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advice needed on tube change for sv hd100
by nd27 on 2011-07-23 09:16:18

hey i wanna put two eh 6l6's into my sv, i only have two at the moment but wanted to switch them for two of the stock tubes to see what they would be like. the amp is only like 2 months old, its a mk1 but got it new, do u tink it would need to be biased??? i no they are technically the same tubes so i doubt it would have to be, also does anyone have a good tube combination for future reference??  and also ne good tone settings thanks



Re: advice needed on tube change for sv hd100
by Nick_Mattocks on 2011-07-23 23:39:04

Hi

The 6L6 is a tube family with different members having quite different characteristics and requirements.  Using the wrong variant in any circumstances can cause damage to your amp.

The stock 5881 tubes are members of the 6L6 tube family and can be reasonably safely interchanged with certain make/model tubes bearing the prefix '6L6' but not all 6L6 tubes are suitable.

The Spider Valve HD100 MkI or MkII requires 4 tubes ideally as an electrically matched 'quad' set, but it is possible to run the Spider Valve HD100 as a 50w amp by removing the outer two tubes, re-biasing and changing the output socket into which you plug the speaker cab (the impdedance requirements change when you remove tow tubes).  There is a FAQ about this in the Documents section for the Spider Valve series.

I would not recommend that you mix and match the stock tubes with whatever tubes you have unless they are of exactly the same make and specification as you are likely to create various imbalances which lead to odd behaviour at best;  and even if they were of the same make and specification it is still not something I would recommend to change a single tube or even a pair because over time the tubes will age and performance characteristics will alter gradually too. 

I would always advise changing ALL the output tubes at once with other tubes that are the same make and model as the stock tubes or with other tubes from the 6L6 family that are considered exact or near equivalents.  I would also say that when you change your output tubes, for the cost involved, it's worth changing out the two 12AX7 tubes too

Whenever you change the output tubes, the amp will require re-biasing.   Even if you don't actually change the tubes, it can be useful to check the bias current/voltage occasionally.  Bias can change from location to location due to variations in the input voltage.

If your current tubes are functioning, and if they are not exhibiting any signs of failure, personally I would recommend leaving well alone. 

Changing the output tubes may change the tone of your amp only slightly if at all.  Remember, the Spider Valve is a modelling amp and I'd say 99% of the tone you hear comes from the front end DSP and pre-amp section.  I would also say that changing the speaker(s) you play your amp through is likely to yield a more dramatic effect on your overall tone than changing the output tubes.

The power amp section in a Spider Valve may not actually be driven in quite the same way as the power amp in a totally valve driven amp and that being the case, because it is a modelling amp and the tones are mostly generated in the DSP section the power amp section is probably being driven more conservatively than it might be in a 'normal' amp.  In my experience the power amp section of the Spider Valve seems to deliver a relatively clean and faithful reproduction of whatever it's being fed with (I sometimes use the Spider Valve 112 as a host power amp for my POD HD500) and whilst it is certainly no shrinking violet there is probably less power amp distortion introduced than you might initially think when you have it cranked.

For an amp that receives heavy use, I would expect to be changing the tubes about once every twelve months, but for an amp that receives moderate to light use, I would expect to be changing the tubes about once every 24 months or even longer - my original Spider Valve 112 was bought in early November 2007 and was used fairly heavily for about six months, then I changed bands and it was used less, however it's now nearly four years old and is still on the original set and still going strong - it probably gets used for a period of two or three hours about two or three times a month nowadays (because I also have a MkII 212 and a DT50 as well as other amps).

If you take reasonable care when using and transporting your amp, its tubes will last longer - and by that I mean that you should ideally never move the amp when the tubes are still hot after playing (it's not always possible to do that - but I am talking about the ideal world LOL).  I would also never recommend running any amp at full output volume for extended periods of time - I generally never exceed having the master volume on any amp turned up higher than about 70-75% anyway and usually it's not necessary with the Spider Valve to go above 50%.

If you are 100% certain that the two new tubes you already have are compatible with the Spider Valve, get two more to match before changing them would be my advice, and if the amp is OK as-is, I'd say again: leave it alone for now.

And finally....   the safety message:  These valve amps are potentially very dangerous to work on at chassis level because of the extremely high voltages and currents generated internally.  Whilst the biasing procedure itself is relatively straightforward and is considered part of normal maintenance, undertaking biasing without properly knowing or understanding what you are doing can sometimes lead to you damaging the amp - particularly if you use the wrong tools, slip and touch something you shouldn't or similar - and any such damage would not be covered by your warranty.  And if you do happen to touch something you shouldn't, you could electrocute yourself and end up in a wooden box - i.e. DEAD.  So, the moral of the story is: if you aren't sure what to do, leave it to an experienced/qualified technician.

