Controversial Opinion: Bluguitar Amp1 doesn't sound as good as a tube amp

Messages
51
I know this might rattle the cage of some bluguitar Amp1 fans. I just got my Amp1 Mercury last week and really put it through it's paces. I've had a number of nic Mesas, Fenders, Marshalls etc and I have an H&K Grandmaster 40 that I have retubed with TAD tubes and sounds gorgeous. The Amp1 has some great tones in it, and the heavier rock and distortion tones kick butt. For me though, with the lower gain crunch and clean tones, no matter the settings, there were unpleasant high end harmonics and frequencies I couldn't dial out. Yes I could hit it with an eq, but sometimes I want to go right into the amp and that made it unpleasant. The feel of the amp really detracted from my playing experience. I did like the immediacy of the tone compared to modelers but it felt compressed and missing some high and low end harmonic dynamic. Hard to describe and maybe I'm making it up, but I did feel it noticeably going back and forth.

Has anyone else had similar experiences or am I crazy?
 
Messages
51
Yeah I am not a tube purist, I can get along with HX stomp or helix and axe fx, but the cleans and light crunch just didn't have the same bloom. I wasn't even trying to match tones, just get something that felt good.
 

LordByron

The Dude abides!
Messages
9,605
I've got a number of Marshall and Marshall-type tube amps (3rd Power Kitchen Sink, Freidman Dirty Shirley, Friedman Runt 20, Marshall '71 Super Bass, Marshall Studio 20), not to mention numerous modelers (Helix, Kemper, Atomic). I have not found anything objectionable or markedly inferior to my tube Mashall circuits or in comparison to any of the various modelers.

Maybe it's how I run the Amp1, maybe I've got a tin ear.

Either way, I'm perfectly satisfied with mine and its tones.

Obviously, YMMV.
 
Messages
51
Yeah I'm not saying it's bad per say, I'm sure in a full band mix it would barely be noticeable, but for me there was a definite thinness and the transients had some unpleasant harmonics. Idk so weird how for some people it's not noticeable even... And in most of the review videos I couldn't tell much. But in the room it was different
 

ericb

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,816
Yeah I'm not saying it's bad per say, I'm sure in a full band mix it would barely be noticeable, but for me there was a definite thinness and the transients had some unpleasant harmonics. Idk so weird how for some people it's not noticeable even... And in most of the review videos I couldn't tell much. But in the room it was different

I just have a few things to say. If your Amp1 is operating properly you're totally entitled to your own opinion based on your own experiences! There's NO WAY in the world we'll all like the same gear. I'm totally set for tube amps as I have way too many good ones but I really wanted to love the AMp1 demos I've heard and I haven't 'loved' one yet. . I guess I'm glad I don't, because I don't need more tools, but I really wanted one. lol. . Anyway, again, don't worry about other people's opinions and respect your own. (if you know what you're doing dialing it in!) :)

Eric
 

ericb

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,816
Tube amps just have a richer sound. There's more depth. A lot of modelers or digital amps just sound kind of artificial.

He said he gets along with the modelers. The Amp1 isn't a modeler (just wanted to clarify, or otherwise I didn't understand. . ha) . :)
 
Messages
51
Yeah I mean it's funny if I run my HX stomp through a good power amp it sounds great and feels great, but not the same with Amp1 which is sad because I wanted to like it and have a compact amp solution. I do use my HX stomp but I still need a power amp for it, and I prefer not to use a digital one. Class D. So my H&K will still come to gigs. It's pretty small anyway. But I was liking the idea of just having a pedalboard.

Also I felt like the low gain distortion just got grainy and dense too quickly without that nice tube compressor. So hard to mimic. HX stomp gets very close as does Axe fx. Feel isn't quite as immediate though.
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
10,552
I've got a number of Marshall and Marshall-type tube amps (3rd Power Kitchen Sink, Freidman Dirty Shirley, Friedman Runt 20, Marshall '71 Super Bass, Marshall Studio 20), not to mention numerous modelers (Helix, Kemper, Atomic). I have not found anything objectionable or markedly inferior to my tube Mashall circuits or in comparison to any of the various modelers.

Maybe it's how I run the Amp1, maybe I've got a tin ear.

Either way, I'm perfectly satisfied with mine and its tones.

Obviously, YMMV.
Matches my experience. Before I sold my Bogner GF45 SL I heavily compared it to the Amp 1 ME at loud volume through the same cab. I could get just as good tones and feel out of it even if the Bogner had a slight edge on clean tones, but that's nothing more than what to expect between different amps.

For OP, it might be that you are running into issues with the bright cap. Try running gain higher and rolling off your guitar volume knob instead. Alternatively roll off your guitar tone knob. Also try the low gain mode by holding Boost button when turning on the BluGuitar. Maybe that gets you to a place more to your liking. I initially had these sort of issues and was very close to returning the BluGuitar because I thought it sounded too harsh.
 

