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Thread: Wattage question for the forum's tube amp experts...

  1. #21
    Senior Member Steph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rango View Post
    Super Sonic's are available for so little on the used market - it's just a sleeper amp - if this one was lost - I'd buy another.

    Oh and I'd listen to LSchefman - Just Mic it - SM57's are cheap and effective! PLUS if you ever get somewhere that you need to run some guitar signal thought the PA - like outdoors - you're all set!
    I believe you. Look what I stumble upon this morning... Without looking for it...

    http://montreal.kijiji.ca/c-acheter-...AdIdZ458178142

    http://montreal.kijiji.ca/c-acheter-...AdIdZ458183436

    But the TA-30 is really catching my attention... Will look for a try somewhere...

    LSchefman did change my perspective on this mic issue. I will seriously consider a mic setup... Hey! more gear, how bad can it be!

  2. #22
    Senior Member Steph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LSchefman View Post
    One important thing to know about wattage is that doubling the power results in only a 3 db increase in the amp's output. Halving the power obviously results in a 3 db reduction in the amp's output level.

    A decibel is the smallest volume change the ear can perceive.

    However, the tone of amps does tend to change with various power capabilities for a number of reasons, among them:

    Different power supplies, transformers, numbers of tubes, and other components. These all have an effect on the sound. As an example, a 100 watt version of most 50 watt amps exhibits tighter, cleaner bass response. And of course, amps have different headroom with different power levels also.

    Speaker efficiency, cabinet design, and number of speakers will also heavily influence the sound of an amp, as well as load its power output differently.

    There are a lot of variables at work.
    Hey! There you are...

    Yeah, so much variable that it is hard to navigate through them...

    I did know about the Watt/db relation... That is why I haven't discarded any power types... Not even a 100w amps. But your comments underline even more the need for me to experiment a lot to actually get a hands-on experience of all those variables. That is why I'm plannng to rent a few different type of amps (30w, 50w, 100w, marshall, vox, mesa...) and hear for myself the difference...

    You've been very helpful and instructive...

    Thanks man!!

  3. #23
    Senior Member Dirty Bob's Avatar
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    There have been many good suggestions in this thread...I also second the Marshall 2466 as an unbelievable amp...on the quiet side for a 100 watter and has a master volume and and fx loop. PRS territory I would look at an H...very versatile. In the Fender clean vein with the ability to jump to higher gain if necessary I would most likely look toward amps built by Bruce Zinky and Paul Rivera...even if you by them used. It's also never a bad decision IMHO to go with Mesa. Even their higher gain amplifiers have other modes than what the amps are known for...(and they sound excellent)...used prices have been very good on them recently.
    -Bob

  4. #24
    Senior Member Steph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtyMoonsRJT View Post
    There have been many good suggestions in this thread...I also second the Marshall 2466 as an unbelievable amp...on the quiet side for a 100 watter and has a master volume and and fx loop. PRS territory I would look at an H...very versatile. In the Fender clean vein with the ability to jump to higher gain if necessary I would most likely look toward amps built by Bruce Zinky and Paul Rivera...even if you by them used. It's also never a bad decision IMHO to go with Mesa. Even their higher gain amplifiers have other modes than what the amps are known for...(and they sound excellent)...used prices have been very good on them recently.
    You bet! justlike yours...
    I hope they will keep coming....

  5. #25
    Senior Member Dirty Bob's Avatar
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    Ha! I buy amps...I tend not to sell em!
    -Bob

  6. #26
    Senior Member Steph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtyMoonsRJT View Post
    Ha! I buy amps...I tend not to sell em!

  7. #27
    Senior Member Rango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steph View Post
    I believe you. Look what I stumble upon this morning... Without looking for it...

    http://montreal.kijiji.ca/c-acheter-...AdIdZ458178142

    http://montreal.kijiji.ca/c-acheter-...AdIdZ458183436

    But the TA-30 is really catching my attention... Will look for a try somewhere...

