#1
I'm not sure how tube wattage translates into need. At most, I don't see a realistic scenario where---if I get that far---would include more than 100 people. I know mic'ing is an option, but then if there isn't? Beyond that, recording is about it. For sound purposes, tube seems the way to go, but I've come to realize my ignorance here. I'm not really in a rush to buy, so much as educate myself into the method of madness on the relationships here.
Guitar/Bass:
Schecter: Damien 6/Stilletto Extreme 5, Squier: Bullet HSS*, Washburn RX10*/WG-587, Agile Septor 727
*mods

Amps/FX
Peavey: Vypyr 30/Max 112 (200W), ISP: Decimator

Quote by dannyalcatraz
Understood- I waste money on amps*, too.

justinguitar.com is the answer
#2
Wattage is not exactly volume or headroom but I consider it more like a clue to those specifics. Generally, unmiced: 30w is enough to keep up with a drummer for reasonably sized venues. You may need to bump that up to 40w or 50w if you need squeaky-clean clean tones. If you are trying to fill a large, loud venue, it is smarter to mic to PA. Even 100w would not cut it for the big venues. Mic'd/Recording, it does not really matter what wattage the amp is rated at so long as you are getting the sound you like and the amp is putting out enough volume that the input gain on the mic does not have to be so sensitive to pick up a lot of room noise.

These are tube amp wattage ratings though, generally SS wattages are much softer in volume than a tube amp putting out the same wattage.
Last edited by Will Lane at Sep 26, 2016,
#3
Wattage gives an idea of volume to a certain extent but is more about the amps headroom capability. A 50W amp is only twice as loud as a 5W amp and the difference from a 50W to a 100W is only about 3db.

For the sake of simplicity lets take volume out of the equation and assume generally that all amps have the same volume range, the bigger issue is how do they sound at that volume? This is wear headroom and wattage come into play. Assume you are using an amp on a clean channel and playing loud enough to be heard with a drummer - a 5W amp at this volume is not going to sound clean at all, the natural tube breakup is going to make the amp sound quite crunchy, however if you up the wattage of the amp there is more headroom before the signal saturates, as you increase the wattage the volume at which you can still have a 'clean' channel increases.

On dirty channels its much the same, except everything is already dirty. A low wattage amp is going to add more saturation, possibly some power tube distortion and some flubbyness to the gain compared to a higher wattage amp at the same volume.

Bass frequencies also require more power to reproduce so the lower wattage amps will have a less thumpy bass.

This is why a lot of metal guys prefer 100W heads, its keeps the bass nice and tight and the gain from getting flubby at volume.

So that is more what you need to consider when looking at wattage - you also might consider physical weight and portability depending on your needs. Volume can be addressed by a handy little knob labeled "volume", just because an amp is 100W doesn't mean you have to run it as loud as it will go.

In terms of need then I would recommend at least a 40-50W amp if you are playing in a band - while a smaller wattage amp may get you by there is a little volume gain and you don't want to be running your amp on 10 to get by for the reasons mentioned above. Going from 50-100W is not going to make a significant volume difference so its more looking at how much headroom do you need, how much bass do you need, if you are playing dropped tunings you might want to look at 100W just to have that extra power to get those low frequencies.
#4
Quote by Will Lane

These are tube amp wattage ratings though, generally SS wattages are much softer in volume than a tube amp putting out the same wattage.


I call half-baloney on this. A tube amp will generally put out more power than the rated wattage once you are pushing the power amp into clipping. Since wattage is usually determined with running the power amp clean, pushing into clipping will exceed the stated watts. Tube amps generally sound great when pushed, and solid state generally don't, so cranking both amps you would tend to push a tube amp further and leave the SS lower.

This becomes null with high wattage amps designed for preamp gain and a clean power amp. Which is why my SS head at 120 watts can be at 3.5 on the master volume, but my friends 120 watt tube head has to be on 4.5 to 5 to be heard. We would be stupid to push louder than that, and that's at stage volume. But my SS being louder? That is because it was designed well, where my friends tube amp is a Bugera!


Generally a well designed amp at 50 watts, tube or not, through efficient speakers will be plenty loud for the average gig.
Last edited by Liaztraht at Sep 26, 2016,
#5
Quote by Liaztraht
I call half-baloney on this. A tube amp will generally put out more power than the rated wattage once you are pushing the power amp into clipping. Since wattage is usually determined with running the power amp clean, pushing into clipping will exceed the stated watts. Tube amps generally sound great when pushed, and solid state generally don't, so cranking both amps you would tend to push a tube amp further and leave the SS lower.

