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#1
Hello I would like to to start a conversation about solid state amps and how they compare to tubes and whether anyone prefers ss. I know stuff like this has been done before but I want to take it in a new direction. To get the ball rolling I have a small tube amp, yet I like the sound of my cheap first act ma-110 almost just as much(which is starting to die so if anyone knows any cheap replacements that get a bit louder but sound similar please let me know) I even like the natural distortion on it. So, anyone else have any ss amps that they like? What about gig with?
#2
I used to have a Peavey Transtube 212 combo amp and that thing could scream. The on-board distortion was pretty good on that amp as well. I played live with it a few times and it did alright in that setting. But it was really hard to make the amp cut through.

I now have an all tube 6505+ and that thing is an absolute killer. The distortion is so pleasing in a chest-shaking kind of way. Solid-state distortion sounds great at low volume and when you are practicing (assuming you practice by yourself). But tube distortion sounds so good at high volume it is hard to describe the difference. I used to be a non-believer in the benefits of tube amps--- but I have been converted.

That's not to say that you have to like tube amps...many people get the job done with solid state. And that is totally cool.
#3
SS and Tube amps each have their use. Depends what sound you're going for.

On the SS side you have cheap practice amps, which are great for beginners. Cheap and reliable. Then there is also the Axe FX and Kemper. They cost thousands but do just about EVERYTHING you could ever need.

Tubes have a more "natural" sound and response. Most guitarists like the warmness of tubes and they are great but tend to be more limited in what they can do.

It's really just up to preference and budget.
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#4
I wouldn't doubt that you could find a good SS amp. You can't just say all tube amps are better than all SS amps. I'm sure there are some SS amps that are better than some Tube amps.

In my experience tube amps have more depth and the sound gets better as you crank it up. SS amps seem to lose some tone the louder you turn them up.

But like anything tone related: It's all what you prefer...
#5
I think what a lot people misunderstand is that Solid state and tube amps work better a different frequencies, they each distort and hold better clarity at different points, generally tube amps work better at the frequency range that most people use.

It does also depend on the quality of the amp, it's very likely that a low to mid priced tube amp will not sound as good as a similarly priced solid state purely because the quality of tube amps need to be higher to give the sound people covet them for.
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#6
There are several SS amps that get plenty of love around here, it's just that MOST SS amps are underpowered, poorly designed pieces of crap.

A good amp is a good amp, regardless of the technology used. (And vice versa!)

Quote by ProgFripp74
I think what a lot people misunderstand is that Solid state and tube amps work better a different frequencies, they each distort and hold better clarity at different points, generally tube amps work better at the frequency range that most people use.


This is horseshit.
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Last edited by Arby911 at May 8, 2014,
#7
The thing I like about SS amps is I can crank one and still have a clean sound. With that said, I don't even own a SS. I own a 1966 Bassman and when I crank it, let's just say there is no "clean sound". Having a good cheap ss is always nice for practicing.
#8
Quote by Lazy Cake
Hello I would like to to start a conversation about solid state amps and how they compare to tubes and whether anyone prefers ss.


This is an old debate, of course.

But the war has already been won, and solid state is the clear victor.

Tube manufacturers have been going out of business since the '70's and have disappeared in the US. Tube amps were given a reprieve by opening of trade with the communist bloc countries, who were still using tubes in their military electronics. All of that has changed, and now even Russian and Chinese tube manufacturers are beginning to dwindle. Most of the tubes we see these days are from "branding" companies who simply re-brand the same manufacturer's tubes as other companies.

Entry level amps are predominantly solid state; they're cheaper and lighter to make and manufacturers can offer lots more options. At one point, Line 6 quietly became the single largest amp manufacturer in the industry, with something like 38% market share. They've sold well over a million of those Spider amps that everyone likes to hate. Fender scrambled to follow suit, and their sales champs are the Mustang series, their own version of the Spiders. Folks are very comfortable with the technology and will likely continue on with it as they move upscale.

