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How to get that tube sound!

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tonesearcher
(@tonesearcher)
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Joined: 14 years ago
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Ok, I currently have a 150 watt ibanez tone blaster solid state combo amp which I have been running a digitech rp250 guitar modeling processor through, but I have been looking to move on to individual effects pedals. The rp has awesome tone, and the ibanez solid state definitely isn't a terrible sounding amp, in fact it has a very good tone. But what I really want is that very nice warm sounding tube tone. I am mostly a lead guitarist, and from a long time of using the rp, I have fallen in love with the tube solo tone. But I simply can't find anything that will help me get it without completely emptying my pockets. Because frankly, like many others I'm sure, I can't afford those multi-thousand dollar tube amps everyone always raves about. So what I'm basically asking is if someone will tell me of an inexpensive way to boost the typical solid state tone into world-class tube shine. I've already looked all over the web and finally decided to take my own action. Please help!


   
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scott58
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In my opinion it really can't be done. I'm really into the modeling stuff and have been for about 3 years. I started with SS stuff (including a PA) and like you just wasn't satisfied. Pretty much by accident i plugged my POD XT Live into a Valve Junior (purchased the little combo for my G/F when she wanted to learn how to play). That little combo added what I felt i was missing. Within 20 minutes i had ordered the head/cab for me. The way this amp takes to modeling was just what I wanted at the time. I have since added 3 analog pedals (wampler distortion, Skreddy Fuzz and H2O chorus/echo) through the POD and the tone is getting better still. I'm now looking at the Egnater Rebel 20 1/2 stack to replace the Valve Junior. It's been a progression for me. Learning what does what and how small (and large) changes effect my gear. I don't know if i'll ever completely get away from SS modeling. The ac 30, hi-watt and slo100 models are things i'm not sure i want to do without. Probably not what you wanted to hear, but i'm finding tone costs money.

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Phonic 620 Power Pod PA
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greybeard
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The tube amp sound is the result of a chain of events, not just one event in one part of the chain.

To a degree, the type of tube will affect the tube sound and there are plenty around. Even buying a different manufacturer's tube can make a difference to the sound and that will be different from amp to amp. There are claims that cryogenically treated tubes give a much clearer and open sound (I can't comment either way, as I haven't tried any out, yet). You cannot emulate that in an SS environment.

You can change the amount of gain that your pre-amp produces - and, therefore, also the amount of pre-amp distortion - by changing the pre-amp tubes (e.g. change the 12AX7 for a 12AT7 or 12AU7 to reduce gain and get more clean headroom).

Not all distortion comes from the pre-amp - the power amp also plays its part in being overdriven.

Then there's the output transformer and the input transformer, that also affect the sound, not least in "sag", which gives a dynamic to the signal that SS amps don't possess.

Then there's the "sweet spot", where all the good tube things come together.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
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tonesearcher
(@tonesearcher)
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Topic starter  

Well I just bought a digitech tone driver overdrive pedal and am planning on putting it on top of my distortion to give it a little kick tonewise. Will this help my tone problem?


   
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Sin City Sid
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Hey tonesearcher, go used. Lots of good deals out there. For example, I saw an ad for someone selling a 100w Valveking with a marshall 4X12 cab for $400.00.


   
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gnease
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Well I just bought a digitech tone driver overdrive pedal and am planning on putting it on top of my distortion to give it a little kick tonewise. Will this help my tone problem?

maybe, maybe not. probably not. an OD pedal is supposed to overdrive the input to the amplifier. it's an interactive pedal. this is often confusing because many OD pedals often are capable of providing their own, internally-generated distortion that has nothing to do with amplifier overdrive. anyway, overdriving the amp input can sound very nice on tube (preamp) amplifiers. but overdriving a solid state amp in hopes of getting a nice overdriven tube sound is not likely to happen. given your set-up, you should shoot for creating the sound you want directly out of the EFX pedals, and then feed that signal to your solid state amp operating in clean, linear (not overdriven) model. that way, the solid state amp won't contribute as much to the sound, just make it louder.

