Do tube amps sound better the longer they stay on?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by LBXPDX, Jan 31, 2020.

  1. LBXPDX

    LBXPDX Member

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    I ask because I was playing for a few minutes earlier today and got sidetracked for an hour or two and forgot to turn off my Suhr Bella. When I got back to playing I noticed the amp sound slightly different, a little more open sounding, maybe airier. It sounded really good and it got wondering if tube amps sound better if turned on for a fair amount of time before actually playing it. I usually flip the switch and start playing once I hear sounds, though now I might start turning the amp on an hour before I want to play.
     
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  2. Radspin

    Radspin Member

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    My 1965 Princeton Reverb sounds better after it’s been on for about a half hour. My 1968 Ampeg Reverbojet sounds WAY better after it’s been on about a half hour. So I turn them on about a half hour before a gig :)
     
  3. oneblackened

    oneblackened Member

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    Tubes change sliiiightly as they're on for a while, yes. Heat marginally affects the distances between electrodes and the cathode's emission.
     
  4. StummerJoe

    StummerJoe Gold Supporting Member

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    Better is subjective, but ABSOLUTELY! :aok
     
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  5. Jason Carter

    Jason Carter Silver Supporting Member

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    I've noticed this with one particular amp a friend of mine owns, a 90's Dumble ODS100 HRM. I've been able to borrow the amp a few times as well as hang out on numerous occasions with the amp at his house. I'm not sure what it is but this amp really comes alive after being on for about a 1/2 hour. At lower volumes you would be underwhelmed with this amp. After its been on and edged up in the volume department it really sounds great. Some of the best mid gain tones I've heard from a Strat.
     
  6. fiveightandten

    fiveightandten Member

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    Don't count out hearing threshold shift after you've been playing for a while. But separate from that tube amps definitely sound different after they've been cooking for 20 or 30 minutes. If not under hard use, that heating cycle can take longer. Some of this is likely the speaker as well, depending on your speaker and how hard you're driving it.

    And in a venue, there are other factors at play too. Room temp and humidity goes up. More bodies in the room changes the acoustics.
     
  7. GT100

    GT100 Member

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    Bias may need adjustment.

    Lloyd
     
  8. evildik

    evildik Member

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    Don’t know the technical reasons why, but yes in my experience as well.
     
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  9. smellytele

    smellytele Supporting Member

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    Yeah, for sure. But I have no idea why.
     
  10. HeavyCream

    HeavyCream Member

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    Yes, I agree.

    It settled then. Tube amps sound better after being on a while. Science! :p
     
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  11. gunslinger

    gunslinger Member

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    Not necessarily.
     
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  12. DGTCrazy

    DGTCrazy Mod Squad Staff Member

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    I think Speaker Break-In sure makes an amp sound better. I also think tubes that have been cooking for a bit inprove the sound too.
     
  13. TheBuffalo

    TheBuffalo Supporting Member

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    Ive noticed my ac15 seems to get more spongey after playing too long. Its not something i like. Like it has a slower response and isnt as tight

    Idk. That could totally be just ear fatigue
     
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  14. zombiwoof

    zombiwoof Supporting Member

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    I had a similar problem when I had a brownface Deluxe amp, sounded great before it heated up, when it got hot it lost some clarity and sounded ragged in a not-so-good way. I started using it with a fan blowing in the back of the amp and it helped. It would get pretty hot after a while.
    Al
     
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  15. Pongo

    Pongo Member

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    I used to think the difference in sound and response after 30+ minutes was me playing better because I was warmed up, but after a few instances of plugging in, being immediately called away for 30+ minutes, then coming back and thinking "Damn, I sound good," I realized the tubes warming up probably had something to do with that, because I certainly wasn't :p
     
  16. kablez

    kablez Member

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  17. wetordry

    wetordry Member

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    To me they have usually sounded worse when run hard for a long time.
    Spongy, saggy.
    At home with less volume I don't notice that, so maybe two different things.
     
  18. ljholland

    ljholland Silver Supporting Member

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    When I’ve played at our local all day jam fests, my vintage BFDR turns into a dirty monster. It’ll have no headroom and distorts nicely without a pedal pushing the front end. It’s a cool sound. But, I guess if you wanted loud cleans this wouldn’t be desirable.
     
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  19. Jabby92

    Jabby92 Member

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    They tend to sound better once warmed up, but any longer beyond that doesn't change anything from my experience.
     
  20. De Batz

    De Batz Member

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    I've noticed with small, hot-running amps they eventually start going mushy, around the same point as they start to smell hot and the tolex goes slightly sticky. Not really had this in a big-bottle amp, more with El84s...
     
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