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power tube distortion vs preamp distortion


Gifthorse

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It would appear to me after 25 years of playing I have been a preamp-primadonna-panzy for many many years.

 

Since I got my Bivalve I am kind of a power tube pimp.

 

Anyways do any of you guys know what I am talkin about?

 

It seems like preamp distortion is always a lie. Powertube distortion CUTS through a mix and is no lie, it backs up what it is saying with ground connection. It flows like water through every crack in the mix!

 

Preamp gain compresses, it hisses and buzzes. It farts and poops with no diaper and tells you its 7 oclock when it is really just time to get a new amp.

 

The bottom line. Preamp gain doesn't cut through a mix. Power tube distortion cuts like it is sharpened by the weight of the earth & moon at stone henge.

 

I am sure your speaker cabinet plays into it too..

 

Just seems like when you see bands with preampy gain they always sound like a buzzsaw. They can turn them up as loud as they want and nothing happens except that it gets more annoying.

 

By the way, I have no idea what I am talking about.

 

 

Any thoughts on this?

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This is why I've been a fan of low power amps and speakers for so long. You can get the natural distortions of each section without killing people with volume.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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To me, it's more about how much more articulate the power tube distortion allows you to be. It cuts through without being abrasive, the notes are more rounded but they seem to explode with power when you attack harder. The way that distortion cleans up by backing up the guitar volume pot is also very magical. It's an old cliche but it does seem to be more musical for lead work. By comparison, preamp gain for lead is much harsher sounding.

 

However, for certain heavy rythms, preamp gain without pushing the power tubes too much is where it's at.

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I think preamp gain has its place of course, I just think when you are talking 'legendary tones' it usually falls short.

 

I know just from experiencing my Bivalve for the last few weeks that nothing cuts through and sounds as complex as power tube distortion.

 

And it still has a shitload of distortion even with the lower gained preamp tubes.

 

I feel like someone just took a tent off my life.. I am like the Truman show, but with an amp, in a very very small world.

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When I started using the THD HotPlate, I really got a taste of how four EL34s sound when they're breaking up!

 

For a long time...in my old Mark 3 Traynor, I just used the Volume/Master trick...and it was good...but hard to really push the output tubes without getting too loudthough at live gigs, that was not a big problemand the amp always sounded great!

 

On my newer Traynor YCV40...the "lead" channel has the "Gain" control along with the Volume...but it's not the same, and all I'm pushing is the preamp...which is OK for a lot of things...but the preamp overdrive is just too "fizzy"...to "mushy" for my taste...and I have been fighting a bit with the YCV40 trying to get the sound I want.

 

I recently took the HotPlate which was originally purchased for use with my older Mark 3 Traynor...and I strapped it on the YCV40...skipped the "lead" channel with the Gain control...and used the Clean channel on FULL...while using the HotPlate to control the final level.

Sounds much better...though I don't think the two 6L6 tubes break up anywhere near as nice as the 4 EL34s do in my Mark 3 when using the Hotplate.

 

Now...I'm on the hunt for a very low-wattage tube amp...15W or less...though I'm not sure how it will sound, since most of them use the EL84 for output tubes...?

I've never owned a low-wattage amp before...so it's going to be an experiment...

...but I think I really need output tube distortion, and not so much preamp tube...to get my sound.

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

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Wellllllll...... not to overstate the already overstated, but the THD UniValve has a Hotplate built into it, is rated at somewhere around 18 watts (because of the ability to change the power tube, the output rating can vary...)you can change any or all of the tubes to customise your sound as it is self-biasing, so all three tubes can accept a wide variety of options. I've got one of those Groove Tube converters for mine, so my power amp tubes may even vary by tube size.

 

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by flagshipmile:

I think preamp gain has its place of course, I just think when you are talking 'legendary tones' it usually falls short.

 

I know just from experiencing my Bivalve for the last few weeks that nothing cuts through and sounds as complex as power tube distortion.

 

And it still has a shitload of distortion even with the lower gained preamp tubes.

 

I feel like someone just took a tent off my life.. I am like the Truman show, but with an amp, in a very very small world.

+100 :thu:
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Originally posted by flagshipmile:

Hey Miroslav, for the love of GOD do yourself a favor and by a THD univalve if you want 15 watts.

At about $750 used...and $900 new...

...it's not something I'm going to just do out of curiosity! :)

 

I do believe that the Univalve amps are as good as everyone makes them out to be...but just to have a low-wattage amp...I think I have other options besides the Univalve...

and for less $$$.

