Why Solid State Amps are Better Than Tube Amps for Metal



#softshred pioneer Hugh Myrone has been making waves with his MYRONE project for the past year, impressing the hell out of the Gear Gods staff with his unique take on late ’80s / early ’90s synthy shred. Based on that description it should not surprise you to learn that he’s an unabashed solid state amp apologist. And now he’s going to tell you why. 

Hey, what’s up? It’s Myrone. I have a huuuuuuuge soft spot in my heart for solid state amps. Me and my bud Sergeant D constantly talk about that magic “jun jun” solid state guitar tone. I’m currently hard at work composing #softshred bangers for Drift Stage but I’m taking a break to put some of you tube purists on blast.

Satriani Rockman

One of the things that baffles me about modern metal is how you people jerk off different kinds of boutique “unique” tube amps (more on why this is really silly later). “Just can’t beat that tube warmth” you say confidently to your local Guitar Center employee, hoping that he nods heartily in agreement lest your self esteem will be crushed. While “warmth” is something that can be an accurate descriptor of a tube amp, I’m not sure why people NEED this in the genre of metal.

A tube amp’s “warmth” in my experience usually describes two different qualities, namely a tube circuit’s tendency to produce more higher order harmonics than a solid state circuit, and/or the natural compression or sag from a tube amp’s power source. Solid State circuits have a tendency to produce square waves when pushed, giving them what could be described as a more harsh characteristic, as there is none of that higher order harmonic “sweetness.” However, in a solid state circuit you’ll get more clean headroom and output bang-for-your-buck wise. There’s a better ratio of transient response to saturation (no sag),  which creates a tighter, in your face guitar tone. Not to mention, solid state amps are more durable, you don’t have to wait for them to warm up, AND they are less susceptible to tonal changes caused by differences in temperature. (You also don’t have to get them re-tubed).

vivian campell randall

In metal, transient response is probably the most important aspect of any sound. When you home recording nerds slap a compressor on your kick drum, you probably set it up with a fast release time, making it snap back in time so that the next transient isn’t reduced in volume.

If you think of an amp as a type of compressor (which you should, because thats what an amp is doing besides saturating in the context of recording), it would make sense to pick one with a very fast release time, or rather one that doesn’t have any sag. If you don’t want any sag, then you will probably be relying on preamp distortion (with probably a little solid state distortion already before the amp via a Tube Screamer) for the meat and potatoes of your sound, and you’ll probably be using a high powered amp for plenty of clean headroom.

(Marshall-esque tube warmth right? JK it’s a lab series L5 that he borrowed from Allan Holdsworth)

Which amps fit this description? The 5150, The Dual/Triple Rec, The Mesa Mark series, and the Soldano SLO. Did you know that the Soldano SLO is a copy of the Mesa Mark II (which is basically a Fender Princeton with more gain stages), and that the 5150 and the Dual/Triple recs are copies of the SLO? They’re basically all just variations on the same flavor of ice cream. Power amp saturation has never really been important to metal guys so I’m not sure why the kind of power amp tubes a metal amp has gets scrutinized so much. And don’t tell me, “B-b-but my 5150 doesn’t sound good unless its on 3 or higher!!!” You’re not saturating the power amp at that level (if you were your tone would sound flubby and shitty), you’re basically just getting the amp loud enough to move the speakers so they in turn move some air. Also good luck achieving real power tube saturation at your local club without the soundguy banning you for life.

george lynch

(the “Tooth and Nail” record is all Randall. Some of Dokken’s biggest hits are on there and people gush over Lynch’s tone, I wonder why…)

“AHA!” you say,  “YOUVE ONLY BEEN TALKING ABOUT POWER AMPS, SURELY A TUBE PRE IS BETTER THAN A SOLID STATE ONE!!” Not so fast. Most of you guys push the front end of your amps with Tube Screamers, which basically clip your signals into square waves before they hit the amp. You are literally applying solid state style distortion to your signal to add TIGHTNESS (remember the sag I was talking about). Also the “Modern” Channel of the Dual Rec literally has solid state diodes for clipping that’s “tighter.”

alex lifeson

(The 250 ML is one of my favorite ebay saved searches)

More people than you think use solid state amps and get great tone. Here’s a short list of people off the top of my head who have used solid state amps at one point or another:

        • Dime (randall)
        • George Lynch (Randall RG’s on Tooth and Nail)
        • Chuck Shuldiner (Marshall Valvestate)
        • EVH (used a LAB series L5 on the beat it solo)
        • Ty Tabor (also a LAB series user)
        • Meshuggah ( POD, Line 6 Vetta )
        • Judas Priest (Rockman)
        • Iron Maiden (Galien Kruger 250ML on somewhere in time)
        • Alex Lifeson (another 250ML user)
        • Def Leppard (Rockmans on Hysteria, 12x platinum)
        • Allan Holdsworth (Quilter Labs, Rockman, Yamaha, Hughes and Kettner, ALL SOLID STATE)

The bottom line here is that great players will get their sound out of anything, no matter what. This whole tube amp snobbery in metal is silly because a) none of y’all are pushing the power section, b) most metal amps are literally the same thing in different chassis, and c) most of you cowards will probably plug your Tube Screamer into your 5150 anyways. IMO y’all should be more concerned with making sure your guitar is intonated and holds tune properly than if your 5150 is a block letter or signature (pro tip, they are LITERALLY the same save for the tubes that they originally shipped with). Honestly just GTFO with your solid state prejudice unless you are playing into a single ended class A amp (aka the only tube amps worth playing); they have the best transient response because there is no crossover distortion caused by different tubes handling different parts of the waveform like in a typical push-pull circuit.

