whose amps I service. Their "home tone" is studio tone, and that's exactly what I aim for - tone that would be suitable for recording. There's no reason to compromise your home tone unless you simply don't care. That seems to be what you're saying, in which case this discussion is a complete waste of time.
This is a marketing subject that has ben discussed here for at least 20 years. It's because they see their guitar heroes using big amps *on stage* in guitar magazine ads and they don't yet understand that using that kind of amp at home isn't practical.