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Sharkfinger

Adding Tube Warmth to Solid State amp

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Posted (edited)

Here's the conundrum:  I have a EA iAmp 800, which I absolutely love: bags of clean headroom and a very versatile EQ.  I just hit 1 'contour' button and away I go.

However, It is a little sterile sounding and I use a Catalinbread SFT clone (which is always on) to warm it up bit.  This got me interested in what other options I might have.

I've just bought a 2x12 combo which I will mount my amp into, leaving practically no room for a rack pre but there will be a little space behind the amp, I'll wager.  I've also bought a SansAmp BDDI deluxe which has gone on my board and displaced other pedals, so not ideal.  Through my in-ears (haven't gigged it yet, new year quiet period) it's not a huge improvement on the SFT clone, though more versatile, having presets.

I'd really love to have a real valve pre somehow.  What are my options?  Doesn't need masses of EQ options, got that on my amp.  Would need to be about the size of a regular pedal or fit 'behind' my amp somehow.

Edit 14/01/19: To save you wading through a few pages, I've refined my needs as wanting harmonics and overtones, rather than straight overdrive, and a tone not unlike an SVT.  It's obviously been pointed out to me that you need the appropriate power section for that.  However, a few good options have popped up: I've sold the SansAmp BDDI deluxe and bought a Lehle Basswitch Sonic Spark, will let you know how that turns out.

Another good option would have been the Hartke bass attack VXL.  Might still give a SansAmp VT a go at some point but I don't know if it will be much different from the BDDI deluxe I just sold.

Phrases like 'heft', 'sparkle', 'magic' and 'fairy dust' have been mentioned.  Not by me, I hasten to add.

Edited by Sharkfinger

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You could try one of the DHA pedals, although obviously they are not being made new anymore - RIP Dave.

I have a one of the basic models, an DHA VT1 MkIII (I think) which I have used as an always-on effect to warm up my sound with a solid state amp. While it is quite capable of generating overdrive if required, it was also designed to be used for just putting some tube warmth in the signal and is very controllable. It isn't tiny, would take up about the same amount of pedal board space as two 'standard' Boss pedals at a guess, but I really like it...

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Most of what makes tubes sound like tubes is compression in the output tubes and output transformer, which you can't really duplicate with anything in the front end, including tubes. Still, if you're going to get any improvement it will be with a good compressor.

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If you want to test the waters before splashing out on a boutique pre-amp, these are some budget options:

Behringer MIC100 / MIC200

Art Tube MP

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2Notes Le Bass worth checking out for a real valve pre. @Cuzzieis your man for some excellent sound samples particularly when paired with his Hartke VXL. 

Or one of the Mooer bass amp sims looks a good budget option (although I've not tried one myself) and obviously not actual valve. 

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1 hour ago, Beedster said:

Shameless plug, but it fits the bill :)

 

Saw that, looks really good.  Ideal, in fact.  Trouble is, it won't fit on my board (and still leave room for anything else) and won't fit in the 2U rack space of my combo.

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33 minutes ago, MartinB said:

If you want to test the waters before splashing out on a boutique pre-amp, these are some budget options:

Behringer MIC100 / MIC200

Art Tube MP

Saw those in the past, might have another look.  Thanks for the reminder.

13 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

2Notes Le Bass worth checking out for a real valve pre. @Cuzzieis your man for some excellent sound samples particularly when paired with his Hartke VXL. 

Or one of the Mooer bass amp sims looks a good budget option (although I've not tried one myself) and obviously not actual valve. 

Cheers.  The mooer will prolly be a clone of the sansamp, not sure how much more mileage I'll get out of that.

37 minutes ago, Bill Fitzmaurice said:

Most of what makes tubes sound like tubes is compression in the output tubes and output transformer, which you can't really duplicate with anything in the front end, including tubes. Still, if you're going to get any improvement it will be with a good compressor.

Got an 'always on' compressor now, which is an OK one (Budda Chackra optical compressor).  Maybe I'll look at upgrading it.

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4 minutes ago, la bam said:

Vt bass pedal or vt bass deluxe.

I have a SansAmp BDDI deluxe, so don't think the actual emulation will be much different (same circuitry).  

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16 minutes ago, Sharkfinger said:

Saw that, looks really good.  Ideal, in fact.  Trouble is, it won't fit on my board (and still leave room for anything else) and won't fit in the 2U rack space of my combo.

I've got some 2u rack ears that might actually do the job, I'll check.

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2 minutes ago, Beedster said:

I've got some 2u rack ears that might actually do the job, I'll check.

Well, I plan to put my 2U amp in that space, which doesn't leave a lot of space left over.

 

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24 minutes ago, Sharkfinger said:

Well, I plan to put my 2U amp in that space, which doesn't leave a lot of space left over.

