1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

The "Bedroom Amp" question. Help me understand ?

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by Tomm Williams, Aug 16, 2018.

  1. nosuch

    nosuch Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,808
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2008
    Location:
    Cologne
    Like the OP I use the same amps at home as on stage, in rehearsals and in the studio. They are not as big as the OPs but certainly too loud at home if I wouldn't turn them down. No big deal, I hate playing too loud anyway – at home as well as on stage.
     
  2. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    26,670
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    IMO we should now redefine "bedroom amp" as an amp that's too big for gigs but really cheap because everybody wants small student amps these days.

    So pros can bring their student amps like Princeton Reverbs to gigs, and beginners can plop a professional amp like a Twin Reverb, AC30 or Marshall head and 4x12 in their bedroom where it never needs to move, aside from shaking the house.

    An attenuator costs less than a couple of OD pedals, so the kids will be all right!
     
    Axis29 and Jim622 like this.
  3. VintageSG

    VintageSG Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    4,492
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2016
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    ^
    Much wisdom there. An attenuator is the only way for some of us to enjoy power valve deliciousness in our shoebox British hovels. Even a 1 Watter, when at interesting levels, will raise the ire of some.

    I sure ain't no kid, and I'm alright.
     
    telemnemonics likes this.
  4. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    8,395
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2015
    Location:
    europe
    I'm thinking the filter caps are somewhat worn on your amps and you're not getting full volume.

    Usually with that kind of setup you'd be getting either a very low level, and then moving the volume knob just a tad would jump to very loud.

    I'm not saying it's something to worry about at the moment and you need to get your amp serviced as soon as possible, just that I suspect they are somewhat worn.
     
  5. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    6,874
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Location:
    Beaumont, CA
    'Decent', meaning for the hobbyist. maybe? I don't own any ss or modeling amps and every foray I have made into them has not worked for me (everything form a Line6 Spider amp, to an ElevenRack and probably 20 things in between). I've tried, but gimme my damn Twin every time. LOL

    However, so many of my fellow players are perfectly happy with a Quilter, or a Helix, or even some of the lesser quality modelers. I don't get along with them. But, if someone is looking for 'bedroom amp' levels, it is the best solution I have come across.

    About the best solution I ever found was a SuperChamp XD. It did decently at low volume, 'round the house without disturbing my wife, playing. It, of course, is a hybrid. But, of my tone chasing at home experiments, that was probably the winner for me.

    Whisper quiet, bedroom levels, I have never found in a tube amp. Even a champ wants a little air moving.

    Layla was recorded with a champ cranked, in a studio. IMO that would be way too loud for what guys ask for in a 'bedroom amp'.

    You are right, in that I have never tired any of the micro amps, but I have also not had to. I think about them every time a new one comes out. But, I am lucky enough to not have to go whisper quiet any more. I have also never heard a recording, seen a video or read a review that made them sound like they would be an exact copy of 'stage tone'. Most of the time, they are described as 'good enough' for home use.

    My current stage rig is playable at conversational levels. It sounds fantastic at those levels. Nobody believes me when I tell them I do it with my 80 watt non master volume amp. If I want dirt, I add a pedal. If I wanted natural overdrive out of my amp, it would rattle the windows.... of my neighbors' houses. I have also spent about a year trying to find another set up that sounds as good as my stage rig, in a more compact, smaller, quieter solution... No love. I honestly don't think it's possible.

    (I've spent years, on and off, trying to find a good home tone. Gone through way too many amps, pedals, devices, etc to count trying to get there. Until I found my Twin, I was never happy)

    Maybe I overly simplified? I play my tweed Twin at home, or my Bassman, on occasion my 5e3. I actually have the opportunity to play my Twin louder at home, than I usually get on a gig. But, my Twin also sounds really good at conversation levels. In fact, my Twin sounds better at low volumes, than my 5e3. So, I find no use in destroying my hearing (except every now and again when I just feel like cranking the old girl!). I love the sound of my Twin at any level. So, saying 'I don't care' is not an accurate statement. However, I do not require my tone at home, where I really do play the majority of my playing (practicing) to be exactly like my stage tone. I need it to sound good, so that I am not distracted while I try to work on my craft, the craft of making music. NOT fiddling with knobs. If I spend more time just making noise, listening to my tone or obsessing over the next pedal that will make me sound like 'XXX' artist, than I feel I have backslid in my progress (on MY path, nobody else's, just mine). I really obsess with becoming a more complete and better musician more than I obsess over my gear.

    Yes, I've spent years crafting my stage tone and get nothing but compliments on it. Having had enough experience on stage to know what I like and what I need allows me more time to work on my musical skills and knowledge... And, also keeps me from obsessing about my tone at home. I also have settled on a tone that is mine. I am not trying to cop any other guitar player's tone. My tone sits in the genre of music I play exactly as it should.

    Most of the guys I know who gig, are not big Nashville or LA guys. They live in a regular old house, with wives and kids. They don't usually have studios. They play in the basement or in the spare bedroom, etc. So, they can't crank their amps to gig levels and make sure the tone is exactly the same. Yes, I know a few who are dedicated to cranking amps and are always looking for exactly the right tone at home. But, that's not the majority if pros I know. The Pros I know obsess on tone, like me, for live or studio stuff. But, are not absolutely obsessed with it for practice time. Although, I will admit that many of them would love the stage tone at lower levels... haven't found one yet to pull it off with their all tube amps, at home, in the bedroom, or basement.

    'Practice time' is the difference, I think. For me, practice time is a time to work really hard on music theory, learning a new song, writing music, etc. It is in support of my next gig(s) or studio visit. My playing at home is for a certain purpose. It is not the be-all end-all of my playing. Yes, I play at home more than I play on stage or in the studio, and yes, I enjoy playing almost every second I do it.

    If my goals were not what they are... If I wanted to play just at home, or with a couple of the guys around the neighborhood (like they were a good number of years ago), maybe even gig two or three times a year for some chick's 40th birthday party, my home tonal goals would be different. I would want my little bedroom amp to sound like some recorded tone. I did that, I chased it for a few years. Those, I believe are the majority of guys looking for 'bedroom amps'.

    But, there's also the guy Steve that I know. He runs huge Marshall stacks in his basement. Has a huge house, in a really, really expensive part of DC. Has a few really, really high dollar guitars. He's an awesome player. But, he NEVER plays out. Never jams with anyone else. He sits at home, when he gets home from work, and cranks those amps up and wails away. His idea of a bedroom amp fits @telemnemonics suggestion! LOL

    So, you can discount my side of this discussion if you feel I have nothing to add. But, that would disappoint me. I have been playing for about 35 years. The majority of that really has been as a home guitar player trying to find good bedroom amp tone! LOL Heck, the majority of my time here at TDPRI was probably doing just that! But, my goals and requirements have changed over the years. It doesn't mean I don't have good experience or knowledge to add to the discussion at hand.
     
    telemnemonics and PooTwang like this.
  6. Speedfish

    Speedfish Tele-Holic

    Posts:
    880
    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2015
    Location:
    Southern United States
    The bedroom amp has to be small and portable. It's the amp that you can take on a plane, a train, pack into the back of a car with six other people's stuff. It's so small so you can hide it away in plain sight, stick it in the closet or slide it under the bed. Your spouse or significant other isn't going to complain about it and refer to it as an eye sore. Ideally it should produce a pleasing sound to your ears and inspire you to play. That's the dilemma. Finding something that small that sounds as good as your rig. It's like trying to snap a picture of Bigfoot or find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Guitarist keep asking in hopes of finding it, but they are never truly satisfied. It's like craving a regular Coke, but only finding a diet Coke in the fridge. It's wet and fizzy, but just doesn't taste the same.
     
