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Why fuzz junkies should play tube amps

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Mark Olson, Mar 15, 2010.


  1. Mark Olson

    Mark Olson Inactive

    Mar 19, 2008
    Michigan
    So I've been reading this forum for a good while, and I've noticed a couple things. First off, the main complaint you might hear about dirt pedals is that they cut low end. I think everyone's dealt with that. Second, tons of people play solid state amps, and if they do play a tube amp, they've usually got the volume set at like 9 o'clock. What the hell?

    Of course I've done a few soundclips of some dirt pedals, a lot of which I can easily get tons of low end out of, but other players who buy the same pedals can't. I guess I took it for granted that everyone knew what I'm about to explain, but it's become more and more clear to me that they don't so let me tell you why:

    It's simple. Compression. This is a big part of the reason why tube amps pushed to their breaking point sound so good and get so loud, and not something that the guy running his super high wattage tube amp at 9 o'clock is necessarily going to get.

    Many tube amps are very responsive and dynamic in that you can control with your attack how much of that tube saturation and magic you get. But with a tube amp cranked to it's breaking point, you don't always get twice as loud when you play twice as hard. That's because of the compression. The sound just gets bigger, and you get more sustain because the more you dig in, the more the amp compresses.

    I get huge low end out of Tonebenders (Mk II and III), Fuzz Faces, Tone Machines, my Maestro Fuzz Tone, and other such fuzzes, none of them modded for bass. The reason is simple, I run the volume high on the pedal. My amps, which I run at the breaking point, will clamp down (compress) on the overall volume so I don't get a volume boost actually, the added upper content from the volume boost gets compressed but squeezes more of that tube amp magic out, and the low frequencies just fill out the sound on any dirtbox that doesn't totally delete the low frequencies. Upping the volume is just like playing harder on a cranked tube amp, the sound gets bigger, but not always louder.

    If I can get time tomorrow I'll do some on/off clips to demonstrate this. Needless to say this is one of the reasons I've been playing only low wattage tube amps in my new band that I can actually crank into compression. I NEED classic 60's fuzz AND low end to fill out my three piece. And that is how I can have both.
     
  2. Just out of curiousity - what sort of tube wattage/amps are you running?
     
  3. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Agreed I enjoy nothing more than sitting there with a 100w vintage head cranked into an 8x10 with a dirt pedal and a volume pedal, lots and lots of tones you can get with this setup.

    Same with boosts, totally different things with tube amps compared to SS heads. I remember my Tone Factor Hellbaby at 9 o clock would send speakers firing into the grills but vintage tube amp just made it nice and dirty with a managable volume increase, even when cranked.
     
  4. does this include hybrid amps??

    I want me a hybrid amp ever since playing the GB shuttle 6.0,...

    I think in general good amp = better dirt
     
  5. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Not so much as it's the power tubes that do most of the compression when cranked
     
  6. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Lakewood, OH
    yep, that's why a lot of those bassfuzz reviews are interesting to me. if the dude used a big ole tube amp, i'm sure some pedals would be getting a lot better reviews.

    fuzz/dist/OD just sound better through tubes. whether you're driving the tubes more, or just getting a little bit of the grit, it all helps to make it better.
     
  7. lowmid

    lowmid

    Feb 2, 2005
    belgium
    I know It's not a pure tube amp, but I'ts really what I feel when playing my walkabout head, My DIY cmos boost sounds really great when compressing the front end of my mesa and getting the tube harmonics out of it. So basically my dirt tone is 50% due to the pedal that adds a bit of bite but also 50% due to the amp because like mark, I run my amp at nearly breakup (it compresses a lot when attacking hard, barely clipping)

    When fed with a hotter signal (IE my boost), it clips and sounds wonderfull!
     
  8. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    Well Grygrx does them direct but he does/did have a Sovtek Mig 100 or 50 I forget which I would argue that if recorded direct you can reamp into your own amp to hear what it sounds like.
     
  9. markjazzbassist

    markjazzbassist Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Lakewood, OH
    yeah or he could just mic his amp. that way he'd get the natural tube coloration and grit.
     
  10. Driving a fuzz pedal into a computer or mixing board versus driving it into a tube amp - what a huge difference!
    I think the OP makes an interesting point, but it holds up for what we know in generally - any given pedal/bass/piece of gear is not always "bad" or "good" - it just happens to work with some people's setups, and not others.
     