 

Ah, OK, missed your point :)

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43 minutes ago, Sharkfinger said:

Cheers.  The mooer will prolly be a clone of the sansamp, not sure how much more mileage I'll get out of that.

I think the Mooers are a whole separate series of amp sim pedals, so a lot broader than just a sansamp clone? 

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2 hours ago, Bill Fitzmaurice said:

Most of what makes tubes sound like tubes is compression in the output tubes and output transformer, which you can't really duplicate with anything in the front end, including tubes. Still, if you're going to get any improvement it will be with a good compressor.

You've probably answered this elsewhere but what would you recommend? Would have up to a couple of hundred pounds to spend.

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2 hours ago, Sharkfinger said:

I have a SansAmp BDDI deluxe, so don't think the actual emulation will be much different (same circuitry).  

"Tube warmth" is quite a broad area.  The VT Bass is different from the BDDI as it has a "character" knob, which could help narrow down which flavour of tube warmth will work best.  I found it helped me to realize I was after more B15 than SVT.  Similar idea with Darkglass Vintage Microtubes and its "era" knob. 

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3 hours ago, Bill Fitzmaurice said:

Most of what makes tubes sound like tubes is compression in the output tubes and output transformer, which you can't really duplicate with anything in the front end, including tubes. Still, if you're going to get any improvement it will be with a good compressor.

What about one of these..

https://www.gear4music.com/Guitar-and-Bass/Markbass-Compressore-Bass-Compressor-Pedal/AXR?origin=product-ads&campaign=PLA+Shop+-+GENERIC&adgroup=GENERIC&medium=vertical_search&network=google&merchant_id=1279443&product_id=14175d1&product_country=GB&product_partition_id=442538346688&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIpr_w_Mre3wIVSxbTCh0hCQtZEAQYASABEgInlPD_BwE

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2 hours ago, la bam said:

Vt bass pedal or vt bass deluxe.

These are the only pedal I’ve used that really has that spongey valvey feel to the sound.

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46 minutes ago, jrixn1 said:

"Tube warmth" is quite a broad area.  The VT Bass is different from the BDDI as it has a "character" knob, which could help narrow down which flavour of tube warmth will work best.  I found it helped me to realize I was after more B15 than SVT.  Similar idea with Darkglass Vintage Microtubes and its "era" knob. 

Does the VT pedal do the B15 thing well (spongy, warm) or is it better at the SVT thing? I definitely prefer the B15 tone...

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40 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

These are the only pedal I’ve used that really has that spongey valvey feel to the sound.

Oops just read this... I guess it will do B15 well then 😯

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I only have the vt bass deluxe, but it does both very well. Use the character 6- 10 for svt and 10-2 for b15. Then the 'drive' for the tube emulation.

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This is a mass I minefield, but also great fun!

Compression just as Bill said is the key to this. If you want a warm sound, the DG hyperluminal is a good shout. The Super Symmetry sound is warm, the Cali mode - is like the Cali Urei1176, and the BUS mode based on the old solid state compressor is great too, really versatile compressor.

There are so many points to change your sound, without touching your board you could changes strings and or pick ups in your bass and it may get you what you want.

I dunno what Cabs you have, but coloured cabs may also give you an output or tone you like.

I don’t really use the Two Notes for any drive, it’s dialled in pretty clean and is just making the sound a bit bigger if that makes sense.

Harrke VXL is a great under rated pedal and can be got for around £50 second hand (first generation) and that also may give you what you want.

Another class act is the Tech21 DP3X pedal. It is not like the other sansamp sounding ones in having that prominent mid scoop, it’s different and is a clean EQ, tuner, compressor and drive Channel in one tiny box. You can go ampnor just take it and go straight to the PA, it’s bloody genius, and you can get a real ‘vintage’ type drive tone using its drive channel which can be bright and your tone knob to roll it off.

 

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Posted (edited)

Eden Glow Plug.

I've not tried one myself but I believe it's designed to-do what you are looking for, add tube warmth to Solid State amps via a real tube in a stomp box sized pedal.

There's a review here

http://www.bass-pedals.com/eden-glowplug-bass-tube-warmer-review/

I think the biggest issue with it is that it requires a 15v power supply.

Edited by PJ-Bassist
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8 hours ago, Sharkfinger said:

I have a SansAmp BDDI deluxe, so don't think the actual emulation will be much different (same circuitry).  

I never got on with the BDDI..... but I absolutely love the VT bass, quite different I think. It beautifully "tubes" up any solid state If the ampeg sounds what you like,way more versitile sounds than the sft and come up £60-80 often in sales thread

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10 hours ago, MartinB said:

If you want to test the waters before splashing out on a boutique pre-amp, these are some budget options:

Behringer MIC100 / MIC200

Art Tube MP

I have both of the behringers. They are great preamps, but no good for this application as the tube was put there by the marketing department and not the engineering department. They don't really sound 'tubey'.

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