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paul, the

Valve amps vs Solid State

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My dad has a heap of old heads gathering dust in the loft, including a couple of Sound Cities. I must pull them out and have a look.

He also has a cute little thing called a Nolan. Anyone familiar with them? Looks 70s.

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[quote name='wateroftyne' timestamp='1375510926' post='2162346']
My dad has a heap of old heads gathering dust in the loft, including a couple of Sound Cities. I must pull them out and have a look.

He also has a cute little thing called a Nolan. Anyone familiar with them? Looks 70s.
[/quote]
There was a thread a few years ago about them. Made in Forest Hill in SE London. I've read mixed views on them over at the vintageamps boards - one guy claimed to have been familiar with them at the time, saying they were rip offs off other designs using cheap components.

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Ah. It wasn't a thread... it was just me responding to your last inquiry! :)

http://basschat.co.uk/topic/109898-who-remembers-sai-of-standish-coppull/page__p__1017003#entry1017003

Edited by Musky

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[quote name='Musky' timestamp='1375514340' post='2162366']
Ah. It wasn't a thread... it was just me responding to your last inquiry! :)

http://basschat.co.uk/topic/109898-who-remembers-sai-of-standish-coppull/page__p__1017003#entry1017003
[/quote]

Ha ha... My poor, addled memory. :-)

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Here's that [url="http://vintageamps.com/plexiboard/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=22892"]thread[/url] on the vintage amps forum I was talking about. Someones added a link to a newer thread that has a bit more info.

Edited by Musky

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[quote name='wateroftyne' timestamp='1375510926' post='2162346']
My dad has a heap of old heads gathering dust in the loft, including a couple of Sound Cities. I must pull them out and have a look.

He also has a cute little thing called a Nolan. Anyone familiar with them? Looks 70s.
[/quote]

I had a Nolan, it was a Marshall knock off, but made with higher quality components than Marshalls, Partridge transformer, Hiwatt type head sleeve. Let me know when you pull out those amps.

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I've owned and played through many SS amps over the years and for convenience and reliability Peavey bass kit always did the job consistently better than any other SS amp I've used. However my mainstay gigging amp for over 20 years was a MKII Marshall Super Bass 100w( through a Musicman RH115 cab fitted with a blackwidow driver). There was just something alive about this particular valve amp that all my SS amps couldn't match. It was reliable too, only three sets of valves in 20+ years. At the moment i have a class D TC Electronic amp for ultimate portability and it sounds quite good too. Valves still feature as i am a valve amp fan, and i'm lucky enough to run a Bassman 50 and more recently an amp that i've heard called a 'reverse hybrid', a Musicman HD150 head. I've not heard much mention of the Musicman hybrids in this thread but a SS preamp and a tube power stage has been something of a revelation for me. It stays clean until very loud before the power tubes start to grind. For me tube amps equate to a bit more weight as the good ones seem to have heavy transformers. But i think they are worth it when you hear the tone. A decent graphic eq and compressor limiter on the front end will keep things tight and clean and allow control of the tone. It's a shame no other current amp makers( none im aware of) have reverse hybrid bass amps...its all the rage in guitar stuff with modelling technology and tube power stages. For the moment class D wins on convenience and portability for me but nothing sounds quite the same as a big valve amp doing its thing behind you on stage :)

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You use valves when you want the character and non-linear response they have, like the extra harmonic content they generate and the natural compression as you work them harder. I find this more important for me when playing guitar than bass personally, even if I still like it on bass. I miss having valves or really good models of them on guitar, where I can enjoy a great SS bass amp like a Gallien Krueger and others in a way a straight SS guitar amp never delivers as I want less 'honest' or linear amplification with guitar. Use a Fender Blues Junior often on guitar. I have modded the circuit (changing values to match a different Fender tone stack, beefed up power supply caps, speaker change etc) in a way I'd never bother trying with a SS amp I'd guess. They have to be so much more complex to be a guitar amp than valve amps, you can't really consider it. A 15 watt valve amp for guitar is often enough to get a high quality practical sound with an efficient speaker, but with bass the need for power is such that the cost and weight of the kit changes the cost/benefit balance even more.

