Why the hell did I ever buy a tube amp?

Discussion in 'Live Performance & Stage Sound' started by powerbert, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. CapnForsaggio

    CapnForsaggio Cap'n (general)

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    ^ and I prefer the "continuity of sound" one gets from a tube amp while trapesing around with different efx and gain stages....

    Let me ask you this, fans of the "digital revolution in amp modeling":

    Do you still have to f@ck around with EVERY INDIVIDUAL patch level, EVERY TIME you change overall volume or connect to a new system?
    This is the activity that lets me know I am in digital hell. I have never used a modeling product that didn't suffer from this.
     
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  2. Element0s

    Element0s Low Fantasy/Black Denim

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    I think it's less of a "why put so much effort" thing and more of a "adjust your focus" thing, ya'know? If you just need to hear yourself and your drummer then I personally recommend investing in high-end hearing protection before in-ears. You can get custom-made musician's earplugs from any hearing centre. I got mine from Costco. Best investment ever--I never needed a monitor adjustment after getting them. Hell, even the $30 Vic Firth plug you can get from the drum department of your local music store are pretty swell.

    budda is largely on-point with his last comment. Band members can help each other out. Everyone in my band knows how to set up our drummers' kit to at least 75% of his tastes. Very helpful when you've been driving for 10 hours with nothing to eat but yesterday's Taco Bell and Tommy's gotta torch the men's room right before our set.

    For myself, I use a digital setup (Helix floor with a small rack with my wireless and power/amp stuff) with all my cables merged into a single snake and my wireless pedal velcro'd to the inside of an empty space in my rack. I bought a deeper rack unit so that I can stow all my cables and extra bits in the back of it. All I have to do is plug the rack into my cab, run the snake out the front of it into the Helix and boom, good to go. My singer often packs up my gear so I can run and hock merch immediately after our set.

    So the digital works for me, but only because I worked on streamlining the process and my band works as a team. With all that said, I do worry about some drunk asshole frying it with a spilled drink or something.

    @CapnForsaggio: I haven't had too much trouble with this, but that's because I'm basically using my digital setup as a direct replacement for a tube head. I run it through a cab and everything. I just like the control and options the Helix gives me, it just makes workflow super smooth and I love the sound.
     
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  3. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    I haven't had that issue since the Boss GT-6, and I was still using a tube power amp and regular cab. Now I level my performance patches in rehearsal and I never touch 'em. I think I set-up my main patches that I use live in about 10 minutes. A few months after that I decided to use different IR's, so I spent another 5 minutes re-leveling. For recording, I don't worry about it too much as along as I'm not clipping ITB.
     
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  4. thoughtpyotr

    thoughtpyotr SS.org Regular

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    I still want to get a tube amp one day. I just wanna see what all the hype is about.

    The tube amps I've tried at GC or friends house are amazballz
     
  5. powerbert

    powerbert SS.org Regular

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    The Costco hearing protection suggestion seems promising, so thanks for that.

    Suppose I don't go in ear, what can you do to make sure you're audible through a wedge? I mean, yeah you can always play together as a full band and see how it sounds, but that hasn't worked so far. If we throw in some blast beats and heavier double bass part later, it's anyone's guess. Who even knows if it's the same mix I'm getting after other bands have gone.

    Yeah and I think precision is important. It's super disappointing where bands have crisp clear albums but a mushy live set. And even with big metal bands, I think it's plenty frequent you find this. And people are in such denial about it. I don't want to worsen the already over-engineered reputation that my genre of music already has. If this is the nature of your music then you should make more of an effort, not less, to play clearly and precisely. That's sort of my take. I'm not blaming the gear either, I'm clearly trying to take matters into my own hands. So, you know, I invite some of you to back off with the condescension a wee bit.
     
  6. bhakan

    bhakan SS.org Regular

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    First off, this isn't what I meant to convey. I take my small bands very seriously even when nobody else does :lol:. What you need to keep in mind, is everything you do as a small band has to make other people take you seriously, because by default they don't. Do you want people's first impression of you to be a delay in the show because you brought way more gear than you need and need to figure out how to set it up? Even if it only adds 5 minutes to your setup time, there will be at least a couple people who go out for a smoke and never come back during that time frame.

    I pretty much agree with everything Budda's been saying. As a small band, your focus should be being able to put on a kickass show regardless of the situation. Chances are you're going to play shows with a shitty underpowered PA system, with a clueless soundguy, with shitty borrowed gear as a backline, etc. The audience doesn't know or care about how these affect you. What matters is that your set is as tight and enjoyable as possible every time. Now some of these things can be helped by something like in ears, but if you're gonna use them, you gotta know that system inside and out be able to get it up and running in a very short time. The more complicated your rig, the more adept you have to be at fixing it on the spot during a gig. In my experience the much easier solution is to get tight enough with your band that you sound good regardless of the situation. Of course, my opinion isn't the only one so do what feels right to you.
     
