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Dave_Mc 11-05-2005 01:57 PM

The Ultimate Gear Information Sticky:Incorporating Info on Amps, FX and Pickups
 
Disclaimer:

All of this info is given in good faith, based on what we believe, to the best of our knowledge, to be correct. It’s aimed at beginners and intermediate players, and often the information has been simplified to make it easier to understand (and so it doesn’t take up even more space). Please bear in mind that all recommendations are based on the general consensus of the regulars of the forum, the specific examples which we’ve tried (we may have tried a particularly good MIM strat, for example), and also our own subjective opinions. Also, all recommendations are on a “to try” basis, rather than “to buy”- we mean you to try the gear we’ve recommended to see if it suits you for your situation and the type of music you play. New models come out all the time, and we don’t always have time to add them- don’t disregard something because it’s not on the list, it’s possible that we either haven’t had time to add it yet, or haven’t tried it ourselves!


I thought it might be a good idea to list all the amps, FX and pickups (with a quick one-line synopsis) that are generally recommended for the various price ranges (which I have arbitrarily made up, dependent on what I see normally in the various ?which amp/pedal/pickup?? threads).

First of all, this thread/sticky is not designed to replace the reviews section. It serves a valid purpose (i.e. if you know the model you?re interested in, you just search for it). However, in my opinion, it is not much use if you have a price range, and don?t know the first thing about amps, FX or pickups; or, even if you aren?t a noob, it can be helpful to be able to quickly see the types of amps/FX/pickups available in your price range. THIS thread is designed to tackle that problem. Also, it might be useful to people who don?t want to post (for whatever reason), but want to quickly see the recommended gear in their price range.

Also, this thread is NOT designed to put an end to all the ?Which Amp/Pickup/Pedal?? threads- quite the opposite, in fact (what would I do all day if I didn?t get to answer ?Which Amp?? threads?)- it?s designed to give a little help to people starting a ?Which?? thread, so they can maybe do a little research first, and THEN post their thread, hopefully having a little more knowledge, and not being totally at the mercy of the possible ignorant replies.

And last, but not least, a note on currency conversions: I?m putting up the prices in Pounds Sterling (British Money), and I?ll put up conversions (as of now, whenever I write the article and post it- these conversions are liable to change!) of both Euro and US dollars. If your currency isn?t here, head on over to www.xe.com ! And please bear in mind, because of where products are manufactured etc., that the price I quote in British pounds is more than likely not a direct conversion (especially for USA-made stuff, for US prices, which are liable to be MUCH cheaper)- I haven?t got time to check the price of every amp on Musician?s Friend or wherever ;) Also, I haven?t put the prices up for each amp- this is again due to conversion factors.

Anyway, first off, I think we need an index (by post number), seeing as how this is the Info Sticky to end all Info Stickies!

Index

1: General Info and Index/ How to Buy Tutorial by M3rcutio
2: Buying FAQ continued by TGM/Amps 101 by Dave_Mc
3: Advanced Amp Information by D Man
4: Further Amp Info by TGM and Jag513 (what's a combo/head, what's an FX loop?)
5: Biasing? by Jag 513
6: Recommendations of Amps by price range and style (up to £100)
7: Recommendations of Amps by price range and style (£100-£200; £200-£400)
8: Recommendations of Amps by price range and style (£400-£800; £800-£1500; £1500+)
9: cheap USA tube amp list by TGM
10: Amps- myths and rumours debunked Dave_Mc
11: Amp Website Links Page by Power Freak
: Speaker/Cab Information by Power Freak
: Speaker and Cab recommendations by price range and style
: General FX/effects Info by Casualty01
: Recommendations of FX by price range and style.
: General Pickup info by Sillybuuger12
: Recommendations of Pickups by price range and style


This is very much a work in progress, so I'm going to close it as soon as I post it, and then open it when i get all the other bits ready. If it does happen to be open, please don't post in here till I get it totally finished, it'll mess up the general order of the thread.

Thanks

Dave

Also, I am going to remove the "Only Which Amp thread", since it's handier for all concerned that if you want a new amp, you just make a new thread.

Buying FAQ/Tutorial (Originally posted by M3rcutio)

Know what you want to achieve
Before even thinking of what you want, you should ask yourself this: What kind of sound/change in tone do I want? If you just say "I want this (insert pedal/amp/guitar here)" and you don't know what you're trying to achieve, it can be tricky and frustrating. For example, Cmogi10 hates anything highly distorted (and thats a quote from AIM) so he'd stay away from things such as BOSS Metal Zones and Triple Rectifiers.

Know what does what
Once you know what kind of sound/tone you want to get from the gear, you need to know what certain things do. For instance, you want a nice crunchy metal distortion. First thing to do is look at all of the pedals (or amps, whatever you're looking for) with the right features. You should know what features tend to what kinds of music.

Price Limit
OK, so now you know what things do. Now you need to look at everything in your price limit, and compare and contrast. If one thing has more pros than cons compared to another, and they both fall in the same price range, get the better one! You might want to try different sources for prices, always try to get as low as you can. eBay is a pretty reliable source for good priced gear.

Research
You found what you want, the holy grail of your sound. It does everything you need it to! Now research the bejeezes out of it. You want to know EXACTLY what this piece of equipment will do for you, and if its right for you. Go the the manufacturers site and look at all of the details, find some pics. Know it inside and out. Also, try to find reviews on the item.Harmony Central is a great place to find out what other people are saying about the gear, and if it is reliable enough!

Test it out
I know this isnt always possible, but go to your local guitar store, and try the damn thing out! It's best to actually experience the gear, tweak it, feel it in your own hands to decide if its right for you. If the store doesnt have the item you're looking for, see if they can order it for you. By this stage you should be almost positive that it's what you want.

There is a drawback though. Sometimes you might not be able to test it to its full abilities. Usually it wont be YOUR own gear you're testing it on, so results will be different. Also note that if it's an amp, you may not be able to crank it in the store and see how it is at high volumes.

If you test it, and find out that it's not all you expected, or not the sound you wanted, it's really back to The first step. It's highly unlikely that this would happen after all the research, but things are not always as they seem. It's a fact of life. Be sure to see if you can bring the item back to the store if you take it home and test it, and its not what you want.


Well, that concludes my tutorial. I hope it's useful maybe it will cut down on the constant question threads

AND REMEMBER: Tone is subjective. if it sounds good to you, then it's good!. If it feels good, buy it. It doesn't matter what other people think.

Dave_Mc 11-05-2005 02:03 PM

These extra points were added by TGM:

Try out everything, even if you have already falled in love with a piece of gear. Who knows, you may have loved that Vox wah, but if you don't try a Morley or a Dunlop you're missing out. Also, try out brands that don't have a huge reputation. If you're looking for a british sounding amp, don't just look at Marshalls, take a good look at Oranges and etc. too. (Though do this within reason, don't look at MT-2's if you want a tubescreamer type pedal.)

Try out gear that is way above your price range, even if you know there is no chance that you will buy it. I say this because cheaper gear is usually not as good as more expensive gear. (Barring paying for names, useless features, and stuff like that.) It's bettter to wait and buy that more expensive amp than to buy a cheaper one now, and then buy the more expensive amp later. If you do that you'll have wasted alot of money. You'll also refine your taste in tone by playing high end gear. This can be both good and bad, depending on your financial situation.

Don't ever buy in to hype or extra features. Lots of wattage, tons of effects, and good looks will never make up for bad tone/reliability. **coughAVTcough** Tone, reliability, and headroom are the three main things you should look at in an amp. You can always buy stomboxes for effects, and use a PA for more volume.

Buy for the long term. It's no use buying something that won't last you because it is unreliable or simply not good enough for you. Get something that will last and in the end you'll have saved money, and you'll be much more happy.

