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Tube vs solid state

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Busker, Jan 23, 2007.

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  1. Busker


    Jan 22, 2007
    I'm a guitar player who is learning the bass. I know why the majority of guitar players like tube amps. The warm, sweet, buttery tone, the nice overdrive, etc.

    Why would a bass player want a tube amp? Same reasons?

    I know a little about tubes. Chinese and Russian made tubes are cheap so if you have to replace them 4 times a year it's not that big a deal. Not long ago I bought a matched quartet of Chinese EL34s for about $25 (probably at least $400 for the same in Mullards). But do the Chinese and Russian tubes sound better than a good solid state amp?

    The price of NOS Mullards, Amperex, Telefunken, even USA-made RCA, GE, Sylvania, etc. is out of the reach of many. So I assume, unless you've got dollars to spare, most that use tube gear are likely to go for the cheaper tubes.

    Tell me your take on it, and perhaps recommend a good, affordable amp or two, tube OR solid state.

    I currently play a Fender P bass, if that helps recommend an amp.
  2. spencer

    spencer Guest

    Feb 22, 2006
    same as guitarist, search its been asked 100000000000 sideways 8 million times..
  3. Busker


    Jan 22, 2007
    I'm new here. Thanks anyway. Kinda tough to break into this place, isn't it?
  4. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    No stress, friend.

    There are three types of people here, those who love tubes, those who love solid state, and those who love both. My main amp is a Mesa 400+ with JJ tubes in it. I have only changed the tubes once and believe they'll last a good long time. Tubes have a very distinct tone to them thats a love for some and a dislike for others. I happen to enjoy both, as long as I can keep my tone clean and low.
  5. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    As a tube guy, I'll say that some of us don't push our amps to distortion and stress - we like the fatness with lots of headroom - that's part of the reason the 300W SVT is so popular. I have been on the same set of Chnese power tubes in mine for the past 7 years...I take it to my tech once a year or so - he looks at it and says it's totally happy, leave 'em in there 'til you hear something you don't like.

    So you don't necessarily have to spend a fortune putting tubes in unless you like to run your amp pretty hard.
  6. nad

    nad 60 Cycle Humdinger Commercial User

    Sep 22, 2005
    Not Mars
    The Overlord of Nordstrand Pickups
    There are benefits to both designs. I used to be an all tube guy, but now my amp of choice is completely solid state, and it's the best I've ever played through. In fact I was keeping hold of an all tube vintage Sunn amp for some time, but recently sold it because I haven't even plugged it in for 3 months.

    There are a lot of great amps out there of both variety, and some inbetween (hybrid heads with tube preamps and solid state power sections). If you're just starting out, experiment with used equipment so if you don't like something, you can sell it for (hopefully) not a big loss and move on to something else.
  7. Bigduke


    Dec 10, 2006
    Try the hartke 5500 head,it is tube or SS.There is a difference,I personally like the tube side(warmer).
  8. will33


    May 22, 2006
    It takes a lot more power to push out low end than it does to get volume with a guitar, that's why you'll see guitarists playing small combo's or 50watt 212's and the bass player is using 300-400 watts or more and a 410 to end up at the same apparent volume. There are two drawbacks to getting that much power in a tube head.

    1. It's going to be heavy

    2. It's going to be expensive

    Some of us would say well worth it on both counts but that could be argued about for years. If you're just getting into it, the advice to by used for now is good. You'll probably change your mind about what you like several times and there's no sense in that costing you thousands. To be able to play out at a regular gig, for now look at solid state heads around 300 watts or better and a decent cabinet. A 212, a 410, or the combination of a 15 and 2-10's would all be good choices to get you gigable power and volume. Other than that try as much different gear as you can to see what you really like. If you run into something or some brand you're not familiar with post about it here, someone will surely have owned one or played one. If you're not familiar with ohms read the FAQ and while you're at it, read the rest of Talkbass, there's a lot of good information here above and beyond the usual "this vs. that" and the latest in the boutique market. Also remember while trying out stuff that adjusting things to get it to sound good in a mix could end up being quite different than getting it to sound good by itself (like playing it in the store).
  9. xifr


    Sep 26, 2006
    You really shouldn't have to replace tubes that much. In guitar amps it's 1 year for power tubes and 2 years for preamp tubes as a guide, and I assume it's the same for bass (though I'm yet to delve into that, enough money would be nice first ;) ). So I would suggest buying some Tung Sol or other high end non-NOS tubes. Here's a good site:
  10. Kelly Lee

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

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    TB can be a little hard to understand when you are still a noob. Certain questions, like yours, have been talked to death. Matter of fact, your particular question normally results in a flame war between tube and SS users. Therefore, due to those reasons, I am closing this thread. If you have any questions concerning this closure, please PM me.

    Any hoo, that is why it is a good idea for all new members to read the Rules/FAQ/CUP. Plus, we have one specifically just for the Amps forum that you can find here: Sticky: Check before asking! Answers to your most FAQ (and if it's not here do a search)

    Please read all the threads that are made a "sticky" for each forum that you wish to participate in. It will help understand a lot about Talkbass and it's rules.

    BTW, welcome to TB! :D

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