In reality, if all is working OK now you probably won't see a huge difference if you do change the output tubes at this stage - maybe in ten months or so as your current tubes will have aged and may no longer be at full strength.

Nick



Re: advice needed on tube change for sv hd100
by nd27 on 2011-07-24 05:52:35

hey ye, thanks for the advice, my first 'tube' amp so have only read into them a bit, ye they are electro harmonix 6l6gc tubes, i got a pair of them and a pair of 12ax7's electro harmonix too, i changed the pre amp tubes already but ye your definitely right, i gna wait to get another set and get all the power tubes done at the same time and biased. another question for you would be this; do u no what mv the spider valve series are set to? some duiscussions iv seen seem to tink its 35mv at factory setting, but wen u get the power tubes replaced get the tech to run the amp a bit hotter i.e 40-45 mv, ja reckon this could be done? in saying that, you said most of ur sound is from the frond end dsp and not actually the power tubes so not quite sure



Re: advice needed on tube change for sv hd100
by nd27 on 2011-07-24 06:15:28

also i am playing thru the spider valve cabinet with celestion vintage 30's



Re: advice needed on tube change for sv hd100
by Nick_Mattocks on 2011-07-24 14:32:58

Yep - most of your sound is indeed generated by the front end DSP.  You can maybe adjust the overall warmth of the amp a little by running the bias a bit hotter, but your core sound is from the DSP.

Yeah - get yourself another pair of Electro Harmonix 6L6GC tubes and when you fit them keep them as the original pairs to keep the amp as well balanced as possible

The bias setting is recommended by Line 6 to be 35mV +/- 2mV, but yes you might be able to go a bit hotter than that. within reason.  The hotter you go, the tube life will be shortened.

The SV cab with V30s should sound great IMO, but some people don't like V30s ;-)



Re: advice needed on tube change for sv hd100
by nd27 on 2011-08-11 15:56:45

thank u good advice, i like line 6 stuff its my first line 6 amp, i have a flextone 3 too they are decent, its kinda hard to try to like line 6 stuff wen so many people write every product off, some forums iv seen show contempt to people using line 6 stuff, why do u tink this is???  just dint get it, what line 6 does is great, its not neccessarilly gna sound exactly like all the amps its modelling but hell, for 500 euros i got the sv mk1 hd100 and the v30 cab, wen the cab by itself is 700 euros, good deal in my opinion



Re: advice needed on tube change for sv hd100
by Samzee on 2011-08-11 22:07:01

its kinda hard to try to like line 6 stuff wen so many people write every product off, some forums iv seen show contempt to people using line 6 stuff, why do u tink this is???

There's something called the "Line 6 Hater Phenomenon." (Abbreviated L6HP) It is important to note that it's called a 'phenomenon' for a reason, and that is because we can only speculate as to why it exists. Therefore, nothing can be stated as a rule that applies to the totality of the haters. I will however share some of my personal speculations which attempt to explain a good number of these people embodying the phenomenon. Be it known that there are a good number of factors which strongly influence the highly negative bias against Line 6 amplifiers. I will take a not-so-big leap in saying that more often than not, the negative opinions against Line 6 amplifiers are much less than objective. There are many who all too readily equate words like "Digital Modeling," or even just "Modeling" with the likes of "bad, artificial, digital sounding, sterile" or just plain "$#!tty sounding." One type of L6 hater will equate these words by default, while another doesn't even do that themselves. Instead, they take the first type's words for it, and "jump on the hating bandwagon" as it were. Like a virus, the negativity spreads. Even when the L6 haters play a Spider or Spider Valve, their negative dispositions make them literally unable to enjoy the sounds they're hearing.

I could go on about it, but I think you get the idea. Of course there are those whose distaste for Line 6 actually have objective bases, but these people generally don't bash these amps like it's their job. If I see one more comment saying "IT'S SO DIGITAL SOUNDING" on a video using the camera's audio, I just might crap my pants.