Amps 101

This is a very basic introduction to amps, if you?re totally new to guitar . For more in-depth info, read D man?s excellent amp article, underneath.

First of all, most guitar amps either come as ?combos? (amp and speaker cabinet all in one), or as heads (just the amp) and cabs (the speaker cabinet)- collectively known as a stack. YOU NEED A SPEAKER CABINET OF THE CORRECT IMPEDANCE IF YOU BUY A HEAD, OR YOU WILL NOT HEAR ANY SOUND, AND PROBABLY FRY THE AMP IN THE PROCESS. ALSO, NEVER RUN AN AMP (EITHER TUBE OR SOLID STATE) WITHOUT A SPEAKER OR DUMMY LOAD CONNECTED- YOU'LL FRY YOUR AMP.

What?s in an amp?

Amps can be split into 3 sections, for handiness. These are the pre-amp, the power-amp, and rectifier.

The pre-amp amplifies the very small signal coming from your guitar?s pickups to ?line-level?- a level large enough that the power amp can work on it. This is where most of the EQ controls (treble, mids, bass) and pre-amp gain/distortion controls on solid state and master-volume tube amps are based.

The power amp amplifies the signal to a high enough level that it can drive the speakers, to produce sound. In all-tube amps, the power amp influences the overall tone of the amp, especially at higher volumes when they start to overdrive.

The rectifier is present in all amps, and converts AC current from the mains into DC current to be used by the amplifier. Confusingly, a Single/Dual/Triple Rectifier is the name of a type of amp made by Mesa Boogie, but all amps have rectifiers.

For an amp to be considered ?all-tube? it is necessary for the pre-amp and power-amp to be all-tube, but the rectifier may be either tube or solid state.

Types of amp

Generally, amps can be solid state (ss), hybrid or all-tube/valve; there are also so-called ?modelling? amps, which model the tone of classic amplifier tones . Solid state amps use transistors, hybrid use a combination, and all-tube/valve use tubes/valves for the amplification of your guitar?s sound (tube is the American term, valve is the British term- they?re the same thing). Modellers are normally either solid state or hybrid, and frequently contain computer chips as well.

All tube amps

As a general rule, all-tube is the best. Tubes are old technology (1930?s and 1940?s) and have been superceded by transistors almost everywhere, except in audio applications, where they sound more ?natural?. Pretty much all all-tube amps have to be cranked to a loud volume (not necessarily full power, but pretty loud) to sound at their best. This is because they get a lot of their tone from ?power-amp overdrive?- that is, the power-tubes being worked hard at, or close to, full volume. However, it is NOT, in my experience, true that if you can?t play at a loud volume that you shouldn?t buy an all-tube amp (unless you want a non-master volume amp). Most all-tube amps I?ve tried sound AT LEAST as good as SS amps at low volumes, and MUCH better at medium to high volumes. Also, you can buy an attenuator, to connect between your amp and speakers, which lets you get power-tube overdrive at lower volumes.

Master volume versus non-master volume: most old amps (and new ones designed to be vintage-correct) didn?t have pre-amp gain/overdrive controls. The only way to get overdrive was to crank the amp to full volume, or plug an overdrive pedal into the front of the amp. Master volumes have a volume or gain control for the pre-amp, that allows you to get preamp distortion as well. A lot of tone hounds say this doesn?t sound as good, but if you play any kind of modern music that uses overdrive or distortion (basically, rock or anything heavier), you pretty much need a master volume amp.

Another handy trick is that you can use an overdrive pedal to boost the overdrive channel on an all-tube amp. This increases the gain and sustain, but still sounds natural and tube-like- especially if you keep the gain/drive on the pedal low, and the level high.

Solid State Amps

These have a tendency to sound not bad at lower volumes, but sound not so great when turned up. They also tend to be cheap in practice amp sizes, so can be good for a first purchase, for example if you aren?t sure if you?ll stick at guitar. I would advise avoiding ss half-stacks or full-stacks, since for the same price you can normally get an all-tube combo that?ll have better tone. They tend not to react to playing dynamics as well as, or sound as natural/organic as, all-tube amps. SS amps are frequently nowadays being overshadowed by modelling amps.

Modelling Amps

These amps use computer chips (normally) to simulate the tones of classic amps (Marshalls, Fenders, Voxes, Mesa Boogies) on a budget (bar the odd very expensive modelling amp). Normally they don?t sound as good as the real thing, but then they?re a fraction of the price. They can be a good choice if you?re strapped for cash, and play a wide variety of styles.

What the knobs on the amp do

These are the knobs generally found on most amps:

Treble: This affects the high frequencies in your sound. Turn it down for a softer, warmer sound, and up for a sharper, more piercing/cutting sound.

Middle: Affects the mid range in your tone. Turn it down to ?scoop? your mids for a hollow/metal type tone, or turn it up for a fuller tone. (Note: some amps have a ?contour? knob, rather than mids- this is sometimes (but not always) the inverse of the mid knob- I.e. Mid=10 = Contour = 0 etc.- you need to use your ears in this case)

Bass: Affects the low frequencies in your tone. Turn it up for more ?oomph? in your sound, or turn it down for a more trebly tone.

In most amps, these 3 control are interactive- turning down the treble can have a similar effect to turning up the bass, for example, and you have to balance all 3.

Gain/drive/pre-gain: Controls the amount of overdrive or distortion in your sound.

(Master) Volume/Post-gain: Controls how loud you are. Some amps also have channel volume controls, where you can independently set a volume for each channel.

Depth punch/depth boost/resonance/deep etc.: Increases the bass response in your sound.

Presence: Increases or decreases the frequency range of the treble knob- basically, low presence sounds like you have a blanket over your amp, and increasing the presence will sound like you?re gradually removing it.

Bright: increases the treble frequencies, to give a more ?sparkly? tone. Normally found on clean channels.

Scoop/Tone Shift/Contour (all push-buttons): Normally presets the mids to a very low level, to give you an instant metal tone.

Boost: Normally either increases the overdrive/distortion or volume by a preset amount.

Reverb: Controls the amount of reverb in your sound- mimics the small echoes of being in a room/hall/cave where the sound REVERBerates around the walls.

Note that not all of these might be on your amp, or your amp may have a different name for them, or indeed, you may have more knobs on your amp.

The best way to discover what your knobs do, is to tweak them.

Dave_Mc 11-05-2005 02:23 PM

Amplifiers: Originally posted by D Man

That?s what this is all about. I?m going to try to give an introduction to the world of amps, explain their features and different aspects of them and answer a few questions that keep cropping up. I figure the best way is to start from the start, so what do they do and how to they do it? For the sake of all concerned I?m going to try and avoid detailed electronics, and keep it as simple as I can. Enjoy.

The basics:

It starts at the guitar. Vibrations of the string when you hit them make an AC current with the same frequencies as the sound of the string in the coils of your pickups. This signal is sent to the amp.

That?s where the fun begins. An amp basically takes power from an external source (the power station on the other end of the mains socket) and shapes it according to the input signal (from your guitar). This is done in two basic stages.

Pre-amp. This is used to amplify the signal from your guitar a little bit before sending it on. This is necessary because pickups make a very weak signal and it has to be brought up to ?line level?, which is just the level of signal that is usually used for analogue audio signals (it varies a lot and I don?t want to get bogged down in electronics so I?m leaving it at that). EQ and much of the tonal character of a sound are applied at or around the preamp stage. Effects are also added at this stage, and headphones and line-outs come from the pre-amp.

Power amp. The pre amp sends the signal here. This is the part that does most of the amplification and drives the speakers.

There are two main ways of amplifying an electrical signal: valves and transistors. Transistors are far better at pretty much any kind of electrical amplification than valves. Valves are a much older technology and have been superseded by transistors almost everywhere. The only places you still get them is where you can hear them. Guitar amps, and some very expensive hi-fis. This is mainly because of how they respond to being overloaded. Overloading an amp is a very important part of an overdriven (hence the name) or distorted sound, and transistors and valves are quite different in this respect.

