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  • General advice for a tube n00b - Tips I need to know before buying?

    I have been away from guitar playing for years now and I'm just now getting back to it. I love Tele's and I'm now a proud owner of a brand new Classic Vibe 50's Tele. I also need a new amp and I definitely want something powered by tubes. In the past, I've had solid state amps for the usual reasons: cheaper, easier to take care of, smaller and lighter but the tone was lacking and I'm not going through the disappointment of constricted, nasal, fizzy tone. I want something warm, organic, loud and rich... I want a tube amp!

    It doesn't have to be very powerful and it doesn't have to be expensive, so I am leaning toward the 15 watt Fender Super Champ XD hybrid amp. Do you think this is a good choice? What is the practical and tonal differences between all-tube and hybrid amps?

    More importantly, what do I need to know as a tube newbie? I have no knowledge of care and upkeep, except that I am aware that tubes do need replaced from time to time, correct? How often? Is overheating a serious problem? Are there things I need to know for transportation or regular maintenance? Maybe I'm just overthinking?

    Thanks for any and all words of encouragement and information. Also, I'm new here so Hello. Is this the part where I ask "wat is teh best guitar 4 M3+AL??!?!"

  • #2
    Fender Super Champ XD has nice Fender cleans.
    Marshall Class 5
    Vox Night Train 15

    are a few I would try out

    Modern tube amps are pretty low mantance. A set of tubes should easy last you 5 years or more.
    You just have to try a few out. They all have there own vibe. I like nice cleans with a little headroom. Others like amps that start breaking up pretty much off the bat.

    I have a SCXD ,it's a great little amp with 5 year warrenty. I don't use the DSP effects much. Have a fish ands chips and bad monkey infront of it.

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    • #3
      Xd's are great little amps. Perfect for a guy getting into using tubes. I upgraded the speaker and tubes on mine and really is a nice sounding amp.
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      • #4
        Welcome to the forum!

        There are a few things I've noticed about tube amps, coming from many years of solid state.
        First, they are build to be played loud! They sound very good at low levels, but if you're looking for breakup you wont find the sweet spot until the volume is half or more.

        Second, they need time to warm up. I've noticed with my little Champion 600 and my Classic 30 they sound fine when I turn them on, but a half hour later they sound great.

        Third, there are two "tube sounds" that people search for. A tight, modern, heavy metal distortion is achieved by saturating the preamp tubes. That's what the Gain is for. A big, warm, blues/classic rock overdrive is achieved by saturating the power tubes. That can only be done by cranking the volume. If you have a Master Volume or an attenuator you can get that sound at lower volumes, but the principle is the same.

        The SCXD is a genuine tube amp. The signal goes through a tube preamp (12AX7) and a tube power section (6V6). It also has an effects unit in it (DSP), but if you use channel 1 it's a straight forward Class A sound.
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        <img src="images/misc/quote_icon.png" alt="Quote" /> Originally Posted by <strong>klrbee03</strong>
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        • #5
          Welcome to the forum!

          There are a few things I've noticed about tube amps, coming from many years of solid state.
          First, they are build to be played loud! They sound very good at low levels, but if you're looking for breakup you wont find the sweet spot until the volume is half or more.

          Second, they need time to warm up. I've noticed with my little Champion 600 and my Classic 30 they sound fine when I turn them on, but a half hour later they sound great.

          Third, there are two "tube sounds" that people search for. A tight, modern, heavy metal distortion is achieved by saturating the preamp tubes. That's what the Gain is for. A big, warm, blues/classic rock overdrive is achieved by saturating the power tubes. That can only be done by cranking the volume. If you have a Master Volume or an attenuator you can get that sound at lower volumes, but the principle is the same.

          The SCXD is a genuine tube amp. The signal goes through a tube preamp (12AX7) and a tube power section (6V6). It also has an effects unit in it (DSP), but if you use channel 1 it's a straight forward Class A sound.


          The SCXD is not a pure tube amp. The OP correctly classified the SCXD as a hybrid. It has a solid state preamp, even on channel 1. The 12AX7 is a phase inverter / gain stage to the power section. That said and as a happy SCXD owner it has a great tube tone on channel 1 and produces excellent tone at lower and higher volumes
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          • #6
            Words of encouragement. First things first - you want a great clean lively tone for the Tele. This is a good feature of an XD and even better with a change of valves (one of my 6v6's gave up after 9 months, the pair were replaced). So practically tubes are maybe more likely to fail, but it's worth the money to replace them. Some of the older modeled amps work really well on this amp. But this is a really competitive market so have a look at Peavey and the rest as well.

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            • #7
              The best match for a tele I have heard from among modern production valve amps is the Fender Bassman reissue, but it's not very cheap - a match made in heaven. I like the Peavey Classic 30, and the of course the AC15, which is quite reasonable... but you need to put in that treble cut on Voxes with a tele!
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              • #8
                The SCXD is not a pure tube amp. The OP correctly classified the SCXD as a hybrid. It has a solid state preamp, even on channel 1. The 12AX7 is a phase inverter / gain stage to the power section. That said and as a happy SCXD owner it has a great tube tone on channel 1 and produces excellent tone at lower and higher volumes


                No kidding!

