Tube Pre or Tube Head??

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Nuage420, Sep 27, 2021.

  1. Tube Head

  2. Tube Pre

  1. Nuage420

    Nuage420 Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    I'm in a fortunate position where I can pickup pretty much any head I want (caveat, I'm not interested in dropping over 2k for some obscure, rare, vintage enhancedor unicorn dust powered head).I do not gig so weight or size is of no consequence.

    I'm very proud to own my Genzler Magellan 800 and so far it has not let me down nor wanting. I've been through some ampeg(non tube), markbass, TC Electronic, Peavy, and Darkglass heads and this one IMO has everything I want and sounds amazing at all times.

    The two catching my eye are the Ampeg PF50T and the Mesa TT800 (maybe the WD800).

    I have plenty of pedals and could also just go that route for tube tone, but I wanna hear from my fellow TBers if I'm actually missing out by not having a tube head.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2021
    BOOG and Bobo like this.
  2. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    cincy ky
    Owner, ChopShopAmps
    My thought. Since gigging isn't really in the cards for this tube, you might consider the pf20 or lb30 so you can push the power section at home. A tube pre won't saturate with the same feel, IMO, if you want to be a little grindy.
    Spyrosaab, Zbysek, BassGH and 12 others like this.
  3. Nuage420

    Nuage420 Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    Great suggestion, thank you
  4. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    The PF50T is a tube amp, with tubes in both the preamp and power amp section.
    Both Mesa heads you listed have tubes in the preamp section, but none in the power amp. This might have a different characteristic than an all-tube head, to some extent.

    "Need" is subjective and sometimes irrelevant.
  5. Nuage420

    Nuage420 Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    Thank you for pointing that out I thought I changed the title as well as my post!
  6. Ender_rpm


    Apr 18, 2004
    St. Louis MO
    tube pres, unless used for dirt, dont add THAT much IMO. Tube POWER is where you get the goodness, but winding them up loud enough to get the goods can be daunting. I agree with @basscooker, go as small as you can in the power amp. The upside to both Ampeg PF tube heads is they can both be run without a cab, and then you can use that into a larger power amp if you need actual volume. The pre amp on the PF50t is a little more full featured than the one on the PF20t, but most reports are they sound pretty similar, and an outboard EQ would round out the difference.

    I have a 90 watt head (EBS t90) thats JUST enough to stay clean in a full band setting on quieter songs. Once I dig in, it gets growly and lovely. I have pondered the PF20t as basically an oversized preamp for my Little Mark 2 to save about twenty pounds, but eh.
  7. Nuage420

    Nuage420 Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    @Ender_rpm awesome, you answered some questions I had about them. Man that mesa stuff looks great but I think the pf20 or 50 might be the route I take. I checked for an LB30 but there doesn't seem to be any on the market right now. I'll definitely keep an eye out for one.
    Zbysek, Joris 55 and Ender_rpm like this.
  8. WG Plum

    WG Plum

    Apr 9, 2021
    If I didn't care about moving the amp, I'd get an Aguilar DB751. Since I do care about weight, I'm going with a Baby Sumo 600 and Broughton SSDI tube pre to replace an Ashdown rig I just put on consignment locally.
    Nuage420 likes this.
  9. Flog

    Flog a Viking in Tejas Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2017
    Denton, Tx.
    LOVE my mesa WD-800! Anything under 300W just won't do it for me. (had a Ampeg V4 that didn't cut it on an outdoor stage)
    JackNasty, Low8, Aqualung60 and 2 others like this.
  10. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    There’s nothing a tube pre will do for you that can’t be done with a well-designed solid state circuit or a well-programmed DSP. Tube power stage distortion is a somewhat different beast, especially for guitar. So I voted “amp” not “pre”. But while I do like my tube guitar amps, for bass it’s been all solid state since circa 2004.
  11. wheelsup247

    wheelsup247 Wherever You Go, There You Are. Wear it low. Gold Supporting Member

    Tube head like a 70s SVT and an 8x10 cab on each side of the drums gets my vote (if you can - or have roadies that can - lug that weight and mass). Nothing like moving that much air driven by a tube amp. At the present time (in my reality of full in ear monitors and no amps on stage) the Broughton Silver Deluxe or SV Pre or Fliptop into a Radial JDI give me a nice breathy tubey sound.
    Zbysek, Treblefree, JackNasty and 2 others like this.
  12. WarwickE36


    Oct 28, 2010
    TT800 owner here. Happy as a clam. DO IT!
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2021
  13. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    I've owned the Ampeg PF-20T and 50T.
    In terms of sound, I liked the 20T better. My problem was that I could not get a clean sounding low B out of it at volume. That's why I sold it and got the 50T. Much more headroom.
    For playing at home, I'd pick the 20T - or go even smaller.
    My current practice head is a H&K Bass Master that only has 5W.