 

SeeI already own a THD HotPlate...and I can use it with either my old Mark 3 Traynor...or the newer YCV40WR I bought last year.

The HP with the Mark 3 sounds absolutely killer...!!!...and I can chose whatever volume I needfrom bedroom level to full-tilt 100W in-your-face.

 

With the YCV40WR...I'm just not crazy about how they voiced the two channels...and I have to really take time to dial-it in...but it does have a lot more versatility tone wise than the Mark 3.

The Mark 3 is just a plug-n-play balls-out tube amp...where the YCV40WR, ithough a bit "fizzy" on the "lead" channel with some of the the Gain/Volume setups...it still has some great sounds, and the clean channel is quite good.

Andwhen I add the Hotplate to the YCV40WR...I get yet another bunch of tone/level options.

I'm also planning on getting a pair of THD Yellowjackets for it...and then I will have a whole "new" amp to play with, using EL84 tubes instead of the 6L6 tubes for output

 

I'm actually thinking I will grab one of the new Epiphone 5W heads for $99...and that will give me a basic "quick setup" amp for the studio...and I can use it with either the open-back 112 of the YCV40WR...or the closed 112 extension cab I got with the YCV40WR...or I can use it with my old 412 cab from the Mark 3...

 

So...for maybe just another $175 (Epi amp and two THD Yellowjackets)...

and the amps/cabs I already have...

I can cover most tones/levels I could ever want, without the need to by a Univalve for $750-$900...right?

 

Though if I didnt already have my current amps/cabs and HotPlatethen sure, the Univalve and a nice 112 or 212 would be a no-brainer. :cool:

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

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Okay, you wanna save some money... fair enough. The THD UniVale, when I bought mine, generally went for around $600 on ebay.

 

Now, I also bought the Vox Brian May ($150, but around $100 if you look...), and it is cute and small and low powered and I liked it a lot until I got the Goblin and THD.

 

Now, you're going to buy the YellowJackets. I recommend against that, because the Groove Tube version of the same thing got much better user ratings. But either way, you're going to buy something that does that.

 

What if you sold the HotPlate, and used the difference? would that not reasonably offset the cost of the UniValve? Just a thought.

 

And I want you to consider what all of us have said about the difference in sound between the boutique amps that we have bought, and the commerial offerings. I really really loved my Wall 'O Amps, with all of those vintage Ampeg, Fender, Marshall, Silvertone, etc amps that I had, but I dumped many of them after I heard the UniValve, and I just haven't sold the others because I'm being lazy.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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OK...but what cab(s) are you using with the Univalve?

 

I could go with the GT version of the Yellowjackets...no problem.

 

But if I unload my HotPLate...then I will probably never use my old Mark 3 amp in the studio again...'cuz it's just too loud without the Hotplate, if I want to get any crunch.

 

I don't know if I'm ready to sell the Mark 3, only because I've had the amp since '75, bought new...though I know it would get a good price on eBay.

 

I would consider selling the YCV40...at least just the combo...and keep the 112 closed extension, which I would need if I got the Univalve.

The YCV40WR would fetch at least $500...maybe a bit more, since it's the limited edition w/Pete Traynor sig.

 

I could see my way past that. Unload the YCV40...and instead of getting the Epi 5W amp and the Yellowjackets...add that to the money I get for the YCV40...and I would be almost there for a Univalve.

Then I could use the Univalve with the closed 112 left from the YCV40 and also the 412 from the Mark 3 setup.

 

It's just a lot monkey-ing around to end up with basicallyone amp.

That alone isn't a bad thing, for my own usebut, I am considering expanding out with my studio operation...and it would be good to have several amps/cabs available...instead of just the UnivalveIMO.

 

It's not that I can't afford the Univalve even without selling any of my other gear...

I'm just looking at how to best maximize my gear options VS money spent.

Basically...I'm a frugal SOB. :D

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

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The thing to consider is this: sometime it's better to have only one thing that is great as opposed to many things that are OK.

 

In the case of the Univalve, it's one thing that is great and flexible (as you can change any of the tubes on the fly to get wildly different sounds).

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Originally posted by miroslav:

OK...but what cab(s) are you using with the Univalve?

 

...then I will probably never use my old Mark 3 amp in the studio again...

 

It's just a lot monkey-ing around to end up with basicallyone amp.

 

That alone isn't a bad thing, for my own usebut, I am considering expanding out with my studio operation...and it would be good to have several amps/cabs available...instead of just the UnivalveIMO.

