Should I go back to tube amps?

sargasso6

Member
Messages
38
I have to say I understand your concern about noise from a tube amp. But up to date, well maintained tube amps can be very quiet, and can produce a wide range of tone without a lot of fiddling - a small combo like the Marshall DSL (20? 5 if you're going DI or mic'ed all the time) might just be the ticket - not too heavy and a wide range of tone with minimal fiddling ... !
 

d.crowe

Member
Messages
290
I'm always trying to keep it simple when I leave to play. change it up but not on the fly if you will. I get it though. its a struggle. I have a harp and guitar rig setup that I alternate and they arent the same animal. I dont always play them at the same time and I like reverb on both so I get by. I'm a set it and forget it type. Ive got a modeler pedal that keeps it small but i want to add a looper to the guitar and some drive to the harp so I'm losing the simple war
 
Messages
36
Depends on what your set list looks like. I play blues and some rock pop and hardly need anything more than a drive, chorus, volume boost. 1/25 songs needs a fuzz and auto wah so I add that into my pedal board. I was never happy with solid state amps and was never happy with sending my guitar direct into a board. At least not when live. Live sound engineers don’t prefer Miked amps but I always somehow convince them that I am going to mike my amp.

Now, if your set list has multiple genres and sounds like a best of 2000 or best of 1990s then you are better off with an AX8 and a FRFR powered speaker.

I choose to play music that does not have major guitar tone and sound variations. And I can never get good sound of a solid state amp. My go to amp is a Princeton clone built by Magic Amos and I use a Jupiter 12 LC speaker. Both for rehearsals and for stage. SM57 to mike the amp.

If you live the sound of a tune amp use a tube amp. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
 

Malapp

Member
Messages
177
What a hot topic. The answer is…I don't know. However, I can share what’s happening to me. I had a Helix that I played through my Adam Audio A7X‘s and the Sub10. This was the best of both worlds. It sounded great when compared to other Helix setups. But, because it wasn’t really an amp in the room, I just didn’t feel comfortable so, I bought their amp in a room. No more stereo, just a great setup that sounded fantastic except when compared to a tube amp.

I had a guitar that someone really wanted. It was a Music Man that just didn’t fit me well. He had a brand new Mesa Boogie Mark V 35 combo to trade. I did the trade and bought the 3 Boss DD pedals. i also purchase Jackson Audo pedals, the Bloom, Old Boy and Prism. Wow, I was nailing Bonamassa, Clapton and Mayer and even some nice country stuff, after selling the Helix and that 212 speaker thing, it put a nice chunk down on a Silver Sky and a Fiore.

Everything was perfect except for one thing. I no longer had that versatility I craved. So what I ended up doing is, buying a used Fractal FM3 that I was able to hook up to my Adam Audio setup.

So, as far as today is concerned, I believe I wasted about $5,000 dollars because nobody told me that happiness was at the end of this trail. I am now happy. Hope this helps you.
 

MacMFer

Member
Messages
8
I spent many years hard gigging with tube amps. After being all-in on digital for 7-8 years should I try going back to using amps again? Or am I going to find it frustrating trying to go back?

REASONS I'M THINKING ABOUT A TUBE AMP
  • Simplicity of setup/prep for shows
    • My main work is theater. I tend to need to build a set of tones for a show, then that runs for 3-5 months and I move on to the next show. I find an amp + pedals rig allows me to prep the tones for the next show much faster so I can spend more time working through the music
  • Sound/Personal monitoring
    • I really do love the tones in my digital gear, but I'm a bit old school and for my own personal monitoring I miss the 3D sound of the amp sitting next to me for my own monitoring purposes.
  • I'm still a pedal-platform player at heart
    • I love drive pedals and fuzz pedals and layering different drives. I like to "play" my pedalboard and I miss the way tube amps and pedals integrate.