(Some random Dime clinic where I’m sure he’s plugged straight into some RG100 or Century. Tight/brutal. Why would you need/want tubes for this?)

What do you think? What’s your fav solid state amp? Does your $4,000 Diezel really sound that much better than my Rockman Sustainor (as heard on the solo for “Exclusive Coupe”)?  Also, who has the plug for Randall amps? Ya boi is trying to get one of those RG13’s? (srs)

Latest comments
  • Randall RG 4 lyf

    I’ve got the current reissue and it’s literally mind-bottling.

    • How do they compare to the originals? I’ve been eyeing the RG13 myself

      • omg dude it’s all like “jun jun” and then when you do the Crowbar palm-mute it’s like “DUUUNNN”.

    • I am seriously eyeing the shit outta those RG300s. I want one!

  • I usually like the articles on this site.
    But instead of calling this “Why solid state distortion can work for very specific type of sound better than tubes” you called this article “why solid state is better for metal” which is completely false judging on 99.9% of all actual type of sounds people who play metal try to go for.

    And from all examples, from those who are actually relevant besides Dimebag and Meshuaggah, they all use/used most of the time tube amps and got their most famous sounds from.

    • 5150 owner detected

      • I own few amps, one of them is 5150, love it.
        I am also a touring guitarist and a professional sound engineer for 10 years, I have experienced many amps in so much possible situations, from both sides of the stage/studio.

        Solid state amps are good for some things, but dont feel responsive to the playing and can be too tight, small and “boxy”
        A modern tube amp works most of the time, sometimes with the help of a solid state circuit, sometimes without..

        But hey i guess all those mega producers like andy sneap, tue madsen, colin richardson, etc use tube amps 99% of their productions just to make bands sound worse.
        Surely you know better than these guys… you are THE gear god.

        Besides that, its a matter of taste.

        • So defensive, it’s absurd.

      • You Crack me up with assuming Dime bagjust plugged right into his randall’s with out any rack gear to help improve his overall tone a lot. He was known to use an EQ with all of his Randall’s. Which has been verified multiple times from his guitar tech Grady. Think what you will , but when I plug straight into my Peavey Ultra heads without any rack mount gear, eq’s, over drives, distortion pedals, etc while directly plugging in my Les Paul Classic Custom with low out put 1957 Alnico II’s that put around 7.5k out put for the bridge position. And I can play the heaviest metal and hear every note with clarity and note definition with gain structure that will rip your face off. When you can achieve that on a solid state and not hear any muddiness that doesn’t have a dry sounding gain stage ( Very common with essentially majority of solid state amplifiers ) , then come talking about how solid state is so much better ( You stating your opinion, rather then the facts). Make fun of 5150’s all you want , but the facts are the facts and the Peavey 5150 is on more then 60% of Metal albums in the past 20 years, more so then any solid state amplifier or any other tube amplifier model.

        • From what I read with his tech he dialled the mids out on the amp then dialled them back in on the EQ pedal. The guy doing the interview thought that was odd, but like the tech said it worked for him.

          • Probably true. Because he has way more frequency ranges available on the EQ rack , then what’s available on the amps EQ.

        • And? Just because it’s there doesn’t mean it’s good. Fractal Axe-FX is all over shit released in the past few years and y’all are all over shitting on that.

          • I never said anything bad about Fractal ‘ s AxeFX. They’re amazing sounding and with a hefty price tag attached to it for just for that reason. But, the Author on here essentially claiming that Solid State amplifiers are so superior to Tube amplifiers is down right ignorant, plain and simple.

          • Solid state amplifiers are superio than tube or valve amplifiers, they are more reliable, less exoensive and heavy and do sound better for metal.
            The only bad thing about solid state amps is the lack of warmth and harmonics, but the audience cannot tell in a live situation only the musician.
            Kemper amps simulate the sound and warmth of tube amplifiers, and in my opinion the end of tube amps is near.

          • ??????? Yeah, Okay. Bring what ever solid state head you want, and watch it get destroyed by a Peavey teal stripe, Peavey XXX, or a JSX head for metal. I’ve played through Randal’s, Peavey’s,Orange CR120, and Marshall Valvestate, and a Hughes and Kettner Warp 7. The Warp 7 is the only good out of the box, with no pedals or EQ in the loop to make it sound good for metal. And also, Animals as Leaders uses a AXe FX with you guessed it, a TUBE AMPLIFIER (Port City Pearl) as their power amplifier for their AXE FX rack units. You’re full of crap, if you think it is the end of tubes amplifiers ?????. And I watched Between the Buried and Me last year perform with Animals as Leaders in Jacksonville Beach, FL last year. And they also had AXEFX rack units, that weren’t even turned on and were only using the new PRS Archon heads running them through Port City Cabinets. I am not saying solid state technology is bad at all, because the technology is reliable, just like a well built tube amplifier is reliable and only needs tubes every couple of years. But to claim that tube Amplifiers suck, and that solid state amplifiers sound better for metal is just plain ignorant. Because, no really big name band is running strictly solid state technology without running a tube pre amp, or tube power amp in their rack set up.

