#1
I currently own a really bad solid state amp. I'm thinking of buying a Tube Amp, but i don't quite know how they work. I've seen ''top heads'' being classified as tube amps, and bodies (without controls) being classified as Tube Amps etc.. I just don't know how Tube Amps work, and what to buy. I like Marshall, and have been thinking of getting a Marshall, if i can figure out how Tube Amps actually work haha. Do you need to buy a head and a body, or is there something else or?
#2
tobias.lausten. By "body" I presume you mean cabinet. The cabinet is what houses the speaker, which is technically not "part" of the amp but rather is controlled by the amp. The "top heads" you refer to are just called "heads" and you can think of them as a combo amp without a speaker. The head takes the guitar signal, does some wizardry to it to make it sound really good, and amplifies the signal so that it can drive a speaker. This science is not only applied to tube amps though, as solid state rigs can come in head/cab form as well but more often they will be in the same housing.

You can buy heads by themselves but they will need a speaker of proper ratings to produce sound. You can also buy cabinets buy themselves, and you can mix and match them as well. You can also buy a combo amp which is a head and a speaker in the same housing. So if you buy a combo amp, you have both a head and speaker in the housing and you do not really need anything else. If you buy a head, you will have to buy a cabinet separately.

If you give us the genres of music you play, your budget, location, new/used, gig/home use, we can suggest some items for you.
Last edited by Will Lane at Mar 5, 2017,
#3
Will Lane
Thanks for the reply!
So basically, the biggest reason for cabinets and heads would be to mix different brands, right?

I usually play rock, hard rock, funk, (metal from time to time).
I don't know how much a decent tube amp costs, so i don't really know about the budget. What do you suggest a decent tube amp costs?
I'm located in Denmark I often shop at Thomann, if that's what you're referring to.
New/Used, doesn't matter that much, as long as it works nicely.
Both gig and home use, but mostly home use i think, as i'm not currently on a lot of gigs.
#4
Quote by tobias.lausten.
Will Lane
Thanks for the reply!
So basically, the biggest reason for cabinets and heads would be to mix different brands, right?

I usually play rock, hard rock, funk, (metal from time to time).
I don't know how much a decent tube amp costs, so i don't really know about the budget. What do you suggest a decent tube amp costs?
I'm located in Denmark I often shop at Thomann, if that's what you're referring to.
New/Used, doesn't matter that much, as long as it works nicely.
Both gig and home use, but mostly home use i think, as i'm not currently on a lot of gigs.


If you just want to try out a tube amp, you can try out using hybrid amps first. Hybrids have tube amp preamps, getting the rich tube distortion, but have solid state power amps giving you the consistent sound at all volumes of a solid state. There are some really good ones out there like the Orange Micro Terror ($150 head, 20 watts), and some not so great ones like the Marshall Valvestate (I've never tried a Valvestate out before but I have heard that they're really bad). Just like solid states, they both can come in the cheap or expensive kinds, ranging in volume. If you want a tube amp be expection it to be much more expensive per wattage than solid states.

One thing to keep in mind is that tubes are WAY louder, because you can actually push them. Tube wattages are rated for clean wattage, so they can get dirty tones far louder than any solid state. You really could use a Micro Terror for gigs, I only keep mine at 1 or 2 at home, 3 max, depending on the dirt. If you don't mind the extra cost, tubes can be better, but you also don't need to get to get as high wattage either, making the prices much closer than they actually look.

Edit: Marshall makes amazing top end, but they don't have very many lower end amps that are good. I personally prefer the Orange Micro Terror myself. It's a brilliant head, with way more volume than a home user would ever use, but plenty for the occasional gig, and since it's got a solid state power section, it sounds good for both. . It gets that Classic Rock sound really well, but can also get really heavy with a boost or overdrive pedal.
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Last edited by gogiregion at Mar 5, 2017,
#5
Your best bet would be to go to a local music store and ask someone to explain you. They will probably show you how stuff works, and they will be very happy to tell you what you need to buy :p
#7
Quote by Tony Done
The separation of heads and cabs might traditionally have more to do with weight than "mix and match", though small "lunchbox" amps and cabs are now popular.
Yeah, definitely mainly about portability. Because things like this are cool, but stupid:


90lb is a lot of lb.
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#8
Quote by K33nbl4d3

90lb is a lot of lb.


