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Tube head question.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 6:06 am
by leftyguitarman
My best friend is looking to get a tube head to run through his Marshall 4x12 cab. He's got that crappy Marshall 100w Solid State head which sounds not that great, IMO, and he's looking to get a good tube sound. Anyways, I was trying to explain stuff to him about wattage, but I don't know a whole lot about wattage. He wants something that could compete with a full band (i.e. another guitar player, bass, drums) but something he can get good tube tone out of at a reasonable volume. He's had his eye on a 100w tube head, which IMO, is just plain stupid. One hundred watts through a 4x12 cab would be too loud to get tube breakup without blowing the windows out of your house, so I think. I tried explaining to him that even a 15w head would be plenty loud if it's ran through a 4x12 cab.

Anyways, so my question is, would you even need 100w? And would a 15w head be loud enough? I know the wattage isn't exponential (is that the right term) meaning that a 30w tube head isn't twice as loud as a 15w and a 100w isn't twice as loud as a 50w, etc. a 15w head would provide ample volume and tube breakup when put up next to a drummer, another guitarist, and a bassist, wouldn't it? I just know that my Classic 50, which has two 12's in it, is more than plenty loud. Running a 100w head through twice as many speakers just seems ridiculous to me.

Re: Tube head question.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:33 pm
by rustyslide
Mic your cab and you'll never need 100W.

I once played a 50W Sovtek head through a 4x12 cab in a tiny bedroom once. The bedroom was only big enough for a bed, a desk, a dresser and MASSIVE GUITAR AMPLIFICATION. It was very loud. :mrgreen:

If your friend is convinced he needs more power, steer him towards the ones with switchable power settings. I have also heard of running amps with fewer power tubes, but this may require other fiddling or, in general be a Bad IDea.

Re: Tube head question.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:32 pm
by zhyla
Tube pulling on certain amps isn't a big deal, but yeah just find an amp that sounds good and mic it.

Re: Tube head question.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 6:17 pm
by texas blues
Solution...Marshall JCM 800 2204 50 watt master volume with either 6550's or el34's. This amp will provide all the tone he needs at lower volumes as well as punch through even the loudest drummer at higher decibles. Should be able to find a decent used on the bay.

Cheers, TB.

Re: Tube head question.

PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:58 pm
by leftyguitarman
I guess I should clarify. He isn't in a band, so mic'ing it doesn't really matter. It's mostly just for jamming out with people.

texas blues wrote:Solution...Marshall JCM 800 2204 50 watt master volume with either 6550's or el34's. This amp will provide all the tone he needs at lower volumes as well as punch through even the loudest drummer at higher decibles. Should be able to find a decent used on the bay.

Cheers, TB.


I'll have him look in to it. I love the breakup of the Marshall heads at low volumes.

Re: Tube head question.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 12:46 am
by Ed Boyd
100 watts. Nah

I play through a little 50 watt Mesa Boogie amp with one little 12" speaker and it will melt your face off on 3. I have never had it on 10.

Re: Tube head question.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 11:40 am
by ricochet
A 50W half stack is VERY loud.

Re: Tube head question.

PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 4:25 pm
by texas blues
My buddy picked up his 2204 about two weeks ago along with one of the tall B cabs loaded with 25w greenies. When he first flipped off the standby switch he forgot the master was on about "8". Nearly tore his head off! The next day he went and bought The Ultimate Attenuator.

Cheers, TB.

Re: Tube head question.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:09 pm
by ricochet
A few years ago I helped out a young friend who'd unwisely bought a 100W Marshall stack. It sounded great, but he never could open it up. I made him a power soak that absorbed the full power of the amp and fed out the cranked Marshall power stage signal as a line level feed that could be put into any other amp such as a PA to be played at whatever level was desired. Sounded terrific and it made him happy. Reportedly Eddie Van Halen used a similar sort of device.

Re: Tube head question.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:35 pm
by CashWiley
That sounds like a nifty device. I wish you were my friend! :)