          • Dude…the peavey xxx is SOLID STATE.

          • Dude…..the XXX is Tube – the XXL is SS

          • LOL…YEAH YEAH…clean your ears and your eyes…every day more tube builders and more tube amps appearing …in the axe 2 era…why?…one answer they(tube amp or power amps or pre amps) simply sounds better by far..are marshall lead 12 or mosfet series good amps of course better than average cheap amps…are they comparable to a marshall superlead 70’s jmp amps…of course not…i used to have randall rgs lynch era in the past…they sounded pretty clear and good but comparing to my sold herbert it was a toy(it is simple….tell me what do you like more lynch mob wicked sensation sound or tooth and nail sound(not musci but the guitar sound)…transients mate there are a lot of ways to push your transients…if you want in studio of course and live with not expensive transient enhancer devices too..what a joke of post…lol

          • Well the end of guitar tube amplifiers, or valve amps is more sooner than you think. Now solid state amps are not what they used to be 20 years ago, bad sounding and with bad distortion, and now s.s amps and tube amps are closing the gap.
            Solid-state amps are more reliable, less expensive and sound good enough, especially when they are of transtube technology like the Peavy amps like for example.
            Tube amplifiers are expensive, heavy, tubes are fragile, and unreliable unless you are a touring musician with technitians, L.o.L.
            For a giging or working musician they are perfect, and if you still like your tube amps and like to gig with ’em at shows, you cannot go wrong with solid state amp as spare if something goes wrong with your tube amp.
            Your point of view is irrelevant to me, tubes are dated and is old technology from almost 70 years ago, I have tube amps but keep ‘ em at home.
            Being a tube snob or whore like your self is not necessarily better option, but personal choice, we can go on and on. ?

        • May I just point out that I along with probably many others would be seriously concerned if you haven’t got a a EQ pedal in your rig regardless of amp type.

          Tubes need them especially in High gain scenarios (Which destroy the tubes by the way) since your slamming them with SOLID STATE distortion to “tighten” that lower end you’d get to much bottom end and to little thin sounding top end making the tone crappy and dry. There’s a reason why tubes produce natural, articulate waves.

          This is why Dime used EQs, you’ve made yourself look like a right prick with that comment, its clear you’ve never built your own amp or bothered to sit down and study the basic properties of electrically produced sound in your life.

          Keep using your rig without a EQ and wonder why your mixes are all off.

          Keep using SOLID STATE distortion on your “Supreme Arian Master race tube amp” which is clearly so good it relies on that SOLID STATE for the chugadi chug chug either built in or plugged into the effects loop.

          What is the limit of Arrogance with you tube guys? you just sit on your chairs all day going yeh I sound cool (for rock) stroking and jacking off over your amps and then attack anything you feel threatens your “imaginery tonal throne” by going on rampages of mass bullshiterry, people like you are the reason the divide in the Guitar world exists, Both Amps sound good in different scenarios, Except the truth instead hiding behind the false illusion that Solid is the way, maybe in the 80s but not today.

          No more Tone wars, thank you and peace out. ✌️

      • Translation:” if I shit on other people’s gear choices I think I sound witty and cool”
        Works both ways dummy. I don’t care what anyone plays as long as they like it. Luckily I have no need to either like or be liked by others as you seem to.
        Basically it would seem that you’re saying that some guy I’ve never heard of, who plays a style of I metal I don’t care for, is the person to tell me what amps are “best” for metal right?Lol
        Most of the players you mentioned had terrible tone on the albums you listed. Great songwriting in a lot of cases, buy horrible guitar tone. Those are all the albums I liked the least in their discographies!lol And I had no idea they were recorded with SS amps.
        Dime always had shitty tone, but in the same way Neil Young can’t sing worth a damn, it somehow works. In that video dimes tone is a mess, but he makes it work.
        So basically, you sound just as biased and defensive as the people you are attempting to castigate in your lame ploy to funnel people to check out your music. Rest assured, I will not.

    • >they all use/used most of the time tube amps and got their most famous sounds from.

      Exactly!!!!!!! George Lynch had much better tone on Under Lock and Key and Back for
      the Attack, Satch’s tone was vastly improved on The Extremist, and to
      cite a single EVH solo for a pop tune is friggin stupid. All of their
      really famous tones come from dimed Marshalls.

      Don’t get me wrong, there are a few solid state amps I really dig. I just think your justification in this article is weak.

    • well just about every Morrisound band used those Valvestate amps. So if you like any of the tones on classic 90s death metal records, you probably like a solid state amp.

      • You are probably a tube-sausage amp. I bet you have little pre-amp sassages in your sphincter sockets. Point to point wiring baby, aww yeah point to my ‘taint. I know all about you its creepy I know.

      • I don’t like the tone from any of the morrisound bands.lol

      • I always dug 90’s valvestates for a plug & play metal tone. No fuss, no pedals, just plug in and rip.

        The unfortunate catch, is that you can forget about using an SS if you’re playing with another axe player who uses tube. In my experience, the presence of the lows/mids on a tube amp tend to overpower SS something fierce. The balls just aren’t there.

