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Hfan

Solid State Amps..any takers?

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Back in the day when I started out they were crap.

I've been noticing rave reviews lately for the new Fender Tone Masters. The clips I have heard of others (Quilters etc) sound great. Light weight too. And...NO TUBES! The more I shop for and swap out  tubes the older it all gets for me.

Hanging out on the Jazz Guitar forum I see there are many converts there and not just for jazz.

I have 5 or so tube amps but one day maybe...

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I tried the Boss Katana amps and was impressed. I owned one for a while. 

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I have played next to one of the superior SS jazz amps.  It was a long way from sounding as good as my Fender Twin.

What do solid state amps, fat girls, and mopeds have in common?
They're all fun to ride, "till your friends see you with "em.

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Back in the day, it appeared that only Roland's JC120 was the only solid state amp worthy of taking on stage.  And that is one heavy a$$ amp!  Now there are quite a few great sounding solid state amps and modelers to consider.

From reading all of the positive reviews about Fender's new Tone Master Twin (35 lbs with built-in attenuation!?) amp, I'm ready to consider going tubeless...maybe.   

Edited by Gitfiddler

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1 hour ago, Gitfiddler said:

Back in the day, it appeared that only Roland's JC120 was the only solid state amp worthy of taking on stage.  And that is one heavy a$$ amp!  Now there are quite a few great sounding solid state amps and modelers to consider.

From reading all of the positive reviews about Fender's new Tone Master Twin (35 lbs with built-in attenuation!?) amp, I'm ready to consider going tubeless...maybe.   

What do you need an attenuator for with solid state?  It's not like you need to turn up the volume to get the circuit to give up the goods.  Sounds quite gimmicky to me.

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5 hours ago, PunkKitty said:

I tried the Boss Katana amps and was impressed. I owned one for a while. 

I played my acoustic-electric through one of those Boss Katana amps, and thought it worked out pretty well.

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I actually have one of the new Katana II 50w amps. It’s does a very convincing job of sounding like a tube amp. I like it much better than Blues Cube Hot that I sold. Due to my playing situation I needed decent sounds at disturbingly low volumes, this fits the bill nicely, and is proving to be a much better option than any of the other amps I’ve tried. Unfortunately, I don’t get an opportunity to crank up a valve amp anymore. :(

Edited by davesultra

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1 hour ago, Steiner said:

What do you need an attenuator for with solid state?  It's not like you need to turn up the volume to get the circuit to give up the goods.  Sounds quite gimmicky to me.

It may be gimmicky, but looks like a great feature for playing at home, rehearsal or other venue where the full 85 watts isn't needed.  (My Mesa Mk IV is 85 watts...and weighs around 100 lbs!).  I haven't tried one of these amps, so my perspective is derived by Fender marketing (see below) and the very positive user reviews on the net.

https://shop.fender.com/en-US/guitar-amplifiers/contemporary-digital/tone-master-twin-reverb/2274200000.html

image.png.42c71a14e9da3830cdb13f3b7e1edfb0.png

5-WAY POWER ATTENUATOR SWITCH

Enjoy full, natural tone at almost any volume—from a full 85W of Fender power down to bedroom- and apartment-friendly 1W.

Edited by Gitfiddler

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I've been using a Quilter MicroPro Mach II 8" combo for a couple of years now.

Its very versatile, but I found it works better as a pedal platform for dirty tones.

I find it does respond like a tube amp when using boost pedals, modulation, and other effects.

Its amazing when pushing a 2x12 cabinet as well.

At 100 watts per channel, it does not disappoint.

BTW, its second channel is meant for microphones and acoustics.  Also sounds fantastic too.

Another sleeper old school analog solid state is a Peavey Bandit USA Redstripe 1x12 combo.  Surprising good tones.

 

 

  

Edited by DetroitBlues

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1 hour ago, Gitfiddler said:

It may be gimmicky, but looks like a great feature for playing at home, rehearsal or other venue where the full 85 watts isn't needed.  (My Mesa Mk IV is 85 watts...and weighs around 100 lbs!).  I haven't tried one of these amps, so my perspective is derived by Fender marketing (see below) and the very positive user reviews on the net.

https://shop.fender.com/en-US/guitar-amplifiers/contemporary-digital/tone-master-twin-reverb/2274200000.html

image.png.42c71a14e9da3830cdb13f3b7e1edfb0.png

5-WAY POWER ATTENUATOR SWITCH

Enjoy full, natural tone at almost any volume—from a full 85W of Fender power down to bedroom- and apartment-friendly 1W.

