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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 02:58 AM Thread Starter
 
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Question Overdrive: Tube and Solid State

I'm confused about what the deal is with overdrive. Not the kind you get from pedals but the kind you get when you roll up the gain.

Can both Tubes and Solid State amps get overdrive when given lots of gain?

Can I get a tube overdrive sound from a tube preamp (made for mics but it has an instrument input too) if I crank up the gain or does it come from the power amp?

What's the difference between a power amp and a pre amp? /blush

What is a "hot amp?" On dimarzio's website it says stuff like hot amp and high gain amp but I just have a solid state so I'm not sure if my evolutions are performing as well as they could be >_<.

Thanks =D
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 03:28 AM
 
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Re: Overdrive: Tube and Solid State

I love answering these questions...

Quote:
Can both Tubes and Solid State amps get overdrive when given lots of gain?
Of course they get overdrive when ya start cranking the gain on the distorted channel; the difference is how well the gain structure for each of these amps can handle. Solidstate's sound cold, bland, and "flat"... like there's no life to the guitar's tone, no matter what guitar it is vs a Tube overdrive sounds warm and punchier... and something about them that makes the guitar sound "vocal"... i also think it has something to do with voltages and such...

Quote:
Can I get a tube overdrive sound from a tube preamp (made for mics but it has an instrument input too) if I crank up the gain or does it come from the power amp?
A mic tube preamp runs at a different signal level (line level: +4db) and cranking the gain will only distort the instrument input, not overdrive

Quote:
What's the difference between a power amp and a pre amp? /blush
the preamp defines your tone... bass/mid/treble/gain, and all that stuff is defined in this section, the poweramp amplifies that tone from quiet, to loud, to loudest. Good tube poweramps usually keep the preamp's tone in tact until it starts breaking up when you crank the volume past the poweramp's input threshold.

Quote:
What is a "hot amp?" On dimarzio's website it says stuff like hot amp and high gain amp but I just have a solid state so I'm not sure if my evolutions are performing as well as they could be >_<.
A hot amp has knobs, buttons, and whines when you push 'em a lil too much... oh we're talking about gear right? :P They're amps that are designed for heavy to hi-gain distortion. Mesa and [tube] Marshall's usually come to mind.
And yes, the Evo's are not doing quite well with a solid state. I have an Evo on my RG760 but I have a Peavey 15W practice amp that I use for those late night hours but my rack setup is an Engl 530 preamp through a Mesa 2:90.... two different beasts for amps but the Evo's on the Peavey sound "lacking" whereas the rack sounds unreal and in-your-face. Even the V7/V8 in my other RG sounds tough through the rack but sounds weak through the Peavey.

Hope that clarifies a few things
Reg
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 04:56 AM
 
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Re: Overdrive: Tube and Solid State

solid state's tend to sound like that but not all. there are some great solid states out there(see Dimebag, r.i.p) not to mention many tube players prefer solidstate for cleans sometimes as it can sound nicer.

i'm an all tube guy personally but it's not the only way and i love my SS kustom practice amps which sound warmer than many practice amps including some tubers.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 08:49 AM
 
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Lightbulb Re: Overdrive: Tube and Solid State

Quote:
Originally Posted by kadeks View Post
I'm confused about what the deal is with overdrive. Not the kind you get from pedals but the kind you get when you roll up the gain.

Can both Tubes and Solid State amps get overdrive when given lots of gain?
usually overdrive refers to relatively small amounts of gain, not high gain with hard clipping.

Quote:
Can I get a tube overdrive sound from a tube preamp (made for mics but it has an instrument input too) if I crank up the gain or does it come from the power amp?
A hot pickup may actually overdrive the input, if it's a good mic-preamp this will be a low voltage tube stage. This may sound good.

Quote:
What's the difference between a power amp and a pre amp?
judasbane already adressed this, but IMHO his description of poweramp distortion is incorrect. Overdrive, clipping or distortion can happen at virtually any stage in the amp, but clipping powertubes at their input is probably the least likely.

Basically you have:
-instrument level (low power/voltage) comes out of a guitar or mic.
-line level (input for effects processor, recording desk or computer input, also the output level on a CD player etc.)
-speaker level (high power)

A preamp turns instrument level into line level.
A poweramp turns line level into speaker level.

In order to have control over the distortion, amps are designed to create distortion in the preamp section. Poweramps were originally designed as Hi-Fi units, so as long as the input is at line level, you won't see any clipping at the front.

