What is "tube tone"???

grumphh_the_banned_one

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Is it the crystal clean of an ultralinear wired late 70's Twin reverb?
Is it the middy death wheeze of a driven 5 w tweed Champ?
Is it a 4 hole marshall - and at which level then?
Could it be the sharp bite of an Engl Powerball?
Or perhaps the muddy roar of a dual recto? Or the fizz of that same amp?
Or is the tube tone the dual rectos clean channel?
Perhaps Carvin found the magic tube tone in their various offerings?

And is it still "tube tone" if we scoop the mids all the way? Or if we dime the mids and turn treble and bass down to get a linear response?


And the answer is of course that all these sounds (and a crapload more) are "tube tones"...

...and the point is that there is no such thing as "tube tone" - as the total amount of tones you can get from tube amps is so amazingly all-encompassing that it is a meaningless term.

All people (usually internet tone "experts") who talk about "tube tone" really say is that they think that an amp that has "tube tone" sounds good.
 

Dolebludger

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To me “tube tone” involves the ability to go from clean to overdrive by pick attack and/or use of the guitar’s volume controls. Perhaps some non-tube amps can do this, but I haven’t found any of them. And tube tone is also imperfect from a high-fi standpoint. They “color” the tone, and that is part of what some of us want.
 

matthew bear

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OP has a good point. I used to go nuts with tone chasing, shunning master volumes and circuit boards. It’s been a long process but I truly appreciate all kinds of gear, amp wise. I use my Kemper profiler 99% of the time, and get great “tube tone” but I still use my tube amp occasionally. Some time I’ll run the Kemper to a guitar cab, or into studio monitors. Once I stopped trying to compare the 2, I could appreciate both ideas. It’s like saying a table saw is the only tool you need, and a hammer could never compare to the feeling of a table saw... different tools, different applications :hmm:
 

sparky2

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I have owned many guitars and nearly as many amps.

Tube amps, solid-state, and hybrid.
I have owned most of them.
I have about a dozen guitar amplifiers at this point in history, and I love them all.
(or else I wouldn't be hanging onto them)
Fenders, Marshalls, Vox, Crate, hand-built, Tubeworks, you name it.


I have learned one thing in all these years;

Tone is in the ear of the beholder, and (mainly) in the hands of the player.

;)
 

Dolebludger

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It is necessary that you know what you want out of an amp, personally. I know guys who sound better than me from modeling amps. But if I play though one of them, nobody wants to hear it — not even me! After going through more tube and hybrid amps over the past 61 years of playing, I finally found “my tone” with a custom Soul Tramp Wraith, through two 1X12 cabs loaded with Weber’s. But this might not cut it for all. Every one of us all has his/her own style of playing, and thus the demands on the amp. So the amp is really more important to getting “your tone” than your guitar is.
 

grumphh_the_banned_one

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"tube tone" for a guitar amp is about the distortion.
Sounds great, but you fail to mention which distorton? A tone connoisseur like you MUST know that there are many different shades of distortion to be found in tube circuits... Or do all distorting tube amps sound the same to you?

Allow me to quote myself:
Is it the middy death wheeze of a driven 5 w tweed Champ?
Is it a 4 hole marshall - and at which level then?
Could it be the sharp bite of an Engl Powerball?
Or perhaps the muddy roar of a dual recto? Or the fizz of that same amp?




To me “tube tone” involves the ability to go from clean to overdrive by pick attack and/or use of the guitar’s volume controls.
So, a Peaveys 5150's drive channel (or for that matter most moden high gainers drive channels) wuldn't be "tube tones"?
Those are most certainly not "touch sensitive" in any meaningful way...
 

Wuuthrad

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For me tube tone is about two main categories. A certain “dirty” sparkle of a clean channel with a spring reverb, and the distorted sound of pre amp tubes overdriven by pedals or internal gain, or both.

Like bludger said there is a dynamic response to the tube that to me is not the same on a solid state amp, which I also like (an 80 watt Randall for example.) It’s certainly been digitally modeled but also not the same.

To me there’s a feel to analog that’s more fun, probably because I grew up with it. Not knocking digital by any means- It’s all good!
 

Dolebludger

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grumphuh,

i never played through a Peavy 5150, so I don’t know if it would go into “touch sensitive” clean or overdrive. If it wouldn’t it is not my amp. Now here is the problem. There aren’t enough music stores around to allow us players to try out enough different amps. And the amp makes a huge difference in what you like, and what you want to sound like.
 

