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  1. #1

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    A guitarist friend ( he plays Rock and Blues on High Wattage Amps) swears that go get proper tone on tube amps, they must be allowed around 30 minutes warm-up time. Now I have noticed a difference in tone by letting my '65 DRRI and other large amps have several minutes to warm up, but 30 minutes? Doesn't that sound excessive?

    I don't have enough experience to speak about this subject. Can anyone share their warm-up habits with their tube amps?

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  3. #2

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    I thought that's what the standby selection on the three-way power switch was for on tube amps. The middle position was off, one side of middle position was on and the other side was stand by.

    And when I owned tube amps I preferred them to have an outlet on the back so I could plug my muffin fan in and try to keep things cool(er).
    Last edited by geogio; 06-18-2019 at 09:21 PM.

  4. #3

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    Ask your friend where he got the information about high power tube amps needing a 30 minute warm up.

    I've asked amp techs about this and each recommended about 5 minutes. Unless you are 'burning in' a brand new amp or new tubes, why would you need more than that?

    Some players claim to hear stuff in amps and guitars that we mere mortals cannot. Maybe they can. Maybe they are just blowing smoke.

    But when it comes to blanket statements about electronics, it helps if they have credibility, training, experience...or not.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitfiddler View Post
    Ask your friend where he got the information about high power tube amps needing a 30 minute warm up.

    I've asked amp techs about this and each recommended about 5 minutes. Unless you are 'burning in' a brand new amp or new tubes, why would you need more than that?

    Some players claim to hear stuff in amps and guitars that we mere mortals cannot. Maybe they can. Maybe they are just blowing smoke.

    But when it comes to blanket statements about electronics, it helps if they have credibility, training, experience...or not.
    I’m not an expert on this area, but with the small knowledge I have I agree with you. My former guitar teacher had a Fender Blues Deluxe Reissue and it needed less than five minutes to work at highest level. 30 minutes for a tube amp sounds like an extremely long time to my ears!
    Have I found it yet? I said that but I didn’t knew it. Did I knew that I had found it yet? No, it wasn’t what I was looking for. Nevermind. Ok.

    -Pataphysical monologue based on Cartesian theory

  6. #5

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    Complete nonsense.


    what he’s experiencing may very well be his ears fatiguing after prolonged exposure to excessive volume.



    Me? I turn on the amp and play.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan View Post
    A guitarist friend ( he plays Rock and Blues on High Wattage Amps) swears that go get proper tone on tube amps, they must be allowed around 30 minutes warm-up time. Now I have noticed a difference in tone by letting my '65 DRRI and other large amps have several minutes to warm up, but 30 minutes? Doesn't that sound excessive?

    I don't have enough experience to speak about this subject. Can anyone share their warm-up habits with their tube amps?
    Fiction. Turn it on and play it. Some amps, sometimes, work better after a few minutes warm-up, and if you have 3-5 minutes to spare you might as well warm the amp up. But I'm not that patient, and I've been using tube amps for 40 years (longer than that, if you count my parents' stereo set).

    John.

  8. #7

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    In the old Jukeboxes the amplifier was off until you put your nickel in, then in order to have it up and running high voltage somewhere around 100 volts was applied to the 6 volt filament supply. There was a relay in series with the output plate circuit as soon as the plate current came up to operating current it pulled in and dropped the filament voltages to 6 volts.

    So the amp was up and running when the needle hit the record. It took seconds.

    There may be some difference when the whole tube is hot but it is doubtful it sounds or lasts differently.

    It is back to if you believe it sounds different then it does.

  9. #8

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    Fiction. You and your amp may (nay, should!) sound better after 30 minutes of playing time, but IMO its a matter of warming up the hands and focusing the mind.
    That's why I always arrived early enough to the gig to get in at least an hour's worth of un-plugged playing. I did a long stretch with a band that liked to open with "Crossroads" or "I know a Little" or, all too often, both. No pressure.
    Best regards, k

  10. #9

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    Thanks for sharing your experience. I looked around on the web and this is another one of those controversial topics. There are many threads and articles out there that say 20 to 30 minutes or so. Then there are others that say right away.

    My buddy's dad played guitar for many years and he is the one who started my buddy thinking this. He even found where some manufacturer's recommended 20 to 30 minutes.

    Go figure

  11. #10

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    You really need to be playing to give the amp/tubes some work to do, that's what gets it hot.