Still better than a roadking combo lol
the 212 weighs in at 98lbs

As to the topic at hand; I'm not sure there's much more I could ad that hasn't already been said.
I 2nd the orange micro as I have a micro dark and if you don't need your cleans to cover a drummer its plenty loud to gig with.
There are also a lot of tube heads that have a "power soak" or similar feature, meaning you can change the wattage depending on the situation. i.e bedroom jamming at 2 A.m vs a gig

In your case I think a combo would be better as you're not gigging much so portability might not be an issue.
To be fair you might not need a tube amp at all, maybe just get a amp more suited to your style of music. What are you playing on now exactly?
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#9
Although starting with a small cab might be better just because then you can later buy a larger cab without buying a new amp. 

Also, the cab size matters more than wattage. Doubling the wattage doesn't do much other than maybe a bit more clean headroom. It's a 3 db difference. That's just enough that it is barely noticable. Ten times the wattage doubles the volume, but a bigger cab can do the same thing for a cheaper price. A 50 watt and 100 watt sound so similar that it's not worth the 100 watt. 

Power soak is most usefull with the amps that can change to 1 watt from 20, where there's a huge difference. A 1 watt tube amp is pretty quiet, but not enough that they make .1 watt amps. 
Just a teenage girl who loves playing guitar way too much, if that's even possible.

I live for my girlfriend. <3
#10
Quote by tobias.lausten.
Will Lane
I don't know how much a decent tube amp costs, so i don't really know about the budget. What do you suggest a decent tube amp costs?
That would entirely depend on what you define as being decent. Your question is too nebulous and subjective to answer properly.

What is your budget? How much are you able to spend?
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#11
Quote by WildMiles96
Still better than a roadking combo lol
the 212 weighs in at 98lbs
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#12
Quote by K33nbl4d3
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Is that even a good amp? I think I'll stick to my Micro Terror. LOL
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#13
Quote by gogiregion
Is that even a good amp? I think I'll stick to my Micro Terror. LOL
Well it's basically the same as a master volume Twin Reverb as far as I know so the cleans are probably pretty great but the distortion garbage (although those '70s Twins weren't as well regarded as the earlier ones). Nonetheless my Twin is more than heavy (and loud) enough
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#14
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Well it's basically the same as a master volume Twin Reverb as far as I know so the cleans are probably pretty great but the distortion garbage (although those '70s Twins weren't as well regarded as the earlier ones). Nonetheless my Twin is more than heavy (and loud) enough

I think that amp/cab is the way to go, but I'm also new to them so, take it with a grain of salt. I think that being able to replace a cab is much easier than replacing a full combo. You can still get REALLY loud with a small amp and big cab, heck, I don't turn my Micro Terror up past 3, even with a 5" cab! And some people think that 20 watts isn't enough for even a tube amp, and the Micro Terror isn't even all tube!  
Just a teenage girl who loves playing guitar way too much, if that's even possible.

I live for my girlfriend. <3
#15
Quote by gogiregion
I think that amp/cab is the way to go, but I'm also new to them so, take it with a grain of salt. I think that being able to replace a cab is much easier than replacing a full combo. You can still get REALLY loud with a small amp and big cab, heck, I don't turn my Micro Terror up past 3, even with a 5" cab! And some people think that 20 watts isn't enough for even a tube amp, and the Micro Terror isn't even all tube!  
Well if you must make me be on-topic, I don't think it's really too important a question for smaller amps. I mention my Twin, and the bigger brothers Fender introduced under CBS, because they're an example of a situation in which combo amps are pretty much just stupid. My Twin is already more than half my weight, and even on wheels the gargantuan Quad and Super Six Reverbs were utterly impractical and are more or less just a curiosity nowadays. If a speaker goes, it's much the same job to change it in a combo amp as it is in a cabinet (which you'd probably do, rather than replacing the whole cab, if you have a cab with multiple speakers). As far as switching them out for different sounds, sure it's fun to experiment but in practice I don't think it's really a practical thing to do regularly. So in everyday life the most relevant fact is that I'd rather have two 20kg boxes than one 30kg box. When you're dealing with big amps, especially when it comes to setting stuff up in live situations, that can be a really significant difference. For smaller amps, that same thing still applies, in that two lighter boxes are often easier to work with than one heavier one, but if the weight of the combo is, say, 15kg it's not such a huge concern - that's a weight that most people can get from A to B without too much trouble.