  11. TaySte_2000

    TaySte_2000

    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    I think you'd get what Mark is saying above though, lots of people going mine doesn't sound like that and therefore your soundclips aren't accurate
     
  12. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    As in the last thread we had on this subject, the best scenario would be for video/audio lips to include both types of recording (direct to soundcard, and through miked tube amp). That's the only way to satisfy the two camps.
     
  13. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD
    What about running dirt pedals into a tube or tube-like preamp? Give some love to us poor student bedroom players.

    Your reasoning is why I used to have an OD at the end of my setup, but I have no way of knowing whether I got anywhere close to the same mojo.
     
  14. Swift713

    Swift713

    Dec 4, 2006
    Florence, Ma
    I don't know, my AI Clarus sounds a lot warmer than my Bassbuddy and there's not a tube anywhere in my house. I think a bass cabinet makes a huge difference as well. There's a lot more than two camps :S
     
  15. nad

    nad 60 Cycle Humdinger

    Sep 22, 2005
    Agreed. Fuzz sounds infinitely better with a tube head (and a passive bass, and cabs without tweeters).
     
  16. Mark Olson

    Mark Olson Inactive

    Mar 19, 2008
    Michigan
    Hey guys, thanks for all the responses! I've got a few errands to do then I'll try to get back and do some soundclips of what I'm talking about.

    I do agree that fuzz sounds best through a tube amp in general, but I'll try to show that you can get more low end with a cranked tube amp a lot closer to unity gain. I'll do some clips on/off with Tonebenders, which are generally acknowledged to suck low end.
     
  17. demon666

    demon666

    Jul 16, 2005
    Providence RI
    I agree with this 100%. I just did a little fuzz shootout so people could hear the character of the pedal. I'm way into tube amps into vintage cabs, passive basses and fuzz pedals. Alot of people want that big fuzzed out sound and it's not really gonna happen with a SS or hybrid amp.
     
  18. Mark Olson

    Mark Olson Inactive

    Mar 19, 2008
    Michigan
    Ok, clips. mp3's aren't ideal for showing this, but take my word for it, when I do those three hits on my E clean, and then do three more with the fuzz, the waveform has the same amplitude, even though it sounds so much bigger.

    As you can hear on the clean sound the amp is dialed in for a little preamp and a little power amp dirt. The clean sound is almost anemic, but the fuzz sounds thick in comparison.

    Also realize that the volume knob on the pedal is maxed. This would give you a very large volume boost on a solid state amp, making the difference in level unusable. The tone is also maxed for these clips, and the dirt is on 1:30 for the first clip and maxed for the second.

    http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=889952&songID=8888563

    http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=889952&songID=8888566

    So playing through a sweating tube amp allows me to have a thick fuzz tone that thickens the sound of the band when on where otherwise the fuzz would sound anemic without a huge boost in volume that would drown everyone else out.
     
  19. Mark Olson

    Mark Olson Inactive

    Mar 19, 2008
    Michigan
    I'll do these clips with a Tiny Terror actually, but what works best for me is a Marshall 2061X Lead and Bass, 20 Watts. People will tell you you cannot get loud with a 20 watt tube amp. That is utter bull. I play through two high sensitivity 12's (100 dB) and I think it gets deafeningly loud. Soon I'll have two 103.5 dB drivers. Compared to the speakers I'd have to use to handle all the power of a 200 watt tube amp (sensitivity of 94 dB, my choice of speakers), which would be 10 dB difference from the wattage, I'm able to run the 20 watter through 9.5 dB more sensitive speakers. There's a difference in low low response in the speaker choices I've made, but you do the math on the overall volume.
     
  20. Mark Olson

    Mark Olson Inactive

    Mar 19, 2008
    Michigan
    Here's another going direct into a sound card. Aside from sounding atrocious, notice the huge volume increase in the high frequencies and the lack of low end when the fuzz comes on. Way different than with a tube amp; way different than the pedal was intended to sound, which is thick and juicy. I would argue that this clip could mislead people into thinking the pedal is automotically going to suck out all your low end, which is not the case at all if you use fuzz friendly gear.

    http://www.soundclick.com/bandAdmin/default.cfm?content=songs&bandid=889952&sub=upload

    All these clips are a Fulltone Soul Bender by the way.
     
  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.

     
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