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tone dilemma - which direction ?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by MAGUS®, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. MAGUS®


    Dec 23, 2004
    I currently have a solid state rig ( GK RB + 2 EBS 1x12 NEOS )
    but i'm beginning to think that maybe its a Valve rig that i really need.

    Having never heard any clips of valve amps in action, i cant tell if i can achieve what i'm after. How DO YOU describe a tone that you want ?

    It may be that i can get it with my own rig + a certain pedal -

    Does anyone have any clips of a valve head or combo in full trim that i can listen to, and if that tone was where i wanna go, i could then pick that and ask you pluckers if i have to go valve, or whether i can get near enough with my set up and maybe a pedal..
  2. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Listen to the clips in my signature. Do you like them? They were recorded with a tube amp. Granted, they lack some low end because I was using a computer mic, but it should give you the general idea.
  3. protoz


    Nov 30, 2000
    Tubes are very musical and organic sounding. GK amps are hi-fi squeaky clean so if you want a grittier warm tone then tubes is the way you should go. I know I'm trying to get as many tubes as I can :)
  4. MAGUS®


    Dec 23, 2004
    Hey Ox man - thanks for those clips !

    Its not the sound i'm thinking of - for me, its too...er, GRITTY ? and too TREBLY + TWANGY. Kinda like the guy with the stranglers on their 1st album RATTUS NORVEGICUS.

    Jeeez i'm hopless at this description thing.

    But its great to have a starting point to describe what i want.
    I'm after very smooth squishy - definately NOT hifi.
    In fact, i remember a track i heard once - it was probably just some backround music to an advert - but the sound was pretty awesome.
    Like it was so squished and smooth there was this slight "hiss" on each note played - not sure if i'm getting anywhere - its like trying to describe colour :help:
  5. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Try running the gain and boost up, woofer vol down on the GK and see what you think, in my experience that warms a GK up considerably. The Contour control's 'variable smiley' seems to get things a bit gooey as well. Thing I love about the GK is that regardless of how think you make the tone, it retains it's punch and note definition really well.

    If you need to warm it up further, maybe a Sansamp would do the trick ? Maybe try the GK with a warmer sounding cab ? Use the Contour control on the RB II ? I run a hint of compression and noise gate in the effects loop of my 1001 RB II. Just barely on to tame my dynamics if I get sloppy in the heat of the moment.

    I've never thought that EBS stuff was warm sounding. Quite the opposte in fact. The Neo speakers haven't been described as very warm either. You might be experiencing a scenario in which your head and cab's add up to less than the sum of the parts.

    I've lived with bass tube amps. SVT, V4B and Fender Dual Showman. If you drive a tube amp hard enough you get a sort of compression out of them along with some distortion. My experience is that there is an incredibly narrow band where the amp really sounds different in a good way from a solid state amp. For the most part you really can't tell until you get to that certain point. Go beyond it and you lose punch and not definition. If your volume requirement on a given night is right on the spot - great. If not, you're either playing too loud or too soft or might as well be playing the transitor amp.

    See that certain spot is due to power tube distortion not Preamp tube distortion. This is a big reason that guitarists tend to record with smallish tube amps. They can dial them in to that spot and the mic doesn't know it isn't in front of a full stack!

    The only thing I miss of any of those bass amps is the voicing of the controls on the Fender and I can get pretty darned close to that by using my Fender Pro Reverb guitar amp into a 1x15. I do in my project studio regularly. But gig with it ? Abso - friggin - lootely not! A nice light weight SS head paired with the right cab's is cheaper and easier to live with and sounds every bit as good once it's dialed in ... if it get's lost/stolen/goes up in flames. A new copy is another $600 and I use it the same way I used the last one...

    For the record I've never listened or played through a Trace Elliot V series and I'd like to hear one of those. (I love my Trace Velocette guitar amp but mostly as it sounds like a Vox AC15 about to melt... one trick pony but it's a good trick!)

    The new Traynor (YBA-200 ?) I have listened to. It's OK, merely OK. I would love to hear the old 300 watt Traynor some time but chances of finding a decent one are pretty slim. I haven't played through a Mesa 400+. I did through a Boogie Buster and though it was over rated at best...

    I would buy another Showman if I could find one at a half way to reasonable price. I do some low volume gig's where an 80 watt tube amp coupled with a very efficient 1x15 cabinet would probably cut it. But it would be a very limited use amp for me and wouldn't replace the GK in any sense.
  6. MAGUS®


    Dec 23, 2004
    Mal - can i just add that i have 700RB Mk1 not a 2 or a 1000

    should have made that clear.

    Damn i hope its not the cabs that need changing - i havent had them long. I bought for lightness.

