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> First Tube Amp: Hot Plate?
post Mar 16 2008, 10:50 AM
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Hello there!

I've been playing with a Line6 Spider III for about one year and a half, and it is a good amp, but now I'm starting to find the sound a little bit "artificial" and as my first payroll approaches, I'm thinking of buying a new amp, this time a tube amp. I was looking at Marshall's Vintage Modern series, the 2266c comco in particular, which has a veru good reputation and just fits in the budget I set. Still, since I have never played with a tube amp yet, I have a few questions that might seem stupid, but I am really lost with all the technical stuff:

* I've read that with a low volume, tube amps don't sound good. The main purpose of my new amp would be to play at home, even though I also want to be able to use it elsewhere. Is the loss really significant?

* I've just heard about the THD Hotplate, which appears to be a device used to reduce the volume of a tube amp while keeping the benefit of a cranked up master volume. Does it really work well? Also, that might be a stupid question, but if I am supposed to put the hot plate between the amp and the cabinet, is it possible to use it on a combo amp, like the 2266c?

I'm asking this because it is really hard for me to go to a guitar store with my agenda and so I'd like to know as much as possible before I go to the store. Thanks in advance for your advices!
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post Mar 16 2008, 11:10 AM
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tube amps dont sound bad when low, but they dont retain their natural sound when they're cranked. A hotplate will help alot, but mainly for poweramp distortion, ie classic rock, and not preamp distortion, ie metal. And yeah, you can use a hotplate with the combo.
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Saoirse O'Shea
post Mar 16 2008, 12:14 PM
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If you go for a THD make sure that you get one that is the correct impedance for the amp. Also make sure you connect using speaker cable with jack to jack and not a standard guitar cable.

I use a THD btw and it pretty much does what it says on the tin. A couple of things to be aware of though - 1) it can suck some of the tone, so you may need to adjust your eq a bit, and 2) you'll probably reduce the life of your tubes as you'll be running them 'hot'/cranked much more then you would at a low volume setting.


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Mar 16 2008, 05:33 PM
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Great tips Tony, good to know that! smile.gif

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post Mar 18 2008, 11:40 AM
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I just picked up a Hybrid Class A 5w Tube Amp, hybrid meaning it also has digital effects and I think built in non-tube distortion you can use over top of the Tube distortion, sort of like running a distortion pedal through a tube amp.

It is a Fender Vibro Champ XD and it sells for around $249, they also make a 15w Super Champ XD for $299 which seems to run an additional Tube Only channel independent of the 16 Amp voicings you must select on the Vibro Champ.

For me, I just wanted a compact 5w amp I could use at home and crank the volume to get the tubes cooking, but the effects and additional distortion were a plus for me. It has a nice sound at low & medium volumes thnaks to the additonal gain control unlike plain jane Class A Tube amps.

I tried a few Plain Jane 5w Class A tube amps by Gretsch, Epiphone, and a Fender Champion, but their sounds although nice were one dimensional.

The one I have only has a small 8" speaker and even the Super Champ only has a 10", IMO this does not allow that pumping bass drive, but for lead work it sounds great.

I don't know if this is something you might want to look at, but it just gives you an option.


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