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tube amps vs solid state

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by TheGreatSealof, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. TheGreatSealof

    TheGreatSealof Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2010
    Deptford, NJ
    I am relatively new to bass, 2 years learning. I have a solid state Ampeg BA115 amp. I goof around with guitar. I had a Fender mustang II amp, 40 watts solid state. It sounded kind of hollow even at high volume. So I purchased a Blackheart little giant amp, 3w to 5w switchable. The sound, tone, and volume blows the mustang out of the water, so to speak.

    My question is… will a tube bass head produce the same results for my bass? Louder volume and better tone for less wattage? Again, my Little giant is 3w to 5w but the difference in volume and tone is greater and better sounding than the 40w mustang cranked.
  2. skychief


    Apr 27, 2011
    South Bay
    Wattage has nothing to do with tone. A tube amp may or may not produce the same results as your Blackheart SS amp.

    One thing is for certain tho,, the tube amp will be heavier.
  3. There is some of that sort of thing going on. But many SS bass amps sound very very good. SS wattage is very cheap, and you don't need 8x SS bass watts to keep up with bass tube watts.
  4. This bit AGAIN eh?

    There are good sounding tube amps, bad sounding tube amps and same applies to SS. The cheap 40W Fender pressed to bass use is not the right example. Start reading and learning the above that JimmyM provided.
  5. madmarvin

    madmarvin Supporting Member

    Mar 7, 2005
    Ontario, NY
    To a certain degree you are correct in your assumption, but it's not quite as simple as that. Best thing to do being a new player, take your bass, go the store, play everything they have and find what you like with no preconceived notions.
  6. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    Only if you are looking for an overdriven sound.

    Guitars, in many types of music, benefit from overdriving the amp. They also occupy a portion of the sound spectrum
    that is very efficient volume-wise. You can get good tone and volume with relatively small amounts of power. In fact
    you often need a small tube amp for guitar so that you can overdrive it at the volume required.

    Bass though, as typically played, wants a clean signal, not overdriven. Bass also needs a relatively large amount
    of power to do that. Generally, solid state amps are a good choice for that. And as skychief said, tubes amps are
    heavy (and expensive).

    Under certain conditions, a tube amp of equal or slightly lesser wattage can sound louder and better than a solid state.
    For example, if you are exceeding it's rated power. If you are using a straight signal with no limiting or compression,
    a tube amp will handle occasional peaks much better than a solid state amp. Not only sounds better if it does overdrive,
    but allows a higher overall level. Solid state sounds pretty bad when it overdrives (clips) the output.

    Aside from that though, you usually want lots of clean power, in other words, solid state.
  7. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Matter of opinion, and I certainly don't agree.

    That much is true. They are heavy and expensive, though I've also seen very good deals on them as well.

    I remember the days when 300w amps came with warning labels about high SPL's causing deafness.
  8. That warning was also on 120 watt Sunns.
  9. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This. And read Jimmy's link (as a start). No offense, but if you are new, you don't even know what you like yet. (Neither did any of the rest of us.) Go play through as many rigs as you can. Go the the music store. Find local bands and ask if you can hit a few notes on their bass player's rig. Just play through everything you can and come back with SPECIFIC questions if something peaks your interest.
  10. Gaolee

    Gaolee Official leathers tester and crash dummy

    I was educated at Poly State. I learned that you put nitro in your tubes for a quicker burn and lower ET.

  11. megafiddle


    May 25, 2011
    If you mean that they can sound better without overdriving, then I woud agree with that.
    Was only speaking to the question of power.

    I like the sound of tube distortion (even order harmonic) that you get in the early stages of amplification
    (not overdriven)
  12. Matt Dean

    Matt Dean Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF (North) Bay Area
  13. Matt Dean

    Matt Dean Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF (North) Bay Area
    Tell that to my Buster 200... believe it or not, this amp produces gobs of clean tube head room.
  14. SactoBass

    SactoBass I like all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Sacramento CA

    You should probably NOT click on the following 1971 Ampeg ad and read it in detail out of fear that your sentiment toward this topic will forever be tainted!
  15. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    A hot amp in some country guitar circles these days is the GK Mb200 bass amp driving an open back 15. It provides insane volume and takes effects like nobody's business... Nary a tube in site... I've played my full body archtop guitar through my MB200 into a sealed 1x10 and it makes a righteous jazz amp. The cleans are unbelievable. The punch is ridiculous... With an outboard reverb it's pretty cool!

    Then again, I really dig my solid body guitars into am old Sf Princeton Reverb... 12 watts of screamin' 6V6 Tube.... Does not translate the jazz box at volume though...

    In my surf a'billy band, I run an amp with a solid state pre and a 100 watt tube power amp into 2 15's. I tend to mic it or take a DI line in anything other than very small bars.

    In my main gig, a vocal pop trio. Acoustic guitar, bass, drums and lady lead singer. Guitarist, lady and i all sing lead and harmony. We do a lot of three part. Run the MB200 most of the time and an Mb Fusion 500 when I need the extra power.

    So there you have it... All those amps have their own beauty. They all do something way better than the others but that also presents limitations...

    Pretty much, you want to decide on what it is you want out of an amp (or rig as really the cab is just as important) and gear for that. What is under the hood, technology wise is way less important than being appropriate...

  16. The Rolling Stones and those other "name" bands have had roadies to carry their tons of equipment for nearly 50 years.

    Solid state first became equal to tubes in bass amp applications over 20 years ago, and it's getting very close for guitars. Listen to an online comparison of a $1000+ Vox AC-30 Top Boost and a $120 Vox Pathfinder 15R. Same sound on clean tones, just not as loud.

    Much lighter weight, an infinitesimal fraction of the maintenance required by tubes (SS performance does not gradually degrade, it works 100% or not at all) and many fewer dollars per hundred watts (so you can afford to pack a spare head).
  17. SactoBass

    SactoBass I like all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Sacramento CA
    I have been playing bass for 40 years, and I have schlepped my gear the entire time. Do I enjoy schlepping my gear? No. Do I enjoy the tone and feel I get from all-tube amps? Yes. I therefore schlepp. It's a matter of personal choice, of course! And at age 56, Motrin is my friend!

    Really?? According to whom? IMO/IME, solid state has yet to catch up in tone and feel. I have owned a plethora of gear, and IMO, all-tube amps give me something in tone and feel that I can't get from SS.

    Very true! I indeed wish my three vintage Ampeg all-tube amps weighed 5 pounds each.

    Pure balderdash and poppycock.

    SS is definitely cheaper, no doubt about that! And if cheap and light is what a bassist chooses, I say go forth and be happy!

    Some like tubes. Some like SS. We should all encourage each other to play the gear that we choose to play.
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Had that Ampeg ad come out today, Disney would have sued the pants off them.

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