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#1
In this day and age, all of the new solid state wizardry. The kempers and Axe FX's of the world. Do we even need tube amps anymore? Should i still be spending my money on tube amps when i can get one amp that does it all, and is much more compact and robust than a tube amp. People cant even tell the difference between, lets say a Profiled JCM 800 on a Kemper than the real thing. I mean myself, i hate the idea of no tubes and the idea of a modelling amp. I have an unusual feeling, as if im breaking up with a Girlfriend, that soon tube amps are going to be pointless. I just love having the real thing, but... I just dont know now haha. What do you guys say?
#2
Quote by oskos2001
In this day and age, all of the new solid state wizardry. The kempers and Axe FX's of the world. Do we even need tube amps anymore? Should i still be spending my money on tube amps when i can get one amp that does it all, and is much more compact and robust than a tube amp. People cant even tell the difference between, lets say a Profiled JCM 800 on a Kemper than the real thing. I mean myself, i hate the idea of no tubes and the idea of a modelling amp. I have an unusual feeling, as if im breaking up with a Girlfriend, that soon tube amps are going to be pointless. I just love having the real thing, but... I just dont know now haha. What do you guys say?


---

More seriously to answer the title question, yes. There may not be auditory differences (especially through mixing and processing), but to many players even high-end digital modeling lacks a bit of "feel", or it still lacks a "something"- which could just be their bias for tube amps but could also actually show digital is still something. Plus, a lot of the high-end modeling equipment is silly expensive- you get a lot of sounds for the money, but if you want a more focused sound, you can end up with a single-voicing tube amp for a lot less- plus you would need to buy powered speakers (and you better put down some serious $ there too) for your rack Axe-FX, Kemper, and Helix.

Now I say all that to say that is how I view tube vs digital circuitry at the present moment. High-end digital modeling is quite expensive but I think as technology advances that same standard of modeling will become cheap enough to compete with even the single-voicing tube amps, and eventually the tube amp market may be reserved for audiophiles or purists.
Last edited by Will Lane at Dec 3, 2016,
#3
Will Lane I mean, i own quite a few heads now, and it would be terrifying to find out that suddenly they were worth next to nothing. Whenever i do try one of the high-end modellers i tell myself i can feel a difference, but i dont know if that is merely me trying to tell myself i shouldn't like the modelling amps. And i do really only play with 2/3 tones, and my 5150 and my Revv Gen can handle them all with ease. So i can pretty much use one amp for the rest of my life (if my tastes stay the same of course).
#4
Quote by oskos2001
Will Lane I mean, i own quite a few heads now, and it would be terrifying to find out that suddenly they were worth next to nothing. Whenever i do try one of the high-end modellers i tell myself i can feel a difference, but i dont know if that is merely me trying to tell myself i shouldn't like the modelling amps. And i do really only play with 2/3 tones, and my 5150 and my Revv Gen can handle them all with ease. So i can pretty much use one amp for the rest of my life (if my tastes stay the same of course).
I think the day when modeling surpasses tube technology in both usability (not versatility) and also economically is a ways off. Tube amps will not drop in price over night. I think modeling has somewhat reached it in usability but in price, it may take a while. Or maybe it will never reach it- maybe our high-end modeling systems nowadays are the peak of modeling technology- they may have the same or better usability but maybe the technology will never be able to be produced as cost-effectively.
Last edited by Will Lane at Dec 3, 2016,
#5
Mark Tremonti seemed to think so last night when I saw him with alter bridge haha.

My answer to this question is always the same: digital equipment always becomes redundant when the newest version comes out. Nobody wants an axe fx 1 now the axe fx2 is out, and nobody will want the axe fx 2 when the axe fx 3 is out. But people will still be buying the decades old jcm800.

Digital gear is here today gone tomorrow. The valve ampwas a new musical instrument invention and will be around forever. Just like keyboards haven't made pianos redundant, neither will digital gear make valve amps redundant.
#6
I'll never be without a tube amp.
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#7
Quote by lodgi


Digital gear is here today gone tomorrow. The valve ampwas a new musical instrument invention and will be around forever. Just like keyboards haven't made pianos redundant, neither will digital gear make valve amps redundant.