This becomes null with high wattage amps designed for preamp gain and a clean power amp. Which is why my SS head at 120 watts can be at 3.5 on the master volume, but my friends 120 watt tube head has to be on 4.5 to 5 to be heard. We would be stupid to push louder than that, and that's at stage volume. But my SS being louder? That is because it was designed well, where my friends tube amp is a Bugera!


Generally a well designed amp at 50 watts, tube or not, through efficient speakers will be plenty loud for the average gig.
But still, if you were to put a 20w SS full-tilt (disregarding sound quality), would it generally be as loud as a 20w tube full-tilt? There are many other factors that are in play here, however.
Last edited by Will Lane at Sep 26, 2016,
#6
Hence why I mentioned the wattage is measured with a clean power amp. Pushing tube exceeds the stated wattage.
#7
Quote by Liaztraht
Hence why I mentioned the wattage is measured with a clean power amp. Pushing tube exceeds the stated wattage.
Yes, and I am saying that if we push the power amp of a SS amp, would we get the same loudness that we get with a pushed tube amp? Instead of leaving the SS amp down in volume because it does not sound good, giving it the appearance of less volume, if we crank it up anyway to its maximum capability- does it keep up with the tube counterpart? Sorry if I am misunderstanding you.

Also I am not sure I buy an amp exceeding the wattage rating when the power amp is clipping. Clipping itself is the result of the components failing to produce the higher level signal. There may be some extra watts leaking through but I do not think it would be enough to produce highly significant volume boosts. I am not sure, I am not a tech with the equipment/knowledge to really test it all.
Last edited by Will Lane at Sep 26, 2016,
#8
Will Lane That doesn't apply to ss amps. When the power section clips on them you basically hit a ceiling at your max wattage.

Here is something from another forum when someone asked the difference between tube watts and solid-state watts. They explained better than I did.
The simple answer is that a watt is watt whatever produces it - and that a watt is a measure of power, not volume (acoustic pressure level - decibels, that is). The volume is a factor of power AND speaker efficiency (ie: how many decibels a speaker produces for one watt).

As long as we're talking about pure clean tones and not pushing your amp to it's limits, a SS amp and a tube amp set up to produce the same output power (watts) AND going thru the same loudspeaker will produce the same volume (db).

The a-bit-less simple answer is that a SS amp cannot produce much more power than what it's rated for - it will almost immediatly hard-clip your signal - while a tube amp will smoothly go into a more gentle soft-clipping, slightly warming up and compressing your signal but with still quite a lot of "less clean" available power. Given the very dynamic nature of a guitar signal, this means that when pushed to it's nominal power, a tube amp will still have some "not quite clean but pleasantly sounding" headroom where the SS amp will hit a brick wall.

If you factor in the fact that most SS guitar amps are budget practice amps with cheap cabs, cheap and inefficient speakers and more often than not very optimistic nominal power rating you understand where the myth of the "tube watts vs SS watts" comes from.

EQ (from the guitar, the preamp AND the speaker) also plays a huge role when it comes to perceived loudness, specially in a mix where you have to compete with other instruments. Guitar tone is essentially about mids, mids and then mids, so if you end up with a very scooped "V shaped" EQ you'll have to compete with the bass and kick in the lows and with the cymbals in the highs, and chances are you'll need much more power to be heard.

So to make a long story short: no, there's no "chart or rule of thumb", since it's not that much about how many watts but about how these watts are used.


In not trying to be a dick. Just trying to keep a myth from spreading further.
#9
Quote by Liaztraht
Will Lane That doesn't apply to ss amps. When the power section clips on them you basically hit a ceiling at your max wattage.

Here is something from another forum when someone asked the difference between tube watts and solid-state watts. They explained better than I did.


In not trying to be a dick. Just trying to keep a myth from spreading further.
No worries, I appreciate the info.
#10
Will Lane No problem. It doesn't help I am a firm believer in solid-state
#11
If you factor in the fact that most SS guitar amps are budget practice amps with cheap cabs, cheap and inefficient speakers and more often than not very optimistic nominal power rating you understand where the myth of the "tube watts vs SS watts" comes from.


This is the biggest factor in this debate, and its kind of a self fulfilling prophecy. The general consensus is that tube amps are better than SS amps, because of that no one (or at least very few) are will to spend the same $$ on a SS amp as they would on a tube amp. Since companies like to make money they aren't going to spend a lot of capital designing and building something that isn't going to sell. Since the SS market is perceived as a lower price point market the amp manufacturers build SS amps to meet that price point which means cheaper components and cheaper less efficient speakers.