 

:D

Okay, I wasn't suggesting that you sell anything but the Hotplate, and I'm betting that, for your purposes, with a couple of tube options you would never need any other studio amp again. (Have you seen the UniValve? It is designed to swap the tubes, the whole top comes off with four captured thumbscrews, giving you total access in seconds.)

 

Now, here is the truth about stuff in the studio. The average guy comes in, he wants to use his rig. You show him a spiffy Wall 'O Amps like I had, and he maybe wants to try the old Fender, Ampeg, whatever... (when Norm Nardini came into my room, he threw a fit about the amps.) But these amps have to be special, and the average guy just is not interested in you telling him that your little known but killer rig is great. They pretty much don't want to know. I went through that with amps and guitars, which is how I ended up with my collection of both. I probably would never have bought a Strat, but my Jackson Strat wasn't good enough, my DuoSonic wasn't good enough, only a real Strat would do, so after dicking around for several years, I bought a real Strat for the studio. (after Billy Oliver took his '68 Strat home...) Same thing happened with amps, and other guitars. So you end up buying the classics, to get the classic sound... Deluxes, Bandmasters, Super Reverbs, Twin Twelves, fliptops, Jets or Geminis, 50 watt four input Marshalls, Cambridge Reverbs....

 

I had the good sense to ask Myles before I bought a cab for my UniValve, and he suggested that the THD cabinet was very very good. So I went with his suggestion. I was seriously looking at the Avatar, though. Seriously. The cost savings would have been significant. But I bit the bullet and took the advice of the expert, and he was right. Also, I liked the dimensions of the THD better. It is smaller. Both THD and Avatar use a partially open/paritially closed back design that kinda gives a bit of both worlds... a bit of thunk and a bit of bright.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by flagshipmile:

It would appear to me after 25 years of playing I have been a preamp-primadonna-panzy for many many years.

 

Since I got my Bivalve I am kind of a power tube pimp.

 

Anyways do any of you guys know what I am talkin about?

 

It seems like preamp distortion is always a lie. Powertube distortion CUTS through a mix and is no lie, it backs up what it is saying with ground connection. It flows like water through every crack in the mix!

 

Preamp gain compresses, it hisses and buzzes. It farts and poops with no diaper and tells you its 7 oclock when it is really just time to get a new amp.

 

The bottom line. Preamp gain doesn't cut through a mix. Power tube distortion cuts like it is sharpened by the weight of the earth & moon at stone henge.

 

I am sure your speaker cabinet plays into it too..

 

Just seems like when you see bands with preampy gain they always sound like a buzzsaw. They can turn them up as loud as they want and nothing happens except that it gets more annoying.

 

By the way, I have no idea what I am talking about.

 

 

Any thoughts on this?

you know Flag, i totally get what your sayin. even though you made me laugh, it is so true.

this is one of the main reasons i don't warm up to Multifx or amps that rely on preamp distortion.

i don't have fancy gear but i DO like to rock and when you dime an amp and can feel your testicles dancing to the beat it is a good thing. i am not condoning ultra volume (WHAT?)

but i can hear the difference between fizz and crunch.

every tone i fell in love with has been done on a cranked marshall without the aid of preamp fancy poo.

even my dg100 with it's multi preamp options sounds cool when you leave the preamp down and use the power section.

but when i get the traynor tweaked i hope it does what i expect.

you are not crazy at all. i agree 100%.

right now i am listening to Greenday (american idiot cd) and those p90's sound sweet with that cool powertube crunch. gawd i love that sound.

you are right and i like how you said it!

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...And don't forget about how the UniValve and BiValve can be used as a preamp feeding the instrument-input of another guitar-amp, with or without a speaker connected to the Uni' or Bi'...

 

In some ways, a UniValve or a BiValve is like one of the best overdrive/distortion boxes on the planet...

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Yeah, in regards to the guy that asked how I know it is power tube distortion and not preamp gain in the Bivalve?

 

Actually I don't know. I am clueless. I do know I replaced the left preamp tube with a 12at7. This is supposed to cut back on the amount of preamp gain because the at7 is a low gain preamp tube.

 

So in effect when you crank it up and attenuate a bit, you can drive the power section super hard. I think that is the goal of the attenuator, to get power tube distortion. And it definately sounds a world of difference better than preamp grainy compressed fizz.

 

Miroslav, as for your situation I dunno the answer. I am running through a Dr. Z best cabinet. The THD ones are supposed to be awesome too.