I see a lot of people giving the argument that digital gear becomes redundant once a newer version is out, while nothing really has changed about what you have. I love my Kemper. It sounds amazing and I can get anything I want out of it most of the time. If a newer version of the Kemper would be released, that wouldn't suddenly change. It's not because we're up to the Axe FX 2 XL+ by now that the Standard or Ultra don't still produce the sound they did when they were last updated. Ok, it's not as "cool" to have an Axe FX Ultra now as it was when it just came out, but that doesn't really matter to me. The only argument to make in my opinion is that should something go wrong with it, it's harder to fix. The 2290 by TC is a prime example in my opinion. It's still an awesome unit. A 2290 in good working condition still does everything it did in the eighties. On the other hand, if something breaks, you could be out of luck in getting it fixed.

So I'd say Valve amps still have a place, for various reasons. Digital gear has really been edging in on the traditional amps and we're at a point where I think it's safe to say they can be placed next to valve amps. Both have pro's and con's and neither is objectively better than the other in my opinion, just different options for different situations and different people. As it should be, really.
#9
More folks still use tube amps compared to other types. Yes they are relevant.
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#10
Quote by 8Len8
More folks still use tube amps compared to other types. Yes they are relevant.


The largest-selling amps are modeling amps, by a wide margin. If you include modelers by themselves (not integrated into an amp), the number is even higher.

But I'd have to say tube amps are, for now, still relevant.

They're a bit like film cameras, though. They survived alongside digital cameras for a long period, even though it was pretty obvious that their time was limited. But there was a turning point, as if a switch were thrown, when suddenly no one was interested in a film camera. For that matter, there was a quiet transition where even digital personal (amateur) cameras coexisted with smartphones, and now it's hard to find someone who actually carries (though they might still own) an amateur digital camera that isn't integrated into a smartphone. Tubes are entering into that transition now.
#11
I've been doing a lot of thinking myself about this exact topic lately, lol.

I don't think tube amps are irrelevant, or will be any time in the immediate future. I prefer to look at stuff like Axe FX and Kemper as great, new tools in the world of electric guitar that can serve as an addition to tube amps, rather than an outright replacement for them. I definitely wouldn't mind owning a Kemper, or a Torpedo Live. But I'd still love to get my hands on a JCM 800-ish amp, and something Fender Tweed style too .

Even if modeling stuff gets better/cheaper, and eventually does take over as the industry standard for amplification in the coming years, I still see the desirable tube amps having a place in a collectible/niche market of sorts. An old Plexi head is a cool piece of electric guitar history, just like an original 50's Les Paul or Strat is.
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#12
dspellman I wonder, how long will this transition last? Already a lot of beginners are being recommended software's such as Bias amongst others. I remember that a few years back, this was not the case. Technology in the guitar world really is progressing at light speed, and im not sure i like it.
#13
Eh, I don't know. At some point I imagine all the practical benefits of modellers will make them THE choice for most people who play guitar.

BUT....

Tube amps are cool. It's hard to kill cool factor, and for those who have the money, I imagine they will always have an appeal. I play a Helix, and honestly I will never "need" another amp. I still lust after them though. The new Mesa Triple Crown, as an example, looks super badass and I needz eet.
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#14
I doubt they'll ever become irrelevant, After all what is it that a modeling amp is trying to do? Mimic a tube amp right? And granted many do it very well but those that have played tube amps for years can tell the difference, Not so much as to tone but as to the way they react to your playing style, I use both and both have they're place, Although not so much a modeling amp but modeling and synth processor peddles through a powered mixer and monitors, And yes its pretty amazing, But it don't quack the way my tube amps do, As to the new generation of players gravitating to Modeling amps? My kid would make a good case point, One would think a kid his age would love all the whistles and buzzers the processors have to offer, Yet the opposite is true, About the only thing he wants to use is an old Kustom Double Cross, Granted it is a strange duck and no one would want to try and model it , But it do have a quack all its own,
#15
As long as guitar players are dinosaurs (which shows no sign of changing), they'll be using tube amps. I imagine one day I'll get a high end modeller, but I probably won't give up my Twin.
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#16
Quote by oskos2001
dspellman I wonder, how long will this transition last? Already a lot of beginners are being recommended software's such as Bias amongst others. I remember that a few years back, this was not the case. Technology in the guitar world really is progressing at light speed, and im not sure i like it.


I think the transition has (and will have) several parts. The first, of course, involved getting the sound close. At this point most will agree that the top-end modelers have accomplished this. The second phase is to get the price of that technology down, and we're seeing that happening with the Helix, the Amplifire and other standalone units, particularly those that use IRs. The proliferation of software-only solutions that are affordable indicates the direction we're headed.

Other factors pushing the transition pretty quickly: Weight and bulk. Versatility of output (speakers/headphones/recording). The reduction of sources for tubes and the resultant increase in prices for tubes and other components. Changes in the music business and changes in the retail channels. Changes in the demographics of guitar players (as in the reduction and retirement of actively-spending baby boomers enslaved to 1940's technology by tradition).