Ok.  I see what they're doing.  As the volume increases, the amp interacts differently.  So, in order to get the effects at lower volume, you need something to kick in the different sounds at a lower volume.  In essence it behaves like an attenuator. 

For the $999 I can get a real used tube Twin with all the glorious sound attributable to the real amp.  Not Fender's best resolution toward replicating an original. 

To me, I'd rather have real tube interaction until they get the quad core processor to behave better than the original Twin.  Perhaps the octal core version they release in a couple years.

My pet peeve with modelers is that the don't interact the same as tubes.  Yes, there are some good (expensive) modelers out there but they continue to improve and render previously released models worth very little.  The other characteristic I don't like is the inability to repair solid state amps.  They are disposable; something goes wrong and you get a new one.

The good news is that Guitar Denter sells both versions (SS and tube).  Place them side by side and try it.  Better yet, go with a friend and see which sounds better!

I apologize for being an old, stick in the mud.  Every time I've played next to a SS amp, I can't help but feel bad that my friend has bought in to the hype.

Give me big iron or give me death!  I know how to use a dolly.

Anyone remember @rjsanders?  Boutique amps for boutique guitars!

@Gitfiddler - Let me know when you're selling that Gorgeous wooden cabbed amp.  I bet she's heavy and worth every Oz.

Edited by Steiner
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I will defend the unfairly maligned solid state amp.  

Caveat 1: I am a jazz player for the most part.  

Caveat 2: I currently gig with a tube amp.   I go back and forth depending on the room and situation.

I've had very positive experience with solid state amps in various contexts, both in terms of my own tone assessment and feedback from bandmates/jam-mates and audiences. I've occasionally used my solid state amps with pedals to play rock, R/B, etc. It works. When playing solid state, I play a Acoustic Image Clarus 2R (on-board delay and reverb) into an Earcandy 1x12 or Raezers Edge 2x8. I get a big warm clean tone with a lot of touch sensitivity.  Many pro players (I am not one) use similar configurations.

Good solid state amps can give you a great platform with unparalleled clean.  You can hear more of your actual guitar sound, uncolored - other than by EQ and your speaker and cab.  I'll suggest that clean tone from a solid state amp may be a truer representation of your guitar's actual tone.  If you just want to hear your guitar and pick attack, solid state delivers.   Solid state amps are also typically lighter, smaller, and more reliable/less impact sensitive and lower maintenance in my experience.   I've successfully gotten tube like warmth without pedals, and organic overdrive with pedals.  But it is not really an apples to apples comparison.  

If you want that added organic and dynamic element that a good tube amp brings,  then that's what you want - and tube amps are the way to go. I love it.

I'm currently gigging a Vintage Sound 20 Jazz tube amp and dig it, and my bandmates love the sound it brings, but they also loved my solid state rig. Now and then I still use my solid state rig depending on what I want/need for the situation.  In a louder venue I can control feedback way better with my solid state rig.  I can plug a singer in to my rig.   It weighs 4lbs and fits in my gigbag/backpack. I can go DI. .....  It has a lot to offer.

 I also have a Mesa Boogie Express+ 50 into a 2x12, and that thing is amazing.  Like I said- I really don't see it as apples to apples.  They're different animals with different things to offer.  Nothing does what a great tube amp does, and vice versa.

 

 

 

 

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I have a, now getting pretty old, Peavey "red stripe" SS amp.  I like it.  Sounds good but without that bloom you get with tubes.  Still it is easy to haul around and gets a good tone without the volume requirement.  At practice volumes or for lessons, it's a great way to go.  If you are talking about gig's I'd still go with tubes.

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Was I ahead of the curve? In 1970 I bought a Kustom K200 with 2 speaker columns each filled with 3 15" Altec Lansing speakers. Extremely loud!!! I bought the Kustom after constantly being drowned out playing my Les Paul SG through a Fender blackface Baseman with 2 12" speakers. That Fender sucked. It was ok up to about 5 then all squishy after that, no power. Never had a problem being heard with the Kustom.

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Tubes have both their beauty and their beast sides. I get it, and I have some classic tube delivery systems. 5F1, 5E3, Silverface DR, Mesa DC-5, etc. 

