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ahesham
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#1
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?
Cathbard
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#2
Not all SS amps are bad. What you have is a cheap practice amp with a tiny speaker.
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tubetime86
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#3
Quote 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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dementiacaptain
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#4
^ 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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tubetime86
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#5
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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sg4ever
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#6
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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AndyGray
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#7
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.
Cathbard
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#8
Quote 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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Wesbanez
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#9
Quote 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 at Apr 5, 2013,
AndyGray
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#10
Quote 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.
MaaZeus
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#11
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.

ESP LTD F-50 + Tonezone
Cort EVL-Z4 + X2N
Cort EVL-K47B

Marshall Valvestate 8100
Randall RG1503
Bugera 333
Peavey Rockmaster preamp

Line6 Pod X3
Last edited by MaaZeus at Apr 5, 2013,
667
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#12
I'd take and old solid state Ampeg vh140c over most mass produced tube amps.
Dimarzio45
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#13
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.
Bigbazz
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#14
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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Last edited by Bigbazz at Apr 5, 2013,
Wesbanez
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#15
Quote 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...
Dimarzio45
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#17
Quote 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 at Apr 5, 2013,
Wesbanez
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#18
Quote 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.
Dimarzio45
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#19
Quote 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 at Apr 5, 2013,
jtees4
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Join date: Jan 2009
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#20
Quote 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.
terribleguitar
Really terrible guitarist
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#21
They are not bad. They have this reputation because the majotrity of them are low-quality practice amps. The better ones from ISP, Roland, Sunn are not bad, they are different. Personally, I prefer the clean tone of a solid-state amps opposed to most tube amps.
Bigbazz
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#22
Quote 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...


My point is that at going from pickup to pickup can make a bigger difference in tone than changing an amp, sometimes what you seek is a tone that only a certain pickup can give you, if your desired sound is already part of your pickup type (so lets say you like high output humbuckers, and you already have one) then changing the pickup is a very small difference, but if what you want is the tone of a low output single coil, no amp in the world is going to allow a high output humbucker to give you that.

To evaluate what you want in an upgrade its important to identify which aspects of the sound you want to improve. A Roland Cube is an amp that is capable of nice sounds, how can you be sure that what he is searching for is not a pickup difference after all?


Inexperienced players are inexperienced and can't tell this for themselves, amps in general do make the biggest difference in sound, and valve amps to the vast majority sound far better than solid states. But sometimes the most important part of the tone a player is looking for can be found in the pickups, more specifically when comparing single coils to humbuckers.
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#23
I have tube amps & SS amps. They all have their place in my modest arsenal of inexpensive equipment. I have a 27 year old SS Roland I wouldn't trade for anything. It'll blow the windows out set on 5 but remains pure crystal clean & loves single pedals & multi-effect pedals too. There's this notion floating around that it takes a tube amp to get good sound. That's just wrong. There's a whole lot of cheap tube amps on the market that sound like crap to me.
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#24
SS amps are fine, but here is the thing; Generally the sound people are after is the sound of a tube amp, so for most folks they are going to eventually be disappointed by what most SS amps have to offer. The SS amps that aren't trying to be tube amps (the JC120, and the 90's ampegs and crates, the quality SS bass amps, the vox super beatles which were giant fuzz pedals driving a speaker) are the ones that really shine.
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tukk04
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#25
I like some SS amps but there are a lot of bad ones compared to tube amps. I like the SS fender ultimate/ultra chorus in particular, completely usable tones but not near as good sounding as my 5 watt tuber. SS seems best for when you need a lot of volume on the cheap, like when you start gigging, but there are some standout SS amps if you look.

One of my favorite amps I've played and my favorite amp I own (tied with my modded valve jr.) is my 50-watt univox SS combo, it even has good trem and spring reverb (the reverb sounds like banging on a trash can though :P) Though it seems to be the rare exception, and it sounds very tube-like anyway.
Last edited by tukk04 at Apr 5, 2013,
MrFlibble
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#26
Quote by Bigbazz
but if what you want is the tone of a low output single coil, no amp in the world is going to allow a high output humbucker to give you that.
Modelling amps with sufficient EQ shaping can do that. In fact it was one of the main selling points of the Vetta II.
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Bigbazz
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#27
Quote by MrFlibble
Modelling amps with sufficient EQ shaping can do that. In fact it was one of the main selling points of the Vetta II.


