Will modeling ever have the same feel and sound as tube amps?

John Mark Painter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,271
so you would rather play uninspiring gear? noted!



it's strange, the V4 pedals sounded great but indeed there was no feel at all, it might just be a cornford/victory thing, trading tone/dynamics for feel, i still have to try the V30 in person, but i fear it will be the same thing.
When it serves me better I do
 

MartinC

Member
Messages
3,040
Who cares, call me when they sound BETTER, or do something really different. I don't need an electric banana that is good as a banana. Ill be interested when it is BETTER than a banana.
Nice analogy!

I quite like the electric banana option, as they usually come with a whole pile of other electric bananas in a TARDIS-like box ... I could never afford the same amount of actual bananas, or store that many bananas in my house. And for me, electric bananas can be played at almost any volume ... and still taste as good as actual bananas ... sometimes better at conversation-level volume.
 

roverdog

Member
Messages
467
who said anything about loud, a tube amp through a loadbox will still feel better than your modeling unit :munch
What is feel? My fingers cannot tell the difference between playing a guitar with a modeler vs playing one with a tube preamp and tube power amp. Same with a tube amp vs a solid state amp. The only difference I feel is volume dependant. You can feel sound waves when you are really loud. To me everything else is sound. And a good modeller sounds just as good as a tube amp with fresh tubes, in my experience.

I am sure other‘s experiences will not necessarily be the same as mine. No point arguing over a subjective opinion.
 

MartinC

Member
Messages
3,040
What is feel? My fingers cannot tell the difference between playing a guitar with a modeler vs playing one with a tube preamp and tube power amp. Same with a tube amp vs a solid state amp. The only difference I feel is volume dependant. You can feel sound waves when you are really loud. To me everything else is sound. And a good modeller sounds just as good as a tube amp with fresh tubes, in my experience.

I am sure other‘s experiences will not necessarily be the same as mine. No point arguing over a subjective opinion.
Referring to my previous post above ... Matchless Lightning vs Victory Baron combos ... both tube, and both generally well regarded. Matchless felt to me like sound/tone could be adjusted with very subtle movement in fingers being used to fret ... Victory was like hearing someone else play.

I don't think it's about modeller vs tube amp vs SS ... examples of each can feel good and feel "detached" ... but it's a thing (of course, in my opinion)

If you ever get the chance to plug into a Matchless Lightning, take that chance and see what you think ... I have never been able to justify the price, but have also never forgotten the experience (15+ years ago)
 

roverdog

Member
Messages
467
I wish I could try out a Matchless, although I have a model of one in my Axe 2.

The only amps I can do a real sort of comparison with my Axe is a Fender Champ and Princeton Reverb. None of my other amps are modelled.
 

G34RSLU7

Member
Messages
1,995
What is feel? My fingers cannot tell the difference between playing a guitar with a modeler vs playing one with a tube preamp and tube power amp. Same with a tube amp vs a solid state amp. The only difference I feel is volume dependant. You can feel sound waves when you are really loud. To me everything else is sound. And a good modeller sounds just as good as a tube amp with fresh tubes, in my experience.

I am sure other‘s experiences will not necessarily be the same as mine. No point arguing over a subjective opinion.
feel is hard to describe to someone who hasn't experienced good and bad feeling amps, but to put it simply: one amp is really fun to play and the other amp just is not fun and even playing unplugged is more fun than playing through that amp, that is the difference between a good and a bad feeling amp.

example: when i tried Helix, i had more fun playing unplugged, helix feels like absolute sh*t. there are some modellers that have a pretty decent feel though, but it's still not as good as a nice tube amp, those just put a grin on your face.
 

LaXu

Member
Messages
6,156
feel is hard to describe to someone who hasn't experienced good and bad feeling amps, but to put it simply: one amp is really fun to play and the other amp just is not fun and even playing unplugged is more fun than playing through that amp, that is the difference between a good and a bad feeling amp.

example: when i tried Helix, i had more fun playing unplugged, helix feels like absolute sh*t. there are some modellers that have a pretty decent feel though, but it's still not as good as a nice tube amp, those just put a grin on your face.
I really can't agree with your Helix statement. I think it feels perfectly fine to play and you can adjust how it feels with the sag parameter for example.

