Gone back to a tube amp

Country Member

Electromatic
Aug 20, 2014
44
Australia
I was hoping that I could go solid state and leave tube amps behind, but it hasn't worked out as expected. I might add that I still use my original Katana 50 for rehearsing or very small gigs, as it's a cheap solution, but I decided to grab a Tonemaster Twin Reverb a couple of years back thinking this is the answer, and as an older guy, I have used Twins for years to gig with, and know how they sound both old and resissue, but after a while I just found there was something missing with the TMTR tonally- it was good amp, but the shimmery transparent mid-highs I've always liked about Twins seemed to be missing- hard to explain but it was enough to bug me and sell it. I thought I would then try the TM Deluxe Reverb having used DRs in the 70s, but the same thing, there was just something not quite right in the mid-highs, so sold it too. The TMs are very good amps though, and others may find great pleasure with them. In desperation to get away from the tubes, I tried a Boss Nextone, and I thought it sounded slightly better than the TMDR, but only after much fiddling with the software and it became a chore to do this, so out it went, although they are pretty good amp.

I recently decided to give tubes one more try and bought a Hot Rod Deluxe Mk4 off a guy who barely used it. Took it home, plugged my Gretsch and Tele, and the beautiful clean tone sold me on it, so now I will just have to put up with all tube maintenance things and heavier weight, but I'll wear that for the tone. I did have a '90s HRDx which I bought new back then and did many gigs with for a few years and never had an issue apart from the odd bad tube, so hopefully this one will hold up. Maybe there a couple more years of development on the digital technology to get the right sound for me, but I cant be bothered waiting.
 

Bertotti

Friend of Fred
Jul 20, 2017
9,138
South Dakota
I was hoping that I could go solid state and leave tube amps behind, but it hasn't worked out as expected. I might add that I still use my original Katana 50 for rehearsing or very small gigs, as it's a cheap solution, but I decided to grab a Tonemaster Twin Reverb a couple of years back thinking this is the answer, and as an older guy, I have used Twins for years to gig with, and know how they sound both old and resissue, but after a while I just found there was something missing with the TMTR tonally- it was good amp, but the shimmery transparent mid-highs I've always liked about Twins seemed to be missing- hard to explain but it was enough to bug me and sell it. I thought I would then try the TM Deluxe Reverb having used DRs in the 70s, but the same thing, there was just something not quite right in the mid-highs, so sold it too. The TMs are very good amps though, and others may find great pleasure with them. In desperation to get away from the tubes, I tried a Boss Nextone, and I thought it sounded slightly better than the TMDR, but only after much fiddling with the software and it became a chore to do this, so out it went, although they are pretty good amp.

I recently decided to give tubes one more try and bought a Hot Rod Deluxe Mk4 off a guy who barely used it. Took it home, plugged my Gretsch and Tele, and the beautiful clean tone sold me on it, so now I will just have to put up with all tube maintenance things and heavier weight, but I'll wear that for the tone. I did have a '90s HRDx which I bought new back then and did many gigs with for a few years and never had an issue apart from the odd bad tube, so hopefully this one will hold up. Maybe there a couple more years of development on the digital technology to get the right sound for me, but I cant be bothered waiting.
That presence you missed is exactly why I haven’t bonded with SS and emulation fpga or whatever the company wants to use for a term. There is just something about a tube amp ina. Room with you that sounds right. I have heard SS amps ina. Room played by others that sounded great to me until I heard the same amp next to a tube amp. Better than 95% there but that last 5% os what I miss and is important to me.
 

sgarnett

Synchromatic
Apr 14, 2020
919
Kentucky
Ever notice how almost any vintage reissue/reproduction electric guitar or pickup set has an overwound bridge pickup even though the original did not? There’s always a temptation to make vintage recreations like the original, but “better”.