And so people compare SS amps in general to Tube amps in general and decide that tube amps are better because tubes - but the reality is more like tube amps are better because they are designed and built better because people are willing to pay more for them.

All this ties back to the original post in that SS amps tend to be cheaper made amplifiers with sub-par speakers and so don't appear to have the same level of volume as their tube counter part. If you took a good quality SS amp (yes they do exist) and run it through the same speakers as a tube amp you would be hard pressed to argue that one was louder than the other - considering only volume and not tone.
#12
Quote by Will Lane
But still, if you were to put a 20w SS full-tilt (disregarding sound quality), would it generally be as loud as a 20w tube full-tilt? There are many other factors that are in play here, however.


Watts is watts. "Disregarding sound quality" isn't an option, because most wattage is rated *at a particular percentage of harmonic distortion* (sometimes listed as THD). Solid state amps can be run past their ratings, just as tube amps can.

A watt is a unit of power, just as horsepower is.
Last edited by dspellman at Sep 27, 2016,
#13
Quote by guitarsngear
This is the biggest factor in this debate, and its kind of a self fulfilling prophecy. The general consensus is that tube amps are better than SS amps, because of that no one (or at least very few) are will to spend the same $$ on a SS amp as they would on a tube amp. Since companies like to make money they aren't going to spend a lot of capital designing and building something that isn't going to sell. Since the SS market is perceived as a lower price point market the amp manufacturers build SS amps to meet that price point which means cheaper components and cheaper less efficient speakers.

And so people compare SS amps in general to Tube amps in general and decide that tube amps are better because tubes - but the reality is more like tube amps are better because they are designed and built better because people are willing to pay more for them.


Here's where "general consensus" depends on the idiots doing the consensus (and on the idiots who believe them).

I'm running three 1500W solid state power amps. All three are cheaper than a 100W tube power amp from the same company. That doesn't mean there's anything "cheap" about them -- just that with modern technology, it's far less expensive to make them, not because the tube product is designed and built better. There is this, however. There's very little market for tube amplifiers or, for that matter, tube components on the planet these days, aside from a relatively small number of guitar players. Thus, the components will continue to be more expensive over time. Tried to find a replacement picture tube for your 21" color TV recently?
#14
Quote by dspellman
Here's where "general consensus" depends on the idiots doing the consensus (and on the idiots who believe them).

I'm running three 1500W solid state power amps. All three are cheaper than a 100W tube power amp from the same company. That doesn't mean there's anything "cheap" about them -- just that with modern technology, it's far less expensive to make them, not because the tube product is designed and built better. There is this, however. There's very little market for tube amplifiers or, for that matter, tube components on the planet these days, aside from a relatively small number of guitar players. Thus, the components will continue to be more expensive over time. Tried to find a replacement picture tube for your 21" color TV recently?


True...ish.

What you're often careful to NOT note is that you're running modeling technology in front of those power amps to make them sound like the tube amp you're dismissing...
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#15
Quote by Arby911
True...ish.

What you're often careful to NOT note is that you're running modeling technology in front of those power amps to make them sound like the tube amp you're dismissing...


Not always, and that's immaterial anyway.

The point is that solid state gear isn't cheap because it's inexpensive, and tube power isn't better because (or if) it's more expensive. Note that I compared the solid state power amps to a tube power amp (in my case, a Carvin TS100 and a couple of Marshall and Mesa tube power amps). With the preamp portion of things NOT under consideration, there's nothing "better" about the tube power amps compared to the solid state power amps (unless you consider more weight a better thing).

If you weigh in with the preamp portion of things, I have tube preamps (Mesa Triaxis and a Carvin Quad-X) that have, respectively, five 12 AX7s and nine 12 AX7s. The latter runs four separate channels, active controls, assignable 5-band graphic EQ in addition to the standard paras, and it would probably cost well over a grand to offer it today (mine is 20+ years old). And yes, I have modelers as well, and some of these are more expensive than most of the tube amps under discussion.

The point is that "general consensus" as used in the original post operates from a very narrow point of view and makes incorrect assumptions at a whole lot of levels before reaching "consensus."

You know the tale of the Blind Men and the Elephant?
#16
Quote by dspellman
Not always, and that's immaterial anyway.