A point-point wired valve amp will in the end outlive pretty much everything else (plenty been working hard well over 50 years) as circuit boards won't live as long, but point to point will cost you!! Not many people keep amps as long as point-point wired amps are designed to live for either, so who gets the benefit?

I'm pretty happy sticking to SS power stages with bass, more so than with guitar.

One point really missed about some amps are their projection characteristics. Some people have issues with big Ampeg rigs where they say they are lacking in power or weight of sound. They actually can on stage sometimes, without the bass player realising the people at the back of the venue are starting to feel involuntary bowel movement issues!! Did sound for a great player who used an all valve Ampeg setup and he had this issue, with the sound going 'past' him while on stage. Ended up in smaller (300 or smaller punter numbers) venues giving him some high-pass foldback so he could stop the bass amp being too much out front! Some bass amps actually have too much projection for the benefit of the player on stage, the larger the rig (this was 1x15 + 4x10) the greater chance that the player can only hear a small portion of what's going past them.

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Stuff point to point wired tends to be the cheap nasty end, serious builds were done on turrets.

Not being able to hear yourself close to the rig is from mid scooping, poor dispersion and a null zone from a boundary reflection. nothing to do with valves, valves are probably better as the harmonics tend to fill in the mid scoop. The other stuff is entirely to do with the cabinets. 15 + 4x10 makes a total mess all over.

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I'm a valve amp user.having had solid states for years I will never go back to them. However, and it is a big however. My ampeg svt 2pro, when I got it second hand was the most unreliable piece of carp going. Stupid bypass safety cutout thing kicking in all over the shop, valves wearing out after 100 gigs or so, carp sound... Anyway. Had it rebuilt by a chap called Otto (sadly dead now) at the legendary rockfields studio and OH MY GOD! Cost 60 quid and I got back a working amp and a bag with about 100 components that he had replaced with top notch replacements. Consequence being it is reliable, sounds better than anything I have used and a set of valves lasts 3-4 times longer.
Another thing to note with valve amps. When a tranny goes pop it is usually finished (ime) but with the valve amps it often is not a big/expensive fix. Svt's are the muts nuts anyway, but after having it rebuilt the difference is ridiculous.

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Ive been playing around with my two main amps today - one is an Ashdown Little Bastard through a Barefaced Compact, the other is a Hartke VX2515. This isnt a like for like comparison as I dont own a high end transistor amp, but the Hartke is alright for a spare.

First the obvious differences - the Hartke kicks out alot more bottom end, is more powerful and compresses less. It has a graphic EQ. Obvious really. The LB, however, kicks out so much low mids it would puch through a brick wall, with the EQ set the way I like it. It doesnt have the clean headroom to really shift air like the Hartke, but thats why you use a 30 watt valve amp. Although it is starting to break up, it is still way more defined than the Hartke.

Now, the more subtle differences, and you need to own and play both for a while to really appreciate them.

Valve amps have a different, interactive feel. They feel like part of the instrument, breathing along with the bass. Solid state amps are very stiff by comparisson, to the point that they give a very clinical feel - if youre playing alot of fast stuff, this might suit you, but I find them a little uninspiring.

And the best bit - output tubes just round out and polish off the sound so nicely. My Blackfinger compressor is a bit fizzy through the Hartke, but though the LB its slick and creamy. Combined with the LBs ability to push the mids, and Ive found my ideal tone for rock.

Maybe a high end solid state rig would be less fizzy, more defined and more interactive than the Hartke. For the moment, Im happy with the LB, though it would struggle without PA support on anything but the smallest of gigs.

