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> Do Valve Amps Sound Better As They Get Older?
mattacuk
post Nov 20 2007, 01:58 PM
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I was just wondering what you guys thought about this. Is it the case Valve amps sound better as they age? Or do they typically sound the same old, as when they were new?

As some of you may know I have a Vox AC15 which sounds fantastic (compared to the faulty one they sent me first). And this is a question I have often pondered! biggrin.gif

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Andrew Cockburn
post Nov 20 2007, 02:09 PM
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QUOTE (mattacuk @ Nov 20 2007, 07:58 AM) *
I was just wondering what you guys thought about this. Is it the case Valve amps sound better as they age? Or do they typically sound the same old, as when they were new?

As some of you may know I have a Vox AC15 which sounds fantastic (compared to the faulty one they sent me first). And this is a question I have often pondered! biggrin.gif

regards

Matt smile.gif


The reverse in fact. A lot of the components deteriorate over time, in particular the tubes, and capacitors, and so can speakers. On the other hand, if well maintained, and with tubes replaced, and capacitors as well as necessary, a 50 year old tube amp can sound amazing - just don't expect the original components to stay good forever. A good amp tech will be sympathetic to the type of components he is replacing as well, as some component types affect the sound to a greater or lesser degree.


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mattacuk
post Nov 20 2007, 02:11 PM
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Thankyou Andrew, thats some very usefull information! I hope there is a good tech locally to me for when things need replacing! smile.gif

regards
Matt


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"The Fundimental Difference between Paul Gilbert and Buckethead is that Paul Explores the Good side of the force, while Buckethead Explores the Dark Side of the Force" :)
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Andrew Cockburn
post Nov 20 2007, 02:26 PM
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QUOTE (mattacuk @ Nov 20 2007, 08:11 AM) *
Thankyou Andrew, thats some very usefull information! I hope there is a good tech locally to me for when things need replacing! smile.gif

regards
Matt



You don't usually have to worry about the capacitors for 10s of years Matt. On the other hand, tubes should be regarded as consumable, and need replacing depending on how long and how hard you have been running them.


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mattacuk
post Nov 20 2007, 02:28 PM
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QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Nov 20 2007, 01:26 PM) *
You don't usually have to worry about the capacitors for 10s of years Matt. On the other hand, tubes should be regarded as consumable, and need replacing depending on how long and how hard you have been running them.


Do people always replace with the exact same tube models? Or can you go with a new variety? smile.gif


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"The Fundimental Difference between Paul Gilbert and Buckethead is that Paul Explores the Good side of the force, while Buckethead Explores the Dark Side of the Force" :)
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MickeM
post Nov 20 2007, 02:31 PM
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They would sound more "vintage" which could be a good thing smile.gif

Some say the tubes sound their best right before running out. I don't know.... I still have to experience that moment of clarity myself laugh.gif


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mattacuk
post Nov 20 2007, 02:34 PM
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QUOTE (MickeM @ Nov 20 2007, 01:31 PM) *
They would sound more "vintage" which could be a good thing smile.gif

Some say the tubes sound their best right before running out. I don't know.... I still have to experience that moment of clarity myself laugh.gif


laugh.gif laugh.gif A Zen like moment? One day you may reach Zen MickeM cool.gif Right in the middle of a solo!!!


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Andrew Cockburn
post Nov 20 2007, 02:57 PM
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QUOTE (mattacuk @ Nov 20 2007, 08:28 AM) *
Do people always replace with the exact same tube models? Or can you go with a new variety? smile.gif


You can get variations by picking different manufacturers of the same tube model - they all sound a little different. IF you actually want to change tube types, that gets a little trickier, and you need to understand the guts of the amp to know what you can and can't do.


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mattacuk
post Nov 20 2007, 03:04 PM
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Awsome. I think i remember seeing a package a while back where you get a Celestion blue speaker and valve upgrade as part of a kit.