Mid-level amps are a mixed bag, often literally. Two things are influencing future developments here. You don't need a 100W tube stack to play out -- clubs are still blasting your music, but the sound guys are miking everything, requiring you to cut way back on stage volume and loving it if you walk in with a modeler and plug directly into their board. The second thing is that people are living in smaller houses, closely packed, or in townhomes/condos/apartments where loud noise isn't tolerated. Even 5W tube amps are too loud. If you can't crank up a tube amp, and if you're going to be listening to your own guitar playing through headphones or stereo monitors, why bother with tubes? At that point, modelers make a lot more sense.

High-end boutique stuff is also under fire. If you're going to spend a couple of grand (or more) on something, the Kempers and Axe-FX offer amazing quality sound, great recording options, light weight, durability and hugemongous versatility. What's the point of big old transfomers, delicate glass, 65 lb heads and hand wiring if you can replace it with 10lbs of rack attack? Add in the elimination of the cost and the space requirements of a 4x12 and an array of pedals and you can see change has already happened. A third of a million dollar Ferrari F12 may do 218mph, crank out 731bhp and suck down gas at a 10mpg pace, but there are fewer and fewer places where you can do any of that.

People are playing guitar into their flippin' phones, ferchrissakes, and loving it.

Tube amps are like the dead man walking. Still moving around, still making noise, but with such a short future.
Last edited by dspellman at May 8, 2014,
#9
Tube amps will aways be around, as there will always be a demand. My ears don't work like yours I guess
#10
Solid state amps aren't 'bad' per se - they just don't do tube-like tones very well, and most people, even those who don't yet realise it, want a tube amp.

I use a hybrid amp - solid state preamp, valve power amp. In my opinion this delivers a combination of the best qualities in both types of amplification, and since I like certain things about both types of amp, I really like that hybrid configuration.
I like analogue Solid State amps that make no effort to be "tube-like", and I'm proud of it...

...A little too proud, to be honest.
#11
Well solid state amps are about as good, they're better somewhere and they're worst somewhere else.

The thing with guitar amps is that most solid state amps are cheap and of modest quality.
If they made solid state amps of they same quality they make tube amps with, they'd be hella more popular than how they are now.
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#12
I do 95% of my practice with amp sims, they are fine. I have yet to find something that comes really close to tubes for cleans, crunch, breakup and hi gain though. If it ever happens I'll be first to jump on the bandwagon. Cleans are the easiest thing to get right for SS, but a Fender twin will likely blow them all away on stage, so this goes double for higher gain stuff.
Last edited by Tempoe at May 8, 2014,
#14
Roland JC 120, Most Roland Cubes, Polytone, Lab Series, Sunn, are all very good gig quality SS amps that have been around for quite a while and get the job done day after day.

There are a bunch of mid-quality SS amps from Fender, Yamaha, Crate, Sunn, Peavey, Music Man (hybrid), that are useful for some things and not others. Some are better than others.

Marshall MG, Line 6 Spider, Fender Frontman and other similar amps are low-end "price point" amps that generally don't measure up tonewise and very often disappoint. Generally not gig quality.

Don't get the classes twisted.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

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#15
Quote by Tempoe
Tube amps will aways be around, as there will always be a demand. My ears don't work like yours I guess


There's always some effete...person...who claims superior ears.

I have 15 tube amps, including some very old ones. And I have a 1971 275W solid state amp from about the time when it looked like tubes were dead the first time around (most manufacturers had moved to solid state). I've got 4 4x12s, just sold off my open-back 4x10, and I've even got a 2x15 with a mids/high horn tweeter that's about 4' tall. I've put together Dynaco tube amps and gone through the whole audiophile routine with tube amps and very high-end speakers and I've used Altec A7s as "bookshelf speakers" in my studio.

Tube amps *may* be around. There *may* be a demand. I know I can still get my Altec 418-8Bs reconed, and there's even someone making new 604e's. But the demand is tiny.

The likelihood is that tube amps willl be irrelevant, and/or collector's items and/or curiosities. No matter how good you think your ears are, tube amps will likely be relegated to a small corner of things, and folks will have little groups that gather on Saturdays to listen to them in all their glory. Like the steam-powered car groups that Jay Leno belongs to. There'll likely be some boutique tube builder that will build custom EL-34s. There'll be the occasional "barn find" Marshall JTM45 or the curiosity Friedman or Divided by 13. 90-year-olds will visit some restored old ballroom and throw up arthritic rock-on horns and very carefully headbang despite the recent surgery to remove calcification on their C4. They'll be like the old mandolin bands of the turn of the last century, or the swing bands that the WWII vets feebly swing to.