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I play with the preamp just pushed, so you hit it hard and it breaks up a tad, but played softly it is smooth. That is the main thing for me with valve amps really-in real life (live) the difference between valves and ss is unimportant to 99.9% of the audience-they both thump, and they both sound low!! The whole valve vrs tranny thing only really matters to you yourself and other bassests. I ain't saying it's not important to take pride and pleasure in your sound, but sometimes it goes a bit anorak!!
When I worked in the guitar shop the guys that really cared about the intricacies of their guitar/bass sound and spent ages and loads of cash 'searching for the sound' were ALWAYS the really ropey players!! The guys who just plugged into an amp and went for it were often the true, sh!t hot players. I'm a stout believer that a players sound comes from their fingers and how they hit the instrument-the rest is secondary. If you sound crap through a 20 quid practice amp then the Chances are you ain't going to sound much better through a 4 grand rig!!

Edited by stjohn

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[quote name='stjohn' timestamp='1380410471' post='2225038']
I play with the preamp just pushed, so you hit it hard and it breaks up a tad, but played softly it is smooth. That is the main thing for me with valve amps really-in real life (live) the difference between valves and ss is unimportant to 99.9% of the audience-they both thump, and they both sound low!! The whole valve vrs tranny thing only really matters to you yourself and other bassests. I ain't saying it's not important to take pride and pleasure in your sound, but sometimes it goes a bit anorak!!
[/quote]

Depends on the music you play. Sounding low isn't the only/key requirement sometimes.

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[quote name='Mr. Foxen' timestamp='1380411178' post='2225042']


Depends on the music you play. Sounding low isn't the only/key requirement sometimes.
[/quote]
No, of course not, sorry for generalizing! But the jist of my post is that really that vast majority of the audience couldn't care less what the bass sounds like at the level of valve vrs tranny.

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[quote name='stjohn' timestamp='1380412347' post='2225051']
No, of course not, sorry for generalizing! But the jist of my post is that really that [i][b]vast majority of the audience couldn't care less what the bass sounds like at the level of valve vrs tranny.[/b][/i]
[/quote]

If they've even noticed that one guitar has less strings than the other and of course it's purpose!

On a serious note I do think that your sound should inspire you and your playing and because surely the sound is nearly if not as important as the notes. A sound that isn't inspiring and pleasing is enough to knock me off my game. The valve amplifiers I own help with this goal.

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[quote name='Mr. Foxen' timestamp='1380317520' post='2223886']
Not being able to hear yourself close to the rig is from mid scooping, poor dispersion and a null zone from a boundary reflection. nothing to do with valves, valves are probably better as the harmonics tend to fill in the mid scoop. The other stuff is entirely to do with the cabinets. 15 + 4x10 makes a total mess all over.
[/quote]
Oh agreed, but this was about a smaller rig being often easier to hear on stage than a 2 cab rig. Just took me ages to get the chap to try it! I wasn't attributing the issue to valves whatsoever, but to some cabs ability to project very differently.

When we did a comparison with 2 bands working together, a cheaper Trace cab was easier to hear on stage than an expensive Ampeg one at a point where both sounded pretty similar volumes at the back of the venue (at several different venues we tried too). We were working the Trace cab harder to get it to the back, the Ampeg was projecting more efficiently it seems, using the same amp driving both.

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One piece of advice I got from a sound engineer (the chap that used to do sound at the Twist in Colchester) was to try putting the bass amp at the opposite end of the stage to the bassist.So, over the far side of the stage, we had the big Marshall guitar amp pointed forwards (those 4 x 12s are very directional) and the small Trace bass amp pointing across the stage. Job done.

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I'm not that sure that there should be a 'valve vs SS' debate as it's far too subjective. You can A/B one valve amp against a SS amp and come down on the valve side and then choose another two candidates and favour SS. Just buy the amp you like the best and remember never settle until you've played it with the band as a lot of those tasty little nuances and tonal characteristics that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up in the shop disappear when you're playing in the band and what's left, is the sound you have to work with, mid frequences are not exclusive to those darn guitarists.

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Two different animals, each having a different true purpose. I have hybrid valve amps (Hartke and Fuchs Bass Bruiser) and solid state (Vivid Amps). Tools for different sounds.

The Vivid is the size of a large cigar box, 500W into 8 or 4 ohm, Class D, weighs 3.5 lbs, runs really cool and works for all those small to medium club gigs where I don't need or want to drag more then my amp, guitar in gig bag and small 1X12 cab.

