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#2451636 - 11/21/12 09:26 AM General Amp Question: Tube VS SS
-Will- Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/31/03
Posts: 459
Loc: Louisville, KY
Being new to guitar and guitar amps... I have a question, thus the post. I have only ever owned and played through solid state amps. I currently have a Peavey Studio Pro 112, which I love but one thing that it doesn't do is clean up the lead channel when I back off the volume. All it does is lower the volume... Is this something inherent to tube amps only or do/should solid state amps do this as well?

Also, do boost pedals work on Solid State amps? Was thinking about getting one for lead lines but afraid it won't do much.

Any help is appreciated...
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#2451648 - 11/21/12 10:00 AM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: -Will-]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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A good tube-amp will do this, as will some good SS and digital-modeling amps. It will vary a little with the guitar, guitar player, and pedals used.

I love LOVE love tube amps, and also the whole "old school 'play the amp'" approach of using the guitar's volume-controls and my "touch" to vary the tone and cleanness, overdrive and distortion response of a tube-amp. I often use a 7 watt tube-amp for just these reasons- I crank it up louder than I intend to play most of the time, roll back my guitar's volume-knobs, and adjust them and my picking-hand touch to vary from clean to mean to scream to beam-me-up-Scotty. And I've even been asked to turn down my 7 watt tube-amp so that, say, two other guitarists on a 120 watt 1x15 SS bass-amp and a 100 watt 2x12 SS guitar amp- both Peaveys- could better hear themselves... grin

A boost pedal will make your signal louder with a SS amp, but whether it affects the tone and any overdrive/distortion will vary with the amp being used. There are boost/overdrive pedals that have some overdrive/distortion character of their own- usually adjustable- which might be a good choice for use with a SS amp.

It's really good to try pedals out with your own guitars and amps, and also amps with your own guitars and pedals. For example, I helped pick out a couple of OD and Distortion pedals for a friend; I found some that were INCREDIBLY dirt-cheap 'new/stale-stock', "Blow-Out" deals that suited him, his guitar and his amp PERFECTLY- though they were a terrible match for my own guitar and amps.

Bestaluck, and keep us posted!
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#2451698 - 11/21/12 01:39 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Caevan O'Shite]
Mikhael Offline
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Registered: 11/21/12
Posts: 6
Good solid state amps will do this (clean up when volume is decreased) just fine, IF they're not maxed out on the gain. Tube amps with heavy distortion channels won't clean up either.

I use a Pearce amp, and it's the best amp I've ever played through, all tube amps included. It's smooth, and fits my playing style perfectly. It's too bad Dan Pearce went out of business; he built great amps.

As far as boost pedals are concerned, it's the *combination* that matters. The guitar, pedal, and amp work together to create a tone. Boosting a clean channel will make it louder. Boosting a distorted channel will likely only make it more distorted. I use an older Rocktron compressor/hush device in the FX loop of my Pearce. I have very little compression, and a little noise reduction (hush), but some gain boost. That way, no matter which channel I'm on, when I engage that, I get a volume boost for lead work.

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#2451704 - 11/21/12 02:22 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Mikhael]
p90junior Offline
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Registered: 08/01/08
Posts: 57
When I played an SS amp (an Acoustic with 2 x 10s, late '70s, I think... sounded very tube like and cleaned up with the volume knob) my boost for solos was a Boss GEsomething graphic EQ pedal I found somewhere... I used that with tube amps, later, just fine until I got pedal crazy and got a couple of Lizard Leg Flying Dragons and an Xotic E.P. Booster.

I like the GE because not only could you give it a little boost, you could boost certain frequencies if you wanted, too. It worked great... I still use it in my acoustic rig sometimes when the Flying Dragon means feedback because I'm sitting so close to monitors and the mains packed into a little corner somewhere. It lets me ring out whatever is feeding back but still get a boost when I need it.

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#2451711 - 11/21/12 03:18 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: p90junior]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
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Loc: Hwy 49, California
I used an MXR Compressor pedal for a clean lead boost. It worked well in front of my 3 channel tube amp and in front of my solid state amps for on/off lead and rhythm. It will also boost your distortion/overdrive pedals and drive channels for sustain. You can also just use a volume pedal like the Earnie Ball, instead of a compressor. Either way you can increase the volume on the clean channel and keep it clean. Many times the "Lead" channel is just a "Drive" channel and is not as clean, unless you turn the Drive knob down, but then you may lose the volume you want for your leads. I use the compressor on my Mustang Floor the same way now that I'm using a multi-effects pedal, and prefer the compressor over the volume pedal.


Edited by Larryz (11/21/12 03:21 PM)

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#2451738 - 11/21/12 09:44 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Mikhael]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mikhael
I use a Pearce amp, and it's the best amp I've ever played through, all tube amps included. It's smooth, and fits my playing style perfectly. It's too bad Dan Pearce went out of business; he built great amps.