Na I disagree, it's nowhere near the same. I Also fail to see how that was one of the main selling points of the Vetta.
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WaltTheWerewolf
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#28
Quote by strangedogs
I have tube amps & SS amps. They all have their place in my modest arsenal of inexpensive equipment. I have a 27 year old SS Roland I wouldn't trade for anything. It'll blow the windows out set on 5 but remains pure crystal clean & loves single pedals & multi-effect pedals too. There's this notion floating around that it takes a tube amp to get good sound. That's just wrong. There's a whole lot of cheap tube amps on the market that sound like crap to me.


assume you are talking the 1980s JC-120s? Just gave mine a cleaning with some "Armor All" If so I know what Ya mean, I had alot of different tube amps but have never once considered ditching the OLDE Jazz Chorus!...Even with its scratchy pots and sometimes hissiness, its still one hell of a SS Beast! Also a pain in the Ass to carry up a flight of stairs!
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#29
Quote by Bigbazz
Na I disagree, it's nowhere near the same. I Also fail to see how that was one of the main selling points of the Vetta.
It's not the same but it's close enough that it gets the job done without issue. You could make the same complaint about coil splitting, but plenty of people are more than happy to use that.

And it was a strong selling point because having a switchable additional EQ to change the sound of your guitar allows you—assuming you're smart and use suitably middle-of-the-road pickups as a base—to get any kind of guitar sound you want. Pair it with the dual rig feature running stereo and you can have the sound of an overwound humbucker with a high-gain tone and a P-90 style tone into a Vox-ish amp sound at the same time from one guitar, or whatever other mix you want.

It's all part of the whole modelling appeal, whether you're talking guitar tone, amp tone, speaker tone, mic emulation or multi effects. No, it'll never be 100% like the thing it's trying to emulate, but it can be close enough that it doesn't matter and you're getting a huge dollop of convenience with it.
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Dimarzio45
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#31
Quote by MrFlibble
It's not the same but it's close enough that it gets the job done without issue. You could make the same complaint about coil splitting, but plenty of people are more than happy to use that.

And it was a strong selling point because having a switchable additional EQ to change the sound of your guitar allows you—assuming you're smart and use suitably middle-of-the-road pickups as a base—to get any kind of guitar sound you want. Pair it with the dual rig feature running stereo and you can have the sound of an overwound humbucker with a high-gain tone and a P-90 style tone into a Vox-ish amp sound at the same time from one guitar, or whatever other mix you want.

It's all part of the whole modelling appeal, whether you're talking guitar tone, amp tone, speaker tone, mic emulation or multi effects. No, it'll never be 100% like the thing it's trying to emulate, but it can be close enough that it doesn't matter and you're getting a huge dollop of convenience with it.

I f*cking LOVE my Vetta II. Easily the best SS amp I've ever played through.

Edit: The thing is, I can guarantee the amp will emulate an amp tone to 90% accuracy of what you're going for. HOWEVER, the amp setting that you are on, say your on the Mesa Boogie triple Rec emulation, you might actually be better off going with a different emulation that may sound closer to the Mesa Emulation. I've seen too many people compare it like that. For example, "Okay here's the Marshall JCM 2000 Emulation. *Plays on it for a minute*....*then goes to his actual JCM 2000* *Plays on it for a minute* and says, "You see, it doesn't come close." ....Wait a second. There are 74 other amp simulations with 33 other speaker cab sims and an additional EQ to throw on top of all of it. You can't find ANYTHING that comes closer? Bullshit.

