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Tube Amps noob


SlagJones

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Are there some basic flavors in tube amps? From the little research I have been able to do, it seems there are those that use primarily EL84 and those that use 6L6, etc... What is the basic difference in tone?

Any good references where I can learn more about tube amps and the sound they make?

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6V6s have a bit different character, I'm told. My build with that tube is not getting done fast.

But scotts got a good point. you can also check the faq.. and I'm sure you'll get other replies here.

 

6V6 is used in 'fender' mod. but bear in mind it's still five watts.. you aren't going to get five watts of all clean.

 

I think the two most popular builds are toward marshall and vox.

I've only done the marshall type build, so far.. but I'll have a 6V6 soon.

 

I hope.

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Are there some basic flavors in tube amps? From the little research I have been able to do' date=' it seems there are those that use primarily EL84 and those that use 6L6, etc... What is the basic difference in tone?

Any good references where I can learn more about tube amps and the sound they make?[/quote']

 

Yes and no --- it's more like overly generalized statements than basic flavors.

The 6L6/EL84 conclusion is just too simplistic to be usable --- plus it omits all of the other tube types, combinations, build/circuit variations, and speakers. Youtube/cds may help (a little), there are too many recording/playback variables to guide you to the decision that works for you.

 

When searching for the single most crucial element of your live tone, nothing will give you a better idea than a hands-on tryout using your own guitar. Take your Epiphone beauty to as many music stores, pawn shops, and friends garages that will let you plug in to their valve amps and soon your ears will begin to tell you what you want to know. There just is no other way to be sure that you will be happy with your choice. Hands-off research may be fun, interesting, and add to your knowledge about amps but you really, really need the hands-on to make that all important choice.

 

Hit every BLUE NOTE baaaby..., I'm going to play on:-"

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Yes and no --- it's more like overly generalized statements than basic flavors.

The 6L6/EL84 conclusion is just too simplistic to be usable --- plus it omits all of the other tube types' date=' combinations, build/circuit variations, and speakers. Youtube/cds may help [i'](a little)[/i], there are too many recording/playback variables to guide you to the decision that works for you.

 

When searching for the single most crucial element of your live tone, nothing will give you a better idea than a hands-on tryout using your own guitar. Take your Epiphone beauty to as many music stores, pawn shops, and friends garages that will let you plug in to their valve amps and soon your ears will begin to tell you what you want to know. There just is no other way to be sure that you will be happy with your choice. Hands-off research may be fun, interesting, and add to your knowledge about amps but you really, really need the hands-on to make that all important choice.

 

Hit every BLUE NOTE baaaby..., I'm going to play on:-"

 

Point taken and I understand the importance of hands on research in real decision making. Not in the market right now, so really just more about satisfying curiosity and spending idle time at this point. :-

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There's much more to an amp than just the output tubes, which makes these types of written comparison discussions almost meaningless. Tone stack, tube configurations, gain structure, signal path, types of components used, etc., all contribute to a given amp's tonal characteristics. You can have two amps side by side, running the same tubes and pushing the same amount of power, that sound markedly different, because of other critical variables.

 

That said, here's a reasonable, if brief, description of the most commonly used output tubes:

 

http://www.vhtamp.com/faqs.html#15

 

15) What's the difference between KT88, 6550, EL34, 6L6, EL84 tube types?

 

In order to keep the subject matter concise and relevant to VHT amplifier models, we'll break these tube types down into 3 basic categories:

 

High power output: KT88, KT90, 6550

 

Although not widely used in the guitar amp industry, we find them to be ideally suited to players who want power punch and articulation. They are used in a variety of configurations, mostly in pairs and quartets and in some cases, sextets. They are capable of delivering 100 watts per pair and this is the typical application in which they are applied at VHT in the Two/Ninety/Two and Twenty One Fifty power amps. Quartets of 6550's are used in the Pittbull Ultra-Lead and are more conservatively operated at about 60 watts per pair. Because of the high output capability and efficiency of these tubes, amplifiers that use them exhibit a wide dynamic range, lots of low end power, crisp attack and to quote Guitar Player Magazine "miles of headroom".

 

Medium power output: EL34, 6L6

 

These are the standard bearers of the majority of the tube guitar amp industry for the last 30 years or so. Typical output for a pair is 50 watts. We use EL34’s in the Twenty One Hundred power amp, Two/Fifty/Two power amp, Hundred CLX head, Hundred/CL head, Fifty/CL head, Fifty/ST head and Fifty/Twelve combo. EL34’s are harmonically rich sounding tubes with a strong upper midrange which complements guitar voicing very nicely. When driven hard they exhibit a smooth transition into distortion while maintaining clarity and good tone quality. All VHT amps that use EL34’s can be switched over to 6L6 operation. 6L6’s generally sound a little cleaner than EL34’s and tend to have a bit more beef in the low end as well as more bite on the top. Some players prefer the extra clarity and punch of these tubes. Others just like them because they are used to the 6L6 sound. We will ship any of the above models with 6L6’s installed by special request. However, we prefer the sound of EL34’s in our amps and these are what the above models are shipped with as standard equipment.

 

Low power output: EL84

 

This great sounding and economical tube, has had quite resurgence in popularity in recent years due to its increased availability. Typically used in quartets and run in Class A mode, they are good for about 30 watts or 40 to 45 watts in Class A/B. They basically sound like a small screaming EL34 with a rich fat midrange voice and great distortion tone. We use this tube in the Pittbull Forty-Five series heads and combos.

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