When you hit the maximum voltage of a transistor it switches off, and the top of your signal, which should be a nice curve, becomes a flat line. When you hit a valves max voltage the signal keeps rising, but it rounds off more and skews slightly. This switching off is called clipping.

In addition valves distort linearly. What the hell does that mean? It means that as you put more power in the valve distorts in proportion to it until it starts to clip. Transistors show almost no distortion as you increase power until you start to overload them, and they distort exponentially and clip sharply.

Transistor clipping sounds harsh, valve based overdrive sounds warmer and smoother. It?s sometimes referred to as more ?musical?.

What are the differences I need to know about if I?m going to use valves?

Well, there are a few drawbacks to using this archaic technology.

Valves have to be heated up to work. If you put the high voltages of an amp across cold valves you?ll damage them and they?ll wear out faster. For this reason valve amps have an extra ?feature?. The standby switch.

?Standby? is like idling over an engine. Its running but its not going anywhere. So a valve amp has two different kind of ?on?: ?on standby? (idling) and ?on? (screaming ahead with blistering solos and skull crushing riffs?or not, as the case may be).

You should let your valves heat up for at least a minute before switching the amp fully on. To do this you switch it on to ?on standby?, and wait. Then switch it ?on?. Off --> On standby --> On.

You can keep the valves hot (say, in a break of a gig) by switching the amp from on to standby. BUT leaving the amp on standby for extended periods will burn out the valves just like playing it will. Leave it on standby only if you know you?re going to be playing it again in the next few minutes.

When switching off just reverse the process; on --> on standby --> off. There?s no need to wait here, either, just knock it off.

How often should I replace valves?

It depends. Power amp valves will need replacing every now and then. How often depends on your amp and how you use it. If you use it at low master volume and not very often (only at the weekends, say) then you may get up to 4 years out of a set of output valves. At the opposite end of the scale, if you practice at respectable volume every day and gig every weekend you?ll get a year or two out of them.

Pre-amp valves last donkeys years. It should be at least 3 or 4 years even on an often-played amp until they go.

Note, though, that any given valve can blow at any given time.

Can I do it myself?

Yeah, sure. But you?ll have to learn how first. New power amp tubes have to be biased (I promised minimal electronics; google if you?re curious), which isn?t rocket science but you have to know what you?re doing. Take it to a shop and get a pro to do it.

Are there any things I really shouldn?t do with a valve amp?

Well, yes, good question! Never, ever, ever run it without a speaker attached. You?ll be very lucky indeed if your valves survive it (and your amp might not either).
By a similar token, make sure you match impedance of any speaker you run with the amp.

Exercise some common sense (y?know, the usual, don?t douse it with a hose, don?t throw heavy objects at it, or it down the stairs, burning smells are NOT normal, that kind of thing) and you?ll be fine. If in doubt, get in touch with a professional

What are hybrid amps?

Short answer: a marketing scheme.

Alright, I?ll cut the cynicism for a paragraph. Hybrid amps have one valve in the preamp. The rest of which, along with the power amp, is solid state.

New paragraph, and harsh reality: that one valve makes very little difference to the sound. If a hybrid amp sounds anywhere near good it?s a coincidence: it has nothing to do with the valve. You?ll have better luck getting a valve-like sound from modelling amps, none of which I?ll advertise here (get you ass to the guitar shop and play them!).

If you like the sound of one then great, go for it! But there are many SS?s out there that sound just as good as any hybrid. Don?t be fooled!

How loud are different amplifiers?

The power of an amplifier is a rough guide to how loud it is. This is measured in watts (W), for example 100W. There are two basic ways of measuring power. Peak output and RMS.

The actual voltage of the signal (input and amplified) varies over time. Think of this varience as a sine wave. Sometimes its high, sometimes its zero, half the time its negative.

One way of measuring the magnitude of this is just the height of the top of the wave. This is ?peak output?. Anothr way is to estimate the average output over time taking into account the fact that half the wave is negative voltage and most of it is lower than the peak output, and is called RMS (root mean squared). Most amps output is given in watts RMS.

But this is important: the wattage of your amp (RMS or otherwise) is the electrical power of the amp. It doesn?t translate straight to sound volume. Most of the power of your amp is used to make heat, electricity and the magnetic fields in the transformers. Very little is used to make actual sound energy. To put this into perspective a 100W amp is ten times more powerful, electrically, than a 10W amp, but only twice as loud (as a rule of thumb).

What the hells so good about high wattage, then?

Not all that much, after a certain point, but more powerful amps have more headroom. A 100W amp will sound far better than a 10W amp at the same volume because it can handle the power better, and produce a more musical output. It?s kind of like a Ferrari and a Ford, both can do 70mph, but the Ferrari can do it better.

What amplifier do I need?

That depends on whether you want a valve or solid-state amp. That decision is a matter of nothing but personal taste, but its important as follows.

One of the differences between valve and SS amps is valves sound louder to the human ear (they aren?t actually any louder they just sound it).

As a rule we have for SS:

10-30W: practice on your own.
30-50W: practice with a band or recording.
50 to 100W (or more): Gigs (as much wattage as you ever need)

And for valves:

<20W: practice on your own
20-30W Band practice/Recording
30-50W Gigging.
>50W Hearing damage.

Note there are overlaps because you can use any given wattage of amp at different volumes and for different purposes (!).

Don?t get an amp just for a tremendous wattage. Get one that you like the sound of and suits your needs. And when considering gigs, remember that the largest venues always have a house PA, which you can mike a small amp up through.

Dave_Mc 11-05-2005 02:27 PM

Originally posted by TGM

Heads, Cabs, and Combo's

Amps generally come in two forms, heads and combo's.

An amp head consists of a preamp and a power amp. It does not produce sound on it's own. In order for it to produce sound, you will need to connect it to a cab.

A cab is simply an enclosure for speakers, usually in a 4x12, 4x10, or 2x12 speaker configuration.

A combo has a built in preamp, power amp, and speaker. Some combo's also come with a cab out, so you can connect them to cabs when needed. Most combo's have one single speaker, though it is not uncommon to see combo's with a 2x12 or 4x10 or 4x12 setup.

Basically, the more speaker surface are you have, the more air is pushed, and therefore you will sound louder. So a 30w head will sound louder through two 4x12 cabs than through one 2x12 cab. (2x12 means that the cab contains two 12 inch speakers.)

You can connect a head to oone cab, or to two. When it is connected to one cab, it is a half stack. When connected to two, it is a full stack.

Connecting a combo to a cab is a good way to increase volume for a gig, though most of the time a 30w tube 1x12 combo will suffice. As long as you can hear yourself, the PA will do the rest of the work. Using a wall of full stacks (Or even half stacks in smaller venues.) isn't a great way to project your sound because it will simply be too loud on stage. You will get hearing damage, and it will be hard to create a balance. I can't stress it enough, don't buy the biggest amp you can afford, get something that will be loud enough and not louder. It may be cool to have a wall or Marshall's behind you, but you won't think so when you have to lug them around and when you have ear problems. We're all musicians, we should protect our ears like we protect our di<e>cks.

Here are some visual examples, they are fine pieces of engineering from our good friends Marshall. ;)

Combo:


Head:


1x12 (Same size as a 2x12 cab)


Two 4x12 cabinets:


Half Stack:


Full Stack



What's an FX loop? Originally posted by Jag513

The purpose of the effects loop is that the effects in the loop are placed after the preamp. Because the preamp is where the distortion (second channel) takes place, and some people like to have modulation effects after the distortion, so they put them in the effects loop. If the only distortion you use is power amp saturation, you can't have any effects after that, but if you use the preamp distortion, that is what the effects loop is for.

