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tube vs solid state

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by jg42, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. jg42


    Jul 12, 2012
    was thinking today and realized that tubes "usually" work better with slower attack sound whereas solid state stuff works better with faster attack sounds such as slap. obviously you can salp with tubes as well, but my question is - are there tube devices that give coloration without affecting the "sharpness"?
  2. miiitch


    Nov 27, 2011
    well ... i wouldn´t call my 3-tubes ART Pro Channel "slow".

    what could have happened is that you have overdriven your tube(s) with the slap attack peak, "softening" it
  3. That's what almost every hybrid amp claims to do. The best example IMO is the GK MBFusion. It takes the typical quick, responsive, GK Tone and adds a tube flavor to it. The Mesa Carbine would be a big brother example of that as well.
  4. Part of the "tube" thing is the natural coloration that comes from the tube. It's impossible to make a tube "transparent" because of how a tube works. There are things that can be done to the circuit around it to reduce or alter the coloration (e.g. an Ampeg will always sound pretty much the same regardless of the tubes) but there's always going to be some. It's a tube and the tech. involved is about 100 years old.

    I have an EBS Micro Bass 2 pre. It has a "tube sim" button. I campared this setting with a Demeter HBP-1 that I had. I sold the Demeter because the two were indistiguisable.

    As far as "Sollid state is better for slap" and "tubes are slow", I've never heard anyone say this.
  5. The Mark Bass Little Mark Tube is another great example of a hybrid.
  6. The whole tube vs. SS argument is not relevant in this day and age. The differences are seldom repeatable with multiple people as each person hears things slightly differently and our frame of reference is never the same. (we all have different tastes) I own a 1975 SVT and a newer SVT4Pro. They sound virtually identical to my ears. Actually the 4Pro is quieter than the Tube SVT. With over 50 years to get it right transistor technology is sufficiently advanced that IMO it is possible to design 2 heads one with tubes and the other SS and voiced properly I don't think most of us could tell the difference between the two in a blind test. Amps built by different manufacturers sound different because each manufacturer has its own signature sound (voicing) that they try and make consistent across an entire model line. Go listen to a SS and tube amp (I challenge anyone to do a blind test with amps built by the same company) and be able to tell the difference by ear only. Before the flames begin this is just my opinion but I've been performing and critically listening for 39 years now and I used to hear a dramatic difference years ago but the difference has waned in the last decade to the point where I can no longer tell the difference.

    This does not mean I can't tell a cheap introductory priced SS amp sounds different from a Pro model tube amp. I'm saying all else being equal a quality made SS amp voiced similar to a quality made tube amp will sound almost identical.
  7. Not true.
    The OP is a good observation. And the follwing posts make good points. The reason there is a slightly slower attack with tube heads is because they have natural compression
  8. I agree "somewhat" with Bassmeknik. I think when listening to a clean bass tone through tube and SS amps of comparable qaulity its not a huge difference. If you are listening to an overdriven tone, i think its a little easier to hear. I think the biggest difference between the two types of amps are how they "feel" to the player. In my opinion, when im playing a show, 99.99999% of the audience can't tell the difference between a guitar and a bass, let alone a tube amp vs. SS. I guess those guys that sit in their bedroom with a full SVT stack playing rush tunes will tell you only tube amps are real amps and guys jamming to nu- metal "songs" in their den will say that high wattage solid state stuff is superior, but in the real world it comes down to what you like and what you are willing to lug around. I use a mesa 400+ and a GK 1001rb and i love them both.
  9. avvie


    Oct 12, 2010
    Maui, HI
    Ya know, until right now I have never thought to question why my Hartke head has a tube and SS preamp. Thanks for this.
  10. bigchiefbc

    bigchiefbc Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Rhode Island, USA
    It depends what kind of "tube sound" you're going for. If you're talking about a high-power tube amp that is set to a clean setting, then yes you can probably get 99% of the way there with a well-voiced SS amp.

    If you're talking about preamp tubes overdriving, then yes I have heard that sound copied pretty well by some SS circuits.

    But if you're talking about an all-tube amp that is cranked up right to edge of power-section breakup you start getting a good bit of overdrive, then I have to say that I have yet to hear an SS circuit really capture that sound convincingly. Even the newer emulations that are supposed to be the bee's knees still don't sound all that convincing to me for that big power-section breakup sound.
  11. Any tube back ends also add more compression-like saturation, something you can't get easily out from hybrid amps with a tube pre-amp stage. But then again your back will curse you when you carry those around.
  12. Jim C

    Jim C Spector#496:More curves than Sophia + better sound Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Finally, a correct answer! :D
  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Sounds like a lot of folks who are answering never touched a tube amp in their lives.

    Turn a tube amp up to distortion...then it'll sag and compress. Turn a tube amp down to where it stays totally clean with headroom and it's the most clear, tight and uncompressed sound you will ever hear. And it's totally noticeable. 75% of people on here could tell the difference between my REDDI and my VT running similar clean tones so it's very noticeable. I would totally rather have a clean running tube amp than a clean running SS head any day of the week. Having said that, I sure have been using my SS stuff a lot more lately because it's crazy light and sounds good ;)
  14. The way a tube amp responds is something to behold (I have gigged before with all-tube amps) and for those that love 'em, they'll seldom settle for anything else (unless they're old and/or have a bad back).

    That said, I own zero tubes in all if my gear... But there are some things in my bags-o-tricks that can really put a smile on my face.
  15. I'm not sure what to say... My '76 SVT slays my Micro VR which slayed my BDDI. Both of which, at one time or another, were supposed to sorta sound like the SVT.

    Funny thing everyone forgets about this stuff is how much a cab matters. A sealed cab will sound different than a ported cab will sound different than a small ported cab will sound different than a large ported cab will sound different than sealed versions of either of those... I'd go as far as to say there's a greater difference between cabs than there is among amps that are supposed to be fairly similar... and here we are quibbling about effects. :D

    I can say that in 22 years of playing bass nothing has convinced me to part with my SVT & 810 and at 240lbs between the two I can't say I haven't tried.
  16. avvie


    Oct 12, 2010
    Maui, HI
    my ss amp is crazy light but I only use it at practice and its a huge PITA to make it sound good. I spend more time turning knobs with that thing....
  17. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    I use an SVT-CL and a Markbass F500 (a fast amp) and I cannot say one is faster than the other.
    If anything as long as the SVT is running clean, it "feels" faster to me. It's so fast, it as so much power, headroom and dynamics that it seems the amp is reading my thoughts.

    The perception of how fast the sound hits has a lot to do with EQ - add a lot of highs and mids to your tone and it will feel it's hitting faster.
  18. Alright agreed about tube compression and tube distortion, I use a very clean sound almost always. I suppose that is why I see so little difference between the two types of amps.