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Author Topic:  Why solid state over tubes for PSG amplifiers?
Karl Kononchuk

 

From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 26 Jan 2022 9:21 pm    
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I find the weight issue perhaps a little bit null since carrying an 8 pound Les Paul and a 60 pound amp is no more work than carrying a 30 pound ss amp and a 60 pound pedal steel. Screw some casters to the bottom of your Twin Reverb and revel in the most gorgeous tone that God has ever allowed, along with a FAR better reverb sound ( with only one knob) than any digital pedal can possibly approach.
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chuck lemasters

 

From:
Jacksonburg, WV
Post  Posted 27 Jan 2022 6:39 am    
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Donny Hinson wrote

Quote:
Also, because I consider myself sort of a pragmatist, I see the minor sonic advantages of top-level equipment (guitars, amps, bars, volume pedals, and cables) as nice... but "more than likely" to be lost in the clatter of the average club-band, live-playing scenario, and therefore of dubious necessity.


I recently politely declined a second gig with a band over unbearable volume levels. It wouldn't have mattered which amp I carried that night.

I envy all of you who have the opportunity to play gigs where the nuance of a nice tube amp could be felt and heard. I find that extremely rare.
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Tom Gorr

 

From:
Three Hills, Alberta
Post  Posted 28 Jan 2022 1:01 am    
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All told, my sense is that it is the speaker that makes or breaks most amps tonally..

So far I prefer the SS preamp and tube power amp combination for steel, and quite acceptable for clean six string as well.

A Music Man 112RP Sixty Five is 2x6CA7, and paired with a Nashville 112 speaker is a very good sounding rig, and acceptable weight option for me. My sense is that it may be dangerously close to inadequate headroom for a band that pushes the volume on stage.

A larger hybrid like this is the Peavey Heritage VTX with 4x6L6 and a two channel solid state preamp. The eq ootions are slightly more capable than the MM.

I was unhappy with a Vegas 400 I bought, but it had the Black Widow 1502 in it. I recently picked up a non-working Session 400 with the JBL transitional model speaker. After I get it working it may well become my main steel amp, but equal possibility the speaker lands in the Peavey Heritage VTX fitted with a new baffle.
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Brett Resnick

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2022 8:11 am    
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It’s probably been mentioned before, but in my opinion to get a tube amp to sound optimal for pedal steel having lower wound pickups is a huge factor I think in keeping it clean and just sounding pure, those old Emmons and Sho-Bud pickups probably were putting out around 14-15k on average it seems. All my steels I own i think sound like crap through a twin or most any tube amp, I use much hotter pickups (Telonics X-10) but they really come to life out of Solid state amps that can handle that output I think. These are just my experiences I’ve had, I am no expert with why this works, just going off what my ears tell me.
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John Ducsai

 

From:
New Hampshire, USA
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2022 4:09 pm    
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Worth watching:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9TYCes1lTU
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Don Downes


From:
New Hampshire, USA
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2022 5:12 pm    
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I have been searching for a good explanation of tubes vs. solid state. I have both, and they all serve a specific purpose. Neither is better that the other. It's about the application.

The three main factors I take into account are: Harmonics, headroom, and clipping. Clipping and headroom are somewhat related, but dependent on other factors.

FINALLY, I found a link that may demystify all of the above. It's a good article worth a read.



https://www.fivefishaudio.com/blog/distortion-harmonics-solid-state-vs-vacuum-tubes/
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC
Post  Posted 6 Feb 2022 1:39 am    
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and after all the discussion, it still gets back to "choices"


Should I use the 50 watt, 4lb Solid State amp, which performs darn well ,


The 200 watt, 2 lb Solid State amp, which ain't so bad,

or

the 38 watt 4xEL84 tube amp , which weighs 35 lbs , and it REALLY performs !

Too much thought, too many choices

I do know which one LOOKS great on the gig and draws the most attention ! Laughing




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CURRENT MUSIC TRACKS AT > https://tprior2241.wixsite.com/website
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Edward Dixon


From:
Crestview Florida
Post  Posted 6 Feb 2022 4:06 am    
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I started with tube amps 59 years ago, went solid state then digital and back to tubes. A week ago I got a Kemper Profiler Stage; 20,000+ amp profiles in a 10.2 lb box. I'll probably never buy another amp.