Dave_Mc 11-05-2005 02:35 PM

Biasing FAQ: Originally posted by Jag513

Alright, well a lot of you guys have been talking about setting the bias on tube amps, but I'm sure a lot of the people on UG have no clue what the bias is or why it needs to be set. So I've decided to do a little on it.

What is biasing?
Amps are biased so that 1. the tubes are operating safely and 2. because the amp sounds its best when properly biased. When amps are biased, the 'working condition' of the tubes is set. 'Setting the bias' on your amp is a lot like setting the idle on your car. If it's set too high (or "hot") the car's running away with you, but if it's too low (or "cold") it will choke when you give it some gas. To put that into guitar terms, too high (or "hot") and your tubes may sound good, but will burn out quicker; too low (or "cold") and your tubes may sound sterile, but will last a long time. You don't want to be at one extreme or the other, but preferably at a nice spot in the middle. You want your car to run its best just like you want your tubes to last long and sound their best. In that sense, when biasing we're trying to find the perfect in-between point. There are some exceptions though. If you want the tubes to last the longest, don't think you can heavily underbias them and have them last a lifetime. Severe underbiasing will bring down the amp, as will severe overbiasing.

Do I really need to bias my amp?
This depends on your standpoint. If all you care about is your amp working (not breaking down, melting, exploding, etc.), then you generally don't need to bias. As long as the bias is near what it should be, the amp will work fine. However, if you care about your tone, then yes, you need to bias your amp. Biasing your amp is the only way to get the best combination of tone and life. I'm with the latter group. It's all about the tone, and life's too short for bad tone. I mean, you shell out the cash for a nice tube amp, then don't care to maintain good tone with it? What's the point in that? Isn't it like sticking NOS tanks on your car, then refusing to check the oil? Why...?

Now, if you're using the same type of tubes (same company and model, like JJ 6L6GC's or Groove Tubes 6L6S's), the bias should be close enough to not need to re-bias. However, if you're switching companies or types, like going from JJ's to Sovtek's, or going from 6L6's to EL34's, then biasing becomes necessary.

Biases set too high will cause breakup earlier, many times before it's desired, while biases set too low will cause sterile tone and buzzing in the low frequencies. Both are examples of crossover distortion that power freak was talking about earlier, I think on the second page.

Reliability and tone are the only concerns. If you care about neither, then you do not need to bias your amp; but if getting the best sound possible is of any importance to you, then you should learn how to bias your amp or pay some one who knows how.

Alright, I'm convinced. But what do I need to do it?
You will need a multimeter (also called a VOM [Volt-Ohm Meter] or DMM [Digital Multi-Meter]) that reads DC voltage. You do NOT need a Weber Bias Rite, or a Bias King if you have a multimeter and matched power tubes from a reliable source?Groove Tubes sometimes isn't one of them, especially with their 6L6B's. So save your money! You can find multimeters at your local hardware store, usually behind glass in the electrical section. For beginners, digital multimeters are recommended, since they're easier to use and take less skill to properly use them.

So...how often should I do it?
After installing a new set of tubes its ideal to check them periodically. For instance, you may prefer to check every few months while performing regular maintenance or making adjustments. This is a fairly common bias check timeline. If they were bought off eBay, watch them closer?maybe once a week or so for a month, as eBay tubes are always a gamble. If you had just installed a new set of tubes, always recheck the bias prior to taking the amp to a gig, as how the amp is biased will have a larger impact at gig volumes than when sitting in your living room. If the bias is slightly off it may just be fluctuations in the electrical line for that day, and shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Alright, now which tubes in my amp do I bias?
You bias the power amp tubes. Look in your amp, and you should see two types of tubes, preamp tubes and power amp tubes. In laymans terms, small tubes (preamp) and bigger tubes (power amp). If you have an older amp or Mesa Double/Triple Rectifier, you may also have a rectifier tube, or maybe even a reverb tube or effects loop tube (if you're a newb to tubes, chances are you'll only have preamp and power amp tubes).

Why do I bias the power amp tubes, but not the preamp tubes?
Preamp tubes are cathode-biased, meaning they have a fixed bias and do not need to be changed.

What tubes can I use for my amp?
That depends on what type of amp you have. Common tube types are 6L6GC (stock on many Fenders), 6V6 (also stock on many Fenders), EL34 (stock on many Marshalls), EL84 (also stock on many Marshalls), and number names for these same tubes, such as 7581 or 5881. It all depends on the amp. Check out your amp's manual to see what tubes come stock.

As for preamp tubes, most amps come with 12AX7's, which are generally a good choice. If you do have 12AX7's and want to swap for a different type (say you want less gain), you can put in 5751's, 12AT7's, or 12AY7's.

Alright, alright, now how do I bias???
Well, I'm not going to tell you here. :D

Why? Because it's different for different manufacturers. Try Google, or if you don't feel comfortable with this stuff, take your amp to an amp tech.

Enjoy. :cheers:

Dave_Mc 11-05-2005 02:41 PM

Recommended Amps for the various price ranges.

I?ve split the recommendations into 3 sections per price range- recommendations for lower gain (good for cleans and blues), mid gain (classic rock up to hard rock) and high gain (suitable for uber-saturated modern metal and shred). Also note, if I?ve recommended a certain amp, to save space I may not have recommended its bigger brother, but it probably sounds the same (e.g. 30 and 50 watt versions of the same amp)- i.e. it?s still recommended!

I?ve also added a ?ones to avoid? list- I?m not saying you shouldn?t try (or even buy!), but I am saying that you should test them head to head with the recommended models, and it should become apparent why they?ve been labelled ?ones to avoid?.

Also, just to point out: I have NOT tried all these amps- far from it. If I remember, I?ll asterisk (*) the amps I have tried (i.e. they?re personal recommendations), while the un-asterisked (making up words is fun :p: ) amps are ones which have been consistently recommended by people whose opinion has been proven to be trustworthy, IMO. Also, if you disagree, fine! If you find an amp you prefer, or you think there is a glaring omission, feel free to pm me! Of course, I may disagree? ;)

Finally, a note on second hand amps/gear in general. Some people are willing to go second hand, others aren?t. Pros: cheaper, you can afford a better model than you otherwise would be able to. Also, you can get older models that are no longer available. Cons: it?s a risk, the seller may not have taken care of it, or may even be trying to sell you something that?s broken. Also, someone else has been using it. I have no experience with second hand stuff, but some of the other guys on here do.

Update: There have been some additions and corrections to the next section due to the fact that prices and amps change over time. Quailman is to thank for this new information.

Key: C = combo, H = head (if you buy a head, you have to factor in the price of a speaker cabinet into your budget too), H/C = available either as a head or a combo), USA = cheaper in USA (not a direct conversion), Euro = cheaper in Europe (not a direct conversion. In both these cases, I advise that you search for the price yourself. * = I’ve tried them (personal recommendation).

Anyway, here goes:

$0 - $150 (~£95, 110€)

First off, you probably WON?T get an amazing amp at this price range. However, if you’e lucky you’l be able to get a decent practice amp that will suffice until you’e able to get a “real” amp.

Lower Gain

Vox Pathfinder* (1 channel with boost) (Euro, C): I have one of these. Nice (AC30ish) cleans, nice classic rock crunch, not so good higher gain- harsh, and no real sustain. It does a sort of Lenny Kravitz-esque sound with the gain above 2/3 like in "fly away" and "are you gonna go my way", if you're into that, very harsh and fuzzy. Good value.

