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starman

SS vs. tube amps -- pros and cons

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A good discussion for answering a lot of questions about valves that everyone new to valve amps has.

But, I've been expecting to see the post clipped by the mod squad b/c of the title.

 

Starman if you're still with us:Any chance of changing the title (e.g. SS vs. tube amps -- pros and cons, etc.)?

Something like that might keep this post alive a little while to benefit others w/SS versus valve amp questions.

 

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

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You know ive been thinking alot about this amp lately, simply because of the great deal it is haha. But whats with the three pre-amp tubes. Im not totally versed in valve amp basics, and with the VJr having one 12AX7, I know its a tone tube. But I have heard every now and then that not all the tubes in an amp are for tone, but something like powering other things, I dont know its just what I think I have picked up. If I replaced the tubes, which if I get the amp im sure I will, would putting the same tube in all three spots be a good idea. I just dont know haha, any thoughts?

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follow-it, the VJ is about as small as a tube amp as you can get (yes there are others even lower powered units).

All the components combine to make the tone of your amp.

 

The Valve Jr uses 1 pre-amp tube and 1 power tube, many other higher powered amp's use multiple pre-amp tubes and multiple power tubes. I think its Create that has a tube amp that contains 60 tubes and puts out 600watts.

 

Usually 3 general types of tubes... pre-amp, power amp and rectifier can be in an amp.

 

Not all tube amps use a rectifier tube(s) some use solid state rectifier (rectifiers create voltage for your tubes).

 

When you go to a web site like http://www.dougstubes.com, http://www.eurotubes.com/index.htm ;etc. they list the tubes by type of useage.

 

With multiple pre-amp tubes you would/could have selections of gain to add to the amp or they can combine them in to make a fat/thin. All these combinations can be done.

 

A number of the gang that mod’s the VJ have added extra pre-amp tubes to increase the tone and crunch of their amp’s. Most of that information is on www.sewatt.com

Hope this helps. Doug

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The Roland Cube gets rave reviews around here. Or Vox Valvetronix.

 

My Vox actually fell apart the second day I used it. I think it was just a fluke but it is an easy fix. The input jack just pushed inside the unit. I have the Roland cube and it is real nice for the money and what its ment to be used for.

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Nice thread, some of it is French to me, but there is some info that is interesting. I have the AD30VT and the valve jr and I am happy with both. Being a bedroom player, they both serve me well.

 

I almost bought the Crate at $150, but decided not to because for my use it wasn't going to provide me anything except $150 less to spend on another guitar (Casino maybe).

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... It will almost always be kept at low levels or have headphones plugged in' date=' so nothing amazing is needed...[/quote']

 

Headphone sockets on valve amps are quite rare, aren't they, folks?

 

I've gone back to using an SS amp - my VJ failed quite soon after I got it and when I saw the stack of valve amps waiting for repair at my local tech shop - many of them VERY expensive brands - plus the need for biasing when replacing valves (which can be dangerous), I just can't be bothered with the hassle.

 

My Randall SS amp with twin 12" Celestions and a headphone socket is more than enough for me.

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Dalron. some tube amp's like the vj don't need to be bias'd when the power tube is changed since its a cathode bias and not a "fixed" bias... so that why you saw the stack high end amps sitting there.

Probably your VJ died from the well known fuse holder.. on the back of your VJ amp there are 4 wires going into the amp. The two orange wires are the ones you want to look at.. with the amp off of course, take the fuse out (its probably good) and in the white pastic holders there is the brass buttons that contact the fuse. These tarnish and loose contact, then you don't have any heater supply for the tubes and the amp seems dead.. a little sand paper and 10 minutes is all the would take you...

 

head phone outs on most tubes amp's is hard to come by, not impossible but not standard since the output transformer needs a load on it at all times in a tube amp but on in a solid state amp.

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Hey, if you need a tube headphone amp, then why not build yourself a tube headphone amp! Here's some food for thought. http://headwize.com/projects/showfile.php?file=ahammer1_prj.htm

 

 

Yeah, it's sad that so many tube amps wind up on the service shelf. Mostly it's nothing more complicated than a simple tube swap that puts so many in the shop. Most people can swap a light bulb, but a tube? Eeek! Please! But that's what's so great about these amp forums! You can find out how to do it yourself. And as soon as people figure out you can do this stuff, they'll start bring you their amps to mod or do swap tubes or whatever. No kidding. If you build it, they will come! ;)

 

Gil...