However if you turn the volume on a poweramp way up, you can actually get distortion of the powertubes and or speakers. If you want distortion at the poweramp section you must play at very high volumes or use an attenuator (power soak) Some amps are deliberately mated with low power speakers to get them to distort.

Quote:
What is a "hot amp?" On dimarzio's website it says stuff like hot amp and high gain amp but I just have a solid state so I'm not sure if my evolutions are performing as well as they could be >_<.
A hot amp has lots of gain and doesn't need a lot of input to get distortion. Evolutions are hot pickups, which means they need a lot of headroom at the input side. The combination may work. IMHO Evos are ideally suited to a medium gain tube amp. YMMV.

Vai had the Evos designed not because he wanted them to be so hot as to clip any amp, but he wanted them to be able to pick up all of the dynamics he put in his playing. Lots of distortion by definition means losing a lot of dynamics, since it comes with compression.

However the nature of some kinds of distortion (tube!) means that what you lose in dynamics you "gain" in tone.

Musical instruments are defined by their overtones/harmonics (otherwise an E on a guitar, sax of piano would sound the same) and distortion is mostly harmonic distortion.

The difference between "good" and "bad" distortion is in the musicality of the overtones produced.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 10:48 AM
 
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Re: Overdrive: Tube and Solid State

Quote:
Originally Posted by kadeks View Post
I'm confused about what the deal is with overdrive. Not the kind you get from pedals but the kind you get when you roll up the gain.

Can both Tubes and Solid State amps get overdrive when given lots of gain?
Yes, if you push a very hot signal into a tube amp, it will make it distort, or "overdrive". On a transistor (Solid State) amp, you'll be getting diode clipping on the input most likely, which is not so good. You can overdrive both by hitting the input harder, but tubes will sound a lot better in the vast majority of cases. Unless you are going for the bizzsaw SS sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kadeks View Post
Can I get a tube overdrive sound from a tube preamp (made for mics but it has an instrument input too) if I crank up the gain or does it come from the power amp?
Possibly, but it's not what it's designed for. Mic preamps just boost the signal from mic level (very low) to a level that is more sane for recording with. Hitting a mic preamp with a guitar signal would just produce nasty distortion with no ability to shape it, so I wouldn't do it.

A guitar preamp, however (tube) is meant for boosting the guitars signal, but mainly for shaping the tone, the amount of gain etc. It's where the "sound" comes from

Quote:
Originally Posted by kadeks View Post
What's the difference between a power amp and a pre amp? /blush
Preamps are for tone shaping and eq as well as setting how much distortion/overdrive you want.

Power amps take the preamp signal and do two things:
1)Amplify the signal to a level where it can be fed into the speakers and produce lots of noise

2)Convert the voltage signal coming out of the preamp into a current signal to drive the speakers. Power amps are the main workhorse in an amp.

Basically, you should see the preamp as the artist who comes up with the painting, and the power amp as the worker who goes and copies it into something bigger so more people can see it.

Power amps have as one of their aims to reproduce a signal as faithfully as possible id that makes sense.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kadeks View Post
What is a "hot amp?" On dimarzio's website it says stuff like hot amp and high gain amp but I just have a solid state so I'm not sure if my evolutions are performing as well as they could be >_<.

Thanks =D
Evolution 6 strings are characterless to be honest. T%he evo7 is nice, and a good pickup as it has some balls. So I wouldn't worry about not liking evo's, they pretty much only work well if you like a fairly sterile sound and then go off and process it. A lot of people here will disagree with that, but they are just too sterile to be exciting. No warmth, no character at all. The evo7 is the reverse of the tone zone 7./ The TZ7 is an awfull pickup where the TZ 6string is really cool. With the evo, the 7string has character, balls, vut and low end definition, whereas the 6string is characterless, bland and just uninspiring. To me anyway.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 02:01 PM
 
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Re: Overdrive: Tube and Solid State

You sir have no idea what you are talking about....

Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Dying Trees View Post
Yes, if you push a very hot signal into a tube amp, it will make it distort, or "overdrive". On a transistor (Solid State) amp, you'll be getting diode clipping on the input most likely, which is not so good. You can overdrive both by hitting the input harder, but tubes will sound a lot better in the vast majority of cases. Unless you are going for the bizzsaw SS sound.
NOPE.
There are diodes clipping if you have an operating modulated input. It largely depends on what solid state preamp you have. With the use of MOS FET transistors you can get lines that are quite similar to tubes. It will never sound as warm as a tube, as tubes are just not as "exact" as transistors and that internal flaws and high voltage overdrive (hence the word) will sound much warmer, but basically you can do the same with both and it can actually sound quite nice with a solid state (listen to a few very old satch songs where he uses an old Fender solid state).


Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Dying Trees View Post
Possibly, but it's not what it's designed for. Mic preamps just boost the signal from mic level (very low) to a level that is more sane for recording with. Hitting a mic preamp with a guitar signal would just produce nasty distortion with no ability to shape it, so I wouldn't do it.
Again wrong. There are mic tube amps that can actually sound quite nice, even similar to tube guitar preamps. Funny thing the less quality the mic tubes have the better overdrive you can get. Also mics do are not necessarily lower output that your guitar jack, look at some of the hot AKG mics. SO this largely depends what kind of preamp you have, tell us what you have and we can tell you how it might sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Dying Trees View Post
A guitar preamp, however (tube) is meant for boosting the guitars signal, but mainly for shaping the tone, the amount of gain etc. It's where the "sound" comes from
Totally wrong. Every amp is ment for boosting a signal and shaping it (if it has a good EQ). The amount of gain has nothing to do where the sound comes from, just how loud it will be and how soon you hit saturation of the elements (tubes or transistors) and go into distortion.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Dying Trees View Post
Preamps are for tone shaping and eq as well as setting how much distortion/overdrive you want.
Wow that sounds alright.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Dying Trees View Post
Power amps take the preamp signal and do two things:
1)Amplify the signal to a level where it can be fed into the speakers and produce lots of noise
Uhu.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Dying Trees View Post
2)Convert the voltage signal coming out of the preamp into a current signal to drive the speakers. Power amps are the main workhorse in an amp.
Now previously you have been off, but this is total bull***. Every signal has an amplitude (voltage) and a current or there would be no electricity. One cannot be without the other. Actually the power amp does not do much with the current, as it would fry your speakers if there would be to much current, that is also why the resistance of your speakers come in.

U (Voltage) = R (resitance in ohms) * current (amperes)

Hence the power amp boosts your voltage level and the speakers resistance defines how much current will flow. The ups and downs in the voltage will make the funny waves that sound like music and the magnets in your cabinet will follow the ever changing voltage signal.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Dying Trees View Post
Basically, you should see the preamp as the artist who comes up with the painting, and the power amp as the worker who goes and copies it into something bigger so more people can see it.

Power amps have as one of their aims to reproduce a signal as faithfully as possible id that makes sense..
With guitar amps you sir are totally wrong, you can use the power amp to do alot with the signal if you know how...



Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Dying Trees View Post
Evolution 6 strings are characterless to be honest. T%he evo7 is nice, and a good pickup as it has some balls. So I wouldn't worry about not liking evo's, they pretty much only work well if you like a fairly sterile sound and then go off and process it. A lot of people here will disagree with that, but they are just too sterile to be exciting. No warmth, no character at all. The evo7 is the reverse of the tone zone 7./ The TZ7 is an awfull pickup where the TZ 6string is really cool. With the evo, the 7string has character, balls, vut and low end definition, whereas the 6string is characterless, bland and just uninspiring. To me anyway.

Now this made me wonder what you have been smoking...

----------
Just to make sure I have a bachelor in physics. So I really know about that electric stuff....
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 02:38 PM
 
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Re: Overdrive: Tube and Solid State

Quote:
Now this made me wonder what you have been smoking...
I'd agree with him. The evolution just sounds thin and shrill. You do have to remember that Vai is running his guitar through $10,000 worth of rack effects.
If you want a damn good bridge pickup, go with the Breed.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 02:42 PM
 
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Re: Overdrive: Tube and Solid State

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Originally Posted by Tank View Post
Just to make sure I have a bachelor in physics. So I really know about that electric stuff....
You hide it well then.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tank View Post
U (Voltage) = R (resitance in ohms) * current (amperes)
Voltage is generally represented by V. And your equation is for simple DC, not the complex AC signals coming out of an amp.