High Gain

Roland Cube 15/20/Roland Microcube (1 channel) (USA, C): I recommend saving for the Cube 30, since the Cube 15 and 20 have no (or very few) amp models, but you could do a lot worse for the price. The Microcube would be good for strictly practice purposes (it’s only 2W), but has built-in fx and amp models- really good for practice. In most cases, the Microcube is therefore better than the Cube 15/20, as they all are not loud enough for e.g. band use, but the Microcube is best for home practice. In general, Cubes are also really compact (Thanks to jj1565 (Jenny) for this info)

Peavey Vypyr (USA, C): If you don’t have the cash for a Cube 30, but want amp modelling nevertheless, this is a good choice. Not so great for lower gain imo, but does metal well.

Washburn BD15 (according to gpderek09) (USA, C): Not great cleans, but for high gain on a (very cheap) budget, it rocks.

Ones to avoid:

Marshall MG (crappy cleans, worse overdrive, unreliable), Fender Front man (the 25R has nice cleans, but unreliable electronics, and muddy distortion), Behringer (poor quality), anything priced too low (all those no-name ones!). (again, thanks to Jenny for the Fender and Behringer info here!)

$150 - $400 (~£95 - £250, 110€ - 285€)

Now you should be moving into quality practice amps- if you spend this amount of money, you shouldn?t need to buy a better practice amp, ever. Unless you want something like a Cornford Carrera ;).

Lower Gain:

Epiphone Valve Junior/Special, Vox AC4 (both 1 channel) (USA, H/C). Both are especially nice when using an overdrive pedal. I wouldn’t recommend using the Valve Junior for clean tones unless you have a single coil guitar. It's best to get the latest version of the VJ (version 3), because some technical problems have been eliminated with this version. It's usually no prob when buying new, as pretty much all VJs in stores by now are the version 3, but if you get a used one, watch out.

Fender Champ 600 (1 channel) (USA, C): If you want Fender cleans at a low budget and tubes. Tiny speaker, not enough volume to play with a band, but it's small, portable and has nice cleans.

Mid Gain:

Vox Valvetronix VT15/VT30 (2/3 channel) (Euro, C): good range of tones - can get into metal territory too, but is supposed to excel at rock tones.

Blackheart Killer Ant BH1 (H) + Blackheart BH112 cabinet (USA): Good “British” rock tones, but only for home practice and recording, since it only has 1 watt of power. It’s nice to have a cab already when upgrading to a different head at some point.

Blackheart Little Giant BH5 (1 channel) (Euro, C): If the Killer Ant is too small for you. The Little Giant can even be used for band practice at full tilt, don’t expect clean tones from it at such volumes though.

Peavey Valveking Royal 8 (USA, C): Not as middy and "British" as a Valve Junior, but not as bright as a Champ 600 either - good if you need both, good cleans and nice drive.

Fender Vibro Champ XD/Super Champ XD (several channels, not footswitchable) (USA, C): Solid state preamp with analogue modelling, tube power amp with either 5w (Vibro) or 15w (Super) of power. Haven't tried them myself, but they are supposed to be very nice and have lots of good amp models of Fenders. Built in effects, too.

High Gain:

Roland Cube 30/60 (2 channel) (USA, C): Good high gain models, possibly slightly harsh cleans and rock tones. Uses boss non-latching footswitch (according to mnbaseball91)

Peavey Bandit (2 channel) (USA, C): Good range and quality of tones for a solid state amp. Not a modeller, though.

B52 AT112 (2 channel) (USA, C): No personal experience, but is supposed to be a good heavy rock and metal tube amp on a budget, in the US, anyway.

Blackstar HT-5 (2 channel) (USA, H/C): 5w tube amp for anything up to heavy rock. Great distortion for it’s price.

Ibanez Valbee (2 channel) (Euro, C): 5w like the Blackstar, but smaller, with a tiny 6.5” speaker and therefore does not have much low end. Not loud enough for band use, but a great rock amp for home use.

Ones to avoid:
Marshall MG (as before- but add in “crappy fx” too!), Line 6 Spider III (sounds digital).

Dave_Mc 11-05-2005 02:44 PM

$400 - $800 (~£250 - £500, 285€ - 570€)

At this price, IMO, you should be looking at smaller all-tube/valve combos (around 30 watts) or some of the better modellers. I’d recommend tube, but if you need super high gain, a modeller may be the way to go- although, remember, you can always boost an overdriven tube amp with an overdrive pedal! Another thing to remember is, dependent on type of power amp tube, that tube is 2-3 times louder than the equivalent solid state amp- i.e. 40 tube watts = approx. 100 solid state watts. See D man’s excellent amp post for more info! Also, another thing to note is that you can get solid state amps in this price range (Fenders, Marshalls etc.), but tube is normally the way to go, unless you’re going for a modeller (thanks to Jenny again, for the second half of this paragraph).

First, the all-tube choices:

Lower Gain:

Laney VC15 (by Gabel) - Nice clean, fantastic vintage tones, everything from Keith Richards almost up to Tony Iommi. Awesome small classic rock amp. Sound is close to Vox and Orange.

Laney VC30 (2 channel) (Euro, C): Vox AC-30ish in tones (according to power freak)

Fender blues junior/pro junior (1 channel) (USA, C): excellent blues and clean tones.

Peavey Delta blues (2 channel) (USA, C): Like the Peavey Classic 30 (see mid-gain section), but with tremolo and more bass. (thanks to Gabel for this one)

Mid Gain:


Laney LC15/LC30 (2 channel) (Euro, C): good cleans, good rock crunch. Great value in the UK.

Peavey Classic 30 (2 channel) (USA, H/C): Fender Bassman sound character. Great cleans, nice overdrive, in the lower section of Mid- gain spectrum. (thanks to gabel for this one)

Randall RG50TC (2 channel with boost) (USA, C): good crunch tones, and good value (this is a 50 watter!)

Peavey Valveking (2 channel) (USA, H/C): for an all-tube amp on a budget!

Traynor YCV 20 (2 channel with boost) (USA, C): smaller brother of the YCV40 (thanks to Jenny for this one!)

Traynor YCV40/50 (2 channel with boost) (USA, C): get the 40 for American/Fender-y tones ( 6L6 tubes), or the 50 for more British tones (EL-34 valves). Has better overdrive than the Fenders (according to Jenny!)

Peavey Windsor (1 channel) (USA, H): Haven’t tried it myself, but other UGers recommend it frequently. It’s basically a copy of the legendary Marshall JCM800, but a lot cheaper. 100 watts of nice distorted tone, but forget about cleans.

High gain:

Ashdown Fallen Angel 40 combo (2 channel with boost) (Euro, H/C): probably as close as you’re going to get to all-tube high gain at this price.

B52 AT100 (3 channel) (USA, H): I have no experience with this, since there aren’t even any distributors in the UK, but they’re meant to be good value if you live in the USA.

Bugera (various models) : Clones of high gain Peavey amps. Great sound for cheap but early versions were unreliable. They are supposed to be more reliable by now, but I guarantee nothing! Still, good sounding, great value amps.

Now the better modellers:


Vox Valvetronix VT50, VT100 (several channels) (Euro, C): Versatile amps for band practice and gigging on a budget. All around nice amp modelling and effects, but if you don’t need the versatility, an equally priced tube amp is probably better.

Line 6 Flextone III (several channels) (USA, H/C): Better and more versatile version of a Spider.

Ones to avoid:
Bigger Marshall MG?s (still crap, just louder!), Marshall AVT (nowhere near as bad as the MG?s, but over-priced, and with some fatal tone/feel flaws), Line 6 Spiders (still digital-sounding, just louder!)

$800 – 1500$ (~£500 - £940, 570€ - 1070€)

IMO, here you should be looking at a semi-pro to pro level all-valve/tube amp. You may upgrade to a boutique amp for the ultimate tone, but (unless you have no room, or want to claw back some money) you should have no major reason to sell an amp in this price range if you decide later to upgrade.

Lower Gain:

Fender Hot Rod* (various models) (2/3 channel) (USA, C): Great cleans and blues tones. Can do rock too (according to Jenny!)

