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

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  • #16
    what situation/s will you be using it in?

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    • #17
      Good question from Mistersully (you'll find he does that a lot)

      A number of amps are cathode (or fixed) bias. As a result those don't need to be biased. I think most Mesas are that way but they aren't starter amps

      Although some folks can't live without certain things (like reverb mentioned above) if you are using a particular amp only for recording you can often add reverb post recording so MrSully's question is very good since you might be able to get away with somethings in one situation that you might not in another depending on your preference
      Originally Posted by Frets99
      I held one note through the whole thing and grimaced like I was being taken from behind by a camel.....



      Member MAZI BEE KICK ASS MILITIA
      HCGB #251
      Guitars: F15 Fender Acoustic, F385 Takamine 12 String Acoustic, MIM Fender Strat with BG V60's, MIK Fender Blackout Tele with BG Pure90s, Reverend Manta Ray
      Amps: Mesa TA-15, White Box 1x12 cab, Crate V18 1-12
      Some Pedals

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      • #18
        I really like the SCXD as a practice amp. It sounds great out of the box (even better with tube and speaker swap) and it is pretty versatile. It has a great clean channel and quite a few of the models are pretty nice too (esp fender ones) It's 15 watts but it can get quite loud.

        As far as small amps go I have an SCXD, a Blackheart BH5 and a blackstar HT-5. I use the SCXD 95% of the time. If I'd the SCXD first I probably wouldn't have the other two.

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        • #19
          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??!?!"


          Something old and bluesy, with maybe with some classic rock crunch on tap at the most? Or something tighter and a little more "rawk!" It makes a difference, you can get either, but really get both convincingly.

          If you want to experience a tube amp, then why not get a tube amp. A simple design with a few bells and whistles and as basic a circuit as possible, the less there is in the chassis, the more each component, including tubes, really gets to shine. I won't steer you away from the SCXD, it's a nice sounding amp, with swiss-army knife capability, but there is something nice about a simple tube circuit with the volume turned up to the saturation point and the guitar turned down a little to compensate.

          Give us a top end number on price, a few examples of the tone you want, and an idea of the playing setup, and we can steer you right. I try an afford endorsing amps that are more than 20 years old because you never know what TLC they may need to be reliable, I love vitnage amps, have plenty, but I do my own amp work, but I don't want to saddle someone with an issue that will require bench fees right out of the gate.

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          • #20
            I read every guitar magazine and webzine out there including the Brit pubs. This amp is getting rave reviews: (20 watts, $349 for the half stack or $299 for the combo)




            Check it out--do some research and see if it isn't an amazing kit for the $$.

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            • #21
              i have a crate vintage club 20 and I love it, also had a vintage club 30 and that thing was too damn loud but sounded tits!

              i have played some of the jet city and bugera amps, the bugeras sound better to my ears.

              i needed an amp that could do cleans at a reasonable level at home, yet still be loud enough to jam with my friends where a lil overdrive is cool, so the 15 watt 1x10 vintage club is pretty good, with a speaker upgrade/increase with a more sensitive speaker this could be a giggin amp. the 10 inch speaker sounds big, until it gets pushed, where it shows it limitations.
              Alvarez rd20sc /Squier VM HSS Strat > Boss GT-5 > Digitech JamMan > Ibanez DE-7 > Crate Vintage Club 20 / Sunn Stinger 35

              WTB:
              Boss OD3







              Originally Posted by LowWoods


              Zappa makes god look like Rick Moranis.

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              • #22
                Something old and bluesy, with maybe with some classic rock crunch on tap at the most? Or something tighter and a little more "rawk!" It makes a difference, you can get either, but really get both convincingly.

                If you want to experience a tube amp, then why not get a tube amp. A simple design with a few bells and whistles and as basic a circuit as possible, the less there is in the chassis, the more each component, including tubes, really gets to shine. I won't steer you away from the SCXD, it's a nice sounding amp, with swiss-army knife capability, but there is something nice about a simple tube circuit with the volume turned up to the saturation point and the guitar turned down a little to compensate.

                Give us a top end number on price, a few examples of the tone you want, and an idea of the playing setup, and we can steer you right. I try an afford endorsing amps that are more than 20 years old because you never know what TLC they may need to be reliable, I love vitnage amps, have plenty, but I do my own amp work, but I don't want to saddle someone with an issue that will require bench fees right out of the gate.


                That's food for thought, isn't it? I want something that gives me really nice, jangly cleans which is why I find a Fender amp so enticing to begin with. Something that can approximate Britpop or old Johnny Marr sounds. Also, I love the old smokey blues tones that you can get out of a Tele's neck pickup so I want something kind of vintage-sounding for that application. And I also need to have an overdriven tone that's aggressive enough to handle old-school punk rock. No, it doesn't have to be super tight and I will never, ever play metal but I don't want something completely wimpy, either. And I want that all in the same amp. I'm sorry... is that terrible? Am I asking too much? I do have good taste but I'm also very practical and well-aware that there is no one amp that can do everything perfectly so I remain flexible.