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Tubes are really inexpensive to replace on an amp like the valve junior. The power tube cost a little more than guitar strings and the preamp tube, which could last years, a little bit more. That's it. Two tubes. Way easier than restringing a guitar. Pull it out, push new one in, turn on amp.

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I disagree.

From my own experience' date=' going the ol' "SS for beginners" route seriously held me back as an electric player. I simply could not HEAR the nuances in tone in order to play even the simpliest things. It frustrated me so I would put down my electric guitar for months. Five years passed before I decided to invest more money. Lo and behold, when I did I began to discover it wasn't just my lack of talent -- it was mostly my crappy SS "practice" amp.[/quote']

 

Ha! You sound like me. I started playing guitar with my dad's acoustic but the first guitar that was actually mine was an Yamaha knock off of a Strat. For $100, it came bundled with a 10W practice amp. I still have the guitar and it sounds surprisingly good but that old practice amp sounds like mud. It wasn't until I started upgrading the pickups in my Les Paul and bought a new amp that I really started to get into guitar.

 

But I also disagree with what you are saying. I agree that cheap solid state practice amps hold back new players. But I think that usually has more to do with "cheap" than "solid state." It's not hard for a solid state amplifier to accurately reproduce sound, but cheap starter amps usually have incredibly cheap 6" or 8" speakers that can't reproduce sound very well at all. For a beginner, I would recommend an SS amp because they are more practical and you will get more for your money. But don't cheap out either. I would recommend finding a nice SS amp in the $200+ range with nicer speakers and maybe reverb.

 

The Fender Frontman II 25R has a decent set of features for the price but a lot of user reviews have mentioned bad speaker, lots of rattles and so on. A lot of users have said that it wasn't really worth while until they replaced the speaker with a better one, which will cost you at least another $50 anyway. If someone is going to upgrade amps, I would recommend splurging a little more.

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m-theory' date=' what's your choice for sub $500 tube amp stock without any mods?[/quote']

 

You might take a look at the Fender Super Champ XD. It sells for about $300 at guitar center or musician's friend, but can often be had for 10% less. It is basically a hybrid amp with a solid state preamp which includes amplifier modeling features and multiple effects, coupled with a tube power stage (6L6).

 

It is rated at 15 watts, comes with a 10 inch speaker and plays quite loud stock. I swapped the stock speaker for an Eminence Ragin' Cajun, and still have only about $350 invested in it. It does not come with a footwitch or headphone output, but does allow use of an external cabinet (8 ohm, 15 watt minimum).

 

I was looking at the Blues Jr., bought this instead, and have been quite happy with it.

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First off, good choice in not going with the Crate. I had a crate 60 watt for a week and although the store model sounded great, when I got home it sounded like crap and it wasnt nearly as loud as I wanted.

 

As far as good cheap practice amps, I'd look a Vox, Roland Cube, Fender, all make good amps for what your doing. I personally have a Spider line 6 30 watt and love it because its pretty versital. Best idea would be instead of going to MF get to your local music store and try afew out.

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I didn't read through all the posts here, but if no one has mentioned it, you might want to check out this:

 

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Vypyr30/

 

It is packed with features, the name is reputable and the price is right. They have a whole line (you can go lower or higher in price), they also have a tube amp at $449

 

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/Vypyr60/

 

I've heard some good things, but do not have first hand experience with either.

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So do you guys think there is such a thing as "too much" amp? Musicians Friend has a good deal on a Scratch and Dent Fender 100w, and the price is great, but I don't need 100w right now. Hopefully someday I will need that kind of volume, but for now would I be able to use it around the house decently? I wouldn't be asking, but it is the same price as a 50w amp, so I would feel kind of stupid buying the 50w if I could use this.