    If money is not an issue and you like all tube heads AND Mesa, there's the Bass Prodigy to consider.
    Zbysek, Rody and Nuage420 like this.
  14. MattZilla


    Jun 26, 2013
    You’re not missing out on anything. Just get an old GK numbersRB head and some cab or cabs with a bunch of 10s and call it a day.
  15. Smurf-o-Deth

    Smurf-o-Deth Nothing to fret over. Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2007
    The state of denial.
    I'd encourage you to at least give a passing glance to the Shift Line Olympic.
    macmanlou and Nuage420 like this.
  16. Nuage420

    Nuage420 Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    That's on my short list for pres, along with two notes le bass, and a nobel. MAYBE a meatsmoke if one pops up
    Smurf-o-Deth likes this.
  17. Smurf-o-Deth

    Smurf-o-Deth Nothing to fret over. Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2007
    The state of denial.
    It is excellent, and it has numerous power amp simulations (beyond the baked in one) you can load via the micro SD slot.
    Nuage420 likes this.
  18. Mark_70


    Dec 31, 2013
    Two suggestions;
    1) Aguilar DB751. Since you don't gig you wouldn't have to haul it around. It's a lot more horsepower than you'll need at home, but it sounds brilliant. I have a couple of class D amps at home but even at home, I just hook up the DB751. All the amp you can ever want. Heavy and they're not exactly giving them away though
    2) The more sensible choice - I'm with some of the others here on recommending an Ampeg PF50T. Sounds great as well. Never had one but played through one a couple times and was always impressed by the sound.

    Nice problem to have!

  19. Nuage420

    Nuage420 Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2014
    Sensible is rarely a word used to describe me hahaha. Depending on what kind of deals I find I may just go down the hole a bit and try to buy n try a few that I can't test out. I only have a few local shops where I'm at but I'm not too far from atlanta. an all day trip with a planned out route to test stuff would be the likely course of action if it comes to it.
    WG Plum and Mark_70 like this.
  20. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan DNA Endorsing Artist Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    I voted for the tube pre and not the entire 100-lb head with the tube power section and the Massive transformer it needs to put out 300-watts. I had a 50-watt 1966 Fender Bassman that I bought in 1966 and started touring with in 1971. It very quickly became useless as it couldn't come close to keeping up with the 120 to 125-watt Vox Super Beatle amps by guitarist and my key man bought. While playing a 2-week gig in Lincoln, Nebraska, I went into Hospe Music and bought my piggy-back Standel MCIIb/SAM30b amp. It was a 200-watt 215 bass-flex powered speaker cab with 4 vertical ports alongside the speakers. Had to keep my volume knob at 3 indoors because it was just so loud. The head itself just about weighed nothing because it was really just a preamp.

    In 2008 I bought an Eden Nemesis RS400, which is a totally SS amp - no tubes anywhere. It had very clear, clean and articulate sound and was far better than anything I'd had since all my touring gear was stolen in 1976. Then in 2010 I bought an Eden WT500/800 directly from David Nordschow (aka: David Eden) after he sold and left Eden and started his new company DNA. It was originally a 250-watts into 4Ω per channel and 500-watts rms bridged into 8Ω. He upgraded it to 400-watts per channel into 4Ω and 800-watts bridged into 8Ω. My WT500/800 has a hybrid preamp with a 12ax7 for warmth. There definitely is a different sound between the ones without a tube in the preamp and one with the tube in the preamp.

    I should mention that I am after a clean, clear, and articulate sound. I am not looking for any break-up or grind. If I wanted that, I'd have to get a pedal. The later Eden series, the WTP-900 (dual powerblock) and WTP600 (single powerblock), has both that tube in the impedance matching section for warmth, and another 12ax7 in the gain section for everything from slight overdrive to really dirty distortion. The older WT series does not have that. They just have the one for warmth.

    I also have one of Eden's Terra Nova Class D amps. It's the TN-226 which is a 225-watts rms amp I use at one particular small brew pub where we used to play a lot before Covid hit. For all around use, you'd want their 500-watt version. This class D amp has no tube in it, but it does use the Magic Ear chip, which among other things adds some very nice warmth to the sound. The sound from this 4.7-lb class D amp with the same EQ settings as my big Eden amp at 36-lbs. in its rack, sounds virtually the same with the same warmth and fullness of sound as my big amp. So a preamp doesn't necessarily have to have a tube in it as long as it has a good tube emulator chip. I believe the number on that Magic Ear chip is THAT-4301 and it really makes SS amps sound very nice and warm.

    As I mentioned, I don't want and break up or grind in my sound, rather I want really clear, clean, warm, and articulate sound and the Eden hybrids do a great job with that as does any of the Eden totally SS amps (WT330, 390, 405, and TN-series of class D) that use that Magic Ear chip. If you like break up sometimes but not necessarily all the time, take a look at Eden's WT series where you can get just the warmth, or dial up as tube overdrive and/or distortion as you want. With the WTP-900 (2 x 450-watts @ 4Ω or bridged at 900-watts into 8Ω) weighing in at 34-lbs, that's still a lot less than the 65-lb to 100-lb all-tube 300-watts rms amp.

    One other reason I shy away from all-tube amps now days is I just don't want to lug one of those heavy tube amps around any more. Been there done that and don't recommend it, especially since I'm an old codger with bad knees!
    baxter_x and Nuage420 like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Oct 28, 2021

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