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a tube amp question

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by tightbidness, Nov 6, 2005.

  1. A guitarist friend of mine plays through a Fender Twin Reissue amplifier. On stage the amp sounds good and stays clean at ear-splitting volume levels. In rehearsal when playing at quieter volume levels his tone is thin and kind of crummy. For that reason I've always prefered lower power guitar amplifiers. You know there's a range where you're driving the amp so it starts to sing but without conspicuous distortion.

    I know next to nothing about all tube bass amps, so forgive me if this question is silly. . . Do you folks who play through STVs and the like have trouble getting a solid tone at rehearsal levels? I recently played a gig where the venue's soundman told our band to keep the stage levels polite and let him worry about the sound in the club. One of the other band's bass players was using an SVT through a 4x10 and his sound sucked. Obviously there could have been many factors that contributed to his poor tone, but I wondered if it was because he wasn't able to open up the amp sufficiently.
  2. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Was it a modern SVT? Problem solved right there. :p

    In all seriousness though, it could be a number of things. Some people like the way tube amps sound at low volume. Some people like gobs of headroom. I don't see the point in it, however. To me, there is very little difference between the way a tube amp sounds at low volume and a comparable solid state/hybrid amp of similar wattage at the same volume (ex. Sunn 1200s & 300T).

    I like an overdriven sound, but no hybrid amp or distortion pedal has done it for me. You need power tubes in order to get the kickass overdrive sound that I crave. Power tubes compress the signal gently before they clip it, giving you that singing sustain that you speak of. But when driving amps to the levels I do, I often feel like i'm missing bottom end. So now i've got a Sunn 200s in addition to my Sceptre to use in a biamp configuration. Now all I need is a dedicated bass cab. :meh:
  3. When i have to play at lower volumes with my SVT (hell, i use it most of the time anyway) i like to use a sansamp bass driver DI, its a tube emulation overdrive, thats really good, especially with tube amps :D
  4. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    You bring up a good question.

    In a word, No.

    I play a 400+ as my main amp, and I've used it at coffee house volume, practice volume and full out outdoor shows without PA support, and I don't find I have a problem with low volume tone suck. I might also suggest that some cabs need more of a 'push' to sound good.

    I'm a reggae player, so having big fat warm low end at any volume is important to me...I also need to keep it as clean as possible. So, since I push the lower part of the tone section I use more power (the lower you go, the more power it takes to produce the waves) and the amp never loses it's booty.

    I think Guitar amps are different. I also happen to own a high power vintage silverface Twin that you need to get serious volume to get tone under your fingers...it DOES get thin and brittle at low volume (its also a tempermental b**ch, sounding great some days, not great others). If'n I'm in need of a low volume tube guitar sound, I have a simply wonderful 1965 blackface VibroChamp that's coveted by every guitar player that's ever made its aquaintence.

    Keep in mind too, that tube amps like the 400+ and the ol' SVT are not super-high-powered. They ride in the sub 400w range. They just happen to be very loud for their wattage rating.
  5. Thanks for the responses fellas. You're right it was a modern SVT, 0x. ;) It's silly to make generalizations based on that single experience. Prolly shouldn't have mentioned it.

    BurningSkies you're a fellow 6 stringer!? You're contributing to some serious bass tube amp GAS. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. I have been using a Fender Super Champ for years but would love to have a blackface or early silverface Champ or Princeton for recording.
  6. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I started on guitar, and still play casually (I've played onstage for several bands depending on what's needed too). I've been playing bass only a year less than guitar, but am a better bass player and have spent much, much more time on 4 and 5 strings both at home and on stage. I'm a Tele lover by nature!

    My little champ is awesome...all original and in great shape. I bought it a bunch of years ago for under 300 bucks. Right now it's got mullard and old RCA blackplates in it. Those superchamps aren't bad amp either...but definitely keep an eye out for an old one...they're around and not very expensive if you hit the right one. I find its perfect for home use.
  7. Plain Old Me

    Plain Old Me

    Dec 14, 2004
    I've always liked hearing my 400+ louder, it seems to sound better. But it still sounds awesome at low volumes too!
  8. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    Fremont, Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    IME, what you are describing is more of an "SVT issue" than an "all-tube head issue." I've been able to play a number of all-tube bass heads, and of them all, to me the SVT (the one I tried was a vintage unit) was the most sensitive to the "right" volume/gain level. It sounded great at about 75% gain or more, but not so hot at less than that. My Bass 400, Trace Elliot heads, Sadowsky SA200, Eden VT-300A, Aguilar DB359, and others have excellent tone even at lower volume settings.

  9. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    I usually just like em louder in general, but every tube bass head I've owned sounded good quiet too, maybe cleaner but not bad. The DB359 I owned sounded its best quiet, it distorted at louder volumes and lost that awesome tone it had at lower volumes. Guitar heads in my experience are a different story. My old Rectifier sounded like a broken transistor radio at bedroom volumes, for example.
  10. Dang Tom that's quite a collection of amplifiers. Fealach I've read that about the DB359. Always wanted to play through that head or a rig using the DB728. Don't know if any of you have been to the Aguilar Website recently but the 359 and 728 are listed under "Vintage" Aguilar gear. :) My good friend and bandmate used to play a Mesa Triple Rectifier in college. Since we spent most of our time in a basement his tone was usually pretty thin.