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Why are tube amps not as widely used by modern bass players?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by mangoes, Nov 6, 2019.

  1. mangoes

    mangoes Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2019
    Montreal, QC
    Besides Ampeg SVTs, why are bass amplifiers with tubes not as widely used by modern bass players as they are by guitarists, especially professionals for whom money and weight is of no concern? Flea, Justin Chancellor, Les Claypool, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, Alain Caron, Joe Dart, Michael League, Anthony Wellington, etc.
    BazzaBass likes this.
  2. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Maybe the Pro's know something. . . . . like, maybe, you can get a good sound without tubes?
  3. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Listing kinda clean tone guys.
  4. InnerBass

    InnerBass Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2014
    In the Zone
    No idea -

  5. Take this as my opinion only
    As a guitarist a tube amp adds a lot to how full the guitar sounds. It also adds a lot of dynamics that you don’t typically get from a solid state amp.
    As a bassist a good solid state amp seems to have a faster response than a tube amp. A good preamp and pickups seem to do most of the heavy lifting on the tone side.
    All the names on that list I recognize are also playing active, custom (or at least high end) Basses. You don’t see them performing recording on the forum popular Squier or leaning heavy on that P bass with passives.
    MattZilla, Robroy, Al Krow and 5 others like this.
  6. Dominic DeCosa

    Dominic DeCosa Habitual Line-Stepper Commercial User

    Mar 9, 2008
    Vero Beach, Florida
    DiCosimo Audio
    As time moves on there will be less and less people who grew up with tube amps. I grew up with my dad's GK 400RB so that's the sound I hear in my head when I think of my favorite tone.
    kazuhank, oaklandthumb, bbh and 9 others like this.
  7. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    IMHO the primary reason is the weight versus power factor.

    Also many bass players actually prefer a solid state output section to a tube output section. I own 28 amps and all but 8 of them are tube amps. Despite this, my favorite bass amps are probably the hybrids because I prefer a rig with very high headroom.

    A lot of players who prefer all tube amps like to push the output section just to the edge were it starts to compress and thicken up. If you play hard with the amp running in this part of it's power range, it will break over in distortion. A problem with this is you have to set the amp to a certain power level to get the desired effect, so you are not as free to deal with volume requirements on stage.

    One way to resolve this is to have multiple tube amps with different power ratings. Take a relatively low powered amp, like a 100 watter to quiet gigs, and take a high powered amp, like a 300 watter to loud gigs. For this reason, some people own Ampeg V4Bs and SVTs.

    One final factor is it tends to cost a bit more to maintain tube amps over the long run, because tubes wear out and need to be replaced.
  8. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    The average bass player's needs are far better served by a solid state power section.
    Tone, weight, reliability, volume, headroom, etc.
    hasbeen, Jim Carr, grouse789 and 30 others like this.
  9. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan

    Jun 14, 2014
    Midland, TX
    Weigh a ton, can cost a fortune to replace tubes, and frankly, most are very low powered compared to class D amps. Imagine hoisting an 800 watt tube amp that likely would have 16 power tubes and a transformer the size of a small car
  10. Why would anyone need an 800 watt tube amp when a 300 watt tube amp is plenty?
  11. That is a matter of opinion, tube amps are half my sound and I do not play dirty.
  12. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Many guitarist are switching to Solid-State. Look at the number of major manufacturers making Solid-State for guitars these days - it's increasing all the time.
  13. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    I have no idea, since all-tube amps sound better and provide better "feel."

    (Sactobass runs for cover in anticipation of the pending onslaught from his fellow and fellowette TB'ers!) :bag: :D :)

    Dang it......where did I put my flamesuit....
    corinpills, kranahan, Helix and 18 others like this.
  14. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Many bass players are going ampless on stage. Some guitarists too, with digital modelers. Amps, including tube amps aren't going way, but there are other good options.
  15. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    I really don't care about the preferences of Big Names who have no concern about weight. I had a concern about weight. I lugged around a MusicMan HD 150 for years. Then I played through a Genz Benz Shuttle 6.0, and my back told me to buy it. So I did. :D
    daddymactx, 2pods, Helix and 23 others like this.
  16. Yes! :thumbsup:

    Class D is perfect for bass! 800W in the size of a book? You betcha!
    2pods, dkelley, dcr and 5 others like this.
  17. DrMole

    DrMole Supporting Member

    I may disagree slightly- tube amps give a different feel. Many, perhaps most of the "classics" may indeed feel better- but just having tubes is not, IMNSHO, A guarantee of superior sound and feel.

    Still hoping to be able to " justify" a Mesa Strategy in next year, then have to slyly collect or modify some cabinets:D

    As promised a few months hence, your Avatar alone is always worth a "like".
    Though there is absolutely no " dislike" in my take on your post:thumbsup:
    Helix and SactoBass like this.
  18. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Absolutely 100% true! :thumbsup: I had a Mesa Buster Bass 200 all-tube amp head, and it was more sterile sounding than some of the solid state amps I've had. Same with the Reeves 225 that I had.......way too clean for my personal preference.

    But an SVT-VR? Or a Fender Bassman 100T (which I currently have) or Super Bassman? Oh yeah baby........yummy tube tone and feel....in spades! :)
    kranahan, DrMole, rodl2005 and 6 others like this.
  19. Alessandro Cruz

    Alessandro Cruz

    Jul 23, 2018
    Efficiency, weight, reliability, easy to mantain/repair, cost less money.

    In MY OPINION, that's the reason.

    I don't dislike tube amps, to be honest... But nowadays it's just not my tone. I really enjoy more modern, clean sound. And the actual offerings and portability available are huge. And the prices are way more affordable, of course...
    Iristone, DJ Bebop, Dee-man and 2 others like this.
  20. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    D class ??

    200 to 300 watts is more than enough
    why not use tubes. Heck just normal early solid states are light

    Actual answer to the question, I think its cost for many
    problem is to many manufactures try to make 300 plus watt amplifiers and its unnecessary

    As far as why so many " pros" dont use them.
    Hard to place a opinion without to many people getting upset

    Of the small group mentioned
    Its not a perfect example

    There is still alot of touring bands using tube amps
    Pop culture isnt the full picture

    alot of it is based on tone. tubes are often associated with " distortion" and for the most part true
    distortion is more common with Guitar and majority of the market and status for tube amps.
    Stays with guitar players. Most the pop culture and underground guitar players all use tube amps.

    Bass players want " clean" tone and majority of the market and pop culture has too many
    solid state heroes in the bass world. Even though it is totally possible to get clean tone from tube amps.
    Likewise you dont need 400 plus watts to be a bass player. But majority seem to feel you do
    7615 likes this.

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