 

Personally, if I were you I would explore an Avatar cabinet. They are supposed to be as good or better than the competion for cheaper prices. The contruction looks very high quality using 13 ply voidless birch with dovetail joints (make sure you get the premier cabinets not the rabbet joints) and it is often hundreds less than say an Orange or even a THD.

 

I think also, you would be hard pressed to beat the tone out of the UNI with the Traynors.

 

I dunno what model the old one you had is, but the newer one I have heard of.

 

I had a Traynor YCVblue I think it was called. A 50 watt combo. I thought it sounded great in the store, but when I played it with the band it was all preamp fuzz, not usable in a live context.

 

Keep in mind, you can use SOO many tube combinatinos in the UNI or Bivalve. You can get close to pretty much any tone you are after, if not 100% there. You will notice if and when you play experiment with it, that it just cuts better than most preampy tones and the distortion is all usable.

 

Last night I cranked the volume up on my Bivalve, and turned the attenuator on and I had the Unchained tone EXACT. The low end was crystal clear but with tons of distortion. NOt that that is what I am after, I use less gain than that, but it is still fun. I think I could get a better Marshall tone than the new Marshalls can with my Bivalve.

 

I am sure you could emulate closely any tones you hear on the radio.

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"...I am sure you could emulate closely any tones you hear on the radio...."

 

And just to mention the Goblin in this context.... it comes with a sheet telling you how to adjust the controls to get various popular amp sounds that imitae a range of popular sounds... tweed, blackface, vox, marshall, etc... 22 pounds, 5/15 watts, it does not have the amazing tone of the THD, but it is easy to get a lot of different sounds from one small amp.

 

And on top of that, I again want to mention that the THD line is only the tip of the boutique amp iceberg... meaning that it is the very low end of those options. I'm afraid to discover what the Two Rock, Divided By 13, etc would do in my rig, because I probably would find some way to justify the $5000-$8000 price tag.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Good point Bill.

 

Yeah THD is relatively cheap. I haven't tried very many amps. There are so many options. I have tried out some Dr. Z amps, the footswitchable one, and the route 66. Both of them were excellent. I wish Dr.Z made an EL 34 amp with a built in Air Brake, or thier version of the Bivalve.

 

 

VHT makes the 50cl, that thing rocks for complex distorted tones (as long as you drive the power tubes hard and don't use too much preamp gain).

 

Mesa Boogie stuff never dazzles me but I think the clean channel on a Duel rec cranked to 10 sounds cool.

 

I haven't tried out Bogner, Fargen, Dumble. Two Rocks are nice, but that is alot of coin.

 

SO far the Bivalve has the coolest distortion I have heard. I would have to AB it with my buddies 50CL because micd his tone is the best I have heard live- from ZZ Top to SRV to VH to Hendrix he nails all of them--cover band, but his tone owns. But I think I could nail those tones with the Bivalve.

 

I am just amazed everytime I play through it how cool it sounds.

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a greenback and a Vintage 30.

 

I thought it was a G12 and a V30. That is what I wanted, but my singer got it on Ebay and I was in New York. He talked to someone at Dr.Z and he told him it was the rock config.

 

They knew when I plugged into it I would love it regardless and they were right. This thing sounds KILLER!!!

 

I still think you could probably get one of those custom AVATARS and they would sound as good with the same speakers. The contruction looks very sound.

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hey flag, you tried a 6CA7 or heard the clips from THD's website?
I have heard the clips. Is the 6CA7 a tube?

 

To me the clips aren't that helpful. There are so many tones in between they miss

 

Also, personally I would love to hear the same lick or riff (same guitar) but played through different tube configurations. That way you could really get an idea how much different they sound AB against each other.

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Originally posted by flagshipmile:

I still think you could probably get one of those custom AVATARS and they would sound as good with the same speakers. The contruction looks very sound.

Are you talking about the construction of the Z Best here or the Avatar? And from in-person experience or from the web?

 

I am seriously thinking about upgrading my gear this year and the Univalve with a 2x12 is a very serious candidate (especially after all this talk about THD amps on this forum as of late).

 

Thanks for the info.

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Anyone here play through a Fuchs amp? I haven't but I'm gonna try too real soon! You can add them to the list of boutique tube amps that are worth a try. They also make low wattage amps - like 7 watts, the Lucky 7.

 

http://www.fuchsaudiotechnology.com/index.html

"Spend all day doing nothing

But we sure do it well" - Huck Johns from 'Oh Yeah'

Click to Listen to Oh yeah

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