    LSchefman did change my perspective on this mic issue. I will seriously consider a mic setup... Hey! more gear, how bad can it be!
    Yup and you never know what you maybe able to get with an offer and it would be a good place to start....

    If you like the TA-30 - look for one in 2x12. I had the chance to A-B them and found the 2x12 to be much fuller sounding to me. You could also go the head and cab route with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by DirtyMoonsRJT View Post
    Ha! I buy amps...I tend not to sell em!
    That's me!

  8. #28
    Occasionally Onery Member CantankerousCarl's Avatar
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    Not sure tone-wise how the Mesa TA compares to the newer Express Plus but I love my 6L6 5:50 more all the time, I think they hit a nearly unbeatable combination of tone, portability and flexibility. 5W/25W/50W selection for each channel, the famous 5-band EQ, footswitchable lead boost, in a reasonably compact 1x12 that still has plenty of bottom end.

    The clean channel on 5W (which is single-ended) has a wonderful clean sound, and is capable of wicked crunch. Gain channel is decidedly non-fizzy (as opposed to the EL84 5:25 which I returned) and rich. Everything but the kitchen sink on this one. 'Spensive.

    Honorable mention to my little H&K TM18 combo. Super compact, a little boxy, but when dialed in right gives great crunch and really pristine cleans. Perfect for rehearsals and small gigs, and the redbox recording out actually sounds decent. Needs some sort of boost pedal in front of it for my taste (I use a TC Spark) because the built-in lead boost is a little extreme.
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  9. #29
    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    What kind of music are you playing? Cover band situations typically demand some flexibility and that leads you down a particular path. I saw suggestions of Boogies, H&Ks, Egnaters, etc. and those are really good suggestions, but there's one more question you need to answer...to mic or not to mic. In my band situation, we do it old school: vocals + drums only thru the PA. That means the guitars and bass have to fend for themselves. That also dictates amp wattage because, depending upon the venue size, you need to adjust your volume without killing your grail tone, right? When I retired my Boogie (MkIII Simul-class = 85W or 25W class A) I planned on staying in the 30W range. That's why deciding on the Super Dallas was such a challenge and risk. But because the tonal register of the SD is so different from the MkIII, I can turn WAY up and not kill people. If it were a 30W, my clean headroom would probably be too limited. It works very well for me right now.

    The 'recording out' on the H&K is an implementation of their famous Redbox, which I've also used for decades. If that amp is too small for you, just grab a Redbox and it replaces the SM57, setup, EQ'ing and other mish-mash pretty well. It's a great solution in a pinch.

  10. #30
    Senior Member Steph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie View Post
    What kind of music are you playing? Cover band situations typically demand some flexibility and that leads you down a particular path. I saw suggestions of Boogies, H&Ks, Egnaters, etc. and those are really good suggestions, but there's one more question you need to answer...to mic or not to mic. In my band situation, we do it old school: vocals + drums only thru the PA. That means the guitars and bass have to fend for themselves. That also dictates amp wattage because, depending upon the venue size, you need to adjust your volume without killing your grail tone, right? When I retired my Boogie (MkIII Simul-class = 85W or 25W class A) I planned on staying in the 30W range. That's why deciding on the Super Dallas was such a challenge and risk. But because the tonal register of the SD is so different from the MkIII, I can turn WAY up and not kill people. If it were a 30W, my clean headroom would probably be too limited. It works very well for me right now.

    The 'recording out' on the H&K is an implementation of their famous Redbox, which I've also used for decades. If that amp is too small for you, just grab a Redbox and it replaces the SM57, setup, EQ'ing and other mish-mash pretty well. It's a great solution in a pinch.
    Hey Boogie! Thanks for your insight.