      • this fuckin’ idiot…

    • You assume 99.9% all want the same sounds for metal, How wrong can you be?

      Face it tubes are unreliable, expensive and outdated, they were amazing in the 80’s but have since fallen.

      This article doesn’t pull any punches, thats why you don’t like it, the truth hurts.

  • The one thing I would like everyone to take from this is the solid state prejudice, especially if you have never played a good one. Talking trash about other peoples gear is pretty fucking lame. Schuldiner actually went through a couple different amps. Don’t quote me on this but I’m pretty sure he was using Randall 80ES heads up until the “Human” tour (not sure what he used in the studio) where he used the GK250ML mic’d up when touring behind the dummy cabs and then of course he landed on the 8100 Valvestate. I played an old Valvestate combo at where my band used to practice with my Jackson Roswell Rhoads loaded with an x2n and it just had the old school Death Metal tone right out of the gate. The stuff dreams are made out of….except brutal.

    • And the Marshall 8100 still has a 12ax7 ( A Tube!! ) in the pre amp circuitry. Something solid state guy’s wouldn’t like to admit.

      • Very true! I don’t care if an amp has tubes in it or not. If it sounds good or if someone else likes it then who cares! I have a RG1503H myself and I like it. I’m not going to sit here and lie and say that my financial situation wasn’t a huge factor In my choice but it paid off. Plus a lot of my tone also comes from a digitech rp1000 which is also fairly cheap and cheerful.

        • I agree with you. I just didn’t you know if you were going to be like the article author of this whole thing. And my amps I didn’t pay that much for either, which was a grand total of $500 for two Peavey ultra heads. One of them being a Ultra 60 and the other being a Peavey ultra plus head. Both of them sound damn good, and I can pretty much buy almost any amplifier I want. But these amplifiers have the tone that I was looking for and not only that, they’re 3 channels with reverb which is nice add on for clean playing.

  • I never liked tube tube tone in the first place Lmfao

  • aware

  • I dont care for tube/solid state arguments because amps is amps is amps and everyone should just play more metal instead of arguing the toss about gear.

  • I have owned an Ampeg VH140-C for well over a decade now and I love that thing for metal over my tube amps. I use my tube amps for my pop-rock stuff. Diff’rent Strokes for different folks.

  • man. dime rips

  • The person that wrote this comes across as an angry 14 year old who can’t afford the good stuff therefore they bash it.

    While there is nothing wrong with SS, tube amps will always prevail. Period.

    • Hugh Myrone has more money then your Dad

  • Power tube distortion is a whole ‘nother ball of wax though. Take a 6505+ and “jun jun” away. From a die-hard Randall dude, sorry but the 6505+ crushes balls.

  • “B-b-but my 5150 doesn’t sound good unless its on 3 or higher!!!” You’re not saturating the power amp at that level (if you were your tone would sound flubby and shitty), you’re basically just getting the amp loud enough to move the speakers so they in turn move some air.” actually power amp saturation is huge for the 5150’s tone. 5150’s power amp is always on 10. the post knob on your 5150 is actually preamp output.

    some of the best records were made the marshall valvestate 8100. its a solid state head.

    but tube amps rule

    • And……. The Marshall 8100 Valvestate heads still have a 12ax7 pre amp tube in their pre amp section circuitry. Pretty funny thing when I was purchasing my current Peavey Ultra 60 head from a private seller. That another guy wanted to trade him his Marshall 8100 head for the Peavey Ultra 60 head. Hmm I wonder why. Because even that Marshall owner knows his 8100 can’t hang with an amplifier that was built entirely from the legendary Peavey Rockmaster preamp with just an added tube power section all combined into a tube amplifier head.

      • My rig is a Rockmaster into a Peavey Classic 60/60 power amp. One of the best metal rigs I’ve ever used, and the clean channel is pretty nice as well. It definitely has more gain on tap than anyone would ever need. The effects loop options are awesome as well it’s nice to be able to have an EQ that I always leave on for the crunch & ultra channels. The settings I have it on just don’t work well with the clean channel so it’s nice to not have to go turn it off on the rare occasion I use the clean channel.

        • I couldn’t agree any more. They’re one of the most under rated amplifiers ever. And you have the direct lineage of where the Ultra heads came from.

          • Yeah, I was aware of that. A couple years ago I used an Ultra Plus head regularly that was at the drummer of my bands house so I used it for practice a lot so I didn’t have to lug my rack along. Even though the preamp is almost identical, I like the sound of my setup better. The only thing I wish I had from the Ultra is the presence and resonance controls for the power amp.

  • I love my solid-state Marshall but still use a cheapo AX7 box as a preamp and another on my effects loop for additional warmth, dialing in for whatever EQ-range I want. I just dial them totally differently or use different tubes for metal (take your pick, I stick to the Russian brands).
    I dunno… been playing 18 years and it seems to sound better than most of my friends’ setups that cost hundreds (or thousands) more. Plus, I don’t have to worry about my head dying and costing hundreds to re-tube.

  • But…Does it doom?

  • Don’t Meshuggah only use digital amps nowadays?




    • I love tube amps but a lot of profetionals are using Kemper amplifiers, the simulate the sound of tube amps by 98% of the time.
      To be honest the end of tube ampd is near and Kemper amps sound almost identical to tube amps, they can simulate the sound of any amp almost identical, and can store up to 200 amp sounds in its system.