The CCR Kustom/Les Paul sound worked just fine for me back in the last century.  How else could we sound like Credence? 

My Cube 60 has also performed well enough for many jams since my back went out 7 years ago. And I really enjoy my Mustang III, v2. Gigged with both.

And if you just want to hear a pure guitar sound, SS delivers some sweet tone. Joe Pass never needed a 100 watt stack.

And hell, yeah, I like chubby gals, and would ride a moped any day. As long as I'm enjoying the ride. Ain't that the point? 

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2 hours ago, Steiner said:

Ok.  I see what they're doing.  As the volume increases, the amp interacts differently.  So, in order to get the effects at lower volume, you need something to kick in the different sounds at a lower volume.  In essence it behaves like an attenuator. 

For the $999 I can get a real used tube Twin with all the glorious sound attributable to the real amp.  Not Fender's best resolution toward replicating an original. 

To me, I'd rather have real tube interaction until they get the quad core processor to behave better than the original Twin.  Perhaps the octal core version they release in a couple years.

My pet peeve with modelers is that the don't interact the same as tubes.  Yes, there are some good (expensive) modelers out there but they continue to improve and render previously released models worth very little.  The other characteristic I don't like is the inability to repair solid state amps.  They are disposable; something goes wrong and you get a new one.

The good news is that Guitar Denter sells both versions (SS and tube).  Place them side by side and try it.  Better yet, go with a friend and see which sounds better!

I apologize for being an old, stick in the mud.  Every time I've played next to a SS amp, I can't help but feel bad that my friend has bought in to the hype.

Give me big iron or give me death!  I know how to use a dolly.

Anyone remember @rjsanders?  Boutique amps for boutique guitars!

@Gitfiddler - Let me know when you're selling that Gorgeous wooden cabbed amp.  I bet she's heavy and worth every Oz.

Ha...rjsanders is the king of boutique amp knowledge and go-fast boats.  That "wooden cabbed amp" you referred to is a lowly first edition '98 Fender Blues Jr., with BillM mods and a Tone Tubby speaker.  Sounds great and doesn't weigh much more than a standard B.Jr.  If I consider selling it, I'll post it on the HOC first.  For now she's happy in Gitfiddler land.  :music_mini2:

image.png.2f5a0095fed734a88b6a9342aecd8bd9.pngimage.png.f3d6da6a7acc09f3e11244f3e4877114.png

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SWEET toy!  Quite satisfied in the Gitfiddler's camp, I'm sure.  These are new photos; I always thought the front projected out, like an old Pontiac front end.  I really like that design: curly maple, paduak/bloodwood and cherry(?).  Bravo!

Gotta Love a Brown Soun Hempcone!

Edited by Steiner

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5 minutes ago, Steiner said:

SWEET toy!  Quite satisfied in the Gitfiddler's camp, I'm sure.  These are new photos; I always thought the front projected out, like an old Pontiac front end.  I really like that design: curly maple, paduak/bloodwood and cherry(?).  Bravo!

Gotta Love a Brown Soun Hempcone!

Curly Maple and Purpleheart

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I own many tube amps but this Roland Cube 80XL is the best practice amp I own. Handy for recording with a direct line out. It has an extension cabinet line out for an extra speaker cabinet along with a whole lot of effects including a looper and all operated with 3 latch switches.  It's handy and convenient for home recording  and practice . 

Roland-Cube-80XL-Guitar-Amp-Amplifier-Looper.jpgcube80xl.jpg

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Back in the1980s, a popular little amp in Britain was the Sessionette 75. Compact (about the size of a Blues Junior), reasonably priced and decent sounding, and at the time there was some concern about the future availability of valves/tubes so people were open to alternatives. They were well reviewed at the time, had an overdrive channel and a spring reverb tank. These days the can be had for around £150 - £200, but the best bit is that although they were discontinued years ago, the designer (Stewart Ward) has come up with a modification to the power stage which makes them more valve like. He calls it "Retrotone"...

I picked one up for a reasonable price a few years ago, got it Retrotoned, recovered it with cream vinyl, and it's my go to amp for rehearsals or gigs where there's not enough room for the Drive King and 1x12 cab. I also swapped out the Celestion G12-100 for a Celestion G12 Neo Creamback, which is half the weight! I tend not to use the drive channel on the amp and instead partner it with a Seymour Duncan Twin Tube Classic o/d pedal. Here's a video where I was using it clean, with just the boost on the Nova System for soloing. The guitar is the VSB H150 with Bare Knuckle Stormy Monday p/ups.