No, it's really not. I don't even disagree with most of what you've said, but this is just silly.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#17
To be clear, if it helps the discussion at all, I said "generally SS amps will be softer..." not always, not exactly, not scientifically. I was just saying if you take a run-of-the-mill 20w SS amp (which in such a general case, it is often a bad amp altogether, but besides the point) and a normal 20w tube amp, the tube amp will likely have more volume on tap. Not saying that SS circuitry is scientifically softer because of the components, but that general SS amps are not as loud as a general tube amp- because of the issues with general SS equipment listed a few posts up.
#18
Quote by Will Lane
To be clear, if it helps the discussion at all, I said "generally SS amps will be softer..." not always, not exactly, not scientifically. I was just saying if you take a run-of-the-mill 20w SS amp (which in such a general case, it is often a bad amp altogether, but besides the point) and a normal 20w tube amp, the tube amp will likely have more volume on tap. Not saying that SS circuitry is scientifically softer because of the components, but that general SS amps are not as loud as a general tube amp- because of the issues with general SS equipment listed a few posts up.


That's a lot of "general"izing.

And not real useful...
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
#19
Quote by Arby911
No, it's really not. I don't even disagree with most of what you've said, but this is just silly.


Lemme put it this way. I'm not "dismissing" tube amps, but if we're talking about watts vs. watts or the quality of an expensive tube amp vs the quality of a solid state piece that might be less expensive, then a discussion of modelers/preamps really isn't germaine.

But since you've gone down that road, let's also note that modelers/preamps are not always about duplicating a tube amp or even necessarily including anything about a tube amp in the process. For example, one of my most recent "aha!" moments involved the use of an IR with a modeler that supports them (in this case a Helix), but the IR was a response of a Taylor 314ce miked with a Schoeps mike in air. Pete Thorn started all this when he used this IR (free, by the way) and fed his Takamine piezo output into it. What came out wasn't Takamine, but was very much Taylor 314 miked in air with a particular microphone. He used it with Chris Cornell here in LA. The whole thing was fed into a mixing desk and from there I don't know where. Start at about the 4:36 minute mark (there's a previous discussion about specific piezo systems continuing through here):



The assumption that everything that a modeler does is somehow about tube amps ain't necessarily so, and as we expand our universe with these things a bit, I think you'll see a lot more applications as well.
Last edited by dspellman at Sep 27, 2016,
#20
Quote by bjgrifter
I'm not sure how tube wattage translates into need. At most, I don't see a realistic scenario where---if I get that far---would include more than 100 people. I know mic'ing is an option, but then if there isn't? Beyond that, recording is about it. For sound purposes, tube seems the way to go, but I've come to realize my ignorance here. I'm not really in a rush to buy, so much as educate myself into the method of madness on the relationships here.


As for Mr Grifter's initial post, what do you plan on playing majority of the time?
If it's anything that needs to be heavy but tight (judging by your profile picture here) like metal then a high powered amp, like a 6505, would be acceptable because you don't want to push the power section too hard or the low end will sag. If being mic'd is guranteed the mini version would work perfectly.
If playing more classic rock or blues where that sag would be useful, than 20 to 50 watts can work so you can utilize the power section for power amp distortion, but still have enough volume when not mic'd.

If playing clean most of the time, then back up on the higher wattage if you need volume, because again can't have the power section distorting when you need volume.

Its perfectly fine to have a high powered amp and not push it to the extreme. And you don't have to run a half or full stack with 4x12 cabs. A good combo or a 2x12 with a head would be enough for any situation.

Also, don't assume that tube is "the way to go". Plug in to as many amps as you can try and you may be surprised by what you hear. There is both good and bad in tube, solid state, and modelling. Since you aren't in a rush, if you can get to a decently sized music store do so and just play.
#21
The 6505 mode is mostly what I use on my Vypyr, so it's on the short-list and my base-line for comparison.

Anyway, this thread has been educational, so thanks for all the replies to help shape the jist. I know the guitarist in Veil of Maya uses a Randall V2 and their live stuff is pretty tight--as one example.
Guitar/Bass:
Schecter: Damien 6/Stilletto Extreme 5, Squier: Bullet HSS*, Washburn RX10*/WG-587, Agile Septor 727
*mods

Amps/FX
Peavey: Vypyr 30/Max 112 (200W), ISP: Decimator

Quote by dannyalcatraz
Understood- I waste money on amps*, too.

justinguitar.com is the answer
#22
Quote by dspellman

The assumption that everything that a modeler does is somehow about tube amps ain't necessarily so, and as we expand our universe with these things a bit, I think you'll see a lot more applications as well.


The assumption that I said anything about "everything" ain't necessarily so...but let's be honest, it's still in the majority.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin