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Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Sr4815, Jan 7, 2021.
Very unlikely, But I love your optimism
What makes an amp a "throw away" isn't depended on solid state, digital or tube. It's the method of construction and how it's handled.
In order for Fender, Marshall, Vox or whoever to make amps cheap enough that they make a profit, the wholesaler makes a profit and the retailer makes a profit in the cheap amp class, which is, I don't know under $1,500 or so. They gotta build them with the least amount of labor possible.
That means machine made printed boards with as many components on there as possible. Things like potentiometers, jacks and tube sockets. That's how about every thing is made today and it's really not problem. A couple of screws puts the board in, hook up a couple of wires with slip on connections, slid some knobs on and it's done. Zero hand soldering, no skilled workers needed, a monkey can put them together.
Let's face it, most folks today never gig, the amp sits in a spot just like a TV, lasts for years, no problem.
Ok now you actually want to take the amp somewhere, in the car it goes, you hit a pot hole or the brakes and it takes a good wack on the knobs.
Now since the knob is mounted to a little dinky pot, that's only mounted to the circuit board you got problems. Maybe a new pot will fix it, but it's not a standard part so your tech's gotta spend the time to find one from DigiKey or whatever, maybe he can't find one at all. Maybe the whole board is shot and they no longer sell replacements or the cost just doesn't make sense. Then you throw it away.
I don't work on new amps, a good friend of mine does in his little music store. His dumpster gets a lot of them, after he donates his time to try to find parts. Sometimes he does.
Drop an old pre about 1982 Fender on its knobs and the pots can be replaced. Marshall went to printed boards in 1974 but still used chassis mounted pots and sockets. Those can always be fixed too, they still had a lot of labor intensive hand soldering.
Really boils down to what you're gonna do and how careful you are doing it.
Back when every bar had a band every weekend modern amps wouldn't have held up very long. We loaded stuff at 2am, probably drunk or otherwise and maybe in a hurry to meet some chick afterwards. I mostly used second hand Peaveys then tube and solid state from the 70s. Those things, like the Fenders and Marshalls then could really take a beating.
The new stuff? Just be real careful handling it and don't get into compulsive tube swapping with board mounted sockets. A good padded cover is probably a good idea too.
I picked up the super-cheapo Fender Rumble 25 for leaving at sketchy Jazz gigs. I use it with my String Bass (upright bass), and ... well, it doesn't sound as good as the old Polytone, but, if it gets stolen, big deal ... $99.
It is absolutely a throwaway amp. It came with a 5 year warranty, and this is the third one ... Fender replaced it twice under warranty. The tech said he sends two or three Rumbles, in different wattages, back to Fender every week.
I bought a warranty for my $2,000 Surface Pro and, I had to use it. If I spent a thousand bucks on a digital amp, I'd buy the extra warranty.
Sound waves are analog, tube tech was developed to amplify those waves. Digital tech is square wave, 1s and 0s. The basis of digital tech can't pleasingly amplify analog waves without imposing an artificial interface that seeks to emulate analog tech. I'll pass.
Or, they abandon it completely like they did with FUSE, yet still sell an amp whose full functionality is based on being able to use FUSE (Fender SuperChamp X2, still being sold new in stores- with no disclaimer to a customer that 1/2 the advertised functionality is completely frozen unless they download legacy software from a forum or something- because Fender killed off the site with the software and all the presets exchanges. Heck, InTheBlues would make a killing on traffic if Fender at least put a slip of paper in the box with the amp that said "hey, due to ...blah blah blah....this software is no longer available on our website, however you can get it here....". Otherwise, without forum diving and reading a lot of threads that are really negative towards Fender, the owner has no idea until they get it home that they can't do half the stuff promised.
Tonemasters don't have updateable modeling and only have 1 'patch', presumably the best patch Fender ever has come up with for a Deluxe Reverb. I'd be more inclined to not worry so much about a ToneMaster (I have one) becoming outdated-any more than a Deluxe Reverb will. They haven't really changed in decades.