                I stand corrected, thanks
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                <img src="images/misc/quote_icon.png" alt="Quote" /> Originally Posted by <strong>klrbee03</strong>
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                • #9
                  For a very affordable, and great sounding amp, try to get a Crate Vintage club. If you go for the 30 or 50 watt you get a clean channel that was voiced to sound like a 59 bassman, and a gain channel voiced to sound a like a Marshall Plexi. I have the 50 watt 2x12 and love it. It started red plating last year and I'm about to go through it and fix the problem. I have a Crate V50 that if it took a dive I'd just strip it out and use the chassis and iron to build another amp all together. Its got a good clean channel but the gain channel is a waste of good preamp tubes. The 20 watt Vintage Clubs are a single channel that really give a great Marshally vibe. I have an 11 year old son and a 13 year old daughter who are wanting to start playing guitar. I am planning to get a couple VC20s for them to learn on. That way they can have great tone and a good amp to play with others as well when they get older and want to get together with freinds and play.

                  I'll agree with the Fender champ as well. I LOVE the 6V6 tube, it has a sweet brea up...in fact I am thinking on modding my Vintage Club to take a quad of them!!! You can find great deals on Craigslist for vintage Fender amps. If I had the dough I'd be hell bent to buy a few. I'd love a Super Reverb or a Deluxe.
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                  • #10
                    If you're looking at the SCXD you owe it to yourself to check out the Vox Valvetronics (VT series) stuff as well. If/when you do, be sure to explore in manual mode (not preset mode). Depending on the type of tones you're after you will probably find you prefer either the Fender or Vox as they each have their strengths and weaknesses.

                    If you end up going full tube remember that for home use, it is very easy to go too big with regard to power. Also, many of the real small tube amps have no onboard reverb (something I can't do without), so then you find yourself spending more money to address that.
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                    <img src="images/misc/quote_icon.png" alt="Quote" /> Originally Posted by <strong>wedgehed II</strong>
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                    • #11
                      I just bought a CV '50s Tele myself - seriously, like 3 hours ago - and I've been playing it through my Champ 600 this afternoon. Pretty good match. The Champ is $150 or so and really great for bedroom playing and recording.

                      I usually play through a DRRI but I haven't bothered to haul it in from the next room. The CV sounds really great through the little Champ (a little bright - but that's because of the new .09s the CV comes with). All of my single coils sound good through the Champ (great cleans and really nice with an OD (OCD, etc. especially).

                      Check it out - It's cheap, sounds good, takes pedals well, and looks cool, too - Def. a vintage vibe, right in line with the CV Tele).

                      Yeah.
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                      • #12
                        Get it done right for a good price.

                        http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Bugera-V22-22W-1x12-Tube-Guitar-Combo-Amp?sku=502583

                        As far as I am concerned, these sound as good as many amps costing 2000. You can take the power down 40% to get a more saturated tone and it has reverb.
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                        • #13
                          Thanks for the great replies, everybody. Lots of cool, knowledgeable people on this forum. I appreciate it. All good advice and stuff I'll take into consideration.

                          General questions: How can you know for sure when tubes need to be replaced? Does it just kind of die out on you? Also, what is "biasing" and how does it work? I don't plan on doing any mods or anything that only a tech should perform but I'd like to know just for the sake of intellectual curiosity. (Sorry for potentially dumb and/or obvious questions).

                          EDIT: Also, about hybrid amps... does the solid state preamp really affect your tone? I know Meowy said that the SCXD is more than capable of getting quality tube sounds but I'm wondering what the practical differences are, in terms of sound, between all tube versus hybrids. The SCXD sounds quite excellent to my ears but I haven't spent enough time experimenting with it to say that it's ideal.

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                          • #14
                            Another vote here for the SCXD, but there has been no bad advice in this thread.

                            Try as many out as you can, then go from there.
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                            • #15
                              Thanks for the great replies, everybody. Lots of cool, knowledgeable people on this forum. I appreciate it. All good advice and stuff I'll take into consideration.

                              General questions: How can you know for sure when tubes need to be replaced? Does it just kind of die out on you? Also, what is "biasing" and how does it work? I don't plan on doing any mods or anything that only a tech should perform but I'd like to know just for the sake of intellectual curiosity. (Sorry for potentially dumb and/or obvious questions).

                              EDIT: Also, about hybrid amps... does the solid state preamp really affect your tone? I know Meowy said that the SCXD is more than capable of getting quality tube sounds but I'm wondering what the practical differences are, in terms of sound, between all tube versus hybrids. The SCXD sounds quite excellent to my ears but I haven't spent enough time experimenting with it to say that it's ideal.


                              You don't have to worry about "biasing" . Best done by a tech or someone that knows what there doing.
                              A tube amp holds a charge after they are unplugged. In some cases it's enough to kill a person. Best not to poke around inside them untill you do your homework.

                              Solid state preamps are pretty common in tube amps now. More stable.

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