Disruptive technologies in any field can emerge slowly, hit a critical mass and then sweep an industry. Smartphones are an obvious example. It's rare to go anywhere and NOT see folks buried in their phones and/or taking photos/videos of their world rather than participating in it. It's rare to find someone under 25 who can drive a manual transmission car.

As FlightofIcarus notes, there remains a "cool" factor to old gear, and there will always be a hipster contingent in succeeding generations that will delight in resurrecting, restoring and using old stuff, but a hallmark of the old motorcycles, cars, monster Altec speaker cabinets, dial phones, etc., is that they're no longer really relevant. Just fun to play with.

Technology sometimes forces its way into our lives -- who can survive college these days without a laptop and typing skills?
Last edited by dspellman at Dec 4, 2016,
#17
dementiacaptain Yea im gassing soooo much after that one, but to be honest. Every single person i have talked to is.
#18
Quote by dspellman
It's rare to find someone under 25 who can drive a manual transmission car.


I don't disagree with the rest of what you're saying, but I think the manual/automatic transmission thing is a USA thing. Far as I'm aware, virtually everyone here drives a manual transmission car.
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#19
Quote by oskos2001
Will Lane I mean, i own quite a few heads now, and it would be terrifying to find out that suddenly they were worth next to nothing. Whenever i do try one of the high-end modellers i tell myself i can feel a difference, but i dont know if that is merely me trying to tell myself i shouldn't like the modelling amps. And i do really only play with 2/3 tones, and my 5150 and my Revv Gen can handle them all with ease. So i can pretty much use one amp for the rest of my life (if my tastes stay the same of course).


that's plainly absurd. Tube amps aren't going to lose value like that. There's absolutely a difference between tube amps and modellers. I suppose not everyone has the ear or the feel to notice it, but if you play on lower output pickups that's when the difference is the most noticeable. So many people are rushing to play high output pickups or active pickups and then plug it into an AxeFX and then wonder why it doesn't sound or feel different than a tube amp.

Tube amps will never be irrelevant. The technology is far too robust and proven.
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#20
Tube amps are likely to be relevant for a long time yet. Simply for the fact that their technology is the way all the greats got their guitar tones. Even if an amp modeller and the real thing sounded exactly the same, there will still be that one guy who will forever be convinced that tube amps are better because they were used by their idols. But I think as the baby boomer generation dies out, that sentiment will become less and less common.

The thing modelling amps like Kemper, Axe FX etc. need to do now is be a lot more affordable, which is currently already happening.

Technology is always going to be constantly changing too, which means that everybody is going to want the latest and greatest modelling amp and those who own the older gens are going to be feeling rather GAS-y.

With tube amps, the technology they use is immortalised. The technology will not innovate any further than it already has done. Which has its appeal as people will no longer feel compelled to have to get the latest and greatest like their may feel with modellers.
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#21
Quote by Dave_Mc
I don't disagree with the rest of what you're saying, but I think the manual/automatic transmission thing is a USA thing. Far as I'm aware, virtually everyone here drives a manual transmission car.


it is a USA thing. we're too busy texting, playing pokemon go and putting on make up to bother shifting gears.
#22
lol .... manual transmission's are just a " theft deterrent " so you can leave your keys in the car
#23
The thing is, tube amps are also changing. There were a few things that made tube amps a bit of dinosaurs, the lack of quiet practice option, the need to have a speaker load, now USB output, etc, but if you look at some of the new designs out there, like say the Laney IRT series - it has all that and a wonderful tone that you can take to your DAW, to your silent practice, to your gig and to the studio, with dummy load and to me it actually flips the whole concept on its head, it seems to be making modeling amps irrelevant .
#24
In my opinion it all depends on the context of the song and the style of music being played. Depending on who or what I'm tracking I'd find the "fake" sound of digital amps would be much preferred. Like if we're talking Djent, Deathcore, or any majority of modern metal where 7-strings are being used, tubes are out of the question as they fail to really hold together those lower tunings (talking drop-A or drop-G).

I was previously in a deathcore band and I remember the one guitarist with an Axe-FX upgrading his poweramp from a solid-state Matrix to a Mesa tube power amp, a massive amount of definition and clarity was lost in the lower strings.