As far as what you say about wattage, I'd say that's a slightly different issue. These days it's not a huge problem a lot of the time, because however loud or quiet your amp is it can usually be mic'd up and put through a much more powerful PA amplifier that will easily reproduce the sound at a loud volume in a live setting. Amp designs with high wattages do have their place and their uses, but essentially were made to solve the issue that PA amplifiers solve back in the days before that was a practical solution. The Twin, for example, has wattages generally in the range of 85-100 depending on the year, because it comes from a time when distortion wasn't seen as a desirable thing and it's about headroom. The high wattage allows it to get loud enough to shake things off my neighbours' mantelpieces while staying clean (distortion being a byproduct of driving an amplifier beyond what its wattage allows it to cope with). The same applies with other big amps - it's about being able to retain clarity at high volumes. In a bedroom setting, even 1 watt is plenty. Say you're rehearsing in a ska band with a drummer and no PA - you've got a minimum volume you need to be able to achieve and you want to keep the sound clean while doing so - then you might want a good 50 watts or so.
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Mar 6, 2017,
#16
Quote by K33nbl4d3
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4x12 or 6x10 combo? What made Fender engineers think this was a good idea!?  


TS, head and cab combo is obviously good for portability when dealing with bigger high wattage amplifiers and multiple speakers (and avoid insanity K33n pictured above ) but also when you buy a single good cab that is well built and has speakers you like it may very well be something you use for the rest of your life, so to speak. And you can just switch around different amplifier heads when you so fancy or if your taste/needs change. Storing multiple different amp heads is much easier than multiple big-ass combos.

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
#17
Quote by tobias.lausten.
I currently own a really bad solid state amp. I'm thinking of buying a Tube Amp, but i don't quite know how they work. I've seen ''top heads'' being classified as tube amps, and bodies (without controls) being classified as Tube Amps etc.. I just don't know how Tube Amps work, and what to buy. I like Marshall, and have been thinking of getting a Marshall, if i can figure out how Tube Amps actually work haha. Do you need to buy a head and a body, or is there something else or?


Also, you can check out #2 in here:

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/announcement.php?f=33&announcementid=190
Last edited by 311ZOSOVHJH at Mar 6, 2017,
#18
Quote by MaaZeus
4x12 or 6x10 combo? What made Fender engineers think this was a good idea!?  


TS, head and cab combo is obviously good for portability when dealing with bigger high wattage amplifiers and multiple speakers (and avoid insanity K33n pictured above ) but also when you buy a single good cab that is well built and has speakers you like it may very well be something you use for the rest of your life, so to speak. And you can just switch around different amplifier heads when you so fancy or if your taste/needs change. Storing multiple different amp heads is much easier than multiple big-ass combos.

See bullet point number 2 on the Fender ad
#19
Quote by 311ZOSOVHJH
See bullet point number 2 on the Fender ad

6x10 is way too extreme. I can barely handle a 1x5!
Just a teenage girl who loves playing guitar way too much, if that's even possible.