Mid Gain:


Vox AC30CC* (2 channel non-switch able) (Euro, H/C): great sparkly cleans, up to classic rock overdrive. At the lower end of the mid-gain spectrum.

Marshall TSL* (3 channel) (Euro, H/C): despite what anyone says, if you don?t need a fender-y clean, or an uber-saturated metalcore tone, (assuming you like the Marshall tone) this is a great amp. It’s dear in the USA though. Also tighter sounding than the DSL, more versatile, and more equipped for metal (again, according to power freak).

Marshall DSL50/100 (2 channel) (Euro, H): Lower gain version of the TSL, with 2 channels instead of 3.

Marshall DSL401* (2 channel) (Euro, C): some people complain about Marshall’s price and tone, but if you want the marshall tone, this is about the cheapest way to get a half-decent all-tube approximation. And with a speaker swap, can contend with amps that cost more (e.g. traynor) (according to power freak)

Laney TT* (3 channel) (Euro, H/C): Fender-y (and jazzy!) cleans, good rock crunch, edging into higher gain territory too!

Orange Rocker 30 (2 channel) (Euro, H/C): Little brother to the 50 (I’ve tried) and 100 watt versions, should have great warm cleans, and a distinctive, warm overdrive- and has more gain than you'd think! (for USA people, www.humbuckermusic.com (thanks to mnbaseball91)) Quite dark sounding (according to power freak)

Hughes & Kettner Statesman Quad EL84 (2 channel) (Euro, C): 40 watts and a vintage sound and look. Does everything up to ‘80s rock. Great if you want a Marshall-y crunch and Fender-y cleans (well, sort of) in one amp. It’s technically a hybrid (the preamp is partially solid state), but it is easily as good as comparably priced all-tube amps.

High Gain:


Laney GH (1 channel with boost)/VH* (2 channel with dual boosts) heads (Euro, C): Fender-y cleans, Good crunch, aggressive high gain tones!

Engl Screamer (4 channel)*/Thunder (3 channel) (Euro, H/C): not quite as awesome as the dearer Engls, but if you want a high gain amp with versatility on a budget (kind of!), this is where it’s at. Fender-y cleans, Marshall-y crunch, insane high gain! Screamer gives a smoother tone than some of the higher gain amps (according to power freak) (thunder probably too, but I haven?t tried it).

Cornford Harlequin (1 channel) (Euro, C): A 6W practice amp, but what tone! Cornford?s “Sig tone” is that “growly bark” that you hear some aggressive blues guys getting (Power freak).

Peavey XXX (3 channel)/6505 (+)*(3 channel) (USA, H/C) : struggling to make it into this price range in the UK, but easily makes it in the USA. XXX is brighter, with better cleans, and is probably more versatile, while the 6505 (+) has an intense, dark, modern metal high gain tone, and good crunch- but pathetic cleans.

Carvin MTS (2 channel) (USA, H/C): I haven’t tried it, but, as the B52, meant to be great value.

Ones to avoid:
once you get to this price range, there?s nothing really to avoid- APART FROM SOLID STATE HALF STACKS AND FULL STACKS! Just don't do it. Please

Dave_Mc 11-05-2005 02:47 PM

$1500 - $2500 (~£940 - £1570, 1070€ - 1800€)

At this price you’re into pro-level kit. You should be able to get amps that the pros use, and as long as you don’t want a boutique or Super-Amp, you should be able to get near enough exactly what you want.

Lower Gain:

Fender Reissues (Bassman, Twin, etc.) (1 or 2 channels) (USA, C): Great cleans and bluesy overdrive.

Dr. Z Prescription (and Prescription Extra Strength): A straight forward, vintage-style amp that's the dream of any bues and classic rock efficionado. (thanks to zavorash for this one!)

Mid Gain:

Vox AC30CC (with alnico blue speakers) (Euro, H/C): better speaker version of the Vox AC30CC mentioned above. Some people don?t like the alnico speakers. They are a bit “flubby” and can lose definition (power freak).

Marshall Reissues (various models) (single channel) (Euro, H/C): more authentic (but less versatile) renditions of the Marshall tone.

Orange Rockerverb 50*/100 (2 channel) (Euro, H/C): As the Rocker 30, but more options.

Koch Multitone* (2 channel with boost) (Euro, H/C): Fender-y cleans (with footswitch-able gain boost for sweet blues tones) coupled with a hot rodded Marshall overdrive channel- excellent amp! The medium channel is smoother and the amp as a whole is basically described as a souped up Mesa/Boogie Mark (power freak).

Hiwatt all-valve models (single channel) (Euro, H/C): Haven’t tried them, but they’re supposed to be good for The Who and Pink Floyd tones. They are hard to get great tones out of them, for experienced players only!

THD Univalve/Bivalve/ Flexi 50 (single channel) (USA, H): Switch tubes at will, and great Marshall tones. Built-in hotplate attenuator in some models, too! Excellent recording amps. (this whole next bit thanks to power freak!) With Univalve be careful as there aren’t phase cancellations (technical gubbins!) which causes the tone to be a bit brighter than you’d expect. The Bi sounds “bigger” but the Flexi is a whole different beast!

Rivera (USA, H/C): various models and gain levels. Great choice for a range of tones, tend to have one channel which is "American-voiced", and one which is "British-voiced". I haven't tried them, unfortunately.

Framus Ruby Riot I/Ruby Riot II (2 channel) (Euro, C): 30w 2x12” combo with two different speakers (nice for recording). Incredibly warm and full cleans, like a Vox AC30 but less jangly and with better low end definition. Very warm, vintage-y crunch tones that are great for blues and classic rock, but it sounds a bit stiff right out of the box (factory biasing is pretty cold). The Ruby I has a lot of gain on tap, the Ruby II has less gain (which suits it better, imo) and a very nice tremolo effect built in. Imo, this is the best amp Framus makes and can compete with many boutique amps.

Framus CB (2 channel) (Euro, H): Head version of the Ruby Riot I.

Hughes&Kettner Statesman Dual EL34 (2 channel) (Euro, H): Much like the Statesman EL84, but with a different power amp. Haven’t tried it myself, but reports from friends and clips indicate that it sounds roughly the same.

High Gain:

Engl Powerball* (4 channel)/Savage (4 channel) (Euro, H): Fender-y cleans, Marshall-y crunch, hear-to-believe ultra high gain tones! Extremely versatile amps. Go Powerball if you play mostly metal, Savage if you play mostly hard rock but need metal tones as well.

Engl Ritchie Blackmore Signature (2 channel, each with 2 gain settings) (Euro, H): Like a hot-rodded Marshall with American-y cleans. Designed with rock in mind, but can do metal with the right guitar. Very very responsive, “ballsy” sound, and ridiculously loud (even for a 100w head), but sounds great at low volumes as well. Good value in Europe!

Mesa F30*/50 (2 channel) (USA, C): dark, intense high gain tones, good rock tones, decent cleans (still sound a little over-compressed to me though). Versatile workhorse.

Framus Cobra /Dragon (3 channel) (Euro, H): Tight high gain tones, great cleans. Versatile (from what I hear). The Cobra is aimed at metal and sounds extremely agressive, while the Dragon is all about versatility and is very articulate, even in high gain mode. Both have surprisingly nice cleans for high gain amps.

Cornford MK 50 (1 channel with boost) (Euro, H): That singing lead tone again! Look out for the twin channel MK50 2 that?s meant to be coming out soon, it?s promising to be sweet!

Cornford Carrerra (1 channel) (Euro, C): a 6 W practice amp again, but it’s self-biasing, and you can switch out pre- and power-amp tubes at will, while it’s on standby! And it’ll have that Cornford tone again.

