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Tube vs. Non-tube - what's the difference?


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#1 Travis S

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 10:50 AM

Ok, I am a total noob when it comes to amps. I am going to be buying one soon, but I am not sure which one to get.

What's the difference between a tube and non-tube amp?

I am looking at either a Mustang I (I don't need anything big, I play mostly at night when my kids are asleep) or a Vox Valvetronix 20+.

I am in session 4, about to go to session 5, so right now I don't play any particular style, but I'd like one that is versatile but yet I can't spend much money right now. Any thoughts? Thanks!!

Travis

Epiphone Sheraton II | Epiphone Acoustic PR-4E | Cordoba Fusion Orchestra CE | Vox Valvetronix VT20+

 


#2 Resurrected

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 12:17 PM

****stares at the open can of worms****
http://www.re-warwick.co.uk/

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Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right - H. L. Mencken


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#3 JWELLS

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 12:39 PM

About two thousand dollars! Lotsa luck. :electricguitar:
Dreams alone won't go very far; Perfect practice will make you a star.

#4 Scamp2000

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 02:40 PM

1) Tube amps are usually more expensive and require a little bit more maintenance than solid state amps.
2) I've found that tube amps sound better. They have a "warmer" (better) tone compared to the solid state amps I've played (although I haven't really used many of either).
3) I've heard good things about the Mustang I amp and I think it will allow you to experiment with different amp models. I think this will help keep you motivated as well.

#5 aslerjack

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 02:44 PM

I would go with the Mustang I, you are out only a hundred bucks. THen take your time and learn about the different amps, the Mustang would be perfect for what you describe. I won't really get into the difference between tube and ss but I have tube amps. You don't need a two thousand dollar tube amp now, though they can be had for a lot less.
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#6 Resurrected

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 02:49 PM

The following two videos may help




http://www.re-warwick.co.uk/

Morality is doing right, no matter what you are told.
Religion is doing what you are told, no matter what is right - H. L. Mencken


The blues are the roots; Everything else is the fruits.


Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.

#7 dannyboy 2

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 03:07 PM

I have a marshall ss amp now and i cant tell any difference , might have to go a little higher on bass. lot let $$$,and
upkeep

The following two videos may help






#8 RSC

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 03:16 PM

Tube v solid. Now let me think. Erm! The difference is this: One sounds a little bit different to the other. Now spend all the money I just saved you on a really great guitar. Your choice.
Now Studying Session 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

#9 Travis S

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 03:46 PM

Ha! Well I was leaning more towards the Mustang I amp since it is about $100 cheaper than the Vox amp I was looking at. I don't want or need anything fancy nor anything that requires upkeep. Thanks for the info.

Epiphone Sheraton II | Epiphone Acoustic PR-4E | Cordoba Fusion Orchestra CE | Vox Valvetronix VT20+

 


#10 Gsnow

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 08:09 PM

I prefer the sound of a tube amp! I did not at first! Bc I wasn't experienced enough to tell the difference. I started out with a line 6 spider III loved it at the time. Then I got my chance to play through a fender blues davill and a orange tiny terror! And I fell I'n love with the warm tones and fat sound from both! So I went out and got my self a fender blues Jr for home! And It totally blew my line 6 and roland amp away! Yes is it more pricey than a solid-state amp! And with efx pedals to boot it is a pretty good hit to the walet! But what I spent I'n other gear to go with the other two amp. Would have goten me most of the way to the cost of the rig I have now! You will be happy with most amps you get at the begging but as you ear changes you will start wanting more. That warm fat full tone only a true tube amp can deliver. so say just get it out of the way up front! Go with the tube amp! And build up on that! IMO

#11 colder

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 08:35 PM

I think I can help...
I have the Vox Valvetronix VT20+. I wholeheartedly recommend it. I previously owned a Mustang I.

I think the Vox, especially at volume, sounds a little more "authentic". There's only one tube, this isn't like the difference between a Crate amp and a Marshall stack, but it sounds a little more filled out and pure at higher volume. You should play both and see what sounds best to your ear.

I have found that the VOX amp sounds a lot like the fender on the low settings but it's awesome at medium and up. I love the VOX AC30 model with the guitar's volume and tone knobs set to 10 and using the bridge pickup.

Features:

The Vox has better features on the amp itself. The amp models are better, there are more effects to choose from, and you have an additional output knob related to the tube to play with.

The VOX also takes the VFS-5 footswitch, which has 5 buttons and lets you select 8 presets out of two banks. (the footswitch is about $50). The Mustang will only accept the one button Fender footswitch. ($20)

The Mustang does have software going for it - you can connect the amp to your computer and design your own amp models and download others'. There's also a basic recording program included. While this is cool, I didn't find I used it much. If you think you would, maybe the Mustang is for you.


So, I like the Vox best, but if you're playing at night mostly, it probably makes no difference. Plus, if cost is a concern, the mustang will run you $100 and the footswitch can be had for $20, whereas the Vox with the footswitch pushes you over $200

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#12 Reggie

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 03:55 AM

The question of tube vs solid state is the equivalent of a religious or political discussion among guitarists. They use different technologies to amplify your sound, and at the end of the day, you'll have to decide for yourself which sounds best and works best for you. If you'd like to read about the differences, here are a couple good articles:

http://www.musicians...nt?doc_id=81028
http://www.sweetwate...uying-guide.php

Considering that you're still new to guitar, a practice amp would be a good choice to start out with. Once you've got more experience, you'll have a better idea of what you like, and the playing skills to better appreciate the differences. A few months ago, Rob Chappers did a shoot out of some of the more popular practice amps:







The Mustang and Valvetronix are both shown, although slightly larger versions than what you're looking at, but you should be able to get an idea of what the amps offer.

