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Solid State amps are getting "better" ??

VaughnC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
17,748
Well, I'm now a couple months into my Boss Katana 1x12 100w and my last "purchased" tube amp is gone. I'm now a believer! No, the Katana isn't perfect but it's close enough in its tubey tone & feel for this old tube snob with worn out fingers. The Katana is plug & play...no more holding my breath as I flip on my tube amp's standby switch. No matter how good the amp, ALL tubes eventually die, some quietly, some not...and mine always seem to croak at the worst possible time, sometimes accompanied with an unintended special effects fog coming from the amp. The silicon gap has closed...I'm a believer ;).
 

soulman969

Member
Messages
3,650
Great sounding SS amp have existed since the '70s so this is not a new thing. The bigger problem for many SS amp manufacturers has been convincing tube purists that the very best of those SS amps were on par with many tube amp for at least some purposes. All it took was players listening with ears not eyes and a willingness to have an open mind.

This has been 30-40 years in the making but many are finally finding that it's true. Many of these amps have been around for 20 years and longer so for instance the Roland Blues Cube is not a new thing. Just a more recently modernized and reissued version of the original version of an amp I own. Trademark 60s and in England the Stewart Ward Sessionette and others have also existed for many years.

It's been a hard fought battle for some of these amps but they're gaining ground now.
 

cap'n'crunch

Member
Messages
1,398
I was gonna say,, lots of great older SS amps out there. My old Marshall from 85 is killer
Are you talking about the Mosfet Marshalls? I love mine. Got two lead 100's. I want to get a lead 20 next. I seldom use my JCM800 anymore.

(puts on flame suit) I also found an old Crate TD70 hybrid in a pawn shop for a few bucks. I thought "what the heck". Cab was beat and speaker was blown. I converted it to a head cab which is around 10 lbs now. Kind of thin but, I put a GE7 in the loop and its a killer lightwieght amp head. I think this is from the late 80's.
 
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T Dizz

Member
Messages
20,844
Are you talking about the Mosfet Marshalls? I love mine. Got two lead 100's. I want to get a lead 20 next. I seldom use my JCM800 anymore.

(puts on flame suit) I also found an old Crate TD70 hybrid in a pawn shop for a few bucks. I thought "what the heck". Cab was beat and speaker was blown. I converted it to a head cab which is around 10 lbs now. Kind of thin but, I put a GE7 in the loop and its a killer lightwieght amp head. I think this is from the late 80's.
I have a 5210.. Its a 1x12..not sure if mosfet. Sounds great though
 

ducker 1

Member
Messages
2,308
Its hard to beat those old TubeWorks MV962s--gigged with various preamps for 12 years--still have it
 

Jim234

Member
Messages
1,101
Just echoing many of the posts on here Tech 21 Trademark 60, Yamaha Thr100, Roland Blues Cube...
 

FuzzFacetious

Member
Messages
2,119
"I'm loving this amp, man, how much is it?"

"Yeah, I know, it's great ain't it, no need to worry about blown tubes in these solid state ones either... Lemme check."

"Um, you know what? I don't like it after all, it's sterile and lifeless... You got any with tyoooobz?"
 

Waxhead

Member
Messages
5,955
Great sounding SS amp have existed since the '70s so this is not a new thing. The bigger problem for many SS amp manufacturers has been convincing tube purists that the very best of those SS amps were on par with many tube amp for at least some purposes. All it took was players listening with ears not eyes and a willingness to have an open mind.

This has been 30-40 years in the making but many are finally finding that it's true. Many of these amps have been around for 20 years and longer so for instance the Roland Blues Cube is not a new thing. Just a more recently modernized and reissued version of the original version of an amp I own. Trademark 60s and in England the Stewart Ward Sessionette and others have also existed for many years.

It's been a hard fought battle for some of these amps but they're gaining ground now.
Well are they ??
The OPs question is "Solid State amps are getting better??"

To answer that Q shouldn't people be comparing the new Roland Cube Artist & Stage with JC-120, JC-40, Cube 80, Cube 60 and other good SS amps like Trademark 60 & Marshall Valvestate.
That's the real test of whether SS amps are improving imo and I don't see anyone doing it.
Compare the best SS amps of the past with best of today.

I've compared Artist & Stage with the old Roland JCs and Cubes and found the clean & reverb to be very similar. All good & they're pedal friendly too.
Artist & Stage cleans & reverb are only a touch better than Cube 80, Cube 60 but JC-120 still sounds better imo.
So while they don't sound any better than old Roland offerings imo they are much more $.
$1800 for a new Artist in Australia.
A Cube 80 is half of that & JC-120 about a third - is a new Artist any better ?
 
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soulman969

Member
Messages
3,650
Well are they ??
The OPs question is "Solid State amps are getting better??"


To answer that Q shouldn't people be comparing the new Roland Cube Artist & Stage with JC-120, JC-40, Cube 80, Cube 60 and other good SS amps like Trademark 60 & Marshall Valvestate.
That's the real test of whether SS amps are improving imo and I don't see anyone doing it.
Compare the best SS amps of the past with best of today.