Cool amps, I remember them. cool
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#2451749 - 11/22/12 06:03 AM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Caevan O'Shite]
Bluesape Moderator Offline
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Most SS amps tend to be low-end, cheap, and cheezy, with price being the determining compromise. That said, if ya have a budget of a grand or so, you can choose between decent tube and SS amps, depending on your desired sonic textures. George Benson uses a SS Polytone, and BB favors a SS Lab Series. Both men are noted for ultra clean tones. If fx are important, I'd say the "breathing' character of tubes will play in their favor. A superbly outfitted studio should have at least one or two good SS amps in the mountain of tube units one should expect to find. Anyway, quality amps are to be found in tube or SS if the budget is healthy. Tube amps are abundant for under a grand, and most stores will have a good stock of them. High-end SS amps are niche items, and may not be everywhere. Don't settle for a budget SS amp, regardless of the brand. They're all crap.
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#2451759 - 11/22/12 07:04 AM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Bluesape]
SEHpicker Offline
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Registered: 05/16/02
Posts: 1014
Loc: Inverness, Florida
As far as SS amps go - check out the Roland Cube series. Although I play primarily through tube amps when gigging - I usually practice through a Roland Cube SS amp. And I have to say they come as close to tube sounding as any other SS I have heard. You do have to tweek them to get a great sound but it is definitely there. For home practice at reasonable volumes - Micro Cube set at Classic Stack, full volume, tone set at 2 o'clock, gain set at 3 o' clock, with a little delay to taste - sounds fantastic for rock and cleans up really nice when you roll back the volume. And oh yeah, they are REALLY inexpensive.
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#2451848 - 11/22/12 05:14 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: SEHpicker]
CEB Offline
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Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 6878
I almost always used tube amps but when I played country guitar in the 80s i used a solid state rig that worked really well. I had a deal with peavey and was using 2 Bandit 65s in stereo.

The only thing was they didn't like real hot pickups. I had a Strat with a Dimarzio X2N and the bandits didn't get along so well with. The bandits loved single coils and HS-1 PUs


Edited by CEB (11/22/12 06:25 PM)
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#2451850 - 11/22/12 05:46 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Bluesape]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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Want an amp that really works well with the roll-back to clean-up/play the amp approach?

Look for a good deal on a used Fuchs 4-Aces, Lucky 7 II or Blackjack 21 II (or even consider a brand-new one). Set it louder than you intend to play, and ride your guitar's volume-knobs for cleaner to dirtier tones. (See vids below)

Or, find a used (out of production) Carvin Vintage 33- switch to its "Soak" (lead/overdrive/dirty) Channel, set the treble and bass high, mids middlin' to taste, (master) Volume to 4, 5 or higher, "Soak" (pre-gain) to 2 or 3, and start with your guitar's volume-controls low for full, fat, warm, throaty cleans (great for Jazz tones!), and bring it up gradually for overdrive and distortion.

With this approach, you may never need any boost or overdrive pedals with any of these Fuchs or Carvin amps.


Fuchs Casino Series demo vids:

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#2451895 - 11/23/12 08:15 AM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Caevan O'Shite]
SEHpicker Offline
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Registered: 05/16/02
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Loc: Inverness, Florida
Yeah Caev - I have my heart set on a Blackjack 21 II. Think I'll go for the head version when my cookie jar gets full again...
If money is no object - Fuchs would be my recommendation as well. rawk
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#2451940 - 11/23/12 01:43 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: SEHpicker]
Bluesape Moderator Offline
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Hmmm.....Rob Rose is ready to part with his Fuchs, but he's keeping the Quilter.....and it's the best sounding SS I've ever heard.
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#2451986 - 11/23/12 08:09 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Bluesape]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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Originally Posted By: Bluesape
Hmmm.....Rob Rose is ready to part with his Fuchs, but he's keeping the Quilter.....and it's the best sounding SS I've ever heard.


What's he got, a Fuchs Overdrive Supreme?
_________________________
Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

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#2452014 - 11/24/12 03:02 AM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Caevan O'Shite]
Bluesape Moderator Offline
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I think so.
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#2452039 - 11/24/12 09:31 AM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Bluesape]
-Will- Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/31/03
Posts: 459
Loc: Louisville, KY
Thanks for the replies... I appreciate the help.
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#2452173 - 11/25/12 01:48 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: SEHpicker]
Bluesape Moderator Offline
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Originally Posted By: SEHpicker
As far as SS amps go - check out the Roland Cube series. Although I play primarily through tube amps when gigging - I usually practice through a Roland Cube SS amp. And I have to say they come as close to tube sounding as any other SS I have heard. You do have to tweek them to get a great sound but it is definitely there. For home practice at reasonable volumes - Micro Cube set at Classic Stack, full volume, tone set at 2 o'clock, gain set at 3 o' clock, with a little delay to taste - sounds fantastic for rock and cleans up really nice when you roll back the volume. And oh yeah, they are REALLY inexpensive.


