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Lets talk about Tubes again.

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by sevenyearsdown, Dec 2, 2016.

  1. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    First this isn't intended for the MBOL crowd, mic users, or my amp must be transparent folks. Lets just get that out of the way. My tone is colored, I love it, and it's far more practical in my live situations than trying to reproduce my acoustic tone.

    So having said that, I basically use a bunch of "fake", clean tube tones. My amps are all Ampeg that emulate B15'ish stuff in the solid state world. I also run a sansamp BDDI depending on the gig, always with the tube emulation dimed.

    This has lead me down the wormhole now to thinking about one of those fancy all tube Preamps, ei. Arkham, Jules, Noble, etc. I'm not interested in a tube power section, just the pre. I don't want a 200 pound head to load in. I figure if I'm already faking it with SS gear, why not try to the real thing. After all I danced with synthetic strings for a couple of years, then finally gave into my gut for guts.

    I'm also not interested in talking about tube DI's like the REDDI because they aren't EQ'able, and I've come to the conclusion that I'll never send a dry signal of my pickup to the board - tube or SS.

    Hybrid amps with a tube option pre all seem like a gimmick to me as well. Just seems like a marketing ploy, so I'm not interested in those either. I want to talk about all tube preamps that were designed for bass instruments.

    So have any of you guys seriously run a nice tube preamp in your live rig long enough to give the good/bad impressions of it?
  2. neddyrow

    neddyrow Captain of Team Orange Jacket Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2011
    Cortland, NY
    just put my brick tube DI in the classifieds.....used it mostly for recording and a couple time on BG - which i never play.....guess i gotta try it on my DB before i let it go.....i'll report back.

    thanks for the idea!
  3. And I am looking forward to getting my Dynacord Bass King amplifier rewired soon, so I can use it for my 4 ohm loudspeaker. However, I think I have the model with "solid state" pre, and tube power amp.
    I have no experience, but some of the amps you mention with an optional tube preamp (I think there are some with only an tube preamp) might be legit, in that they offer a build-in tube preamp, which is what you are considering buying in a box.
  4. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    Most tube preamps only use one tube. The Aguilar DB680 uses multiple tubes. It's also very expensive. Probably around $800-$1000 for a used one.
  5. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Not sure what exactly you're looking for answer-wise... I would say that the path to what you seek isn't predicated on HAS tube or HAS NOT a tube, but in implementation . there are plenty of fine preamps both with and without.
    The quest for tone is both subjective, personal, and storied with trial and error.
  6. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Perhaps you missed the question, that is has anyone used a legitimate Tube only preamp with a piezo pickup on an upright bass in practical gigging situations, and can they offer any wisdom on pros and cons, models, etc. I even gave examples for brands.

    I'm not asking about seeking any particular tone. I gave some examples of what I use, and why I'm looking for input based on that gear.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
  7. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    In my experience they are not.
  8. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
    chuck3 likes this.
  9. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    For my taste, I've come to prefer tube tone for electric bass and clean solid state tone for acoustic bass. I no longer play upright but do play a Taylor AB-1 acoustic bass guitar with piezo pickup. The tube+piezo tone (to my ears) is too complex. There's already cool natural harmonics/overtones/air being generated by the acoustic bass before it hits the pickup. Doesn't need more harmonics/warming with a tube preamp. With a tube preamp, the acoustic bass sounds OK, but not as good as with a solid state preamp. I've found this to be true with an SIB Fatdrive, Genz Benz Streamliner (the DARKEST sounding of them all!), Old School Amps 20 watt tube amp, Monique, Sonic Farm 2di4, REDDI, 65 Amps Kings Head tube amp, and Reiner Studio 1200. While all those amps sound terrific, the acoustic bass sounded better with solid state. I'm now using a Euphonics Audio Micro 550 solid state amp for both electric and acoustic bass. I have a Noble tube preamp on order but primarily for the electric bass. Hoping to be surprised with acoustic, but not a big deal if the above experience is the same. It is what it is.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016
    sevenyearsdown and flatback like this.
  10. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Although, I haven't used a Monique Pre, I own a B-15N(C) from 1964 that I gigged regularly with. I retired that amp when I got my first Walter Woods MI-100-8. The FET based solid state preamp in the Woods sounds as good as any tube preamp, including the B-15N. That said, I also purchased a M700 last year, paired with a Grace Designs Felix it's the most articulate and warm sound you can imagine.