CONCERNS
  • Noise level
    • I need a very quiet amp for theater work. I know a tube amp will inherently have some noise so finding one that has a low noise floor will be important
  • Handling both clean-clean and edge of breakup in one amp
    • Something I struggled with in the past with tube amps was feeling like I couldn't find both in one amp. I live in the realm of an amp pushed to the point where it breaks up when I dig in hard. But I also need the ability to do things like percussive funk strumming where I'm digging in hard and have a very clean tone. This is easy with Digital, I'm worried it will be more of a challenge.
  • Finding the right volume level
    • For house, I'll always be running a mic or a direct signal. For stage volume levels it's all over the place for my situations. Sometimes I'm in a 16 piece orchestra with room for volume, sometimes I'm with just a piano and drums and need to be soft. I need to be able to adapt to what the gig calls for, so I'll need an amp that can sound good at a wide range of levels.
I just did this very thing. Waiting on the the delivery of my newly purchased Blackstar St. James EL34 50watt Head and 212 cab sometime this week.

I used to have a Yamaha THR100HD which is an amazing digital dual amp platform.

So my vote is yes.
 

Derrick111

Member
Messages
166
I am of the opinion that nothing beats the sound and feel of a tube amp. Both tube and SS have their pros/cons, but tube for me blows away the pros of the SS by far. I am playing an amp mainly for sound rather than for features or convenience, so that's a no brainer to use a tube amp. You just have to figure out which one suits you best.
 

Jazzer John

Member
Messages
3
Well, I've been a pro player for nearly 50 years, and played a lot of venues, but mostly saloon gigs. Was a Local 7 union member for quite a few years. And, given the range of gigs I had to play, I settled on using one of two amps that seemed to fit ALL of the calls I got. For jazz and cocktail hour music, I found the SS Roland Cube 60 was the absolute best, most pristine clean and round sound out there. Was also good for big band, orchestra stuff. Still is, if you can find one these days.( But NOT the Cube 80!) It uses the same circuitry in its clean channel as the Jazz Chorus. But a heck of a lot lighter to lug around! On country, rock and blues venues, I would use a MusicMan 112 or 210. But as they got older, I replaced them with a Hot Rod Deluxe III which I modded a bit and swapped speakers on. I don't play out as much these days, so for the gigs I do, I use either the HRD or...prepare yourself...a Bugera V55. Gotta tell ya', this little Chinese built tube amp is a gem. Put some decent tubes in it (it will take 5881, 6L6 or EL34, and you can even MIX them!) and I put in an Eminence Texas Heat speaker, and the thing absolutely burns. And it is the quietest tube amp I've EVER used. I don't use the built in overdrives on either amp, but have a pedal board for the effects. I find that I only need several to get the job done: A good distortion (Boss SD-1), echo, reverb, chorus, compressor and auto wah. That's it. I also have a restored '66 Fender Super Reverb I use in rehearsal, but I don't like to subject it to the rigors of hauling it around. But keep this in mind: Most of the discussion and arguments about tube tone vs. solid state/digital are among players. The audiences can't tell a Fender from a frog as far as tone goes. So go with what pleases YOU.
 

nasticanasta

Member
Messages
118
I spent many years hard gigging with tube amps. After being all-in on digital for 7-8 years should I try going back to using amps again? Or am I going to find it frustrating trying to go back?

REASONS I'M THINKING ABOUT A TUBE AMP
  • Simplicity of setup/prep for shows
    • My main work is theater. I tend to need to build a set of tones for a show, then that runs for 3-5 months and I move on to the next show. I find an amp + pedals rig allows me to prep the tones for the next show much faster so I can spend more time working through the music
  • Sound/Personal monitoring
    • I really do love the tones in my digital gear, but I'm a bit old school and for my own personal monitoring I miss the 3D sound of the amp sitting next to me for my own monitoring purposes.
  • I'm still a pedal-platform player at heart
    • I love drive pedals and fuzz pedals and layering different drives. I like to "play" my pedalboard and I miss the way tube amps and pedals integrate.