    Good idea about the Redbox... I haven't sorted the mic issue yet. I'm probably not gonna play any live gigs any time soon, but i'm planning to work on forming a hobby/week-end/just-for-fun band and do some home recording, so I'm planning my amp buy accordingly, hence the wattage questions. My last band experience is some 15yrs behind me and is of no help to me now (more acoustic oriented). And, there is so much more gear offerings today...
    Needless to say, that a cover band would best define my project. Somewhere between blues to classic rock. I do some blues-jazz so clean headroom would be required. But then again, I would like some good ZZ top type crunch also. And in that sense, my wattage xepectation keeps on climbing. I get the feeling I will get what I aim for in the 50w range (for cleans at high volume).
    So that's why I'm kinda looking for the holy-grail of versatility... Holy grail as in Hopless Search...

    Here are my prospect... (Lots of testing to come...)
    -PRS 2 channel H
    -Mesa TA-30
    -Mesa Express Plus 5:50
    -Marshall 2466 Modern vintage
    -Marshall DSL series
    -Hughes & Kettner Tubemeister 36
    -Egnater Renegade
    -VOX ac30hwh head
    -Bogner Shiva
    -Bogner Barcelona
    -..... Your suggestion here...........

    Thanks man!
    "Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better." - Albert Camus

  11. #31
    Senior Member Steph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CantankerousCarl View Post
    Not sure tone-wise how the Mesa TA compares to the newer Express Plus but I love my 6L6 5:50 more all the time, I think they hit a nearly unbeatable combination of tone, portability and flexibility. 5W/25W/50W selection for each channel, the famous 5-band EQ, footswitchable lead boost, in a reasonably compact 1x12 that still has plenty of bottom end.

    The clean channel on 5W (which is single-ended) has a wonderful clean sound, and is capable of wicked crunch. Gain channel is decidedly non-fizzy (as opposed to the EL84 5:25 which I returned) and rich. Everything but the kitchen sink on this one. 'Spensive.

    Honorable mention to my little H&K TM18 combo. Super compact, a little boxy, but when dialed in right gives great crunch and really pristine cleans. Perfect for rehearsals and small gigs, and the redbox recording out actually sounds decent. Needs some sort of boost pedal in front of it for my taste (I use a TC Spark) because the built-in lead boost is a little extreme.
    Thanks CantankerousCarl for pointing me towards the Express Plus... I really like the wattage config... Its on the list...

    The H&K offers a nice package too...

    This is the kind of feedback that is very useful for me right now... Thanks.
    "Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better." - Albert Camus

  12. #32
    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    Another suggestion...don't minimize your speaker selection. A combo has a speaker that typically has been specifically voiced for the amp, saving you some trouble. But matching the right cabinet/speaker(s) to the amp is more than half of the battle. Les (and many others) have way more experience than me in this department, but my recent acquisition proved this point clearly, to me. When evaluating what you like and want, be prepared to buy the total solution...combo or head+cab. That's the only way to get the sound you heard in Youtube or at the store. Otherwise, take your fav cab with you for evaluation.

    It sounds like we play much of the same stuff. The Super Dallas works really well for my classic rock gig but it is not a good bedroom player's candidate (especially if you're married and/or have kids or live in an apartment). Our other guitarist plays a Marshall DSL40 combo and we mesh together pretty well (complimentary...he's bright and cutting, I'm deep, growl-ly and full). The Bogner Shiva is a stella option, but can be loud too (It's a magical lead tone thru a V30 2x12). The Mesa TA-30 has been on my "must try" radar but never happened, but it is a very compelling option (I am a dyed in the wool Boogie guy, after all ). The PRS 'H' was too close to the Boogie options for me, but sounded awesome. I was never able to dial in a good tone with an Egnater (not its fault, but my issue. A good salesperson would have fixed this). H&K makes excellent equipment and another forum bro gigs one. Loves it. I'd try one simply on his recommendation.

    FYI, I personally believe my Gibbons tone with the SD is rockin' with my SE One (plus a little Lovepedal Kalamazoo and EP Booster). When I talk grail tone, this is place for me. But it comes at the price of volume.

