Tube vs. Solid-State Amps

Discussion in 'Marshall Amps' started by Gianni, Oct 5, 2014.

  1. Gianni

    Gianni Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    3,676
    Location:
    Greece
    This is a thread for all those guitarists Googling its title, like I did a short while ago, wondering whether they should get a valve amp. Let’s help them make the right decision. ;)

    Twelve days with my JVM-1 head, my first valve amp, and 2061CX cab, which I bought as a gift to myself for giving up smoking 2 months ago, about 30 years after my first cigarette. I started playing guitar when I was at school, and soon found myself playing at parties and a local bar with a five-piece band of schoolmates. We played punk-rock music, and sounded a lot like The Sound, but with a female singer. Soon after finishing school, though, life led me in a different direction, well, more than one actually, but all away from music.

    Picking up an electric guitar again more than 20 years later, at the age of 40, was, among other things I tried, a way to keep my mind and hands busy after losing my dad and girlfriend to cancer in the same year. Although I eventually bought a Gibson Les Paul Traditional, which I could only dream about when I was young, when it came to choosing an amp I chose a solid-state, although still analogue, one.

    Reading all these things online about valve amps requiring regular and costly maintenance, needing also to be played loud to actually sound good, continuously wondering whether your valves ‘sound’ as good as the last time you played, I just felt I couldn’t be bothered with them, especially in the psychological state I was at the time. So, after reading/watching numerous online reviews, and playing every solid-state amp I could find in music stores, I decided to go for SansAmp gear, which I’ve been really happy with, and still believe that Tech-21 offers the best tube-amp emulation you can find at reasonable prices, as well as exceptional customer service.

    Seven years later, feeling better I guess, with the appearance of the 1-watt amps, as, in the case of someone who mainly plays to backing tracks of his favourite songs at home, I have no use for a more powerful one, I decided it was time to at last get myself a valve amp, and got the JVM-1. After playing through it for 12 days here’s what I’d like to share with you:

    1. Although rather inadequate for gigging as you will hardly get any clean headroom, do not underestimate a 1-watt valve amp. Through even one efficient speaker it can be really loud, and certainly too loud for home use when cranked up.

    2. The JVM-1 has more gain than I think I’ll ever need, and I do like lots of gain.

    3. The JVM is supposed to have the most brutal and ‘in-your-face’ tone in the Marshall range, but to me it still sounds really warm and sweet at every gain setting. This may of course have a lot to do with the 2x12” Celestion G12H-30 speakers in my 2061CX cab, while I’ve certainly noticed quite a difference for the better after breaking them in according to the Celestion guidelines.

    4. At even high gain settings, especially when the master volume is also fairly cranked, I can hear the sound of every string when I play chords.

    5. At any gain setting, my tone is rich, fluid, round, powerful, and really pleasing to my ears.

    6. I can hear things I didn’t even know were there. I don’t know if they’re overtones or whatever order harmonics, and I don’t care, but they’re really there.

    7. Being able to control my gain level (tube saturation) through the guitar’s volume knob is just amazing.

    8. Sustain is excellent, and musical feedback very easy to create. And that’s not only when I use my Gibson Les Paul, but much cheaper guitars too. They all sound more ‘expensive’ through a valve amp.

    9. The sound of even my beloved Tech-21 SansAmp gear can get a little ‘grating’ to the ears at very high volumes, while my JVM-1 at close to deafening volumes remains tonally pleasing.

    10. Even when I play quietly at night, which basically means only listening to my preamp tubes working, I’m still very happy with my tone.

    11. With my JVM-1 I play more, and feel happier, both during and afterwards.

    12. As for any disadvantages that tube amps may have, the tone you get out of them far outweighs them all.

    No, I’m not going to sell any of my Tech-21 gear. Apart from really loving its sound, it’s helped me go through some very hard times.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, my JVM-1 is warmed up and waiting. ;)


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2016
    kinleyd, user xyz, Swede and 10 others like this.
  2. Ghostman

    Ghostman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2012
    Messages:
    10,321
    Likes Received:
    10,015
    Location:
    Hopehouse, Selkirk, UK
    This is really the only thing that matters when choosing your gear.