CONCERNS
  • Noise level
    • I need a very quiet amp for theater work. I know a tube amp will inherently have some noise so finding one that has a low noise floor will be important
  • Handling both clean-clean and edge of breakup in one amp
    • Something I struggled with in the past with tube amps was feeling like I couldn't find both in one amp. I live in the realm of an amp pushed to the point where it breaks up when I dig in hard. But I also need the ability to do things like percussive funk strumming where I'm digging in hard and have a very clean tone. This is easy with Digital, I'm worried it will be more of a challenge.
  • Finding the right volume level
    • For house, I'll always be running a mic or a direct signal. For stage volume levels it's all over the place for my situations. Sometimes I'm in a 16 piece orchestra with room for volume, sometimes I'm with just a piano and drums and need to be soft. I need to be able to adapt to what the gig calls for, so I'll need an amp that can sound good at a wide range of levels.
Simple answer: “Yes”. I too went through this process, only to return to tubes, but instead of my old 84 2204, I went with ENGL and never looked back..very happy
 

nasticanasta

Member
Messages
118
I have to say I understand your concern about noise from a tube amp. But up to date, well maintained tube amps can be very quiet, and can produce a wide range of tone without a lot of fiddling - a small combo like the Marshall DSL (20? 5 if you're going DI or mic'ed all the time) might just be the ticket - not too heavy and a wide range of tone with minimal fiddling ... !
Was at a small club watching Andy Timmons and he says, “gotta love that tube amp hiss”
 

Hoot-Owl Dude

Member
Messages
62
So much of fiddling with guitars and making music is the pleasure of nerding out on gear. Dudes, especially, like stuff. Objects. TOYS! I’m sure the digital route you’ve been using has PLENTY to nerd-out on, but is it the kind of indulgence—the kind of objects—you prefer? I tend to like vintagy stuff of all kinds, the nostalgia and aesthetic of it nearly always wins for me, in music, literature, movies, instruments, clothing—everything. I mean, for god’s sake, I’ve been streaming all Colombo episodes over the past couple months here and there, from ‘72 or so on, mostly for the cars, clothing, products, forgotten stars, vintage look of the picture, etc. It’s just too cool to me. If your nagging feeling to re-immerse in the tube amp thing stems from that sort of romance, and you can swing it financially, I say do it. It’ll refresh your approach and probably inspire you in a different, possibly more meaningful, way. YOLO, dude!

P.S.
Columbo might be a lame example, but you get the drift!
 

stubbyJ

Member
Messages
531
One of the JVMs in four cable with a preferred Multi FX? Direct out. I use my JVMHJS going FOH and using a cab. I set my tones up using a monitor so I know how things are going to translate. I much prefer this than using a mic.. Just an idea.
 

stratucaster

Member
Messages
38
I spent many years hard gigging with tube amps. After being all-in on digital for 7-8 years should I try going back to using amps again? Or am I going to find it frustrating trying to go back?

REASONS I'M THINKING ABOUT A TUBE AMP
  • Simplicity of setup/prep for shows
    • My main work is theater. I tend to need to build a set of tones for a show, then that runs for 3-5 months and I move on to the next show. I find an amp + pedals rig allows me to prep the tones for the next show much faster so I can spend more time working through the music
  • Sound/Personal monitoring
    • I really do love the tones in my digital gear, but I'm a bit old school and for my own personal monitoring I miss the 3D sound of the amp sitting next to me for my own monitoring purposes.
  • I'm still a pedal-platform player at heart
    • I love drive pedals and fuzz pedals and layering different drives. I like to "play" my pedalboard and I miss the way tube amps and pedals integrate.

CONCERNS
  • Noise level
    • I need a very quiet amp for theater work. I know a tube amp will inherently have some noise so finding one that has a low noise floor will be important
  • Handling both clean-clean and edge of breakup in one amp
    • Something I struggled with in the past with tube amps was feeling like I couldn't find both in one amp. I live in the realm of an amp pushed to the point where it breaks up when I dig in hard. But I also need the ability to do things like percussive funk strumming where I'm digging in hard and have a very clean tone. This is easy with Digital, I'm worried it will be more of a challenge.
  • Finding the right volume level
    • For house, I'll always be running a mic or a direct signal. For stage volume levels it's all over the place for my situations. Sometimes I'm in a 16 piece orchestra with room for volume, sometimes I'm with just a piano and drums and need to be soft. I need to be able to adapt to what the gig calls for, so I'll need an amp that can sound good at a wide range of levels.
Yes! The very fact that you brought the subject up suggests you are not happy with digital. I have gone from tubes to helix and now back to tubes. Nothing compares to them , once I stopped believing the digital hype I am a lot happier and spend a lot more time playing and a lot less time tinkering.
 