Ed
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Mike Vallandigham

 

From:
Martinez, CA
Post  Posted 6 Feb 2022 10:42 am    
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I've always used a Vibrosonic Reverb with a D-130F. I've NEVER felt the need for something else.

It does weight a ton though.
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Marco Schouten


From:
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Post  Posted 12 Feb 2022 11:59 am    
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Tom Gorr wrote:
All told, my sense is that it is the speaker that makes or breaks most amps tonally..

So far I prefer the SS preamp and tube power amp combination for steel, and quite acceptable for clean six string as well.

A Music Man 112RP Sixty Five is 2x6CA7, and paired with a Nashville 112 speaker is a very good sounding rig, and acceptable weight option for me. My sense is that it may be dangerously close to inadequate headroom for a band that pushes the volume on stage.

A larger hybrid like this is the Peavey Heritage VTX with 4x6L6 and a two channel solid state preamp. The eq ootions are slightly more capable than the MM.

I was unhappy with a Vegas 400 I bought, but it had the Black Widow 1502 in it. I recently picked up a non-working Session 400 with the JBL transitional model speaker. After I get it working it may well become my main steel amp, but equal possibility the speaker lands in the Peavey Heritage VTX fitted with a new baffle.


I agree with you. I have a Quilter Steelaire combo. A few weeks ago I took it over to friend, who has a Fender Twin Reverb with orange JBL's. For fun we dialed in a nice classic sound on the Twin Reverb. Than we tried to dial in that same sound on the Quilter. We came very close, but not exactly in the lows. Than we connected those JBL's to the Quilter, and wham bam there it was, that tone. Don't get me wrong, I love the tone of my Quilter, but with those 2 JBL's connected....wow
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Dave Zirbel


From:
Sebastopol, CA USA
Post  Posted 12 Feb 2022 12:28 pm    
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Quote:
Don't get me wrong, I love the tone of my Quilter, but with those 2 JBL's connected....wow


I run a K130 JBL with my Quilter Mach II Micro Pro, it sounds great! Also my Altec 418B sounds equally as good, just a tad sweeter on the highs. I'm having a cabinet built for it.

I've been a tube snob for years and I still like them but I'm able to get what I need from the Quilter now, for pedal steel. For tele I need tubes still! LOL!
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Brad Sarno


From:
St. Louis, MO USA
Post  Posted 12 Feb 2022 12:30 pm    
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It seems that virtually all the great and legendary steel guitar recordings, even modern ones, are coming from rigs that have tubes in the path, sometimes just in the preamp, sometimes a full tube amp.

The better digital modelers have gotten pretty good at faking tubes, but even those seem to be more useful for road use but less so in the studio.

If anyone can share some great sounding steel recordings done with entirely solid state (no digital modeling) rigs, I'd love to hear them.

I'm still firmly in the "tubes rule" camp.


B
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Josh Yenne


From:
Sonoma California
Post  Posted 17 Feb 2022 11:57 pm    
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Brad Sarno wrote:
It seems that virtually all the great and legendary steel guitar recordings, even modern ones, are coming from rigs that have tubes in the path, sometimes just in the preamp, sometimes a full tube amp.

The better digital modelers have gotten pretty good at faking tubes, but even those seem to be more useful for road use but less so in the studio.

If anyone can share some great sounding steel recordings done with entirely solid state (no digital modeling) rigs, I'd love to hear them.

I'm still firmly in the "tubes rule" camp.


B


Yup and for me it’s the FEEL of it love and inside a band. It might record great but in the moment. Electrons moving is just magic
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post  Posted 18 Feb 2022 12:21 pm    
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Every band I was in I never used an amp with more output than a Pro Reverb, eventually settling on either a 30-watt Holland or '66 Deluxe reverb. Either one was loud enough in any band situation and the tone was far superior to typical SS amps.