    Axis29 likes this.
  7. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,073
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
    Location:
    meridianam altum centralis
    How much of your Twin low volume love, is due to the speakers, cabinet, OT and PT and the non-tube circuitry sections? It sounds like you are being very successful at finding tones at low volumes that are great - without involving the tubes. There's a pretty easy calculation to determine when a pre-amp tube or power tube become driven enough to contribute tone. Its usually a healthy percentage of full power.
     
  8. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    37,725
    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Location:
    Wisco
    Why would you want to play guitar in your bedroom? (Unless you're still living with mom and dad...)
     
  9. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    26,670
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    Here we may have a snapshot of the problem in this discussion!

    Are we talking about great tone?
    I'm talking about good or great tone, and I'm pretty sure others who get low volume sounds they like out of their bigger louder amps are also talking about good or great tone.

    But the above post suggests a confusion between tone and distortion.
    It also seems to confuse what the tubes are doing when the amp sounds clean, and seems to suggest that clean sound is not "tube tone".

    In an all tube amp like the Tweed Twin @Axis29 plays at lower volume, the tubes are what makes the tone!
    Certainly the OT changes the high impedance tube signal into a low impedance tube signal, and the speakers change the tube tone into mechanical vibrations, but the tone is still 100% tube tone!

    In fairness to all who complain that their bigger (5w or more) tube amps cannot make good low volume tones; of the more than 100 tube amps I've owned and used over the 38 years of using tube amps, a minority have sounded great at their lowest volume settings.

    But interestingly enough, those that sounded best at low volume were not the little 5 watters.

    The best low volume tube amp sounds I've gotten were from a BF Super Reverb, BF Twin Reverb, 50w non master Marshall, 100w Hiwatt, 80w Sound City Concord, and a Victoria Buddy Guy model that must have been a Tweed Twin circuit based on the tubes and transformers, but in a 4x10 combo.

    The problem with my experience is that I've played plenty of the same model amps that did not sound great or even good at low volumes, which I'd presume was due to tubes and bias, along with speakers.
    It's possible that some Marshall 50 and 100w circuits are just plain incapable of good low volume sounds, but those that sound good turned down have been from mid '60s to mid '70s, and I've read claims by credible players that they get good low volume tones from 800 and 900 Marshalls as well.
    Getting those low volume sounds requires different settings of course, like maybe not plugging into the bright channel and turning the presence to zero for a start.
    And certain speakers sound like crap at low volume as well.
    Based on internet discussions, I presume that most players have only a small or moderate understanding of how their speaker choice affects their volume range.
    For that matter, typical understanding of "tube tone" seems to be all over the map!

    If those who insist it's impossible to get good or great sounds from big amps at conversation volume, really mean to say they cannot get screaming distorted sounds from big amps at conversation volume, then IMO they need to make that clear!

    To me there is simply no screaming distortion sound that works at sub scream volume.
    I've played and heard various versions of whisper volume screaming distortion, and IMO it will always sound wrong, simply because screaming distortion needs volume to sound right.

    I would argue that those modeled or mini tube low volume screaming distorted sounds that make some players happy, and might even record well, are not universally "great tube tone"!

    Once again, what we like does not define what is great...
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
  10. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,271
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    Location:
    Near Athens GA USA
    Not everyone can afford a palatial country estate along with a trophy wife that never complains about your guitar stuff cluttering up the house or how loud you play.
     
    Asmith and blowtorch like this.
  11. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    37,725
    Joined:
    May 2, 2003
    Location:
    Wisco
    No wife=no complaints :cool:
     
  12. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    26,670
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    I always assumed that it was the "trophy wife" that complained about her husband playing music, since she married him for his money, not his character!
     
  13. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    6,271
    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2006
    Location:
    Near Athens GA USA
    That's something she complains about to her friends and, eventually, her divorce attorney, never to the husband.
     