I live for my girlfriend. <3
#20
Quote by ArturPr
Your best bet would be to go to a local music store and ask someone to explain you. They will probably show you how stuff works, and they will be very happy to tell you what you need to buy :p

no in my experience that's a very bad idea. i've been told an unbelieveable amount of guff in music shops.
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I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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#21
Quote by MaaZeus
4x12 or 6x10 combo? What made Fender engineers think this was a good idea!?  
I guess CBS just liked making things bigger than they needed to be

Quote by Dave_Mc
no in my experience that's a very bad idea. i've been told an unbelieveable amount of guff in music shops.
Agreed, you get all sorts and there are plenty of people working in guitar shops who keep talking after their knowledge runs out if they think it'll help sell something.
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#22
Quote by MaaZeus
4x12 or 6x10 combo? What made Fender engineers think this was a good idea!?  

This!
https://www.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/87/MPW-43594

The world has changed a great deal since the 70s and huge amps are becoming increasingly irrelevant.  A small combo or small head/cab are the choice for a large percentage of pro working musicians these days with the differences being personal packaging preference rather than significant differences in sound.
"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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#23
Quote by Cajundaddy
This!
https://www.movieposter.com/posters/archive/main/87/MPW-43594

The world has changed a great deal since the 70s and huge amps are becoming increasingly irrelevant.  A small combo or small head/cab are the choice for a large percentage of pro working musicians these days with the differences being personal packaging preference rather than significant differences in sound.

That's true, but a 100 watt in a 4x12 would work too…
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#24
gogiregion Thats what I was thinking too. I mean, it does not matter how many wheels you have under it because there WILL be stairs. A LOT of them! That Fender monstrosity should be called "the bane of roadies".

Actually that would make a good album title...

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#25
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Agreed, you get all sorts and there are plenty of people working in guitar shops who keep talking after their knowledge runs out if they think it'll help sell something.

That's a fairly heroic assumption that their knowledge actually starts

I've been told that putting tube amps on standby before turning off prolongs tube life. That is flat out wrong, unless someone can explain to me how keeping the heaters turned *ON* will actually assist with cooling down the tubes.

That's only one example.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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#26
Quote by MaaZeus
gogiregion Thats what I was thinking too. I mean, it does not matter how many wheels you have under it because there WILL be stairs. A LOT of them! That Fender monstrosity should be called "the bane of roadies".

Actually that would make a good album title...

That would…  

And it should be made on that… thing…
Just a teenage girl who loves playing guitar way too much, if that's even possible.

I live for my girlfriend. <3
#27
Quote by gogiregion
That would…  

And it should be made on that… thing…


I can already see the cover image. That monster amp in very banged and beat up condition. Dem stairs...

ESP LTD F-50 + Tonezone
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Cort EVL-K47B

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#28
Quote by MaaZeus
I can already see the cover image. That monster amp in very banged and beat up condition. Dem stairs...

Maybe sideways on a stairway. I want to try and photoshop that now… I probably won't, though. 
Just a teenage girl who loves playing guitar way too much, if that's even possible.

I live for my girlfriend. <3
#29
Quote by MaaZeus
I can already see the cover image. That monster amp in very banged and beat up condition. Dem stairs...
Consider this: The Super Six face down at the base of a staircase. A pair of feet stick out underneath.

But hell, I'd do that. Monstrosity or not, it does the famous Fender cleans nicely enough:
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#30
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Monstrosity or not, it does the famous Fender cleans nicely enough:

I mean, its a Fender. It does Fender stuff. May not be the best, but I guess it works?
Just a teenage girl who loves playing guitar way too much, if that's even possible.

I live for my girlfriend. <3
#31
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Consider this: The Super Six face down at the base of a staircase. A pair of feet stick out underneath.

But hell, I'd do that. Monstrosity or not, it does the famous Fender cleans nicely enough:


Oh god yes! Photoshoppers, make it so!

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
#32
Quote by gogiregion
I mean, its a Fender. It does Fender stuff. May not be the best, but I guess it works?
But Fender cleans are the best

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Oh god yes! Photoshoppers, make it so!
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Last edited by K33nbl4d3 at Mar 7, 2017,
#33
Quote by K33nbl4d3
But Fender cleans are the best

I know. I was saying that it's redundant to say "it's a Fender with good cleans." It's like saying "straight line." Mathematically, all lines are straight, so it's about as pointless as saying a Fender has a good clean sound.  