Guitar heros will be photographed in their wheel chairs in front of a display of authentic tube amps from their era, and someone will shoot the photograph on 8x10 film, because, as we all know, it's still superior in every way to digital. Because my eyes don't work like yours, I guess.
#16
Tone won't kill of valves. Eco-politics and the economics of retail supply and demand will. Cold, harsh cash, not from the customers but for the shareholders will dictate when valves disappear. I don't expect to see any amps being manufactured with valves in by 2030 except for custom special orders, and none at all by the middle of the century.

Of course if a drop-in solid state valve can be developed and sold economically then those May offer a lifeline but again the laws of economics will determine if the customer base is large enough to make investing in such a product viable.

The shareholders who build guitar amp factories have probably never played guitars in their lives.

I do like reading posts from people who "know in their hearts" that valves will never die man, because they are just so "musical and naturally harmonic man, like a tree" and other hippy shite.
#17
I have a few tube amps, but I also have a 1996 Fender Princeton Plus 1X12 SS combo that I got on ebay for $150. That little SS amp will blow your f#@king mind, even when it's cranked up. It can be EQ'd & tweaked to get some astonishingly good tones from clean to Van Halen to Megadeth. I even have a few clips on my profile with that amp, & no one can tell the difference from my other amps. I found out about the little Princeton Plus from Terry Lauderdale (guitar player for Hot For Teacher, the VH tribute band) after he dragged one to a local radio station & just blew everyone away with this outrageous VH2 tone. No one believed it was a little SS amp , even the DJ, Greg Kihn. Obviously, a lot of the tone is in the hands too

Edit: I think tube amps will be around for quite a while, but as more sophisticated gear like AxeFx & Kemper continues to evolve & improve, I agree that tube amp sales will probably suffer some, esp once the best technology becomes more affordable than an AxeFx or Kemper.
I just like the dynamic response & feel of a cranked tube amp better, even better than the Princeton Plus. That's the one thing it can't duplicate-the feel. Even though it sounds almost identical, it's important how you got there.
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#18
Quote by Lazy Cake
So, anyone else have any ss amps that they like? What about gig with?


i have a Kustom Charger 15 i have gigged with a few times, i have used it for both guitar and bass and it sounds great with both. i love that amp

i use a few hybrid music man amps in gig situations.

i have used an acoustic 150b bass head i used to gig with. i traded it for an acoustic 270R that is fun to plug into.

Quote by dspellman
But the war has already been won, and solid state is the clear victor.


i think that is very easily debatable and your arguments are one-sided and questionable. that is far from an unbiased conclusion.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
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#19
I kind of miss my hybrid because I was able to get a good tone at a low volume but at band levels no question my 50 watt non master volume tube amp blows it clean out of the water. Unfortunately its ungodly loud and causes severe ear pain at 4 and in order to get it to sound good it needs to be at least 1.8. At the rehearsals we ran it at about 3 and dimed a 500 watt gk backline to keep up with it. I might get a used solid head for practice/emergency back up in the future. That being said modelers keep getting better, I don't know if anyone played with the line 6 amplifi and it sounded pretty good to me, its not a tube amp but close enough that I wouldn't really care for home use if it wasn't so damn ugly.
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#20
Quote by TheStig1214
SS and Tube amps each have their use. Depends what sound you're going for.

On the SS side you have cheap practice amps, which are great for beginners. Cheap and reliable. Then there is also the Axe FX and Kemper. They cost thousands but do just about EVERYTHING you could ever need.

Tubes have a more "natural" sound and response. Most guitarists like the warmness of tubes and they are great but tend to be more limited in what they can do.

It's really just up to preference and budget.

Let me introduce you to the RM100.

