More Tubes?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by peasandpotatoes, Aug 13, 2005.

  1. As a general rule, is it better to have more tubes for instance, 4 x 12AX7's as opposed to 3 x 12AX7's?
  2. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    depends on the circuit. If you have a really crappy/noisy circuit, adding more tubes will only allow you to say "wow, it's really crappy but it has 5 tubes in it, so must still be better than SS" :eyebrow:

    On the other hand some of the nicest sounding circuits have used only 2 tubes (or one depending on who you ask).

    IOW, no, it is not necessarily better to have more tubes.
  3. it depends on the amp itself

    i think this may be a reference to the pre sections of the SVT II ( 3x 12ax7 ) and SVT 2 Pro ( 4x 12ax7 ), which would negate your theory because the II > 2 Pro :spit:
  4. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Some amps sound great with no tubes.

    They're really only one of the design aspects that make for sound quality, so it's hard to judge by counting tubes.

    My magic number is 16 tubes.
  5. zombywoof5050


    Dec 20, 2001
    My Alembic preamp only has one tube per channel and does the job just fine.
  6. popinfresh


    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    I like my amp with 16 tubes ;)

    IMO alot of amps with only 1 or 2 tubes in the preamp circuit don't actually sound very tubey at all. So it all depends.
  7. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    I've been looking into some tube preamps lately. Don't know squat about the circuits and really don't want to know any more than I need to decide what to try out. Mostly I've just read reviews on lots of tube pre's and I don't see any real screaming success stories out there. Raves more or less on the Alembic which apparently is the old Fender Bassman pre section. Over a K new and there's an FB-2 that doesn't even work on ebay at $350 now. For that you can buy the Bassman working and have the amp too.

    There apparently is something to some tone variation that can be obtained with multiple tubes but there seems to pretty much be a concensus that different tubes will vary tone so that's what I'm looking to check out next.

    I picked up an Art MP tube mic pre with a single 12ax7 and about all I can tell it does is boost the signal (up to 48db) - plenty to drive my QSC. Fattens up tone noticeably at lower volumes in my combo - which can be handy. Should work as a DI as well. No noise unless it's cranked. Not necessary since it doesn't affect tone anyway. $30 shipped - less than some 12ax7 tubes go for. No complaints.
  8. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Mesa 400+;)
    BTDT, great amp! Nice to look in the back and see all those bottles glowing!

    I'm back to all hybrids (one tube per).

    Except for my old 1966 fender bassman (6 tubes),

    And the Thunderfunk.
    No tubes, but still *awesome*
  9. IMO the heart of the tubey sound really comes from the power section :)
  10. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    You know the story about the double blind sound test where people couldn't tell the difference between the tube and SS circuit when they weren't pushed to distortion...

    Thing is we're back to figuring out what you mean by "tubey" sound. Is the Demeter pre not a tubey sound? What about the Kern? The Alembic uses only 2 tubes yet to my ear sounds way "tubey", moreso than Vic Wooten going through his SVT IV which has 3 (?) in the front end.

    Tubes aren't a panacea, there are plenty of ways to get most any tone. The focus should be on the circuit design rather than whether it is being driven by a mouse on the wheel or a hamster.
  11. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    It does seem to me that sometimes manufactures just toss a tube in there to be able to say "Look! Tube preamp!" and the tube seems to make no difference at all. Nothing wrong with a good sounding SS head, there's no need to throw one tube in there to be hip.
  12. cheezewiz


    Mar 27, 2002
    What Burning said.
  13. The tube sound is mostly the power tubes ! :cool:

    I would have to add that part of the sound and the experience
    of a great tube amp is the way it FEELS !

    Sure preamp tubes can add some grit........... :rolleyes:

    The power section is where the "magic" is ! ;)

  14. bassjigga


    Aug 6, 2003
    0 tubes! Get a Glockenklang! Farfigbassen! :D
  15. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Yeah most of the warmth and coloration comes from the power tubes. If the number of preamps tubes made a MAJOR difference, then there wouldnt be as many bassists out there hunting for all-tube heads.