What are people's thoughts on Jim Lill's methodology for comparing amp tone?

getbent

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he is doing a fantastic job of producing tight, good videos which will provide enough money to keep the mailbox happy... smart! I grow weary of 'I'm just a musician' though... it is a clever marketing piece, but rhetorically it is grating (for me.)

good for him! I don't find the methodology valuable... but, I know it will work for some!
 

Deeve

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Jim Lill does a lot of methodical breakdowns of what constitutes the concrete differences in guitar tones. Today he released a video attempting to determine what makes different amps sound different from each other:


I'm very interested to hear from the amp gurus here at TDPRI what they think of his methodology and results. Jim seems to find that tone of an amp is determined by:

1. various differences in cabs (see his previous video)
2. differences in speakers
3. the order in which EQ stages are applied along the chain compared to distortion stages

My opinion is that I think his work is very good and I agree with a lot of his findings, though maybe some are slightly simplistic. Like for example, he finds that rectifier type doesn't really matter, which I would sort of agree with. I believe rectifier type matters in as much as it affects the B+ voltage, but if you normalize the B+ out, then it basically doesn't matter. If b+ is higher, it can definitely increase gain and distortion. Perhaps the model he tested it out on did some sort of normalization or something?
For another example, I think he's just thinking of an EQ stage as something that you can turn a knob or flip a switch for, but in actuality, EQ happens all the time at just about every stage of the amp, whenever there is an RC network or in some configurations of amplification stages.
He also doesn't really pay attention to different types of distortion in different preamp tube amplification configurations (like cold clipping vs normal clipping having different audible effects on the waveform, or symmetric vs asymmetric) and he doesn't seem to pay too much attention to other tone-processing details, like NFB and its impact on tone and how it mixes with distortion for different sounds. Or maybe those other details really don't impact the sound too much, who knows?

Still though, I think this is great food for thought, and goes a long way towards figuring out what matters and what doesn't, and I'd love to hear what others think!

Loving that Tackle Box w/ bread-boards & pedals . . .
(looks affectionately at my simple Pod)
:eek:
 

Peegoo

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He's not an EE or a luthier, but he doesn't have to be.

If nothing else, Lill puts his money where his mouth is. He spends his own money and puts forth actual effort to present his information in an objective way that viewers can truly use to help make qualified decisions. He tries different things and uses EQ analysis to help level the playing field when making sound comparisons between pieces of music gear.

In this manner, it's unlike most all other "comparison" content on YouTube--much of which is opinion and smoke and mirrors.
 

The Angle

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I'm not positioned to give thumbs up or down on his methodology, but I appreciate that he's tackling some of the rampant myths we guitar players buy into wholesale and he's trying to be at least vaguely scientific about it. To which he'd probably reply "I'm just a performer, I don't know anything about science."
 

jvin248

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.

Lill does a good job with the homespun content.

Johan Segeborn YouTube channel has done a huge series of series on amps and speakers. One had 27 Celestion speakers. I believe his day job is an engineer at Volvo. So his channel is worth mining. His conclusion drives at the speakers.

I've gotten to the point with all the amp shenanigans that the amp is just there to make the tone you have louder. Fancy pants tube amps with matching mics get run through a solid state PA for any larger gig -- just like a pedal. Recording studios sometimes use wonky practice amps or razor blade the speaker cones. So run the pedal board to get the tone and have a simple loud clean durable amp to hear it.

.
 

Wound_Up

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Jim Lill does a lot of methodical breakdowns of what constitutes the concrete differences in guitar tones. Today he released a video attempting to determine what makes different amps sound different from each other:


I'm very interested to hear from the amp gurus here at TDPRI what they think of his methodology and results. Jim seems to find that tone of an amp is determined by:

1. various differences in cabs (see his previous video)
2. differences in speakers
3. the order in which EQ stages are applied along the chain compared to distortion stages

My opinion is that I think his work is very good and I agree with a lot of his findings, though maybe some are slightly simplistic. Like for example, he finds that rectifier type doesn't really matter, which I would sort of agree with. I believe rectifier type matters in as much as it affects the B+ voltage, but if you normalize the B+ out, then it basically doesn't matter. If b+ is higher, it can definitely increase gain and distortion. Perhaps the model he tested it out on did some sort of normalization or something?
For another example, I think he's just thinking of an EQ stage as something that you can turn a knob or flip a switch for, but in actuality, EQ happens all the time at just about every stage of the amp, whenever there is an RC network or in some configurations of amplification stages.
He also doesn't really pay attention to different types of distortion in different preamp tube amplification configurations (like cold clipping vs normal clipping having different audible effects on the waveform, or symmetric vs asymmetric) and he doesn't seem to pay too much attention to other tone-processing details, like NFB and its impact on tone and how it mixes with distortion for different sounds. Or maybe those other details really don't impact the sound too much, who knows?