The Roland Blues Cube series were highly regarded. Endorsed for a time by Al de Meola. I must concur that Roland is a respected name in SS amps, and their flagship JC120 is a great amp, although quite massive.
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#2452175 - 11/25/12 02:32 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Bluesape]
harvey Offline
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Registered: 04/05/09
Posts: 968
Loc: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted By: Bluesape
Originally Posted By: SEHpicker
As far as SS amps go - check out the Roland Cube series. Although I play primarily through tube amps when gigging - I usually practice through a Roland Cube SS amp. And I have to say they come as close to tube sounding as any other SS I have heard. You do have to tweek them to get a great sound but it is definitely there. For home practice at reasonable volumes - Micro Cube set at Classic Stack, full volume, tone set at 2 o'clock, gain set at 3 o' clock, with a little delay to taste - sounds fantastic for rock and cleans up really nice when you roll back the volume. And oh yeah, they are REALLY inexpensive.


The Roland Blues Cube series were highly regarded. Endorsed for a time by Al de Meola. I must concur that Roland is a respected name in SS amps, and their flagship JC120 is a great amp, although quite massive.


JC120...They are super heavy!! I had an Ampeg stereo 2 x 12 SS combo (say that 10 times fast) that was stupidly heavy, too. Two power amps, two chunky celestions...
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#2452187 - 11/25/12 05:17 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: harvey]
Bartholomew Offline
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Registered: 02/29/04
Posts: 399
Loc: Montreal
Aside from my too-heavy silverface twin I have a Cube 60 = light clean power & I use it for loud jam sessions plus on my workbench...but use Fender tube amps in clubs.

Recently got an Ibanez TS15 top & bottom to split the carry weight - not much power but clean all the way up.

The Cube can get pretty close to the sound I want live but is thinner and just doesn't feel like tubes.
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#2452196 - 11/25/12 06:50 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Bartholomew]
CEB Offline
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Registered: 06/03/09
Posts: 6878
Oooh. I played a JC120 in college jazz band. Cool amp.
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#2452213 - 11/25/12 09:17 PM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: CEB]
p90jr Offline
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Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 1979
I like a lot of the Vox SS amps, and their hybrids with tube preamps. I have a Pathfinder 15w combo with the 12, I think... have used it for some gigs, sounds great with a jazzbox plugged into it.

The JC120, of course...

I have a little Crate Power Block I keep in the car as a backup that I paid $60 for, I think, and it sounds pretty good on its own but I have so many pedals that are essentially preamps (some with tubes in them) that I get the sounds I want out of it when I need it. I watched a gear video thing with Letterman's Late Night band and Felicia Collins uses one as her main amp on the show, despite having all kinds of other stuff at her disposal (sitting underneath the Crate).

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#2452240 - 11/26/12 05:25 AM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: SEHpicker]
Fred_C Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 06/12/10
Posts: 944
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: SEHpicker
As far as SS amps go - check out the Roland Cube series. fantastic for rock and cleans up really nice when you roll back the volume. And oh yeah, they are REALLY inexpensive.


I own a Roland Cube 40 XL and really like it. The amp comes very close to emulating the tone of the JC120. The clean tone is very nice for Jazz. In addition, the power section can be brought down from 40W to 2W!. The 2W setting is great for practice and although low power, produces room filling volume with the volume at 11 o'clock.

This is a very nice, amp that will play a club gig with a fairly heavy handed drummer (unamplified), effortlessly.
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#2452300 - 11/26/12 10:07 AM Re: General Amp Question: Tube VS SS [Re: Bluesape]
Caevan O'Shite Offline
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Originally Posted By: Bluesape
Originally Posted By: SEHpicker
As far as SS amps go - check out the Roland Cube series. Although I play primarily through tube amps when gigging - I usually practice through a Roland Cube SS amp. And I have to say they come as close to tube sounding as any other SS I have heard. You do have to tweek them to get a great sound but it is definitely there. For home practice at reasonable volumes - Micro Cube set at Classic Stack, full volume, tone set at 2 o'clock, gain set at 3 o' clock, with a little delay to taste - sounds fantastic for rock and cleans up really nice when you roll back the volume. And oh yeah, they are REALLY inexpensive.


The Roland Blues Cube series were highly regarded. Endorsed for a time by Al de Meola. I must concur that Roland is a respected name in SS amps, and their flagship JC120 is a great amp, although quite massive.


I really liked the few Roland Blues Cube amps that I've played through; they had a nice, tube-like feel and tone. cool

Although I've never been able to be happy at all with playing through ANY of the Jazz Chorus line of amps- for me, personally, they're terrible. "Your Mileage May Vary", though, and that's how it should be and simply is.
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