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Solid state amps and bass question

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by marh415, Nov 17, 2017.

  1. marh415


    Nov 30, 2013
    A question I have never really got a good answer to. Why do solid state amps and heads seem to be more widely accepted by bass players, as opposed to guitar players who mostly seem to prefer tube driven? Just curious to know.
    zon6c-f likes this.
  2. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    Hang around here long enough, and you'll find that there are a good number of tube fanatics bass-side as well. With that being said, I've heard it posited before (and tend to agree), that since bass needs more power, and more power from tubes tends to get real heavy, real fast, there was more of a market for high-powered SS gear for bass. That bigger demand for SS likely also made it both more accepted by bassists, and also pushed SS to where it is now - with much of it sounding really, really good.

    Does it sound just like tubes? No... but that isn't always the goal. Good examples of solid-state amps in bass-land, I think, are able to stand on their own as respectable and desirable gear-of-choice.
    TomB, tlc1976, kobass and 9 others like this.
  3. Define "good answer." The there will be many different answers.
    Which ones do you think are "good?"

    Bass players are more enlightened?
    Trade-off between weight and capability has more of an advantage for bass players?
    Bass players look at their gear as being the right tool for the job, while guitar players might think they need a tube job because that's what others play?
  4. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Bass is a more perfect instrument and doesn't need the additional help from the amp. ;)

    ...unless you want to add additional color.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
  5. BioDriver

    BioDriver A Cinderella story

    Aug 29, 2008
    Austin, TX
    The most common answers I've heard:
    It's what Jimmy Page/The Beatles/revolutionary classic rock band played!
    I don't need a distortion pedal with this!
    It sounds more organic/natural.
    It sounds better.
    Tubes look cool!
    I'm a real guitar player so I need tubes! (seriously)
  6. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    My ears love tube amps.
    My back hates them.
  7. Giffro


    Apr 29, 2017
    South Australia
    A band I was in circa mid 70's had this guitarist who had just bought this lovely new SS amp and traded his valve/tube amp in for it. He brought his new treasure to practise one Tuesday night and proudly plugged in to demonstrate how it sounded. He said to me that the guy in the store told him it even allowed bass guitar usage, to which I immediately disagreed. There's no way that thing will take a bass guitar signal I said. He insisted I plug my bass in and try it...sighhh..2 seconds later..POP..I told you so...said I. The drummer laughed so hard he fell off his stool. Needless to say I went half in the repairs anyway..loll It was a Yamaha TA-60 just like the one in the pic. I'll never forget that night. I love the clean sound of solid state bass amps myself after using SS since the mid 80's. My pre 80's early amps were all valve/tube and did a great job but i do soo love SS for its clean clear signal and punch.
    Yamaha TA-60.jpg
  8. marh415


    Nov 30, 2013
    Everyone of these answers have been good, and hilarious. I have never had the opportunity to play through one, so differing opinions are always good too.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
  9. In a word: power. My choice of cabinets need about 350-500W apiece. You can’t get that from tubes so I compromise with a 2KW capable power amp driven by a full tube pre-amp. Very simple basic controls Gain, Volume, Bass and Treble. it does all that I need.
  10. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa, Product Support-Genz Benz
    For a number of reasons actually, for the obvious power capabilities, for the ability to maintain clean power over a wider range, for the lower output impedance (especially when driving underdamped ported cabinets) which results in a tighter bass tone, for the size and weight differences, for the reliability differences and for the power efficiency differences.

    That doesn't mean that tube bass amps are inferior, just that they have characteristics that appeal to a different type of player who may have some very different needs (or priorities).
  11. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    That didn't have any "tube bias"!!! :):):)
    Before this gets wound up all y'all, that was a Pun. :):)
    marh415, NigelD and BadExample like this.
  12. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    I actually agree 'Skies. A bass can be so rich with harmonic content that it's accurate reproduction can be all that's necessary. Conversely a P with Rotos wound up through Hiwatts is a beautiful thing.
    So OP it can be a musician's sonic choice.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2017
    marh415 and NigelD like this.
  13. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Depends on who you play with. Many guitarist are deep into modeling. Entire forums on it. Huge number of products.
    Even the original rockers used SS fuzz pedals. And they're still very popular.
    marh415, Giffro and agedhorse like this.
  14. Lots of guitarists like modeling, it's come a long way. I mean, really, not everything is that beat up old line 6. When I play guitar I'm kind of a tube purist, but on bass I'll play anything. Tubes just mask how bad I am.
    marh415 and BadExample like this.
  15. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    See? I wasn't effing around.
    marh415 likes this.
  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Be careful, don't get trapped in the lattice.

    LiquidMidnight likes this.
  17. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    There are likely multiple reasons, but the way i see it is that bass players usually want a clean sound and guitarists want an overdriven sound much of the time. Tubes can be overdriven in ways that a solid state amp cannot. There is also just a tonal sound difference in general in that tubes can have a warmer sound compared to solid state. With that said the tech has come a long way and i think you can get a good tone with solid state and the right processing.

    Overall though tubes can be great for bass and guitar both if that is the sound you are going for. I dont find anything arrogant about preferring a tube amp. Many bass amps have a tube in the pre before going into a solid state power section.
    Figjam, J-Bassomatic, marh415 and 2 others like this.
  18. sheltjo6

    sheltjo6 Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2012
    My only experience with an completely solid state amp (preamp and power amp were solid state) is with a GK MB 200 and 500. I like the tone of these amps primarily for slapping. They produce a quick response when playing fast. What I did not like about the amps’ tone was they color the tone in a way that I could not reproduce a vintage tube sound. Also, the warmth (lack of) of these amps’ tone sounded artificial or synthetic. They could not produce a tone a tube produces. But, for a modern sound, they are great.

    Now there are other solid state amps that do a much better job at sounding more tube like such as Mesa’s D800 and Aguilar’s tone hammer. I haven’t tried these amps but I have heard other players use them live and they sound great.

    Personally, I prefer a tube preamp with a solid state power amp. This is the architecture of most of the amps I’ve used:
    Genz Benz Shuttle 6.2 and Streamliner 900
    SWR Bass 350
    Mesa Walkabout

    They are a good balance between an all tube amp and an solid state amp in my opinion. The tube preamp produces some warmth and the solid state power makes the amp lighter in weight.

    I have played an Ampeg SVT. I love the tone the amp produces, but they are too heavy to lug around on a regular basis.

    I could go on, but I think you get the jist of what I’m writing.
    marh415 likes this.
  19. Because the gui****s repeatedly stole the bass amps and we had to go get bigger ones, to the point it got backbreaking. All of a sudden SS got good enough and a great weight was lifted.
    JimChjones and marh415 like this.
  20. Josh Kneisel

    Josh Kneisel

    Jun 17, 2016
    I have always said I prefer SS for bass because in my ears I just want a nice, clean, punchy tone. Which is easily achieved with SS and SS is lighter, smaller, more powerful, and easier to get a relatively uncolored sound (ie the sound of my bass). Tube amps sound great for bass and definitely have their strengths (warm, tube breakup, etc), but I like the more sterile sound I can get from a SS amp. Besides, I can always run a tube pre or a dearth of other pedals to achieve different tones if I need to. FWIW I really like the GK amps I have owned and I pretty much have stuck with GK since I bought my first bass amp.

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