An Amp's voice: circuit vs tubes?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by bohemianbrian, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. bohemianbrian

    bohemianbrian Member

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    Taking pickups, speakers, and pedals out of the equation, I hear most of an amp's tone comes from the circuit, and then the tubes.

    Just want to know how much more the circuit is a part of the amp's voice; 60%? 90%?

    Scenario: got a Vox style amp with EL34s in the output section, want to see what it'll sound like if I replace em with fendery 6L6 (re-biased ofcourse) in it. Fendery-vox sounds good in my head, but does anyone know? CLIPS ARE KING if you have em! :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2012
  2. DT7

    DT7 Member

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    I guess I have a little bit different take on it all. I think a lot of folks would agree that some of the best tones come from the simplest circuits. Tweed Champ and Tweed Deluxe come to mind. I think that this is partly a result of less circuitry getting between the guitar and the tubes. Obviously you have to have some circuitry...but I think a minimalist approach tends to yield the most natural sounding results.

    That said, I think the more the circuitry, the more it takes over the voice of the amp...which also takes it out of the hands of the tubes. IMHO, this is not a good thing. So tubes add and circuitry takes away...which makes for a different equation.

    As for what you're planning...if the amp has a relatively simple circuit, I think you'll notice a marked difference in the way the amp responds by switching from EL34s to 6L6s...and less so if there's a lot of circuitry.
     
  3. vanguard

    vanguard Member

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    speakers 70%
    circuit 23%
    tubes 7%
     
  4. dave_mc

    dave_mc Member

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    on the few amps i've tried which had switchable tubes (i.e. different tubes on a switch, so you could hear the difference a matter of seconds apart), i didn't notice a ton of difference. there was a difference, but it sounded like the same amp with different tubes (it might be redundant to say that, as that's exactly what's happening, but it describes it pretty well).

    i'd probably agree that fewer parts mean that the tubes have more of an effect, but like most guitar things, it depends on what you want. I mean you're not getting something that sounds like a recto out of two tubes, 10 resistors and 5 capacitors. LOL.

    ^ i agree that speakers make a massive difference, but I don't think I'd say more than the circuit. Taking a ridiculously extreme (but still valid) example, a recto uses 6L6es and so does a fender twin. I'd wager that a recto on the red channel sounds an awful lot more different from a twin (into the same speakers) than a twin into two completely different speakers does.
     
  5. bohemianbrian

    bohemianbrian Member

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    Thanks all. I forgot to add; hold speakers constant. Looking for expectations between a 6L6 and EL34s, particularly in a jackson britain
     
  6. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    Well the thing is...everything matters. That being said, IME, the circuit (as a whole) makes a much bigger difference. Keep in mind that different tubes have their own circuitry requirements that will themselves have some impact on the tone. I.e., the notion of "parts of the circuit" and "tube selection" are intertwined to some degree.

    In amps like the Univalve, you get a bit of a feel for the sound of this tube or that one, and to me, the differences are on the subtle side for the most part. Which back when I first heard it, was a bit of a surprise. But subsequently, I've seen examples of this over and over again--it's the whole package that creates the amp personality you're familiar with. A Champ sounds like a Champ not simply because it has a 6V6 in it, though that's certainly part of it.
     
  7. DT7

    DT7 Member

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    A lot of what's in a Recto has to do with multiple channels and what not. Stick with one channel and no extras, and you could get that sound with a lot less than you might think. As for what sounds better, that's subjective...but the more you narrow down what a tube is allowed to do within a given circuit, the less it does in the way of affecting your tone.

    I guess what I'm getting at is that the circuit, quite often, works against the tubes abilities to yield a good, natural sound. There are a lot of good amps out there that do a pretty good job of staying out of the way of the tubes...and there are a very few that enhance what the tubes do (the Dumbles and Trainwrecks of the amp world).
     
  8. Frank Speak

    Frank Speak Member

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    I'm not being argumentative because I am far from the arbiter on this topic, but I would think it would be just the opposite, 70% circuit and 23% speakers; if I were going to assign percentages at all. I definitely fall into the same camp regarding tubes, however. I don't personally think they play that much of a difference and I've been down the NOS road, etc... Based on my experience, I don't even believe the old tubes are any more reliable. I've actually had more microphonic issues with NOS tubes (RCA 7025s come to mind) than with new tubes.
     
