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Does everyone arrive at tube amps, eventually?

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  • Does everyone arrive at tube amps, eventually?

    After having three different Line 6 Spider V models, I decided to make the switch over to amps and pedals again rather than digital modeling amplifiers. The Spiders worked fine for the most part, I had the top of the line at the end, the Spider V 240 MKII. After some software glitches, I decided to sell it and get a tube amp. I ended up with a Marshall DSL15H, no effects loop but I love the way it sounds and an EVH 5150III 1x12 cabinet. Anyway, this thread isn't so much about what I had and what I ended up with, what I want to know is, does everyone end up with tube amps in the end? I know there are much better modelers out there than the Line 6 Spider V series.
    Last edited by Mad Max; 01-08-2021, 02:52 PM.

  • #2
    its all what works best for you. the tones i go after are from the blues/rock camp so for me an old style tube amp does what i want it to do. if i played math metal and needed things to be super tight then a high powered ss amp might suit me better.


    • #3

      I love my old Super Reverb, but I love my Mustang III 1x12 more.
      "Patience is key. Hard work is obligatory. And it’s the decisions you make right now, not the habits of the past, that will shape your success in the future." - Janek Gwizdala


      • #4
        I had solid state and modelers for years
        and I though the step up to tube would be night and day
        it wasnt

        a good tube amp
        doesnt sound dramatically better than a Peavey Bandit or my Laney GC80A

        there are bad sounding SS amps
        there are bad sounding Tube amp

        a lot of trash about Line 6 on the internet
        but then the HX Stomp and Helix are praised
        they are all Line 6
        Just here surfing Guitar Pron
        RG2EX1 w/ SD hot-rodded pickups / RG4EXFM1 w/ Carvin S22j/b + FVN middle
        SR500 / Martin 000CE-1/Epiphone Hummingbird
        Epiphone Florentine with OEM Probuckers
        Ehdwuld branded Blue semi hollow custom with JB/Jazz
        Reptile Green Gibson Custom Studio / Aqua Dean Shire semi hollow with piezo
        Carvin Belair / Laney GC80A Acoustic Amp (a gift from Guitar Player Mag)
        GNX3000 (yea I'm a modeler)


        • #5
          I was a tube amp guy as fast as I could afford to go that route, but I sold my last tube amp last year. I think more and more players will stick with modelers and profilers if they grow up with them. The variety of tones available via digital options now is utterly amazing and the price is competitive compared to a single high end amp. In fact, I sold my Road King for more than I paid for my new Kemper.


          • #6
            Originally posted by JB_From_Hell View Post

            I love my old Super Reverb, but I love my Mustang III 1x12 more.
            i play with a guy who uses a mustang or a katana and he seems to be the loudest on stage but when you hear recordings of our gigs, they dont cut through as well as the other (tube) amps. they do sound good when ive messed around with them at his house. he even had his katana reboxed into a big tweed cab so it doesnt look like hes using what it really is. the bigger box did open up the sound some too.


            • #7
              I depends on what you are doing.... Tube amps are just the easiest way to get a nice tone and nice playing feel without knob turning and planing on a modern amp.

              Also, if you are playing fast technical passages -Solid State is likely something you want to mix in.

              As for modeling/IR -i've have fun experiences -I'm not an expert but it has so much promise
              “For me, when everything goes wrong – that’s when adventure starts.” Yvonne Chouinard


              • #8
                I would say that yes is probably the most likely answer. It isn't so much that all tube amps are better than any other given SS amp, they certainly aren't, but dollar for dollar, tube amps seem to win out in overall tone. If you have a $100 tube amp and a $100 SS amp, the tube amp will be significantly less complicated and sophisticated, but it will do the one thing it does better than any one of the many things a SS amp would.

                Tube amps are also generally more expensive, adding perceived values to them. If you buy a Jet City JCA50H, you will feel better about it than if you bought a Line 6 Spider head for about the same money. The L6 does a whole lot more, perhaps sounds just as good, but is an L6 unit and one of their lowest lines. This brings us to the next perceived value point. Stigma and clout. If you walk on stage with a Line 6 Spider, you have to be a really damn good player to sell it to the cork sniffers in the room. Conversely, if you set up a Bogner Shiva, the cork sniffers just shut up and listen, because they already know that the amp is not a limiting factor. So tube amps tend to hold more value to the players, boosting confidence and pride in your playing.

                I think that even to this day, there is just more refinement in tube amps than there is in SS designs. Most SS designs are budget-oriented and in the case of high-end modelers such as the Axe FX, Kemper, and even L6 Helix lines, they are still in their infancy, have not completely figured out the feel and sound of the amplifiers they emulate, and given the cost never could. Is a $2k Axe FX modeler better than a $2,000 Friedman? I contend no if the Friedman is the only amp you need to get the sounds you want. The compromise in amplifier modeling is built into the modeler itself. It is an emulation of MANY amps that individually cost more than the modeler itself, so how can it possibly be equal? Until they figure out how to make a modeler sound and feel like an amp in a room, it will be a cute parlor trick that is used either for convenience or for budgetary reasons. I don't think people use them because they are truly the best thing since sliced bread.

