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Author Topic: Tube N00b
Schrodinge-
rsgoldfish

Posts: 105
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Post Tube N00b
on: August 3, 2012, 00:06
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Being a college student in today's economy, money is tight. I've been hankering for a valve amp, but I've been hard-pressed to cough up the serious dough it takes to get one. I just about died when i found an old Gibson amp tucked away in my grandfather's dusty attic. A cap job later, I have a working vintage tube amp in my basement. Only problem: I don't know anything about tube amps! I would love to hear any tips for owning a tubey. They can be about safety, maintenance, or what to expect playing on a new amp. Thanks for all the wonderful things I'm sure you'll all say.

Oinkus

Posts: 236
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Post Re: Tube N00b
on: August 3, 2012, 05:27
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You have to turn the knobs alot to figure out what ,where and how.There are plenty of cheaper, decent tube amps. Blackstar makes some nice stuff below the $500 mark.One thing about tube amps is finding the point where the tubes go from warm to hot and smoking.Try and turn things like gain down and volume up(alltheway).

Schrodinge-
rsgoldfish

Posts: 105
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Post Re: Tube N00b
on: August 3, 2012, 07:50
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I suppose something that should be noted: My amps controls consist of an on/off switch and a single volume knob. No separate gain stages, no master volume, no tone controls. It's from 1959. An old-school introductory model.

Jim-
Williamson

Posts: 23
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Post Re: Tube N00b
on: August 3, 2012, 17:40
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Sounds like an exciting find, S-Fish! Any pix?

Oinkus

Posts: 236
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Post Re: Tube N00b
on: August 4, 2012, 05:32
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You will find that the sound changes as you turn the volume up , that is the "breakup" people look for in amps.A good thing to add to that is overdrive.Fulltone OCD is a good example of that as well as a Tubescreamer.

bear

Posts: 153
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Post Re: Tube N00b
on: August 4, 2012, 09:55
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Do nots for tube amp newbies:
1) Do not run without a speaker connected. [Yes, there are some exceptions, but you won't be disappointed if you assume this applies.]
2) Use the correct suggested load impedance for the amp, i.e. an 8 ohm speaker or speaker cabinet for an 8 ohm amp. You can get away with a load of 50% of the amp's rated impedance in most cases, but better to go with the rated load.
3) Use the standby switch if the amp has one and let the amp warm up at least 30 seconds before use. Tubes have a filament voltage that gets them glowing and they can work before that's gotten up to speed but it reduces tube life. [Some exceptions where the rectifier circuit helps with a safe, soft start, but better to have the habit in place that works for all amps.]
4) Guitar cables are not speaker cables. It'll work for a while, but it's just not worth messing around.

Double D

Posts: 195
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Post Re: Tube N00b
on: August 4, 2012, 18:12
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My advice to you Noob is to thank your lucky stars you wound up with such a simple, vibey amp as you did. There are almost no controls? Perfect. All the tone shaping and nuance you need is in your guitar controls and hands. Tonefull, small amps are fantastic for recording; you can use the whole amp-try that with a Hiwatt 100. Just keep its tubes healthy and you should be enjoying that thing for years to come.

Addendum: Thank you Joe for delving into that more fully (a few posts on, if you haven't read it yet). And, yeah, if you're playing gigs with a decent PA, there's no reason to use anything else. An SM57 and a tiny mic stand are still easier to lug than a big amp...

Schrodinge-
rsgoldfish

Posts: 105
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Post Re: Tube N00b
on: August 4, 2012, 21:39
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Thanks for all of the advice so far, guys. I'd read enough to be excited to get a nice, small amp. The kind of gigs I play are rarely louder than it can handle and usually have good PA systems. It's nice to be able to open the throttle up and really get the most that I can out of the amp. I'll post pictures soon when I have more time.

joe
Administrator
Posts: 224
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Post Re: Tube N00b
on: August 5, 2012, 09:37
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Great topic! I was ready to jump in with some particular advice, though Double D beat me to it! 🙂

I'd say it like this: You DO have overdrive and tone controls — they're just not on the amp. An experiment to try, if you haven't already: Turn the amp all the way, and turn your guitar's volume down. You can probably get a sound pretty similar to guitar volume up/amp volume down. Only now, you can access all the dirtier sounds just by adjusting raising the guitar's volume. Next, try finding the amp volume setting where where you can go from clean to crunchy ONLY by varying your touch on the strings. Once you find that spot, you'll be at the heart of what so many players love about low-wattage amps.

You can TOTALLY use tiny amps like that for most gigs. Which leads to the debate about why you'd even WANT to have a humongous amp. Which is a topic that gets tackled in this thread by my pal Scott: https://tonefiend.com/tonefiend-forum/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=29

Schrodinge-
rsgoldfish

Posts: 105
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Post Re: Tube N00b
on: August 5, 2012, 14:05
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I've had an absolute blast learning how expressive tube amps can be. Finding those sweet spots like you suggested, Joe, is a great feeling.

For those interested, It's a 1959 Gibsonette GA-8. Almost completely stock.
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