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Most important components for tone

dbeeman

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
5,943
What is the most crucial component for good tone?

(Assuming a good design)

Tubes?

Output transformer?

Tone caps?

coupling caps?

resistors?

speakers?

cabinets?

other?
 

Jimi Ray

Member
Messages
263
All of the above, Very subjective though. Recent case in point, On the amp/cabs area of this forum a guy submitted some sound clips of his Divided by thirteen amp, ect-33 I think. To me and others the tone was to die for. But to others it wasn't their cup of tea.!
 
D

DreamTone7

They all have an effect, and the absence of one (including the right player) will result in a loss of the magic. They all go together in different ways to make an amp sound the way it does. Two that will absolutely kill an amps mojo are the wrong tone caps or the wrong speakers. I think the biggest differences can be noticed there. Just my $0.02.
 

DanR

Member
Messages
3,626
All of the above, with the addition of smoke stains and cigarette burns. :cool:

DanR
 

Heiko

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
173
Hey there,

After having built and tweaked to death a number of amps here's my $2.00 from most to least important assuming that the amp is being played by a good player:

1. Speakers and cabinet
2. Bias type (fixed or cathode) and feedback loop (or lack thereof)
3. Voltages
4. Output transformer (contributes much less than people think despite all the hyperbole and misinformation on this subject out there)
5. Component types and manufacturers (carbon comp resistors, PIO caps, exotic parts, etc. (these barely do anything in guitar amps except raise the bill of materials through the roof!)

Regarding the component types: I love using good quality components that are durable and last a while like Solen metalized polypropylene caps for high voltage filtering and Clarostat RV-4 pots but these don't affect tone.

I supppose that by writing this, I am exposing myself to being labeled as Mr. Anti-mojo or whatever but frankly I'm just sick of reading so many posts where people speak as if they have actually experimented with changing these parts in on-the-fly situations when they obviosly have not.

I hope any of this information helps.

-Heiko Frost

Rant mode off.

BTW when I said that I am sick of " ", I am not refering to any posts in this thread; I think that creme chicken head knobs and Marshall purple levant can do wonders for tone and look damn cool!
 

KLB

Member
Messages
3,044
Impossible to answer your question as broadly stated, plus good tone is SUBJECTIVE.
 
D

DreamTone7

Heiko - "Regarding the component types: I love using good quality components that are durable and last a while like Solen metalized polypropylene caps for high voltage filtering and Clarostat RV-4 pots but these don't affect tone."

Try this. Take a nice, old BF Fender....any will do. Then replace the bass and middle caps in the tone stack with a couple of your high-end solens, metal film, or any other modern production cap you like. Then listen. Even if the values are identical with the ones you replaced, it's not going to sound the same. That said, the magic in these amps has a lot to do with those caps for me. It's not so much a change in tone as it is the way you feel when you hear it. I'm not the only guy who thinks this is true, but I volunteer for any blind A/B test you want to throw at me. Also, pots these days are sometimes not the same, either. It gets back to the same arguement about carbon comp resistors.....becuase that's what all the old pots were made of! Nowdays, pots are often wire-wound or (ack) conductive plastic! (Bourns). OK for high-fi, though.
 

dbeeman

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
5,943
After having built and tweaked to death a number of amps here's my $2.00 from most to least important assuming that the amp is being played by a good player:
Thanks. This was the kind of response I was looking for. Sounds like information based on actual experience. I used to mess around with Hi end Hi Fi stuff. Believe it or not guitar amps haven't gone as crazy with "hyper pure iradiated hyperbolic cryogenic fairy dust" as the stereo guys have.

Having said that I have observed that caps, wire etc can make a difference in some cases. But, my limited experience suggests what you say about power amp topology and such is more meaningful.

I can easily observe changes in speakers and cab design. I think I can always tell whether an amp is fixed or cathode bias.

What type of resistors are in the circuit may not be apparent. Maybe Icould hear it in a direct A/B comparision. Not to say it is not worth thinking about, but it is likely a ways down the list.
 

nateco

Member
Messages
3,556
I've always heard that it's the speakers,tubes and output tranies.Those are the most costly parts in your amp and are usually the things amp companies skimp on,take a look at Fender and Marhall trannies and compare to what to boutique guys are using.

just my $0.02
 

mbratch

Member
Messages
2,381
Originally posted by Heiko
1. Speakers and cabinet
2. Bias type (fixed or cathode) and feedback loop (or lack thereof)
3. Voltages
4. Output transformer (contributes much less than people think despite all the hyperbole and misinformation on this subject out there)
5. Component types and manufacturers (carbon comp resistors, PIO caps, exotic parts, etc. (these barely do anything in guitar amps except raise the bill of materials through the roof!)
Regarding #1, I have an inexpensive (~$1000 retail) tube amp that probably has a particle board cabinet. If make a new cabinet for it in solid pine or other wood, will that improve the tone noticeably? Or do you mean more along the lines of cabinet dimensions? Or both?

Regarding #2, which one is better in tone, fixed or cathode bias?
 

aleclee

TGP Tech Wrangler
Staff member
Messages
13,183
Originally posted by mbratch
Regarding #1, I have an inexpensive (~$1000 retail) tube amp that probably has a particle board cabinet. If make a new cabinet for it in solid pine or other wood, will that improve the tone noticeably? Or do you mean more along the lines of cabinet dimensions? Or both?
I'd expect the tone difference to be greater in a separate speaker cab than in a combo.

Dimensions have a huge effect on a cabinet's sound. I recall hearing an amp builder talk about how he burned a lot of time determining the optimal cab size for his amps via trial and error.

Originally posted by mbratch
Regarding #2, which one is better in tone, fixed or cathode bias?
IMHO, this is kind of like asking whether white wine is better tasting than red.
 

JamesPeters

Member
Messages
1,397
Originally posted by dbeeman
What is the most crucial component for good tone?

(Assuming a good design)

Tubes?

Output transformer?

Tone caps?

coupling caps?

resistors?

speakers?

cabinets?

other?

All contribute, so it's hard to separate. Depending on your point of view, you might think one thing in particular is more important than the rest. And what one person feels is "critical" may not be to another person, depending on his tastes and situation (whether he uses the amp louder or not, etc.)

A well-designed speaker cabinet (with good speakers) is absolutely crucial though. I can make even a half-assed sounding amp sound good through a good cab. Of course I can make a good amp sound better through the same cab, but you get the point. :)
 




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