#152051  by joeriz
 Sun May 08, 2016 6:00 am
Hi all,

I have been a tube amp player all of my life. I think the only solid state guitar amp I ever owned was my very first amp and that was over 30 years ago. And while I've played through solid state amps very occasionally, I don't really feel like it's been for long enough periods of time to reach any meaningful conclusions.

So I'd like to ask those of you here who have more experience with solid state amps - be they combo or separate - what are the key differences in sound and feel that you have noticed? In particular, I have read that they tend to have a more consistent sound at low volumes than tube amps. Does this square with your experience? I have always thought that 'weak' sound at low volume was more a result of the Fletcher-Munson effect than choice of output-section device.


 #152052  by williamsaut
 Sun May 08, 2016 6:58 am
I had to look up the Fletcher-Munson effect. Pretty cool and sounds about right from my experience playing (loud) live music. Not only has it always seemed that the dynamic range starts to disappear at louder levels, (compression), but yes, I have always wondered why the tone and instrument separation seemed to be altered in a bad way as the night progressed. At least some of this is most likely due to louder levels later in the evening. We're all aware of it on stage but didn't know why we had a tendency to play louder as the night progressed. Some of the tonal change is due to a room emptying out before the cops come out looking for drunk drivers. All the sound dampening from all those bodies goes away and the room characteristics change

As far as the tube vs SS amps, Tube amps are underrated power wise. Tube amps tend to run at the high end of their rated wattage before the output stage starts to exhibit the characteristic sound their known for, harmonic content, compression, Chime etc. So a 50watt tube amp is an extremely loud amp compared to a 50 watt SS amp which has literally no more to give when it reaches 50watts of output and caves in a very non musical way over that rating. The McIntosh MC50 not withstanding which puts out the cleanest and loudest 70watts I've ever heard, about 150watts is the minimum for being able to grab a clean yet dynamic and punchy tone thru a single 12" open back speaker cab. Maybe a little less through a 2x12 cab. but wouldn't be comfortable with 100watts. I'm presently miss-matching the output of a Fender Jazzmaster ultralight amp with an 8ohm E120. The amp puts out 250watts but a only 2ohms load. The amp is putting out more than the 62 watts that a straight output vs load calculation would suggest. These types of load unbalances are not linear. Maybe someone hear can tell me how many watts I'm pushing but the 100Db E120 has something to do with it also as it's a very sensitive speaker.

In a nutshell, it's basically a 2 to 1 scenario about twice the SS power rating to stay where a tube amp is in dynamic range and punch.

SS amps tend to have less punch and harmonic content than tube amps but IMO are easier to dial in and tweak the tone of without making major volume changes. If the tube amp is of a lower wattage say 25watts, it can be run pretty much flat out in a set it and forget it manor with just the guitar volume knob to control the overall gain. Fender Champs and Tweed amps are generally run this way. That said, SS modeling Guitar amps have come a long way in recent years and a descent and convincing amp tone can be achieved with many of them. But where a 100 watt Twin Reverb is ridiculously loud and can't even get close to it's sweet spot before the sound guy's giving you the stink eye, a 100watt SS guitar amp is sort of a minimum unless it's mic'd.

 #152062  by williamsaut
 Sun May 08, 2016 5:11 pm
That's a good thread and seems that the MC50 is winning out as far as power amp tone. FWIW, it's putting out more Like 70watts. I've got an FYD preamp and MC50 and it's quite a powerful combination but just a little too heavy to put in a single case unless it's a rolling one. There's another difference between Tube amps and SS amps and it's that the "front end" or preamp of a tube amp can be pushed with more than it's full power input voltage of around 1volt to good effect where as SS amps usually don't benefit from doing this and just reach their rated maximum output that much sooner, (less headroom). If your using an SMS or FYD though, this is still somewhat possible although I find that Full boost type pedals are less useful hitting the preamp than with Treble booster type pedals. I recently tried out the Mu-FX Boostron in front of my SS fender head and the bright control on the alembic "blaster" section is nothing short of amazing. The glassy highs it supplies are in exactly the right spot to dial in the right tones. Unfortunately, the pedal is just way to hot to use in an effect loop or to ever use the distortion section with SS equipment.

Here's some of our bands first real attempt at Lost Sailor the other day at practice. It's taped on a Zoom H2. My Jerry rig is a Jerry caster, Fender Jazzmaster ultralight, single E120 in a tiny little Mojotone open back cab tilted back on a stand on the floor. I'm using the "gain" channel NOT the clean channel which is too anemic sounding IMO. Volume at 11 o'clock, Gain at 7 o'clock, Bass zero, treble dimed, Mids about half way up and some Large Room DSP. This is pretty indicative of what I can get out of my SS rig. Not as clean as tubes and a Mac but way, way smaller and lighter with headroom to spare. There's some pretty nice flubs in there so bear with me, it's practice so I generally AM NOT on my best behavior if you know what I mean!!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ldkvxsgna4e89 ... r.mp3?dl=0
 #152087  by Dwarf Rat
 Mon May 09, 2016 7:25 pm
The best solid state amp I know of from personal use is the Tech 21 65 watt combo. I used it 20 years ago to power a half stack. It still works fine. I gave it to my son since I have two Tweed Deluxes and an H&K Bluesmaster.
 #154807  by direwolf1989
 Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:34 am
Well the biggest difference is the use of transistors in place of valves(tubes). After that Ill say it really depends on the application. Not all tube and Solid state is created equally, for example Tech 21's guitar amps (trademark series i believe) will go toe to toe with boutique and vintage tube heads, at the same time Jet City amps are all tube and sound like trash.
 #154810  by strumminsix
 Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:19 am
You need to break it down between preamp and poweramp.

IMO, a tube preamp creates more of a response and connection with the player.
IMO, a tube poewramp colors and adds bloom to the notes played and take on a unique flair with volume.

I don't like solid state amps, for the most part.

Tube pre with SS power is just find :)