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can tube amps clip?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by a e i o u, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. there is no clip light on my guitar tube amp. i was thinking about using it in my bass cab and playing bass through it. if it ends up overdriving then will that be fine or will it hurt the speakers?
  2. yes, they can, but tube amp clipping = a nice overdrive, which doesen't hurt the speakers as long as you are not overpowering them.
    Yeah the only bass amp I know that has a clipping led is the SVT 2 Pro.
  3. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    Absolutely, tube amps can clip. In fact, depending on your tastes, that can be one of their most appealing assets. They clip much more gently than do MOSFETs, so you get kind of a rolling, smooth distortion.
  4. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Guitarists & bassists have been clipping them intentinally for the past 50-60 years! And they sound GLORIOUS!!!! :hyper:

    :bag: *waits for seamonkey to enter thread* [​IMG]
  5. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    At some point if you want more information than hearsay, search around on the web and libraries and use your and your friends ears. Even people who aren't musicians.

    Here's a blind test done in the early 80's
    Note how the steps they take to get the subjects away from the listening tests. Do this when you try out amps. Face away and let your friend switch the cables, and knobs around.

    For this test a thing to note is that the SS amp brand was not mentioned, and it was an older design. All modern designs then to use MOSFETs. Modern amps would have different spectral behavior when distorting. I would like to see this test repeated with modern amps, modern preamps, and modern modelers. Manufacturers wouldn't want blind tests because they can sell you tubes, SS, emulation, ... whatever all in the same breath and hype them all. Milking money out of people who think paying more brings better sound.
  6. metron


    Sep 12, 2003
    Why the ss vs tube double blind test link? :eyebrow: Not sure what point you are trying to make. The question was do tube amps clip and the answer is absolutely yes.
  7. metron


    Sep 12, 2003
    Actually I think you are taking about BJT amp designs which can clip very hard. MOSFETs have softer clipping characteristics which is more like a tube then a BJT. BJTs were used in most if not all early ss amp designs.
  8. ibz


    Apr 14, 2005
    Columbus, OH
    Not sure what's you're point here.

    Different strokes for different folks... if people want to be "milked for money" from manufacturers for tubes then so be it. It's thier decision how much money they want to spend on whatever. I personally don't see why you care what other people do, it's no one's buisiness but the person who decides to buy whatever amp they choose.

    Also, for just about every tube amp out there, the'res an equally expensive SS state amp. And visa versa for SS to tube.
  9. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    I saw the previous responses as tube amps clip but it sounds better that SS clipping. If the person is undecided, which they might be because the posed the question, here's a chance for ways for them to determine the sound difference themselves. Instead of a bunch of hearsay. But if they want hearsay, they got plenty of responses.
  10. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Good points, but in a real double blind test I would have no influence over anybodies choice. Expensive or cheap, SS or Tube, or any Class. And I bet they would weed out some of the inexpensive amps this way. I care because prices are artificially inflated over hype, which I myself have to filter out what's real and what's hype. Manufacturers mainly promote hype and nothing solid (unlike other industries)
  11. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    No science here or anything, but my observation is that tube output stages seem to be on the way to clipping anywhere from between a moderate input signal to a balls-to-the-wall one, whereas nontube amplifiers tend to be running with practiically non-existent distorting until the input from preamping reaches their threshold.
  12. Daytona955i


    Feb 17, 2005
    Albany, NY
    But tube amp clipping DOES sound better than SS clipping.

    Or are you saying you like the sound of a SS amp driven to clipping?

    I think you pushed your apparant anti-tube agenda incorrectly into this thread, because the question wasn't about tone or anything, just about clipping, which in tube amps is a preferred part of the tone, but I don't know a single person who enjoys the sound of a clipping solid state amp.
  13. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002

    You can't really blame brineshrimp. He can't help himself. His anti tube perversion has taken over his whole life.
  14. Aj*


    Jun 14, 2005
    West Yorkshire, UK
    Nope but you can report every damn trolling post he makes until the mods send him somewhere quiet to go have a think for a while.

    And I can (and have) driven SS amps to clipping and it sounded foul. Now a nice tube amp on the other hand...
  15. metron


    Sep 12, 2003
    I wouldnt call it hearsay unless you know their responses were not based on real experience. Do you know that?

    Having had both ss and tube I would say that tube amp clipping sounds way better. I have clipped the QSC 2402 I had pretty hard at times. It was not sonically pleasing at all. I would describe it as bad. On the other hand I ran my tube V-4B in the red at all times. Rip your face off distortion goodness.
  16. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Yes, tube amps can clip.

    They generally clip differently from how solid state amps clip. SS amps will tend to be very linear until the output voltage reaches the positive or negative supply rail voltages. Then it's like a brick wall; the output voltage flat-tops because it can go no further.

    A tube amp, OTOH, will typically start squashing the signal voltage as it increases near the supply rail voltages instead of at them. The brick wall is still there, but the transition from linear to flat-topped is gradual instead of abrupt. It's like a brick wall with padding. ;)
  17. Before making a bald statement like that, I think you should do a search on an English SS amp called a Sessionette 75, which appeared in the late 1980s and was incredibly popular.

    Have a read here: http://www.award-session.com/pdfs/GEAR_TALK_1.pdf
  18. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    I don't think this is generally true. If we're talking power amps, class-ab for tubes, one of the reasons they were designed was to maintain linearity. From measurements I've seen they clip the same as most class-ab in other technologies. (do you have any data contrary to this?)
    If you're talking preamp - class-a - yes there's papers on what happens here. You can do the same soft clipping with SS if you want.
  19. arbitrary

    arbitrary Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    Boston, MA

    I'm sorry buy having an opinion is no longer tolerated here at talkbass. And if you have one we will call you names and designate those to dispose of you.

    I kinda enjoyed his response and differing opinion.....c'est la vie
  20. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    You're likely to hear SS clipping in your daily life - TV too loud, car stereo, computer speaker, .... people are not running for the hills. Most probably don't even notice or care.

    I do bet general tube clipping does sounds better than some cheap SS amps, but I bet those cheap designs are long gone in any pro-gear.

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