  12. #11

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    I have gigged for 50 years. In that time I've gotten to the venue early enough to put my tube amps into standby at least 30 minutes prior to the first set.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    You really need to be playing to give the amp/tubes some work to do, that's what gets it hot.
    This guy agrees with you, although I wonder if what he says applies only to PA amps as opposes to guitar amps. I could not quite figure that out.


  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by geogio View Post
    I thought that's what the standby selection on the three-way power switch was for on tube amps. The middle position was off, one side of middle position was on and the other side was stand by. And when I owned tube amps I preferred them to have an outlet on the back so I could plug my muffin fan in and try to keep things cool(er).
    A three-way switch with "off" in the center would mean that switching either from standby to on or switching from on to standby would power the amp off for an instant before powering it back on. That is such a terrible thing to do to a tube amp, and something that must never be done to a tube amp that uses a tube rectifier for the power supply, that I wonder if you might be mistaken in your recall. Typical is two separate switches for power and standby, and what used to be typical was an additional switch that reversed the polarity in the two conductor power cord with a two prong plug head. Tube data sheets for the common music amplifier tubes will indicate that the "ready time" is just seconds - 10 to 15 is typical. Powering up in standby is preferred for a few minutes and this is a good time to turn each control at least one cycle of rotation and work any bright switches at least once - this will help prevent them from becoming noisy in the long run.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  15. #14

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    Technically speaking, it's a lot closer to five SECONDS than thirty minutes. Any other take on the subject belongs to the realm of myths and urban legends.

    I guess guitar players are just suckers for fairy tales? Gee, I can't quite tell.
    Pepe aka Lt. Kojak
    Milano, Italy
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  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
    Complete nonsense.


    what he’s experiencing may very well be his ears fatiguing after prolonged exposure to excessive volume.


    It doesn't have to be "excessive" volume but your hearing will change / adjust over a period of playing at certain volume levels. I have experienced that in more than 40 years of playing through tube amps. As for warming up: the tube filaments need a couple of minutes to heat up before you want to hit the circuit with a signal - that's what a stand-by switch is for.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    A long journey starts with the first step...and although I have long forgotten about my destination I'm still enjoying the journey.

  17. #16
    I have often noticed that too with my tube amps. About 30 minutes into the gig (cause I almost never warm them up for more than a couple of minutes), they start to sound different and then stay that way for the rest of the gig. I've always assumed it's the amp (tubes?) reaching its working temperature. I've never actually checked it, but it should be easy to compare the two situations.

    Come to think of it, most experienced guitarists I know believe that it is so too, and many do warm their amps for an extensive time before the gig. No idea if it holds true though

  18. #17

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    enough 40
    second
    kawa

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter View Post
    I have often noticed that too with my tube amps. About 30 minutes into the gig (cause I almost never warm them up for more than a couple of minutes), they start to sound different and then stay that way for the rest of the gig. I've always assumed it's the amp (tubes?) reaching its working temperature. I've never actually checked it, but it should be easy to compare the two situations.

    Come to think of it, most experienced guitarists I know believe that it is so too, and many do warm their amps for an extensive time before the gig. No idea if it holds true though
    Often, when I first set up my gear at a gig, it sounds terrible to me. By the second set, it sounds fine. That experience is almost entirely with solid state amps. My opinion is that I'm acclimating to the sound. I don't think it's actually changing.

    I don't have the issue with the same gear at home. I believe that's because I know what it's going to sound like, I'm accustomed to it, and I don't need to adjust.

    This would require a recording studio to evaluate. Otherwise, it's so confounded with human perception that it would be difficult to feel certain that anything was really different about the amp.

    Maybe it's the cable relaxing after been wound up in my gear bag.

  20. #19
    I understand what you are describing, and it does happen to me too, especially if I play close gigs with different gear and bands. After a while you do get extremely comfortable with the gear, the room, the whole playing situation and you do sound better. But I feel there might be some truth to the 30 minute theory as well. It should be easy to test in a studio, turn on and record a looper play. Let it play for 30 minutes, record again.

  21. #20

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    I have heard stories of guys of the EVH type turning their amps on in early afternoon and leaving them on in preparation for 9pm concert. I’m guessing this where such a rumor emanates from. I’ve also read of at least a couple of similar guys who play with their amps “on 11” that had their techs replace all tubes after the very show!
    Ignorance is agony.



