Tube vs Modeling

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GuitarHack
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Tube vs Modeling

Post by GuitarHack » October 17th, 2007, 11:48 am

I have a Fender GDEC and for quite some time I've agonized over the purchase of my next amp. Among the front-runners:Epi Valve Jr. (combo or stack), Epi Blues Custom, Fender Pro Jr. and Blues Jr., Crate Palomino series (5watt V8 to the 30watt V32). I really want a tube amp. But with the modeling amps out there, do I need an actual tube amp to get that tone, or are there modelers that can fool even an amp snob? If so, which ones are the better modeling amps?
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by Ricochet » October 17th, 2007, 12:14 pm

A modeler might fool an amp snob listening, but he'd never admit it. :lol:

Where you'll really notice the difference is in the feel of playing through it. I don't think any of the modelers give you the same sensitivity to pick attack as a tube amp running in that nice squishy zone at the top end of clean, running into distortion.
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by GuitarHack » October 17th, 2007, 12:23 pm

Thanks for the reply, Ricochet. I think theres a lot of truth to your comment about the feel of playing through the tube amp. I was testing out the Blues Jr. and Pro Jr. and maybe it was all in my head, or maybe I was just "on" that day at guitar center, but it felt like I was milking every last drop of each note I played.
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by Ricochet » October 17th, 2007, 12:28 pm

I really think that's where most of the appeal of a tube amp is.

Listeners would seldom know the difference, but a player does.
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by GuitarHack » October 17th, 2007, 12:45 pm

Great point Ricochet. My ear is hardly the best when it comes to this sort of thing. Tube or solid state? Rosewood or maple? I can't tell the difference. But I want a tube amp, and "feel" is just as important as sound. Thanks for helping me to justify (at least to myself) my next purchase! Now if I could only decide WHICH tube amp. Really leaning toward a Fender Pro or Blues Jr., but I've also heard great things about the cheaper Epi Valve Jrs.
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by Ricochet » October 17th, 2007, 12:49 pm

Always glad to help when justification's needed. :lol:

I'm quite fond of my Valve Junior. I like the Blues Junior and Pro Junior. They're different amps with different features. Depends on what you want to do. Try 'em all if you can.
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by GuitarHack » October 17th, 2007, 1:15 pm

I want to do a side by side of the EVJ, Blues and Pro Jrs, but I cant find a place with the Epi. Not sure if it would help anyway, as I've tried the Pro and Blues side by side and I can't even make a decision between those two! As far as your Epi - do you have the combo or stack? Is there a discernable tone difference or advantage with going with the stack? Theyre both 5 watts, so I figured if i go with the Epi I may as well go for the combo, which runs about $100 cheaper than the stack.
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by Ricochet » October 18th, 2007, 2:22 pm

I have the combo.

AFAIK they're basically the same amp internally, though the head has provision for speakers of different impedances whereas the combo (my early one, at least) only has a 4 ohm jack. Has the 8 ohm wire inside for anyone who wants to wire it to a second jack, or with an impedance switch. You can unplug the internal speaker and plug in an external one, but don't have to have one as you do with the head. (And it really won't hurt this amp to run an 8 ohm cab with the 4 ohm jack. I've done it with mine.)
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by Wes Inman » October 18th, 2007, 5:03 pm

I don't know if I could pass one of those blindfold tests where people have been asked to identify a tube amp vs. solid state. I have heard some solid state amps that sounded amazingly close to tube amps.

But with my eyes open I absolutely will take tube tone over solid state. To me tube amps have a big presence. They sound big and like they are right there. Solid state amps sound distant to me. Sorry, but that's the only way I can describe it. Tube amps sound much warmer to me also.

To me it is much easier to identify a tube amp versus a solid state when the amp is cranked and overdriven tones are created. Tube amps have a very soft, rubbery type overdrive that is very pleasing to the ears. Solid state amps get very course and brittle sounding when overdriven. This is the difference I hear.

