#1
I'm trying to make up my mind about buying my next amp. Will it be tube or SS?

The thing that worries me most about tube amps is the reliability, I wouldn't want a tube to blow in the middle of a gig. So actually, how reliable are tube-amps?
I've only played a tube amp once, and didn't like that particular one (can't remember the model to be honest), so I'm wondering if the tone is worth the in-reliability...
#2
I would say go for the tube amp. I own a blackheart BH112 half stack and I love it. Have had no problems with reliability and the sound is a ton better than a solid state.
#3
tube amps aren't unreliable they just need a little attention and common sense care. as long as you keep some spare tubes for gigging you should be good to go. try to keep the abuse down to a minimum and you should be fine. the tone is worththe extra effort. rarely does an amp blowup these days unless it is heavily abused.
#4
watch this demo of a tube amp being thrown on the ground
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-z_qNNcVz8


serious gigging musicians will have spare tubes but honestly tubes don't really blow as often as you might think. Additionally, most tube amps have a strait forward circuit that can more easily be worked on. Often times if a SS amps gets borked they are harder to troubleshoot and fix
#5
Tubes have a limited lifetime (as has anything...) so yeah, they stop working at some point. You'll typically hear it coming though. It doesn't hurt to have a spare set of tubes on you when gigging.

Now you seem to be implying that ss-amps tend to be more reliable than tube ones. Ever since manufacturers started moving tube-amp-production to Asia, the mid-price-segment has been dominated by affordable tube amps, leaving very little room for ss-amps in said price-bracket.
This leads to ss-amps being twofold nowadays:
1) The rare and expensive high-end ss-amp (high-end modellers and super-clean jazz-amps, mostly).
2) Cheap, largely crappy stuff aimed at beginners.

Most people will be looking at 2).
The problem with these amps that they will be produced with a low price in mind before anything else, and the quality and reliability will suffer because of it. With a halfway decent tube-amp (say, around the 400€-mark), the tubes are the only thing to worry about, and then, it's not like they fail every other day and it's an easy fix. Better yet, they're mostly so simple that even if something breaks, the amp can almost always be salvaged.
The ss-amps you can get around the same price are oversized beginner-amps that are just as shoddy and unreliable as their smaller counterparts - so even without tubes, reliability sucks. Even worse, with many (particularly the digital ones), if something breaks, you have no chance to fix them.
Last edited by TheQuailman at Sep 25, 2011,
#6
So, what you're basically saying is... you can just replace a tube during a gig? How much time does replacing a tube usually take?
#7
1) Unscrew back-panel
2) pull out old tube
3) put in new tube

That's two minutes tops. Maybe three if you change every tube.


Depending on what amp it is, you'll want to have the power-tubes biased after you put them in, but it'll work on it's old bias-setting, so you can finish the gig no problem.
#8
Maybe I should add that the tubes most likely to die are the power-tubes; the preamp-ones typically last longer. A couple of new amps have monitoring systems that will take a dead power-tube out of the circuit but continue working so you can finish the gig even if a tube fails. Might be something to look into if you're worried.

(Note that I've only seen that implemented in high-powered heads that arrange tubes in pairs. So if a tube fails, a whole pair gets switched off, which means at least four power-tubes for the feature to make sense - which limits the system to fairly big and powerful amps. Similar system for smaller amps are conceivable, but haven't popped up yet.)
#9
I think there is far too much scare-mongering about the reliability of tube amps. I regularly run my amps (I run a tri-amp setup) absolutely full blast on stage, which gives the greatest wear and tear to the tubes, and I've NEVER had a tube blow on me mid-gig. And some of the tubes I'm using are the best part of 60 years old.
If you use common sense and stick to known good brands or NOS, you shouldn't ever have reliability issues with tubes. It's people who use Dr Flimflams magic chinese tubes that came stock with their amp that have the problems.

EDIT: I should also add that I regularly play anywhere between 2 and 3 hour sets when on stage with my band, and even under that stress, I've not had reliability problems.
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Last edited by jukejointjohnny at Sep 25, 2011,
#10
I had a set of tubes last in my Boogie for 10 years, and I replaced them just because I wanted to; none of them actually had failed.

This current set is going on 3 or 4 years. Can't remember.

It's smart when you're gigging to bring backups for everything, but a tube amp is not any less reliable than a solid state.
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#11
go for the tube amp. tube amps aren't "unreliable" it's just every 10 years you'll have to replace the tubes just because stuff gets old...a new set of tubes is like 100 bucks for 2 power tubes and 4 pre amp tubes..i just ordered some for my 1966 blackface fender bassman.
#12
So, how long would a tube last approximately? I read 10 years here, but I've read 6 months to a year on a lot of other places. So, who's lying ?
You see, that's the kind of stuff that got me worrying...