  14. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,073
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
    Location:
    meridianam altum centralis
    Which has been pointed out a lot, but ignored. This thread is trying to reconcile taste, which can't be reconciled. Asking a question like "Since I like large tube amps at very low volumes, why don't you?", is similar to asking "why don't you like what I like?", and not too far off from "why don't you look like me?".
     
    MilwMark likes this.
  15. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    26,670
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    But more specifically, a questions would be:

    Do you think a Tweed Twin sounds bad at low volume?

    Or: Do you think a Tweed Twin sounds clean at low volume?

    And do you equate clean with bad?
    Or do you simply dislike clean sound?
    It seems like you had suggested that tube sound equals distorted sound, and that seems to be partly influencing this discussion, not just from you.

    It seems like some players do indeed equate clean tone with bad tone!

    We can of course not like clean sounds, but here we are discussing the idea that there are no good low volume sounds available from bigger amps.

    When we say we don't like clean sounds because they are not our target tones, does that mean we also don't like clean sounds on recordings, and only like music with distorted guitar?
     
  16. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    9,795
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Location:
    Lawndale CA
    A Quilter modeling amp? Respectfully, just how familiar are you with guitar amplifiers? FWIW Quilter does not make modeling amps. "Modeling" is emulation of other amplifiers, and that's not what they produce.

    "Whisper quiet" is not what most players would consider normal for home playing. That's absurd.

    Please re-read my post - I said that about Layla and Champs, but was using Champs as an example of small amps. "Cranked" is one thing - "good clean tone" is quite different as far as volume goes.

    That's simply odd. Either your Twin has very inefficient speakers or your Deluxe is dialed-in for lots of headroom. And/or your Twin is set up badly, the bias is set ridiculously low or your amps are not properly maintained. You're using an exception to normality.

    It's not difficult at all to take a high output amp and lower the headroom to the point it sounds like crap and is queiter than a lower output amp, but if you're going to use bizarre examples I'm done with this chat.

    I said "studio tones", meaning tones that would be good for recording. FYI many, many player record at home using mic'd amps. Not all plug in directly.

    I didn't feel that way. But your "Whisper quiet" and Twin/Deluxe examples have changed my opinion. You're using examples that have little to do with reality.

    -out-
     
  17. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

    Age:
    68
    Posts:
    9,795
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2003
    Location:
    Lawndale CA
    A high power tweed Twin (the most common type) has a cold tone with a narrow frequency response at conversational volume. IMO that's "bad". Some don't think so and are perfectly happy playing through an amp like that at bedroom levels. That's fine, tone is a personal thing.

    But IMO most experienced players would consider that "bad tone".

    I don't think anyone here is saying "good tone" requires distortion". When we talk about "bedroom levels" from my perception players are discussing clean tone without exception.

    At bedroom levels distortion usually has to be added, but not in all cases. Some tube amps are capable of saturated tones at "bedroom volume", or "apartment volume" - conversational levels or just above.
     
    MilwMark likes this.
  18. bftfender

    bftfender Poster Extraordinaire

    Posts:
    5,271
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2017
    Location:
    York PA
    Axis29 said:
    Like others who are regular giggers have mentioned, I don't obsess on my home tone. I
    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.

    Yes sir !! we go from home to studio to stage and every time we play it is a forward progressing thing..especially in original music
     
  19. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    12,489
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2013
    Location:
    near Arnold's
    I find it interesting that we all experience things so differently.

    Getting almost ANY sound out of a Twin (HPTT or BFTR) at a conversational level is difficult in my experience. Again, if the baseline is one of those amps that is intended for and has speakers intended for live stage use. The point at which they start producing sound is already conversation levels, and at that point it is choked, thin and a bit buzzy. At VERY loud conversation levels you can get sound that at least is a little less choked and maybe the buzzy/fuzzy sounds disappear a bit. But not dynamics, harmonics or sustain.

    Maybe people replace their volume pot with on that has more taper at the lower end? But still, its hard to push less than 1 watt through those amps (or even a Deluxe Reverb, or Princeton Reverb for that matter) in my experience. And most live speakers are at least pushing 93db (and that's quiet an inefficient live speaker) at that point.

