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>I use a Mesa DC5 50watt class A combo.. I run it on 2 or 3 depending on the
>size of the gig and it is more than enough for me. I play in a 5 piece band
>with another guitarist and a keyboardist.
>You don't need that much volume if you are standing next to the amp. The
>best reason for a large amp is the way it breaks up when cranked..
>As far as I know, you just can't simulate THAT sound.


I wouldn't expect an amp to reach power-tube saturation with the volume only set to 2 or 3. But it depends on your preamp signal.

I'm interested in playing with very little preamp distortion and lots of power tube distortion, not just because this sounds good (with some riffs, it would sound bad) but because the guitarists who try to get away with using only a preamp can't possibly imitate this tone convincingly. My ears are getting better at recognizing power tube saturation. The only place you hear it a lot is on the classic rock stations. Often it's a hoarse and physical sound.

Guitar Player Dec. 1996: review of 4 multieffects preamps: their conclusion about preamp tubes is basically that there is no significant difference between solid state and preamp tube distortion. Preamp distortion is preamp distortion. Providing a preamp tube does not give you "tube amp" tone.

It follows that "hybrid amps" using solid state power amp and a preamp tube are a failure; they sound no different than completely solid state amps.

Can you keep the power tubes and get rid of the speaker, adding an inductive load instead? The ADA Ampulator and the H&K Blues Master supposedly sound really good, not fizzy. But attenuator researcher Mark Garvin says that those who hope to get tube amp sound using an inductive load and power tubes, with no guitar speaker, come away disappointed, as did I. As you increase the attenuation of the Marshall Power Brake, making your guitar speakers quieter, the tone quality reportedly goes down. I've heard this reported by a reviewer and by users in several newsgroup postings. Guitar speakers are important. I doubt that ADA has solved this problem.

Some people are working on this problem and should be encourages. With the equipment I (and Garvin) have heard so far [1996], I consider an inductive load the next best thing after speaker isolation cabinets, to get genuine cranked tube amp tone at low room noise levels.

My basic system design is:

o effects A
o tube amp
o speaker isolation cabinet (switchable w/ inductive load)
o effects B

It's true that every guitar tone is legitimate. But I think that in general, guitar sounds better through a tube amp than straight into the board. I think that most studios that produce hit records will continue to use tube amps rather than a straight preamp tone. And I think that most rock music listeners prefer the tone of tube amps rather than straight preamp output. However, it will be an improvement if and when the effects companies include a power tube and inductive load in the middle of their effects processors, with optional compact speaker isolation cabinet.

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