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Tube Amplifiers... the basic rules..

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by wierdOne, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. wierdOne

    wierdOne Tele-Holic

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    So.... in another thread someone posted rules #3 and #4 from this web page:

    Blues Harp Basic Rules page

    here are all the rules:
    When taken for what it is, I think it's an invaluable set of basic guidelines for someone not familiar with tube technology.....

    I think that we could collectively come up with a thread that would help potential tube amp buyers with a "rule of thumb" set of guidelines... Honestly, i know at least 5-6 local guitar players who are somewhat hesitant to ask questions on the TDPRI because they feel like they're stupid questions....

    I guess i'm just putting this idea out there to see if anyone wants to do it... if not.. this thread will sink like a stone, and well... the universe will continue to do whatever it is that the universe does.
     
  2. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Harp players are a different species from guitar players. Can you carry your instrument in your hip pocket? Didn't think so... :lol:

    O.k., so they play a small and relatively inexpensive instrument. Never mind that you need a whole suitcase full of them... you can get by with two or three keys but that's never what happens...

    You might as well buy two or three iconic mics, say a Green Bullet with an old CR element or a JT30 with different guts if you don't like the way a Shure fits your hand.

    And that, kids, is a big part of the story there. An old tube amp with a high impedance input is just the thing for your 50 year old mic.

    Once you get to the amp there seems to be two camps. In one corner we have the SE guys and I have to admit, it's easier to control feedback when you only have five watts. In the other corner we have harp players who want to blow the guitar player, the keyboard player, the drummer and everyone else off the stage. A tweed Bassman replica tweaked for harp might do the trick. If you think, "Parts is parts" tell that to Sonny Junior...

    I haver a lot of respect for the high wattage harp guys. See, they have to cup the mic to control feedback. More watts means they have to cup it harder. High wattage harp players have forearms like Popeye... just the guy you want on your side in a bar fight! :lol:
     
  3. wierdOne

    wierdOne Tele-Holic

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    See... Harp players are looking for different things from amplifiers than we Tele players are...

    that's why I think it'd be a good idea to make up a "Telecaster Tube Amp Basics" list for prospective players looking to dive into the world of tube amps..... a "rule of thumb" list that they can go by to be able to tell the difference between a good tube amp and a not so good tube amp..

    after all.. there are so many different types of tube amps.... and some are VERY similar.... I would have loved it if someone would have put together a list of rules to go by when looking for a tube amp.... instead, I had to blindly go about picking amps without a decent knowledge foundation to build upon.

    It's not the 60's anymore... It's not just Fender, Sunn, Vox, and Marshall..... According to a list I saw on The Gear Page, there are over 300 tube amp manufacturers in the US alone....

    With the amount of knowledge that some of the people on this forum possess about tube amps, I'm sure that we could come up with 10 or so basic rules that everyone should know about while purchasing their first tube amp.... I think it'd be an invaluable resource for younger guitarists....

    We don't have to get into technical specs... like resistor values and power transformer brands.... just a simple 10 rule list...
     
  4. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Part of the problem is that pickers want a simple answer and there ain't no simple answer.

    Musicians want the least expensive gear they can get. That in itself defies the laws of economics, "good" and "cheap" are contradictary. Musicians first need to face their inner turmoil. You want to sound great, right? Unless you're some kind of guitar pickin' saint good gear will help you sound better. Good guitar, good setup, good pickups, good amp, maybe a good pedal or two if you have coin left over. All that costs money.

    Someone posted a link to Gerald Weber's $8k amp yesterday so we could use it for target practice. Can't stand the thought of spending eight grand? We'll bash a thousand dollar Twin today. Which is funny in a way, tomorrow we'll probably have a thread gushing over the $1700 TRRI.

    See what I mean?

    Besides... show me a rule, I'll show you an exception. :lol:

    I'll take a whack at it:

    Don't believe the hype.

    A tube amp must have tubes in it. We don't like fake so we distrust fake tubes. :lol:

    Trust your ears.

    If you don't have at least one good ear you'll need to find someone you trust who does.

    Always tell everyone what you play and what you listen to so we can get some idea of where you're coming from.