Still though, I think this is great food for thought, and goes a long way towards figuring out what matters and what doesn't, and I'd love to hear what others think!


His vids are good for entertainment. Nothing more. He proved how clueless he was in the first vid he made in this series. So I haven't watched anything since. He doesn't know the things that I knew 2 weeks into learning to play guitar. If he doesn't know basics, I can't trust that, he knows anything past basics, either.

I don't waste my time with his nonsense.
 

somebodyelseuk

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Jim Lill does a lot of methodical breakdowns of what constitutes the concrete differences in guitar tones. Today he released a video attempting to determine what makes different amps sound different from each other:


I'm very interested to hear from the amp gurus here at TDPRI what they think of his methodology and results. Jim seems to find that tone of an amp is determined by:

1. various differences in cabs (see his previous video)
2. differences in speakers
3. the order in which EQ stages are applied along the chain compared to distortion stages

My opinion is that I think his work is very good and I agree with a lot of his findings, though maybe some are slightly simplistic. Like for example, he finds that rectifier type doesn't really matter, which I would sort of agree with. I believe rectifier type matters in as much as it affects the B+ voltage, but if you normalize the B+ out, then it basically doesn't matter. If b+ is higher, it can definitely increase gain and distortion. Perhaps the model he tested it out on did some sort of normalization or something?
For another example, I think he's just thinking of an EQ stage as something that you can turn a knob or flip a switch for, but in actuality, EQ happens all the time at just about every stage of the amp, whenever there is an RC network or in some configurations of amplification stages.
He also doesn't really pay attention to different types of distortion in different preamp tube amplification configurations (like cold clipping vs normal clipping having different audible effects on the waveform, or symmetric vs asymmetric) and he doesn't seem to pay too much attention to other tone-processing details, like NFB and its impact on tone and how it mixes with distortion for different sounds. Or maybe those other details really don't impact the sound too much, who knows?

Still though, I think this is great food for thought, and goes a long way towards figuring out what matters and what doesn't, and I'd love to hear what others think!

About as useful as someone comparing photos on the radio.

"Wayne's World, Wayne's World. Party time. Excellent..."
 

archtop_fjk

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I don't get too wound up about videos like these as they have become click bait for YouTube guitar content consumers (e.g. "I was shocked to learn about this ONE GREAT SCALE SHAPE!!"). As I mentioned above, you need a LOT more playing for each example to compare the tonal differences, and I think there is enough collective wisdom and experience (both here and elsewhere) to conclude that there ARE notable differences between tube amp topologies, tubes, rectifiers, etc.

BTW - is he using his tackle box amp on stage?? ;)
 

moonlighter

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I've spoken about this before on this forum, but I've experimented extensively with tube vs solid state rectifiers. As I noted above, using solid state vs tube rectifiers will change the B+ voltage, and it's important to control for that in your experiments (which I did, in one case by using a power transformer with two taps at separate voltage, and in another case using zener diodes to drop the B+). The reason one might sound different than the other could have nothing to do with sag, and everything to do with just that the B+ is higher, which means that the amp will sound louder, and lead to more distortion, or a different quality of distortion, and can lead to the sound of a "squishier attack" or "faster attack". It's important to control for one variable at a time when trying to determine the effect of components on tone.

I'm open to having my mind changed, but someone would have to explicitly show some recordings in which they've controlled for B+ voltage in a rectifier switch - simply switching from one rectifier to the other without keeping B+ roughly constant would not be enough.



Potentially because Dumble wanted to have a 100uf to 150uf filter cap (depending on model) as his first filter stage for B+, and using that high a value would easily kill any tube rectifier.

Yes, a lot of truth here, but you cannot ignore transient response time. Which for a lot of people will be a feel thing.
Stiffer power supply = faster transient processing, regardless of B+ voltage. Will the B+ change your distortion chacharacteristics? Yes. Will it change your transient response? Negligably.
How robust the PSU is will define attack and release times; in the form of how well it can handle an overcurrent scenario and how fast it can recover from it. In an overcurrent scenario the plate impedence of a tube diode increases and has an inherent return time back to stable condition. This is also true for silicon diodes, but to a much lesser extent. When we couple this with the filter capacitor limits of a tube rectifier, it will never be as stiff in attack and release as a diode bridge.
Current draws vary wildly under heavy signal load especially as power tubes age, and if a PSU is underrated for such load (as is so common in Fender Tweeds), by the laws of physics, "sag" will happen. Whether you can hear or feel it is up to the end-user to decide.
 