ProfRhino

Member
Messages
9,899
guess it all depends on the tones you're after ... :dunno
there is no way in hell such a radically different gizmo will sound the same as the original, that's delusional. :confused
however :
  • with mid- to higher gain tones (AC/DC ++), you can indeed get really close.
  • same with pedals in front, fuzz etc.
  • the biggest problem are dynamics and feel with clean and low gain, you'd need the proper EL34 power amp for that, cranked up some ... preamp tubes suck at these things !
  • a live audience will most likely not notice the difference, it's all about the player's feel and experience.
  • convenience is hard to beat though ...
disclaimer :
I don't own an Amp1, I'm a Marshall / amp guy myself.
my comments are based on following (and owning) most of its ancestors, beginning with the 1st, blue (desktop) Tubeman. IIRC Blug was involved from the beginning.
a local colleague once brought over his Amp1, and we compared it to my Marshalls, straight amp tone only, both AB'ed through the studio monitors.

so ymmv,
Rhino
 

Ejay

Member
Messages
7,338
In my mind what your experiencing is typical for solidstate poweramps. No matter what feeds those, ss preamps, tube preamps, modelers….that’s the result you wil get.

Most of the guitar playing community seems to look for answers/solutions on the preamp side of the coin…then run it through a solidstate poweramp….and blame the preamp/modeler for the result.

Ime…whatever half decent I run through a half decent tube powersection….sounds and feels great…ss preamps, modelers, tubepreamps.

My strategy to come to a convenient setup is a board with modeler, preamp with small ss amp (backup&rehearsal)…combined with appropriately sized combos to match the occasion, of which I only use the powersection through the return.
Fendersuperchampx2 when I need small/light, 2nd combo added if I need more/stereo…2x50 poweramp for the rare occasion I need nuclear volume.

I bet that amp1 will sound great when you run it through a tube powersection.
 

teemuk

Member
Messages
3,676
AFAIK, there is a genuine subminiature tube in the Amp1 power section as a component of tube power amp emulation, which's entire point is that the power section of that amp sounds like a tube power section of a tube amp. This feature is even the one they keenly market. Maybe you just don't hear or feel the tubeyness?

I'm also always marveling how folks treat tube amp sound" as some specific characteristic, which is familiar to everyone. I'm glad I don't have tin ears that make all tube amps sound the same to me. So hey, why don't you compare the Amp1 to Harley Benton Tube 5 or Epiphone Valve Junior and then tell does it still sound worse than a tube amp? Also, I haven't found much in common with "tube amp sound" of a Mesa Boogie Trirec with "tube amp sound" of a Vox AC10 or "tube amp sound" of a McIntosh MC50.

Yeah, I suppose Amp1 doesn't sound as good as some tube amps, I also suppose it sounds better than some other tube amps. I also suppose each of us will have different opinion about which amps that those "some" consist of.
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
10,552
AFAIK, there is a genuine subminiature tube in the Amp1 power section as a component of tube power amp emulation, which's entire point is that the power section of that amp sounds like a tube power section of a tube amp. This feature is even the one they keenly market. Maybe you just don't hear or feel the tubeyness?

I'm also always marveling how folks treat tube amp sound" as some specific characteristic, which is familiar to everyone. I'm glad I don't have tin ears that make all tube amps sound the same to me. So hey, why don't you compare the Amp1 to Harley Benton Tube 5 or Epiphone Valve Junior and then tell does it still sound worse than a tube amp? Also, I haven't found much in common with "tube amp sound" of a Mesa Boogie Trirec with "tube amp sound" of a Vox AC10 or "tube amp sound" of a McIntosh MC50.

Yeah, I suppose Amp1 doesn't sound as good as some tube amps, I also suppose it sounds better than some other tube amps. I also suppose each of us will have different opinion about which amps that those "some" consist of.
Spot on. Tube amps are not a singular thing either.

The way the BluGuitar works is that the subminiature tube in it is not there as a preamp gain stage or for making it loud, but purely to provide a tube amp response to it. The SS Class D poweramp then makes it loud.

To me the Amp 1 ME feels and responds very much like a nice Marshall style amp. It's not going to be saggy in the way some amps with tube rectifiers are nor is it as super tight as some high gain metal amps (though the more metal oriented Iridium Edition seems to be). Feels like a nice Superlead or JCM800 type amp to me and I don't find anything different in its response to volume knob, picking dynamics or pedals vs the tube amps I've had.

The EQ on the Amp 1 is also distinctively different from most amps. It's a low and high shelf filter with a midrange control. They're not interactive, they are not like a typical tone stack on most amps. Small changes have a big effect. So if you are trying to set them like your favorite amp you are going to have a bad time.

Meanwhile the little fiddly side tone knobs for Clean, Classic and Modern channels blend between different preset tone stacks as I understand it. That's what lets you go from e.g a more old school Superlead sound to JCM800 and beyond on the Classic channel.

The manual is worth a read, you need to scroll quite a bit to get to the English version.

Despite Thomas Blug demoing it against a lot of different amps, it's not a modeler. It's not meant to be every amp out there. It can't do Vox type tones very well. It does do Marshall type tones extremely well to the point that I think any Marshall-derived amp can be found by tweaking the different channels and the shared EQ. The shared EQ will give you some limitations but generally a consistent sound between channels.