I've compared Artist & Stage with the old Roland JCs and Cubes and found the clean & reverb to be very similar. All good & they're pedal friendly too.
Artist & Stage cleans & reverb are only a touch better than Cube 80, Cube 60 but JC-120 still sounds better imo.
So while they don't sound any better than old Roland offerings imo they are much more $.
$1800 for a new Artist in Australia.
A Cube 80 is half of that & JC-120 about a third - is a new Artist any better ?
OK, I'll have at it mate.

If you want an opinion from me then yes I see the Katana as an improvement over the digital modeling Cubes and over the older Cube Series amps that predated them. I haven't played a newer model Peavey Bandit but I do feel from what I've heard that the Katana is an improvement over the earlier generation of Trans Tube Bandits.

The JC amps and the Blues Cubes are wholly different amps and since I haven't played a newer JC amp I can't comment on their current state vs one from the '80s. As for the new BC Series vs the original ones like my BC 60 I don't hear much if any difference in the basic tonality but the features are far more convenient and the Tone Capsules make the newer amp far more versatile. I would consider those to be improvements myself.

I've never played a Marshall Valvestate so I can't offer an opinion on one but the Tech 21 Trademark amps are largely unchanged as far as I know and tend to fall into much the same niche as the original Blues Cube Series. Both are and have been long respected as among the best SS amps produced. Best is more a matter of preference than one being better than the other. The Norlin Lab Series amps of the '70s may hold the title of THE very best but those are no longer made and can't be compared as easily with themselves.

Quilters are the new kids on the block and have also gained respect so if anything we now seem to have more acceptable SS options that can compete with tube amps than we have ever had before. Some of their acceptance might be attributed to improvements made in both tonality and features but that's mostly coming from the perspective of a new buyer. I've been a fan of them for a very long time so maybe I hear less tonal improvement than others and am a poorer judge of that than one who more recently came to believe in them as well.

The pricing in OZ is something you have to deal with as far as justification goes but if I did not consider the newer BC Artists to be a reasonable improvement on an original series '90s BC 60 I would not buy it. Personally I do believe it's an improvement but my reasons may be different than yours so you'll have to decide whether it's price justifies it's value to you or not.
 

toomanyamps

Member
Messages
1,779
Interestingly only one SS amp can be considered iconic, the Roland JC120. Even more interestingly it didn't try to be lighter or cheaper than competing tube amps.
 

soulman969

Member
Messages
3,650
Interestingly only one SS amp can be considered iconic, the Roland JC120. Even more interestingly it didn't try to be lighter or cheaper than competing tube amps.

The old Lab Series L5 amps are also considered quite iconic by most and in due time I think the TM 60 and original BC 60 will also get their share of respect as trendsetters among SS club amps. I don't think Roland has ever cared about making any of their analog SS amps anything different than what they are. They saw a niche and filled it. No more, no less. :)
 

lp144

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
524
The tube+SS hybrid approach is very satisfying. SS pedal into a tube amp is the usual, and it also works in reverse.
One good old 12AX7 tube pedal > Reverb Pedal > SS power amp > a great speaker in a pine cab. Feedback, gain, clean with guitar volume, can do small to big gigs and it's light.
 

VaughnC

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
17,748
Boss Katana series are way better that their S.S. predecessor.
Yup...and I even like my Katana better than SOME tube amps I've played...but not all though. However, while it ain't perfect, the Katana is the first non-tube amp that breached my tube tone & feel "threshold of acceptability". So I'm a happy tubeless, bias meterless, headacheless, Katana kamper ;).
 

JELIFISH19

Member
Messages
587
I want to know why SS and modeling amps don't go all out. I don't think they'll ever compare the their tube equivalents. Anything different will be automatically be perceived as worse. Most SS amps are going for the sound of a famous tube amp. But there are a ton of tube amps that are going for those exact same tones. That will be the biggest issue for SS amps until they break out of trying to recreate Fender and Marshall amps. A Blues Cube will always be a tough sell because Fender has tube amps in its price range. A Blues Cube may get close to a Bassman, but so does a Bassbreaker.

The Retro Channel RR1 had the right idea. "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." SS amps should go for something like a Dumble or Trainwreck feel and sound. I think current solid-state with digital technology can do practically whatever you want an amp to do. And there are amps that use a microtube for a little "magic." Instead of looking at what makes tube amps good, they should look into what makes the best tube amps good and start there. I don't think they're aiming high enough to achieve the technology's true potential.
 

smolder

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
14,319
So... I don't have to gig with Marshall stacks, a strong, loud Princeton Reverb like amp works great with the volume on 5 and a 12" JBL. Thus, I'm not hugely motivated to condense things.

I think you have to break this argument up. If all of the tone shaping is being done digitally in a modeler, then an audiophile or PA like amp structure is best.

That said, I've yet to hear a set up that challenges or emulates a good tube based preamp well. Yah, I have golden ears yada yada... but it matters to me. If your modeling into a SS preamp, them potentially you just need some power amp distortion so that the output isn't so pristine...

As to power amps, McIntosh came damn close to emulating tube amps with SS back in the day. They are heavy and bulky though. I'd be very interested in a smaller/lighter power amp that could match these.

If the set up does not give me a distortion that can't be distinguished from a tube driven preamp and power amp when I'm in the room... then I'm not interested. And I couldn't care less how it impacts a recording. I want to feel it. It's all about live sound to me.
 




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