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> Amp Advice, Solid state to tube!
loundzilla
post Mar 27 2011, 09:22 PM
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Hi all,

I'm looking to replace my Line 6 Spider III 75w with a tube amp but I have no experience with buying one!

My playing style is the kinds of metallica / megadeth ect and my budget is max £300.

What would you guys recommend?

Cheers


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Mudbone
post Mar 27 2011, 09:27 PM
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Are you looking for a combo or a head? Check out Blackstar and Jet City Amps, both are great amp manufacturers. You may also want to check out the Peavey Valveking 112, that should be within your budget.


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loundzilla
post Mar 27 2011, 09:32 PM
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QUOTE (Mudbone @ Mar 27 2011, 09:27 PM) *
Are you looking for a combo or a head? Check out Blackstar and Jet City Amps, both are great amp manufacturers. You may also want to check out the Peavey Valveking 112, that should be within your budget.


Hey man

What's the difference between a combo and head?

Cheers fir ur suggestions smile.gif


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Fran
post Mar 27 2011, 09:51 PM
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A head needs a cab, they are two sepparate pieces, think of it as the "amp" + "speaker"
A combo has everything in one piece.

Head + Cab



Combo


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loundzilla
post Mar 27 2011, 09:56 PM
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QUOTE (Fran @ Mar 27 2011, 09:51 PM) *
A head needs a cab, they are two sepparate pieces, think of it as the "amp" + "speaker"
A combo has everything in one piece.

Head + Cab



Combo


Cheers Fran

What's the point of having 2 separate units if could just get a combo?


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Jerry Arcidiacon...
post Mar 27 2011, 11:21 PM
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QUOTE (loundzilla @ Mar 27 2011, 10:56 PM) *
Cheers Fran

What's the point of having 2 separate units if could just get a combo?


You can replace each of your unit or mix them with other gear, carry around only your head if you find a cab when you're rehearsing or gigging, etc...
If you don't need to play live ATM, I suggest to look at some combos. Head+cab is not so easy to play at home, if you have not a power attenuator.


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Mudbone
post Mar 28 2011, 12:32 AM
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Blackstar has a Killer 5 watt head, and I think it comes in a combo version as well.





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Azzaboi
post Mar 28 2011, 07:40 AM
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Hey, is the little bro - Blackstar HT-1RH with a Blackstar Celestion 10" Cab any good?

What's a solid state Marshall like vs tube amp?
How costly would it be manage, replace and setup the tubes?


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loundzilla
post Mar 28 2011, 03:37 PM
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Do blackstars perform well at low volumes?


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Todd Simpson
post Mar 28 2011, 05:22 PM
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Some great advice in this thread smile.gif The Head/cab approach is taken by many pro players as it offers greater flexibility in configuration and ease of repair. However, if you don't have a spare head, if your head blows up, your stuck. So going with a combo can save some cash. So like many things it's a balancing act. You have to weigh Price, Performance, and Features. If there is a hard limit on price, then the other factors will be limited based on that.

The units suggested are quite nice and any would be a great pick. Also, keep in mind that the distortion on the amp is only one option among many for your tone. You can always run fx pedals, pedal boards, rack gear in the amp on the clean channel and bypass the onboard distortion to expand your sonic palette. I use a multi fx board so all of my distortion is emulated/modeled in outboard gear and my amp is just dry amplification. However, this approach doesn't work for for every one for a variety of reasons. Some players pretty much rely on the tone in the head and get great results.

Also, keep in mind that you can get more bang for your buck if you are willing/able to buy a used or even slightly used rig. It won't have that new rig smell though smile.gif

Todd


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Azzaboi
post Mar 28 2011, 06:48 PM
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The Blackstar HT5 5 Watt head is said to be too frikkin loud for most bedrooms, but not quite loud enough for gigging. However awesome, can do metal, american crush, and a range of natural/distorted tones, no bad reviews found. I believe all amps muck out if the volume to way low to what they where designed for.

The HT-1RH, i heard was a smaller version, compressing down the great sound of the HT5 into 1 Watt without the lost of quality? Good for bedroom / practicing, but not a huge stage.

The problem with getting a tube amp however is the replacements / setup as those tubes can blow up like Todd said. Do they also need to be professional installed and setup correctly? Every 3-6 months or so depending how hard to drive the amp? Replacing them at the first signs of cracking, volume change, rather than when they blow up to prevent any damage with surrounding components?