    :wave:
     
  3. jimmyjames

    jimmyjames Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2014
    Messages:
    2,060
    Likes Received:
    2,507
    Location:
    West Oz
    Yep, my THR10 was close, but not close enough, so I went tube :cool:
     
    Gianni likes this.
  4. kamran

    kamran Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2010
    Messages:
    1,531
    Likes Received:
    586
    Location:
    California
    Welcome to the forum amigo!

    I'm sorry to hear about all that you went through that year, but it sounds like you found a very healthy way of coping. Music is the best therapy.

    I agree with you about solid state as well, they're not always garbage. Sometimes when I don't want to deal with my tube heads, or I plug one in and something just doesn't sound right, I plug into my trusty mid 80's solid state marshall head and get some great tones. But on a good day, nothing compares to tubes.

    You've got a really cool set up there btw, I bet the head sounds killer through that cab. I also have a les paul traditional and it's a great guitar.

    Keep on jamming :D
     
    JAC and Gianni like this.
  5. rick16v

    rick16v Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2014
    Messages:
    3,069
    Likes Received:
    2,341
    Location:
    Swindon, UK
    I like the tech21 amps a lot. My trademark 30 is outstanding.
     
    SteveGangi and Gianni like this.
  6. JCM800murderer

    JCM800murderer New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2014
    Messages:
    185
    Likes Received:
    73
    that's an awesome set up you got and yes those nice $200 heritage greenbacks keep the JVM from being the most "heinous" marshall ever, but it sounds sweet and bluesy with the neck pickup and the gain low doesn't it? the JVM1 is the greatest tool ever. you can write and record an album with it. I'm playing mine with a 1960b and it is the most heinous crunch ever, but I wouldn't mind that 2061 cab.
     
    Gianni likes this.
  7. Dogs of Doom

    Dogs of Doom Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2012
    Messages:
    22,213
    Likes Received:
    24,692
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Hey Gianni!

    Sorry to hear about your dad & gf... Glad you've turned it into motivation to quit smoking & to better your life - congrat's on that!

    Congrat's on getting a rig that inspires you. I love my JVM & it does inspire me immensely.
     
    Gianni likes this.
  8. Gianni

    Gianni Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    3,676
    Location:
    Greece
    Ghostman,

    You’re absolutely right, mate!

    Truer words were never spoken. ;)
     
  9. Gianni

    Gianni Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    3,676
    Location:
    Greece
    JimmyJames,

    Well, I guess it doesn’t get any closer than that. ;)
     
    jimmyjames likes this.
  10. 12barjunkie

    12barjunkie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2011
    Messages:
    2,786
    Likes Received:
    3,069
    Location:
    Ft Wayne, IN
    :( Sorry about your dad and girlfriend. Glad you like your jvm :D Nothing wrong with having tube and solid state, although which one gets played the most is the real test. I used to think "tube amp guys" were cork sniffers long ago, until I got my first tube amp. Now I have 4 tube amps and looking to get more
     
    Gianni likes this.
  11. Gianni

    Gianni Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    3,676
    Location:
    Greece
    Kamran,

    Your first sentence makes me feel really good about myself, and I thank you very much for it and your kindness.

    I actually took my JVM-1 head to a music store and played it through quite a few cabs before choosing the 2061CX, which as you have guessed sounds killer! As for the Les Paul, it was a teenage dream come true. I’ve tried Standards and Classics, chambered and weight-relieved, but nothing compared to my 2013 solid-body Traditional.
     
    cvaldeski likes this.
  12. Gianni

    Gianni Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    3,676
    Location:
    Greece
    Rick16v,

    I just love mine too, mate!
    I have been using it through a Power-Engine-60, but I actually played it through the 2061CX cab this morning and it sounded amazing.

