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Which piece must be tube to retain the legendary feel and response?

Which is most important for tube-like response, assuming everything else will be analog/digital?


  • Total voters
    18

Befuddled

Member
Messages
699
I know there are a million different ways you can achieve a good sound, but I would love to hear from a bunch of tube amp lovers on which piece of the puzzle they think is most important for the legendary touch response and feel attributed to tube technology!

**I know tube preamp gain is favored by most people, but I'm interested in the choice solely based on feel, not whether or not you can achieve a certain sound. I've included a couple example rigs for each option.**

The example rigs are basically just setups that would isolate only either the pre or power amp as tube and leave the rest to be analog or digital. Which one would you prefer, in terms of feel only?

Tube preamp > poweramp/speaker sim > digital poweramp

(ex. Kingsley Squire > Torpedo CAB > isp stealth digital poweramp)

or

Analog/Digital preamp > tube poweramp

(ex. Ethos preamp > Fryette powerstation)
Ex. Bluguitar amp1

Edit: add whatever dirt pedals or anything you want to either rig, I plan on using mine no matter what setup I end up with :)

Sorry if this is a bit convoluted, I have seen various opinions in bits and pieces around this forum and I'd love for it all get organized on this thread with some sort of definitive answer.
Thanks all in advance, I'm excited to see what everyone thinks!
 
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Axe-Man

Member
Messages
7,041
I have had good results with both of your approaches above.

Saying that, I personally feel the best touch response and tube amp feel is an integrated tube pre and power section.

Tube amps do feel different to SS and DSP setups.
 

Stefenator

Member
Messages
1,712
Are you plugging straight in or using a pedal board? A lot of SS devices on a pedal board that your guitar will hit, long before it ever gets to a tube... (just sayin')

Some people like power amp tube breakup over pre amp, but your playing style, along with music genre also play a role in determining the best answer to your question.
 

rhinocaster

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
23,735
It's a mistake to focus only on the importance of the tube in the preamp or power amp of an amplifier as the rectifier plays such a significant role in how an amp actually "feels" to play.

I like both solid state and tube rectified amps, but I can't see any way to determine that one section (preamp or power amp or rectifier) is more important to the experience than any other section.

It's the way it all comes together.
 

Befuddled

Member
Messages
699
It's a mistake to focus only on the importance of the tube in the preamp or power amp of an amplifier as the rectifier plays such a significant role in how an amp actually "feels" to play.

I like both solid state and tube rectified amps, but I can't see any way to determine that one section (preamp or power amp or rectifier) is more important to the experience than any other section.

It's the way it all comes together.
Very interesting! I might have to add a write in thing to the poll. I know nothing about what a rectifier is haha, so you have given me another thing to research!

And I figured a bunch of people would say that it is everything, which is definitely the true answer to this, but I also think it's really cool that we have the ability to separate each part like the sample rigs I mentioned and see which part is the most noticeable. I wish I could just do the experiment for myself but it's a lot of money lol
 

Axe-Man

Member
Messages
7,041
Like I said, I have done exact that using Kingsley preamps, Two Note CAB, SS and tube power amps, digital and tube preamps etc etc.

I use tube amps for a reason now as it's the best feel.

I got poor to good to great results with the above but not as good as a dedicated tube amp.

Switchable Rectifiers do change the tone and feel but we're not the biggest difference in my personal journey.
 

Befuddled

Member
Messages
699
Like I said, I have done exact that using Kingsley preamps, Two Note CAB, SS and tube power amps, digital and tube preamps etc etc.

I use tube amps for a reason now as it's the best feel.

I got poor to good to great results with the above but not as good as a dedicated tube amp.

Switchable Rectifiers do change the tone and feel but we're not the biggest difference in my personal journey.
So basically you have arrived at the answer that everything is important? Or at least the pre and power are equally important?

Personally I guess the answer depends on whether or not you have a master volume or not. If it's dimed or you don't have a master, then you're interacting with the poweramp more than the preamp. If you use the master to crank the preamp, then you'd be interacting with the preamp more.

For me I suppose I am more poweramp as I don't use amp gain at all really.

Even still, I like to hear all of it!
 

Ncp10

Member
Messages
1,439
I've had a lot of luck with Musicman RD50 and Super Champ XD amps, so I voted tube power amp, given that choice.
 

icr

Member
Messages
2,867
It is too hard to get my hands around the preamp tubes to feel them. So my answer would be the output tubes and the response of which legends are made is usually "Ouch!"

The sad thing is that you will never hear any difference, no matter what you do to your signal path....

...as long as you are jerking off on this forum...
 

Befuddled

Member
Messages
699
It is too hard to get my hands around the preamp tubes to feel them. So my answer would be the output tubes and the response of which legends are made is usually "Ouch!"

The sad thing is that you will never hear any difference, no matter what you do to your signal path....

...as long as you are jerking off on this forum...
Lol sorry if my curiosity bothers you :) . I play till my fingertips can't take it and then I goof around on here cuz I love the technology and complexity of all of it to death, just as much as the playing part. I would bet that's the story for a lot of folks on here, despite popular opinion. There's always a guy in every thread complaining about "why do people talk about all this just play." So I guess thanks for making this thread complete??

Edit: I'm leaving this up unchanged, but I feel like this could come off like an overreaction and super serious. It's not :) I believe all input is good input!
 
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harvey j

Member
Messages
1,593
Are you plugging straight in or using a pedal board? A lot of SS devices on a pedal board that your guitar will hit, long before it ever gets to a tube... (just sayin')

Some people like power amp tube breakup over pre amp, but your playing style, along with music genre also play a role in determining the best answer to your question.
You need a tube power amp for that tone, like music man, peavey classic and heritage and the new super champ X2.
 

stratovarius

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,187
Like so many things, I suspect that the magic lies in the interaction between components rather than the components themselves. That's a tough nut to crack.
 

Befuddled

Member
Messages
699
Like so many things, I suspect that the magic lies in the interaction between components rather than the components themselves. That's a tough nut to crack.
Very true - so here's a new silly time wasting question: Do you think there's more room for interaction between an analog pre and tube poweramp or a tube pre and solid state poweramp?
 

stratovarius

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,187
That's above my pay grade, but I would imagine the preamp is where most of us live. Consider the lowly Fuzz Face, however. It is dynamic as can be, but who would ever design such a crappy preamp?
 

Faded

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,050
According to the honeymooners over in the 160 page Boss Katana thread...absolutely nothing.
 

Befuddled

Member
Messages
699
According to the honeymooners over in the 160 page Boss Katana thread...absolutely nothing.
For real! Those guys are wild, huge props to boss for making a product that is so well received by so many people for cheap!

That's above my pay grade, but I would imagine the preamp is where most of us live. Consider the lowly Fuzz Face, however. It is dynamic as can be, but who would ever design such a crappy preamp?
This was my line of thought too - my fuzz overdrive pedal is super responsive, but I don't think anyone makes a solid state power amp that distorts to make any sort of sound anyone would like to hear. I know quilter has some good sounding solid state stuff but I doubt the gain sounds they create are coming from the power amp lol.
 
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dazco

Member
Messages
15,291
IMO the power section. there are lots of example of SS into tube power that create great tube tone but not one of the opposite, at least that i have ever experienced. It's the PA where the feel and dynamics are, and I've run many a SS pre of many types into as tube amps return without losing the tube feel and dynamics. the opposite never came close.
 






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