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  7. GunpointMetal

    GunpointMetal SS.org Regular

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    This is 'uge!
    My bands are now running multiple DI's (kick, LFE, backtracks), direct guitar, and IEM. We had the rig set-up for months before we ever used it live though, because I wanted to be able to get on and off just as quickly as we were before and not have to be one of those bands that takes 40 minutes to set up (which I see ALL THE TIME and is super annoying). Now everything is racked and ready to go, I make any FOH person aware of what and where things are connected, and for the most part we set-up as quick, if not quicker now than we did before.
     
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  8. buriedoutback

    buriedoutback SS.org Regular

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    Don't under-estimate how crappy/non-existent the PA/Sound guy at shows will be. I went from a 5150 > Mesa 412 to a modeller > PA only to find out that
    *Sound guys don't know what a modeller is, or how to work with one
    *The PA is too small/crappy and only handles vocals
    *No monitors
    *other guitar player still uses cranked 412 and monitors/powered speakers couldn't compete
    *Insert Shitty Experience here.
    This are just my experiences (Ontario, Canada), and I thought I'd done enough research beforehand to avoid problems, but I quickly realized that tube amps and 412 cabs are still popular for a variety of reasons, this being one of them.
    Me : guitar > tuner > OD > gate > 5150 > Mesa 412 with 7 band EQ in loop. Done.
    Ya its heavy and takes up a lot of space, but man it sounds good, feels good and gets the job done.
    Even if I were to go back to using a modeller, it would be as a pre-amp > pwr-amp and 412 - no question.
    PS. i run a wired single in-ear for click and a surefire ear plug in the other ear.
     
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  9. powerbert

    powerbert SS.org Regular

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    Yeah that is useful to know actually. I'm convinced it's probably better to just lug a cab, pretty much sound guys are always micing the thing too. What's your take on what that's accomplishing?
     
  10. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    100% agree. I've got a couple of modelers that I either don't use, because technology has moved on, or because they broke and cannot easily be fixed. But I have tube amps that just keep on being tube amps. Because I am not recording an album, going on tour, etc., I'm not going to be buying another modeler. It just doesn't make sense to sink money into something that is realistically not going to be used 20 years from now. I keep an old POD 2.0 bean around, because it's my late nite "practice" amp. But my main amp is not digital.

    Plus, I MUCH prefer pedals with loads of knobs. It's like synthesizers with knobs - it's just easier to dial in a sound. For effects, I don't mind if they're SS or digital, but I definitely want knobs.
     
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  11. buriedoutback

    buriedoutback SS.org Regular

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    If the PA can handle it and the sound guy knows what he's doing, then that's awesome. I think you need both of those things to make it sound good/right though. Honestly, if I can have a triggered kick, vocals and backing tracks in the PA then I'm happy. Yes we play mostly small dive bars.
     
  12. bhakan

    bhakan SS.org Regular

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    I have lots of logical arguments as to why tube amps are more practical for my situation and stuff, but THIS is the real reason I use tube amps. I need lots of pedals and knobs :lol:.
     
  13. MattThePenguin

    MattThePenguin SS.org Regular

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    This thread has been a huge help to me actually lol

    It really comes down to how you play honestly. I just don't even bring the OD live because it doesn't really make a huge difference if you play tight. Other guy in my band has a solid state head lol, we always have pretty good live sound because we practice a LOT
     
  14. Unleash The Fury

    Unleash The Fury SS.org Regular

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    I told you to get a boss gt100 and run it 4cm but you didnt wanna listen.
     
  15. ThomasUV777

    ThomasUV777 SS.org Regular

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    I've owned several tube amps, JCM800, Engl Powerball, 5150 and a Diezel VH4, with pedals. Best thing I ever did in the amp-department was getting an Axe FX II with a Matrix GT1600FX. I thoroughly AB'ed all setups only to conclude that the Axe FX II with the GT1600FX could easily duplicate the sounds I wanted with zero to no effort, and that includes stompboxes. A lot less setup before a show, great for recording, no tube-issues and a hell of a lot easier to carry around.

    I get the charm of playing through a head with pedals & all that, especially with old marshalls. But to me, the advantages of the digital department easily outweigh those of the tube amps.
     
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  16. Element0s

    Element0s Low Fantasy/Black Denim

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    I would sound check with one of those heavy-duty parts, in that case. Assuming you're lucky enough to get one, of course. Again, when I invested in solid hearing protection that brought all the levels down without distorting the sound then I found myself able to hear myself pretty well in most situations. Then there's the whole front-end aspect of things--how are the levels of each band members before things are mic'd up? How the cabs/angles are positioned onstage, etc etc. There's some fine-tuning you can do but sometimes time and other circumstances simply aren't on your side and you've just gotta dive in and trust in yourself that you'll play OK thanks to your rehearsal prep. Every so often I will intentionally "fuck with" our setup in the jam room and have my band run the set just so we can be prepared for disaster situations. Also, be sure to practice your set if you're missing a member or two. Practicing for catastrophe is my strategy.