The Fuchs is a hybrid valve and Class D, weighs 25 lbs, and pumps 500W into 4 ohms. Runs cool for what it is, and is pretty small package, but excels in those areas where I want what I call "symphony sound" that I get some tubey warmth and goodness but can also get some SVT style overdrive too. I use it for those medium club gigs where I'm doing a couple of sets, or for that corporate function where you need to be the actual bass sound and give the room some grit and pound.

The Vivid works extremely well, and its a ton of fun, especially when all I walk into the gig with is the bass and amp with cables in a gig bag and a small lightweight cab. The Fuchs is newer to me, but I so far have gotten good comments on its sound and clarity over quite a range.

Again, valve vs. solid state, two differrent animals for two different applications.

My two pence...

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I've recently purchased my first valve amp, an Ashdown CTM300. It's fantastic, it's simple and straight forward, the EQ is subtle and not too sensitive, which is good, as I know roughly where I have my settings but on this amp it doesn't have to be perfect every time! Saves a lot of hassle when setting up! The headroom on this amp is MASSIVE it stays clean and extremely well defined but still warm and characterful past 12, then when pushing 1, it breaks up, still with definition but it's growling at you, then the further it goes the better it becomes! I LOVE that dirty but defined tone! The extra nuances in my playing just come alive and fill out my sound.

In comparison, I play an ABM300 combo at college and while it's still extremely good it's just not alive, it's just there, it doesn't make me or anyone else sit up and go yeah that sounds great! It's brilliant if you want a more clinical tone. But if you want that warmth and the extra harmonics and natural compression that you get from valves then valves are the best way to go.

Having a valve amp allows me to use less pedals. I can plug and play. I don't need anything else in the signal chain.

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[quote name='JamesBass' timestamp='1391974185' post='2363193']
I've recently purchased my first valve amp, an Ashdown CTM300. It's fantastic, it's simple and straight forward, the EQ is subtle and not too sensitive, which is good, as I know roughly where I have my settings but on this amp it doesn't have to be perfect every time! Saves a lot of hassle when setting up! The headroom on this amp is MASSIVE it stays clean and extremely well defined but still warm and characterful past 12, then when pushing 1, it breaks up, still with definition but it's growling at you, then the further it goes the better it becomes! I LOVE that dirty but defined tone! The extra nuances in my playing just come alive and fill out my sound.
In comparison, I play an ABM300 combo at college and while it's still extremely good it's just not alive, it's just there, it doesn't make me or anyone else sit up and go yeah that sounds great! It's brilliant if you want a more clinical tone. But if you want that warmth and the extra harmonics and natural compression that you get from valves then valves are the best way to go.
Having a valve amp allows me to use less pedals. I can plug and play. I don't need anything else in the signal chain.
[/quote]

+1 to all that. I found exactly the same after years of using SS and hybrids and going through LOADS of boxes, pedals and FX to find 'that' sound. I've now found 'that' sound and it's an all-valve amp. You've hit the nail on the head there, a valve amp is 'alive' in a way other types of amp are not. I too am enjoying the plug and play situation. It's so good to have an amp that you just plug into and it sounds exactly right. :)

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Amplifiers made using little glass bubbles that may or may not work when you switch them on? :huh:
No thanks. :P

I gave up using valve amps nearly 30 years and it's solid state for me every time.

The benefits that people claim valve amps give them are either un-noticeable to me or benefits that I have no need or desire for.

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[quote name='icastle' timestamp='1391976348' post='2363221']
Amplifiers made using little glass bubbles that may or may not work when you switch them on? :huh:
[/quote]

Valve amps are just as reliable as SS, as any fule kno. :P[size=4] *Cough* PF500! *Cough*[/size]

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[quote name='icastle' timestamp='1391976348' post='2363221']
The benefits that people claim valve amps give them are either un-noticeable to me or benefits that I have no need or desire for.
[/quote]

How dare you Frenchify and Bemute the issue, you Mammothrept! :P[size=4] Thhpp!![/size]

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