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Paul G.

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Tried to watch this. First "test" his guitar sounded thin, raspy, tinny and grating. Second "test" same, except a bit more bass. Third "test" more of the same. This is not someone I trust to discuss tone as he's apparently never heard an actual electric guitar/amp combination before. I'm glad he plays well enough to make a living, but, whew, not a fan of his ears.
 

schmee

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I think speakers and cabs are a HUGE part of an amp's tone. But no speaker and cab are going to make a sterile, like some SS amps or others change enough.

The only way I know to actually assess an amp is to gig with it. I've had amps I loved at home and at the first gig it was brutal. All those songs, styles, in-the-mix issues come to the surface at a gig.
 

The Angle

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My takeaway from the video is that we obsess to the Nth degree over things that don't matter even a tiny fraction of N. These things do matter; they just don't matter enough to be worth the time and energy we spend on them. I include myself in that category, but after several years spent wandering (happily, mostly) in the tone-chasing labyrinth, I'm trying to get out. I'm trying to learn what's true and what's myth, what's worth my time (i.e., what's worth taking time away from practice and playing) and what isn't. More and more, I find that seeking the perfect tone-shaping gear is not worth my time. I'm leaning on a few good amps and a few versatile pedals and focusing on making them do what I want, rather than searching for "the sound" and molding myself to it.

I hope that explanation makes sense and doesn't sound preachy. I'm not trying to evangelize. I enjoy diving into the deep end of the gear pool. But I often come out feeling like Dorothy when Glinda the Good Witch tells her "You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself."
 
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Blrfl

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What he did was far from perfect, but the effort deserves props for two things. One is at least trying to apply the scientific method to what he did. The other -- and more-important -- is learning about the architecture of the amps he used and taking steps to compensate for their differences. This is especially true with the tone stacks because the noon position on the dials rarely means flat. Even if he doesn't understand where every electron goes, it's still well ahead of most forum discussions.
 

TequilaCaster

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he is doing a fantastic job of producing tight, good videos which will provide enough money to keep the mailbox happy... smart! I grow weary of 'I'm just a musician' though... it is a clever marketing piece, but rhetorically it is grating (for me.)

good for him! I don't find the methodology valuable... but, I know it will work for some!

Are you saying that he's doing it for the money?
How much do you estimate he can pull in from youtube views, and paypal donations?
He has 16 videos up, 11 are within the last 12 months, averaging over 100K views per video.
I personally have no idea. Anyone else know?
It just might be time for me to launch my own channel... Totally Naked Tele.
I can't sing, I ain't pretty, and my legs are thin...
 
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getbent

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Are you saying that he's doing it for the money?
How much do you estimate he can pull in from youtube views, and paypal donations?
He has 16 videos up, 11 are within the last 12 months, averaging over 100K views per video.
I personally have no idea. Anyone else know?
It just might be time for me to launch my own channel... Totally Naked Tele.
I can't sing, I ain't pretty, and my legs are thin...
if you are good at it, and build a following (which he seems to be in a crowded field) He is probably making 850.00 a month with his current videos. If he works at it and increases his productivity, gets some merch going, lots of guys make 5-10K a month (and some more like 150K a month on sites like Matt's offroad recovery)

If you are good at it and people watch, you can make lots of money.

One of my former interns has 1.5m followers on his 'calculus can be easy' tiktok channel. He has a full social media thing going... he made 700K last year... no joke, you can make a full on living doing what is fun for you... you just have to do it a lot and film all of it and keep moving. It has got to be rigorous, so you earn what you make for sure. This Jim guy is VERY thorough and great film techniques... I hope he does great, he is very good.
 

loopfinding

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So a Marshall sounds the same as a Twin Reverb. Good to know. As they all sound the same, I will sell all my amps after watching this and stuff a box full of pedals and some breadboard!

idk, the more schematics i look at, the more i question why or even if many of them don't sound pretty similar if you had them both in the room through the same cab. or i might find "distant cousins." the circuits are so simple, and the cab/speakers are such a huge factor in the voicing.
 
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Lynxtrap

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idk, the more schematics i look at, the more i question why or even if many of them don't sound pretty similar if you had them both in the room through the same cab. or i might find "distant cousins." the circuits are so simple, and the cab/speakers are such a huge factor in the voicing.

Yes, and no... Depends on what you mean by "pretty similar", and how hard one tries to make them sound similar and under what conditions.
Speakers are a big part of the equation, no doubt. Still, I have heard an A/B test between BF, SF and RI Deluxe Reverbs through the same speaker and they sounded distinctly different.
 




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