taylodl

Member
Messages
85
Yes. A tube amp can be played, a digital amp is a device that treats your guitar as input. I hear you for having a good pedal platform setup. Since you're playing in so many diverse environments you'll benefit from a master volume amp that gets most of its tone from the preamp. You don't mention whether you already have a cab and would be looking for a head or whether you're looking for a combo amp. Either way, you're going to want a master volume amp. If you go the head + cab route you can reduce the weight for each device you have to lift even though your overall weight has increased.
 

Inerzia

Member
Messages
71
Not reading the whole thread ATM, just the first page, but I thought I'd chime in now, in case I forget to do it later.
Somebody may have suggested that already, but a tube preamp in the loop of a modeler (Helix in my case) could work very well for the scenarios you describe. A tube poweramp can be added when it's necessary or convenient. You could build your presets around the modeler + tube preamp setup and have different versions of them for the gigs where you can use an amp on stage and those where you can't or shouldn't and it's better to go direct.
 

socalscott

Member
Messages
2,009
Bluguitar Amp1 is not one of the options mentioned as yet?

I'll throw in my usual tiny Fryette gp/di 1W head with internal reactive load and analog cab/mic sim section. Lots of potential when re-amping and there's a tube buffered unity line-out.
 
Messages
421
I used to use nothing but tube amps and pedals but now I'm entirely digital and nothing in the world would make me go back to a tube amp. I originally stuck with tube amps because the tone was so much better, but these days, if you buy a good modeler, the difference is marginal. An increasing number of bands are using modelers and they're not doing it because they sound awful, so let's look at the points you make, for and against:

Simplicity of setup - When I had tube amps I would have to break my back lugging all the heavy gear around and then spend time connecting it all up. With my digital rig, I carry everything in one go and I'm set up and at the bar in 5 minutes. Once you have your tones stored in the modeler or on your computer, it's a simple case of putting what you want on the modeler for a show.

Monitoring - I don't get this because I use modeling gear and I also have personal monitoring. I use an FRFR amp as a monitor and also run the signal to FOH. In-ear monitors is another option of course and I used to use those when I had tube amps but I haven't felt the need to using a modeler because if I move away from my position on the stage, I can hear enough through the PA.

Pedals - I suppose this is personal preference but I can't say I miss it at all. I find that with modeling gear I use drive pedals slightly differently that I used to with tube amps because with modeling gear I also have the option of switching to a different amp model so my drive pedals have to do a lot less.

Noise level - I never found my tube amps particularly noisy in fairness, at least not with a decent noise gate.

Handling both clean-clean and edge of breakup in one amp - Obviously not a problem at all with good modeling gear but a tube amp is inherently limited in what it can do.

Finding the right volume level - One of the things that I found with tube amps is that they need volume to sound good. Use a powerful tube amp in your home and the tone is seriously compromised and sounds far better at a gig. Get a less powerful amp so you can really get it singing at home and it may not be powerful enough for a gig, though you could stick to a small amp and mic it at a larger gig. The great thing with digital is that it makes absolutely no difference and you get great tones regardless of your location.

Do tube amps and pedals sound better than a good digital rig? I will happily admit that this traditional rig has 'something' about it that isn't quite matched be digital technology but these days, the difference really is pretty marginal. I find it's a very small sacrifice for all of the advantages of going digital. I have loads and loads of amp options, the opportunity to use multiple amps at the same time, loads of cabinet options, an endless number of speaker and microphone options, hundreds of effects, different routing options, a headphone option and a recording interface, all in one small box and virtually no sacrifice in tone. It's a no-brainer for me and I'm never using a tube amp ever again.
 




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