  13. #33
    Senior Member Steph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boogie View Post
    Another suggestion...don't minimize your speaker selection. A combo has a speaker that typically has been specifically voiced for the amp, saving you some trouble. But matching the right cabinet/speaker(s) to the amp is more than half of the battle. Les (and many others) have way more experience than me in this department, but my recent acquisition proved this point clearly, to me. When evaluating what you like and want, be prepared to buy the total solution...combo or head+cab. That's the only way to get the sound you heard in Youtube or at the store. Otherwise, take your fav cab with you for evaluation.

    It sounds like we play much of the same stuff. The Super Dallas works really well for my classic rock gig but it is not a good bedroom player's candidate (especially if you're married and/or have kids or live in an apartment). Our other guitarist plays a Marshall DSL40 combo and we mesh together pretty well (complimentary...he's bright and cutting, I'm deep, growl-ly and full). The Bogner Shiva is a stella option, but can be loud too (It's a magical lead tone thru a V30 2x12). The Mesa TA-30 has been on my "must try" radar but never happened, but it is a very compelling option (I am a dyed in the wool Boogie guy, after all ). The PRS 'H' was too close to the Boogie options for me, but sounded awesome. I was never able to dial in a good tone with an Egnater (not its fault, but my issue. A good salesperson would have fixed this). H&K makes excellent equipment and another forum bro gigs one. Loves it. I'd try one simply on his recommendation.

    FYI, I personally believe my Gibbons tone with the SD is rockin' with my SE One (plus a little Lovepedal Kalamazoo and EP Booster). When I talk grail tone, this is place for me. But it comes at the price of volume.
    Great comments Boogie, I appreciate this...

    I understand more and more that I'll have to sacrifice being able to use the amp at bedroom volume, if I want the versatility to play with drums and all. I agree, most of the time great tone comes at a volume price. I guess I won't have it both ways. Beside, I've got my bedroom setup covered already, so I've decided to drop that part of my requirement, and concentrate on versatility of tone instead of volume...

    I think I'm gonna go for a Head/Cabinet config. Just another way to get more playroom in tone shaping. No to mention the weight... I'll be very careful to take both parts into consideration, as it makes perfect sense. Thanks for underlying. I'm thinking 2x12...

    My main problem at first, I think, will be to find those amps to try... Especially PRS and Bogner which are impossible to find in the main stores where I live. Too small a market. There was some cool boutique stores at one point, but they never last unfortunately.

    Anyways, as I've said in other posts, I plan into renting some classic models (what I can find) at different wattage to get a real feel of what its all about. Youtube is of no help on this watt issue. Plus I think juging tone on Youtube is like those old HD TV commercials showing us, through our old tube tv screen, how better there image is... Kinda makes no sense. But its a starting point, I guess.

    I prefer this kind of input... so thanks again...
    "Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better." - Albert Camus

  14. #34
    Senior Member gush's Avatar
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    I have a 5150 head,120 watts. I purchased it in 1994 and I just had to have it. Its too much. Ive done out door gigs with 2 4x12 cabs and never get past 3 on the master volume. I wish it was 30 watts to be honest. Ive played with the cab covered, turned around and even tried a plywood cover that leaves 3 inches of the bottom 2 speakers showing. The plywood cover allowed me to run master on 5 without killing people but the tone isnt right. It would display hints of that good cranked tube amp sound but only hints. 30 watts is plenty.

    My head has a direct out. I tried running direct to the board once.......IT SUCKED! Couldnt unplug it fast enough. Like les said, dynamic mic to the grill is the way to go. I use senn 609s for that live. I like them a little better than the 57, but thats me.

  15. #35
    SuperD Boogie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gush View Post
    I have a 5150 head,120 watts. I purchased it in 1994 and I just had to have it. Its too much.
    That is exactly why I sold my Twin II. It's just not where my focus lies right now. We do play pretty loud sometimes, but nowhere where a Twin can be cranked to overdrive (does that really exist?). Heck, even with my MkIII, I only started using the 25W class A mode about 3 years ago exclusively. Then I was able to push the amp into new sonic territory. I was finally able to make a Boogie do something other than Petrucci/Metallica MOP tone (not that there's anything wrong with that).

