Topic: Tube Amps vs Solid State Amps

Ok, I hope to get a lot of opinions on this one.

First question, How do power ratings / watts of tube amps compare to that of Solid State, in other words "what watts"  15 Amp tube = ? Solid State etc.

Second, what size amps are appropriate for different uses, practice, jamming, small gigs, larger gigs.


Re: Tube Amps vs Solid State Amps

Hi Toobusi,

  I expected more opinions on this also, but everybody seems a bit shy on this subject.  So I'll "get the ball rolling" with my two cents worth... and mind you it is just an opinion.

Over the years I have played on several amps by different manufacturers including Marshall, Vox, Peavy, Behringer and Fender.  All but the Behringer were tube amps, and I still have a Fender tube box along with the Behringer.  IMO the output from a tube amp is roughly equal to a Solid State amp of twice the wattage.... not sure why it seems so, it just sounds that way to my ear.  A 15 watt Fender Champ will just about blow the windows out of your livingroom cranked up through a 10" speaker.  My Behringer 212 puts out 60 Watts per channel and through a pair of 12" speakers is a lot of noise in that small a space, but I still think the Fender sounds more agressive.  The other fellow I regularly play with has a Behringer 110 head feeding a 4X12 cabinet and my little Fender will easily keep up in most environments.  A single 10" is not nearly enough for a venue of any size but adequate for jamming or rehearsal/practice, and ample for studio use.  The 2X12 is up for any club/pub environment that has decent acoustics (and a quiet audience) with 120 Watts total output. If the club is packed and/or the space larger, a good PA system will spread out the sound for best coverage.  I think you get to a point where more power is not as important as the speakers you are sending to.... and the more speakers you have to drive, the more wattage you'll need.

Take Care;

PS:  I like tubes, but really like the effects available on the solid state amps...  If I was shopping again I would likely look hard at the Behringer line.  Been impressed with them so far, and good value for the $$$.

"what is this quintessence of dust?"  - Shakespeare

Re: Tube Amps vs Solid State Amps

There seems to be lots of opinions about tube vs solid state...Fender vs other brand, etc. . I've always had the opinion that unless one is a working performer that most of us are over amped! I see people buying these 100 watt amps when they live in an apartment! My favorite all around the house amp is a little Roland Micro Cube...awesome sound considering the little 5 watt solid state! I've also used it in for church miked into the PA system. Also have a Peavey Classic 30 that's a tube amp and will hold it's own with most! My most used amp is an old Peavey Studio Pro 40 watt that has been used and abused for over 20 years and still sounds great! opinion would be to find a smaller amp of 15- 30 watts...plug in your guitars and get the one that sounds best and has the best price range... I think that tube amps are overated and a bit expensive but for a purist it's the only way to go!

Middleaged Redneck sorta guy who refuses to grow up...passion for music, especially Southern Rock but like bout everything cept Gangsta/Hip Hop. Collect guitars, mandolins, and love to ride Harleys.

Re: Tube Amps vs Solid State Amps

It is easy to forget that volume, as we perceive it, is a log 20 scale. In other words, to double the volume from a 10 watt amp, through the same speaker, you need 100 watts - 10 times the power, not just double the power. Doubling the surface area of the speaker(s), from 10" to 12" or 1 12" to 2, or 4 or 8 also gives a similar increase - almost like doubling the volume, though beyond 4 speakers, the phase cancellations begin to reduce the effect.

Further, watts are watts, no matter what makes them. That said, tube amps reach their rated wattage at the distortion level listed in the specs. They can make more wattage, usually, if you are willing to tolerate more distortion (and I bet you are). Solid state amps reach their rated wattage and stop. There is no more on tap period. That contributes to this idea that tube amps are louder, at the same wattage. Really, they are making more wattage, esp. during pick attack where SS amps just clip.

Now, tech aside, I strongly prefer a tube amp because of the dynamics. SS amps have a very linear dynamic response. Tube amps jump when you hit a string, causing the player to use more nuance. You almost do not need a volume control. You can control how you sit in the mix, just by picking style. Plus, the clean tones are much better. Even simple 'cowboy' chords sound good. And distortion, forget about it. A $100 pedal will never even get close to $2000 amp with the preamp tubes, power tubes, output transformer and speaker all contributing little complexities to the tone.