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Tube Power amp VS. Solid State power amp

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by primussucks_79, Jun 8, 2008.

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  1. I am currently in the market for a new rig setup...i am between the ampeg series SVT-CL (all tube amp) and the SVT-4Pro which has a 3 tube pre-amp and a ss power amp. I love the way tube amps sound but i don't love the fact that the tubes have to be replaced periodically. I am going to be playing at different venues in the future and i am wondering what kind of sound difference to expect between the two at a louder power setting
  2. Replaced periodically? Every couple decades maybe as long as you arent chucking your amp about :p

    I'd go with the CL, or a Vintage SVT preferably.
  3. matskull


    Jun 5, 2006
    Tube will have a nice overdrive to it, solid state wont, tube will probably sounds louder too.
    My svt-vr is way louder than my svt4-pro was (through the same 810), the svt4-pro was a disapointment...
  4. tanuki

    tanuki Bass Minotaur

    Dec 13, 2004
    bristol, england
    i bought an SVT4 after my previous amp was stolen, i needed something in a hurry with a tour starting the next day so i didnt have time to wait for the shop to order in new stock..

    The amp was a constant disappointment, quiet, no real decent tone to it (a fact echoed by the bassist from American head charge when i ran into him)

    Honestly i used a musicman 65 head in its place for one gig and i could hear myself better... The whole thing would have put me off ampeg for life if it wasn't for the fact i accidentally hired a vintage SVT for a gig...

    I now use an SVT -VR and im in heaven, a tube power section gives you a much louder sounding rig, i think these 1 million billion power ratings on solid state amps have little bearing on the apparent volume...

    Having gigged with an aguilar db659 pre and a crown solid state power amp for a while before getting the VR through the same cab i can hear a lot more in terms of volume and fatness, if i really dig in with the crown then it is much more prone to that kind of dropping out distortion whereas the VR really stays fat no matter how much you give it..

    Tubes seem to have a much more musical tone to them also, i have been told and i think i agree that the tube power section makes a massive difference, interestingly the musicman sixty five is the other way round, solid state pre and tube power and that sounds amazing!
  5. Eminor3rd

    Eminor3rd BLAAAAARRGGHH!!

    Feb 10, 2008
    Allentown, PA
    There's nothing "tubey" about an SVT4-PRO to my ears. If you like tube sounds, just get the tube amp and deal with the maintenance. Like mohawk said, if you take care of it, it won't be a huge deal, and you'll be happy with your tone.
  6. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    Periodic replacement of tubes? Wow, you haven't read much here have you?

    I suggest doing some research here on the forums before believing some of the crap that is spewed by salesman, internet know-it-alls, and some "SS rules" kind of people. There are plenty of vintage (30+ years) tube amps still running their original factory tubes with no problems.


    With that said, let's let the OP do his/her own research and not let this become another Tube vs SS reliabilty/maintenance/watts thread. If it does, I will close it down. Let's keep it about the tone between the two, OK?
  7. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    The new Markbass Classic 300 has a switch for "Long Life" versus "High Fidelity" mode.
    Maybe some amps tube are designed set in "Long Life" mode, but on many threads here people do hear a difference when changing tubes.

    You said "Power Amp" in your title. You're going to find pro solid state power amplifiers only amplify. Sound in = sound out but louder. i.e. Warm in = warm out but louder.

    Buy from a place that will let you try them out on a few gigs and decide for yourself.
    Good luck.
  8. Markbass also lists 185 watt output for 8 ohm operation. IOW, they are NO benchmark for tube technology nor should their marketing terms be regarded as any kind of definitive terminology for all tube amps.
  9. I find that the tone of a tube power section changes as you increase the volume - it first starts to add comprssion and then starts to break up. some people like this, some don't, depends what you are looking for...?

    I kind of like the fact that a ss power section gives you the same tone all the way up until it clips. That said, there is absolutely no real substitute (IMO) for the added fatness that you get from a tube power section
  10. Martin Bormann

    Martin Bormann

    Sep 20, 2007

    They have an industry term for that "fatness" you get from tube it's called "distortion." You can replicate the "tube" sound with solid-state equipment, given right EQ settings and effects. Of course this is supposing you don't go cheap with your amps. But solid-state amps will typically last longer and they are able to take more of a beating.
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    First off, that "fatness" is not "distortion," it's "fatness." Not everyone who likes tubes like them because of their distortion. I think their clean sounds are better than solid state as well. Can you get very close to a clean fat tube sound with solid state amps? You can now, but a couple years ago you couldn't. But this business about tube amps not being able to take a beating...where does that come from? That's simply not true. My tube amps have taken way more of a beating than my solid state amps, and I've had much less trouble with them. Had to replace a tube or two every few years. Big deal.
    juggernaut1 likes this.
  12. I agree, I'm not talking about distortion, I'm talking about the added harmonics that tubes seem to add to the sound that just fattens the clean tone up beautifully :)
  13. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    Does that imply that the tubes are bad? No. It implies that different tubes have different harmonic qualities and nothing more.
  14. But they do go bad...i.e. they have a limited life expectancy, typically, of a year or so with heavy use. Personal experience, I've had a tube go out on a 3-4 year old guitar amp that was used very lightly. I think a couple decades is a stretch, but you could get many years out of a tube amp if it is used sparingly with a solid state amp to take over practice duties.
  15. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    No, that "fatness" is distortion.
  16. Really???
  17. Visirale


    Mar 23, 2003
    Go with the SVT-CL. It's an industry standard, and a damn fine head.

    Now take this "TUBE AMPS NEVER NEED MAITNENCE" with a grain of salt. If you're good with electronics and feel safe noodling around inside of a tube head, then yes that holds water. I don't. I have no mechanical inclination and anytime my hands are near high voltage components they start shaking (out of fear, haha). My mesa 400 sounded great when it was working right. Small things going wrong with it adversely affected the sound and you could hear it. Any time the slightest thing went wrong (every 3-4 months) I'd have to take it to be looked at. I'm not any less of a man because I can't work on my own amps (although I'm sure there are some here that'd argue otherwise) but that's why I pay people to do it for me.

    For me, now, in my current stage of life, SS makes more sense. I don't have the time or money to do continued maintenance on a tube head. The reliability of solid state works for me. My LMII sounds the same every time it turns on. If I experience a catastrophic failure, then so be it. But short of that happening, it will always sound like it does. And don't get me wrong. I love tube heads. If I had a roadie to carry the damn thing and to keep it's shape up, I'd be all over it.
  18. Willem


    Dec 26, 2005

    My hexavalve had 17 year old tubes in them when I bought it... they were fine... one out of 8 was microphonic. I believe you when you say one went bad after 3-4 years... but what about the others?
  19. Kindness


    Oct 1, 2003
    Really. Distortion = a change in the wave form from input to output. If what comes out is better than what went in, it has been distorted. :cool:
  20. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Unless the "fatness" is in the input signal to the amp, in which case it wouldn't matter if the power amp were solid state or tube, then it's distortion.

    In creating sound, distortion can be a useful thing.

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