Tube watts vs. solid state watts, and help me redo my bass rig

Discussion in 'Gear & Equipment' started by broj15, Jan 10, 2019.

  1. broj15

    broj15 SS.org Regular

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    Alright, so now that I'm playing bass in a band full time I feel like it's time to seriously invest in some bass gear. Right now I'm playing a sqire affinity p/j through a Peavey mkIV into a 2x15 loaded with eminence betas. I'm happy with my cab, but I'd like to upgrade my head to something all tube, and I'd also like to switch over to a 5 string since my guitarist just bought a baritone and is gonna be tuning in drop A.

    Now, I guess I'll get to my main question: if my current head is 700w solid state, then how many watts (all tube) would I need to achieve the same, or higher PERCIEVED volume?

    Now obviously I know watts are just watts and have more to do with headroom than actual volume, but there's alot of conflicting information as to how all tube bass amps compare to solid state. Everything from people saying the volune is the same, but tube amps produce different tonal qualities when they break up so they sound louder, to saying it works in a 2:1 ratio, as in you'd need a solid state amp with twice as many watts to match the volume of a tube amp (ie 200w solid state = 100w tube).

    Also, looking for recommendations on high watt (300+) all tube bass amps. I'm aware of the various ampegs, marshall vba 400, and the mesa 400+, but right now I'm leaning towards a Peavey classic 400, the main reason being the ability vto blend the clean and crunch channels together. Other than what I mentioned are thier any sleeper heads I'm not aware of that fit the criteria?

    And my last question, what are some cool vintage style 5 strings? I can settle for a 5 string p or j bass, but I'd like something a little more unique. Really fond of the I anez tmb600-5, and the Gibson eb5 (the old one that looks more like a mosrite-ish shape, not the one they just put out).

    Well, I know that's alot to answer, but sso always comes through.

    Also, mods, if this would fit better in the bass forum feel free to move it there.
     
  2. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    The biggest difference is going to be how clipping effects the sound as you turn up the amp.

    Big solid state power sections don't clip as early as small tube power sections. That clipping is the distortion you get.

    Typically, us musicians like the sound of tube amps distorting vs. solid state. The cleaner you want your stage sound, the more wattage you're going to need, regardless of tube or solid state.

    I don't think they currently make any tube bass amps that couldn't keep up with a band live that aren't weird/esoteric/purpose-built boutique things. I've owned everything from 100 watt Ampeg V4Bs to monster Mesa 400+ rigs, and nothing really had a problem being loud enough, the stuff 200 watts and lower would distort quicker, but I never found that to be a bad thing in the context of the music I was playing.

    Get what sounds good. In the very, very rare case it's not loud enough, get two.
     
  3. laxu

    laxu SS.org Regular

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    Consider first if you are prepared to double the weight of your bass amp just to have tubes. I feel for bass solid-state options are just a lot more convenient.
     
  4. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    This is a very good point.

    There are so many great options for overdriven and distorted bass that are small and lightweight.
     
  5. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive CNC hack

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    Tube power amps for bass are hard. They have to be enormous AND from what I hear they don't go as low as solid state because of the output transformers.
     
  6. devastone

    devastone SS.org Regular

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    If you're lucky the weight will only double, but with some of the small high power bass heads out there now days it's probably pushing 10X the weight for tubes.
     
  7. broj15

    broj15 SS.org Regular

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    I'm not stranger to big amps/cabs at this point. Im still young and try and stay active, so I like to view loading & unloading gear as a bit of a bonus work out :lol:. But even that being said, my solid state mkIV feels just about as heavy as my (all tube) vk100. That doesn't mean I wouldn't mind having a head that I could toss in a backpack and forget it's there, but it's not a huge priority for me.

    I might try and looking into some nicer hybrid amps (my only experience with them before was a budget level hartke combo) or possibly get a separate tube pre- and solid state power amp.

    Once again thanks for all the advice yall!
     
  8. oneblackened

    oneblackened Doesn't Actually Play a Seven String

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    Just keep in mind a 300W SVT head weighs close to 90 pounds. The transformers on those things are hilariously enormous.
     
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  9. -Cetanu-

    -Cetanu- SS.org Regular

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    As you already know. Watts are Watts. Assuming other factors stay constant, clean headroom/volume will probably be about the same between solid-state/tube amps with similar power ratings while frequency range could differ with tube amps putting out less bass and sub bass frequencies.

    What's your goal in switching to all-tube?
    What improvements do you expect from such 'upgrade' ?
    Have you ever felt the need to max out your 700W amp?
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  10. broj15

    broj15 SS.org Regular

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    What's your goal in switching to all-tube?
    As dumb as it may sound, I guess in search for "better tone"? Idk I like my current bass tone, but I don't love it. However everyone I've heard in a live setting that has used an all bass rig (lots of svt's and 1 Peavey classic 400, Peavey vb2, Sunn 300T/bassman 300 pro) has sounded amazing.

