Tube amp feel

ErichA

Member
Messages
344
Big iron. It’s where it’s at.
The diff between the Univalve and BiValve 30 has lot to do with a much heavier PT, giving a thicker sound and a different, perhaps stiffer, response to attack.
 

kimos55

Follow your dreams turst your heart
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
596
I see / hear this phrase all over.

What does it mean?

Is there a consensus?

I guess it means different things to different players.

As far as I can tell it includes:

1. Tube amp dynamics - the way that you can set up tube amps to react to your playing - the harder you play, the louder / more overdriven / more compressed they can be, depending on your amp / how you set it.

2. The clarity and fidelity of tube amp sounds.

3. How they feel under the fingers. I've never really understood this phrase, but people use this all the time. I guess this has something to do with tube amp dynamics (see 1), but also power amp sag. Anything else?

4. The experience of standing in front of a loud tube amp and feeling the sound waves reverberate through you as you play (ear protection recommended).

5. The way you can get a tube amp to feedback, and control the feedback (to some extent!).

So do these cover it? What does tube amp feel mean to you?

I think that in a Studio the Fractal sounds great , it feels like playing through an amp. I felt that in the studio Amp modeling is better for recording , I much rather us a Fractal in the studio.
Live playing gigs, I had a hard time gigging with the Fractal because of it is so hard to recreate that same tone in a live setting. there are so many veriables, speakers, mix and levels. Some tech guys just know how to set that **** up but for me, The feel of a real amp is KING. The bands that do use fractal , boss or Helix in live situations, have great sound crew that can dial in the tone and stage tone to make it sound great to them, Jut like bonding with a guitar or any amp it's more about the way each person feels about there tone and what works for them. I love them both I just feel that gigging with an amp is better for me.
 

David M.

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
449
I see / hear this phrase all over.

What does it mean?

Is there a consensus?

I guess it means different things to different players.

As far as I can tell it includes:

1. Tube amp dynamics - the way that you can set up tube amps to react to your playing - the harder you play, the louder / more overdriven / more compressed they can be, depending on your amp / how you set it.

2. The clarity and fidelity of tube amp sounds.

3. How they feel under the fingers. I've never really understood this phrase, but people use this all the time. I guess this has something to do with tube amp dynamics (see 1), but also power amp sag. Anything else?

4. The experience of standing in front of a loud tube amp and feeling the sound waves reverberate through you as you play (ear protection recommended).

5. The way you can get a tube amp to feedback, and control the feedback (to some extent!).

So do these cover it? What does tube amp feel mean to you?
I’ve never owned an expensive solid state amp, so maybe their good and I just don’t know.

But to me a Tube Amp is Organic and has a slight degree of unpredictably that makes it imperfectly perfect.

That’s ow I think about it.
 

Tommy_G

Member
Messages
2,426
Because many components in a tube amp are non linear with frequency (tubes, transformer) - you have to dial it in differently. It gets a natural warmth, due to gentle frequency roll off and a bit of "smear" in the PT plus a bunch of assymmetric amplification hence more even order harmonics. The frequency interactions between the parts give the resulting tone more character. As mentioned- cascaded compression plays a significant role also.

Every tone has a feel that goes with it.
 
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ebenezer

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,153
The way a tube amp “caves” when played loud. It feels like it compresses in different frequencies depending on the notes being played. Most every digital amp I’ve ever played, doesn't compress like a good tube amp. I prefer vintage sounding amps because of this interaction.
 

joebloggs13

Member
Messages
2,453
Interesting.
I have never had a chance to play an amp that had much (or any) sag.
So I’ve noticed the very different responses to attack on my amps, but no squishy sag.

I’m playing a ‘65 Ampeg Gemini VI (1x15” Class AB) and a THD BiValve 30 (1x12”Class A)
I think the squish is a combination of the guitar's pickups and the amp. Pedals, especially tube based pedals can also add to that effect. I can get get that juicy, squishy(for lack of a better word ;)) tone with a Tele, neck pup, to a Tubesteader Beekeeper pedal into a Reeves Custom 50.
 

teemuk

Member
Messages
3,180
I guess rectifier sag is the main thing that contributes to this feel of response?
Probably not. Many revered tube amps have solid-state rectifiers and ample power supply filtration. They sag, but not that much, and one would also have to push the power stage a lot to introduce sag, which may not be possible because things can get overwhelmingly loud and "mushy" due to wide band IM of power stage distortion.

Sag is indeed one dynamic effect, no doubt about it, but interstage bias and DC offset shifting is is likely even more common dynamic mechanism. In this asymmetric clipping in one gain stage basically shifts signal's zero crossing point and causes dynamic shifting in overall symmetry versus asymmetry of clipping in the following stage. This in turn means harmonics of distortion shift dynamically between various degrees of evens and odds and thus timbre of the distortion likewise varies in response to picking dynamics and signal envelope. And one can get this interaction even with low master volume settings and without overdriving the power stage extremely.

This is one of the most prominent effects "tube emulating" circuits (whether analog or digital) focus on. It's also the main reason explaining obsession about asymmetric clipping.
 