Also, how many watts would I need so I can hear myself clearly on stage whilst the amp staying clean? I play among 6 others, and we do use a PA system but I don't want to hear myself through the monitors, I want to hear myself through my own amp.
#13
If you take care of it, and maintain it well, you shouldn't have any problems, but all amps come with their share of problems, even solid state..usually when solid state amps break down...it's not worth it to try and track down the one or few components out of hundreds or thousands that fried....Unless it's a really really good amp, and you have the money. It's just SS amps are less pron to component failure.
#14
Quote by Pizza123
So, how long would a tube last approximately? I read 10 years here, but I've read 6 months to a year on a lot of other places. So, who's lying ?
You see, that's the kind of stuff that got me worrying...


Also, how many watts would I need so I can hear myself clearly on stage whilst the amp staying clean? I play among 6 others, and we do use a PA system but I don't want to hear myself through the monitors, I want to hear myself through my own amp.



1) It varies completely. The thing is technically a tube can blow at any time, but it's very unlikely. Lifespan depends on many many things: how hard you push the amp (volume wise) the quality of the tubes and the plate voltage the tube's running at for example. A half decent set of powertubes used for an hour or so a day at reasonable volumes will last a few years. Maybe only 2 or 3, maybe more. Some NOS tubes will work for 30+ years of average use. Even then they often die slowly and in an obvious manner (as was said before).
Preamp tubes will last considerably longer...

2) Again depends on the gigs and the volume and the type of amp etc etc etc. If you want clean headroom I'd recommend 50watts+ tube.
#15
Quote by Pizza123
So, how long would a tube last approximately? I read 10 years here, but I've read 6 months to a year on a lot of other places. So, who's lying ?
You see, that's the kind of stuff that got me worrying...


Also, how many watts would I need so I can hear myself clearly on stage whilst the amp staying clean? I play among 6 others, and we do use a PA system but I don't want to hear myself through the monitors, I want to hear myself through my own amp.


tubes vary on how long they last. depends on how often and how long you run your amp. 10 years might be a bit of a stretch if the amp gets regular use. i change mine out every year whether they need it or not if gigging, might let it go for 2 if not. if you are playing shows regularily then it's wise to err on the side of caution. if you only gig once in a while but practice regularily then i'd stick to the same plan. if you are just using it at home then not such a big deal replace em when they go.

how many watts depends on the size of the stage and to a lesser extend what cab you are playing through. also where and how high off the ground the amp is. (combos) a 4x12 cab will have greater sound dispertion than a 1 x 12. if it's a large stage and you want to bounce around then using the monitors is a better solution than trying to fill the whole stage with your amp volume. your sound guy might not be thrilled if you have your amp blaring over the pa.
#16
Quote by monwobobbo
tubes vary on how long they last. depends on how often and how long you run your amp. 10 years might be a bit of a stretch if the amp gets regular use. i change mine out every year whether they need it or not if gigging, might let it go for 2 if not. if you are playing shows regularily then it's wise to err on the side of caution. if you only gig once in a while but practice regularily then i'd stick to the same plan. if you are just using it at home then not such a big deal replace em when they go.

how many watts depends on the size of the stage and to a lesser extend what cab you are playing through. also where and how high off the ground the amp is. (combos) a 4x12 cab will have greater sound dispertion than a 1 x 12. if it's a large stage and you want to bounce around then using the monitors is a better solution than trying to fill the whole stage with your amp volume. your sound guy might not be thrilled if you have your amp blaring over the pa.



Yeah ten years is a stretch. One to two years is a good plan.

Really, reliability of tube, isnt a question in a ss/tube amp comparison. As long as you are aware that taking care of your tubes is like changing the oil in your car for your tone, the question comes down to do you want to have to change your tubes. In my opinion, and experience, if a tube goes 9 times out of 10 its from neglect. Its just part of good maintenance and should be understood up front.
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#17
NASA USED TUBE TECHNOLOGY TO LAND ON THE MOON!!!!!! (supposedly landed that is).
I love all 5 (sold a couple) of my Carvin X-100b's.
#18
Quote by zeek7pc
(supposedly landed that is).


Those 4 words don't really instill a sense of security for the TS while using tubes....maybe if you left that part out
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She insists to wear this lights.