 

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Solid State amps should be easy to repair if you take them to any proper service center for brands like Nord, Roland, Yamaha, etc. Not a big deal for their techs to fix SS amps. 

Solid State amps are not digital modelers like the Tone Master. A Solid State amp is still a fully analog build and has the same complications in that sense where parts drift, voltage effects tone, etc. Digital amps will sound the same until they die on ya. 

Digital amp lovers should look into plug-ins with their computer more often. You'll find many, many bits of software out there you can tweak at your leisure. Some digital boxes are like this, others like the Tone Master are one set of engineer's ideas on how something should sound. The way to test a modeler versus tube is to find two similar guitars whose difference you notice well in an amp like a Twin Reverb. Say, a 335 and a Les Paul. Plug both into the Tube Twin and see how different they sound. Then do it with the modeler, chances are the modeler will not give you as much variation in attack/punch/etc though both will "sound good." It's more the conversion of the sound to digital before it hits the algorithm that changes the way they react versus tube amps. But, like a computer plug in, a digital amp can still get far enough to model tones of a certain nature. 

They're all tools. I like tube amps because they're just works of 20th century art. Hot glowing tubes, insane analog resolution, so many cool looks from an old tweed to a 70's Orange to a blackface Fender to the Marshall head. Just, an aesthetic quality that pleases me to no end. 

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Eh... if it sounds good to your ears, that's all that matters; and in the hands of someone who has things dialed in, and hitting all the right notes, it's probably going to sound good to most others as well. 

Myself, however, am one of those cork sniffin' tube aficionado types. My ears are sensitive to details and highlights. When I'm playing for myself, or listening, and I mean really listening, to what's coming out of someones amp... my ears long to not only hear the note, but what happens immediately after the note. That harmonic, bloom, chime, after note, momentary decay, etc... that tiny little, blink (with your ears), and you'll miss it detail, that happens in that instant after a note is played. And while I have heard some amazing sounding SS amps (which were also conveniently paired with amazing playing), I have yet to hear one that legitimately reproduces this effect in the same way that a tube does (to my ears). 

Then there is also the way a guitar can interact and manipulate a tube amp... you sort of become one with the amp, and figure out how to strike a note of chord just so to either get a tight accurate sound, or heavier attack to get some grit or sag. Yes, you can get some interaction with an SS amp, but not at the same level of character you can coax out of tubes. 

That's not to say I think anyone else should think or feel the same way I do on the matter... it's just the way my ears work and what they want to hear. 

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21 hours ago, Steiner said:

I have played next to one of the superior SS jazz amps.  It was a long way from sounding as good as my Fender Twin.

What do solid state amps, fat girls, and mopeds have in common?
They're all fun to ride, "till your friends see you with "em.

Good one. I'll get out my Twin this week and give it a go, it's been a while.

13 hours ago, pressure said:

Was I ahead of the curve? In 1970 I bought a Kustom K200 with 2 speaker columns each filled with 3 15" Altec Lansing speakers. Extremely loud!!! I bought the Kustom after constantly being drowned out playing my Les Paul SG through a Fender blackface Baseman with 2 12" speakers. That Fender sucked. It was ok up to about 5 then all squishy after that, no power. Never had a problem being heard with the Kustom.

You jogged my memory, I had an Acoustic 4 x 12 / 200 w beast back in the early 70's. It was loud, not sure I was aware of other subtleties back then. And I had a LP SG back then as well.

I've been kicking around the idea of getting an acoustic amp as I have one electric acoustic guitar that does not sound great with my tube amps. Maybe one of these new crop of amps can do double duty.

Thanks, great info.

 

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Very happy with my SS DV Mark Jazz, then again I do love my Matchless Lightning... Horses for course.

 

Edited by LeBaron

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2 hours ago, Hfan said:

Good one. I'll get out my Twin this week and give it a go, it's been a while.

You jogged my memory, I had an Acoustic 4 x 12 / 200 w beast back in the early 70's. It was loud, not sure I was aware of other subtleties back then. And I had a LP SG back then as well.

I've been kicking around the idea of getting an acoustic amp as I have one electric acoustic guitar that does not sound great with my tube amps. Maybe one of these new crop of amps can do double duty.

Thanks, great info.

 

Tap the acoustic through the Twin.  One of my favorites.

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