Wuuthrad

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Is it the crystal clean of an ultralinear wired late 70's Twin reverb?
Is it the middy death wheeze of a driven 5 w tweed Champ?
Is it a 4 hole marshall - and at which level then?
Could it be the sharp bite of an Engl Powerball?
Or perhaps the muddy roar of a dual recto? Or the fizz of that same amp?
Or is the tube tone the dual rectos clean channel?
Perhaps Carvin found the magic tube tone in their various offerings?

And is it still "tube tone" if we scoop the mids all the way? Or if we dime the mids and turn treble and bass down to get a linear response?


And the answer is of course that all these sounds (and a crapload more) are "tube tones"...

...and the point is that there is no such thing as "tube tone" - as the total amount of tones you can get from tube amps is so amazingly all-encompassing that it is a meaningless term.

All people (usually internet tone "experts") who talk about "tube tone" really say is that they think that an amp that has "tube tone" sounds good.

There certainly is tube tone, and as you say it comes in many varieties. Any tube amp fits the category of tube tone.

One example I’ve used for over 30 years and really like is Laney. Also like Fender amps. Compared to solid state or modeling it’s a different quality of sound and used differently. None are inherently better- it’s a matter of opinions and even more so skill.

That being said, I’m not really sure what you’re getting at?

With all due respect, and using what I perceive to be your logic, I could say there’s no such thing as guitar tone since they come in all different shape and sizes.

Or there’s no such thing as wah-wah tone since it’s all different.

Or the flavor of Corn doesn’t exist because there’s so many varieties of popping corn on the market...

Speaking of which I’m about to go pop some of this deliciousness...

6LB Medium White Non-GMO Popcorn | Amish Country Popcorn in Ohio
 

Dolebludger

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I agree that there is no such thing as ONE tube tone because different tube amps produce different tones. For example, back in the 60s I played through a a 63 Fender Pro (non- reverb) . It sounded like crap at low volumes, but was great at high volumes. As I don’t often play at high volumes, it is long gone. A tube amp has to be selected for what you play and where you play. With tube amps, there is no “one size fits all”.
 

Mockbel

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As a bedroom player, I gave up trying to get the tone I want directly from an amp. The tones I loved of glam/heavy metal which were mostly came from BIG amps turned on high volumes... I can’t do that at home !

So I switched to pedals... this opened endless doors to me from tone perspective
 

Dolebludger

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Pedals, used properly, are great. I have a small 12’ X12’ music room. I use the reverb from my tube amp (purely to compensate for the small room) and a small touch of analog delay and compression. Just enough to make it sound as if it were a larger room. I also have some pedals that would drive my sound into insane overdrive, if I wished — but I usually don’t. But pedals used properly with a tube amp can sound great. But for metal, a proper tube amp with gain and master should give sufficient overdrive.
 

grumphh_the_banned_one

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Any tube amp fits the category of tube tone.

That being said, I’m not really sure what you’re getting at?

I'm getting at the statement in yellow.

If every tube amp, regardless of how it sounds, generates "tube tone" - then the term tube tone is meaningless.
(Because there are so many extremely different sounds generated by amps with tube circuits)

Because he term does not describe a commonality amongst tube amps' sound.
It is just a subjective way of saying "i like that amp and i base that on my knowledge that i have read it is a tube amp"

What is the commonality between different tube amps sounds*? That is what i would love to see answered.
 

Dolebludger

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There isn’t any.. All tube amps sound different. They are all voiced differently. Some may fit what I want in tone, and some don’t. Back about 10 years ago I had a Mesa Nomad amp that I just couldn’t bond with. I advertised it for sale here on MLP. In just a few minutes, a member bought it and came to my house to get it. He paid me in cash and started to walk out with it. I said, stop! You must play it first. He was not only an MLP brother, but also a USAF brother. So I gave him a guitar to try it out with. And out came the best Southern Rock I’ve heard! That is what he played, and the amp was perfect for him, but it sucked for me. And yes, it was and is a tube amp. I contacted the buyer later to ensure he was satisfied, and he was. I just didn’t like any of the tonal options. Didn’t fit what I play, but it did fit what he played. Now, I have three tube amps I can use well. Maybe my buyer couldn’t. So just because it is a tube amp, don’t think you are going to get what you want out of it. What I can say is that I can get a usable tone from SOME tube amps, but not all..But I have had zero luck getting my tone out of any SS, hybrid, or modeling amps. No, I haven’t had the chance to test out all of them. But there is an MLP member SOUL TRAMP (Don Hills) who can school you on the many options in tube amps much better than I can. I bought a head from him a few years back. I described the tone I wanted in words (which is hard to do) and he nailed it!

bottom line is, all tube amps are not created equal.
 

grumphh_the_banned_one

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*snip*
But I have had zero luck getting my tone out of any SS, hybrid, or modeling amps. No, I haven’t had the chance to test out all of them.
*snip*

bottom line is, all tube amps are not created equal.
Yup complete agreement on the bottom line and the snipped away parts. :)

As for SS - all i can say is that, just like tube amps, not all SS amps are created equal.