On the flip-side, that same setup might have sounded great in other genres that benefit from the tube tone and don't require as much attack and solidity, like I prefer tube amps for the style of metal I personally play. It's all about context and the style you're going for.
#25
^very true. There are some benefits to the sterility that people accuse modellers of having.
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#26
Quote by diabolical
The thing is, tube amps are also changing. There were a few things that made tube amps a bit of dinosaurs, the lack of quiet practice option, the need to have a speaker load, now USB output, etc, but if you look at some of the new designs out there, like say the Laney IRT series - it has all that and a wonderful tone that you can take to your DAW, to your silent practice, to your gig and to the studio, with dummy load and to me it actually flips the whole concept on its head, it seems to be making modeling amps irrelevant .
True. But I also feel that part of the appeal of modeling amps is the idea of having a whole collection of amps in one little unit - An Ipod of guitar amps, if you will.

Hopefully stuff like Torpedo Live comes down a little bit in price in the coming years. To me, TL is a "best of both worlds" approach, for those of us who already use tube amps/want to continue using them. It'll certainly make big amps without dummy load features more usable in situations where big amps are impractical to use (i.e - wanting to record big sounding guitars at 2 AM in a studio apartment without getting evicted ). I'm just glad there's all these options available to guitarists today.
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#27
FlightofIcarus To be honest, i think the torpedo live is very fairly priced. I would just treat it like buying a new cab, its roughly the same price as a new cab, and they serve similar purposes.
#28
Quote by oskos2001
FlightofIcarus To be honest, i think the torpedo live is very fairly priced. I would just treat it like buying a new cab, its roughly the same price as a new cab, and they serve similar purposes.
Didn't mean to make it sound like I think it's overpriced if I did - It is indeed a very impressive piece of gear.

I just speak from the perspective of someone with too much on my GAS list already!
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#29
Quote by FlightofIcarus
True. But I also feel that part of the appeal of modeling amps is the idea of having a whole collection of amps in one little unit - An Ipod of guitar amps, if you will.


Yeah, but it really isn't...it's like having a collection of amps that sound maybe 70-80% close to the originals. I can still hear modeling amps in a production. Not saying that they're bad, but they don't really excite me. From what I've discovered recording with modeling amps and modeling plugins, I can get a good isolated sound by itself, but it just won't "sit" right in the production. I had to do tons of tweaking and the damn Mesa was still poking badly in a few places. I bussed the clean (dry) signal into a real Mesa and it fit right in there, no questions asked no tweaks needed

With some of these amps and their new options I don't see a reason for modeler. Every time you tweak presets and you go play live, the sound changes, so then you have to dig in menus and do deep editing until you're more of a computer geek than a real musician. It is a total drag. On my tube rig, I just move three knobs and I am done.

Granted, it is getting harder to carry a tube rig, so I've scaled down to smaller tube amps but still I enjoy their sound a lot more than playing through a modeler.

But look at some of these new features on the Mesa Triple Crown just released:

Built-In CabClone™ Cabinet Simulator and more featuring:

Closed-Back, Open-Back and Vintage Voices
Internal Amp Load & Headphone Output
Speaker On/Off & Ground Lift Switches
Uncompensated, +4db Direct Line Output (for external cab sims/IR, etc.)

MIDI Switchable/Programmable via Control Change and Program Change messages, with 256 Preset Location (MIDI IN, MIDI Thru/Out, MIDI Channel & Store Switches) – Controls Channels 1, 2, 3, Reverb, FX Loop & Solo)

Then look at the Laney IRT and H&K lines and you don't have to suffer wanting quiet practice or direct outputs.

Sure, I might like a Marshall rhythm stack more over a Mesa rhythm stack for high gain, but it really it is harly a deal breaker.
#30
My main objection to SS is that they are too much of a good thing. All those choices are too much of a distraction, too much attention to sounds and not enough to notes. I've never had a modern SS amp, but I had a couple of digital multiFX at one time and they turned out to be terrible time wasters. Even trad stomp boxes are bad enough in that respect.
#31
Quote by diabolical
Yeah, but it really isn't...it's like having a collection of amps that sound maybe 70-80% close to the originals. I can still hear modeling amps in a production. Not saying that they're bad, but they don't really excite me. From what I've discovered recording with modeling amps and modeling plugins, I can get a good isolated sound by itself, but it just won't "sit" right in the production. I had to do tons of tweaking and the damn Mesa was still poking badly in a few places. I bussed the clean (dry) signal into a real Mesa and it fit right in there, no questions asked no tweaks needed

With some of these amps and their new options I don't see a reason for modeler. Every time you tweak presets and you go play live, the sound changes, so then you have to dig in menus and do deep editing until you're more of a computer geek than a real musician. It is a total drag. On my tube rig, I just move three knobs and I am done.
Funny enough, my (limited) experience with hearing modeling stuff has been the opposite - I can definitely feel/hear a difference when hearing the modeled amp by itself, but I've heard some full band mixes that were rather impressive to my ears. Granted, most of the mix examples I've heard have been high-gain, modern metal applications, so it could be a case of that type of tone being something easier for the modeling stuff to capture accurately. Or it could simply be that mixes I've heard have been done by skilled engineers who know what they're doing.