As far as the Epi amps versus the Fender amps, I own the Epiphone Valve Jr head which I run into either a 1 X 12 closedback cab with Eminence 125 speaker or an Avatar 2 X 12 closedback with Celestion Vintage 30s. This amp sounds excellent through both, but I prefer it through the Eminence. It is a little dark through the Celestions. I love the 4, 8, and 16 ohm Speaker Out. I do wish the amp had a tone control and reverb.

I also own the Blues Jr. which I got recently. I absolutely love the tone of this amp, wish I had gotten it years ago. It sounds huge and very warm. I like that it is a Master volume amp, so you can play it clean or crank up Volume while keeping Master low to get great overdriven tones. Very Marshall sounding at higher Volume settings, but you can keep it at bedroom volume. It also has nice reverb. I love the small size and portability.

Play all these amps and go with the one that turns you on. 8)
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by rparker » October 18th, 2007, 8:11 pm

I had some problems telling the difference in clean tones with SS and tube amps at first. Not no more though. When I did my shopping, it was between the Fender HRD and the Blues Deluxe. Due to a current medical state, I really cannot remember why I chose the Blues over the HRD, but htere was a difference.

I found the biggest difference is, if I might use a car anaolgy, it's performance. You can pretty much do what you want to with a tube amp. It's easier for your feelings to come through that amp. You move, it reacts. That simple.
Roy

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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by Ricochet » October 19th, 2007, 5:24 am

rparker wrote:I found the biggest difference is, if I might use a car anaolgy, it's performance. You can pretty much do what you want to with a tube amp. It's easier for your feelings to come through that amp. You move, it reacts. That simple.
Like I said, playing feel. Mostly involves the transition into distortion.

A good FET based amp can respond and sound remarkably like tubes for the preamp. Can't accurately emulate an overdriven tube output stage without resorting to modeling, IMO. And the ones I've heard don't quite get it. BUT, they're very good sounding and give a wide variety of sounds, which can be especially important for someone doing cover gigs. And how many questions do we get on here about "How do I sound like XXX?" Modeling can help there.

To use another analogy, I think amp modeling is now about at the stage electronic pianos were in the late '70s. They can make lifelike sounds under certain conditions, but the dynamics aren't all there.
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by TRGuitar » October 19th, 2007, 6:33 am

OK, my 2 cents. It's the feel. To my ears, solid state amps even sound good ... if someone else is playing through them. If I am the player ..... the tube amp always sounds better. It feels better. It responds better.
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by GuitarHack » October 19th, 2007, 7:12 am

This is the kind of thread I come to the forum for! A bunch of guys who know waaaay more about a subject than I do voicing their views on it. Thanks for all the opinions, guys. At the very least, now I know I want a tube amp and my selection has been narrowed down a bit. I've tried and love the Fender Blues Jr., and the price of the EVJ coupled with its great reviews make it really appealing too.
Dan

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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by slejhamer » October 19th, 2007, 7:49 am

Many tube amp aficionados wrote:the tube amp always sounds better.
IMHO, there are a lot of tube amps that don't sound nearly as good as people say they do :lol: ... Crate V-series? Ugh; give me a ss Powerblock instead. Vox AC15? Compare the lower-priced one with the Vox speaker to the overpriced one with the Celestion "Blue." The former is surprisingly harsh, and there are ss Vox modelers that sound better!

But Rico's point about the playing dynamics is true. That's what makes the new Fender XD series look promising (see other thread); ss modeling plus a true tube power amp. I've read Line 6 is coming out with something similar; Pod functionality built into a Bogner tube combo. The lines blur ...
Last edited by slejhamer on October 22nd, 2007, 5:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tube vs Modeling

Post by Ricochet » October 19th, 2007, 9:02 am

slejhamer wrote:But Rico's point about the playing dynamics is true. That's what makes the new Fender XD series look promising (see other thread); ss modeling plus a true tube power amp.
And like I said, the power amp is the part where the modelers don't do so well. I think they're on the right track with that.

Of course, there are different circuit configurations of power amps that distort differently when pushed, different tube types, transformer differences, etc. Each power amp is going to have its own voice.
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