Tubes at 'home only' volume - is there any point?

Discussion in 'Glowing Bottle Tube Amp Forum' started by VerySlowHand, Feb 25, 2020.

  1. VerySlowHand

    VerySlowHand Tele-Holic

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    I'm looking for an amp for home use only, after getting back into playing electric. I like to practice with a looper (Ditto X2 incoming) and don't anticipate needing any more effects than light-ish overdrive, reverb and delay - and maybe a little compression. Wide musical tastes: blues, classic rock, jazz-rock, indie (no metal or chicken-picken country). I have studio monitors to take backing tracks, but I'll mostly do my own, on the fly, with the looper.

    Simple question: at low volumes (see edit), is it really worth bothering with tubes, or should I go SS?

    Tube thoughts are: Blues Junior, Bassbreaker 15, or Super Champ XD / X2.
    SS: Mustang GT/GTX (I just bought a cheap Mustang III V2 while I decide and have discounted the Katana).

    I like the idea of a nice Fender tube amp, as I'd see it as 'an amp for life', but I'm not sure it's the best choice for home use only. Might even buy one of each - tube and SS.

    Edit: I'm in a detached house in the country, so I'm not thinking whisper quiet bedroom volumes - and I don't like (or need) headphones ,or amps with little speakers, like those Yamaha THRs (tried one and thought it was loud, but not 'full').

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
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  2. WireLine

    WireLine Tele-Afflicted

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    If you like a tube amp, use it. Pretty amazing things can be captured with a good guitar, a good mic, and a Fender Vibro Champ.
     
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  3. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Friend of Leo's

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    Its hard to say. Modellers and SS do offer really nice overdrive tones at bedroom levels, much better than tube amps, even low watt tube amps imo. But, if you really crank up backing tracks thru some decent monitors or mains at the house, you will quickly notice the modellers and SS loose dynamics, and get lost in the mix - literally. Meanwhile, a tube amp will stand out, even in a pure clean range, and at low volumes. Double the effect if you are practicing with a band. Try it and see.
     
  4. ruger9

    ruger9 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just my $0.02, having been down this road. No. SS is fine. However there IS a caveat...

    if you are going to be using a pedal for your "light-ish overdrive", you need to make sure the amp takes that pedal well- regardless if it's tubes or SS. I own both kinds of amps, and love them equally. Currently have a Bad Cat Hot Cat that has a really well-functioning master volume, a PRRI which does NOT take drive pedals well (only one: the Rockett Blue Note, for some reason), and a Roland Microcube Artist, which sounds and feels just like a tube amp (no joke), and it also doesn't take OD pedals well... however, it has 2 channels, and light-isa overdrive on the dirty channel sounds GREAT, so no pedal needed there (at least not for your usage description.)

    Had I not already purchased the Roland, I would have been looking at the new Fender Tonemasters, because of their power scaling feature. Personally, I think Roland and Fender have "cracked the code" regarding SS/modeling amps sounding as good a tubes, at least at lower volumes like we are talking about.... altho I gig the Roland and can vouch for it's "authenticity" even at gig volumes... I forget I'm not playing a tube amp, at ANY volume, with that amp.

    I'm less a fan of the little modelers like the previous GDECs and current Mustangs.
     
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  5. Si G X

    Si G X Tele-Holic

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    I think it depends, there's home use and 'home use' .... even a small valve amp will be loud and will sound best at volume. It all depends on your personal situation. When I'm playing at home, I rarely play through anything bigger than my Blackstar Fly. When I go to my mates house to work on songs for the band I take a small practice amp (pathfinder 10) then band practice or gigging I take the Marshall. I don't have a dedicated 'music room' or anything like that at home and I can't be bothered lugging the Marshall around at home, if I could have everything permanently set up I might though.
     
  6. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    Lots of amps have power attenuators these days. That could be an option.
     
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  7. tah1962

    tah1962 Friend of Leo's

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    Blue Jr. is a good choice and you can usually find them used for a good price.
     
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  8. ruger9

    ruger9 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Here's an additional thought, as an example: if I couldn't turn the PRRI up to AT LEAST 3, I wouldn't bother having bought one for home use. That's not loud, but it's not quiet either. The above poster makes a good point regarding home volume vs "home volume". If you're looking for QUIET, like "bedroom volume", a modeler is your only choice, imo. If I had to play that quietly, I'd be running a Tonemaster, Roland, or Mustang.
     
  9. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I guess the answer lies in how much signal you are sending the amp & whether there is a master volume on the amp. You can achieve good tube drive at lower volumes with a fat signal & master volume control.
     
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  10. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    Not two of the amps, but one and another Fender tube amps.

    The other day I was in my local Sam Ash, by myself so no loud volume needed to drown out other players.
    I played through a Mustang GT100 compared to the Fender Blues Deluxe.

    This confirmed what I have always heard in the past. The tube amp was far superior to the modeling amp.
    Now also the consensus on the internet is the GT100 is not as good as the MIII you already have.
     
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  11. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    If you like the sound, then yea there’s a point. Why limit yourself? I think you need to quit looking at what’s inside the amp and just listen for what you want to hear.
     
