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Tube/ valve head... Do I need one?


uk_lefty

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Good point, a bassist I know uses her Ampeg V4B at all her gigs and it’s plenty loud enough for the stages she plays (which are pretty big). I don’t like bass in the monitors too much so when I used her rig it handled all on stage sound for me no worries, connected up to an Ashdown ABM410.

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Likewise, I had a 100 watt Carlsbro valve PA that I genuinely can't imagine me needing more than. And with my current Ampeg PF-50T, we've had one gig where I felt I might have liked a touch more headroom, but it was also a decent size room with limited PA, and I'd only brought one cab due to limited vehicle space. The second cab would probably have got it where I wanted it

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These big 300+ W valve monsters are great and all but really they were designed in a time when the rig on stage was intended to be the source of bass for the whole concert. I can’t imagine lugging around 35-40kg of an amp to casual pub gigs . People do and more luck to them . For me 100w and a decent cab is plenty.

 

that’s not to say I never came close to buying one on more that one occasion 😂😂

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I’ve just got a B4-V which is 100w , I haven’t cranked it up yet (well I might have just a bit 😁) but it goes seriously loud, unless you’re playing a big outdoor event I’d say it’s plenty loud enough 

B09A8498-772F-4D67-9BE0-9726ED6429B6.jpeg

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1 hour ago, bartelby said:

I know my CTM-300 is massive overkill, but it was cheaper than a CTM-100, so I thought "Hell yeah!!" :D

I would have done the same, the only thing is these valve amps sound best when pushed a bit. I played a gig last week with a 30w head and it was pretty much maxed out on the edge of distorting and it sounded fantastic. Ditto with my 100w amp, it’s usually a bit beyond noon where it sings . I don’t think you’re gonna get that “verge” sound form a CTM300 without breaking windows 😆, or at least annoying your band mates. But what a 300w valve head will give you is oceans of deep deep clean warm bass .

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1 hour ago, Quilly said:

I would have done the same, the only thing is these valve amps sound best when pushed a bit. I played a gig last week with a 30w head and it was pretty much maxed out on the edge of distorting and it sounded fantastic. Ditto with my 100w amp, it’s usually a bit beyond noon where it sings . I don’t think you’re gonna get that “verge” sound form a CTM300 without breaking windows 😆, or at least annoying your band mates. But what a 300w valve head will give you is oceans of deep deep clean warm bass .

 

I know what you mean. About 10 years ago I'd have been disappointed that the amp was too loud to get that grind at acceptable volume levels. But these days I'm not so desperate for that sound. The clean sound from the CTM-300 is just so bloody nice, I'm happy I can get that at gig volumes. Any dirt can be added...

 

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8 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

Does it sound good at low volume or does it need to be up a bit 

 

 

To me it sounds good at all volumes. Through a 4x8" and 1x15" is what I play through at home, so it has to be quite low volume wise

 

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9 hours ago, Quilly said:

I would have done the same, the only thing is these valve amps sound best when pushed a bit. I played a gig last week with a 30w head and it was pretty much maxed out on the edge of distorting and it sounded fantastic. Ditto with my 100w amp, it’s usually a bit beyond noon where it sings . I don’t think you’re gonna get that “verge” sound form a CTM300 without breaking windows 😆, or at least annoying your band mates. But what a 300w valve head will give you is oceans of deep deep clean warm bass .

How things have come full circle! When I was using tube amps in the Sixties and Seventies, I couldn't get rid of the distortions. In fact no one could. Some, like Lemmy, embraced the distortion while others, me included, tried their very best to overcome it. I designed and built 50, 100 and 150 watt tube amps but was not happy until I left them all behind. I still like designing with tubes but leave the heavy lifting to SS circuitry. Tubes for the pre-amp evey time.

Edited by BassmanPaul
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I was the same, had a Fender Bassman 100w head & 410 in the 80s and without my graphic eq pedal to lower the mids there was gain/distortion that I just didn’t want. So I sold it and bought a Laney Linebacker solid state combo. Funny old game this bass playing lark.

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A few months ago I had an opportunity to buy a 300watt Trace Elliot hybrid amp. Yes, it's not a Tube/ valve amp in its purest sense but it gives me the option to dial in tube overdrive. Its a 300w Trace Elliot for goodness sakes so I'm sure it's responsible for a few points on the richer scale, it has the volume for sure! I think it's one of the last "proper" Traces, it's under its cover now and I haven't had it out for just over 4 weeks so can't remember the exact model number. However, dialing in the valve overdrive with a mid boost on the graphic EQ and playing my Bitsa with a DiMarzio model P gives me a lovely, warm, pillowy motown style bass tone, up to a Geezer Butler type sound - that big round bass with a fuzzy dollop around it, like you've dropped a chupa chup lolly under the sofa and it's come out with hair and dust on it. It's not distortion, this won't go full distortion for me, so I imagine replacing the tube could do that if I were so inclined, however I have pedals for that and that's not really my sound anyways. 

