#1
hey guys, i'm trying to help my friend choose the best tube amp for him, basically just for practice at home. and he wants "as much gain as possible".

from what i understand, tube amps sound best when cranked, right? so i'm seeing all these "high-gain" amps, and pretty much all of them are high-wattage too.
so here's my question: if tube amps are meant to be cranked, why would they make the high-gain amps at only 100W+? doesn't that defeat the purpose of a tube amp?
and people always say, "some people buy them for the headroom", but why would anybody buy an amp like a triple rectifier or 5150... for its clean headroom???

can you guys please explain this to me? i'd really appreciate any help at all. thanks.
#2
people like loud amps because its suitable for live gigging and headroom
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#3
Blackstar HT5 has alot of gain for low volumes, is only 5 watts.
It's not that high wattage amps sound bad at low volumes, they just sound better cranked, so there is power tube breakup.
The reason that they make most high gain amps at high wattage is for the volume.

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#4
High gain tube amps sound best cranked, thats not to say they sound bad, or worse than modellers at low volumes.

More wattage is more headroom which is important live, but not so much a big deal at home practise. You'll want a nice high gain tube combo or head + 2x12.
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#5
in a live setting your amp will be very loud anyway so high headroom is always a good thing. a mesa recto isn't meant to be played at bedroom volume
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#6
Well first of all, a 120 watt amp is not much louder than a 50 watt amp is. Most of the sound is in the first several watts of the amp. I don't remember why though, that's just how it works. If you want to push your amp/tubes, then get a power attenuator. They let you push your amp while keeping the volume low. Anyways, I've heard Bugera 6260s and 6262s (which are peavey 6505 and 6505+ copycats, respectively) are great amps for the price.
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#7
okay, but something i still don't understand is why would you want headroom on an amp like a 5150? you don't buy that amp for its clean tones, you buy it for its high gain sounds.
#9
Quote by jc349
Blackstar HT5 has alot of gain for low volumes, is only 5 watts.
It's not that high wattage amps sound bad at low volumes, they just sound better cranked, so there is power tube breakup.
The reason that they make most high gain amps at high wattage is for the volume.

yeah we tried it out at guitar center and he said it didn't have quite enough gain for his liking. is the answer an overdrive pedal? what about distortion pedals?
#10
Whats his price range? A Krank Rev Jr Pro might do the trick...20 watts, full features, high gain with a clean channel.
#11
Quote by work sucks
hey guys, i'm trying to help my friend choose the best tube amp for him, basically just for practice at home. and he wants "as much gain as possible".

from what i understand, tube amps sound best when cranked, right? so i'm seeing all these "high-gain" amps, and pretty much all of them are high-wattage too.
so here's my question: if tube amps are meant to be cranked, why would they make the high-gain amps at only 100W+? doesn't that defeat the purpose of a tube amp?
and people always say, "some people buy them for the headroom", but why would anybody buy an amp like a triple rectifier or 5150... for its clean headroom???

can you guys please explain this to me? i'd really appreciate any help at all. thanks.
There is a difference between power amp distortion and preamp distortion. Modern high gain amps typically get all their gain from preamp distortion. Headroom typically refers to how loud the amp gets before the power stage begins to break up, but the type of gain you're thinking about occurs way before the signal ever hits the power amp.

The response of a tube amp changes when you turn the volume, you get more compression, more harmonics, and a more dynamic response typically, especially on a vintage tube amp like an old Marshall or Fender, but the downside of this is that when your power stage starts to break up and overdrive, your low end can become undefined and your sound will just have a looser, spongier feel. In a high gain metal amp, this isn't desirable, you can get all the gain you need out of the preamp, while keeping your power amp clean so that your sound stays tight and defined.

So it comes down to this... for people who like that high gain, modern metal tone, they're going to think a vintage amp, like a Fender tweed, is too loose and lacks gain, whilst people who like that classic rock and blues rock sound think that modern high gain amps like a Mesa Triple Rectifier, are harsh, buzzy and lack touch sensitivity and dynamic response.

Of course this is generalizating a little bit, there are some high gain amps out now that take advantage of power stage overdrive, but in most cases, they do not because it tends to make things muddy when you have a ton of gain coming from the preamp.
#12
These amps are high wattage not really as much for the headroom but because when you buy an amp like a triple rectifier or a 5150, it's assumed you play in a band/loud situation and they give you the volume for the money.

Pick up a hot plate attenuator with the amp and it'll do you good.
#13
^ actually they are high wattage for the headroom and the tone/response.

^^ (al112987) +1

generally speaking, high gain amps sound best when they're turned up loud enough for the power amp to colour the tone a bit, but not so much that everything turns into a really loose mess. but if he wants high gain in his bedroom, that should be achievable even with a high wattage head. Engl, soldano, VHT, Diezel, Peavey etc. etc. all make amps which'll sound br00talz without needing to be turned up.
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#14
Quote by SayAnything
Whats his price range? A Krank Rev Jr Pro might do the trick...20 watts, full features, high gain with a clean channel.

actually his price range is max 600 dollars. i don't think i've seen a rev jr at gc though...
#15
Quote by al112987
There is a difference between power amp distortion and preamp distortion. Modern high gain amps typically get all their gain from preamp distortion. Headroom typically refers to how loud the amp gets before the power stage begins to break up, but the type of gain you're thinking about occurs way before the signal ever hits the power amp.

The response of a tube amp changes when you turn the volume, you get more compression, more harmonics, and a more dynamic response typically, especially on a vintage tube amp like an old Marshall or Fender, but the downside of this is that when your power stage starts to break up and overdrive, your low end can become undefined and your sound will just have a looser, spongier feel. In a high gain metal amp, this isn't desirable, you can get all the gain you need out of the preamp, while keeping your power amp clean so that your sound stays tight and defined.

So it comes down to this... for people who like that high gain, modern metal tone, they're going to think a vintage amp, like a Fender tweed, is too loose and lacks gain, whilst people who like that classic rock and blues rock sound think that modern high gain amps like a Mesa Triple Rectifier, are harsh, buzzy and lack touch sensitivity and dynamic response.

Of course this is generalizating a little bit, there are some high gain amps out now that take advantage of power stage overdrive, but in most cases, they do not because it tends to make things muddy when you have a ton of gain coming from the preamp.

ohhhh... thanks man. yeah i'm a classic blues rock guy, so i was looking at it from that perspective. but this definitely makes sense.