    It's up to you to figure out which of us are on the same page as you are and which of us aren't.

    Commit to your music. Or commit to being noncommital, I don't care. Just don't tell me you don't sound good, you want to sound good and that you want to sound good for fifty bucks.

    If you want to sound good for fifty bucks, commit to sounding good for fifty bucks. No joke. It's the long slow way to get there but it can be done. What you'll need to do is substitute knowledge and sweat equity for cash, that's why it takes time.

    Time is money. Don't waste my time and I won't waste your money. :lol:

    And, oh yeah, don't believe the hype! :lol:
     
  5. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    Mine are:

    1-buy a mesa boogie
    2-play it for 25+ years
    3-use it to make hundreds of thousands of dollars (American)
    4-clean it every 10 years whether it needs it or not
     
  6. Tele Fan

    Tele Fan Friend of Leo's

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    Tube Amp Rules:
    1. Play a bunch of tube amps at a bunch of stores
    2. Find a tube amp you like
    3. Purchase tube amp
    4. Play guitar through tube amp
     
  7. mlove3

    mlove3 Tele-Afflicted

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    my hard and fast rules for tube amps:

    1. do NOT buy a cheapo with PCB mounted sockets. recipe for disaster because tubes get HOT!

    2. Do go with at least 30 watts if you're going to play with a drummer. A lot of guitarists in the last few years have hopped on the 'crank a small amp for the power amp distortion vibe and TRUE tube tone', but keep in mind that it may sound killer in the practice room in isolation but you WILL want headroom when the drummer starts hittin heavy. and they ALWAYS do eventually.

    3. play as loud as you can get away, a tube amp likes to run like a dog.
     
  8. wierdOne

    wierdOne Tele-Holic

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    well... My first true tube amp experience was on a (then) 3500.00 50 watt John Landgraff head... being a young punk with no money, I didn't purchase it... but he sat me down and showed me what tube amps could do.... then... I set out to upgrade from my Peavey Bandit.... I went blindly out into the tube amp world to find an amp for me... all I knew was that John built expensive amps that could do alot... and that's about it....

    I had NO IDEA what the difference between an EL84 and a 6v6 was.... Heck... I didn't even know what things i should be considering regarding speaker size and wattage....

    I ended up with a Fender Pro-sonic, because i wasn't really sure what i needed.... it turns out, I NEVER used anything but the class A setting... and rarely turned the volume up past 3... That amp was way more amp than I needed....

    10 years later... I'm much more educated on my amplifiers... and I know a good amp when I plug into one...

    but... it's been a long expensive road...

    Keep the suggestions coming guys...
     
  9. wierdOne

    wierdOne Tele-Holic

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    10 years ago.. I'd agree with you... but with the advent of this little thing called the internet, there has been a HUGE shift from buying from a local store and buying on the internet..

    Think about it.... Say you've got this 72 Fender Bassman head that's been sitting around for a while... You decide to get rid of it.... Why go to your local store and sell your tube amp you paid good money for, when you could come to the TDPRI, or EBAY, or TheGearPage and sell it for 2Xs what you'd get from your local guitar shop for it... The same goes for youngsters buying instruments online... sad but true.... The times won't slow down for us tube amp purists.... so... having an online guide might be useful for young people...
     
  10. Brad Miller

    Brad Miller Tele-Afflicted

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    my one and only tube amp rule is....buy as many as I can.
     
  11. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    This is a world class mis-statement. I'm not going to pick it apart item by item because it should be self-evident, tube amps are not all created equal. If they were all the same we wouldn't be having this discussion, just buy one. "They're all the same." :lol:

    I did, however, simplify it to one usable rule:

    Everyone will tell you what's best for you. No one knows what's best for you... except you!!

    Buy as many as you can is good advice. :lol:
     
  12. Swee_tone

    Swee_tone Tele-Holic

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    For myself, I think there are several mis- statements in this thread. But that's just me, carry on...
     
  13. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Doctor of Teleocity

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    +1!

    The Western Electric books were a great resource, but the tweaks made by the various mfrs. were significant. You can substitute different tubes, coupling caps, change bias, phase inverter, re-voice tone controls, etc. very easily. So what starts as Western Electric can sound very different as Fender.