    What improvements do you expect from such 'upgrade' ?

    See above.
    Have you ever felt the need to max out your 700W amp?

    As crazy as it sounds... Yes. At shows I regularly do. At least I play on 8 out of 10. Any higher than that and my amp produces a harsh feedback... Not like the lush harmonic feedback you get from a tube amp. Very shrill and unpleasant, like having the gain and volume on 10 on a bad practice amp. Obviously feedbackfis gonna happen at high volumes and we do use feedback for certain parts (noise rock band) but I need something less grating and a bit more controllable. I guess that would also be part of my answer for questions 1 & 2.

    Edit: I'm sure the fact that I'm near maxing out a 700w amp seems excessive and it definitely is. We have earplugs for people on hand if they didn't come prepared so we're not wrecking anyone's hearing. We feel like it's less about creating a loud noise and more about being so loud people can physically feel it.
     
  11. oneblackened

    oneblackened Doesn't Actually Play a Seven String

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    You may be well off with an SVT-CL. Through an 8x10, those things are loud enough to rattle things off shelves 3 rooms over. They are just absolutely horrifying in their sheer loudness.
     
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  12. broj15

    broj15 SS.org Regular

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    I was definitely leaning towards the ampeg route if only for the accessibility, but there's so many different "svt's" that it gets pretty daunting to figure out which ones I need to look at. I'll just have to take some time and do the research to figure which might suit me the best.
     
  13. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    The only SVTs that you need to look at are the 300, CL, AV and II/II Pro. Everything else is solid state or hybrid. There's also the V4B, which looks like an SVT but is 100 watts.
     
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  14. broj15

    broj15 SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for the info! Super helpful and much appreciated. I'm not familiar with the v4b, but I have played through my friends old v4 and it's an amazing amp if you need a big sounding clean pedal platform.
     
  15. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    The V4B is the bass version of the V4. Very similar overall. The V4B just got a revoiced frequency selector switch and no reverb. At volume, they sound almost identical.
     
  16. Beheroth

    Beheroth SS.org Regular

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    700 watts ? peavey mkIV ? you sure ? i'm pretty sure those only go as far as 300 watts @ 2 ohm

    as for a tube head, the only point in getting one of these is to be able to crank it and get the tubes cooking otherwise it's pointless. i'd recommend you to try a V4B first with your band before buying a 300-400w obese monster that you can't get a good tone out of it without blowing everyone earballs.

    also, it's 2019 now ffs every amp company has at least a class D offering that you can almost put in your pocket, at least give those a chance.
    For example the darkglass microtubes 500/900, glockenklang blue rock, genzler magellan ... all of those have a very good drive section
     
  17. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    While this sounds totally sensible and obvious, it's actually not entirely true.

    Remember that wattage is rated at a certain level of total harmonic distortion - when you check a spec sheet, it's going to say something like 100w at 0.5%THD or something to that effect. The gist is, because for virtually all other applications you want an amplifier to stay as clean as possible and you don't care about output beyond the point of audible clipping, the consensus for amplifiers is to measure wattage while amplifying an essentially pristine signal.

    The one notable exception to this, of course, is tube guitar (and bass) amplifiers, where poweramp distortion is not merely not undesirable, it's actually kind of a desired characteristic. So, for example, a JCM800 is a 100 watt amplifier head... But, that's before it starts clipping, which is probably 3 on the poweramp volume knob. :lol: Run wide open, if I remember right a JCM800 maxes out at something like 180w.... But, at WAY more than 0.5%THD.

    I would assume tube bass rigs are designed to stay a hair cleaner than a JCM800, but more likely than not if you open one wide open, you're going to be hearing some poweramp compression and/or saturation. Meanwhile, because solid state poweramps sound like crap when they clip, a solid state guitar or bbass poweramp is going to be designed to stay pretty squeaky clean all the way up. So, while a solid state and a tube amp may both be rated at 700w at 0.5% THD... The solid state amp is going to hit that point up near the very top of its volume taper, whereas the tube amp will hit it way below that, and will have quite a bit of additional output - where the amp musically distorts - left on the volume knob.

    So, watts are watts... But are measured before distortion occurs, and tube amps are generally designed to be pushed into distortion whereas solid state ones are not.
     
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  18. Andromalia

    Andromalia Pardon my french

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    Choose between your lombar vertebrae and a bass tube amp.
     
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  19. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    First off, are you using an 810? No? Get that first.
     
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  20. Gmork

    Gmork SS.org Regular

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    I have a genzbenz shuttle6 (solidstate) and it sounds REALLY good, weighs next to nothing.
     

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