When people describe feel it is also often different things. Someone thinks the ultimate feel is when you have a cranked amp that compresses so volume is more even and it's easier to play, someone else thinks that the best thing is when you have the least compression and thus the widest dynamic range changes from just playing harder or softer. With the wider dynamic range the amp becomes harder to play and requires more control from the player. Most of us like some sort of compromise where it is responsive to picking harder or softer but not too much or too little.

Tube amps also vary wildly. I had a Stephenson amp that was extremely responsive to picking dynamic changes so you had to learn to play evenly to keep it in control. It was a real masterclass for picking dynamics for me. Meanwhile you can take a Peavey Triple XXX and it feels about the same no matter how you set it up - very compressed. Then you can get into stiff vs loose (e.g. VHT Ultralead vs Mesa Rectifiers) or compressed vs dynamic.

I feel Marshall type amps are partly so successful and versatile because they are smack in the middle of this. They don't feel too tight, too loose, too compressed or too dynamic. Depending on what you play you may have preferences. Blues guys tend to enjoy having some sag, fat low end and more compression in their tone while metal guys want little sag and tight low end for razor sharp riffing. This is part of why these two opposites prefer low vs high power amps too.

So not only does the modeler need to replicate a wide variety of different feels in its amp modeling, what you plug it into can also influence this. Headphones vs speakers and volume are also factors because headphones do not have the feedback loop between guitar pickups and speakers that you get when playing a bit louder. By feedback loop I don't mean hearing wailing feedback but the coupling effect between pickups and speakers. Fractal actually added a feature called gain enhancer for this. See technical explanation here: https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/the-modelers-dont-clean-up-with-the-volume-knob-myth.154557/
 

G34RSLU7

Member
Messages
1,995
I really can't agree with your Helix statement. I think it feels perfectly fine to play and you can adjust how it feels with the sag parameter for example.

When people describe feel it is also often different things. Someone thinks the ultimate feel is when you have a cranked amp that compresses so volume is more even and it's easier to play, someone else thinks that the best thing is when you have the least compression and thus the widest dynamic range changes from just playing harder or softer. With the wider dynamic range the amp becomes harder to play and requires more control from the player. Most of us like some sort of compromise where it is responsive to picking harder or softer but not too much or too little.

Tube amps also vary wildly. I had a Stephenson amp that was extremely responsive to picking dynamic changes so you had to learn to play evenly to keep it in control. It was a real masterclass for picking dynamics for me. Meanwhile you can take a Peavey Triple XXX and it feels about the same no matter how you set it up - very compressed. Then you can get into stiff vs loose (e.g. VHT Ultralead vs Mesa Rectifiers) or compressed vs dynamic.

I feel Marshall type amps are partly so successful and versatile because they are smack in the middle of this. They don't feel too tight, too loose, too compressed or too dynamic. Depending on what you play you may have preferences. Blues guys tend to enjoy having some sag, fat low end and more compression in their tone while metal guys want little sag and tight low end for razor sharp riffing. This is part of why these two opposites prefer low vs high power amps too.

So not only does the modeler need to replicate a wide variety of different feels in its amp modeling, what you plug it into can also influence this. Headphones vs speakers and volume are also factors because headphones do not have the feedback loop between guitar pickups and speakers that you get when playing a bit louder. By feedback loop I don't mean hearing wailing feedback but the coupling effect between pickups and speakers. Fractal actually added a feature called gain enhancer for this. See technical explanation here: https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/the-modelers-dont-clean-up-with-the-volume-knob-myth.154557/
it feels fine to you but not to me, you can't disagree with that, i'm jealous that helix works for you because it would have ended my amp/fx search more than a year ago, but unfortunately it was severely disappointing.
 

Mooselake

Member
Messages
1,110
I came at this whole thing backwards, so my take on the topic is, "Will tube amps ever have the same sound and feel as a modeler?" :hide

I'm only being half-snarky. By the time I got to the stage in life where I could afford (on paper) both a decent guitar and decent amp, I had all the financial and time constraints inherent to someone responsible for a young family. I had no clue that someone needed to play through a tube amp at appreciable volume in order to obtain a feel which in turn would lend legitimacy to guitar playing. I just wanted sounds that sounded like sounds that (unbeknownst to me) came from the feel.

