Are my tubes doing what they're supposed to? (Guitar amp content)
Sorry in advance but this thread is going to be about a guitar head, not a bass amp. I don't frequent any guitar forums and I figure the difference between a tube bass rig and a tube guitar head is probably quite minimal. I use this amp for bass anyway so it's not like the scenario is totally disconnected.
So, I've got an Egnater Rebel 20 amp head, currently running on a Vox 112 Night Train box. It's an exceptional guitar amp for a guy sharing a little apartment. I really like it.
One of the features of this amp is a knob which allows you to select which tube stage to use. It's got a pair of EL84s and a pair of 6v6s in the front end and the knob allows you to use either pair of tubes separately, or use any blend of the two. It's a pretty cool feature which was one of the main reasons I picked up this amp.
My problem is that I'm not certain that the 6v6 side is doing what it should be. I get a really ballsy, punchy broken up tone when I roll to the EL84s which I really dig, but the closer I roll to the 6v6s the less exciting the tone sounds. It really backs off, becomes quite hi-fidelity and thin, output and punch is lacking and it just sounds scarily like a solid-state. I initially still used that side of the amp to get really crystal cleans, but recently I've been finding that I'm still getting a much better clean tone out of the EL84s for almost any tone I'm chasing after.
Does this sound like normal behaviour for 6v6 tubes? I bought the amp secondhand about 2 years ago and I've never really serviced it. This is only my 2nd tube amp so I'm not positive what to expect out of all different tube types.
Cheers. And sorry this doesn't relate directly to bass.
IMO the 6V6 tends to have clearer, sharper highs and even lows and can get biting when pushed. The EL84 tends to have a bit more prominent upper mids and tends to compress and "sing" better when pushed. The tones Brian May gets are largely based on an EL84 being pushed to within an inch of their lives. Neil Young's tone is the grit of a pushed 6V6. At lower levels I think the 6V6 has a more even tone.
Sounds like something is wrong with the Egnater.
Both 6V6 and EL84 output tubes are capable of sounding fantastic. A pair of 6V6 tubes are in the Fender Tweed Deluxe. The amp screams. But it is designed to sound that way. Not all amps do.
The EL84 tubes are going to sound more high end piercing distorted. The 6V6 is going to have a smoother richer sound. The amp is designed to sound different when you go from one to the other. So don't expect the difference to be subtle, they want to provide a dramatic variation between the two tube types.
Try turning the master all the way up and use the gain to control the amp's volume level.
Just to be sure, I would check out or replace the 6V6 tubes to ensure that you are getting the most out of them.
The 6V6 side should sound better (from your description) the total output should not be all that different from EL84/6BQ5's. Depending on how they are running in the circuit the 6V6 pair should have more headroom.
The 6v6 side certainly doesn't sound better and certainly sounds nothing like my old Fender. I would agree that it probably has more headroom. The EL84s certainly break up really well and I don't like the way that the 6v6s break up at all. They have a highrange shrill tone with an uninspiring flat response across the midrange. The most obvious thing is the difference in output. The 6v6s are obviously a lot quieter which I've always found odd.
Looks like I'm going to have to have a fiddle and if I can't get any decent results I might take it to the shop.
EDIT: Perhaps the problem is that I never actually let the amp truly 'rip'. Perhaps the 6v6s would sound better if I had a full size cab and was actually using the amp in a loud capacity?
It is true that some amps need to be opened up to sound their best.
You also might need to spend some time getting to know and adjusting the EQ to optimize it for one tube set or the other.
If the 6V6 tubes are not well matched, the tone will be affected. If the amp is fixed biased, the bias might need adjusting. If it is cathode biased there is nothing to do.
Have you compared your amp to the sound clips on the company's web site? Here they are.
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