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Solid State vs Tube Watts: Need Help

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by T.A.P Bass, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. T.A.P Bass

    T.A.P Bass

    Jan 7, 2010
    Ok, I did a quick search and am not finding the explaination I am looking for... But then again, I'm horrid with the search feature, so my apologizies if this has been cover before.

    I am currently using an Ampeg SVT-350H and am in a band with two guitarist who are using a Mesa Dual Rectifier and a Marshall DSL 100, and a drummer whom I affectionately refer to as thunderbutt... hehe. I am thinking of saving my pennies for a 300 watt tube head as I love the way they sound compared to solid state.

    What I don't understand is how a 300 watt tube amp sounds louder than my 350 watt ss head..
  2. eyeballkid

    eyeballkid Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2009
    wes virginny
    trust us.. it will.. by far.
  3. Okay I wont chastise you for not searching well enough. This topic has been done to death. The whys and wherfores are up for debate. Some people will give their two cents about why a watt is a watt is a watt. Others will posit that there is no difference, and post charts to prove it. People like me have owned 300 watt ampeg tube heads, 350 watt ampeg solid state heads and know the difference! About 14 years ago I went from a 600 watt stereo power amp+pre solidstate setup to a 250 watt tube amp which is FAR louder.

    Just suffice it to say, tube watts are louder than SS watts. Ampeg I think is the worst offender though. Their SS amps are underspecced. While their tube heads are well known to eviscerate with aplomb.
    For example if you look up the power specs on an Ampeg solid state amp, it will be to different spec than the tube head. (At least it was last time I looked this up) With the wattage for the SS amp being watts at one cycle of 80hz or something like that. Whereas the tube head will be quoted as watts for 2% distortion continuous sine wave. There is also that a tube head driven into 5% distortion will be perfectly reasonable sounding. A solid state head at 5% distortion would sound bad to most people (depending on the design, some SS amps dont sound too bad when overdriven).
    More to the point, If I was playing ina band such as you describe I would go for tubes simply because tube amps seem to gel together nicely in a band in a way that solid state amps dont. Of course tight playing and good arrangements must be taken into account, but nothing beat the sound of all those overtones lining up!
  4. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    I would go with a tube amp only for that grit you get when you start to crank it up alittle... put it on an 8x10 and you wont even be able to hear the 2 guitarists anymore...
  5. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Because tubes naturally compress the signal. You can duplicate that effect with a good compressor. But that's a PITA unless you have a rack system.
  6. T.A.P Bass

    T.A.P Bass

    Jan 7, 2010
    Thanks guys for responding.

    My full setup is as follows: '97 MIA Jazz Deluxe, TU-2, Boss SD-1, Sans Amp BDDI, SVT-350h, Ampeg 610hlf.

    I usually run my amp's eq flat, with the gain around the 3.5 to 4.5 range, and the master between 5 and 7.

    I adjust the graphic eq to whatever room I happen to be playing it.

    Any tips/ suggestions/ advice if I might be doing something wrong...

    I try to set my tone with the eq on my bass and the BDDI....
  7. GregC

    GregC Johnny and Joe

    Jan 19, 2007
    This. Also, Ampeg's non-tube heads, at least the older models, have a reputation for being underpowered relative to their rated output.
  8. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    What makes you think you're doing something wrong? Sounds like you've got all the headroom you need and the tone you want.:bassist:
  9. T.A.P Bass

    T.A.P Bass

    Jan 7, 2010
    That's the thing Growler, and I may be getting greedy, but I feel like my amp head is lacking. On it's own, it sounds great. But with the full band playing, it's more like I'm felt and not fully heard, especially when we play out.

    I've gone and tweaked and tweaked to no avail.
  10. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    a totally undeserved reputation. people see that input light flicker and they think it's clipping and they back off the gain, which makes them think it's underpowered. but that light should be on pretty solid when you play, and the gain cranked pretty hard. and then all that power that people claim isn't there suddenly is as if by magic.
  11. T.A.P Bass

    T.A.P Bass

    Jan 7, 2010
    Wow, Jimmy, that's me to a T... I was always under the impression that you can push a tube preamp but not so much with a ss pre... Looks like the gain is getting a bit of a boost at the next practice...

    Thanks to everyone...
  12. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    oh shoot...i forgot you have a 350h. the light on it actually is a clip light. but still, it should be flickering at your highest peaks.

    actually, i think the best way to set the gain is to ignore the light completely and use your ears. turn it up till you hear distortion, then back off it until it goes away.
  13. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    Careful, you'll make a mess :eek:

    So, you may be able to squeeze a bit more gain out of it as JimmyM suggests, and you're running at a little over half volume, so there's maybe a bit more to be had there. Have you tried running without the SansAmp? I'm no Ampeg guy (I will defer to Jimmy here), but isn't that a bit belt and braces? I mean running an Ampeg emulator in front of an Ampeg head. You may find that you're losing a bit unless you're running it wide open. Again, this is not a set up I'm directly familiar with, so I may be talking entirely out of turn.

    Over to JimmyM at the sports desk....
  14. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    you mean jimmym, the guy that runs a vt deluxe with his vintage ampeg tube amps? ya, he's nuts!
  15. GrowlerBox


    Feb 10, 2010
    Nude Zealand
    Yeah, that's the guy. Jeez, what a ... oh.
  16. BigOldHarry


    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    There is a great deal more to it than just the compression effect; It has more to do with the way power transformers are made in valve amps...

    For me, the issue is *weight*. I don't care "powerful" a tube head is - they weight too much.
  17. T.A.P Bass

    T.A.P Bass

    Jan 7, 2010
    What about the Peavey VB-3... 37 lbs.... My SVT-350h weighs in at 45 lbs...
  18. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    The old folklore constantly repeats.
    SS amps made today aren't the same ones made back when tubes were the only high power source. Bass head manufacturers know how to build in musical sounding compression, distortion, and limiting at a very reasonable price point.
  19. eff-clef

    eff-clef Supporting Member

    May 6, 2007
    Tube amps are louder/more dynamic per watt but...I had the 610HLF and the SVT classic, and I loved the power and tone, but I found that rig was hard to control playing in small clubs/bars. Big clubs and outside it was awesome. I think sealed cabinets(infinite baffle) are a better match for that amp(SVT) because the 610HLF is ported and can sound woofy wth the SVT. I think that if you love your 610HLF as much as I did, you would be better off getting a Gallien-Krueger(1001rb II or 700rb II) and a Tech21 Vt bass pedal. You would save about $600. and have very powerful, tube-like and versital rig! Don't get me wrong, I think the SVT is the best sounding amp ever made but it was made to be played with sealed cabs. My 2 cents
  20. +1