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SS vs. tube amps -- pros and cons

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As far as reliability goes I see no difference. I'm in my 3rd year of playing (Average 3 hrs a day).

 

My oldest and 1st amp is a peavey transtube 40 watt 1x10 SS still works great.

Next one was a Vox DA 20 SS stereo 2x8 still works great (probably my favorite SS amp) 1 1/2 yrs old

Peavey Windsor 100 watt tube head still works great. 1 year old

Valve Junior combo and head/cab, combo's about a week older then the head/cab. Both work great. 9 months old

Fender frontman 25R bought at garage sale about 2 months ago for $25. Not a stellar amp but also works fine.

 

The rest is subjective. i like the tone of the Vj. Even comparing my digital Variax and POD through the Vj, i like

the tone better then a standard guitar through my SS Vox and i have some pretty expensive humbuckers in

my ML (pickups from a USA Exotica). And plugging the ML into the VJ is instant live sound. Not even a hint of studio

type tone. The Variax and POD don't sound thin through a Tube amp like they do with SS. I can dial most of it out

with the POD through SS, but not all of it. With the VJ and Windsor i can get rid of all of it. In my opinion tubes are

richer sounding. My flavor maynot be the same as others, but no more SS for me.

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As far as reliability goes I see no difference.

 

Be that as it may, there is no question that tube amps require more maintenance than SS. It's a simple fact.

 

I'm in my 3rd year of playing (Average 3 hrs a day).

 

If you're pushing the amp to power tube distortion, it's a given that your tubes are worn at this point, but, given the characteristics of tube wear, you probably would never know it, unless one just suddenly shorted out. Generally, tubes will wear so gradually that you'll simply not be able to hear them fade.

 

And plugging the ML into the VJ is instant live sound. Not even a hint of studio

type tone.

 

Not sure what this means, or if it's a positive or negative. That amp is used both for live and studio work.

 

The Variax and POD don't sound thin through a Tube amp like they do with SS.

 

That's the magic of tubes "warming up" a signal.

 

In my opinion tubes are richer sounding.

 

They are, which is why tube amps are still so popular. It has to do with the very nature of tubes themselves, and how they amplify signal, particularly when driven to the point of distortion. Someday, there may exist the computing muscle and algorithms to closely simulate this in a SS world, but that day doesn't appear to be near. There are a tremendous amount of variables in play that would have to be accurately defined and written as mathematical equations, and, at this point anyway, it appears beyond current capabilities.

 

That said, I stand by my earlier comment, that for the average first time player, today's SS amps make far more sense than tube amps. They're fully capable of making fully acceptable tones for practice, and require virtually no maintenance whatsoever, other than to keep them out of the rain. Aside from those points, they also provide far more useable tone at a far lower cost of entry than the typical tube amp.

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I second all of the comments made by m-theory above, and would add one. If you generally stick to relatively clean tones and moderate volumes, there will be less advantage to a tube amplifier over a solid-state.

 

The characteristic "warmth" of tubes, as opposed to the "harshness" of solid-state, surfaces when the amplifier is overdriven. A lot of the characteristic "grit" and "fuzz" that we associate with rock-and-roll came from the early days of rock and electric blues, when performers played as loudly as possible, without PA systems, using small, underpowered tube amplifiers (because that's all there was at the time). Distortion was the unintended and inevitable result, and through a tube amplifier, it was deemed to be "good".

 

The ability to alter the gain and make subtle changes in tone by swapping out various tubes appeals to some tone-junkies as well.

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I have a modded Valve Junior V3 and a Rocktron Rampage RT122C. I love both of them. The Rocktron gives me a very good-great dirty tone at low levels (at high volume too). I have to agree with M (this is usually a given) in that there are plenty of quality SS amps out there, but there are also some complete pieces of crapola too.

I prefer my Valve Junior.

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Not sure what this means' date=' or if it's a positive or negative. That amp is used both for live and studio work. [/quote']

 

It's neither actually and I do like some of the tone I get from my DA 20 (not to mention ease of setup). But it

would never be confused with a Live tone. There's a huge difference to me between studio recordings and

live recordings. With my tube amps I can accurately set my tones to passable covers for live recordings. I can't

pull that off with any of the SS amps I've plugged into. On the other hand I can still get studio tones with my tube

amps just by setting my fx's properly. basically you can put the studio into tubes but you can't put the live into SS.

 

Your right of course concerning SS amps and beginners and usable tones at an "initial" low cost. I did the same

thing, but I also have about 1000 bucks worth of SS amps laying around here that had I known then what i know

now wouldn't be here and I'd have either some pretty killer pedals or an american strat to add to my collection. If

your a beginner and may not stay with the guitar that's certainly the right way to go, but if you've been playing

acoustic for years and find you want to break into electric I recommend tubes all the way and don't look back.

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There's a huge difference to me between studio recordings and live recordings.

 

I guess I still don't get what that means. There's really not a definitive "live amp tone" or "recording amp tone" that I could identify myself. Perhaps, you're referring to processed signal vs. unprocessed?

 

FWIW, I read a really interesting article by Harley Peavey a while back, in which he described the evolution of his designs over the decades. Towards the end of the article, he pointed out that when they developed their latest generation of SS amps, they brought in some highly seasoned artists and had them do blind testing of various amps, some tube, some SS. Some were very expensive booteeky tube amps. The participants mis-identified nearly everything that they played, and all considered the SS Peavey candidate to be a tube amp, many identifying it as the expensive booteek amp. I thought that was pretty interesting.

 

you want to break into electric I recommend tubes all the way and don't look back.

 

Modern metal tones are generally SS, either heavily in the front end, or throughout the entire amp, and many jazz players prefer the SS Roland JC120 for cleans. I think SS will forever have a place in music, to be honest. It's not all things to all players, but it can definitely do some things very well.

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My first four amps were tube, then I bought a Peavey SS, still have it, though I never play it. Tubes did not inhibit my desire to play. I've had other SS amps but got rid of all but two that went to crap. All my tube amps have been repairable, ever try to repair a SS amp or have someone else fix it? Good luck!

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