There are some decent SS amps out there but it largely depends on what you are playing. For tones like the VH140C, only a VH140C will suffice. Many jazz guys prefer the JC120 to even a Fender twin (although I think they are noodle doodle )
Similarly, there are things that a good tube amp will do that no SS amp I've ever heard will come near. Blues played on the edge of distortion, for example. No SS amp, even an AxeFX is going to touch a JTM45, 18W Marshall or Tweed Fender Deluxe.

Horses for courses, man.
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#21
I miss my Yamaha G100. That was a pretty sweet SS amp. Luckily, I've got a Line 6 Vetta II to kinda make up for it. Still, the Vetta doesn't have the dynamic response that most tube amps have to offer.
#22
My first amp was a G100-212II. I gigged with it solidly for about 10 years. I still own it actually.
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Randall RM100 & RM20
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Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


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#23
Mine had a 15 inch speaker...Is that odd? I always thought it could be geared towards bass rather than guitar....Regardless, it was still awesome.
#24
Well, I've never seen a 1x15 G100. Does seem a bit odd. All I've seen are 2x12's and heads. My 212 is crazy loud. Blows most other SS amps I've played against out of the water. Was a good first amp. I'd never go back to it but I've been spoiled since then.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
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#26
Apparently Robben Ford used one for a while. The 212 with a 1x12 baffle and an EV. Or so the story goes.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#27
While I personally prefer tube amps, I know a lot of players are moving to SS amps for a variety of reasons. I've encountered some blues/classic rockers who are tube fanatics using SS amps for gigging with increasing frequency.

I suspect, though, that all debates of tone or quality aside, pure economics will make tube amps into an exclusively boutique market. The eventual rarity and coincidental expense of the tubes themselves will probably make SS amps the sound of rock to come.
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#28
I don't know so much. It has been many, many years since tubes were used in anything but guitar amps to any degree. The market for the amps has so far been sufficient to keep the tube factories open, why would that change? While there's a market, they'll keep getting made.
People have been saying "tube amps will become obsolete soon" for as long as I've been playing for (over 30 years) and yet here we are today all still using tubes.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#29
I'm not saying obsolete, just that as SS tech gets cheaper, faster & better, while devices like portable digital modelers and- as pointed out- smartphones, etc. become more powerful, tube tech is largely stagnant.

Tubes are still good- Hell, still the tonal golden standard- but not getting cheaper; not being found in new, tangentially related tech that is starting to encroach on its territory.

All while the guitar continues to be the most popular instrument in the world...

What is a kid in the developing world going to worry about more when starting out: his tone, or that his amp is going to be dependable? And can fit in a small space? Etc.

It may not happen in the next decade or so, but the tech tidal wave will eventually swamp the tube amp, at least as far as availability for the average joe.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#30
And I've been hearing that argument for 30 years - yet still, here we are.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#31
Quote by dannyalcatraz
It may not happen in the next decade or so, but the tech tidal wave will eventually swamp the tube amp, at least as far as availability for the average joe.


i am not gonna hold my breath that is for sure. i am definitely not going to try to predict the future.

but i am willing to bet as long as people want to buy them then tube amps will be around. hell, i'd even bet they'd make cathode tube TV's again if there was a demand in the market for them.
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
#32
Quote by Cathbard
Apparently Robben Ford used one for a while. The 212 with a 1x12 baffle and an EV. Or so the story goes.

Wow I didn't know that. That's awesome!
#33
Quote by Cathbard
And I've been hearing that argument for 30 years - yet still, here we are.

And we have fewer tube makers than we did 30 years ago...a trend that will not reverse.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

Why, yes, I am a lawyer- thanks for asking!

Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#34
Quote by dannyalcatraz
And we have fewer tube makers than we did 30 years ago...a trend that will not reverse.

Ehh, I'm 50/50 with that belief. There's enough of a new, younger generation of people/players/consumers who can carry on with the tradition. I think (as has already been said) that tube amps could be more boutique-priced in the future. I truly don't see them fading out anytime soon especially considering how highly favorable they are regardless of solid state advancements.