  • All those listed guitarists who play solid state amps have mediocre-to-bad tone.

    • I don’t think Dimebag had bad tone at all, he use Randall ss amps.
      Tone is in your ears and hands.

  • Goddamn the amount of sarcasm and patronization from the comments is overwhelming. You guys really do think highly of yourselves don’t you?

  • Thank the Dark Lord for this article. Although a quick tour of comments sulliedmy inhumanity… well, Myrone is actually right.

    I’m a big analog fan but I’m no defender. I’m a bass player (who plays guitar on the side)too so it does make things a little different. I proudly rock a VB-2 but aside from the grit applied via the pre-amp tubes the only time I have ever used power-stage distortion was in controlled conditions (sound proofed practice studio in Japan) with ear protection.

    A dimed VB-2 through an 8×10 sounds just like Godflesh, it rattles the body and smashes the ears.

    But then again an appropriately EQ’d HM2 run into a clean preamp sounds exactly the same at a fraction of the volume.

    This is where analog snobs fall down. We’re at a point in time now where affordable, high spec, high watt power amps and speakers are available. A good pre-amp, or even a mid-range multi-effect board with DI run into a power amp can be every bit as loud, harmonically rich and distinct as a tube amp.

    In fact, I would challenge 9/10 tube snobs to tell the difference in an AB sample set and explain exactly why without relying on vague terminology. The remaining 1/10 is simply lucky or a liar.

    Tube amps have their place. I love my little 5 watt combo, it gets real loud and opening up the power stage is really easy. I like to play at this volume and enjoy the experience of the amp responding to my playing (input)…

    HOWEVER, I will happily admit that a properly calibrated set-up using decent (as in modern, not necessarily top-shelf at all) can achieve the same experience. Again, at a volume less damaging to my hearing.

    Tube fetish does have a place, especially in doom and drone where the amps and speakers are being played as instruments and not mere extensions thereof. Rising temperatures, vibrations, feedback, tubes going microphonic etc contribute unpredictable tonal variations that add up to more than the sum of their parts.

    But that’s it. I’m with the author all the way –

    If you need a monstrous, controllable metal tone: get a power amp with plenty of clean headroom, put a decent EQ/preamp/multi-effector in front of it and run that into a well built (cos acoustics etc thar be physics in that thar cabinet) cabinet with drivers that have enough capacity to soak up the watts and your as good as good.

    Less out of pocket, and less weight. AND you have something (ie – preamp/effect setup that you’re familiar with) that you can take to ANY studio and replicate YOUR sound.

  • Sorry to be a pedant but there were a couple of facts that weren’t correct.

    1) Soldano is basically a hot rodded Marshall JCM800. (which is based off of the plexi which is a modified fender) The way the gain stages interact with the EQ circuit is different than with a Mark series amp.

    2) RE: Dual Rectifiers. The tube and Silicon Diode rectifiers are not actually in the signal path of the amp but rather are responsible for converting ac current to dc current. The rectos are generally loose with lots of sag anyhow, something many metal players hate.

    Interesting article nonetheless. Oftentimes, the biggest problem with a solid state amp is honestly the speaker / cab it is running through. Guitar builders generally ‘splurge’ on high end speakers for high end amplifiers which are generally constructed with tubes for a number of reasons, the most important of which is buyer perception. I would argue that in a room, tube amplifiers have more warmth and sweetness to the tone, even with 95% preamp gain. (The smooth transition into clip as well as the huge dynamic range are all things that tubes to better, things that ultimately have little relevance to metal)
    When recording, mic placement is more important than the raw quality of the gear and once the guitar part is recorded and put in a mix, the timbre of the sound matters much less since most of the imperfections are obscured.

    What I do like about tube amps when playing metal is the feel. I find that there is something more hi-fi and musical about the sound but I will submit that this is not so obvious in a recording as we would all like to think.

  • Solid state is the definitive sound of Your Favorite Metal Band from the 90’s, whether they be Swedish death metal (HM-2 on full settings into Peavy Solid States), Florida OG DM (Rolands, same as Pantera), or the mystical sounds of black metal. Don’t be fooled: Darkthrone and Burzum were devotees of cheap guitars and cheaper amplifiers to get their sounds.

  • Let’s just use them valves from 1904….. Forget about modern technology, Solid state amps are just too practical. Why does this thread even exist, both amp types have their own tones. If you like Dimebag sound, or zakk wylde sound, or any of that type of stuff… You’d probably want solid state.. UNLESS you’d like to get a tube amp and buy more equipment for them to get the overdrive you’re actually looking for. My man Zakk has to double overdrive his tubes when recording just to get it how he likes it out of it. I mean sure if you want warm fuzzy tone get tube, if u want heavy as heavy gets go with solid state. simple as that….

    But, If you’d like continue battling among each other for years on end about which is better or worse. The simple fact of the matter is you’ll probably never be good enough for it to matter anyway. Personally I like both types of amps. I like tubes for clean, that’s about it for me. Solid state seems to satisfy my want for a heavy sound much easier than a tube does. You could say all you want about tone and whatnot…. but they both have their own tone and to say one has more than the other is ridiculous, its not about how much tone you have lmao.. Its about the tone you want vs the tone you dont want, there is no such thing as “More Tone”.

