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Tube vs SS feeling in your stomach...

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Son of Bovril, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. I'm wondering: 300watt tube head vs 100watt SS head...

    With a 1000watt SS head you get that wonderful sensation of real POWER behind the sound (I'm not really sure how to describe this one... I'm sure some of you have experienced it?), I have limited experience with all tube heads?

    My question is:

    Do you get that same sensation of ultimate power with a 300watt tube head... I know it is loud (roughly the same volume), but it's still only 300watts? Or is that sensation of power dependant on volume rather than power?
  2. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    Yup. You can get the same feeling by standing in front of a tube amp turned up loud. Try a 400+, SVT or Classic 400 and you'll see. Not just that, but the tonal profile of a tube amp is so rich and full that it's WORTH the extra $ & Pounds.
  3. Unfortunately the only experience I've had with tube amps is limited to the SVT CL and 810 in a couple of gig situations...

    I could not get the damn thing to stay clean! it just went gritty and lost all it's punch? probably my lack of experience with the amp, but it certainly didn't have the power that the SVT4 had in the same situation?
  4. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I used to use an SVT-4 and ran it into a 2x15 and 4x10 cabinet. It had some power, but now that I use a Mesa Bass 400 it seems like it had a kind of flat tone in comparisson.

    My Bass 400 (with 6L6 tubes, producing a mere 180 watts), going into a Mesa 4x10 cab has way more balls to it than my SVT-4 into an Ampeg 4x10. The Mesa setup hits you in the chest about 10-15 feet away, shakes your pant legs if you are up close.
  5. mmm...sounds good - pant shaking...
  6. FireBug


    Sep 18, 2005
    SS amps always sounded a little dry to me. I like the sound of harmonic overtones. Good stuff.
  7. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place




    But remember, once you start down that path, forever will it dominate your destiny. Consume you it will.
  8. protoz


    Nov 30, 2000
    Tube amps become addicting once you get into them and their presence is different that SS. Try em, you'll like em
  9. I've only experienced SVT (mid 70's) for all tube. Great, but I can't bring myself to haul it and the 810 everywhere.

    But 400 or more ss, w/o even a tube pre seemed to pale in comparison, both in tone and power.

    But after trying a few hybrids, I can handle lugging the near 30lbs of an 1100watt head, (Eden wt800B), and typically a single 410 gets it done, but I bring a second one for outdoors.

    I still hear a little voice telling me to take the ampeg out for an outdoor gig now and then.....the tone can be addicting !

    I do find better overall clarity from the hybrid(s) though.
  10. TheChariot


    Jul 6, 2004
    Boston, MA
    My two setups consist of a QSC RMX1450 putting out 450Watts SS, and an Ampeg V4B putting out 100Watts Tube. Either setup goes through an Ampeg BXT410.

    As far as perceived loudness is concerned... The V4B at 10 o'clock sounds a smidge louder than the RMX when its just at the clipping point. It's pretty close, I guess.

    But.... the V4B DEFINATELY gets the speakers moving WAY more. It almost scared me the first time I plugged it in. The speakers just come to life, even when your not digging really hard on your strings. It just sorta hits you harder I guess.

    Dont get me wrong... I love SS. I like the ability to add a ton of power for reasonable amounts of money... and I like the ability to just shift to a different preamp... and I like the ability of potentially having a lightweight head. But tubes just have special characteristics to their power that you cant mimic in a lot of situations.
  11. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL

    SS amps have punch, quick response, and headroom that no all tube setup wont have. makes tube amps almost feel like wading thru molasses.

    but tube amps have that all tube power section for a weighty, fat feel that's toooo addictive to ever give up. makes SS amps seem stiff, and lifeless.

    course, there are amps in either camp that seem to cross the borders and break those rules. and even more interestingly, you can make an all tube amp more punchie w/ a proper fully parametric EQ. but you cant really inject that weighty tube power section feel w/ an SS amp, no matter how good a front end tube preamp you have.

    thus, few rigs can touch my all Demeter HBP-1 & 300M setup. the HBP allows me incredible flexibility, while the 300M has more than enough tube power section mojo.

    i.e. one amp that seems to have done the impossible is Aguilar's DB750. has that weighty fat tubey feel, but w/ more than enough wattage for a massive punch. now only if they can cram that into a 6 lbs. package. :p


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    ...Don't know about that Jay...My Kern with non-stock tubes & Crown pwr sure sounds sweet & very tubey to me...Granted, it can't cop the "all tube" sound of my V-8, it comes pretty close, especially live through a mix where the minute differences are that. I also like the tube pre/ss pwr for FX better, they seem to project & cut more + the worry of the pricey all tube amps is diminshed before/during/after the show...

    my $0.02

    PS: I personally miss the tube pwr sect vibe but the s/s dampened lows make up for it...