I'm really not kidding. My first amp was a used Traynor SS amp I picked up for next to nothing in the 1980s. After 15 years of that I got a used L6 AX212 that lasted briefly until I figured out the ol' red bean fit my lifestyle better, workflow I guess is the current term, while basically doing the same thing. Life threw some bumps in the road and over a decade-plus stretch of very intermittent playing I upgraded in the POD family ultimately to a Helix LT I bought when I started playing again consistently a few years back.

Right around that time I joined TGP and quickly realized I'd been doing the guitar playing equivalent of walking out of the house sans pants. So I bought my first tube amp 3 years ago, a boutiquey 18W "pedal platform" amp that sounded pretty nice but only at more volume than I am comfortable with day-to-day (as all that aforementioned time went by I got older and less tolerant of long stretches of high volume). So it became a novelty. Last year I got a second tube amp, one that sounds nice and is much more like my modeler in that you can get its full sound character at "TV" volume, and it integrates with other audio very easily.

When I play I mostly feel the guitar. There is something neat about shaking the walls and windows, to be sure. And there is something to the sensation of just the right volume at just the right distance that lends itself to perception of bloomy-ness that's a little more typical of amp-in-the-room. But I can't say across the gamut of what I do the tube amp "feels" significantly different than the modeler.

What I can say without reservation is that it smells better. I grew up in a house where the turntable ran through a tube stereo amp, so the toasty tube smell is in a real way the smell of music to me. Modelers fall woefully short in that regard.
 

rublalup

Member
Messages
461
I was on the same predicament. The sound part not so much, but there was some lack in the feel department that just made playing not as inspiring. Hard thing to describe as is not only the dynamics as the playing/volume control is manipulated (modelers did some of that) but also a kind of sponginess, feedback and “air” I felt it was missing.

All that is over for me. I can say that I find myself smiling while playing A LOT lately and could even get rid of my cab and play directly to frfr without regrets.

So to the OP question of “Will modeling ever have the same feel and sound as tube amps?” I will say yes, at least one of them that I know of is doing it now
 

greatmutah

Member
Messages
689
I came at this whole thing backwards, so my take on the topic is, "Will tube amps ever have the same sound and feel as a modeler?" :hide

I'm only being half-snarky. By the time I got to the stage in life where I could afford (on paper) both a decent guitar and decent amp, I had all the financial and time constraints inherent to someone responsible for a young family. I had no clue that someone needed to play through a tube amp at appreciable volume in order to obtain a feel which in turn would lend legitimacy to guitar playing. I just wanted sounds that sounded like sounds that (unbeknownst to me) came from the feel.

I'm really not kidding. My first amp was a used Traynor SS amp I picked up for next to nothing in the 1980s. After 15 years of that I got a used L6 AX212 that lasted briefly until I figured out the ol' red bean fit my lifestyle better, workflow I guess is the current term, while basically doing the same thing. Life threw some bumps in the road and over a decade-plus stretch of very intermittent playing I upgraded in the POD family ultimately to a Helix LT I bought when I started playing again consistently a few years back.

Right around that time I joined TGP and quickly realized I'd been doing the guitar playing equivalent of walking out of the house sans pants. So I bought my first tube amp 3 years ago, a boutiquey 18W "pedal platform" amp that sounded pretty nice but only at more volume than I am comfortable with day-to-day (as all that aforementioned time went by I got older and less tolerant of long stretches of high volume). So it became a novelty. Last year I got a second tube amp, one that sounds nice and is much more like my modeler in that you can get its full sound character at "TV" volume, and it integrates with other audio very easily.

When I play I mostly feel the guitar. There is something neat about shaking the walls and windows, to be sure. And there is something to the sensation of just the right volume at just the right distance that lends itself to perception of bloomy-ness that's a little more typical of amp-in-the-room. But I can't say across the gamut of what I do the tube amp "feels" significantly different than the modeler.