Genz Benz El Diablo: (high gain, second highest price range) A versatile monster with an emphasis on heavier playing, but that still packs a surprisingly good clean and crunch. (Thanks to Zavorash for this one)

Hughes & Kettner Trilogy (3 channel) (Euro, H): The TriAmp’s little brother. Very versatile, a bit bright though, so possibly not for everyone. Good choice if a TriAmp or other 3- or 4-channel amps are too pricey.

Ones to avoid:
again, at this price range, you shouldn?t get crap. The only thing to watch out for is to make sure the amp you get suits your style of playing. If you only play metal core, don?t get a Fender, for example.

$2500+ (~£1570, 1800€)

Now you're talking! The world’s your oyster! Super amp that does every tone well, or a boutique hand-made amp that does one tone sublimely? the choice is yours. I’m not even going to bother listing them, because there are so many good ones. If you’ve got this much to spend the amp better be special! And if an amp at this price doesn’t do what you want it to do it offers worse value than an MG/Spider hybrid! One thing I must say though- at this price there are many boutique manufacturers. They may not have a big name, but avoid thinking outside the box at your peril! There are more good amps than Marshall and Mesa at this price range! And please make a thread if you have this much cash! It makes a welcome change from recommending vox valvetronix amps.

Dave_Mc 11-05-2005 02:58 PM

TGM's Cheap Tube Amp List (USA prices, some of which are a little out of date, I fear)

From Engl (both exclude footswitch):
$1100 - Thunder 50 combo

$1200 - Screamer 50 combo

From Traynor:

$520 - YCV20 Custom Valve Combo with 12" Celestion

$560 - YCV20WR Custom Valve Combo

$580 - YCV40 Custom Valve Combo

$620 - Custom Valve YCV40T 40 2x10 Combo with Celestions

$630 - YCV40WR Custom Valve 40 Combo

$729 - YCV80Q Custom Valve 4x10 Combo

$740 - Custom Valve YCV80 2x12 Combo with Celestions

From Laney:

$671 - VC30-112 30W 1x12 All-Tube Class A British Combo

$700 - LC30-II 30W All-Tube Class A Combo with Reverb

$840 - VC30-212 30W 2x12 All-Tube Class A British Combo

From Peavey:

$500 - Classic 30 1x12 30W Guitar Combo Amp

$500 - Delta Blues

$675 - JD-30T? Jack Daniel's® Guitar Amp

$700 - Classic 50/212

$770 - Classic 50/410

$850 - XXX Super 40 40W 1x12 Guitar Combo

$950 - Triple XXX Super 40 EFX Combo

$980 - 5150® 212 2x12 60W Guitar Combo Amp (Out of production, will be returning as 6505's)

$1000 - Triple XXX 112 1x12 Guitar Combo Amp

??? - Classic 20 (They are out of production and often cost more now than they did new.)

From Fender: (Some go up to $200 above $1000.)

$290 - Pro Junior? Combo

$400 - Blues Junior? Combo

$580 - Hot Rod Deluxe

$700 - Hot Rod DeVille? 410

$735 - Hot Rod DeVille? 212

$797 - '65 Deluxe Reverb

$800 - '65 Deluxe Reverb® Combo Amp

$995 - Custom Vibrolux Reverb

$1050 - Pro Reverb

$1050 - '65 Twin Reverb

$1100 - '65 Twin Custom 15

$1155 - 59 Bassman

$1190 - Twin Amp? 100-Watt All-Tube Amp

From Marshall:

$900 - Marshall DSL 401 Combo

??? - Used DSL201 Combo (They are out of production)

From Pignose:

$200 - G40V Tube Amp

From Dr. Z:

$699 - Mini-Z 1x8 Combo

Dave_Mc 05-14-2006 04:11 PM

Amps- myths and rumours debunked

1: Solid State amps are better for high gain/metal than all-tube/Tube amps are only good for vintage tones.

While it?s true that solid state amps can be a little tighter, there are plenty of tight, modern-sounding high gain amps available. Of course, you have to pay for them, but most of them sound better than the equivalent solid-state models- they manage to sound organic while still sounding metal, and will do the non-metal tones better than those solid state heads too. And there are some all-tube amps that sound as metal as any solid state one.

2: Double the wattage is twice the volume.

It?s not. It?s noticeably louder (about 15%, if I remember correctly), but certainly not twice as loud. You need TEN times the wattage to be twice as loud, so a 100 watt amp, all things being equal, is twice as loud. Also, speaker efficiency makes a major difference to loudness, sometimes more so that wattage.

3: Don?t buy a 100 watt all-tube stack for home use- buy a 30 watt combo instead.

While it?s true that a 100 watt stack is too loud for home practice (but you could turn it down or buy an attenuator), a 30 watt combo at full volume is too loud as well. It?s virtually impossible to get an all-tube amp quiet enough for home practice, unless it?s one of those ones with variable wattage controls (down to like one-eighth of a watt or something)- and they?re about £2000+. Also, most 100 watt amps have a lot more features than the 30 watters, so if you want lots of bells and whistles, you have to go for the bigger amp.

4: I need a metal distortion pedal to get a metal tone.

(a) There are plenty of metal-orientated amps that sound metal enough without a distortion pedal.

(b) If you have an all-tube amp, you?re probably better looking into an overdrive pedal, to boost the overdrive/distortion your amp already has- you?ll get better tone, too. This isn?t a hard and fast rule, though, plenty of guys boost a tube amp with a distortion pedal- but it?s normally a not-too-high-gain distortion pedal, not a metal zone or whatever.

5: I need 100 watts plus, I?m gigging!

See (2), and also the fact that most places big enough for this kind of wattage will have P.A. so you can mic up your amp. Also, most tube amps tend to sound louder than solid state (normally a tube amp will equal between 2-3 times the equivalent wattage for a solid state amp- for example, a 40 watt tube amp will have a similar volume to a 100 watt solid state amp)- it?s entirely possible that your 50 watt solid state amp isn?t loud enough, but a 30 watt all-tube combo might be.

6: No-one needs a half-stack. Get a tube combo instead.

While I would agree that you?re probably better off with an all-tube combo than a solid state halfstack (because of better tone etc.), if you have the cash for an all-tube halfstack, and you play any kind of metal or hard rock, the half-stack (assuming it?s the same model) will sound better- better spread, more ?oomph?, better bass, etc.- generally, more ?metal? or ?rock?.

7: X amp is awesome, it?s 500 watts!

a) It?s probably too loud.

b) It?s probably solid state, and it?s this loud because the manufacturers know SS amps sound crap when turned up full.

c) If it sounds crap, there isn?t much point of it being loud.

Judge an amp by what it sounds like, not its wattage. I?m not saying a 500 watt amp won?t sound good. But be wary of any amp sold purely on its volume. If its tone were great, they?d be mentioning that?

8: Tube is always better than solid state.

Normally, all things being equal, it is, but not always. A tube amp is normally better than a similarly-priced ss amp, but a £1500 ss amp is probably better than a £250 tube amp. It also depends on what you want to use it for.

9: Hybrid technology sucks

I agree it?s a marketing scam, but this doesn?t mean it always sucks. The Vox Valvetronix amps, from what I hear, are very good for what they are, and they?re hybrid. Basically, judge an amp on its merits, not the technology involved- if it sucks, it?s probably not because it?s a hybrid, and if it?s great, it?s probably not because it?s a hybrid either.

10: My £100 modelling amp is awesome. It does every tone brilliantly!

Try some of the amps it models (at full volume!) and then tell me it?s brilliant. They?re good on a budget, if you want a wide range of tones for practicing, but 9 times out of 10 (at least), the original sounds better (note, I?m talking about cheap modellers here).

11: Hand-wired amps are ALWAYS better than mass-produced amps.