  • I agree with most of the other responders on here that this is a gross generalization. All of these guys played tubes and this obscure 30 year old paraphernalia is just that. Of course if you LOOK for it, you’ll find something saying or showing they played solid state for an endorsement or whatever. Given that fact, I find solid state to be “faster” than tubes, good for super fast shred metal rhythm notes. However, the TONE is sterile and the headroom is an issue. Dimebag had a cool tone but you could totally hear it was solid state on the recordings. It was very compressed, etc. That being said, I like solid state for cleans and to use in a wet effects mix scenario in a wet/dry/wet rig. Due to the effects being digital, they sound better with cleaner solid state power amps most of the time (to me). Gain/compression is where tubes really shine. With my Mesa’s (Mark IV, TriAxis/Strategy, etc) I can get real nice cleans though as well but it’s a warmer, more 3d, tubey clean as opposed to something more analytical sounding and cleaner…if that makes any sense.

  • as far as solid state being superior to tubes yes they are as far as price the up keep of them the temper they come with repair cost parts and the very very stupid price of tubes that are being made at a handful of factories being labeled as exact copies of there old school for fathers sold for 14 dollars plus when they are mad in Russia or china for probably 3 bucks american being shipped here and jacked up and sold i could be wrong about the 3 buck per tube every thing else you can buy over there at either county with u.s dollars cheap tubes would not be the exception whats worse is the nos tubes that is retarded charging those prices for tubes paying 2 or 300 hundred dollars + for tube is down right dumb even us tube snobs broke and rich alike will admit that at least to our selves i would never pay those prices because no nos set of tubes are going to make you a rock star or what ever genre music you play if i were a rock star i still would not pay that because here it is they are just tubes they did not fall from heaven or rise from hell if they came with a record deal to make me rich then i would buy them if you did not make it on you skill then a stupid priced set of tube are not going to help i am not bashing tubes just people ripping off other people for selling some glass and filament for new car payment or more so solid state is superior in that sense but there is some thing special in tube amps like the amounts of volume you get out of a 150 tube head that no 150 solid state will ever do tube amps tickle the speakers different as well it is not all about warmth because warmth equals spongy and flabby it is more about the way tubes make a players attack at least to me the strings and the way the pick hits it behaves completely different than on a solid state amp you can dig in and out and not just hear but feel it now the prices of tube amps i think they are over priced but look at were they are made in the USA England GERMANY these people will not work for slave wages and conditions and i do not blame them i really really wish the Chinese and Russians Mexicans and the rest would stop it that shit only encourages the greedy corporate suits to make there billions while theses people work for almost nothing they are only making the rich richer if they would wise up i know that would be hard when you cant feed you kids but if they ever would things would go back to being made in the USA GERMANY JAPAN ENGLAND and the product would be cheaper priced and of good quality but it wont the suits have those people fooled with the dollar it will only get worse and people cannot expect to buy some thing from china and it not be broken because they dont stop to think if i got this so cheap then how much do they make for building it how much does the quality control people get paid to not turn a blind eye to junk going out the door because if the production percentage falls he wont make what little he gets or will be fired so why would he stop a defect from going out instead of having the builder rebuild it when he wont get no extra money for it either if the numbers fall he wont have a job this is the reason i do not buy nothing from china or counties that do what china does every one needs to stop doing this the only thing i get from china is tubes some times there Russian despite all these troubles us tube snobs have to deal with morally and financially but we still make time to write and record songs with out inferior amps that since solid state came on the music scene there still has not been one made or recorded on track that has sounded better or sweeter than what our inferior tube amps have done in the past or to date there have been more tube amps that made guitar players legends more platinum records than what solid state has done or will ever do the progress of technology might always be efficient but not always whats best

    • holy mother of no punctuation

    • Have you ever heard of such literary innovations as punctuation and paragraphs?

    • OMG, can’t write a fuking sentence 2 save his life =)) What RETARDS!! What a zombified endless vomit of random ‘street preacher maniac’ garbage. Ever heard of capitalization & periods? How about that mysterious thing called ‘paragraphs’? LOL!!!

  • I here you ive used every kind of solid state amp you can plug into a wall oh yeah the marshall mg100 halfstack my drummers buries that peice of junk they dont cut through and did it last of course the cruddy thin korean solders they use what a joke oh and i do have a line6 150 watt 212 at home to play on it also gets buried in the mix solid state 150 watt pushes 75 my tube amp is a signature quite old and it still works i jam with a hard hitting drummer and run it a bit over 1 i use a boss me70 pedal to kick it up and for the reverb etc not for the gain this dude disrespects tubes what a child like i said ive used solid states they emulate the tube what a joke man and oh yeah my esp vypers intonation is spot on and stays in tune if a amp is set up rite you can crank it up and it wont get flubby mr knowitall knows shit hes a legend in his own mind promoting chinese and korean garbage and we all know the morons in solidstate land they try to emaulate the compression sound and it does not happen mg100 proves that gutless breaking down garbage 650 for a amp that wont cut through and breaks real quick thanks marshall they should be ashamed and line6 hahaha another winner so stop with insulting tube amps unreal where does he get off on his solid state trip they dont last and are gutless hahaha i have the same tubes original tubes in my tube amp and they are brutal the brownsound it will do anything if you want cleans get a fender

  • I’m a tube amp snob, but honestly, solid state distortion is probably the best thing for a good metal guitar tone.

