getting more volume out of a tube amp

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getting more volume out of a tube amp

Post by workshed » Sat Oct 21, 2006 8:12 pm

I got a new head recently and I absolutely love the tone. It's the best sounding amp I've ever owned. The only problem I can foresee is that the maximum volume, I think, may be just a little too low for the band in which I'm playing. The amp is sort of a custom/frankenstein amp, with 2 6L6 power tubes and an output tranny that's rated at 35 watts, but I was told, is beefier than a bassman transformer, so the guy who made the amp said it's probably closer to a 45 watt amp. It has 4,8 and 16 ohm taps for a speaker cab.

So I'm wondering... what tricks can I use to get the power output to increase a few decibels? I've read that using a higher impedance cabinet will increase output, but would it really be that noticable? I am currently using a 2x12 cab that's wired in parallel at 4 ohms. Is it worth rewiring it in series for a 16 ohm load and using the 16 ohm tap?

Or are there other ideas, like a boost pedal, or any ways to run the speaker output to another amp?

I know, I am grasping at straws here, and am prepared to accept the idea that it is what it is. I'll still keep this amp around even if I can't use it for the band. But, if there is any way to squeeze some more volume out of it, then I will happy to hear it.



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Post by BrianK » Sun Oct 22, 2006 3:40 am

If your amp "clips" (distorts) the power tubes (not just the preamp) then it can get no louder. That's MAX output from the head.

However, Speakers with greater "sensitivity" may give you more output. Unless theyare already clipping themselves; then they are maxed out, too. Impedance is not that big a change, maybe a little, but hardly noticeable.

Also certain frequencies hit your ears harder (3kHz or example) and "sound louder" than others. If your speakers sound dark, maybe brighter ones might work, but it would change your tone.
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Post by 0-it-hz » Sun Oct 22, 2006 4:09 am

tell the deaf F****s to TURN DOWN!

Everything louder than everything else.

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Post by stereopathetic_banjo » Sun Oct 22, 2006 4:48 am

I don't know if your amp has a tube rectifier or not, but often, changing that out to a compatible solid state rectifier will "stiffen up" the amp, thus giving it more headroom before breakup. Honestly i've not tried it, because i like how my amps sag with a tube rectifier, but still- it might be just what you need. Hope that helps a bit.

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Post by standup » Sun Oct 22, 2006 5:53 am

Um, LOWER impedence cabinets are louder. So if you've got a 4 ohm cab, a 2 ohm cabinet would be louder. But a lot of amps can't do a 2 ohm load, check the back of the amp.

I'm an old guy blah blah blah but I know my band usually sounds better at lower volumes. (But it's alt country.) What if the other players adjusted to the 45 watt amp, took the volume down a bit and listened to each other to keep the balance happening?

What if you ran quieter in general and had the club mike the amps, snare and kick drum and use the PA to get a mix?

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Post by RodC » Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:08 am

Just some Ideas, dont put a 2ohm load on it, it dont sound like your amp can handle it. You can try a 16 ohm setup but with a tube amp when you change the impedance it doesnt change the wattage. however, it will usually change the sound. We usualy prefer the sound of 4ohm cabs.

Play cleaner, more mids to cut through. Im not sure what sound you are going for but finding tricks to stick through the mix will often yeild more results that a louder amp. A solid state rectifier will help but its going to change your sound.

Depending on how the tubes are being used, 2 6L6s should be around 45 - 50 watts.
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Post by norton » Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:22 am

1. speakers - very efficient speakers can give you a little more volume. or an extention cab... more speakers will get you a little more perceived volume, and tons more spread.

2. get the amp elevated. up off the floor or tilted up and you should be golden.

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Re: getting more volume out of a tube amp

Post by rhythm ranch » Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:23 am

workshed wrote:The only problem I can foresee is that the maximum volume, I think, may be just a little too low for the band in which I'm playing.
So you haven't actually tried it yet? I'd try it and see how loud it is in context. In my experience, 35 or 45 watts can produce quite a bit of volume.

Granted, it won't work for a 1000 seat club, but then you'd most likely have a mic on it. But if it's for small clubs or a rehearsal space, you might just try re-orienting the amp so it's aimed at heads rather than legs and feet.

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Post by farview » Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:30 am

I've played 100's of outdoor shows with a 50 watt half stack. The volume difference between 40 and 50 watts is neglegable. Try it.

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Post by RustyBrooks » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:03 am

The relationship between apparent loudness and wattage is logarithmic - it takes about an 8x increase in wattage to give an apparent doubling in loudness. So if you can boost the wattage by 10%... well, it really just won't matter much.

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Post by Johnny B » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:05 am

I'm not sure what kind of stuff you're playing, but I know a guy in a reggae band who had the same problem with his Peavey Classic 30. The problem was the keyboard player who was a former guitar player blasting through a Twin on stage. He ended up using his extension cab and putting it on the other side of the drummer so he had a cab on each side of the stage. (Setup was keyboard and guitar stage left, drummer and singer center, bass stage right). It worked beautifully. It didn't make the amp any louder, but he fit in the mix better.

That said, I've played through a 2-12 for years and I almost always have the thing up on a stand (or a chair...)

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Post by workshed » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:33 am

Hey, thanks for all the advice. I'm always thankful I have the TOMB to relay my silly questions through. I have not tried it with the full band yet, but when I have it to 10 on the master and pre volume it just doesn't sound like it's going to compete with a 100w JCM 800 and ampeg SVT through an 8x10 cab. It sounds freaking sweet and it does rattle the windows, but I just don't hear the same presence that I hear from the JMP 50 I've been borrowing, which is also going through a 2x12, and cuts over the jcm800 without getting past 4 on the master.

The speaker cab is some weird custom deal I found on Craigslist that has a couple old late '70s emininence speakers in it. I really dig the sound of them, but yes, they are darker sounding. The cab is ported along the bottom though, so that helps with the low-end response.

It does have a tube recitfier, but honestly, I don't want to mess with the sound of this amp. I'm mostly worried about being heard at practice, as 90% of the clubs we play will have a good P.A. But, honestly, I think we do all need to turn the hell down at practice.

I think my best bet at this point is to find that balance between clean and distorted where things break up enough to rock, but not so much that my signal is compressed to hell. I guess I won't really know until I try it out.

Thanks again.


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Post by farview » Sun Oct 22, 2006 5:34 pm

Putting the cabinet up on a stand will help a lot.

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Post by ??????? » Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:14 am

use a 4X12 cabinet. This will do a lot to increase your apparent volume.

Pay no attention to "wattage."

The ear perceives loudness on a logarithmic curve. The scale of watts (power) is a linear curve. the difference between 50 and 100 watts is actually not all that much in terms of perceived loudness, all else remaining equal.

So why is a 100 watt full stack so much louder than a 50 watt half stack? Twice as many speakers. That's where the real difference comes from in my experience.

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Post by kayagum » Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:49 am

Technically, 4 ohm is louder, but I've felt that (at least with ones I've tried), they've sounded a bit more "hollow" than the 8 ohm speaker cabs I've had.

Also, it's not just decibels, it's the range. Marshall cabs are so "mid" it's frightening. Open back cabs are, well, more "open" sounding.

Other options:
You could tell your compadre to turn it down.
You could split the signal and get some ugly amp to pair it (some people even use solid state amps to get more oomph- see Bob Mould)
You could split the signal and send a direct or cab sim feed to the board during your gigs.
You could get another band :D

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