Less tube makers right now than in the past? Sure. But, that doesn't guarantee it's a sure thing for the future of tube amps.
#35
And the only one we've lost in recent times has been SED and in the meantime Shuguang have increased production and have also lifted their game to the point where they actually make some quite good tubes. So that offsets SED and then some.
Gilchrist custom
Yamaha SBG500
Telecasters
Randall RM100 & RM20
Marshall JTM45 clone
Marshall JCM900 4102 (modded)
Marshall 18W clone
Fender 5F1 Champ clone
Atomic Amplifire
Marshall 1960A
Boss GT-100


Cathbard Amplification
My band
#36
there are few really good SS amps. Digital Modeling amps on the other hand have been getting better over the years and yes for recording purposes may eclipse tube amps at some point. of course they mimic tube amp sounds so that still must be what people want to hear. the down side is that they always sound the same no matter what. I'm sure most tube amp owners can agree that there are just certain days that your amp just has that little bit of magic tone wise that isn't always there from day to day despite not touching any settings. so far digital can't duplicate this inconsistency. analog SS has proven to be pretty much a dead end and now digital is the new direction tech wise.

still love my tube amps. now some have said that tubes aren't getting cheaper but in reality they have. there are far more affordable tube amps out there and replacement tubes aren't that expensive.
#37
Quote by monwobobbo
there are few really good SS amps. Digital Modeling amps on the other hand have been getting better over the years and yes for recording purposes may eclipse tube amps at some point. of course they mimic tube amp sounds so that still must be what people want to hear. the down side is that they always sound the same no matter what. I'm sure most tube amp owners can agree that there are just certain days that your amp just has that little bit of magic tone wise that isn't always there from day to day despite not touching any settings. so far digital can't duplicate this inconsistency. analog SS has proven to be pretty much a dead end and now digital is the new direction tech wise.

still love my tube amps. now some have said that tubes aren't getting cheaper but in reality they have. there are far more affordable tube amps out there and replacement tubes aren't that expensive.



This. Analog SS is a bit pointless unless executed really well. This makes the whole SS amp market have no grey inbetween and lean towards bad more than good, but the Digital amps are becoming increasingly better because it is infinitely easier to program nuances and character of a tube amp than it is to build it through circuitry.
Over time, programmers are figuring out more and more how to get closer to covering tube amp sounds. The only limit they have is putting in too much code that it runs the CPU too hard.

It's why I cringe when I see a solid state amp trying to push that it's done through analog, because honestly: Tube > Digital > Analog SS.
#38
^ well you're implying that solid state amps are made to sound like tube amps.

I feel the problem here is that people expect amps to sound like other amps, and said other amps, usually considered classics, are tube amps, so when they heard a good sounding solid state amplifier for the first time they thought "well yeah it sounds good but it's not what I'm looking for" and they didn't buy it.
The result is that nowadays they don't really make high quality solid state guitar amps anymore.
Name's Luca.

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#39
Quote by dannyalcatraz
And we have fewer tube makers than we did 30 years ago...a trend that will not reverse.


This is the one point I'm not entirely sure about. The rise of technology and the attendant reduction in entry barriers to manufacturing may find us with a wealth of boutique tube manufacturers at some point in time.

Consider that I can today purchase CNC metalworking equipment that will fit in my garage, cost less than $50,000 to fully tool up, and has the capability to generate parts to a standard and at a cost that was near-unheard of 20 years ago.

While I don't know that it WILL happen, it wouldn't surprise me that with the rise of technologies like additive manufacturing, all sorts of small volume enterprises will suddenly become profitable. Consider a 3D printer that can fuse glass, the various insulating and filament, screen, anode and cathode materials etc?

Or let's assume that 3D printers that can do that stay relatively expensive. In that case perhaps we see a rise in 3D service companies, who will 'print' for a reasonable price whatever you can send them the data for, similar to the circuit board printing services of today?

Exciting times!
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
Last edited by Arby911 at May 9, 2014,
#40
I have a POD HD, and it's great for practicing. It emulates different amps/effects really well. I'm sure I could record with it just fine, and I probably will. Still, cranking my Jet City is pure bliss. I have yet to play a SS amp or modeller that can compare for blues, punk and metal. If I was playing Jazz, I'd probably be happy playing a Mustang. I don't see tube amps disappearing.
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