                What I DON'T want is something with fizzy, hissy distortion or bottom end that's so tight and nasal that it doesn't allow the notes to "breathe". I don't want something with shrill, whiney highs or clanky metallic lows. Sorry if these descriptors are too obtuse.

                Also, I can't spend more than $500. I don't think I should have to and I hope I don't.

                Regarding the Jet City amps: The price sure is right but I would have to hear them in person first.

                Regarding tinkering with my amp: Nope, I'll never even attempt it. I just get curious about the textbook definitions of some of the terms I hear floating around. I'll have to read up more on the science aspect of tube amps but if anyone wants to share pointers or lessons, I'm all ears.

                Big, big thanks to each and every person who's contributed their thoughts and/or suggestions thus far. Every post has been informative and I'll take them all into consideration.

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                • #23
                  For the time being, I will be using it for practice at home (I live in an apartment). In the future, I might also be using it for home recording or possibly in a band, playing small to medium sized gigs but those are just possibilities and not entirely certain. This is why an absolute powerhouse isn't necessary and I'm sure a small-sized tube amp will suffice. I play blues, garage rock, punk, indie and some pop.


                  i think there's a few ways to go about it

                  if you're looking for natural overdrive from a tube amp, 5 watts can be too loud for an apartment... yet isn't really going to cut it later on if you're in a band situation
                  that's why many people compromise... and get their overdriven tones at home by either a) using an amp with a master volume... where you can crank the gain a bit and leave the master down.. b) using a pedal... or c) using an attenuator
                  and then crank their amps a bit in a band situation

                  if i were you i'd choose a few different amps... then take my guitar and go and play through them.. then look at the used market

                  my gut feeling is that an ac15 would be a good amp for you to try as it has a master volume and those great vox cleans... i also think a classic 30 is a cool first tube amp... i haven't played through a super champ xd

                  there's really a bunch of different amps though that could suit... my advice is to play through as many as you can... and try them at the settings you'd be using them eg. at volumes you can get away with at home.. then see how they open up if the situation permits

                  lastly... keep an open mind about using a pedal for getting your overdrive at home and for recording

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                  • #24
                    I certainly love Vox clean tones, no doubt about that. Their classic models are just impeccable. A lot of the AC15's I'm seeing are a tiny bit more expensive that what I budgeted for, so maybe I'll wait for a good bargain. Then again, I can get an SCXD, which sound excellent and is super-versatile for my budgeted price brand new right now. Not to mention the Crate Vintage Club and Peavey Classic and all the other options that people have listed above. I feel spoiled for choice.

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                    • #25
                      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.


                      I've yet to find a guitar that doesn't sound good through the Champ. They do benefit greatly from some upgrades, too.

                      EG
                      We're not in Kansas anymore.

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                      • #26
                        i like the Fender and Vox small amps as well - but don;t be afraid to look at some of the older more vintagy amps like a Mesa. it's true that the bigger power section (watts) the harder they need to pushed to get that saturation (loud) - i play simulclass Mesa and put in class A mode which is 15-25 watts depending on the model. some of them go down to 5 watts. What i like most (beside the soud) is that these are virtually indestructible.

                        do yourself a favor and go to your good music store and PLAY through a wide range - maybe 2 music stores. maybe 3. THEN ... when you think you have your sound figured out, ask what sounds LIKE that - you might be surprised what $500 will get you these days, used. If i played mostly clean, i probably would be playing a Fender Deluxe Reverb - 22 watts. good luck.
                        blonde 335
                        '74 LP Dlx
                        '05 LP Std Faded Honeyburst - the 'modern '59 burst'
                        Mesa LSC 2x12
                        Mesa Mark III 1x12 (purple)
                        '90 J-45








                        Originally Posted by Surrealistic


                        Hendrix was an alien from a musically advanced species sent here to show us what a guitar can really do.

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                        • #27
                          I'll almost always chime in (no pun intended) for Vox amps, so I'll recommend you trying out the Night Train amps and the AC4 line. The Night Trains (both the 15-watt and the new 2-watt) sound fantastic, and they have killer overdrive. I don't have a Night Train yet, but I play through an AC4 at home, and I am very happy with it.

                          As someone mentioned earlier, tube amps (especially class A) will sound better after being on for about an hour. My AC30, after cooking for an hour, hits a peak that lasts about 45 minutes to an hour. It's subtle, but it's the "sweet spot." Also, the Fender Blues Jr. is a fine amp, and it's reasonably priced. The Bugera amps are great, especially considering their low prices.

                          Whichever amp you buy, I recommend buying a new set of JJ tubes for it. I always find them to sound the best.