To me, it's starting to seem like a lot of maintaining for just going from solid state to tube amp... unsure.gif


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Bogdan Radovic
post Mar 29 2011, 10:23 AM
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I generally think that the tube amp is not a great choice for bedroom practice. It is if you have an attenuator.
Though regarding maintenance you shouldn't worry that much - if you get a new amp it will serve you for years without problem. Tubes are not that sensitive and you don't have to change/service them that regularly (3-6 months). I never heard of anyone who managed to blow up the tubes in his amp wink.gif

In reply to loudzilla's question - definitely try a small blackstar tube combo if you can. They should offer you best bang for buck. Combo is much more practical option then head + cab IMO.

This post has been edited by Bogdan Radovic: Mar 29 2011, 10:24 AM


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Mar 30 2011, 03:50 PM
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It's a good decision to replace the Spider amp with a tube amp, but I'm afraid your budget is limited. However there is some choice.

The problem is that tube amps are generally more expensive than 300GBP, and even the Blackstar HT5 combo like this one:



is running around 300-360GBP on UK Thomman.

This could be a good buy, but you must understand that this amp puts out 5W on the 10" speaker. It is an excellent solution for bedroom playing, studio recording and small club gigs, but that's it. If you are happy with these options, than I definitely recommend spending your budget on that.

If you need something that packs more power, the only solution you might have is Peavey Valveking 112 combo, it packs 50W with 12" speaker. However, this amp is running somewhere in the 350-440GBP region, you should look it up.



Both of these amps are good in it's own way. I would chose Blackstar combo, and here's why:

- Valveking 112 weight is 47lbs = 21Kg
- Blackstar HT5 weight is 29lbs = 13Kg

Lifting 21Kg with one arm can be difficult, specially after gigs. Although the weight itself is not a big problem, the bulky box combined with one handle will put strain on your hand and fingers after 30m, and you don't need that before (or after) the gigs.

- Valveking is bigger, while Blackstar is smaller

Although bigger is better, and you will get more bass with VK, it will be harder to transport it, while you can snug the BS into any empty space of the car, back seat etc. You will anyway mic it on stage, so the bass problem won't be such a big problem anyway (more room for bass player to show himself biggrin.gif )

- Valveking has 50W, while Blackstar is 5W

This doesn't mean VK is 10 times louder than BS, because the wattage is not a measurement for loudness (dB). In reality, VK is only twice as loud as the Blackstar. 50W is a LOT, and you won't crank it ever, that's for sure. You will mostly use 1/8 of it's power for practice, and 1/5 for gigs, which is not efficient and won't sound good.

Other important thing regarding power is that on Blackstar you will get more power tube saturation because you will crank it all the way up, whilst you won't get that sweet tone out of the stronger amp.


In the end, both of these amps have similar character, good for rock, hard rock, R&R, and with a nice boost in front, good for metal. They both have tight overdrive, BS having a tad more modern and "metal" feel to it. VK is more of a classic rock amp, but it can sound good for anything providing you have decent boost pedal.


Let us know what you bought ! smile.gif


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Azzaboi
post Mar 30 2011, 06:24 PM
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I went down to a guitar store, grabbed a Les Paul Gibson Standard and Blackstar RT5 combo, and tried it out there and then to get a good feel for the difference.

Honestly, I wasn't that impressed at the tone range, tone was pretty sweet for a more village, classic, rock, blues sound, but I was under the impression, (before I actually played it) it would do american crush, metal, etc... which it did to a point, but not as well as I hoped. The tube ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) lightly takes you from USA to UK sounding, I felt that needed more. Playing rock/blues is sweet! However playing metal shred, totally sucks at finding a good tone compared to the solid state I've already got.

The best thing, I noticed with the tube amp is the range of tone change at your finger tips! You could play hard or softly and it would totally change the feel of the tone, something a solid state amp would never do. You could also roll off the volume of the guitar for a different, cleaner feel. Solid state is rather limited with that (same tone, simply quieter till it muddles).

Overall, with the maintaining of the tube amp, price tag, and on-going costs, I don't think they are really worth it unless your playing style involves a lot of feeling and emotion changes like a blues player. My blues playing I would say had a lot more feeling right at the fingers.

This post has been edited by Azzaboi: Mar 30 2011, 06:25 PM


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Mar 30 2011, 08:31 PM
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QUOTE (Azzaboi @ Mar 30 2011, 07:24 PM) *
I went down to a guitar store, grabbed a Les Paul Gibson Standard and Blackstar RT5 combo, and tried it out there and then to get a good feel for the difference.