    Curious.

    And no, @telemnemonics - my example of good home tone does not require raging distortion (or even distortion). Just full, some dynamics and sustain. I don't to prefer clean tones for electric (I'd rather play an acoustic at that point). But if I can get to edge of breakup with light to moderate picking I'm fine.

    I've just come to believe some people view home volume as quite loud (way above conversation and into loud TV+ volume) and/or don't realize how loud they are actually playing at home (as I said, I've certainly fallen into the latter camp until recently).
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
    bftfender likes this.
  20. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

    Age:
    61
    Posts:
    26,670
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2010
    Location:
    Maine
    I'm just baffled by the repeated assertions that an amp with four 6L6 or el34 power tubes sounds bad at conversation volume.

    A couple of these amps I'd refer to were in a small guitar shop, one a Harry Joyce Hiwatt 100 (into an old Hiwatt 4x12), and the other the 4x6L6 4x10 Victoria tweed amp I mentioned, which I presumed to be related to the HPTT because it had the massive OT of a HPTT and of course the 6L6 quad.

    I often played through these two amps while the shop was open and customers were talking with the owner(s).
    If I got too loud for conversation, and they had to raise their voices to do business, they asked me to turn down or stop playing.
    They did sometimes allow a player to play too loud for conversation for shorter periods, because the player needed to hear the louder sounds.
    The Hiwatt I played every week for a few months while it was there, as I was seriously considering shelling out the $2000 for the head.
    These were nice enough guys but not pushovers, and would get pissy if pushed.

    Both of these 80w/ 100w amps had as beautiful a sound as I've heard from any amp, after decades of owning many of what we now consider holy grail amps, including many vintage Fender and virtually all vintage Marshall models.

    At home I can get fat sweet sounds from my 1974 (year, not model) Marshall 50w Bass head into a semi open back with 2x12s.
    At low enough volume to not wake my wife in the other room, with one door separating us. This is below conversation volume, but requires backing off the guitar vol a bit.

    At the guitar shop, most agreed that the sound was really good, so I don't think I'm confused about good sound.

    At the same time though, I'd certainly agree that many bigger amps just don't sound good at low volume.
    Again, I'd guess the difference between two of the same model would have to be tubes, bias, and speakers.
    And none of the amps that sounded great at low volume sounded bad when turned up.

    Maybe so few of these old big amps are really well dialed in with good tubes and speakers?
    Changing speaker can make any amp sound bad at low volume, but I have not found a speaker I only liked at high volume. I've certainly gone through a lot of different speaker looking for those that really work for me though.
    I find speaker break in to generally be an unpleasant task, which interestingly enough, many players seem to report not being bothered by, and some even say the speakers don't even change with break in.

    If I'm keeping and using an amp I generally expect it to function well at a wide range of volume settings.
    It seems that an awful lot of players cannot get this from their amps.

    Give that @Silverface finds the HPTT to "have a cold tone with a narrow frequency response at conversation volume", and he is an experienced tech whose amps are presumably tubed and biased "correctly", maybe what some of us like is a slightly hotter than "correct" bias and some more broken in warmer fatter sounding speakers?

    I've biased amps by ear that worked fine and sounded fine at all volumes, and also often had players ask me for advice about how I get my sounds that they want to be able to get, so again, I don't think I'm confused about good sound.

    I guess it's fair to suggest that big amps don't need to sound good turned down, because that's what small amps are for. Maybe there are more correct bias settings that give longer tube life at the expense of low volume tone?
    IDK though, I've had Super Reverbs that sounded great at low volume running 20 year old power tubes, and didn't fall apart when turned up.

    I'm actually growing tired of the sound of small amps turned up, so I might go so far as to say small amps cranked sound bad, with mushy bass, grainy treble, and slow compressed response!
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2018
    Axis29 likes this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.