Don't get me wrong though, I definitely prefer real amps myself. It's like you say, just spin a few knobs and be done with it! I've never been one for complex "tweaker's toy" style amps/modelers that take time to dial in a good tone with. I'd rather own a few amps that do one thing extremely well, than one piece of gear that does just a satisfactory job at multiple sounds.
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Last edited by FlightofIcarus at Dec 4, 2016,
#32
All this to say there isn't a "right" answer, as we often find on the forums. Hell, I have went from tubes to modellers to tubes to modellers to tubes and modellers AGAIN, and though I don't think the Helix is going anywhere I will DEFINITELY own tube amps in the future when I have the space once more.

From the answers here alone I would say that tube amps are most definitely still relevant, even if they now have to compete a bit harder with other options. I think the pressure that modellers have put on traditional amp companies to innovate is great, and whether or not tube amps are eventually banished to obscurity, they still have a a bit of fight left yet.
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#33
If they are relevant to YOU then they are relevant, doesn't matter what others think.
#34
Quote by diabolical
Yeah, but it really isn't...it's like having a collection of amps that sound maybe 70-80% close to the originals. I can still hear modeling amps in a production. Not saying that they're bad, but they don't really excite me. From what I've discovered recording with modeling amps and modeling plugins, I can get a good isolated sound by itself, but it just won't "sit" right in the production. I had to do tons of tweaking and the damn Mesa was still poking badly in a few places. I bussed the clean (dry) signal into a real Mesa and it fit right in there, no questions asked no tweaks needed


I think this has more to do with the hand than with the modeller, to be honest. More and more bands are completely recording their albums with a modeller. You're not going to tell me a band that tours the whole world and could have all the amps they could ever want would pick a modeller over the real amp if it didn't sit just as good (if not maybe better) in the mix.
#36
This thread again?

Tubes amps are indeed still relvent and will be for the foreseeable future.

We need some stats on modellers outselling tube amps, for one many can't afford a really good valve amp plus effects etc. especially beginners or younger musicians in general so modellers are outselling valve amps but what type of modellers are making up a bulk of those being sold? I'd guess it is budget modellers, Line 6 Spyders, Fender Mustangs, Peavey Vyper and these types of more entry level modellers that beginners and young musicians can afford because it saves them from buying all the stomp boxes or a multi fx, I'd bet more of these are being sold than the top of the line modellers like Kemper. To me this is like saying economy cars outsell sports cars of even supercars for that matter just because something is affordable to the masses doesn't make the rest of the cars obsolete.

That's not saying that those raised on the entry level modellers won't decide to stay on that path and purchase a high end modeller when they outgrow there starter rig this scenario is more likely IMO to challenge the relevance of valve amps than just the versatility factor.

I don't see valve amps going anywhere for a while I know mine won't.
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Last edited by Evilnine at Dec 6, 2016,
#37
Guitar players definitely remind me of those Sprint commercials. Paying twice as much for 1% more gear.

Quote by Acϵ♠
Tube amps will never be irrelevant. The technology is far too robust and proven.


Of course they will be irrelevant one day. There will be a point when it will be possible to digitally recreate tube amps to a level that it is impossible to distinguish. In the future everything will be a sub-$500 POD and that's it. It will definitely happen eventually unless the world as we know it ends first in which case there would be no amps anyway so they would still be irrelevant.
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#38
I guess when Mesa Boogie goes out of business we'll know for sure , wouldn't mind a modeler to play with or light travel , don't see it replacing my tube amps though ........ I really doubt a Helix is out selling the new Mesa JP2 , probably not even close
#39
Seriously? I mean just from a price-point perspective I don't think that there are that many people with the cash to get the JP2C.

Compared to the Helix, the most affordable device in its class, I'm thinking the Helix is probably kicking the JPs ass in terms of sales.

If you'd said a regular Dual Rex I'd agree... but the JP is fucking pricey.
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#40
I see , thought the Helix was a lot more than what it is , must be thinking of the Kemper with foot pedal ?...... might have to consider a Helix , like the new Atomic 12 too
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