    I get you, dude. The overall sound is your priority and there's nothing wrong with that. We are in the business of "sounds" after all. That being said, sometimes you just gotta let go and do your best under tough circumstances. I suppose my point of view is a bit different because my band is more of a dirty rock n' roll/barbaric heavy metal thing so we can get away with being a little sloppy and rough around the edges. We just make it our mission to be as easy to work with as possible and make sure our show is as high-energy as possible so that we're able to get people drinking like fish and buying merch regardless of whatever chaos is going on behind the scenes. Maybe if we manage to become a headlining act and have a stronger budget we'll be able to be more picky and finicky about the sound and orchestrating circumstances to our exact tastes but we'll get there when we get there.
     
  17. thoughtpyotr

    thoughtpyotr SS.org Regular

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    This might be a minor aside. But the Matrix poweramps are really THAT good. They won't take your tone to another level, but they're the only solid states amps I've ever played with make me feel like I'm playing through a real amp. Doesn't make your tone any better, doesn't add any extra umph to your tonelike the tubes do. But if you have solid patches on your modeler then that wouldn't matter as much.

    They take away some of the digital feel, if that makes any sense.
     
  18. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    If the sound is your top priority and not your performance, well... good luck :lol:.

    Here's the thing: perception is an easy thing to change, as is memory. If you play a stupidly tight set, and the audience doesn't know you weren't happy with something, they are going to remember an awesome band. Their memory will tell them that your band sounded great and that you had great songs.

    I can tell you that I hear a lot of awesome bands on tour, and I can tell you that I can't remember what the tones were - only that the bands are good at what they do. I can't describe the tone of my friend's rig, despite knowing what it is, because I know how the band sounds - not his guitar.

    I bet that anyone who's been to our last few shows can't tell you if I had gear problems or not, but I know the answer. The trick is to overcome regular issues that occur for any live act of anything (theater, music, visual arts, anything). Be prepared for the worst and make a plan for when it happens.

    As for the monitors thing - get used to not having them. Get used to operating at the bare minimum and making it seem like someone handed you a $50K budget for your show. That and the other things I mentioned will be the difference between "kinda cocky opener with some good riffs" and "really awesome people to work with who put on a great show". If you can't make small snafus work in a live situation, it's going to be really difficult for other bands to work with you.

    On the topic of hearing protection, save up and buy moulded earplugs. There are adjustable filters, they're fairly easy to purchase, and so long as you don't lose them you'll have them a lifetime.

    If you want to help build a successful band, the thinking has to be "how do we make the whole greater than the parts" not "how do I perfect my piece in this puzzle". I'm not saying ignore your tone and all that comes with it, but ask yourself if it's improving the band. Using myself as an example: I have space for another pedal. I have power for another pedal. What will actually improve our show is my being more accurate with the pedals I already have. Do I want another pedal? You're damn right, I have a short list. But it's irrelevant because I'm still not up to par with the gear I already have. That money is better spent on paying off our van at this point.
     
  19. BenHughesDS

    BenHughesDS Divine Solace

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    IEM's with tube amps is undoubtedly harder than with modellers and the like, however I gotta disagree saying that IEM's are always a pain. We use IEM's for every band member and all the gear needed for that plus my guitar and vocal sounds is contained within one 10U rack with a laptop in the top bit (similar to a mixer top but custom made to accommodate the laptop). No feeds from FOH, all DI vocals/guitar/bass and kick trigger.

    That being said we don't monitor the other drums, but then again we don't really tend to play stadiums so even with my custom mould IEMs you can hear the cymbals and snare with ease. Also we play to a click so we wouldn't really need to hear the drums.

    It was definitely a process to convert over from tube amps though to make it possible!
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2017
  20. Screamingdaisy

    Screamingdaisy SS.org Regular

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    I'm not totally getting this one. The one thing I don't need in my monitor is my own instrument since it's the one thing I can hear clearly since it's right behind me. I monitor myself using my cab. What I want in my monitor is the other instruments.

    The risk I can see with your setup is a false sense of dynamics. If your guitar is DI'd into your head and you can't hear the rest of the band clearly you may compensate by over/under playing your instrument.

    We have a local prog band that runs full in-ears. On stage they have a perfectly clear mix that sounds awesome and out front it's a mushy wash that's drenched in reverb. Best I can figure out is that they've dialled themselves in to sound good through their ears, but that doesn't necessarily translate through a fullrange PA with subs in a big open room. This is obviously user error and not the fault of the equipment, I mention it more to illustrate that equipment won't necessarily fix poor instrumentation/arrangement.

    IMO, the best way to sound like a tight band is to work towards sounding like a tight band. That fact that you're even thinking about this means you'll likely be further ahead than many other bands, but adding equipment isn't going to solve poorly EQ'd amps and/or musicians who don't play well with other musicians.
     
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