-=tension & release=-


   
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tonesearcher
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Topic starter  

Thanks alot for the opinions. I really appreciate this help! The comment on buying a used tube amp was good advice, but don't tube amps wear out after time of use?  Shouldn't I worry about that if I buy a used tube amp?


   
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TwistedLefty
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of course you will risk getting spent/near spent tubes or other parts, but on the other hand you may find a great deal! besides you can always replace parts. :wink:

#4491....


   
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Anonymous
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replacing tubes is a lot cheaper than buying a new amp.


   
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scott58
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i got well over 200 hrs of use out of the tubes in my Valve Junior. So it's not that big a deal. I replaced them with better tubes and the improvement was impressive. So you always have the option of tweaking with different brand tubes and some mods that are available for certain tube amps. In the end though i think you'll be glad you spent the money for a tube based amp which ever one you decide to look at.

Dean Icon PZ
Line 6 Variax 700
Dean 79 ML (silverBurst) Dean 79 ML Arctic White
Dean V-Wing Dove
Wampler SuperPlextortion - Skreddy Lunar Module
Peavey Transtube 110 EFX - Vox DA20 - Valve Jr Head/Cab
Phonic 620 Power Pod PA
Line 6 Pod HD
H2O Chorus/Echo


   
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bloos66
(@bloos66)
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Nothing beats a tube amp for a great sound. Could I suggest one more option, which is really a compromise more than anything else. I have a Behringer Mic200 Tube Pre-Amplifier that I bought for playing harmonica, and it goes into a Roland Cube 30X SS amp. The Mic200 has a couple of different settings (keyboard, valve, vocal, e-guitar) and uses a real tube. It's got gain and output level controls - but it's very noisy. It does give a nice warm sound though, and most certainly improves the Cube clean sound by adding another dimension to it.

Behringer generally make fairly cheap, low-end gear, although quite usable, and it has a fairly poor reputation around the more serious and advanced musicians, and if you look around the various guitar websites, you may come across a more mature/upmarket tube pre-amp (or similar) that will bring you perhaps a couple of steps closer to a tube sound.


   
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Sin City Sid
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Tubes aren't that much. I just saw two ads yesterday that grabbed my attention. A Sunn A212 made in the 70's that needs tubes $150.00, toss in $80.00 for new tubes and for $230 you got a kick butt amp. Another one was a brand new Peavey Windsor 100w head that was only two weeks old(dude lost his job), $200.00 :shock: Those are both great deals. Like I said look around.


   
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Wes Inman
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Yeah, it's difficult to really get tube tone from a solid state amp. I agree with Greg (Gnease), use a good Overdrive preset on your multi-efx into the clean channel of your amp. This will get you close.

The difference between tube and solid state is the clipping. When a tube amp overdrives, you get a soft, rubbery, or spongy type of distortion, whereas solid state has a hard edge to it. There is nothing wrong with this, some Metal players actually prefer the harder, edgier distortion of a solid state amp.

There are some good tube amps out there that don't cost a fortune. Look at the Epiphone Valve Jr. or the Blackheart amps. They are a good bargain and put out some good tones.

And don't worry about tube amps wearing out. I have an all original 1958 Premier tube amp that still works fine.

If you know something better than Rock and Roll, I'd like to hear it - Jerry Lee Lewis


   
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Sin City Sid
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I own the Blackheart Handsome Devil head and cabinet. Very nice setup for the price.


   
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Dan T.
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Another way to go would be to get a distortion/overdrive pedal that uses tubes that are built into the pedal:

http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Radial-Tonebone-Plexitube-Distortion-Pedal?sku=153935

http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Vox-Cooltron-Duel-Overdrive-Pedal?sku=150158

http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/ElectroHarmonix-English-Muffn-Overdrive-Pedal?sku=153335

Dan

"The only way I know that guarantees no mistakes is not to play and that's simply not an option". David Hodge


   
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