  • You are full of shit. The dual recto does not use any diodes in the signal path. The SLO is not based from the Mark II, they are completely different amps by design. The SLO100 and Dual Rec share more circuitry with each other than they do with the 5150 which has two more gain stages. All of these share Mike Soldano’s neat inivation know as the cold clipper. Neither of these share any significant design ideas with the Mark II. The Mark II is closer to a trainwreck + and extra gain stage and cathode follower. By the way, a tube screamer does not make square waves. The while point of a tube screamer is gain plus low and high cut and when pushing a distorted amp any clipping that it creates has little not no effect. Go back to school bro you have no idea what you are talking about.

  • Wow this guy is a fool. Guessing you’ve never played through a VHT amp or a Rhodes or any GOOD metal amp.

  • A high gain tube amp is going to kick out about 50db of gain from the preamp section. The new randall rg series will double that and the isp theta will triple that. Plus the ss amps will have a cleaner clean channel. People who plug straight into a high gain tube amp (which is almost nobody) end up sounding like they’re playing a 60s tube amp that is about to self destruct and not in a cool sounding way. Transistors are MUCH more efficient at delivering truly high gain guitar signals than tubes. Cleaner cleans, higher gain, plus the ability to loosen up if you throw a good fuzz in front of them, ss amps are every bit as capable for ALL styles of guitar as tubes, not just metal.

  • It ain’t the gear, kids. Stop making excuses.

  • Funny how you listed the Valvestate. Isn’t it a hybrid with a valve preamp? Also, most Randalls are hybrids.

    As far as power amps are concerned, I totally agree. Saturation is a myth. Not quite sure about the preamps though.

    Have you ever used a Tube Screamer? Most people, myself included, use Screamers only to drive the volume (no distortion whatsoever) and adjust the tone slightly. Input volume makes a huge difference on tube preamps and sometimes pre-eq gets rid of nasty frequences.

    Not sure about Peaveys, but I absolutely love my Engl Invader and so far, I haven’t been able to get a similar sound from any solid state or digital solution. It’s hard to discribe, but they somehow sound less 3-dimensional…

    Sure, the modern, djenty stuff is a different game. Slapping a dozen noise gates and some boutique solid state distortion pedal upfront, you could just as well be playing into a trash can and wouldn’t hear a difference.

  • ENGL.
    There, I said it.
    My life came to a halt reading this very article. Now take your solid state amp and do some weightlifting with it. Then bias your tube amp instead of your articles. Thank you.

  • Idk, man… nobody on your list is known for their tone. Even dime, a hero of mine, is criticized for his bad lead tone by many players, even folks who love his playing. Ty Tabor got pretty good rhythm tone with the L5, but his lead tones are awful. All the legends of metal tone use tube amps: van halen, iommi, hetfield, petrucci, wylde, the list goes on. Getting the best tone out of a 100w marshall stack in a club is not viable, though. Nowadays we have lower wattage plexi clones though, or digital for convenience, but convenience is the main appeal for solid state and modeling amps; sacrifice of tone for ease of setup/reliability.

  • Ok, I play both valve and solid state amps. Have done for at least 20 years when ss amps were real s**t. The sound nowadays from ss amps are damn good. In fact, close enough to tubes that you wouldn’t feel brave enough to bet money on which amp I was playing in studio or live. The real worrying thing about tube lovers is the shear ignorance of tech. And I used to be that guy! I now chuckle when I hear these arguments over Solid state vs tube because 99% of everyone I meet or know using a valve amp swears they are the best yet sitting right on the floor is a bloody closet of digital effects. Tube screamers, delays, eq… And nice wireless pack you use there too!!! Guys, unless you go old school 1950’s and do gigs using only a cable straight to your “tube amp” you just squared off your tone and added digital noise to your boutique tube amp. You are not hearing tubes anymore. If you want to sit in the bedroom playing along to your fave band then maybe you are hearing tubes lol. All guys need to be honest with yourselves, you cannot hear the difference in a live gig in the mix. And neither can the audience.

    • Ok, first of all analog pedals like the tube screamer are not digital, and second they go in front of the amp so any signal is still altered by the tubes.

  • Tube amps sound far better than any solid state I’ve ever played. Not to mention they tone stack much better and provide much more versatility in the way that you can manipulate the clipping of the waveform. Why does it matter? because metal is more than just ultra compressed djent garbage. Don’t like my opinion? Then stop writing articles that sound like a twelve year old that’s mad because he/she can’t afford a tube amp.

    • Sounds like you haven’t played many amps.

      • Believe me, I’ve played enough to know that tube amps are by far superior.

      • And if you have the audacity to suggest that ss amps are better based merely on a functional standpoint, then you’re probably some mid scooping plebe.

    • It’s not that we don’t like your opinion: it’s that we just don’t care about it.

      • If you didn’t care you wouldn’t have replied.

        • I can’t help but counter smugness with inconvenient truths.

  • Shitty, disingenious article.

    First of all, your title is a sweeping generalization. There isn’t one kind of “metal”. Thus why so many players have different setups and tones and why fans also have preferences.

