The Seductiveness of Tube Amps

RC Mike

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I've had this itch lately to explore a PRS tube amp or two. There's a "30" combo for sale near me, and I'm quite tempted. I think I could get it for about $500, which is in that range of "if I don't like it, how much could I actually lose on the deal," tempting. I like the idea of the Custom 50 or something like the 2 Channel H, too.

I mostly play in my basement, through a Helix into a PowerCab 112+. I've got a Headrush 112 powered speaker down here for stereo, but I don't use it much. In my office, I've got a Katana Artist 100 (my office is just down the hall from baby boy's room, so I appreciate the low-volume). I like my modelers. I hate my modelers. Ask me tomorrow and the answer will change. Too many options, too little liveliness, too much talking myself into thinking there's got to be a better sound. That combines with the options to make me play around a lot, without actually accomplishing much.

That's where the idea of a tube amp comes in. Fewer options, maybe better sound, but definitely a bit more simple. I might really like simple.

I play mostly at night, after my two-year old has gone to bed. We've got a large house, but even with him two floors up, I don't know that I'd be able to play with much volume.

I've got concerns, though. Well, just one. Will the damn thing be too loud? If it isn't too loud, would I not be working the tubes hard enough to get it where it wants to be?

Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

RickP

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In the $500 range, I think you’re already as covered as you’re going to be with the whisper-quiet volume limitations you have. An HX/DA and a UA Ox Box kills at low volume, but either half of that equation is double or triple the $500. I use an Axe Fx III, which sounds great but, again, $$$.

All that stated, I’d still get a good tube amp! One with a master volume and two channels can make great sounds, and is versatile, even if it isn‘t that massive power section grind you’re thinking about. And on those occasions when you’re home alone, let ‘er rip!

Everyone should have one decent tube amp. It’s therapeutic.
 

Tone-y

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There's certainly something to be said for something simple. No selecting amp models, just turn on and play. A good master volume is fairly essential for getting low volume, but even then some amps are better than others. My Cornford hurricane is 18 Watts with a master volume but it goes from very quiet to quite loud in a hairs turn on the dial. Very hard to get it to the comfortable speaking volume but it is possible.
I wouldn't worry about not getting the tubes working unless you really want power tube overdrive. Most times these days we're getting our gain from the pre amp tubes. Yes that's not the same but it does mean you can get lots of crunch and gain at low volumes. Good enough when you just want to play quiet.

Most tube amps kind of only do a limited number of things. Yes you can EQ them differently, you can go from clean to dirty etc, but they generally only have their voice. Coming from things with multiple amp models that might take some getting used to.
 

Alnus Rubra

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There's certainly something to be said for something simple. No selecting amp models, just turn on and play. A good master volume is fairly essential for getting low volume, but even then some amps are better than others. My Cornford hurricane is 18 Watts with a master volume but it goes from very quiet to quite loud in a hairs turn on the dial. Very hard to get it to the comfortable speaking volume but it is possible.
I wouldn't worry about not getting the tubes working unless you really want power tube overdrive. Most times these days we're getting our gain from the pre amp tubes. Yes that's not the same but it does mean you can get lots of crunch and gain at low volumes. Good enough when you just want to play quiet.

Most tube amps kind of only do a limited number of things. Yes you can EQ them differently, you can go from clean to dirty etc, but they generally only have their voice. Coming from things with multiple amp models that might take some getting used to.
^this^

My Mesa has a “hair trigger” of a master volume pot too! The attenuator has helped a lot.
 

Tone-y

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^this^

My Mesa has a “hair trigger” of a master volume pot too! The attenuator has helped a lot.
I'm not sure what it is in the amps design that leads to this but ironically some of the bigger more powerful multi channel amps with channel masters and a overall global master are much easier to dial in quieter
 

Maertl513

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We have a German guitarist, named Thomas Blug, who was once rewarded in a competition in London by 7ender as the "Strat King".
The way he had made his living for 2+ decades was sound designing for Hughes & Kettner.
A couple of years ago he founded a company named BluGuitars. One of his estimated objectives, was/is to produce a versatile, handy tube amp.
He announced the so called Amp 1, 100 Watts ,class D, a Nanotube inside for the power amp stage. Four channels (one clean, three OD), integrated noise gate, booster, and reverb.
First it was a Silver Edition, then he did some revising, developed the Mercury Edition (which is a flexible generalist), and afterwards an Iridium Edition (which is not metal only, but more or less predominately for playing metal styles).
His own mission is to create the best tools for gigging guitarists in the most handy format.

Maybe to forthcoming NAMM the next step, the Amp X is about to be introduced. As well handy, but all in from amps and effects. If demanded it is possible, that this amp is capable to route every other amp. Blug invented the BlugPrints for that purpose.
It's technically no modeler and no profiler.

Personnally I'm a Line 6 customer for more than two decades, starting with POD, POD2 with floorboard, XT Live, HD500, HD500X, and since end of Autumn 2018 HELIX Floor.