What speakers you plug into it also matters like with any amp. I feel the Amp 1 is at its best with Greenback style speakers. I use mine with a 4x10 with 10" Greenbacks and I'm sure part of that is why its tone works for me as they tend to be a smoother sounding speaker. If you wanted it to be more Fendery on the clean channel, plug it into a Fender style cab with Jensens etc.

If you don't enjoy it, get something else. Whether it's 1:1 to a tube amp is also completely irrelevant as long as you enjoy how it sounds/feels. I don't like a whole pile of tube amps on the market for different reasons whether it's sound, feel, features, weight or some other things. That does not mean they are bad products, just not the right ones for me. I do like how the BluGuitar sounds and feels to play and the tiny size etc is just gravy on top for me.
 

Frank67

Member
Messages
1,877
cage rattled :)

no seriously - everyone should use what they like and if you don't like the Amp1 then don't use it and play what makes you happy.

To me and many others the Amp1 sounds every bit as good as any tube amp I have ever played and better than most. (yes, I own a dozen of them or so). I attach no absolute meaning to my opinion, since it is just an opinion and I may have worse ears than other people.

However, there is plethora of videos on YouTube, where Thomas Blug (and others) directly A/B the Amp1 against all kind of tube amps and using his fine ears he is usually able to dial the Amp1 in to be very nearly identical to the tube amps without any need for additional EQs or filters. I have never heard anyone challenging that the tones in these A/B tests are really close.
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
10,552
However, there is plethora of videos on YouTube, where Thomas Blug (and others) directly A/B the Amp1 against all kind of tube amps and using his fine ears he is usually able to dial the Amp1 in to be very nearly identical to the tube amps without any need for additional EQs or filters. I have never heard anyone challenging that the tones in these A/B tests are really close.
You can't tell how the amp feels to play through videos though and that's going to have personal preferences one way or another.

I also can't stress the importance of the speakers enough. I had the BluGuitar Blubox cab sim briefly (not enough features for me but most of the cab sims were great!) but just picking a different cab made a massive difference in how it sounds. Especially the clean channel become way more Fendery by picking, surprise surprise, one of the several Fender cab sims. The flipside is that the overdrive channels will sound different too, so for those you will want to flip to a different cab sim with a Marshall style cab.

I recently picked up a 1x12 with a Celestion Gold for my Victory VC35 (Vox AC30 style amp) and it made such a huge difference. If I love my BluGuitar through the closed back 4x10 with Greenbacks, the VC35 was "eh..it's fine". Just a bit too smooth and full. Through the open back 1x12 it's a much better pairing for its voicing, giving that Vox style chime.
 

macmax77

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
13,715
I see some people talking about how great the modelers sound but in reference to what?
Everything on their own sounds good but when you have a reference side by side....
I don't like modelers and never will, but that is me and I respect everyone who never heard vinyl.
 

C-4

Member
Messages
15,063
Spot on. Tube amps are not a singular thing either.

The way the BluGuitar works is that the subminiature tube in it is not there as a preamp gain stage or for making it loud, but purely to provide a tube amp response to it. The SS Class D poweramp then makes it loud.

To me the Amp 1 ME feels and responds very much like a nice Marshall style amp. It's not going to be saggy in the way some amps with tube rectifiers are nor is it as super tight as some high gain metal amps (though the more metal oriented Iridium Edition seems to be). Feels like a nice Superlead or JCM800 type amp to me and I don't find anything different in its response to volume knob, picking dynamics or pedals vs the tube amps I've had.

The EQ on the Amp 1 is also distinctively different from most amps. It's a low and high shelf filter with a midrange control. They're not interactive, they are not like a typical tone stack on most amps. Small changes have a big effect. So if you are trying to set them like your favorite amp you are going to have a bad time.

Meanwhile the little fiddly side tone knobs for Clean, Classic and Modern channels blend between different preset tone stacks as I understand it. That's what lets you go from e.g a more old school Superlead sound to JCM800 and beyond on the Classic channel.

The manual is worth a read, you need to scroll quite a bit to get to the English version.

Despite Thomas Blug demoing it against a lot of different amps, it's not a modeler. It's not meant to be every amp out there. It can't do Vox type tones very well. It does do Marshall type tones extremely well to the point that I think any Marshall-derived amp can be found by tweaking the different channels and the shared EQ. The shared EQ will give you some limitations but generally a consistent sound between channels.

What speakers you plug into it also matters like with any amp. I feel the Amp 1 is at its best with Greenback style speakers. I use mine with a 4x10 with 10" Greenbacks and I'm sure part of that is why its tone works for me as they tend to be a smoother sounding speaker. If you wanted it to be more Fendery on the clean channel, plug it into a Fender style cab with Jensens etc.

If you don't enjoy it, get something else. Whether it's 1:1 to a tube amp is also completely irrelevant as long as you enjoy how it sounds/feels. I don't like a whole pile of tube amps on the market for different reasons whether it's sound, feel, features, weight or some other things. That does not mean they are bad products, just not the right ones for me. I do like how the BluGuitar sounds and feels to play and the tiny size etc is just gravy on top for me.

So well written and the descriptions are what I am finding as well. Beautiful job! :)
 




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