The only system to beat the Line 6 Vetta II at its game is the Fractal Axe FX. Fender has a cybertwin. It's okay but doesn't have all of the mass amounts of features the Vetta does. Line 6 is way ahead of the game compared to Fender (SS Amp sims, that is).
Last edited by Dimarzio45 at Apr 5, 2013,
MrFlibble
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#32
^Funny you use those examples. I had an actual JCM2000 and the JCM2000 model in my HD147 sounds nothing like that did, but the Mesa Triple Rectifier model is a dead ringer for it.

It's the same with all solid state amps and all modelling amps I've used. If you take them at face value and expect them to sound like a valve amp when you set the controls the same way then they'll always disappoint. If you forget what the valve equivalent is and simply work on getting a pleasing tone, you will rarely have a problem.

Hell, I've heard a dude get a damn fine hard rock tone out of a Fender Frontman stack. Marshall Mode 4? Crap when you first try one, spend 10-15 minutes messing with it and it's one of the nicest current production Marshalls.
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Dimarzio45
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#33
Quote by MrFlibble
^Funny you use those examples. I had an actual JCM2000 and the JCM2000 model in my HD147 sounds nothing like that did, but the Mesa Triple Rectifier model is a dead ringer for it.

It's the same with all solid state amps and all modelling amps I've used. If you take them at face value and expect them to sound like a valve amp when you set the controls the same way then they'll always disappoint. If you forget what the valve equivalent is and simply work on getting a pleasing tone, you will rarely have a problem.

Hell, I've heard a dude get a damn fine hard rock tone out of a Fender Frontman stack. Marshall Mode 4? Crap when you first try one, spend 10-15 minutes messing with it and it's one of the nicest current production Marshalls.

I'll have to keep my eye out for a Mode 4. Never tried one but heard of 'em.
Cathbard
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#34
Quote by jtees4
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.

They do a fairly convincing impression of a JC120 (well, JC60 anyway), I'll give you that, but everything else is certainly entry level.
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Last edited by Cathbard at Apr 5, 2013,
Bigbazz
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#35
The Mode 4 sounded like a glorified Marshall AVT to me, which isn't necessarily a bad thing as they are capable of some good tones, but if you don't like the AVT series you should stay well away from the Mode 4 as it is basically the same thing when you get past the marketting fluff.
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Last edited by Bigbazz at Apr 5, 2013,
monwobobbo
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#36
always entertaining thread. since no one really has mentioned this I guess I will. a pickup swap will only have a truly noticeable effect provided the amp you are using can showcase the positive points of said pickup. often cheaper SS amps lack the ability to show off the dynamics of a good pickup. the Cube 15 mentioned just plain can't give you the response that the pickup is capable of. a new pickup may seem "louder" but that doesn't mean better.
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#37
SS amps aren't bad per se, but your particular SS amp is.

Quote by monwobobbo
always entertaining thread. since no one really has mentioned this I guess I will. a pickup swap will only have a truly noticeable effect provided the amp you are using can showcase the positive points of said pickup. often cheaper SS amps lack the ability to show off the dynamics of a good pickup. the Cube 15 mentioned just plain can't give you the response that the pickup is capable of. a new pickup may seem "louder" but that doesn't mean better.


Actually, quite a few people have mentioned that.
EH


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dementiacaptain
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#38
^ I was going to say the same thing haha.
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#39
Well, as everyone else has said, SS amps aren't bad. It's just that there are a majority of them they are made solely as practice amps. Also, it's a common misconception that Tube amps are better since there are some tube amps out there that sound atrocious.

There are some SS amps that sound amazing such as the Roland JC120, Roland Cube 80 (I heard it and it sounds much better tan the smaller versions), and some of Randall's or Peavey's stuff. It just depends on the amp you're using for your guitar and the "practice" amps won't really let you hear much of a difference in pickups.

I personally prefer (most) tube amps over SS ones, but I would love to own a Roland Jazz Chorus. But when it comes to the little I know about bass amps, I love the sound of Gallien Krueger amps (which are mostly solid state) over tubes. I feel like most bass tube amps that I've heard don't really allow you to get that crisp, clear, and powerful bass tone like a solid state amp.
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#40
solid state amps are bad because they aren't as loud so the distortion doesn't sound as good cuz of the odd harmonics.



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