    Or Marshall. Jim Marshall lifted the 4x10 Bassman circuit from Fender. He had a problem getting 6L6 tubes, so he redesigned for EL34's. Went with the British Celestions instead of U. S. Jensens. Sounds different, works well. The rest is history. And no one says Fender sounds like Marshall.
     
  14. marshman

    marshman Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    How 'bout a set of rules of what to ask when examining a new/used amp?

    1) How old is it?
    2) Is the speaker original? What is it?
    3) If the amp is not obviously brand new, has it ever been serviced? What was done?
    4) How fresh are the tubes?

    Maybe a list of obvious things to physically inspect...do the tubes red-plate, stuff like that...might be a useful info.

    I guess the problem is knowing what/how these specs will impact an amps general sonic vibe and your personal tastes...

    Are you a country picker that wants big headroom and monster cleans? 6L6GCs and SS rectifiers are probably for you.

    Bluesy grind nearly full-time? 5Y3 recto and 6V6GTs might be your style.

    Detuned power chords with overdrive permanantly? 5U4GB rectos and half a dozen EL34s should do ya.

    Brit Pop? EL84s, Celestion Blues, GZ34s are the order of the day.
     
  15. Lathem

    Lathem Tele-Meister

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    FWIW, I still don't.

    I was going to stick a "smiley" on the end of that sentence, but if I did so someone might think I was kidding. I'm not.

    Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
     
  16. wierdOne

    wierdOne Tele-Holic

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    So..... Apparently no one can read past the obvious errors in the original post from the harmonica page.

    I don't care about how factual the list of rules from the harmonica page is.. The point is that someone out there in cyberspace actually tried to help people out who were just getting into tube amp shopping... Since everybody that's posted on this thread obviously knows more about tube amps than the original source, then... Well. It shouldn't be that hard to come up with a short list of things that will help the uninformed guitar player make a decision..

    But, I've been off the forum awhile, and it always amazes me how much negativity brews here...

    The entire purpose of this thread was to challenge us to brainstorm a functional list that would help young guitarists who don't have an electrical engineering degree.

    If you can't add anything positive then why are you even replying?
     
  17. Tele Fan

    Tele Fan Friend of Leo's

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    I wasn't trying to be negative there, slick. I just think people should find what they like and play it. If you spend all your time comparing every little thing about the amps your looking at your wasting a lot of time you could be using to enjoy playing music. While I do think you should do some research to make sure your gear of choice has a good reputation for being reliable, I really don't think much else matter if you enjoy playing through it.
     
  18. mlove3

    mlove3 Tele-Afflicted

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    the thread is what it is, everyone's personal opinion on what the critical things to look for are, or their own experience.
    negative?
     
  19. JD0x0

    JD0x0 Poster Extraordinaire

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    1. Get a Dumble(clone) Tube amp.

    i swear you can do any style on them.
     
  20. Jerry P'bury

    Jerry P'bury TDPRI Member

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    I'm cheap

    If I want a specific type of amp I build it.

    I have built (and still own) a Tweed Bassman, Bandmaster, Deluxe and Champ. All for a LOT less than it would cost to buy. I also learned a lot along the way. I have also bought some great amps in less than stellar condition really cheap and rebuilt them (still own these also). 64 BF Champ $20, 69 Super Reverb $200, 69 Twin Reverb $300, 68 Dual Showman $100, 67 Deluxe Reverb $180, 66 Bassman $300, all needed some work (some more than others) All where Blackfaced (where appropriate), new tubes, new electrolytics, biased and what ever else they needed. There are some great books out there and lots of info on the internet. All you need is desire.

    I am currently building a 50 watt marshall. Lots of fun. All of these amps sound different but when I play them it still sounds like me.

    I bought some inexpensive solid state Fender amps for my kids over the years and I have a lot of fun playing those, especially with a Dano U2. I have a problem. Know matter how hard I have tried over the years to cop someone elses tone or sound I have failed miserably. So I gave up. I sound fine through any amp. I even use Dynaco ST70's that I have rebuilt.
    It's been said before, the tone is in the head and hands.

    This probably doesn't help.

    Jerry
     
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