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So do you guys think there is such a thing as "too much" amp? Musicians Friend has a good deal on a Scratch and Dent Fender 100w' date=' and the price is great, but I don't need 100w right now. Hopefully someday I will need that kind of volume, but for now would I be able to use it around the house decently? I wouldn't be asking, but it is the same price as a 50w amp, so I would feel kind of stupid buying the 50w if I could use this.[/quote']

 

If this is the route you are taking, I would go with a Vox AD30VT or AD50VT. You have control over your wattage output, so it is convenient for around the house.

 

I can't recall anyone every putting these amps down and for modeling, these are the best buy IMHO

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So do you guys think there is such a thing as "too much" amp? Musicians Friend has a good deal on a Scratch and Dent Fender 100w' date=' and the price is great, but I don't need 100w right now. Hopefully someday I will need that kind of volume, but for now would I be able to use it around the house decently? I wouldn't be asking, but it is the same price as a 50w amp, so I would feel kind of stupid buying the 50w if I could use this.[/quote']

 

100 watts is a pretty big amp... like gig-level wattage. For the same price as the 50W, I would be tempted to get the 100W but you should ask yourself if it would be practical. You might find that even small things like adjusting the volume becomes a hassle at "bedroom levels." When you are playing at low levels on a 100W amp, barely touching the volume knob might be the difference between too quiet and too loud.

 

If you don't need anything like that now, you might find that your taste in amps has changed by the time you do need it (if you ever do.) If you just need a smaller amp for the house, go get a really nice lower-wattage one.

 

You might be surprised at how wattage corresponds to "volume" anyway. The relationship between the two is logarithmic so a 100W amp is not going to be 10x louder than a 10W amp. I moved from a 75W Line 6 Spider II to the 30W Epiphone Blues Custom. I keep the Epiphone in the 15W mode and it's still more than I need for my apartment. Even when I "jam" with a drummer friend of mine, 15W coming from two 12" speakers gets the job done.

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spaaarky makes a very good point when it comes to comparing the wattage of amps and his 10x reference. My AD30VT can crank out some volume when set at 30 watts and it isn't a whole lot less than my friends 50 watt. Also the difference between wattage in a ss versus tube. My little 5 watt Epi Valve Jr puts out some real serious volume and most times I have the volume set at no more than 3 and probably run it more at 2 than any other setting.

 

I wouldn't get too hung up about wattage, it's sound/tone that's important. Read reviews, try some out and than decide.

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So do you guys think there is such a thing as "too much" amp?

In some cases absolutely....and in some cases not enough. Depends on one's applications or needs.

 

 

Musicians Friend has a good deal on a Scratch and Dent Fender 100w' date=' and the price is great' date=' but I don't need 100w right now.[/quote'']

If you're referring to the need the power of a 100 watt amp....now a days you most likely never will. When I was a kid a PA was a luxury, now a days they are so many makes and just as affordable that just about anybody can have one. You can mic a smaller amp....or not use one and run straight to the board if you choose to.

 

As far as the 100 watt Fender. The only 100 watt tube amp Fender offers now, and IIRC, is the Twin...not the Twin Reverb, but the one that came out after the Custom Twin or as some call it the Evil Twin....again if I remember correctly. FWIW...I haven't a clue which Fender if it's a SS....they keep coming up with so many diferent SS I can't keep up with them.

 

Anyhow it depends on how much the discount is. From what I've seen in the past they normally knock off 100 or 200 maybe? That would put the amp at about 1100 or 1200 dollars I think, if so I'd rather save another 100 or so bucks and get the '65 Twin RI. The Twin is ok but the Twin Reverb is much better IMO.

 

BTW...I've seen those amps, if this is the one we are talking about, much cheaper in the used market than the guesstimates I mentioned above.

 

 

Hopefully someday I will need that kind of volume' date=' but for now would I be able to use it around the house decently? I wouldn't be asking, but it is the same price as a 50w amp, so I would feel kind of stupid buying the 50w if I could use this.[/quote']

Again IMO most definitely be able to use that amp around the house..."IF'..you don't mind not crancking it up to the sweet spot and you stay on the clean side.