Nowadays most steel players I know are using tube amps unless there's a set backline - especially if they know amps will be mic'd! Ed Bierly favors a 1962 Brown 12-watt Princeton I swapped him several years ago with his boutique steels and long-scale Fenders.

I've never understood players spending $5,000 r more for a tricked out stel and running it through a flat-sounding $500 SS amp.
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No chops, but great tone
1930's/40's Rickenbacher/Rickenbacker 6&8 string lap steels
1921 Weissenborn Style 2; Hilo&Schireson hollownecks
Appalachian, Regal & Dobro squarenecks
1959 Fender 400 9+2 B6;1960's Fender 800 3+3+2; 1970 Emmons SD10 Cuttail (Courtesy ReSound '65)
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Robert B Murphy


From:
Mountain View, Arkansas, USA
Post  Posted 6 Mar 2022 7:09 pm    
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If I ever go play at say, the Mississippi Delta Knife and Gun Club ever again, I think I'll want an amp with the power supply from the Krell cavern in Forbidden Planet and the speakers from the spaceship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Tone? We don't need no stinkin' tone...we're here to shatter some windows! In the mean time my wife and animals think less than 10 watts is plenty. A Fender Pro Reverb or an Ampeg B15 will do nicely thank you. I believe most of the difference in tone from tubes is due to magnetic saturation and hysteresis in the output transformer and not something magical about tubes. When you talk about solid state amps I think you should differentiate between discrete transistor based amps and LM3886 type integrated circuit amps. The Standel, Session 400, and Roland JC series were all discrete. All that being said, sag and other cleanliness issues are usually attributable to the power supply and how much energy it can store for peak demand points. If a 400vdc power supply had a few thousand uf of filter caps you wouldn't see much sag. Are there any tube amps out there that use solid state voltage regulators on the B+ supply backed by hefty filter caps?
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post  Posted 7 Mar 2022 3:42 pm    
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They shouldn't be and "requirement" to use a SS amp. Historically some players started using them and it because a mistaken audio "judgement error" that a SS amp was "required" for pedal steel.

But times have changed and many, many players have discovered that PROPERLY MAINTAINED AND ADJUSTED tube amps work great.

To answer Robert above - many tube amps use 4-diode rectifier and filter caps that - if not 25-50 years old - keep plenty of plate voltage pumping to thw power tubes. And the bias setting is critical - but most players don't know filter caps only live 15-20 years before they need to be replaced, or that most amps above 20 watts are "fixed bias" - a weirdly backwards term to the layman that means it CAN be adjusted to increase headroom, or cause earlier onset of harmonic distortion.

The transformers also have to be beefy enough to 1) supply the DC voltage needed, and efficiently transfer electrical energy to the speaker coil.

Paul Franklin uses a 50-watt Little Walter amp that has 6550 power tubes; 22 watt Fender Deluxe Reverb amps work tgreat with fresh (under 15 year old) filter and bias capacitors; biased a bit on the "cold" side, which increases headroom; and an efficient speaker ( the stock ones have low sensitivity and efficiency)

I've played clubs and outdoors and never used anything more powerful than a 38-watt Fender Concert with 4x12" speakers or 35- watt Holland Little Jimi with 1950's 5881 power tubes and a custom Tone Tubby 12" speaker. - but usually a Deluxe Reverb.

At jam sessions I normally play my old Fender 8-string or a 1970 Push-Pull through a freshly-serviced, 15-watt 1948 Fender Pro with either an original Jensen P15N speaker, or if I need a hair more headroom a 15" Weber Chicago.

The filter capacitors, bias setting, tube types and speaker(s) are key - NOT the "watts". With an efficient speaker, the right bias setting for the power tube are important, but the speaker and filter caps are really critical.

IMO if you can't play clean with a 20-25 watt amp on a normal club gig you need a better amp tech who knows the proper way to set up your amp. An amp can't just be taken off the showroom floor or bought used and gigged with. If you don't know enough electronics to do it yourself you need to work with a professional amplifier tech who knows how to work with players and optimize their equipment.