So, being a Trace it's loud, it's heavy, and it's darned good quality. I quite fancy the little Joyo pure tube head but I've now got two gigging rigs in my tiny office/ music room and no gigs for the foreseeable future. 

I'm thinking of having the Trace head unit removed (it's in a 2x10 combo) but as the whole thing is in showroom condition I'm really reluctant to, even though I'd want the choice of Trace head or RM500 with a singe lightweight cab, depending on the gig. I think I could be spoiling something special... Anyhows. Its good. 

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I think If I already didnt have 2 valve heads i'd snap this one up in a heartbeat. They get great reviews and contain a whopping 6 x EL34 power valves (I love the sound of these valves). Not the prettiest amp in the world and I dont like the look of that Tolex. I think if I bought it id get a new sleeve made for it. But €650 for a 225W all valve amp is hard to pass up. 

 

  https://reverb.com/item/43320658-peavey-tour-vb-2-head-made-in-usa

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Just been using the V4-B, it’s got a wonderful tubey sound 😊, can someone tell me what the difference is between having the gain up and using the master as a volume, or having the master up and using the gain as volume, I can’t hear a great difference 

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3 hours ago, Quilly said:

I think If I already didnt have 2 valve heads i'd snap this one up in a heartbeat. They get great reviews and contain a whopping 6 x EL34 power valves (I love the sound of these valves). Not the prettiest amp in the world and I dont like the look of that Tolex. I think if I bought it id get a new sleeve made for it. But €650 for a 225W all valve amp is hard to pass up. 

 

  https://reverb.com/item/43320658-peavey-tour-vb-2-head-made-in-usa

I picked up a B Stock one of these during lockdown for (I think) £379!

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28 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

Just been using the V4-B, it’s got a wonderful tubey sound 😊, can someone tell me what the difference is between having the gain up and using the master as a volume, or having the master up and using the gain as volume, I can’t hear a great difference 

If you want a clean sound turn the gain down and turn up the volume , that’ll drive the power valves more. if you want the sound to have a crunch at lower volumes keep the master low and crank the gain. You have more control over the bass/mid/treble with the gain control. The volume knob just turns up and down the power valve output . You can actually just use the power values by plugging into the effects loop return . It sounds pretty flat 

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31 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

Just been using the V4-B, it’s got a wonderful tubey sound 😊, can someone tell me what the difference is between having the gain up and using the master as a volume, or having the master up and using the gain as volume, I can’t hear a great difference 

(I don't own any all- tube devices)

I believe that common wisdom for all types of amp is that the gain should be as high as possible without clipping or distortion. The idea being that this keeps the signal-to-noise ratio as high as possible before it reaches the power stage- preventing the power stage from reproducing said noise.

This assumes that your gain stage isn't noisy itself, and that your cabinet can actually reproduce the result clearly enough to make it audible. Into a recording/PA desk via DI or through headphones might be more revealing. 

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One way to consider it is that the gain works upwards, the master downwards.

The signal from the bass is very small, so the input gain is there to add voltage to the input signal (it's a boost, to 'gain' voltage).

Early on this is all amps had, but as the distortion created by playing too loud became popluar, master volumes were added, not for greater loudness but to bring down the volume once the desired level of distortion had been achieved by cranking the amp. The master is, in actual fact, an attenuator.

 

A good rule of thumb is 'high gain+low master=dirty, low gain+high master=clean'.

 

It's not that simple, as of course both stages can be overdriven, with differing results, and if neither section is pushed to audible clipping then the difference is unlikely to be perceptible at all.

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46 minutes ago, Quilly said:

Do you still have it ?

I do. I’ve only gigged it once so far so difficult to report back. Checked the pre amp valves and one of them was incorrect, there’s some info online about them. Looking forward to spending a bit of time with it!

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I was messing about yesterday evening and with then gain at 12 o'clock I can get a nice grindy tone, but the master is only at 7:30 (7 o'clock being volume off) so the power stage is barely ticking over. With the gain at 8-9 there's, not surprisingly, a big change in sound when you turn the master from 7:30 - 8 o'clock. 

So whilst I can get a grind tone at home volumes, it not as full sounding as it can be...,

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1 hour ago, Reggaebass said:

This is how I found it sounds slightly better for me, I also noticed I can hear more of a difference in my basses with the valve amp than I can with the RM500 

The thing about these valve amps is that they can all have little nuances and the only way to really know your amp is to experiment and see what works . It took me ages to get to grips with my Ashdown CTM100 

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