  16. #36
    Senior Member cosmic_ape's Avatar
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    Reading all the features you've posted, I think it's clear you want the Tubemeister 36. I have played the 18 and the 5, and I want to try 36, too. I have been on a similar quest that's been pushed due to a guitar layaway, but I will share my own findings.

    - On the budget department, you can't go wrong with a PRS SE 30. Of all the three SEs, I found this one to have the clearest, tightest, least compressed overdrive tone. And it is pretty darn loud, too! It's got almost all the things you are looking for.
    - The Tubemeister has all the features. I am not sure the 36w fixes the problems I read about the 18w model (fizzy OD at low volumes, boost button being too loud, goopy construction -on the combos at least- that made tube replacement a challenge). I think that if you like the tone, that should do it for ya.
    - A high tier PRS amp is always an option. I read this year, the HX/DA and the MDT will include an FX loop. That seals the deal for me!
    - Here's an amp no one has mentioned yet. If you own a PRS guitar, you can increase the clarity with a Dr Z. Maz 38 Sr. I tested this one and could not believe my ears! Whatever high end I could not hear enough of before was there to spare! It will not get as distorted on its own, but all you need is a good OD pedal and it will get there. You will not worry about a drummer being too loud with this one either. That's what I keep reading.


    Incidentally, you guys need to talk to your drummers. Introduce them to this thing, what's it called? DYNAMICS! If you can pick lightly, they can hit lightly.

  17. #37
    deus ex machina
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    The one universal truth that holds for tube amps is less equals more. A tube amp with a short signal path will almost always sound better and feel more connected than a tube amp with a long signal path, which is why so many guitarists still rely on Marshall 1987 (4-hole JMP) and 2204 (JCM 800) 50W heads for their base tone. The 5F6A Tweed Bassman circuit from which these amps were derived is the gold standard for guitar amp tone. No other amp circuit has spawned so many derivatives.

  18. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by Em7 View Post
    The one universal truth that holds for tube amps is less equals more. A tube amp with a short signal path will almost always sound better and feel more connected than a tube amp with a long signal path, which is why so many guitarists still rely on Marshall 1987 (4-hole JMP) and 2204 (JCM 800) 50W heads for their base tone. The 5F6A Tweed Bassman circuit from which these amps were derived is the gold standard for guitar amp tone. No other amp circuit has spawned so many derivatives.
    I gotta agree.

    Put more stuff in the signal path, and you lose something.
    If something is too hard to do, then it's not worth doing. You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your short-wave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.
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  19. #39
    Senior Member jfb's Avatar
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    I have had tube amps ranging from 7 to 150 watts. I can't say I have a wattage preference. Though I do certainly have a preference for which ones I'd rather not have to re-tube.
    Plank Owner

  20. #40
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    Tube amps are a funny bugger, you have to remember a 50w tube half stack can usually outpower a drummer. My coverband had one guitarist using 50w Marshall half stack with Marshall 4x12 cab and the other running a 50w Sherlock Fathead into a Mesa Rectifier 4x12. No worries about volume

    I run a Mesa Heartbreaker 212 combo - now this was not really a favourite of Mesa users, but it does have the ability to run 6L6's, EL34's and 6V6's. So it runs 50/100w with the big power tubes and I run it at half power with 6v6's, so it's 20W/40W at full power. I also have a Rivera Clubster 110 and a Mesa 5:25 Express 112. The 6V6's in the Rivera are sweeter than the EL84's in the Express. EL84's are the power tubes in the TA30 and AC30, to me they sound a bit more glassy when pushed.

    I have had Fender Twin, Fender Blues Deluxe, THD Univalve, Mesa Subway Rocket and Mesa DC-5. All are good, I reckon the Mesa Mk IV and V are massively versatile but at the end of the days it your ears!!

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