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Is power-tube distortion more “valuable” than preamp one?
Old 30th August 2007
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Is power-tube distortion more “valuable” than preamp one?

From what I read I thought that the contribution of power-tube distortion to overall rock-guitar sound is even much more important rather that distortion produced by pre-amp tubes. That’s why (I thought) vintage non-master volume amp have so sweet tone.
But recently I’ve heard from couple techs that pre-amp distortion is more “musical” to the ears and it’s better not to overdrive power tubes at all, but have the distorted tone being formed in pre-amp solely.
I’d like to clarify this matter to myself… reading more input on this question…
Thanks!
Old 30th August 2007
  #2
Gear Head
 
bike guy's Avatar
 

You can take the argument one step further: should the distortion originate from an effects pedal or the amp? Ask many pedal designers and they'll tell you to run your amp clean and let the pedal do the work.
Old 30th August 2007
  #3
Gear Guru
 
kafka's Avatar
Both are useful approaches, as well as every point in between. I don't know that I'd say that preamp distortion is more musical (I've heard it the other way, as a matter of fact), but really, there are plenty of good sounds going either way.
Old 31st August 2007
  #4
Lives for gear
 

generally pre amp tube distortion is smoother.

my fav tone is typically to make SURE the power tubes are being worked (vol at at least 5 but not to the point where the power tubes are really "barking") and then some pre am tube dist to smooth things and make it sing a bit....and then a pedal to take things "over the top" if need be.

there are all kinds of circuits with and without master volumes that can give different sounds using this principal.

if the overdrive is ALL from the pre amp tubes (like when you use the overdrive channel of an amp and then keep the overall output level low) it sounds weak.

and if the overdrive is ALL from the power tubes it can give a kind of ragged sound that can be harsh for soloing (but sometimes killer for chords).

naturally this is just my experience....i'm sure an amp designer could explain it much more clearly......
Old 2nd September 2007
  #5
Gear Addict
 
SpiderM69's Avatar
 

yes
Old 3rd September 2007
  #6
Moderator
 
Blast9's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiderM69 View Post
yes
heh - brief, to the point.

Quote:
"Is power-tube distortion more “valuable” than preamp one?"
--- If you're talking about price of power tubes definitely heh

In all seriousness though, nothing beats the dynamic response of power stage --- touch sensitive to your attack. from clean to chunky overdrivedistortion, or the tonal "fatness" or "hugeness".

But for lead lines/sustain/metal riffage, a combination of both pre/power stage distortion goes a long way.

Another thing --- some power stage distortion just sounds ugly and rough/un-musical. It really depends on the amp.
Old 3rd September 2007
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
snüzz's Avatar
 

Quote:
nothing beats the dynamic response of power stage --- touch sensitive to your attack. from clean to chunky overdrivedistortion, or the tonal "fatness" or "hugeness".
this is true. "musical" is hard word to define but for many it seems to mean "dynamics preserved". this is true with the output stage in that you can set it where if you play softly the sound will be relatively clean. if you dig in hard though you get a nice overdrive with a lot of great space in between. the preamp section imparts a bit of overdrive on it's own so the cleaner sound is not there. i have always liked a guitar sound that has a good mix of clarity and overtones and avoiding the preamp tubes is the best way to go for that i think. it can be more dynamic. but i do use both methods- good question!
Old 3rd September 2007
  #8
Lives for gear
 
frans's Avatar
Well, I think you have to go to the store again - chuckle!
IMHO it's like this:
If you need some clean to crunch= preamp clean, poweramp driven.
Higher gain: preamp OD, poweramp OD. If you max out one or both, it's mush - at least for chords.
I have some amps here and my experience with the Univalve (thd) tells me, some power tubes break up sweet, others don't - this got nothing to do with power stages per se, but all with the topology of the amp, HOW the circuit does it's thing. I even can't say EL34 sound so and so - I have amps that sound different with the same batch. One of the most black metal sounds I ever stumbled over was... with ONE tiny 6V6 power tube and a Strat.... go figure!
Old 3rd September 2007
  #9
Gear Guru
 
FFTT's Avatar
 

The pre-amp configuration is really what gets you your preferred distortion, but
so much depends on your choice of speakers and enclosures too.

Sure there are classic power tube configuration that get you in the general ball park of certain tones, but it's everything working together and your playing style and guitar that determine the final outcome.

My Bad Cat sounds like a dream through some speaker configuration and sounds thin
and wimpy through the wrong enclosure.

I found this out last night borrowing a narrow 2X12 Marshall 150 watt cab loaded with GH75's. I had to push this 100 watt head to the limit simply because the speaker enclosure couldn't move enough air.

You also have to decide if you want a good clean section to work with pedals or if you prefer a naked amp that just sounds like you and your guitar.

There are just too many variables
Old 4th September 2007
  #10
Gear Head
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moi View Post
From what I read I thought that the contribution of power-tube distortion to overall rock-guitar sound is even much more important rather that distortion produced by pre-amp tubes. That’s why (I thought) vintage non-master volume amp have so sweet tone.
But recently I’ve heard from couple techs that pre-amp distortion is more “musical” to the ears and it’s better not to overdrive power tubes at all, but have the distorted tone being formed in pre-amp solely.
I’d like to clarify this matter to myself… reading more input on this question…
Thanks!

I really think it depends on the context / musical style.
I have a Carr Rambler, KT66s in the power section, and am slamming the output like crazy (easy thing, since it's a small amp). I can go from clean-ish to scream just w/ my right hand dynamics and/or the vol pot. I can boost the pre and get it to squeal too.
Does it sound Musical? You betcha.
Can it do nu.metal? Nope.
Can it do the triple-rect lo-end chunk? Nope.
Alt-rock-country? yeah.
Blues, jazz-blues? Maaaan...
Pop? hmmm....
Hard rock? W/ a good OD (ex. OCD, BJF) yes.


I'm currently trying out a Groove Tubes Soul-o-45 w/ KT88s, and am playing it thru the clean channel (I doen't have the channel change footswitch). I can *feel* that I'm missing the power amp dynamics (musical style: Allman, Gov't Mule, etc)... it feels totally different - evne though I'm using exactly the same ODs in front of it.

My 2 (euro) cents' worth
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