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"The Fundimental Difference between Paul Gilbert and Buckethead is that Paul Explores the Good side of the force, while Buckethead Explores the Dark Side of the Force" :)
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Andrew Cockburn
post Nov 20 2007, 03:08 PM
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QUOTE (mattacuk @ Nov 20 2007, 09:04 AM) *
Awsome. I think i remember seeing a package a while back where you get a Celestion blue speaker and valve upgrade as part of a kit.


Sounds cool - if it is purpose built for your amp you are probably in good shape smile.gif

BTW, the Cockburn Amplification A.C.1 will have a Celestion Blue in it, so you can bet, knowing that manufacturers reputation for high end stuff that the Blue is a great speaker!

This post has been edited by Andrew Cockburn: Nov 20 2007, 03:09 PM


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mattacuk
post Nov 20 2007, 03:10 PM
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QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Nov 20 2007, 02:08 PM) *
Sounds cool - if it is purpose built for your amp you are probably in good shape smile.gif


Well is a long way off, but certainly worth going for next time I think. I find this tech stuff really interesting!! smile.gif


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Saoirse O'Shea
post Nov 20 2007, 03:13 PM
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Great Q Matt smile.gif ,

Andrew's spot on about components degrading and the need to replace tubes on a regular bases.

There is however a lot to be said for the build quality of some, not all, vintage amps and effects. The really good ones often were handwired, p2p soldered and use quality components etc. It tends to be those that people still rave on about - particularly once they've been re-tubed etc smile.gif - usually with old stock tubes. What would be good would be to have a time machine so that we could go back and really compare a vintage AC30 on the day it was built and how it is now smile.gif . Most comparisons are a vintage tube some 30-40 years on from the day it was new after it's been through god only knows how many services, retubes, speaker replacements and so on compared with the same model made today. So how we can determine if the sound has improved or deteriorated is well...

Comparing a recording to how the amp may have sounded doesn't, imo, answer the question because you don't how to allow for the use of the now vintage recording equipment used as well as the amp wink.gif . Add all the vintage gear together that was probably involved in some classic guitar tracks from the 50s and 60s and there would be a who's who of classic kit - guitars, amps AND recording gear smile.gif . Most recording engineers given the choice between a properly serviced Neve 1073 preamp and a new 1073 would go for the former and swallow the cost of new tubes etc. Similarly most would opt for a vintage Telefunken ribbon or tube mic over a new mic and so on.

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Andrew Cockburn
post Nov 20 2007, 03:18 PM
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.... and to a large extent, the awesomness of the construction techniques and the wonderful components they had way back then are a self-fulfilling prophesy. If the electric guitar had been invented after the transistor, its doubtful that we would have had the same sounds to choose form - those early amp builders just wanted to make as clean and distortion free a sound as they could on their budget. Later on, people discovered distortion in a quest for loudness and it became a legendary part of guitar sound - that would never have happened if transistorized amps with high headroom could give unlimited clean volume.

Same is true for resistors and capacitors. In todays terms they have flaws - they are not sonically transparent, but are now regarded as an essential part of that accidental tube tone that we love, so they are accorded a high status.

Of course none of this detracts from the sound that we love, but its funny how things come about!

This post has been edited by Andrew Cockburn: Nov 20 2007, 03:19 PM


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mattacuk
post Nov 20 2007, 03:18 PM
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There sure is alot of money in vintage gear thats for sure!! Although my AC15 isnt handwired, I hope it matures well !! biggrin.gif


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Constie
post Nov 20 2007, 03:27 PM
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So first the question: what's "better"? tongue.gif

I think the old ones sounds better because of the age they were produced.
The technics wasn't that modern and just more contingent.

If you buy a new amp and wait 50 years it will probably sound the same as I does now.

Edit: I didn't read the whole thread unsure.gif

This post has been edited by Constie: Nov 20 2007, 03:28 PM


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Hardtail
post Nov 20 2007, 04:42 PM
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QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ Nov 20 2007, 08:09 AM) *
The reverse in fact. A lot of the components deteriorate over time, in particular the tubes, and capacitors, and so can speakers. On the other hand, if well maintained, and with tubes replaced, and capacitors as well as necessary, a 50 year old tube amp can sound amazing - just don't expect the original components to stay good forever.


