Most important components for tone

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by dbeeman, Jan 15, 2004.


  1. dbeeman

    dbeeman Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,161
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
    Location:
    DFW
    What is the most crucial component for good tone?

    (Assuming a good design)

    Tubes?

    Output transformer?

    Tone caps?

    coupling caps?

    resistors?

    speakers?

    cabinets?

    other?
     
  2. Swarty

    Swarty Member

    Messages:
    1,143
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
  3. Jimi Ray

    Jimi Ray Member

    Messages:
    263
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2003
    Location:
    Westminster, MD
    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.!
     
  4. DreamTone7

    DreamTone7 Guest

    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.
     
  5. Pete2

    Pete2 Member

    Messages:
    500
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2003
    Location:
    Sweet Home Connecticut
  6. dbeeman

    dbeeman Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,161
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
    Location:
    DFW
    Yes, and the red sounds better than the black :p -------
     
  7. RupertB

    RupertB Supporting Member

    Messages:
    3,450
    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2003
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Chickenhead knobs! :D
     
  8. GuitarNorton

    GuitarNorton Member

    Messages:
    1,597
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    I always thought purple tolex sounded best!;)
     
  9. DanR

    DanR Member

    Messages:
    3,243
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2002
    Location:
    st. clair shores, mi
    All of the above, with the addition of smoke stains and cigarette burns. :cool:

    DanR
     
  10. Peter C

    Peter C Member

    Messages:
    137
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2003
    Location:
    Carlsbad, CA
  11. Heiko

    Heiko Member

    Messages:
    125
    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    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!
     
  12. KLB

    KLB Member

    Messages:
    3,047
    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2002
    Location:
    West of the Sun, East of the Moon
    Impossible to answer your question as broadly stated, plus good tone is SUBJECTIVE.
     
  13. DreamTone7

    DreamTone7 Guest

    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.
     
  14. dbeeman

    dbeeman Gold Supporting Member

    Messages:
    5,161
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
    Location:
    DFW
    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.
     
  15. nateco

    nateco Member

    Messages:
    3,557
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Location:
    North X North East.
    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
     
  16. jwz

    jwz Member

    Messages:
    9
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2003
    Location:
    SoFla
  17. mbratch

    mbratch Member

    Messages:
    2,389
    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2003
    Location:
    Webster, NY
    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?
     
  18. aleclee

    aleclee TGP Tech Wrangler Staff Member

    Messages:
    11,065
    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    5868 ft above sea level
    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.

    IMHO, this is kind of like asking whether white wine is better tasting than red.
     
  19. JamesPeters

    JamesPeters Member

    Messages:
    1,397
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2002
    Location:
    Winnipeg

    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. :)
     
  20. JamesPeters

    JamesPeters Member

    Messages:
    1,397
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2002
    Location:
    Winnipeg
    Thanks very much, DT! :)
     

Share This Page