    I also have the TE SMX dual comp. Maybe that needs playing with a bit more, and after that - who knows, maybe a tube overdrive pedal
  7. el_Kabong


    Jul 11, 2005
    Well tube amps generally aren't light so if that's important.... I've got a 700rb and an svtcl thru an epifani 410ul. The gk is clean and punchy but the svt is, imo, superior in both departments if it's not driven too hard. Once it's pushed the low end gets very loose on a tube amp so if you're after clean punch (judging by your current rig that's important too?) you need sensitive cabs that go loud easily, imo. That's the case with the ebs cabs isn't it? For me tubes give more dimension to the sound, a bigger sound. I don't mean warmer or more bass but open and clear. My gk sounds hard and flat in comparison. As an aside, my svt is in the shop at the moment and the more I use the gk the better it sounds. But I'm always suprised at how much better the svt is (for me) when I plug it in after the gk. I also like the way tubes feel under my hands and it's not a feel I've ever got from a pedal or any other amp with a SS power section that I've used. Some of this stuff is more subtle as a listener than as a player so I reckon you really need to take your bass & cabs down to a shop and plug in a likely tube candidate.
  8. MAGUS®


    Dec 23, 2004
    I suppose the real answer is to take one of my basses into a shop and try some out -

    Yes lightness was a concern, but if its at the expense of the tone i'm after then i guess i'll have to bite the bullet and maybe trade in.

    I'm suprised that i havent found sound clips of Tube amps - we mostly call em Valve amps - during my extensive googling.

    I will definately try tweaks first before i go punting all my gear out for tube. EQ - Compression - maybe an extra pedal - and then i'll have to make a decision if i'm not getting there
  9. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Magus®, I look for clean and fat...that's what my 400+ does well. Big and thick and well, full. I don't like buzz, grind or crunch, and unlike OX I don't tend to use much high end, but I do note that my 400+ has high end that's very musical and useable.

    I find that tube amps sound fuller to me, more harmonically rich.
  10. protoz


    Nov 30, 2000
    the Ox's clips sounded thin because they were poorly recorded, I can tell you that cranking a tube amp is nothing like cranking a SS amp.
  11. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Demoing in a store won't tell you diddly about an amp. Sure you can listen for 'bedroom' tone. There is just no substitute for getting an amp on a band stand at volume. That is when you learn what the amp will really do for you.

    I moved to the GK from a Demeter 201 pre and Crown power amp. Very detailed, lots of air, rack based EQ to provide all the tone shaping you could want... and once you get a drummer and a guitarist going, all that fades into the background and you're looking for a large low-mid heavy punch. I get all that out of the GK on stage... In a project studio like mine or my drummer's the GK DI does fine. It's clear, quiet and pretty hot. A commercial house will have more sophisticated or exotic stuff to play with and that's where all this stuff really matters (in my probably not so humble, opinion...).
  12. MAGUS®


    Dec 23, 2004
    I understood that OX's recording was done on the cheap - and maybe the OX will get some quality clips recorded and i will listen again, but i'm pretty sure that OX's gritty/growly sound will just be the same , but with perhaps more low end and some more presence, and i still think it would be too gritty/growly for my own tastes.

    As for that 400+ and the clean and fat - how would fat and NOT clean sound, if its possible to even describe it ?

    Mal - i see your point, but how many of us really get to demo a rig in band situation / on a stage without buying the gear first ?

    For the majority , i reckon "bedroom " is just about it. In fact i'd say a store sound room would be much better than any bedroom. Unless the bedroom is like AIR studios
  13. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Oh well, I like my gritty/growly sound. I'm gonna biamp when I play out though, so I have a clean low end, overdriven mid & top end.
  14. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Here is a 15 second clip of what I would consider a warm tone: ftp://ftp.seanm.ca/samples/bassclip.mp3

    MAGUS® I agree it is really hard to describe sounds, It is easier to describe the difference. This clip does not have any hiss on the notes but it is warm and clean.

    Again take it with a grain of salt. While I do have a good mic, the mixer is cheap and just goes to a cheap sound card.
  15. MAGUS®


    Dec 23, 2004
    OX man - i applaud you for knowing what you were after and finding it. Its all personal for everyone i guess ..

    Sean - thanks for the clip. OK if that could be considered
    " warm " then i can get that ok with my current setup, so i guess maybe i need to introduce some form of tube O/D possibly - but without the grits.

    I've tried my Jazz pup bass and my HB pup bass and the HB pup is much nearer the sound - just not quite there.

    Some pedals need demoing
  16. MAGUS®


    Dec 23, 2004
    Just think i ought to say that maybe " hiss " is slightly misleading.

    Perhaps " breathyness " is the word.

    I'll find a clip in the end i'm sure somewhere down the line - and i'll post it, then i wont be going round in circles with my silly descriptions :D
  17. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    You're right, you limeys do talk funny. :p
  18. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002

    Exactly what Burning said. Ox's cuts are NOT typical of tube amps. That is a guitar amp turned up to 10 with bass run through it.
  19. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    Like I said before, I had a sceptre head in the past, and there isn't an ocean deep enough to throw it in.
  20. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    echoing in.... while a "dimed tube head" is fun at times, I had to get a MUCH higher powered tube head for my tone. 3D and articulate but deep full and warm. The people I jam with and a few other players at the NYC GTG have commented on how strong the bottom is from my rig.

    I know you are across the pond but here is a guy selling his 78 SVT... if I could justify another big tube head to the Mrs' I'd jump on it myself ;)