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Author Topic: Tube vs: digital amplification  (Read 1376 times)
golfer
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« on: October 22, 2007, 09:58:38 PM »

I would like to buy a good amp for acoustical guitar and have been reading that tube amps sound better than digital.  Also have heard that they cost more but are worth the difference in sound quiality.
Can anyone share some insite on this and sugget tube amps to look at.  I have been looking at the Fishman Loudbox 130 and Cal. Blonde II, but neither are tube amps.
Also can anyone suggest how important effects such as reverb and chourus are to them when they play.
I am new to amplification of sound and could use your help.
                  Thanks much;
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imwjl
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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2007, 11:59:31 PM »

I would like to buy a good amp for acoustical guitar and have been reading that tube amps sound better than digital.  Also have heard that they cost more but are worth the difference in sound quiality.
Can anyone share some insite on this and sugget tube amps to look at.  I have been looking at the Fishman Loudbox 130 and Cal. Blonde II, but neither are tube amps.
Also can anyone suggest how important effects such as reverb and chourus are to them when they play.
I am new to amplification of sound and could use your help.
                  Thanks much;

My understanding and experience is that C.W. generally applies to amps for electric guitars, and I have to say it's true after finally getting a tube amp. The acoustic amps I've checked out and tried have a pre-amp for guitars that do not, and they have a lot of adjustment with their pre-amps. This opposed to a classic electric guitar amp having a simple pre-amp and it over driving the amp gets the tone most people want. Put another way with one setup you're accurately trying to reproduce the tone made by the guitar itself and with the other the output from your simple magnetic pickups is driven to create the tone that equals an electric guitar.

That said, my Roland is a better solid state amp for my Telecaster than another solid state amp I had, it works with my B-Band Larrivee pickup/pre-amp better than I expected, but nothing beats the tupe amp with my Telecaster.

I don't generally think of wanting to distort or change my acoustic tone and I rarely use more than reverb with my Tele. At that the true spring reverb with the Fender tube amp sounds better than my solid state Fender amp's reverb. I'm too tired to try and describe chorus, flange and delay, but there are whole sites dedicated to amps and effects so it should not be hard. You'll also get it in a moment if you stop in a store and try it all.

YMMV, but when I amplify my acoustic it's a house system or my adjusting it to sound realistic and I really only like other effects with my electric and minimally at that.

Have fun with it all!
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sdelsolray
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« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2007, 01:26:06 AM »

I would like to buy a good amp for acoustical guitar and have been reading that tube amps sound better than digital.  Also have heard that they cost more but are worth the difference in sound quiality.
Can anyone share some insite on this and sugget tube amps to look at.  I have been looking at the Fishman Loudbox 130 and Cal. Blonde II, but neither are tube amps.
Also can anyone suggest how important effects such as reverb and chourus are to them when they play.
I am new to amplification of sound and could use your help.
                  Thanks much;

You have heard wrong.  First, the comparison is not between "tube" amps and "digital" amps.  It's between tube topology and solid state ("SS") topology.  Both are analog.  Neither is digital.

Now, in your acoustic "amp" there a preamp and a power amp.  That 's two separate components.  Either could be tube or SS, or either could be both (aka tube/SS hybrid).  A tube preamp could be a starved voltage design (often used with hybrids) or a full plate voltage design.  A certain tube preamp may sound more clear, accurate and detailed than some SS desgins, and vice versa.  When it comes to power amps, same thing.  The power amp might be Class A, B. AB, D or several other designs, which has more to do with its sound than whether its a tube or SS design.

There's more, but I hope you get the point.

Whether a tube or SS product will be "better" than the other depends on many thoings, including your own subjective preferences applied to your musical styles, venue and ensemble setting.
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bluesman67
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« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2007, 12:20:05 PM »

There's some good information here on amps.  I confess that is can get confusing for me.  I love tube amps for electric.  I really didn't even consider a tube amp for acoustic though.  For me, I listened to a few solid states and I loved the tone and features of the Roland AC-60, clear as bell.  It was also the smallest and lightest too.  The sound is great, it's got the most flexible and feature rich options of any of the amps in the price range and higher.  Here's the link, http://www.roland.com/products/en/AC-60/features.html
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golfer
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« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2007, 12:56:46 PM »