R. B.

Member
Messages
102
Probably not. Many revered tube amps have solid-state rectifiers and ample power supply filtration. They sag, but not that much, and one would also have to push the power stage a lot to introduce sag, which may not be possible because things can get overwhelmingly loud and "mushy" due to wide band IM of power stage distortion.

Sag is indeed one dynamic effect, no doubt about it, but interstage bias and DC offset shifting is is likely even more common dynamic mechanism. In this asymmetric clipping in one gain stage basically shifts signal's zero crossing point and causes dynamic shifting in overall symmetry versus asymmetry of clipping in the following stage. This in turn means harmonics of distortion shift dynamically between various degrees of evens and odds and thus timbre of the distortion likewise varies in response to picking dynamics and signal envelope. And one can get this interaction even with low master volume settings and without overdriving the power stage extremely.

This is one of the most prominent effects "tube emulating" circuits (whether analog or digital) focus on. It's also the main reason explaining obsession about asymmetric clipping.
Yes, that's a really good point about solid state rectifiers, thank you for pointing this out. Thanks also for such a clear description of interstage bias and offset shifting.
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,949
Defining tube amp character is like 10 blind men describing an elephant.

Depends on where you grab it.
 

ErichA

Member
Messages
344
Probably not. Many revered tube amps have solid-state rectifiers and ample power supply filtration. They sag, but not that much, and one would also have to push the power stage a lot to introduce sag, which may not be possible because things can get overwhelmingly loud and "mushy" due to wide band IM of power stage distortion.

Sag is indeed one dynamic effect, no doubt about it, but interstage bias and DC offset shifting is is likely even more common dynamic mechanism. In this asymmetric clipping in one gain stage basically shifts signal's zero crossing point and causes dynamic shifting in overall symmetry versus asymmetry of clipping in the following stage. This in turn means harmonics of distortion shift dynamically between various degrees of evens and odds and thus timbre of the distortion likewise varies in response to picking dynamics and signal envelope. And one can get this interaction even with low master volume settings and without overdriving the power stage extremely.

This is one of the most prominent effects "tube emulating" circuits (whether analog or digital) focus on. It's also the main reason explaining obsession about asymmetric clipping.
^^^ This. ^^^
With a Class A amp, this is pretty noticeable ( if I understand it properly) Certainly the asymmetric clipping applies. Mine is an interesting Class A, because it’s got two power stages, which I believe are operating in parallel via inductance, (again, if I understand it correctly) which leads to unique asymmetry in situations where I use two different types of tubes simultaneously, say, an EL34 and a 6L6. They each respond differently, so a lot of assymetry can be introduced without even pushing them that hard. But that’s more of an exercise. In practice, the tube pairs don’t have to be matched, so there’s a bit of asymmetry right there.
(It’s a THD BiValve, with a big tranny and a stiff feel. Very little sag.)
 

muzishun

Senior Member
Messages
6,408
Dynamics

I can get great sounds on my ss practice amps and be pretty happy but as soon as I plug in a tube amp and pop the open d string and trill to the 2nd fret I see what I have been missing.

Accept no substitute.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
33,075
Dynamics

I can get great sounds on my ss practice amps and be pretty happy but as soon as I plug in a tube amp and pop the open d string and trill to the 2nd fret I see what I have been missing.

Accept no substitute.
But have you tried a powerful stage performance SS amp, with excellent speakers, compared to your tube amps?
 

Jabby92

Member
Messages
3,740
You pretty well nailed all the points. Its just the way that everything reacts and responds to your playing in a more lively way. Just all the layering and spread of the harmonics is unique that way with tube amps compared to a more digital circuit and it all changes depending on how you play (hitting the strings harder or softer, etc). Also, bending and the way the strings feel with a tube amp is definitely in a class of its own in my experience, you really feel it under your fingers and have full control over it in a way that seems very hard to capture with other non-tube amps.

Every amp has some unique nuances to them. My favourite vintage amps are the Marshall JTM and Fender Bassman. I really like the tube rectification in the JTM which lead me to eventually buy a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier. I love that it can switch between both tube and solid state rectification and I can assign it to each channel, so it offers a lot of flexibility to set the amp up exactly how I want and make it feel how I want. I actually think it makes a pretty big difference to the feel, I notice it a lot more after experimenting with both types of rectification for extended periods of time. I love tube rectification for single note soloing and I like solid state for rhythms and playing clean.
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
33,075
you really feel it under your fingers and have full control over it in a way that seems very hard to capture with other non-tube amps.
You actually feel nothing to do with the amp.
You HEAR it. Tell me how good your amp feels when you wear earplugs or it is in an isolation room.
 

Jabby92

Member
Messages
3,740
You actually feel nothing to do with the amp.
You HEAR it. Tell me how good your amp feels when you wear earplugs or it is in an isolation room.
I don't know what you're trying to get at, you could say the same thing about any type of amp. I play an SS amp as well that has a tighter more direct response and tracks differently than my tube amp, but the harmonics have much more narrow range when overdriven. Its just a different experience and not necessarily an inferior experience in every way. The tube amp though feels inherently different to play through in comparison. Obviously you're not going to notice these nuances if you wore ear plugs but that doesn't change the fact that when you do hear each amp they have inherent and very noticeable differences and nuances between them when playing. The way you hear things and how it responds results in you as the player playing differently is really the main thing to consider.
 




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