Honestly, I wasn't that impressed at the tone range, tone was pretty sweet for a more village, classic, rock, blues sound, but I was under the impression, (before I actually played it) it would do american crush, metal, etc... which it did to a point, but not as well as I hoped. The tube ISF (Infinite Shape Feature) lightly takes you from USA to UK sounding, I felt that needed more. Playing rock/blues is sweet! However playing metal shred, totally sucks at finding a good tone compared to the solid state I've already got.

The best thing, I noticed with the tube amp is the range of tone change at your finger tips! You could play hard or softly and it would totally change the feel of the tone, something a solid state amp would never do. You could also roll off the volume of the guitar for a different, cleaner feel. Solid state is rather limited with that (same tone, simply quieter till it muddles).

Overall, with the maintaining of the tube amp, price tag, and on-going costs, I don't think they are really worth it unless your playing style involves a lot of feeling and emotion changes like a blues player. My blues playing I would say had a lot more feeling right at the fingers.


Yes, HT5 doesn't have hi-gain option, but with a proper boost pedal it can do metal well.

As for maintaining, there is none, and the price tag for the HT5 is really low, lowest possible. I'm not sure what the on-going costs might be though, possibly tubes, but there are only two in it.




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Azzaboi
post Mar 31 2011, 06:57 AM
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Thanks for the reply Ivan,

Ok, I thought you had to replace the tube as soon as it starts cracking / fizzing / changing volume, else it blows up and damages your amp?!!?!!


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Mar 31 2011, 08:05 AM
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QUOTE (Azzaboi @ Mar 31 2011, 07:57 AM) *
Thanks for the reply Ivan,

Ok, I thought you had to replace the tube as soon as it starts cracking / fizzing / changing volume, else it blows up and damages your amp?!!?!!


cheers mate,

sorry for not explaining further. You are right, tubes need replacing. In general, tubes don't need replacing that often, specially preamp tubes, which can last for years without replacing.

Based on my own experience, if you gig every week with a tube amp with new tubes, the preamp tubes can be replaced in 3-6 years (depending on the quality of the preamp tube and the amp), and power tubes need replacing a bit more often - in 2-4 years, depending on how hard you drive the amp.

For example, tubes will wear more quickly if you crank the amp. If you have a 50W amp, and you play it in clubs, chances are you will play mostly on 25-50% of the power, depending on the size of the club and the quality of the PA system. If this is the case, then power tubes can last for years before needed a replacement.

In case of constant professional touring and rehearsals, where musicians play almost every night, need strong volume, and cannot afford to loose their amp in the middle of the gig, then it is recommended to replace them in 3-6 months. I would say, there is need for replacing them once in the middle of the touring season, just in case. One more reason for them being replaced during touring is because amps are being transported often, and suffer some stress, so it's more a matter of precaution than getting a better sound. Most middle-profile professionals don't even change them during a year, because it's not that important. It's mostly being done with high-profile players, guitar musician stars, etc..
As before, preamp tubes don't really need replacement, they can last for 2-3 sessions, although they are often replaced anyway, since the costs are low on those.

However, in the case of the low wattage amp, like Blackstar HT5, because it is cranked most of the time, then the power tube will wear out more quickly. For example, cranking it an hour per day would show need for replacement of the power tube in roughly 1 or 2 years (again depending how often you crank it). As before, preamp tube doesn't really need replacement, and it can last 3-6 years.

Regarding costs, Blackstar HT5 uses two tubes, one ECC83 preamp tube and one 12BH7 medium dual triode tube. Online there are very decent quality ECC83 tubes for 12$, and there are decent quality 12BH7 (there is an Electro-Harmonix "gold" version of the 12BH7 that runs around 25$).

There is no need to go to tube tech to replace the tubes. It's easily being done alone. Tubes have little pins, and they go into slots with pin holes. It's as easy as replacing cartridges for old video games. The only thing that needs to be done on amps that have 2 power tubes or more is biasing, and this is also something most people with a multimeter and internet instructions can do as well.

So, in the case of Blackstar HT5, the maintenance would be replacing preamp tube (12$) in some 5 years or so, and replacing dual triode power tube (25$) in some 1-3 years or so. It does present some cost, in comparison what we usually put out for strings and picks, it should be a breeze. smile.gif

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Mar 31 2011, 08:12 AM


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