It's a neat looking amp. But I can't help but think that a Helix Stomp and a FSFR speaker would run the same money, but would have FAR more to offer.
A decent amp should last for quite awhile. Tube or SS.
Sick and tired of manufacturers producing non serviceable short term products. Many even assemble their products with custom screws to prevent them being accessed and fixed.
fortunately musical equipment hasn’t yet gone down this road so I’d expect a fair chunk of time out of my gear.
Fenders pricing is way off in the last decade. As you know a Bandit is a quarter of the price new and definitely not quarter of the amp or tone.
That's it for me, I'm buying every tube amp that is available. NO MORE LESS THAN ADEQUATE JUNK.
IT'S TIME FOR REVOLUTION. Oh never mind, they stop making tubes. HA, HA..
The fact is valve amps generally require maintenance far more frequently than digital products. Valve amps are heavier, run hotter and are less efficient than digital. Yes there is aura of the throwaway around digital products because they are generally cheaper and use manufacturing techniques that are not necessarily intended to be repaired. This is found mainly in high volume consumer products such as mobile phones. It is certainly possible to engineer digital products for greater ease of service and longevity.
The other issue is whether or not a digital recreation of a classic valve amp sounds the same as the original, or at least close enough. One great thing about digital is that its characteristics are usually defined by firmware. Faults can be fixed or capabilities upgraded by a firmware update. You can't do that on a classic valve amp.
I have a six year old Line 6 amp that had the main sound chip crap out. The cost of repair is about double what the amp is worth on the used market. I'll be pulling the speaker and the rest is going to e-waste.
First off, I love the sound of my Tonemaster Twin Reverb. I've always played tube amps until this foray into the Tone Masters. For what it's worth, I had the Tone Master Deluxe Reverb for a few weeks and loved it as well. It just didn't have enough clean headroom so I switched it out for the Twin (thank you Tj at sweetwater!). To my ear, it can b dialed in to sound as good as any of my old (including a twin, vibroluxe reverb, and hotrod deluxe) tube amps.
As for long-term operation and maintenance, this is simply opinion at this point as it relates specifically to the Tone Master models. I can tell you from my experience in electronics (Army avionics was my job when I was in) there are solid-state and tube technologies still out there in current use that go back to the '60s. The tubes are way more fickle but relatively easy from a technician's perspective to repair. The solid-state stuff is much more durable and trouble-free. Repairing solid-state usually consists of swapping out cards as compared to component level items. I can tell you that all of the electronics would be solid-state if it wasn't the concern for nuclear induced EMP which supposedly impacts solid-state more than tube-centric equipment. Should that occur, not sure our guitar amp operation will be that high of a concern, though the contrary argument could be made.
Finally, I am, as with any purchase, depending on the reputation of the company to uphold its responsibility. Fender wouldn't still be around if they left people hanging on the long term performance of their guitars and amps.
Just my 2.2 cents.
On the one hand, I haven't even changed the tubes in my Traynor YCV40WR since I bought it in 2009.
On the other hand, vacuum tubes are pretty much exclusively used in audio gear, and mostly guitar gear. That's an absolutely minuscule market segment compared to what they were when the amps were first designed and built, and it's shrinking fast. I believe there are only two factories in the world making vacuum tubes on a large scale. Once the demand falls such that one of those factories has to discontinue operations, either prices will go up exponentially causing amp manufacturers to move even more heavily toward digital and solid state solutions, or, in the worst case, both factories may end up shutting down, relegating the market to NOS tubes only... until they are gone as well.
Over the last few years I've noticed a major shift toward silent stages, and even on the non-silent stages, sound techs would much rather take a direct line over micing. I haven't used my Traynor in rehearsal since 2019 or on a gig since 2017... it was all my Tech 21 Blonde, which I bought in 2009 as a backup for the Traynor. In August I bought an HX Stomp to replace the Blonde and I am very happy with the tones I get. I've long since quit trying to mic my amp for home recording, too, instead using Helix Native. It honestly yields better results than trying to mic in a boomy basement (though I do still prefer the feel of the "amp in the room" over the Helix).