From the comments I’ve read, I suspect someone at Fender succumbed to the siren call of “same, but better”. Of course, better in this context means whatever appeals to the broadest spectrum of customers.
 

wabash slim

I Bleed Orange
Feb 10, 2010
17,064
lafayette in
Ever notice how almost any vintage reissue/reproduction electric guitar or pickup set has an overwound bridge pickup even though the original did not? There’s always a temptation to make vintage recreations like the original, but “better”.

From the comments I’ve read, I suspect someone at Fender succumbed to the siren call of “same, but better”. Of course, better in this context means whatever appeals to the broadest spectrum of customers.
New and improved---
Some folks just can't leave well enough alone.
 

dspellman

Gretschie
Jul 4, 2020
270
Los Angeles
I was hoping that I could go solid state and leave tube amps behind, but it hasn't worked out as expected.

I recently decided to give tubes one more try and bought a Hot Rod Deluxe Mk4 off a guy who barely used it.

I've been using a Helix Floor (and before that an HD500X and before that a succession of Pods). I've got 15 tube amps sitting around gathering (mostly) dust. I decided long since that the modelers could produce pretty much everything I needed for live performance (a stack of three bins of pedals offers whatever I need for recording, which is rare recently). I haven't tried a Katana in my environment yet. I'm mostly using a set of headphones or a couple of KRK Rokit 8s on stands for home practice, though I've got a serious amp and speakers for whenever those are required.

You *can* go solid state. You just have to set up the right rig.
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
25,507
Tucson
That presence you missed is exactly why I haven’t bonded with SS and emulation fpga or whatever the company wants to use for a term. There is just something about a tube amp ina. Room with you that sounds right. I have heard SS amps ina. Room played by others that sounded great to me until I heard the same amp next to a tube amp. Better than 95% there but that last 5% os what I miss and is important to me.
I’m with you, 100%. I’ve tried some good SS amps, modelers, etc. but never got what I was looking for.
 

Runamok

Country Gent
New and improved---
Some folks just can't leave well enough alone.
That’s probably true.

Yet, I think a broader public demands it, in that there is extra sauce & magic butter in reissues not evident in the old. Kids don’t want what the old folks had.

Unless there is relic magic in the old.
I want a guitar with a dead saint’s bones in a secret compartment.
 

hcsterg

Friend of Fred
Feb 13, 2012
6,480
France
I'd be pleased to find a good sounding solid-state amp - and I'm sure there is - probably in the vintage department, though (say Yamaha, Lab Series, for example). But all that I played were recent, modern ones, most of the emulation type, and none were satisfactory to me, unfortunately... :confused:

A+!
 

Synchro

The artist formerly known as: Synchro
Staff member
Jun 2, 2008
25,507
Tucson
I'd be pleased to find a good sounding solid-state amp - and I'm sure there is - probably in the vintage department, though (say Yamaha, Lab Series, for example). But all that I played were recent, modern ones, most of the emulation type, and none were satisfactory to me, unfortunately... :confused:

A+!
There are allegedly some pretty decent ones, the Jazz Chorus, the Lab Series come to mind. I’ve owned any number of solid state amps, and for me it always came down to the word Bertotti mentioned above; presence.

Sound is complex, by nature. Converting an electrical signal into audible sound requires a speaker, and on tube amps, that speaker is driven by an output transformer, which is required to match the high impedance of the power tubes to the low impedance of the speaker. There’s a lot of inductance involved, and most of us know that a high quality output transformer can improve the sonic output of an amp. The speakers and the output transformer, IMHO, are where that “presence” comes from.

I had a modern solid state amp with all sorts of built in effects and modeling features. It sounded wonderful, at home, but on a gig, the sound seemed thin. I bought a Blues Jr. then a 2x12 Hot Rod DeVille. Some time later, I got a TRRI and a DRRI, and eventually a ‘68 Custom Deluxe Reverb. I still have the CDR, and four Winfield amps. Solid State just doesn’t appeal to me.
 


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