Tube amps have to be serviced and tuned just like an instrument - and done properly, a typical fixed-bias tube amp at +/- 50 watts with the right speaker(s) can easily put out the same clean volume (at a blistering level) as a typical 200 watt SS amp.
_________________
No chops, but great tone
1930's/40's Rickenbacher/Rickenbacker 6&8 string lap steels
1921 Weissenborn Style 2; Hilo&Schireson hollownecks
Appalachian, Regal & Dobro squarenecks
1959 Fender 400 9+2 B6;1960's Fender 800 3+3+2; 1970 Emmons SD10 Cuttail (Courtesy ReSound '65)
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 7 Mar 2022 7:28 pm    
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Quote:
I've never understood players spending $5,000 r more for a tricked out stel and running it through a flat-sounding $500 SS amp.

It’s a fair statement, and one I feel obligated to answer, since I have just recently committed this exact crime.

Basically, the answer is economics. I had the money for a “tricked out” steel or a boutique amp, but not both. I decided on the steel because it’s the thing I actually play and physically interact with, as well as what I am seen performing with.

I don’t deny the importance of the amp. It is the the other half of the sonic equation, after all. But I also had to save money somewhere. So I researched the best bang for my solid state buck because there was nothing tube oriented in my range. I am not at all unhappy with my under-$500 purchase. It is capable of producing a variety of amazingly rich and complex sounds at more volume than I will ever need. And I don’t have to worry about maintenance and don’t need an amp tech to get “My” sound. Of course I realize if it breaks down, it may not be worth the cost of repair. Maybe if and when that happens, I won’t have to choose where my handful of thousand-dollar bills go.
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Larry Bressington

 

From:
Nebraska
Post  Posted 8 Mar 2022 5:54 am    
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If you need an amp and some clean power on stage...For Solid state you can't beat a good ole Line 6 kidney bean, run it through one of todays lightweight JBL 1000 watt powered speakers, they weigh around 30lbs and have the EZ carry handle.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 8 Mar 2022 8:34 am    
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Larry Bressington wrote:
If you need an amp and some clean power on stage...For Solid state you can't beat a good ole Line 6 kidney bean, run it through one of todays lightweight JBL 1000 watt powered speakers, they weigh around 30lbs and have the EZ carry handle.

I have a Boss GT10 and a Tech21 Power Engine 60 speaker. Same deal. Served me well for 10 years, but now it’s my backup, and second rig if I need it.
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Robert B Murphy


From:
Mountain View, Arkansas, USA
Post  Posted 8 Mar 2022 9:43 am    
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It's pretty remarkable, because of modern foil etching to increase the surface area, how small a replacement cap has become. Unless you are in love with keeping a vintage amp as close to original as possible this means you can increase the filter capacity at various stages in the power supply using the available space.

If you're going to buy a pricey SS amp it might be a good idea to look at a schematic to see exactly what kind of transistors or integrated circuits are used. Sometimes an unusual device like Vox's germanium transistors or Hafler's mosfets will become obsolete and they become a real pain to repair. This is what is happening, by design, to new cars and I'd guess that amp companies might follow suit. If your amp has LF156-356, TLOxx family and LM3886 type integrated circuits you can be reasonably assured of having continued access to repair parts. Tubes also suffered this fate a while back and the russians, because they still were making 6L6 and 12Ax7 types, enjoyed a bonanza of sales. The companies that found old tube making machines and refurbished them found they could charge what they want and no more $7.00 6L6GCs and 6CA7s. I guess my point is know what you're buying before you buy it and if you have an amp with unusual critical parts, keep an eye out to getting spares now because it won't get any better.

One last thing, I've repaired a number of recent amps that had cold solder joints because of that stupid rohs compliant no-lead tin solder. Tin has some annoying habits like changing it's crystal structure spontaneously and creating voids. Now when someone wants me to fix a newer fender or whatever I immediately get out the old 60/40 and add some lead to the joints before I even begin to apply the half-split rule. More often than not that'll fix an intermittent.
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