                As an example, Tosin Abbasi has gone back to backline amplifiers ( Morgan Amps I believe ). The major thing that I think the modelers just seem to be stuck on ( foolishly ) is trying to create the sound of a guitar in a room that is then played back in a room. They replicate the guitar amp and cabs sound as it would be if it were mic'd up and in a room, and then you listen back to it while playing in a room. That is just silly if you ask me. Why not make the model sound exactly as if it was the amp and forget about the microphone and room modeling? Focus on getting the touch and feel right, and not complicating the sound with multiple mics and their locations, and all this other stuff that a guitarist doesn't generally have control over.

                So yeah, I think guitarists will almost all invariably end up resolving to own a tube amp at some point. It just does what it does right.


                • #9
                  I use both but I am one of the biggest SS fans around here

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                  • #10
                    I've been happy with sounds from a JC-120 . . . and think I'd get along pretty well with a Fender Tone Master. But my current amp is tube.
                    Join me in the fight against muscular atrophy!

                    Originally posted by Douglas Adams
                    This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.


                    • #11
                      I have a Boss GT-6 that I have used as a recording interface since like 2001, for basic guitar tones or just to run my actual guitar amp through to my recording program. It’s easy to get a great tone laid down digitally. But in the room and overall I always like the tone of my Marshall better, always. Whether it was my JCM 800 or my DSL40C with the right tubes, the tubes always sound better.


                      • #12
                        I'm backward as I was primarily tube from 1984 until 2008. Then I picked up a Peavey Vypyr 75. Lots of variety in one amp, I didn't care if someone dumped their beer on it and it also cut down the weight I was lugging around. I even got a Vypyr 30 to leave in our rehearsal space.

                        Somewhere in here I also put a stereo rig together, using 2 Peavey XXLs. Not far off my Triple XXX stack and bonus stereo at half the cost.

                        When the Vypyr VIPs were released, I sold the 30 and bought a VIP 3. For the longest time the VIP 3 was my only amp readily accessible. I did leave my JSX 212 combo out when I found it, but mostly because it weighs like a battleship and I didn't want to lug it to basement storage.

                        I do love my JSX tones, even to the extent I've started selling off my other tube amps. I also agree that nothing feels like a 100+ watts coming thru a 412 or full stack. Still, feel is about the only thing that modelling can't always deliver. Plus, my VIP 3 works well with my electrics, acoustics and my 2 basses.

                        My final comment is my usual. "Owning a tube amp is like owning a vehicle. You are responsible for the scheduled maintenance. Owning a solid state amp is like owning a clock radio."

                        Yes, scheduled maintenance has improved some since the paper in oil cap days. Still, I think my current clock radio dates back to 1984. All I ever do is unplug and replug the clock radio when we move. I've been thru a lot of tubes since 1984.
                        I miss the '80s (girls) !!!

                        Seymour Duncans currently in use - In Les Pauls: Custom(b)/Jazz(n), Distortion(b)/Jazz(n), 59(b)/59(n) w/A4 mag, P-Rails(b)/P-Rails(n); In a Bullet S-3: P-Rails(b)/stock/Vintage Stack Tele(n); In a Dot: Seth Lover(b)/Seth Lover(n); In a Del Mar: Mag Mic; In a Lead II: Custom Shop Fender X-1(b)


                        • #13
                          No. It depends on taste, usage, and application. I'm a bedroom guitar player who plays a goodly amount of metal and hard rock, with some pop, jazz, blues, and funk thrown in. I have a Boss Katana 50 and I LOVE the versatility it gives me, via Tone Studio, for a super-affordable price. Maybe gigging players in different genres would need tube amps. Not essential at all for me. I'm not saying I wouldn't buy a tube amp in future, just that not all roads lead there necessarily.


                          • #14
                            Nah. I love my tube amp, but I also love my Fractal and Tech 21 just as much. Every guitarist should try as many types of amps as they can, but what they 'arrive at' should be unique to that player.
                            Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan


                            • #15
                              My first good amp, was a 80's transistor Marshall combo, two channels and spring reverb. It did all the classic Marshall tones, at any volume. It was truly a great amp.

                              I then got a Blackstar HT-20, and I wouldn't say it sounds any "better" than the SS Marshall. It does have that "tube chime and warmth" though, that I have never heard from a SS or modeling amplifier.

                              So, I guess, I'm sold on tubes.
                              If somethings important- send a PM. I might be offline for long periods. Rock on!!!