    Groove Doctor and sevenyearsdown like this.
  11. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    Lately I have been experimenting with the grace felix and a good pickup and mic going into a tube power amp (my friend Steve builds and rebuilds them)
    I gotta say it is a lovely warm sound. That said, what Ukiah Bass says above about color and harmonics and how Tubes can over thicken the sound on upright is super well said. But then he had to go and throw another damn hat in the ring. I never heard of Noble Preamps before. I hope he tells us how it sounds.
    I had a Demeter Tube Direct for a long time and I really liked the way that sounded with upright. I had it before I got into all this boutique preamp/amp/speaker cab business, I think I ran it into a GK 150mb.
  12. eyeballkid

    eyeballkid Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2009
    wes virginny
    Reiner JGR preamp. /thread
  13. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    Great posts guys. Thank you for feedback. Keep it coming.
  14. As far as tube pres, I have used the Alembic F2B and F1X. The F2B has two channels, and the F1X has one channel with some additional features. Both are based on classic Fender-style tube preamp circuits. I thought they sounded OK with DB, but a separate preamp was just too complex for me to make it worthwhile. I'm just spoiled by using a Walter Woods head or small combo. Like others here, I've also used an Ampeg B-15, which sounded OK, but way too heavy for me want to move around these days. I sold my last B-15 a few years ago.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  15. I know you said, you're not interested in the REDDI, but I couldn't resist mentioning that it kills as a D.I for both my electric and my upright....
    sevenyearsdown likes this.
  16. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I don't doubt that the REDDI sounds great, but it's not EQ'able. I have had some nightmare sound nights sending a dry pickup signal to the board with sound guys who didn't know how to handle an upright bass/piezo. Now they get a wet signal, or they can mic my cabinet, but never a dry pickup. With the right sound guys, I'm sure a REDDI is a home run. I have to much variation gig to gig to depend on that though.
  17. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    well, im going to say it. just go all tube. you dont need a 300lb head. for upright gigs 30-50 watts is all you'll need. really, they can go very loud with a modern speaker. if i played a gig at max volume on any of these amps i'd be thrown out of the place. i use the high pass / low pass pedal (same one that you have) into my tube amp. its beautiful. if i were in the market for one right now i would get the ampeg 50 watt tube head. control of the mids is something im lacking on my fender style circuits but its not absolutely necessary, it would just be a nice option to have. my load in is no longer than it was when i used my walter woods. i used a light speaker and the tube head is no bigger or wider than 2 walter woods amps stacked on top of each other. the sans amp stuff is good but the tube emulation scoops the mids which is not necessarily what tubes do in reality. you should be able to get a mid forward sound if you want, and you can with an all tube amp. they way they make your bass feel and respond will change your playing. for me its not about whether the audience or even other band members can hear a difference. its about how the response of the amp makes me play the instrument. unless you've experienced it, its hard to describe.
    edit: i should add that ive played electric bass in rock clubs (stone pony) with the 50 watt amp. just mic the cab. the ampeg that i mentioned has a post power section (wet) DI built in.

    Attached Files:

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  18. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    one thing id like to add. the tone hammer pedal, with the tube emulation engaged, rolls off the highs and ultra lows. to me, this is a better option than the sans amp. it also has active treble, middle and bass controls so its very flexible. as a tube user i can say that this pedal does a very good job of tube emulation. and when you disengage the tube emulation, you have a kickass clean preamp. i would use it over a tube preamp any day because what you're trying to get out of tubes comes from the pre and power section (and the huge iron transformers). the emulators emulate both of those sections, tube preamps just give you the pre and not the power tube emulation (or the iron) that you're likely also enjoying if you're using emulation. the ampeg, sansamp and tone hammer all put the power section into the emulation equation and that seems to be the dragon you are chasing.
  19. sevenyearsdown

    sevenyearsdown Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    This is super informative, thank you. In fact I had a conversation with Broughton about this as well where he mentioned that the Sansamp is acting exactly how you described. See I've never used any tube amplifier, so this stuff is really helpful.

    I do think however that the mid-scoop is a feature that works quite well for my needs. Everyone seems mid-presence-obsessed these days in the bass world - latest fad. The first thing I do on most of my EQ's for upright is usually a mid-scoop to get rid of that nasty piezo nonsense. When I used Genz Benz, the mid scoop feature was always engaged. I do the same on my B100R. It makes the EQ musical again. This could also be related to me being primarily an old school gut tone player.

    The one thing I worry about with the PF50, and I know we've discussed this...but I can't see 50 watts moving enough air for me on stage. I play so many different venues, and often have my PF350 running at 75% or more on the power section. Often I have the option to DI, sometimes a cabinet mic. Having said that, I rarely hear good upright tone through monitors at my gigs. It's only on the more professional setups. I rarely even get a personal monitor, so PA support cannot be relied upon for my stage monitoring.

    Thanks again for your post though. Very informative, and gives me more to consider.
  20. flatback

    flatback Supporting Member

    May 6, 2004
    I've tried both tube preamps into SS power amps and SS preamps into tube power amps, and I gotta say again for upright the Grace into a tube AMP (I have plugged it into a bunch of them from old home hifi monoamps to Mesa LED lit wonders and if you are putting a super great perfect preamped signal for upright (right imp, careful eq, etc) into the power section (or I just run it straight into the regular input...the Felix is easy to gain stage) man that is the tube sound I personally have always wanted: the clean clear warmth without the over thick cloudiness. The right Piezo makes a huge difference in what you are trying to do. I wouldn't cross a realist with tubes ever for example. But this Yamahiko is warm and clear and sounds totally great.
    I know you are on a loud stage but I also really dig having a mic mixed in to the Felix and then running that thru the Tube amp...