I own an "acoustic Amplification G100T" tube head with a 4×12, the Line 6/Bogner DT50 212 combo, and either the Iridium and Mercury Edition (purchased with a 212 BluGuitar TwinCab). The TwinCab rests in peace since I bought a Barefaced Reformer 112 cab in UK. This cab is awesome, Celestion Neo 250 Copperback on board.

I was always pleased by the sound of HELIX, but connecting my guitars to that Amp 1, there was headroom in the sound, which I didn't catch before digitally. And you could run these amps by headphone, IR box, actual cab.

That being said: I fully understand you @RC Mike.
 

Maertl513

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20210410_140311-jpg.793540


Depicted above Mercury Edition.

20210410_140904-jpg.793543


That is the Iridium Edition. The layout is the same. The voicing of the OD channels is different. And if you dial in the reverb, the noise gate is automatically soft.

20210410_180024-jpg.793547


The custom controls for tweaking a little bit more the channels. The Amp 1 is designed as a floor board amp, but you can switch channels via optional BluGuitar foot controller "Remote 1" or other even Midi (but there is an interface necessary).

20210410_140847-jpg.793542


The Amp 1 has a weight of 1.2 kg, the Barefaced cab 7 kg.
 

RC Mike

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Amp X looks interesting, but rather like another rabbit hole to spend considerable time exploring.:)

I‘ve got a line on a reasonably-priced Custom 50 head. I’d run it through an existing combo that I’ve got at the moment, while I learn a bit more about cabs.
 

RC Mike

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I ended up ordering the Custom 50 today. Paid $750 plus tax/shipping. I think it should be a lot of fun!

I have to admit, it's a bit intellectually-dishonest on my part to think that this is going to lead to more playing guitar instead of playing with my Helix. I'll find all sorts of ways to geek-out with this thing.
 

bodia

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I ended up ordering the Custom 50 today. Paid $750 plus tax/shipping. I think it should be a lot of fun!

I have to admit, it's a bit intellectually-dishonest on my part to think that this is going to lead to more playing guitar instead of playing with my Helix. I'll find all sorts of ways to geek-out with this thing.
Nice!
 

dmatthews

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I ended up ordering the Custom 50 today. Paid $750 plus tax/shipping. I think it should be a lot of fun!

I have to admit, it's a bit intellectually-dishonest on my part to think that this is going to lead to more playing guitar instead of playing with my Helix. I'll find all sorts of ways to geek-out with this thing.
Great amp. I have the combo version and it rocks.
 

Gtrbldr

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Well, I have a Mesa TA-15, with the option for 5 watt. Love it, weighs next to nothing, secondhand it is not very expensive and covers a lot of ground. Bought it to scratch my tube amp itch. It is not whisper silent, and 5 watts is still a LOT of volume pushed, but nothing but praise here. Especially with a reactive load/attenuator it works great.
 

FDHog

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After going through a bunch of tube amps, the one that became my primary is my Mesa MK V 35watt. Still love my Fender Blues JR.and Deluxe Reverb. My Egnater Rebel 30 hasn't seen daylight in a while.
 

Maertl513

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Amp X looks interesting, but rather like another rabbit hole to spend considerable time exploring.:)

I‘ve got a line on a reasonably-priced Custom 50 head. I’d run it through an existing combo that I’ve got at the moment, while I learn a bit more about cabs.

If you have the opportunity to visit the forthcoming NAMM you'll find the BluGuitar booth in Hall D/Booth 5427.
They will present AmpX to the audience.
 

Maertl513

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I watch back 30 years ago, starting with a 20 Watt valvestate combo (two channels).
To have a better OD I put a Ibanez Metalcharger in the chain (and for modulation a CryBaby). This was good enough for the first year. Do you Dimebag Darrell and his Korg advertising, I bought a G3 multi effect.
1995 the bro of my girlfriend sold me his 1983 built in California, USA, acoustic amplification G100T tube head, and his DIY 1×12 cab (some Celestion in it, don't remember the model).
He gave up playing the guitar (I can't understand 'til today, because he's always sneaking on my guitars in case of visits.).
But then I was seduced by Line 6 around 1999/2000. POD, POD 2.0, POD XT Live, HD500, HD500X, HELIX Floor. And I purchased for the dream rig purposes a Line 6/Bogner DT50 212 combo, which could be connected via L6 to HD floor boards or the HELIX as foot controllers.

The BluGuitar Amp 1 changed my behaviour and opinion. Actually they are Class D, with a tube at power amp stage, but they offer excellent head room. And one benefit is the light weight of this 100 Watt amp. Another one is the tonal range [one clean channel, three overdrive (vintage, classic, modern)].
I'm looking forward to the next step Amp X, because it will make my HELIX unnecessary. Amp (multi channel), analog effects, even IR for direct recording inside the housing.
And this is not Kemper territory of profiling - "audio" recording of actual amp the get a preset.
As far as I understand, the BlugPrints rebuild analog circuits of any given amp and effect.

Though it could be a technically game changer, it will likely never convince die hard tube amp aficionados.
 
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