 

Those amps stay clean all the way up, but do have a sweet spot where the O/P tubes start to sing....which BTW for me and allot of folks that go tube amps is what we look for, not the pre-amp tubes. At any rate on mine it's around 7 which is very loud, but I rely on pedals for grit so it don't bother me.

 

Not on this particular amp but on most others the lower wattage gets you break up sooner....which some folks want and some don't. The difference in volume between a 50 and a 100 what is only 3dbs. Hardly noticeable to the human ear...at least not to these old ears.

 

Anyhow I don't know what kind of discount you are getting, but it would have to be allot for me to get one of those amps...not that they're bad, but there's better amps out there IMO....and AGAIN if we're talking about the same amp. At any rate no getting around doing the demo thing I'm afraid =D> .

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Oops...never mind then, sorry.

 

I have played through the one you speak of twice though, demo playing thing at two different places, and both had an annoying, nasty his to it past about 3 or so on the volume so I moved on. Not much of a demo actually so really not fare for me to criticize the amp, but from the little I did get from it, and as always IMO, you made a wise choice in checking elsewhere.

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Yeah' date=' it's sad that so many tube amps wind up on the service shelf. Mostly it's nothing more complicated than a simple tube swap that puts so many in the shop. Most people can swap a light bulb, but a tube? Eeek! Please! But that's what's so great about these amp forums! You can find out how to do it yourself. And as soon as people figure out you can do this stuff, they'll start bring you their amps to mod or do swap tubes or whatever. No kidding. If you build it, they will come! =D> [/quote']

Agreed. Far too much myth floating around out there about how "difficult" in every way valve amps are. Amp salesmen use the myths to scare new players into buying SS.

 

Ha! You sound like me. I started playing guitar with my dad's acoustic but the first guitar that was actually mine was an Yamaha knock off of a Strat. For $100' date=' it came bundled with a 10W practice amp. I still have the guitar and it sounds surprisingly good but that old practice amp sounds like mud. It wasn't until I started upgrading the pickups in my Les Paul and bought a new amp that I really started to get into guitar.[/quote']

Sort of sad how many of us found electricladyland by this route. A lot of it must be not wanting to invest the $$ up front into electrics when we're not sure if we'll stay with it. Way cheaper to just stay unplugged (but unfortunately unsatisfied). As I've matured, I've come to appreciate Gibson's advice: "Buy the best you can afford even as a beginner." Why? Because even if you give it up, the better guitars/amps bring better % resale at cash-out. Most importantly though, you've given yourself the best chance to fall in love with playing. Everyone is worth that investment!

 

I agree that cheap solid state practice amps hold back new players. But I think that usually has more to do with "cheap" than "solid state.".

Well said. It is what I meant but since the thread started out about "practice amps" my comments were directed at low-end SS amps -- the ones GC tries to sell to every newbie that walks through their doors.

Higher end SS does some things well -- most of those just aren't to the tastes of this bluesman.

 

starman -- If I were you' date=' I would try out that 100w SS (or one like it a local shop) before leaping into purchase. While it may be "too much" SS, unlike valve amps, do not suffer from the low output blahs (as m-theory alluded to before) And, I would also compare a tube amp (5-18 watts) side-by-side to discover for yourself what tones are better suited to your tastes.

 

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

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As I've matured' date=' I've come to appreciate Gibson's advice: "Buy the best you can afford even as a beginner." Why? Because even if you give it up, the better guitars/amps bring better % resale at cash-out. Most importantly though, you've given yourself the best chance to fall in love with playing. Everyone is worth that investment![/quote']

 

Some of the best advise you can give anyone starting out. The investment doesn't have to be over the top, but it needs to be enough that the challenge isn't attempting to make a cheap guitar work. There are too many "toys" out there being sold as real instruments and gear. The other bit of advise as it relates to guitar, get a good "set-up". That advise improves dramatically anyone's chances of sticking with it.

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My first electric was a yamaha pacifica but it was a limited edition in black with a mirrored pickguard and chrome fittings i brought it so it was more sort of if i ever sold it. The Amp i had was crap and i tried pedals to sort it out and was loosing hope then i got my Vox ad-30-vt and brought new meaning to playing.

 

I sold it to fund my Epi LP and i got £140 for it second hand. Only cost £175 new!!

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