  12. jimgchord

    jimgchord Tele-Afflicted

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    I prefer the feel and sound of tubes at low volume. 5f2a with a 12" low efficiency alnico weber
     
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  13. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    The game changer in modeling is impulse responses (IR) that simulate the response of a cabinet, mic and room over time. This is the trick to getting great tones at home volumes that won't annoy your family while they're doing homework or watching Bridezillas.

    The great thing about them is that they'll work with both tube and modeling amps quite well. For a tube combo or head you can use a load box with an IR loader so that you can go to monitors or headphones and enjoy your tube tone. Modelers also sound better since you gain a more dynamic response of speakers, cabinet, etc.
     
  14. Norris Vulcan

    Norris Vulcan Tele-Holic

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    Whatever sounds good to your ears.
    Personally I use an AC30 (and attenuator) at home and the point of the 'tube sound' isn't overdrive or volume, it's the sound. The filtering and response of a valve circuit just sounds and plays better for my style - which is mostly clean.
    I'm happy playing through a good SS amp as well, so long as it sounds good :D
     
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  15. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Friend of Leo's

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    I had the cops show up at my door on evening at about 7:30 when I was playing my SFPR at 3. The cranky first time parents next door had called them because I had woke their baby. The cops said it wasn't a problem but they didn't want to have to come back out here either. Glad I don't live in that house anymore.
     
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  16. stormsedge

    stormsedge Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    Bedroom volume...wife studying: SS-Quilter 201 gain 9 o'clock, volume/watts at 2...guitar 5-8 depending on the guitar. Tube-Bugera V5 set at 1 watt, gain 12 o'clock, volume 12-2 o'clock...guitars 6-10. Cabinets are some combination of 1x12s and/or 2x8. Blackstar HT 40 Club (tube)...meh, I can do it with a boost pedal on input, but sounds better when it is cranked a little more...better for use when Mrs. isn't home. Fender Mustang I (SS) was the only amp I had for several years...does it all at bedroom volumes. My 4 cents/experience.
     
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  17. beagle

    beagle Friend of Leo's

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    It depends where you live. For me in a typical Victorian 3 bed semi, even small valve amps are a no no. My Princeton Reverb was banned by the household authorities way back in the 80s.
     
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  18. Flaneur

    Flaneur Friend of Leo's

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    A Fender valve amp for life? Old ones are like gold dust, in the UK, so it's either a reissue or a clone.

    If I was never leaving the house, with a guitar, again- I'd be happy with a hand wired Tweed Deluxe or Princeton Reverb. Start your search there. :)

    (I live in the country, so my idea of 'home -only volume' may not always be a good guide...)

    If you don't like the Fender options, there are plenty of good builders, who will construct what you want. I like these guys.....

    https://www.flynnamps.com/

    Good luck. Tell us how you get on. :cool:
     
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  19. ruger9

    ruger9 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, a definition of actual volume needed would be helpful. I don't live in the country, but I do live on a 1/2 acre, with a wife who was attracted to me BECAUSE I played guitar in a band (and she loves music), so my "home volume" is what I call "reasonable"... not gig volume, but not whisper quiet either. If I have to play while she is sleeping, or while she is watching tv upstairs,... I don't. Or I play without an amp. Even my tiny Microcube is too loud for that. Headphones can be an option with the modelers, but personally I hate them, and would just play amp-less or not play if that were the case. I don't "get" anything out of using an amp so quietly that I can't FEEL it... actually, the GDEC3-30 I recently sold was very good for this need.... but I just don't "need" it often enough to matter.
     
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  20. LowCaster

    LowCaster Tele-Afflicted

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    « Amp for life »? I’d start looking for a serviced vintage Champ/Princeton/Deluxe...

    My main amp for home playing is currently a Blues Junior. It is loud. You can’t get a crunch or distorted tone at home without using a power attenuator. I wouldn’t recommend it as a bedroom amp. The tone is good, like OK, but not extraordinary.

    The Katana 50 is a good bedroom amp, and so should be the mustang. They are powerful enough to be used for gigs too. The problem is that tube amps have a different and better tone, even the Blues Junior. I’m not saying that I could hear that in the mix in a live situation, but as the player you feel that something différentes going on.

    Unfortunately, the problem with « real » tube amps is that they were meant to be loud, and when you downscale them, they lose the power to move air and don’t feel great anymore. For example 5Watt amp with small speaker is still very loud if you push it, but becomes clean and sterile sounding when you turn the volume down. The use of an attenuator allows you to retain the grit from the distorting tubes, but the dynamics, bass response and general feeling is lost.

    I love tube amps and I’m still searching in that direction, but I don’t know any valuable solution. There are smaller tube amps like 1Watt, (Vox little night train, Marshall DSl1) and boutique amps to investigate.

    In your list I’d consider a used Superchamp XD. Not expensive, and you get the best of both worlds. Clean channel is as close as possible to a real tube amp and can be loud, while the other channel gives you all the versatility you need, some effects, voicings, and the ability to control gain and volume.
     
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