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Tube Amplifiers... the basic rules..

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

  1. muchxs

    muchxs Doctor of Teleocity

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    Like I said, the simple answer is that there ain't no simple answer. The universe establishes its own equilibrium. Entropy negates energy. Everything positive is nullified by something negative. Especially on the 'net. Everything factual is quickly covered in BS. Might as well draw your own conclusions and march to your own drummer from the get-go because in the end you will anyway.

    Or seek the safety of herd until you're sick of it.

    Read Aspen Pittman's book, Gerald Weber's book, Dave Funk's book and Kevin O' Conner's books. Find a nice quiet place and read. The 'net isn't a quiet place, it's pretty noisy.
     
  2. JG806

    JG806 Tele-Holic

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    Yes. You've got to take it for what it is. This forum is a microcosm(?) of society for the most part. What brings us all together is guitars & amps & music. There will always be folks that don't agree. I'm relatively new here & it took me a while to not get annoyed at some of the self righteousness or whatever you want to call it. There is a lot of knowledge here. Take the good...leave the bad.

    My Tube Amp rules
    1 - Don't pretend you like an amp because it says Fender or Marshall or Mesa or whatever. It is ok to not like something that everyone else likes (or say they like).
    2 - 30 watts is plenty of power. 15 or 18 watts is sufficient. Most folks don't need more than 30 watts.
    3 - know what you want from an amp. So many posts here ask "what should I get" but don't share what they want. I'm always surprised about how many people respond with out knowing what the poster really wants.
     
  3. ThermionicScott

    ThermionicScott Poster Extraordinaire

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    I applaud the effort to make things more approachable for newbies, but when things get oversimplistic or flat-out wrong, that's where we'll draw the line. "Buy the cheapest amp you can"?? "Every amp uses the same components"?? The guy even shoos people away from amps with solid-state rectifiers simply because he has a gut feeling about them... :rolleyes:

    I don't think anyone here is attacking the intentions of the original author, but not all of the "rules" are good ideas for newbies, IMO. Basic rules of thumb need to be objective and the author of these has thrown in too many of his own biases. There are plenty of perfectly-good (and affordable) amps that would be eliminated from the running by these rules.

    - Scott
     
  4. Hecks

    Hecks Tele-Meister

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    Here are some of my guidelines.

    1.) It must sound good to me and be easy to operate.
    2.) It must sound good to me and be easy to operate.
    3.) It must sound good to me and be easy to operate.

    You get the idea.

    But really it has to have a pleasing sound when I play through it. Not necessarily pleasing in a soft, gentle way, but more like dynamic, loud and soft depending on what I want it to sound like at that moment.

    Ease of operation, minimal controls, useable range on the controls, quick setup, are what makes a good sounding amp great.

    I don't need a learning curve to stop me when I want to create something. Others want a knob forest on the front of their amp.

    Maybe the only real "rule" (for me anyway)... only buy what you can play first.
     
  5. JG806

    JG806 Tele-Holic

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    Hate to jump in twice here, but I think you've confused what the initial "poster" wrote & what he pasted in from another forum. If believe the mis-information & the "flat-out-wrongs" are not his thoughts. They were pasted from a Harp forum. I think what he was trying to start was some simple "rules" for buying your first tube amp. Due to the paste from the Harp forum, this thread is being grossly mis-understood.
     
  6. ThermionicScott

    ThermionicScott Poster Extraordinaire

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    No, I understand that weirdOne was quoting something from another forum to start the discussion. And I have nothing against weirdOne himself! I'm just offering reasons not to adopt the quoted content as "our" rules for newbies. I think some of the other posters here have offered some great guidelines for newbies -- try a lot of amps out at the store before buying, don't buy something needlessly complex, don't shop by brand, trust your ears, don't buy too big of an amp, etc.

    - Scott
     
  7. JG806

    JG806 Tele-Holic

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    Agreed. Most if not all of that content is non-applicable to guitarist.
     
  8. casadyrocks

    casadyrocks Banned

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    That's a really good plan!
     
  9. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    It's been pretty good plan for 26 years. I just bought a Tweed BJr last night so it can take a vacation from rehearsals.
     
  10. wierdOne

    wierdOne Tele-Holic

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    Sorry about the "negative" comments yesterday.. I didn't read all of the thread responses, and I was at my surgeons office waiting on the results of a biopsy.

    This post is exactly the direction I was talking about... just simple rules of thumbs that a "not so tube suave person" can go by.
     
  11. Natstrat79

    Natstrat79 Tele-Meister

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    1. You get what you pay for. While you don't need to spend thousands of dollars to get great tone, if you buy a cheap amp you just might end up replacing it, over and over and over again.

    2. A tube amp is an instrument. Find an amp that fits you and your playing style. There is no one size fits all. And on that note very few tube amps can cover every style of music. Want death metal and chimey brit pop cleans in one amp? Then look for pedals.

    3. There is no substitute for headroom. If you can't mic your amp at the gig then that 15watt tweed deluxe will never cut it if you want anything resembling clean tones. A 5watt amp will never have thunderous low end and punch. On the other hand if you want to crank your tube amp for overdrive without pedals and you still want to have your hearing then don't buy a 100watt amp without a master volume.

    4. Don't fall for the internet hype and snake oil. If it sounds good to you it is good. Even if person X says Y amp is trash.

    5. There are good master volumes, and solid state rectifiers are fine.

    There's a few I'll think of more later.
     
  12. mlove3

    mlove3 Tele-Afflicted

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    +1 natstrat, you're talkin some sense!

    beer and pretzels for everyone, on me!
     