Re: advice needed on tube change for sv hd100
by Nick_Mattocks on 2011-08-12 01:51:44

nd27 wrote:

thank u good advice, i like line 6 stuff its my first line 6 amp, i have a flextone 3 too they are decent, its kinda hard to try to like line 6 stuff wen so many people write every product off, some forums iv seen show contempt to people using line 6 stuff, why do u tink this is???  just dint get it, what line 6 does is great, its not neccessarilly gna sound exactly like all the amps its modelling but hell, for 500 euros i got the sv mk1 hd100 and the v30 cab, wen the cab by itself is 700 euros, good deal in my opinion

Line 6 is a relatively young company at around 15 years old and in that 15 years or so, they have made a pretty big dent in what is a relatively small market.  The Spider series amps (including Spider Valve) have collectively sold a lot of amps - I believe if you look at Line 6's marketing information on this site you will see that it claims over a million Spider series amps.  That's a lot of amps whichever way you look at it.

Line 6 has a lot of expertise in modelling and many of Line 6's employees on the design and development side have worked elsewhere before joining or forming Line 6.

Line 6 amps and modellers have always tended to represent very good value for money and Line 6 amplification is often the first thing that beginners look at when buying an amp, and when they do they can get an incredibly close approximation of a whole host of 'real' amps just by adjusting a few controls and recalling some settings.  At the higher end, when you move away from the Spider 15 and Spider 30 amps you have some very cost effective and loud solid state amps like the Spider IV 150 or in valve form the Spider Valve MkII HD100 head or 212 or 112 40w combos - and that's before even considering the new DT-50 range or the older Vetta range.

There's a lot of pro Line 6 users out there too so I think you are right that for 500 Euros you have indeed got a great piece of kit :-)

The thing about Line 6 is that the guys who produce the bones of what we hear in the amps are ALL fanatical guitar players who are incredibly passionate about tone and performance.  They really do want to give us exactly what we want because they want those things too, so whether they are able to respond always to requests for features, they do listen to everything that's said and they do make some things happen in response to user requests if at all possible.

Line 6 amps are designed and developed in the US and assembled mainly in China because manufacturing costs are lower there.

A lot of traditional amp owners (an I am definitely one of those) may have paid a lot of money for an amp that is essentially a 'one trick pony' and here comes a Spider Valve that costs less, models my one trick pony amp to a tee and not only that it models another 15 or so amps equally well.   The thought goes out that the interloper (the Spider Valve) must somehow be inferior because how can it do all that and cost significantly less than my M*rshall or M*sa B**gie???  WTF??? LOL  Oh - it's made in China - that's always BAD right?  Nope - wrong - properly monitored and quality controlled production in a Chinese factory is no better or worse than any other factory in the world.

There used to be a lot of negativity about companies like Line 6 from people who had heard from a friend of a friend that Line 6 amps or PODs were rubbish and artificial sounding and this was often without even trying any Line 6 gear.   However having been on the receiving end of some negaitive comments from what I would term 'amp snobs' I can tell you that the derisory remarks and smirks on their faces were soon replaced by complimentary remarks and dropped jaws when they heard the sound the amp could produce.  I bought a Spider III 150 back in 2007 for about £280 GBP - a very loud 150w 2x12 combo.  It cost way less than my Marshall TSL100 (a typical one trick pony style amp - but it is a great trick nevertheless LOL), and it was a lot lighter to carry around than the Marshall.  It produces a range of very convincing amp tones and FX - it's all in one box and it is simply plug and play.  I can get consistently good sound out of it and it stands up well against my Marshall TSL100 in a gig situation and holds its own.  It owes me nothing really.  I still have it and I still have my Marshall.  The point is that the Spider III was and remains a cost effective and lightweight solution that is appropriate for both home practice, rehearsal and live gigs.  I have a Spider IV 150 and MkI and MkII Spider Valve amps too as well as Marshall, Mesa and other amps.  Each has a role to play for me in different situations, but the Line 6 gear I have is good quality and great value for money based on my personal usage and experience.  The same goes for my more expensive Marshall or Mesa gear. 

However the point is that Line 6 gear is a force to be reckoned with and even more so over the last two or three years as new products like the new POD HD series, DT-50 amp series and James Tyler Variax guitar products have come of age.  I have no problem with anyone genuinely not liking Line 6 products for good reason.  I do have a bit of a problem if their dislike is based on hearsay rather than personal experience and is therefore possibly largely unfounded in any basis of fact - and this is not just limited to Line 6 products BTW.  It's up to individuals whether or not they choose to ignore Line 6 products.  However, I think as word spreads about Line 6 products many potential purchasers are now taking Line 6 products much more seriously when making their choices.

Enjoy your gear :-)

nick



Re: advice needed on tube change for sv hd100
by nd27 on 2011-08-12 03:13:29

you have it in a nutshell there, well explained dude



Re: advice needed on tube change for sv hd100
by nd27 on 2011-08-12 03:17:35

thanks nick all the best




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