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY

    Great edit...beyond the weight issue, what are you saying?...

  14. I'm not fully understanding this all tube hype, I guess it's something you gotta try... I'll have to give it a go before making any decisions...
  15. Keeaumoku


    Dec 29, 2004
    I have an all-tuber which not very many TB'ers own. I say this, because if you do a search, you don't find very many comments on my amp... 'cept from me, but 'dats 'cuz I'm in love with, and biasly promote my beloved monster: a Marshall VBA400.

    IMO, the VBA400 is very similar to the Trace-Elliott V8, and let me say this right now: the TE-V8 is one of the finest all-tube bass amps ever presented to discerning bassists. TE products were originally produced from a place called Essex in Jolly Old England; however, the Gibson Corporation swallowed-up little Trace-Elliott sometime in the late 90's, and that's not to say the buy-out was necessarily a bad thing, either. I believe Gibson still owns TE, but I'm not too sure... The TE-V8 has its own built-in compressor- something really nice to help maintain tone consistentcy... and, more impressive than that: each pair of tubes has its own fuse and status LED. So, if a tube or two decides to crap-out on you, the amp keeps on playing along with the remaining ones, and the LED lets you know exactly where your problem is. I gotta admit... my VBA400 doesn't have these two outstanding features.

    Now, having buttered-up the TE-V8 as... if I were a TE sales rep... I shall attempt to defend my VBA400. Like the V8, the VBA400 has 8 power tubes: 6550's versus KT88's. We tube lovers know quite well that there are differences between vacuum tubes and their makers, but that's a whole different topic, which calls for a different discussion format. The VBA400 is extremely powerful- 400 watts. It has the standard EQ knobs: bass, mids, and treble, and it also has a "Contour" switch, which allows one to augment the mids. The VBA400 does have its own built-in safety feature: if you forget to hook-up your cabinet to the amp, and you mistakenly switch-on the power, the amp will not power-up internally unless it is properly connected to a speaker cabinet. Given the impressive make-up of the TE, I would have to assume it has this very same safety feature.

    While Marshall has rightfully been known as a great "guitar amp" producer, thus shedding some doubt in the eyes of some with their credibility as a "bass amp" maker, they got it right with the VBA400. I believe the VBA400 can easily stand on its own against any of the all-tubers in the market. You want over-driven harmonic distortion from a bass guitar? Didn't Jim Marshall virtually pioneer harmonic distortion for guitar amplification? I continue not to understand those doubters who say that Marshall Amplification cannot build a quality all-tube bass head. :rolleyes:

    I love the fact that my VBA400 has "Marshall" emblazoned across its face in that most familiar script font. When we're doing a gig, our stage looks pretty cool with our guitarist's Marshall stack on the left, and my Marshall "stack" on the right. However, the TE-V8 has a see-through grill for its face, thus proudly showing off all 'dem glowing tubes within... way cool, indeed! Finally... price comparison! I paid a little over $1500 for my VBA400. I belive a new TE-V8 is between $600 - $700 more... I could be wrong, but I gotta be close!

    And then along comes the Aguilar DB750... truly a work of art in bass amplification, if there ever was one, or ever shall be another! :eek: I recently got me one of these, and I'm still astounded and amazed! This Aggie is a hybrid: 4- tubes for the pre-amp, and 12- lateral MOSFET's producing an incredible 975 watts @ 2-Ohms, or 750 watts @ 4-Ohms. You can get a crystal-clear, ultra-powerful high-fidelity solid-state sound from this amp, or simply set the Master Volume at around 7 o'clock, then crank the gain to about 2 - 3 o'clock, then... VIOLA!... you got yourself a TE-V8, VBA400, Ampeg CL... nothing but fat, over-driven, harmonic distortion... Can't imagine how 'dem boys from New York City pulled it off, but the DB750 is one amazing piece of equipment! I'm so completely satisfied with it, and it allows me to give my VBA400 a well-deserved break. Her over-all performance life has rightfully been extended! :D
  16. Damn I wish I could get an Aguilar her in SA to try out!
  17. Right...

    Its seems like a tube amp is always putting out the same amount of power at whatever frequency you're playing. A tube amp has an unexplanable even-ness to the sound. It seems like on SS the power and depth drops off as you start going lower, but with tubes the power is always there. A solid state amp seems to have a mechanical, deliberate character to the sound. A tube amp just does make the sound, with an even, natural character.
    The best analogy I can make is to musicians. Some play fast, thought out structures with perfect technique and flawless execution, and some just play what they hear naturally in their head and it comes out just the way they hear it. Both are good and impressive in there own rights, but its up to the person which they think is better. Jaco vs Wooten. John Petrucci vs. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Arnold Jacobs vs Pat Sheridan. Theyre all great in different ways.