The difference between ss clipping and valve clipping is that with valves the clipping response is less linear (this is nigh on impossible to explain without a diagram!) also ss tends to emphasise the odd harmonics, valves the even, so they sound quite different.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tank View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by 7 Dying Trees
2)Convert the voltage signal coming out of the preamp into a current signal to drive the speakers. Power amps are the main workhorse in an amp.
Now previously you have been off, but this is total bull***.
Actually, 7DT has it pretty much spot on.


ps: my bachelor degree is in electrical and electronic engineering. I DO know what I'm talking about and I can explain it without being rude to other posters. Add to the debate by all means, but don't post a tirade like the one you just did please.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 02:59 PM
 
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Re: Overdrive: Tube and Solid State

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Originally Posted by Algiman View Post
You hide it well then.



Voltage is generally represented by V. And your equation is for simple DC, not the complex AC signals coming out of an amp.

The difference between ss clipping and valve clipping is that with valves the clipping response is less linear (this is nigh on impossible to explain without a diagram!) also ss tends to emphasise the odd harmonics, valves the even, so they sound quite different.



Actually, 7DT has it pretty much spot on.


ps: my bachelor degree is in electrical and electronic engineering. I DO know what I'm talking about and I can explain it without being rude to other posters. Add to the debate by all means, but don't post a tirade like the one you just did please.
I agree the formula is for DC, though the AC signal does follow the same equation just in a complex way, as in any given point in time that is near zero in extend any AC is like a DC signal.
But I also agree that you need a diagram to show this, as the right formula is a quite big beast.

I still do not agree on the last part though, he does not have it on the spot. The signal is still driven by the voltage gain of the poweramp. As you have tubes in the poweramp (and not transistors) - sorry english is not my native language... - the tubes in a guitar power amp will add to the shaping of the signal severely, especially if you drive them at very high input. Thats why you get "power tube distortion". Again a diagram would be handy, however a acoustic signal in an amp is amplitude modulated, the perfect power amp should only add to the base of the amplitude and not alter the modulation. Though a guitar power amp does exactly that, it does alter the modulation, this is actually why it sounds "warm".

I appologize for being rude before, just drives my emotions high sometimes when I read things that are "half true" and might influence someone in the wrong direction.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 03:12 PM
 
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Re: Overdrive: Tube and Solid State

Quote:
Originally Posted by kadeks View Post
I'm confused about what the deal is with overdrive. Not the kind you get from pedals but the kind you get when you roll up the gain.

You don't get overdrive from rolling up your amp's gain knob. You get overdrive by running your amp's power tubes as hot as possible, usually by cranking the volume up as loud as possible. The hotter your power tubes run, the better they'll sound

Can both Tubes and Solid State amps get overdrive when given lots of gain?

Like I said above, gain and overdrive are two very different things. I suppose with a strong distortion pedal, you could overdrive the amp's tubes a bit, but the pedal's gain would still be in the way of the tube tone, which is why they make overdrive pedals. Generally, solid state amps don't overdrive at all, so they're good for lower volumes. If you turn them up really high, they'll just clip.

Can I get a tube overdrive sound from a tube preamp (made for mics but it has an instrument input too) if I crank up the gain or does it come from the power amp?

A tube preamp will definitely fatten your tone up quite a bit, but will still not give you what you're looking for. Power tube tone can only be achieved by using a tube power amp.

What's the difference between a power amp and a pre amp? /blush

A preamp basically creates the sound you hear coming out of your speakers, but a preamp isn't nearly powerful enough by itself, so the preamp runs into the power amp, and the power amp gives you the volume needed.

What is a "hot amp?" On dimarzio's website it says stuff like hot amp and high gain amp but I just have a solid state so I'm not sure if my evolutions are performing as well as they could be >_<.

Just a high gain amp (Mesa Rectifier, Orange Thunderverb, Marshall JCM, etc.). Only you'll know if your Evo's are being used to their full potential, though. If it sounds good to you, then yes, they are. The general consensus seems to be that tubes sound better than everything else (and I'd have to agree), but it's not set in stone. If you like what you're hearing, then stick with it.

Thanks =D
see bold^^
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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 10-26-2007, 03:55 PM
 
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Re: Overdrive: Tube and Solid State

If you want to be really pedantic about things, a high gain amp will not distort as readily as a low gain one.

High gain = signal out is much louder than signal in.
Low gain = signal out is a bit louder than signal in, and if you try to drive it any harder it will clip the signal, distorting it, hence the terms overdrive (putting too high an input signal in) and distortion (setting the amp to give more gain than it is capable of doing without clipping)
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