                          Most tube amps have a unique character, and they're a lot of fun to play. Have fun picking one out!
                          Guitars: 3 Fender Strats, Fender Jazzmaster, Squier Bullet, 2 Gibson Les Pauls, Gibson ES-339, Gibson Les Paul Jr. Special, Epiphone Les Paul, Epiphone Dot, Epiphone SG, PRS SE Custom 24, Ibanez AS73, Hamer Duotone, Larrivee D-03R, Takamine EG5013S, 1951 Epiphone Devon, Ibanez SR305 (bass)Pedal Chain: BBE Green Screamer -> MXR Distortion III -> Boss CE-5 -> EH Stereo Pulsar -> Boss DD-20 -> BBE Boosta GrandeAmps: Vox AC4, AC15, AC30, Pathfinder 10, DA5SoundCloud

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                          • #28
                            I've been doing my homework. To anyone who recommended Vox amps: They are indeed brilliant and I like them a lot but it seems that they are a bit more expensive than comparable Fenders so I can't justify the extra money. Otherwise, they are great options. I did not try a Bugera or Crate because I didn't come across them this week but I did check out a Peavey Classic 30. Not a bad amp at all but at this point, I don't feel like I need 30 watts.

                            I kept going back to Fenders. Let me talk for a minute about the Super Champ XD.

                            I love the first channel, the "Champ" channel. It is pretty much exactly what I want in an amp, with great Fender cleans and a true-to-the-classics tube sound.

                            The second channel, which lets you choose different amp voicings, ostensibly designed to emulate classic sounds, however, is kind of hit or miss. When I say that, I don't mean to disparage the amp as a whole, just that I love some of these options and I'm sort of lukewarm on others. Whenever it's in "try to sound like a Fender" mode, it is absolutely remarkable. It can impersonate tweeds and blackfaces with the best of them. Voice 3 produced amazing sparkly, jangly cleans that actually surprised me. Whenever it's in "try to sound like a Marshall" mode, however, I'm less impressed. I know this amp is trying to appeal to everyone, metal guys included, but some of these distortion options are not so great, fizzing and buzzing like angry hornets and that's not what I'm looking for.

                            Basically, what I'm saying is that if I did get an SCXD, I'd get it for the first channel. This is how I want an amp to sound and I don't feel the need to see if I can make it sound like something else.

                            Surprisingly, I found that 15w of tube-backed power can be more than I need. I started thinking about the reality of my situation... I'm poor and I live in a studio apartment and I won't need a lot of volume for practicing. I landed on another option: A Fender Champion 600 5w tube amp. I REALLY like the Champ 600. It sounds good and, perhaps more importantly, it sounds good more quietly and more simply than many other amps that I can also afford. I can push it harder and it breaks up without making me feel embarrassed about my volume. My neighbors are right next to where I'd be practicing, with just a wall in between. Now I'm aware that a stumpy little baby amp couldn't keep up with a drummer going full throttle but that's not where I'm at right now. That might be where I'm headed but that's in the future. If that's going to be a reality, I'll have time to save up for something bigger and better. As cheap as the Champ 600 is, I don't even feel like I'm wagering that much money on a purchase.

                            How do you folks feel about this amp? Granted, I'm aware that it's not a metal machine and it's not going to fool anyone into thinking it's a Mesa full stack but I don't need that anyway. I just want something simple that sounds good, gets pristine tube cleans and lets me push it without a need to call the cops.

                            I'm about 99% set on this amp but I am still open to advice or criticism. Speak now because I'll be going to buy this amp within the next week.



                            And, to reiterate: The SCXD is a brilliant amp that would be a pleasure to own. Its only flaws are that it's not entirely perfect at everything (no amp is, though) and I can accomplish my goals with a smaller, cheaper amp for the time being. Otherwise, it's awesome and I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

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                            • #29
                              I'd add to the reccomendations for the SCXD. It's weakness are the high gain tones but there are a couple of patches on channel 2 that get to marshall territory pretty well and the fender models react well to increased gain giving you your slightly dirty side.

                              I also think that although it gets better cranked, you get very good sounds at apartment levels and the tone on channel 1 and the cleaner channel 2 settings is pretty awesome.

                              I tried the champion 600 and fount that it was a little too quite when played completely clean and when really pushed I found it a bit underwhelming. IIRC it has no onboard reverb either.

                              IMHO, as your only amp the SCXD is hard to beat. Your outlay is not massive and it's pretty versatile and loud enough to allow you to go to band practice and even gig (with the aid of a mic).
                              My Gear

                              07 Les Paul 68 Custom Reissue
                              94 Roadhouse Strat w SD custom hot flats
                              Ibanez S540
                              00 Epi LP Custom w Gibson 490R/498T pickups
                              Squier Telecaster Custom II
                              04 p90 Melody Maker

                              Marshall DSL 401
                              Fender superchamp XD

                              Fender deluxe precision bass
                              Ashdown ABM evo 500 combo

                              Good trades with ChuckNorris1982 & slomatic

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                              • #30
                                General advice for a tube n00b - Tips I need to know before buying?


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