  9. whaiyun

    whaiyun Member

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    So by your theory, I could buy a very expensive speaker and just run it through a L6 modelling amp and make it sound like a Dumblez?!

    Also, if speaker is 70%, then why bother with circuit design at all? Surely all that R&D has been wasted =P
     
  10. Timbre Wolf

    Timbre Wolf GoldMember Supporter Gold Supporting Member

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    I'm an inveterate tube tweaker & speaker changer - well trained/tainted by TGP, and have many different amps (single-ended power; cathode-bias AB1, fixed-bias AB1; LTP PI, cathodyne PI, etc.). I can say without hesitation that the circuit rules.

    For those that need a number... >95% circuit.

    Yes - speaker changes can be profound, and have more impact than tube changes. But you will never make a BF Fender out of a Vox circuit, just by changing power tubes. Might as well stop with the :bkw

    - Thom
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012
  11. Derelict

    Derelict Member

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    speakers/cab 48%
    circuit 48%
    tubes 4%
     
  12. Onioner

    Onioner Member

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    Not gonna try to make up a percentagae, but circuit by a longshot. I love rolling tubes and all, and the subtle differences are fun, but it's the amp that sets the tone. Tubes just tweak it. Not that they don't matter at all, because they definitely do, but different tubes in the same style amp will still give you two different tweaks of the same tone.

    It's like when I make a potato salad, maybe I have potatoes, and bacon, and walnuts, and all that bacon fat, some sherry vinegar, and some garlic, then I use either oregano or savory. The herb's the tube. There are definitely differences between the two, but they're both the same damn delicious potato salad.
     
  13. Timbre Wolf

    Timbre Wolf GoldMember Supporter Gold Supporting Member

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    I agree with the analogy, and look forward to sampling some of that potato salad some time. Bacon fat: mmm....:drool

    - T
     
  14. vanguard

    vanguard Member

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    i've got an EL84 victoria, a brown princeton, a brown band-master, and a blackface twin reverb. i can make them all sound virtually the same through alnico celestions. the circuit matters a lot (look at my amps, not exactly L6 modeling), but as long as it's a good tube amp i still think speakers make a bigger difference as long as we're talking, say, vintage style amps or metal amps as categories (obviously a triple rec isn't going to turn into an AC30 if i put it through a few british speakers).
     
  15. Cirrus

    Cirrus Member

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    Aren't the tubes.... part of the circuit? :huh
     
  16. Onioner

    Onioner Member

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    I'll extol the significance of speakers all day long. In my ever so humble opinion, they're at least as important as the guitar. The right speaker pairing is critical to getting a good sound out of an amp. That said, 70%? No way. Any given amp still sounds like itself through different speakers. It may not behave properly, and for sure, different speakers sound different, but they don't change the fundamental nature of the amp. I'll give ya 30%, which is still huge, but the lion's portion of a rig's sound still comes from the amp.

    Remember, I made the bacon too. Like, starting with a pig... Damn. I better go get some breakfast now. Gonna have to interrupt the speaker swapping I started (hello 12A125. Meet Mr. 5E3). It's gonna be like a whole new amp. But not really. It'll be like a 30% new amp.
     
  17. Frank Speak

    Frank Speak Member

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    Where's the obligatory "Tone is in the fingers" line. :hide2
     
  18. dangeroso

    dangeroso Member

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    I would say:

    Circuit: 97%
    Speakers: 2%
    Tubes: 1%
     
  19. reverendfrankie

    reverendfrankie Supporting Member

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    :agree

    Like Thom I've become both a tube roller and a speaker 'roller/swapper/serial speakerist' (insert appropriate metaphor). What you've got is what you've got - and the tubes/speakers are like flavoring (I like the food analogy above). I've made my 'sound' more to my liking with the swapping of tubes/speakers - but for a real change I've always had to try another circuit.

    PS - I blame both TGP and Thom - for some of my infidelity to tubes and speakers (pun intended).:rotflmao
     
  20. Timbre Wolf

    Timbre Wolf GoldMember Supporter Gold Supporting Member

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    Hello - my name is Thom, and I'll be your enabler today.

    How 'bout tone is in your mind?? Seriously!!

    - T
     

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