    I do hope you’ve had the pleasure of contacting Tech-21 customer support. Lloyd, the product manager, answers all emails himself on the same day, and he’s the most knowledgeable and helpful guy in the business!
     
  13. Gianni

    Gianni Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    3,676
    Location:
    Greece
    JCM800murderer,

    You’re right. It did sound quite brutal through other cabs I’ve tried it with, but chose the 2061CX for its warmth and roundness. It makes my JVM-1 more vintage-sounding and versatile, which I like as I’m not really into metal that much.

    I haven’t tried recording with it yet, but I’ve read good things about its emulated line-out. I will, nevertheless, be investing in a Shure SM57 mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface at some point.
     
  14. Gianni

    Gianni Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    3,676
    Location:
    Greece
    Hey Dogs of Doom,

    I really appreciate your kind words, mate! They’ve given me a warm feeling inside.
     
  15. Gianni

    Gianni Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2014
    Messages:
    2,647
    Likes Received:
    3,676
    Location:
    Greece
    Hey 12BarJunkie,

    I hardly recognized you there, mate. Stop changing your avatar. :) But, seriously, I do like this one. By the way, how many of those cabs behind you actually have speakers inside, or does Marshall, apart from fridges, sell wallpaper too these days? :D If I hadn’t tried Tech-21 amps and SansAmp pedals, I would have probably become a cork sniffer myself after listening to my JVM-1. ;)

    Thank you for your kind words. You certainly know what it feels like having lost your sister recently.
     
  16. dleake

    dleake Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2014
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    101
    Looks awesome Gianni! I'm glad your JVM-1 is bringing you so much joy. I echo everything you said about the JVM-1 head. I fall more in love with mine every day. What you said about the sustain and musical feedback that can be achieved at low volumes struck a chord with me. I think that is what I'm most impressed with. The thing sounds massive even at low volume. I would bet I'm getting very similar tones plugged in to my 1965 cabs with G10L-35's as you are with your awesome 2061CX. Congrats!

    [​IMG]
     
    Gianni likes this.
  17. 12barjunkie

    12barjunkie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2011
    Messages:
    2,786
    Likes Received:
    3,069
    Location:
    Ft Wayne, IN
    Lol! Yeah, I guess I have been changing my avatar a lot lately. All of those Marshalls are actually a picture I found online. I was on a green screen kick for awhile and this is just one of the many cheesy pics that resulted :D
     
    Gianni likes this.
  18. spacerocker

    spacerocker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Messages:
    1,641
    Likes Received:
    1,177
    Location:
    UK
    If I am honest, I don't think I have ever liked one solid-state amp I have played through - although a little 10W Marshall I once had did sound good for that "cranked stack" sound, but not so good on lower gain settngs!

    I'm sure some of the modelling amps are getting close now, though, and I have a feeling that they will be the way to go in the future!

    In the meantime - I think the valve reliability and vulnerability problens are understated - I used a 2203 from 1984 to 2007, and in all that time, the only problems I had were the input and output sockets becoming noisy! It is even still on its original pre-amp and power amp valves!

    My JVM410 has been faultless since I bought it in 2007, except for (ironically) about the only piece of solid-state circuitry in the amp - the digital reverb board! - which failed a couple of years ago!
     
    Gianni likes this.
  19. TwinACStacks

    TwinACStacks New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2009
    Messages:
    14,938
    Likes Received:
    8,089
    Location:
    DETROIT Suburbs
    :D JMD1, Kemper, Fractal Audio Axe F/X.

    Game, Set, Match....

    :D:D TWIN
     
    blues_n_cues likes this.
  20. blues_n_cues

    blues_n_cues Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2010
    Messages:
    22,226
    Likes Received:
    20,104
    Location:
    Dixie Hollow
    just to play devil's advocate for SS amps-

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    of course none of them have that Marshall tube mojo but great old SS amps none the less.
     
    JAC likes this.

Share This Page