Oh, Wow, you guys share a lot of info.  That stuff is way over the top for me, but so valuable.  Thanks so much .  Also thanks for the link, I will peruse it.  If it get this correctly, I don't need a tube amp for acoustic, that is a big help.  I will keep looking.
  Best wishes drool
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imwjl
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« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2007, 03:13:44 PM »

Oh, Wow, you guys share a lot of info.  That stuff is way over the top for me, but so valuable.  Thanks so much .  Also thanks for the link, I will peruse it.  If it get this correctly, I don't need a tube amp for acoustic, that is a big help.  I will keep looking.
  Best wishes drool

FWIW: If you want a true electric guitar and an acoustic, I noticed that my Roland Cube series does a surprisingly good job with my OMV-03RE for some general but not perfect amplification but it lacks the high frequency response of a true acoustic amp. I had to say that because I've had a lot of fun getting an electric guitar after decades with an acoustic.
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sdelsolray
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2007, 07:30:34 PM »

Oh, Wow, you guys share a lot of info.  That stuff is way over the top for me, but so valuable.  Thanks so much .  Also thanks for the link, I will peruse it.  If it get this correctly, I don't need a tube amp for acoustic, that is a big help.  I will keep looking.
  Best wishes drool

Not only do you not need a tube amp for acoustic guitar, there are nearly none manufactured (there are a few - but see my earlier post, some are hybrid, some has SS amp with a tube preamp, etc.).

On the other hand there are dozens and dozens and dozens of acoutica guitar amps that are SS.  Most are good, a few suck and a few are simply stunning.
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rockstar_not
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2007, 08:58:27 PM »

The best sounding amplifiers I've heard for acoustic guitars are the Ultratone series of amps.

However, you can get very close, for less money, with a keyboard amplifier.

Both the acoustic guitar amps and keyboard amps are designed for fairly flat full-frequency range response.  Electric guitar amps, whether Solid State or Tube pre-amp and power amp stages almost always have a heavily tweaked frequency response built-in to them which colors acoustic guitar tone.  Usually pretty mid-range loaded.

In fact, many of the amplifier simulators that are on the market for electric guitars, are doing some modelling of the amplifier sections, but also have a big reliance on copying the frequency response of the amplifier and cabient.

One of the best amplifiers I ever heard for clear, clean and natural acoustic guitar sound was a low-budget CRATE brand keyboard amplifier.  It didn't have the natural wood and tweed appearance that most of the acoustic guitar amps have.

-Scott
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golfer
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« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2007, 11:08:50 PM »

Thanks again for your replys.  This is one of those areas where only experience can help.  Just a point of interest, I listened to a Fender, Crate, Ultrasound and Loudbox today and the Loudbox sounded best to me.  The point is though, I listened to these at very subdued levels of amplification.  I liked the Loudbox because it seemed to make the best low level for when I play around the house, but have no idea what they might sound like at higher levels or in a larger environment.
I wouldn't even knnow what to look at if it wasn't for your help here.
   Thanks much
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sdelsolray
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« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2007, 01:23:47 AM »

Acoustic amps often behave differently at low and higher volumes.  So do the rooms you play in.  Also, once yu get to a certain volume, your acoustic guitar begins to react with the amplified sound and can effect things.

The Fishman is a good amp.  I like the Loudbox Performer model for cost/performance from that brand.  You might want to keep an eye (and ear) open for a used Schertler David or Unico.  Those are pretty nice amps.
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Aculeus
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« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2007, 07:10:42 AM »

One other point is that you should also consider the type of pickup you use (I know it's slightly off topic but I know from experience that it's relevant), some acoustic pickups are great in studio (or quiet) settings but not so great for live or vice versa.  You may find that you start running into problems once you start performing live that aren't solely based around the type of amp you use.  There's a whole lot of info out there about what type of pickups are best for live performances and you might want to consider that as well.  I know a lot of acoustic players strive for pure tone and try to get the most responsive pickup they can, but this is not always an ideal solution for live performances. 

Also keep in mind the type of equipment that your band members (if you have them) are using.  I play with a guy who uses a 60w fender deville amp for his electric and it's loud enough to overpower the house PA system that I'm plugged into when he cranks it up.  Something that sounds great at quiet settings might just not cut it if you need to compete with a full band so try to keep the venue as well as other sources of sound in mind when you shop. 
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