When it comes to distortion, Orange is the best. Just my opinion. Some people prefer Marshalls, but modern Oranges are just Vintage Marshalls with master volume.  
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I live for my girlfriend. <3
#34
Quote by gogiregion
I know. I was saying that it's redundant to say "it's a Fender with good cleans." It's like saying "straight line." Mathematically, all lines are straight, so it's about as pointless as saying a Fender has a good clean sound.  

When it comes to distortion, Orange is the best. Just my opinion. Some people prefer Marshalls, but modern Oranges are just Vintage Marshalls with master volume.  

not so much. Orange is and was a different amp and doesn't sound all that much like a Marshall. as for "best" distortion i think Mesa and Peavey might have something to say about that. personally not much of a fan of Orange. 
#35
Quote by monwobobbo
not so much. Orange is and was a different amp and doesn't sound all that much like a Marshall. as for "best" distortion i think Mesa and Peavey might have something to say about that. personally not much of a fan of Orange. 

Orange seems to be a love it or hate it thing. I don't think Ive ever heard anyone say orange is "okay," all people say is "not a fan" or really like it. I mean, it certainly has its own sound, but it does have that vintage Marshall sound. It also depends on wheather you use an Orange tube amp (best amps out there IMO), or solid state Orange, which is not so great. Some people say they don' like Orange, but have only tried their solid state versions. Have you ever tried an Orange tube amp?
Just a teenage girl who loves playing guitar way too much, if that's even possible.

I live for my girlfriend. <3
#36
Quote by K33nbl4d3
Consider this: The Super Six face down at the base of a staircase. A pair of feet stick out underneath.

But hell, I'd do that. Monstrosity or not, it does the famous Fender cleans nicely enough:


I actually OWNED one of these, and can attest to its great cleans.  I preferred it through a 115, personally.
I'm just a kickin' and a gougin' in the mud and the blood and the beer.
#37
Quote by gogiregion
Orange seems to be a love it or hate it thing. I don't think Ive ever heard anyone say orange is "okay," all people say is "not a fan" or really like it. I mean, it certainly has its own sound, but it does have that vintage Marshall sound. It also depends on wheather you use an Orange tube amp (best amps out there IMO), or solid state Orange, which is not so great. Some people say they don' like Orange, but have only tried their solid state versions. Have you ever tried an Orange tube amp?


 well yeah. Orange has been around for a long time and so have i (i'm 56). i've owned tons of gear over my almost 40 years of playing and tried far more.  i wouldn't comment if i hadn't. you won't see me on threads about say 8 string guitars as i have little experience with them. 

i did have a Fender Concert with 4x10s years ago and it was a bit on the heavy side. great cleans though. i still have my Legend Rock and Roll 50 2x12 which has a 3/4 " solid oak cab now that is heavy. 
#38
Came in here expecting to talk about how solid state and tube transistors work.

But like everyone has said, having a separate head and cab offers you a degree of flexibility, since different speakers will have different frequency responsiveness. There are a lot of great brands, but Fender, Marshall, Mesa, and Orange jump to mind.

EDIT: Oh wow, this is tying into a different account, not my original one from '06. I don't remember making a new one.
#39
Quote by monwobobbo
 well yeah. Orange has been around for a long time and so have i (i'm 56). i've owned tons of gear over my almost 40 years of playing and tried far more.  i wouldn't comment if i hadn't. you won't see me on threads about say 8 string guitars as i have little experience with them. 

i did have a Fender Concert with 4x10s years ago and it was a bit on the heavy side. great cleans though. i still have my Legend Rock and Roll 50 2x12 which has a 3/4 " solid oak cab now that is heavy. 

Yeah. I assumed you probably had, but just wanted to make sure. I've heard so many people say that they tried an Orange, and hated it. Usual when someone says that, they tried a Crush.  
Just a teenage girl who loves playing guitar way too much, if that's even possible.

I live for my girlfriend. <3