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#22
i have gone through at lesat 15 or so tube amps in the last three or so years, and had only one tube fail on me. it was on a JCA2112RC, i popped it off of standby to the "on" poisition for the first time the amp had ever turned on (at least by me) and pop there it goes. send it back get another $20 knocked off the amp and got a new combo.

i would say somewhere between 18 months and 3 years is when people's power tubes start going.

i have the origonal set of tubes in my 1968 bassman so that is 52 years. but i dont really hear preamps going before the 5 year mark. by then you will probably want to change them to experiment with tone.

but to how long can a tube last? it could last for 2 seconds like my JCA did and see the pop and the light go out, but i am sure they were crappy tubes and there was a flaw in a cheap amp.
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#23
Now that's a coincidence, I was just looking at that Jet City JCA. What do you think of it, apart from the blown tube?

Oh and for wattage, I've decided I'll just try for myself. I know how much volume I usually need, so I'll just crank the amp up to the amount of volume needed (when I'm trying one) and see if it's still clean.
#24
Quote by 311ZOSOVHJH
So, you proactively change out your fuses every now and then to save tube life? Also, you bias the amp not the tubes.


Running an attenuator, or mis-matched cabs or ignoring warning signs? I'd buy that


keeping your amp properly biased has everything to do with extending tube life. if they are run to hot then it can burn them out faster. cold may effect your tone more than tube life. proper ventilation keeps the heat down which extends life (running a mini fan during gigs can help). making sure that you don't jostle the amp right after it's been shut down giving the tubes time to cool off will also extend tube life. there are plenty of things that can be called taking care of your tubes .
#25
Carrying spare tubes is like carrying a spare tyre in your car. You don't need to do it but if you don't you're a dumbass.
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#26
Quote by monwobobbo
keeping your amp properly biased has everything to do with extending tube life. if they are run to hot then it can burn them out faster. cold may effect your tone more than tube life. proper ventilation keeps the heat down which extends life (running a mini fan during gigs can help). making sure that you don't jostle the amp right after it's been shut down giving the tubes time to cool off will also extend tube life. there are plenty of things that can be called taking care of your tubes .

I know. I was trolling

I actually have a lengthy blog here on UG on how to bias an amp

I was mainly poking fun at Crimson Eve a bit because he said that 9 times out of 10 tubes fail due to neglect - which I do not buy. Tubes operate fine even when mismatched or running hot. They may not last quiet as long but your amp is not going to blow up. I do agree with him that owning a tube amp is kind of like owning a car. You have to take care of it.

Ippon - I misread what you trying to say too, I didn't see which phrase you quoted from me. I thought you were calling me out when all you were doing was adding to my comment about bringing extra tubes to a gig etc.

Sorry everyone if I came off like a dick. These pretzels....are making me thirsty.
#28
Quote by 311ZOSOVHJH
well - you have to take care of any instrument including amps

buy what sounds good and learn how to take care of your instruments.





Your channel has a vid of you playing and your amp randomly catches on fire......I'm not sure anyone should be taking any maintenance advice from you
Quote by FEngHLyan

She will join the prom.

She insists to wear this lights.

I don't think so.

How can I persuade her?
#30
Quote by Pizza123
Now that's a coincidence, I was just looking at that Jet City JCA. What do you think of it, apart from the blown tube?

Oh and for wattage, I've decided I'll just try for myself. I know how much volume I usually need, so I'll just crank the amp up to the amount of volume needed (when I'm trying one) and see if it's still clean.


IMO the JCA 20 watters were far overhyped, and are really just an average low wattage amp. i think its better than some of the alternatives out there in that price range, but other than that i really didn't know. i did expect better from soldano, but again i think i paid $250 for the combo version brand new in box, traded it for a $1400 Gretsch custom hammmered copper snare drum...
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Quote by andersondb7
alright "king of the guitar forum"


Quote by trashedlostfdup
nope i am "GOD of the guitar forum" i think that fits me better.


Quote by andersondb7
youre just being a jerk man.



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2017-04-13 RUN AWAY from COMPUTERS!!! TCE? RANT ALERT!!!
2017-03-02 - Guitar Philosophy 1001- Be Prepared For the Situation (Thursday 2017-03-02)
2017-02-21 How to Hot-Rod the Hell of your Stratocaster for $50! (Tuesday 2017-2-21)
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---> http://trashedengineering.blogspot.com/
#31
Quote by Pizza123
Does it have some headroom?


that would depend on how loud you want to play. the lower the wattage the lower the headroom threshold will be.