    If you want modern high gain (usually overproduced) music, solid state is an excellent choice. I mean, you can certainly play Meshuggah-type riffs on a tube amp with some work but why bother ? I’d rather use a cheaper, lighter and more reliable solid state amp when I do that.

    But I’ve never been satisfied with ss when playing old school hard rock and classic heavy metal. Nor when I was listening.

    I do agree that a lot of players put too much stock on high end gear and the mystique of tube. It’s not the magical fix for everything. And the difference can be slight. But it’s usually noticeable over the long haul, much like speaker quality.

    Doesn’t change the fact you can djent like crazy on a tube Marshall or play Electric Funeral on a Randall and have great fun and make it sound good.

    I am the extremely happy owner of a mid range price tube amp and two solid state amps. If I was a pro with unlimited budget I might upgrade but I love all my amps and at my level of use, I understand that there will be diminishing return for my spending. The difference between a $40 knockoff effect pedal and the $100 original make it worth it for me to pick the latter. But I usually don’t find the “boutique” $250 “improved version” is noticeable enough to make the jump. Same with amps.

    But the differences are there. Anyone who is on a budget to play metal as hobby should pick a solid state amp first. It’s your best bet. It’s reliable, cheap and especially today, these amps offer quality sound and flexibility. But don’t believe for a second what this doofus is suggesting. NO, Judas Priest didn’t achieve their most glorious tones using fucking Rockman ! NO, Eddie Van Halen DOESN’T plug into whatever cheap transistor piece of shit is lying around to get his tone. If you want glorious tones of the 70s and 80s, you need to overdrive tubes and get that lively, big sound.

    Or you can believe this clown here who cherry-picked pictures of various artists who “endorsed” products for a time period of, like, 3 weeks but otherwise got their sound by other means.

  • Hey tube amp hipsters. Entombed album recordings – Left Hand Path and Clandestine. This massive guitar sound, done with just a 40 watt peavey transitor amp.

  • This article needs to be destroyed….

    • Free speech.

  • I doubt there are many metal guitar players achieving great tone for rhythm guitar from a solid state amp. It’s possible to achieve -something- for rhythm on a solid state amp, but achieving album-quality or live-quality rhythm sound from ss is much more difficult than plugging into a tube amp from Peavey or Blackstar and making a couple of simple adjustments.
    To be specific: the midrange and high frequencies from a solid state amp generally sound like shit and are worst when hitting two strings in the lower register on your instrument.

    I can see some of the people in metal experimenting or recording with solid state amps just for lead guitar sounds or while playing single notes, but chords with overdrive/distortion will sound like shit in most situations involving a solid state amp. A guitar player’s sound in metal music is NOT based upon lead guitar sound; it’s based upon rhythm sound.

    This article doesn’t add anything useful to the conversation on tone and was meant to tease response from the interwebs.

  • Most of the time this solid state discussion comes from WUMs, maybe industry shills, and people who simply don’t know metal RHYTHM guitar sound (because, YES, when we talk about metal tone, we’re talking mostly about the rhythm sound).

  • I’ve done the ‘tone search journey’ thing trying out tons of things & a few simple rules apply when comparing things 2 good tube distortions. 1) All transistor distortions have an annoying ‘radio station noise’ style hash slathered into it, & lack dynamic punch. Their sterile vibe can be useful when going for a ‘Sci-Fi’ type sound, or for ‘fuzz’ variants, which R hard 2 achieve with common tube gear. 2) All ‘digital modeling’ is oddly lacking in detail, with a distant, harsh character 2 it compared 2 good tube stuff. 3) If tube gear does not have enough voltage, it can be useful for sludgy ‘clean’ sounds, but it’s high gain stuff will will tend to be muddy and jagged ~ sort of an ‘Orange’ (amp brand) vibe. 4) The brands & models of tubes used in tube amps & preamps, including mixing them up in various combinations, have a HUGE effect on the tones & textures U can get, so EXPERIMENT! =D I own & rent out many different types of gear, and transistors have their place, especially for certain doomy style tones, & also in combination with tube stuff, each adding it’s vibe to the final texture. For instance, I’ve been unable to achieve a Marilyn Manson ‘Mobscene’ song texture for guitar with tubes alone. Seems to really need a transistor ‘fuzz’ in there. I mention this because that is a tranny sound that is actually quite wild & interesting =)

  • hah dumb article. My friend had a Gallien Krueger solid state amp. Sounded cool by itself and could get loud as hell if he needed it to (enough for neighbors to call the cops routinely), but when playing in a club and with a band? Any time we saw people playing solid state amps they would NEVER CUT through the mix. Thats the reason people pick tube amps. They cut. Solid state gets drowned out by drums and other stuff. Sure a lot of this is on the count of bad PA but it is what it is and its easier to just avoid all that headache by using a tube amp.

  • SS amps are really the way to go! No Tubes to Fail/No Rebiasting..they do not travel well..and the prices for tube amps are nuts. My Old SS Sunn can kick the majority of tube units out there

  • Have any of you guys ever been out front to hear your tone from the house system,, no one in the audience, can tell what amp you are using. I’ve been in the loop for 30+ years, all those high transients are gone once your sound hits the mixer,, for live sound, it makes no difference, hell most of your pedalboard is gone once the FOH reverb gets involved..use that ever you want, no one but you and the band will ever know..

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