This is one of those kind of half-truths. Basically, it?s right, but for the wrong reason. If you had two IDENTICAL amps, with all the same components, and one was hand-wired and one wasn?t, it?d be unlikely that you could tell any difference. This myth is generally correct because, most of the time, hand-wired amps use better quality components, while mass-produced amps generally use cheaper quality components, and THAT?S why they sound better. There may be a slight case for saying that a person can wire something better than a machine, and that if you aren?t using PCB?s that you can position stuff better etc., but that?s marginal.

That_Pink_Queen 01-21-2007 05:10 PM


Courtesy of Gutch.

xifr 07-14-2007 11:23 PM

UG USER MADE SOUNDCLIPS

Courtesy of That_Pink_Queen, ibanez4life SZ!, Dookie_1988, Dave_Mc and ~hypermonkey~

The clips can be found here
---------------------------------- http://ugclips.dmusic.com/ ---------------------------------------

For submissions go here:
http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/foru...ad.php?t=371652



------------THE INDEX------------



---CRATE
---GT-500H

---ENGL
---Savage SE

---FRAMUS
---Cobra

---HARTKE
---GT60 C

---LINE 6
---Spider II

---MARSHALL
---JCM900

---MESA BOOGIE
---Dual Rectifier Solo Head
---Mark IV

---PEAVEY
---Classic
---JSX
---Triple XXX
---Ultra


---ROLAND
---Jazz Chorus
---MicroCube

---TRAYNOR
---YCV50 Blue

---VOX
---DA-5
---Valvetronix



------------DETAILS OF THE CLIPS------------


CRATE

---GT-500H

Submitted By: BlindedOn1sidE
Amp: Head (upgraded with Mesa Boogie Tubes) played through two Behringer 4x12 Cabinets (older versions).
Rig: Epiphone Les Paul with Gibson pickups and hardware, Boss SD-1 (boost in certain parts).
Recording: 3 Shure SM-57's, through a Behringer 24 channel mixer, into a Korg D1600MKII 16-Track Recorder.

One (1) Clip Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/


ENGL

---Savage SE

Submitted By: Dave_Mc
Amp: Head played through a Laney TT412A angled cab, with 4 Celestion Vintage 30 Speakers.
Rig: Ibanez RG470 (Made in Japan) loaded with swinehead pickups (Bridge: Warthog, Middle: Spotlight, and Neck: Condor)
Recording: Computer Mic into computer soundcard

Six (6) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/


FRAMUS

---Cobra

Submitted By: Erock503
Amp: Head played through matching 4x12 Cabinet
Rig: Schecter C-7 Hellraiser
Recording: Shure SM57 into a Digitech GNX4

Four (4) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/


HARTKE

---GT60 C

Submitted By: call1800ksmyazz
Amp: 60 watt 1x12 combo
Rig: Godin Freeway Classic
Recording: Computer mic into computer soundcard.

Three (3) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/


LINE 6

---Spider II

Submitted By: \m/metallica\m/
Amp: 75 watt 1x12 combo
Rig: Jackson Dinky (Seymour Duncan JB/'59), Ibanez AX 7221.
Recording: Computer mic into Computer Soundcard, recorded with Audacity.

Three (3) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/

Submitted By: Chums
Amp: Head with Line 6 4x12
Rig: Squire Stratocaster loaded with Seymour Duncan Hotrails in the bridge and neck.
Recording: Line out of amp into computer soundcard. Guitar double-tracked in Audactiy.

Two (2) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/


MARSHALL

---JCM900

Submitted By: BlindedOn1sidE
Amp: 4102 High Gain Dual Reverb 2x12 Combo (100/50 watts)
Rig: USA Fender 40th Anniversery Stratocaster loaded with a Seymour Duncan Hot Rail in the bridge. Boss SD-1 used to boost high gain clip
Recording: Shure SM58, recorded with audacity.

Two (2) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/


MESA BOOGIE

---Dual Rectifier Solo Head

Submitted By: Ibanez4life SZ!
Amp: Head played through an Avatar 4x12 loaded with Celestion V30's. THD Hotplate running between head and speaker cabinet. Monster Speaker Cables.
Rig: Ibanez SZ520 loaded with USA PRS Tremonti pickups (neck and bridge) and grover locking tuners. ISP Noise Decimator, Morley Tremonti Power Wah, and Keeley Modded Boss SD-1 (clean boost setting) used in certain parts.
Recording: Computer Mic into computer soundcard, recorded with Audacity.

Five (5) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/

---Mark IV

Submitted By: Erock503
Amp: Head played through a Mesa Standard 4x12
Rig: Schecter C-7 Hellraiser
Recording: Shure SM57 into a Digitech GNX4

Two (2) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/


PEAVEY

---Classic

Submitted By: That_Pink_Queen
Amp: 30 watt combo: EH 12ZX& Preamp tubes, Sovtek EL84 Power tubes
Rig: Gibson SG loaded with Gibson 490T Pickups
Recording: Miced with a Shure SM57 into a Presonus Firebox

One (1) Clip Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/

---JSX

Submitted By: tubadude (chunkybrotha)
Amp: 120 watt Head running into an Ashdown 4x12 cabinet
Rig: Washburn WG208 and X50 running directly into the amp
Recording: Shure SM57, into a M-Audio Mobile Pre, recorded with Audacity.

Three (3) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/

---Triple XXX

Submitted By: Ibanez4life SZ!
Amp: 1x12 40 watt combo, with stock tubes and speaker
Rig: Ibanez SZ520 loaded with a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge and grover locking tuners. Morley Tremonti Power Wah used in certain parts.
Recording: Computer Mic into computer soundcard, recorded with Audacity.

Two (2) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/

---Ultra

Submitted By: Ibanez4life SZ!
Amp: 60 watt Head run into a Carvin 4x12 loaded with Celestion g12m-70's
Rig: Jackson DXMGT loaded with EMG 81/85
Recording: Digital Reference DRGX1 mic, run into an M-audio Mobile Pre, recorded with Sonar.

One (1) Clip Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/


ROLAND

---Jazz Chorus

Submitted By: Dr. Ripper
Amp: JC-90 combo
Rig: Silvertone SSL-1: Neck pickup
Recording: Line Out from amp straight into computer soundcard

One (1) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/

---Microcube

Submitted By: That_Pink_Queen
Amp: 2 watt combo (battery powered) with 5 inch speaker.
Rig: Custom Part-O-Caster: Alder Body, Rosewood Fretboard on a Maple Neck, loaded with Fender Tex-Mex Pickups.
Recording: Line Out from amp into a Presonus Firebox

Two (2) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/


TRAYNOR

---YCV50 Blue

Submitted By: mnbaseball91
Amp: 50 watt 1x12 combo (stock with Sovtek tubes and a Celestion V30).
Rig: Warmoth Custom Built Soloist loaded with a Seymour Duncan Custom Custom in the bridge and Alnico II Pro in the neck. Dunlop Crybaby wah pedal for solo.
Recording: Computer Mic into computer soundcard

Two (2) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/


VOX

---DA-5

Submitted By: angusyoungwanab
Amp: 5 watt combo with 6.20 inch speaker.
Rig: Fender (Made in Japan) Stratocaster loaded with Carvin Rails, Ibanez GAX75 loaded with a Seymour Duncan Super Distortion
Recording: Line Out from amp into a Zoom MRS4B

Three (3) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/

---Valvetronix

Submitted By: Funky P
Amp: AD30VT 30 watt combo
Rig: Ibanez SZ520 loaded with Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pros, MXR 10 Band EQ, Dunlop Crybaby Wah Pedal
Recording: Amp miced with a Shure SM57 into a Tascam 414 MKII recorder.

Four (4) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/

Submitted By: Dirk Gently
Amp: AD30VT 30 watt combo
Rig: Fender MIA Stratocaster (H-H-H Setup)
Recording: Amp miced with a Shure SM57 into a Tascam 4 track recorder, recorded into Audacity.

Two (2) Clips Submitted!
http://ugclips.dmusic.com/


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