As pointed out by others, the best thing for you to do is head into a store and try some out yourself. Don't be shy about playing in the store, but also don't be afraid to ask a salesperson to show you what the amps are really capable of.

When it comes to picking gear, you will find a lot of strong opinions about which is best. Don't lose sight of the fact that what you're really looking for is what's best for you.

Adrien.

#13 TC56

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 06:48 AM

I think the clue is "I play mostly at night when my kids are asleep". I will no doubt be corrected if I'm wrong, but valve amps really need to be driven to get the best out of them as the response characteristic changes at higher volumes. So the question becomes, "does the valve amp still sound how I want it at the volume which doesn't wake the kids up?"


Tony

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#14 jmg257

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 02:28 PM

When talking electric guitars, a big feature of the typical desired sound is distortion. Tubes distort when the incoming signal overdrives the tube to the point where the amplified output signal is no longer a true representation of the input. Types of clipping & compression, and other forms of wave distortion occur. In a decent tube amp, there are pre-amp tubes - where the signal from the guitar 1st hits, and power tubes, where the pre-amp stage signal hits before going on to the speakers. Different types of distortion can occur in both stages (and also at the speaker itself).

Much depends on the level on the incoming stage signals - so volume and gain control settings and ratings on/in the amp have important affects on the amount and tone of the clean sound/distortion heard. Someone mentioned that in order to get the best of a tube amp, you need to crank the power amp stage, which is true, but many amps have pre & post stage volume/gain controls that allow you get some distortion from the pre-amp tubes and still keep the speaker volume at room level. Others have brakes/resistors to allow the power stage to be cranked up but keep the actual sound level low. Tube gain stages & different rated tubes can also be used in different combinations to add more gain & distortion to the signal chain.

Anyway, tubes ampilfy and distort in ways that produce the classic warm creamy sounds electric guitars are famous for.

Solid state circuits will not be able to totally accurately 100% produce the tube sound. The components that replace the tubes just don't function the same way when amplifying the signals. In many solid state amps, digital samples of famous tube amps/speaker cabinets are used to simulate popular (tube) amps....Spider amps and Valvetronix are well-known for this - these are often known as modeling amps. The use of a modeling amp can get you all kinds of decent replica tones for 1 'low-priced' purchase. But then nothing is quite like the real thing.

#15 Travis S

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 03:16 PM

I think the clue is "I play mostly at night when my kids are asleep". I will no doubt be corrected if I'm wrong, but valve amps really need to be driven to get the best out of them as the response characteristic changes at higher volumes. So the question becomes, "does the valve amp still sound how I want it at the volume which doesn't wake the kids up?"


Yeah, that is the thing. Either I have to keep the volume low, or use headphones. But then I also don't want to ruin my hearing and turn into Pete Townshend, either. :)

I need to take my Tele in to get setup, so when that is done I plan on playing a couple amps and talking with the staff at GC.

Epiphone Sheraton II | Epiphone Acoustic PR-4E | Cordoba Fusion Orchestra CE | Vox Valvetronix VT20+

 


#16 Gsnow

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 08:21 PM

As for tube amps yes they typically have to be cranked for them to destort. But some like my blues Jr have a master level and volume. And I can get it to destort at very low volume with my destortion pedal . So all is good I'm my house when people are sleeping.

#17 cwcaesar

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Posted 23 May 2011 - 10:21 PM

I just picked up a Peavey Vypyr 30. It has several different amp, effects, and stompboxes modeled. It really sounds pretty nice. I too do not know that much about all the different amps out there, but I figure with a good modeling amp, I can play around with it and get some good sounds and figure out what I like. My second choice would have been the Mustang II. They have a good sound to them, but I prefered the controls of the Vypyr. You should take a look at one of these before you decide.
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#18 cgoldensoph01

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 01:47 PM

I went one step further and acquired a Peavy Vypyr Tube 60 modelling amp. It has a preamp and 2 power tubes plus pre-/post-gain distortion and analog rather digital modelling. I use it with headphones for practice, but it is more that powerful enough (w/60 tube watts) for gigging later on. I found it to be a good compromise and I was able to get it at GC for $399. I've tried other solid state modelling amps and they don't come close to its performance.

#19 akrose

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Posted 09 June 2011 - 06:27 PM

I asked in a very round about way the same question. I wanted to sound like Black Sabbath and ACDC. I had/have a Laney non-tubed amp and it just wasn't working. People told me to get a marshal tubed, I ended up snagging a Hugh's and Kettner SE on sale and OMG what a difference! My amps here on in will all be tubed, alas the problem with this is the price tag on them. I spent about 2 hours at the guitar shop near town trying out different amps and I find the difference is night and day between tubed and non tubed amps.

My suggestion is if you got the cash, and a half decent music shop nearby, go and try them and find out for yourself which one has the right sound for you. That and it's fun to play on stuff that you can't afford =D

Another thing, as Gsnow states, they sound best when cranked, I sometimes feel for my neighbors...
One day I will learn to play a song...




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