Personally (and this is purely personal and subjective!) i own an 80's SS Marshall "75 Reverb" (pre valvestate, not a tube in sight) and that gives me everything i would expect from an unmodded 80's Marshall amp.
No, it does not sound like a 220x - but then again, no other Marshall does either (if you are to believe the corksniffers).
But it certainly delivers "driven blues rock and rock tones" that are pure Marshall. It all depends on style, application, eq settings, the guitar and not least, the player.

In the same way that no tube amp fits all, no SS amp fits all...

 

HogmanA

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I'm getting at the statement in yellow.

If every tube amp, regardless of how it sounds, generates "tube tone" - then the term tube tone is meaningless.
(Because there are so many extremely different sounds generated by amps with tube circuits)

Because he term does not describe a commonality amongst tube amps' sound.
It is just a subjective way of saying "i like that amp and i base that on my knowledge that i have read it is a tube amp"

What is the commonality between different tube amps sounds*? That is what i would love to see answered.

I think there is a commonality. It has already been mentioned - it is certain qualities in the distortion sound, regardless of the different sounds produced by different valve amps.

Back when I was a lad, before internet told us what we like, AC30's sat in secondhand shops collecting dust and everyone I knew that played guitar were getting solid state, ie JC120.
They all hurt my ears. Something in the distortion hurt my ears. I attended a performing arts college, and ensemble classes provided a JC120, which I would bring my own Boss pedals to use with. It hurt my ears in a certain way, but I didn't know any different.
Then, one day, visiting a friend who was doing work experience in a care home, she switched an old radio on which happened to be valve, and not knowing anything about it, I couldn't believe how good the guitars sounded of popular songs that were getting radio play.
The quality in the guitar distortion that before hurt my ears was gone, and then the journey to find out why (pre internet remember) and my first valve amp - a Carlsbro TC60 that cost £30 from secondhand shop.

And, at risk of being strung up from a lamp post - the ear hurting quality is present with axe fx 2 as well. (OK, I'll get my coat - nice knowing you folks!)

Now - so what?
I've always believed if it hurts my ears, it will hurt my audiences' ears as well - they just might not know why and are likely to call it 'too loud', when really, it just had qualities that were hurting their ears.
 

Freddy G

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Sounds great, but you fail to mention which distorton? A tone connoisseur like you MUST know that there are many different shades of distortion to be found in tube circuits... Or do all distorting tube amps sound the same to you?

All distortion. When a tube gets driven beyond it's linear operating range. In both preamp and output circuits. Of course there are many different shades and degrees but it always comes back to that simple fact. A tube driven beyond it's linear operating range.

I think you are just trying to be provocative...why always so grumphy?! Could it be pent up frustration from someone who admits they only own "a cheap chinese strat knockoff and a worthless "Ganson" copy "? :applause:
 

grumphh_the_banned_one

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I think there is a commonality. It has already been mentioned - it is certain qualities in the distortion sound, regardless of the different sounds produced by different valve amps.

So the commonalities between


and


and


and


and


Apart from being overdriven are????
 

grumphh_the_banned_one

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All distortion. When a tube gets driven beyond it's linear operating range. In both preamp and output circuits. Of course there are many different shades and degrees but it always comes back to that simple fact. A tube driven beyond it's linear operating range.

I think you are just trying to be provocative...why always so grumphy?! Could it be pent up frustration from someone who admits they only own "a cheap chinese strat knockoff and a worthless "Ganson" copy "? :applause:
Lovely sweeping generalisation (along with a nice try at a personal dig) - you are a master of internet forums*, no doubt, sir :yesway:

But please tell me what the above short list of distorting amps have in common sonically? (apart from being overdriven, of course).

What is the "tube tone" that ties together these amps?


* Especially the bit about linearity is particularly good - it almost sounds like a real explanation, at leat to those that don't realise that there are many different ways you can drive tubes into nonlinearity.
To the ignorant it certainly makes you look as if you know what you are talking about :)
 

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