What I can say without reservation is that it smells better. I grew up in a house where the turntable ran through a tube stereo amp, so the toasty tube smell is in a real way the smell of music to me. Modelers fall woefully short in that regard.
No need to hide behind the couch. Your experience may be atypical of the the usual TGPer but it doesn’t make it any less valid.

I get where you’re coming from to a point too. In the last couple years I’ve had to largely turn down my home playing since my son was born. Eventually I’ll be able to turn up my tube amps again and rattle the walls appropriately, but at the same time I can appreciate using a load box or modeler and having the tones come out at reasonable levels.
 

Baba

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,060
To answer the OP, I'm not sure they will ever feel exactly like tube amps, and that is flawed generality in and of itself, IMO, because not all tube amps feel the same way, so, there is no particular feel "apex" to that mountain. Again, IMO.

I equate that challenge to cooking something in the microwave vs an oven, or listening to a car or an explosion on a high end surround sound system vs being in front of the real thing. The best thing about the former in both of those comparisons, is the convenience and versatility, not the realism of the experience.

Also, I didn't read the entire thread, I'm not sure if this was covered, but, the biggest question I have is, "feel like tube amps when monitored with, what exactly?"

Feel like a tube amp through an FRFR? Through an SS or tube power amp and guitar speakers (some would argue that we've already been there for a while)? Feel like a tube amp through studio monitors or IEMs?

You get the point.
 

phil_m

How did this get here? I'm not good at computer.
Gold Supporting Member
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12,048
Will players ever be good enough where they don’t rely on ‘feel’?
;)
I guess playing a ton of shows where the monitor mix was horrible and I could barely hear myself has reaped some benefits...
 

Will Chen

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,573
But I can't say across the gamut of what I do the tube amp "feels" significantly different than the modeler.
Because the idea that there is a singular tube amp feel is a myth. A Fender Champ feels nothing like a 5150 which feels nothing like an old cranked Plexi etc. There is (or can be) a difference between playing through a traditional guitar cab and a monitor designed for full range playback. But the majority of the good modelers these days when played back though a guitar cab are going to give you a very, very similar experience to the real thing.
 

bobcs71

Member
Messages
4,623
Referring to my previous post above ... Matchless Lightning vs Victory Baron combos ... both tube, and both generally well regarded. Matchless felt to me like sound/tone could be adjusted with very subtle movement in fingers being used to fret ... Victory was like hearing someone else play.

I don't think it's about modeller vs tube amp vs SS ... examples of each can feel good and feel "detached" ... but it's a thing (of course, in my opinion)

If you ever get the chance to plug into a Matchless Lightning, take that chance and see what you think ... I have never been able to justify the price, but have also never forgotten the experience (15+ years ago)
I have played through one and it was awesome.

All tube amps don't feel the same. SS or tube rectifier? Number of gain stages affects how it breaks up. Negative feedback & amount?

All modelers don't feel the same. I still think my THR feels more similar to my BF/SF amps than a Kemper did. By feel I mean the way gain changed with volume input and the decay of the note at a gain level.
 

guitarman3001

Member
Messages
10,976
Because the idea that there is a singular tube amp feel is a myth. A Fender Champ feels nothing like a 5150 which feels nothing like an old cranked Plexi etc. There is (or can be) a difference between playing through a traditional guitar cab and a monitor designed for full range playback. But the majority of the good modelers these days when played back though a guitar cab are going to give you a very, very similar experience to the real thing.
What would you use to play a standalone modeler through a regular guitar cab? And aren't modelers designed to be played through a FRFR/studio monitor/PA speaker? Seems like it would need a lot of EQing to sound "normal" through a regular guitar cab.
 

KozMcCharlie

Member
Messages
213
con·fir·ma·tion bi·as

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noun: confirmation bias
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There is no way to scientifically define feel. It is a personal experience that varies wildly from one player to another and even the metrics involved in the sensation differ.

I would say this, though... most of what's being described when people talk about feel is compression. Tube power amps compressing from high input gain, compression from driving speakers to their limits, compression from slamming preamp tubes and phase inverters with really hot signals, there's a million different ways to make signal compression happen.

Most of the time when a guitar player starts talking about feel, though, I know they're going to want to be too loud for people to be within 20 feet of their amp and that just doesn't work for most of the bands I've played with.
 




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