There are ways to do it, as long as the company isn't in California. Peavey could have kept doing it in Mississippi if they hadn't been sellout weasels.
Maybe best to get your head out of music briefly. If you are going to buy a car, and you are a sound minded buyer, you will not buy a unit from a number of different manufacturers. I do not have to explain why. Then you have a short list of makes you will buy. Every company has its own culture. If that culture is more boardroom with no concern for you, the customer, good luck with that.
I am new to guitars and amps and feeling my way through this. I have looked at the Fender stuff, have tremendous emotional ties to the name, but will not buy their tube amps planning instead to do a hand wired build. For solid state I went with Roland. Fender would do well with a burning desire for improvement and innovation in every amp they sell and there is little chance of that.
Here's a factor that hasn't been discussed. I have been playing Fender amps since 1962, Tube, SS, etc. I'll be 74 soon. Still playing in three groups, three different styles of music. The factor that made it a no brainer for me to buy a TM Deluxe...Weight! I've been using mine regularly, full volume rehearsals. sounds great, enough to do the job. I could no longer haul around my AC15 or even my Princeton, knee issues. I also have a Katana 50 for backup, sounds better than my Blues Jr.
Early solid states amps were junk. My first SS amp was a Teneyck (Ex Ampeg Tech who built them) in the 60's! Anyone remember those?? Junk! Blew a speaker which took out the output transistors(NP3055). No circuit output protection was built into those at the time. In the late 80's I bought a Dean Markley RD-150-R hybrid. FET power amp, Tube preamp, 2-switchable channels! All printed circuit boards! Hmmm? Served me well for 30+ years with never an issue until it finally started breaking down not long ago. Got my moneys worth and it never left me stranded at a gig. Next I got a used Yamaha DG60 on a whim. The best sounding and flexible amp I've owned! two switchable channels, 8 options per channel! I push the crap out of it and its rock solid even though its Taiwan made and not the Japan built versions in the DG series. Going strong. Wanting a pure Fender tone again, I bought a Fender DRTM(for less than MSRP) and love it. Modeled to sound like a tube DR when pushed and with a built-in Attenuator, can't beat that! With current SS technology I expect it to last. Given all the major amp manufacturers have a SS offering (Boogie, Ampeg, Fender, Quilter, etc. etc) they will last. Class D amps seem to be the trend in bass amplifiers these days! Power galore and light as a feather! Yes, tube amps have that feel, warmth etc that still sets them apart from modern stuff but the gap between SS and tube amps is narrowing more and more! I also have a newer reissue Dean Markley DG-60 that is multi-layered PC boards but all tube input/outputs. I had one issue with it (under warranty) for a low level hum caused by a defective capacitor. In talking with the president of DM at the time, he said component failure on their circuits was less than 1%. I looked up failure rate for vacuum tubes and found this interesting piece worth reading.
I've had more tube failures than I've had SS amp failures in the past 15-20 years.
True, but on the flip side a well maintained hand wired tube amp, especially vintage, will gradually appreciate in value. But the convenience of either SS or digital makes them more attractive for practical use. I’m using either a Quilter pro block or a MicroPro live, or at least was until the pandemic, and had been for four years despite having a vintage Vibrolux Reverb and Vintage DR. I sold the Vibrolux and kept the DR, but having a light amp with line out and great tone pretty much makes my choice of live amps a no brainer.
Some of the digital stuff is intimidating to me and I’m steering clear. I know two guys who had a Helix and went back to their tube amps. I f I spent that time going through the learning curve I’m not sure I’d want to go back.
True- I'm not a fan of the TMs personally, but one point I absolutely have to give them is that they're DRASTICALLY lighter than their tube counterparts.