  13. SamBooka

    SamBooka Tele-Afflicted

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    Rule of thumb.. dont play with your thumb unless you want to sound like Ritchie Havens (no.. not the LaBamba dude).
    This isnt brain surgery.. no one dies. Go out and try an amp. If you like it.. great.If not.. dont buy it. If you buy it and in 6 weeks you are sick of it.. sell it. Still alive? Yes..
    There is a reason they call it a tone QUEST. Sure you can do you homework (and you really should) but rules of thumb are just that. Maybe an AC30 is perfect for your death metal (with the right pedal?). Dont eliminate it from the equation. Maybe an AC30 is perfect for YOUR death metal.. see what I am saying?

    Ok.. tired and a little drunk. Going to bed.. think about it tho. Dont let anyone keep you under their thumb.
     
  14. Carzee

    Carzee Tele-Afflicted

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    This post has the potential to save many people a lot of time and money.
     
  15. anacephalic

    anacephalic Tele-Meister

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    I'd suggest sorting out the difference between the way a cathode biased pseudo class A and class A amp responds vrs a fixed bias amp. Add that to Marshman's tube summary and one can start culling the herd by personal taset pretty quick. My EL84 fed DrZ Rx responds in a mighty similar way to my Victoria Regal whether the regal has 6v6 or 6l6s or one of each in it where as a DRRI for example isn't anywhere close
     
  16. JohnnyCrash

    JohnnyCrash Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm with you wierdOne on this... which is why I have a problem with their rule #2 :)





    Folks not familiar with tube technology and those who feel afraid to ask "stupid questions" I think will be led astray by those dude's rule #2.

    To say all components are the same is mostly true, but to say all amps are based on the old tube manufacturer's sample circuits may land a guitar player a really crappy sounding amp. Circuits are all very different.

    As you said, there are over 300 tube amp manufacturers!

    A "Fender Deluxe" can mean all variety of tube amps, some good some awful (from tweeds, to Blues Deluxes, and Deluxe Reverb II's, to you name it). Circuits matter. Still, newbies don't have to pore over schematics to find an amp.

    At the same time, there are also a lot of good tube amps for cheap that aren't boutique tube snob stuff.

    --

    A few possible rules?:

    1. Internet Research. Reviews, read about what gear your favorite artists use to get tones you like, watch YouTube clips, listen to samples.

    2. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Provide info on what kind of music you play and be specific about the sounds you want.

    3. Take previous rule above with grain of salt. There are guys like me who have said stupid stuff, or even snobby stuff (I'm trying to reform though :( ). Internet forums on hobbies are often frequented by extremely opinionated people. If someone speaks in absolutes ("anything other than X, Y, or Z is awful") take their words with a larger grain of salt.

    4. After narrowing down your choices (by budget and preferences/taste), take your guitar (if possible) to a local shop and try out the amps (if there are shops nearby). Try out all of the amps you can, even those not on your list. If no shops, try local classifieds and try before you buy. Then repeat steps 1-4 to narrow down what you liked and didn't like - some stuff can be "fixed" with speaker swaps, easy mods, etc.

    5. Get an amp for your needs. If you live in an apartment, get small amps or amps with master volumes or buy yourself an attenuator. If you record, get several amps for several jobs. If you gig, go for reliability, portability, or other factors important to you (and possible backup amps). Evaluate what you need and try to anticipate future needs (not in a band right now, but you'll want to eventually gig on down the road?).

    6. After the purchase don't fall for your own opinions right away (good or bad). Sometimes our ears are used to old gear, or we have a honeymoon period. Give the new amp a good bit of time before committing.

    7. Once you've settled on an amp, continue the educational process. If you can learn how to service your own amps (or build them) you can improve your amp, repair it (maintaining value and saving dough), or build others.

    8. Stay open minded. Even after finding stuff you're 100% sure about. Closed minds may keep you from new stuff you'd love, trying out FX, or other stuff. One speaker you've had long term experience with may suck in one amp, but in other amps may really shine. A closed mind only keeps you from more happiness.

    9. Have fun at every step. This is the most important rule :)

    IDK, that's all I could think of...
     
  17. e-merlin

    e-merlin Doctor of Teleocity

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    For those just starting out?

    Try as many amps as you can. Try 'em through as many speakers as you can.

    Take your guitar or guitars; don't rely on what the store has because yours sounds a bit different.

    Try out what your main influences use. Don't worry if you don't sound exactly like they do, you just want to see if those amps fit.

    Don't dismiss an amp because someone else doesn't like 'em.

    Don't buy something solely because someone says you have to have it to get "that tone." You're after your tone here, not that feller's.

    Don't forget that speakers are about 50% of an amp's tone.

    Don't expect to buy an amp and make it a totally different amp by swapping in speaker X.

    Don't buy something and immediately start modding it unless you buy it specifically for that reason and know what you're going for.
     
  18. Mark Moore

    Mark Moore Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't know a lot of stuff, but this is what I know for sure:

    • If you want to sound like your favorite artists, there is no substitute for technique and practice. And chops.
    • Buying the most expensive boutique gear will not improve your playing.
    • Your favorite artist will sound like himself whether playing a Squier and a Frontman or a million dollar boutique rig.
    • Some of the most revered musicians in the last 100 years played whatever gear they could get.
    That said, if buying gear makes you happy, knock yourself out. Gear makers and sellers love you for it. If you're looking for your sound, you might have already found it and don't know it yet.
     
  19. 1962guitargeek

    1962guitargeek Friend of Leo's

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    Now this has done more for me than all my research combined! Thanks!
     
  20. JG806

    JG806 Tele-Holic

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    You are addressing a different point! Great players are great regardless of gear...Yes...the sky is also blue...Nothing really to do with this thread. This is about advice for buying tube amps. The only useful thing you said is "you might have already found it".
     
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