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Old 04-05-2013, 08:29 AM   #1
ahesham
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Why are Solid State amps bad?

I own an Ibanez RGA-42 and a Roland Cube 15XL. When I asked if a DiMarzio Liquifire and Crunchlab PU swap will give me a better tone, given that I own a solid state amp, forum members replied that I'll first need to invest in a tube amp before I can get a better tone. Anybody can tell me why?
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:34 AM   #2
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Not all SS amps are bad. What you have is a cheap practice amp with a tiny speaker.
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:36 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ahesham
I own an Ibanez RGA-42 and a Roland Cube 15XL. When I asked if a DiMarzio Liquifire and Crunchlab PU swap will give me a better tone, given that I own a solid state amp, forum members replied that I'll first need to invest in a tube amp before I can get a better tone. Anybody can tell me why?

It's not so much that all solid state amps are sub-par, it's just that the amp has a larger effect on your tone than pick-ups so you'd be better off putting your money where it will have the greatest effect.

Pick ups are generally the last little tweak you make to get your sound 'perfect.' Amp is the foundation of your sound and should be the first place you put your money.
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:36 AM   #4
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^ Correct. Bad amps are bad, it just happens to be easier to get a good tube amp than a good solid state amp for a reasonable price, with a few exceptions.
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:41 AM   #5
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Cath makes a good point; improving your tone is going to be tough regardless of what you do so long as you keep that tiny speaker. Those Rolands aren't considered terrible, but they are practice amps. Practice amps and 'improving tone' just don't go together.
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:44 AM   #6
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And little tiny, budget priced solid states amps tend to be rather blah...9.5 times out of 10. The larger versions rarely sound any different other than a bit bassier and louder (bigger speakers, more wattage).
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:45 AM   #7
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A decent distortion pedal infront of a decent solid state amp can give you some really nice sounds.

Johnny Greenwood from Radiohead sticks a Turbo Rat distortion infront of an old Fender solid state amp & it sounds fine. Solid state amps are also very good for playing clean tones at high volumes without going through the PA.

But if you are wanting to emulate the sound of a tubed amplifier you arn't going to get this with a solid state amp.
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Old 04-05-2013, 08:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sg4ever
And little tiny, budget priced solid states amps tend to be rather blah...9.5 times out of 10. The larger versions rarely sound any different other than a bit bassier and louder (bigger speakers, more wattage).
The Cube 80 sounds heaps better. Still an entry level amp but far better than the 15 nonetheless.
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Old 04-05-2013, 09:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tubetime86
Pick ups are generally the last little tweak you make to get your sound 'perfect.' Amp is the foundation of your sound and should be the first place you put your money.


This. Far too many new players are given the impression that pickups are the be all and end of of changing your sound in drastic ways. This is simply not true.

This is obviously just based on personal experience only, but good quality tube amps will respond very differently to different pickups. Cheap solid states, not so much, ergo not much point dropping hundreds of dollars on pickups to throw it through $10 worth of solid state components and a small buzzy speaker.

Last edited by Wesbanez : 04-05-2013 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 04-05-2013, 09:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesbanez
good quality tube amps will respond very differently to different pickups.


+1. I plugged my ESP Eclipse with EMG's into a Marshall MG10 & it still sounded muddy/bassy.

For me, in terms of importance you should always look at (in order)

Amp
Guitar
Effects - like tube screamers, EQ pedals etc
Pickups

A $100k Gibson Les Paul loaded with Bare Knuckles with loads of vintage effects into a shitty amp will always sounds turd.

You cannot polish a turd.
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Old 04-05-2013, 09:40 AM   #11
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I like solid state distortion myself well, even when its not emulating/modelling a tube amp. The thing is, good ones are few and far between and most of them are old and discontinued (and luckily cheap on used market). Out of the new ones Randall has some very promising looking SS amps currently.
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Old 04-05-2013, 09:47 AM   #12
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I'd take and old solid state Ampeg vh140c over most mass produced tube amps.
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Old 04-05-2013, 10:23 AM   #13
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Good solid state heads/combos can be hit and miss. I wouldn't say they're "bad" though. My Vetta II is a good example of a great sounding solid state head. However, if you're using an amp with a dinky speaker, I wouldn't expect it to have a huge sound. Changing pickups might help out on the guitar end, but you need something more substantial to drive it.
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Old 04-05-2013, 10:57 AM   #14
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Talking about pickups, depends what pickups you start off with and what you move too, it can be a much bigger difference than changing amp.

If you're going from a cheap high output humbucker to an expensive high output humbucker then the difference is minimal, if you're going from vintage output single coils to a high output humbucker the difference is absolutely massive.

Solid state amps grate on my ears after a while, there is something missing in the sound that is hard to describe but is noticeable, like there is an ugly sheen over the sound that you start to notice after you've been playing for a while in a single session, doesnt happen with a valve amp. Valve amps also clip in a different way, its much softer and smoother compared to a solid state, so you can get that nice inbetween sound from the poweramp where the solid state struggles and cannot work in this way (this really only concerns when you're really cranking the volume).

Other than that a valve amp just sounds more full, it fills more space there are more harmonics bouncing around and it almost feels more "3d". Kinda in the way that Vinyl does the same thing compared to an MP3 or even CD, it isn't really something you can easily explain but it is something you can easily experience.


Solid states are not bad though, and a good guitarist with a solid state will always sound better than a bad guitarist with the nicest valve amp.
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:18 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigbazz
going from vintage output single coils to a high output humbucker the difference is absolutely massive.


The difference you mention here is surely just output power? Your cheap SS amp will not magically sound better just because you shoved a high output humbucker in the guitar.

It'll sound different, sure, but not "better". Probably getting into semantics though now...
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:27 AM   #16
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I present you with Artists that use/have used Solid State maps

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/foru...d.php?t=1370758
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:28 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesbanez
The difference you mention here is surely just output power? Your cheap SS amp will not magically sound better just because you shoved a high output humbucker in the guitar.

It'll sound different, sure, but not "better". Probably getting into semantics though now...

How do you know it won't sound better? Depends on the pickup selection. Either way, the dinky amp IS the problem in the entire setup and needs to go.

Edit: Saying it won't sound better is a bit too much assuming. Not to sound like I'm arguing with you. You could be right when it come to the specific pickup that is selected with the specific amp. But, there's no way that can work universally.

Last edited by Dimarzio45 : 04-05-2013 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:30 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dimarzio45
How do you know it won't sound better? Depends on the pickup selection. Either way, the dinky amp IS the problem in the entire setup and needs to go.


Agreed.
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:34 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesbanez
Agreed.

Yeah. In my experience with changing pickups, I've always heard an improvement. But even if I heard the improvment, I could still hear the fact that I was using a crappy amp. Boy, I don't miss those days.

Edit: The improvement is based on the fact the proper pickups were selected for the given sound I was going for.

Last edited by Dimarzio45 : 04-05-2013 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 04-05-2013, 12:33 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cathbard
The Cube 80 sounds heaps better. Still an entry level amp but far better than the 15 nonetheless.


I don't agree. I don't think a Cube 80 is an entry level amp at all....unless you are strictly talking about price only I guess. I know pros who use Cubes of different varieties...and no...not in very hard loud rock bands...but pros.
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