Tisk, Tisk Andrew! What you call "deteriorate over time" I call vintage. wink.gif

To answer the original question... YES! A tube amp always sounds better over time. However, one must assume a certain level of quality to begin with. A well constructed cabinet will flex and breath over time with the reverberation of sound adding to the warmth and depth much like an acoustic guitar does. Brand new speakers are stiff and the sound can sometimes be brittle, but a well worn speaker will sound smoother. Electronics don't particularly age like the cabinet or speaker will and may need replacing as Andrew said. But most techs that are any good can replace those components with like or even exact replacements maintaining the sound of your amp.

I would like to revise your original question at this time to simply read:
"Do Valve Amps Sound Better?"
Which brings the obvious answer from me of 'yes'. biggrin.gif


QUOTE (mattacuk @ Nov 20 2007, 08:28 AM) *
Do people always replace with the exact same tube models? Or can you go with a new variety? smile.gif


Some people like to spend tons of money on vintage tubes made decades ago. Some people like reissue tubes which attempt to duplicate the vintage tubes but rarely accomplish the goal. And some people like modern tubes like Groove Tubes for their added reliability and cheaper price. I personally like JJ's which I purchase from www.eurotubes.com. The best way to know your tube tastes is to switch brands at each replacement so you can zero in on your favorites. smile.gif

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mattacuk
post Nov 20 2007, 04:46 PM
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QUOTE (Hardtail @ Nov 20 2007, 03:42 PM) *
Tisk, Tisk Andrew! What you call "deteriorate over time" I call vintage. wink.gif

To answer the original question... YES! A tube amp always sounds better over time. However, one must assume a certain level of quality to begin with. A well constructed cabinet will flex and breath over time with the reverberation of sound adding to the warmth and depth much like an acoustic guitar does. Brand new speakers are stiff and the sound can sometimes be brittle, but a well worn speaker will sound smoother. Electronics don't particularly age like the cabinet or speaker will and may need replacing as Andrew said. But most techs that are any good can replace those components with like or even exact replacements maintaining the sound of your amp.

I would like to revise your original question at this time to simply read:
"Do Valve Amps Sound Better?"
Which brings the obvious answer from me of 'yes'. biggrin.gif
Some people like to spend tons of money on vintage tubes made decades ago. Some people like reissue tubes which attempt to duplicate the vintage tubes but rarely accomplish the goal. And some people like modern tubes like Groove Tubes for their added reliability and cheaper price. I personally like JJ's which I purchase from www.eurotubes.com. The best way to know your tube tastes is to switch brands at each replacement so you can zero in on your favorites. smile.gif

Hardtail


Wow, fantastic post !!! biggrin.gif


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Muris Varajic
post Nov 20 2007, 06:05 PM
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Ohh,would love if they sound better through years!! biggrin.gif


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post Nov 20 2007, 06:55 PM
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Heh, my mates got a twenty year old peavey tube amp, and it sounds awful, takes about twenty years by itself to warm up! laugh.gif

Could just be the model though, I think he bought it for a fiver or something. tongue.gif


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Hardtail
post Nov 20 2007, 10:32 PM
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QUOTE (Muris @ Nov 20 2007, 12:05 PM) *
Ohh,would love if they sound better through years!! biggrin.gif



They do! Although, I should clarify that breaking in the speakers and getting the cabinet wood to "breath" adds only a slight improvement to the quality of the sound. Very small in fact... but nonetheless it is there.

I have personally compared the older Fender Twins with the new Fender Twin reissue's and I can tell you the sound is so close their is almost no difference. Although, we did have to dial in the amps to different settings. I think if I could have taken them both home and played around with them I probably would have discovered that the vintage ones and the reissues can accomplish sounds the other cannot.

In any case, I want to point out that if you come across an amp that is say 15 years old and it is the exact same make and model as the one they are making today don't expect some significant sound quality difference. In fact, if the prices are the same I'd recommend getting the newer one to avoid future repairs. BUT, if you come across a vintage Fender Vibrolux buy it and ship it to me.

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