  22. #21

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    The purpose of the standby switch is to kill the volume for a short time during a break, so howling feedback doesn't set in while you're away. It has no other purpose. I remember when every electronic device used tubes - radios, phonographs, eventually TVs, - everything, and none had a standby switch. You just turned it on and waited until it started working. It took a few seconds for the tubes to warm up, but it didn't affect anything otherwise. Waiting for minutes with the standby switch engaged is a complete waste of time. I only use it if I intend to leave the room for awhile, and don't want to bother to turn the amp off while I'm gone. But the old wives have innumerable tales, and they never die.

  23. #22

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    "no other purpose"

    The standby switch IS there for breaks, but its purpose is to prevent having to cold start the tubes.

    When power is applied to a vacuum tube some of the thoriated tungsten filament on the cathode is stripped until the tube comes up to operating temperature from the heater element. This ages the tube.

    Standby interrupts the plate voltage on the tube while keeping the heaters going. This extends tube life.

    Always start up on standby too, going to on after a minute or so.

  24. #23

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    NEED a warm-up? No. I've read it WAY to many times from WAY too many experts/techs that a warm-up (or a standby switch) is not necessary... especially with amps that have tube rectifiers.

    However, I have always found amps sound better when running hot. But they don't need 30 minutes to get there.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskey02 View Post
    I have heard stories of guys of the EVH type turning their amps on in early afternoon and leaving them on in preparation for 9pm concert. I’m guessing this where such a rumor emanates from. I’ve also read of at least a couple of similar guys who play with their amps “on 11” that had their techs replace all tubes after the very show!
    Whiskey, I'm only replying because I notice GREYHOUND in your profile pic. We are GH rescuers as well.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    "no other purpose"

    The standby switch IS there for breaks, but its purpose is to prevent having to cold start the tubes.

    When power is applied to a vacuum tube some of the thoriated tungsten filament on the cathode is stripped until the tube comes up to operating temperature from the heater element. This ages the tube.

    Standby interrupts the plate voltage on the tube while keeping the heaters going. This extends tube life.

    Always start up on standby too, going to on after a minute or so.
    Now THIS is where I have heard (for many years) that this really only applies to amps with solid state rectifiers... because tube rectifiers "warm up" themselves before they start feeding juice, and by that time the power tube heaters are already warming up the power tubes. In effect, the tube rectifier BECOMES an "automatic" standby switch.

  27. #26

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    Its been quite a while sense I have used a Tube amp. I do rember that playing thru it while warming it up helped to achieve the the sound I wanted out of it. It would take mabie 3 min could have been less.

  28. #27

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    ruger9,

    I agree that with tube-rectified amps the rectifier tube(s) serve some of the function of the standby switch. Until the rectifier starts flowing, i.e., until its heater produces a thermionic effect at its cathode, the preamp and power amp tubes won't be hit with high plate voltages.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone View Post
    "no other purpose"

    The standby switch IS there for breaks, but its purpose is to prevent having to cold start the tubes.

    When power is applied to a vacuum tube some of the thoriated tungsten filament on the cathode is stripped until the tube comes up to operating temperature from the heater element. This ages the tube.

    Standby interrupts the plate voltage on the tube while keeping the heaters going. This extends tube life.

    Always start up on standby too, going to on after a minute or so.
    This is very close to what I've read in Fender and Mesa Boogie Owner Manuals.

    Oddly enough, there typically are no Standby Switches in Fender low wattage amps (Champ, Princeton, Blues Jr., or '80's Super Champ, and Princeton Reverb II). I included the latter 80's Fender Rivera era amps since they also have solid state rectification.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan View Post
    A guitarist friend ( he plays Rock and Blues on High Wattage Amps) swears that go get proper tone on tube amps, they must be allowed around 30 minutes warm-up time...
    Electronically ridiculous.

    But psychologically, if it makes him happy, who am I to judge?

  31. #30

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    Sounds like something out of the Golden Ear set. These are the guys who literally pay thousands of dollars for an audiophile-grade ac power cord (more transparent... the soundstage just opened up to me...).

    The audiophile market must have been created by a P. T. Barnum descendant Tube Amps Need 30 min Warm-up? - Fact or Fiction

    Cheers!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  32. #31

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    I recall reading the recommendation to let the amp warm up on standby -- in the Mesa Boogie manual. For the reason Greentone stated.

    I hadn't heard the thing about solid state rectification, although I can see the logic. Standby might be better, because it would totally, not partially, protect the tube while it's warming.

    That said, I had the original tubes in my Ampeg Reverberocket for decades. Solid state rectifier in that amp and no standby switch.
    It might be true that it matters, but it may not matter all that much.

    Meanwhile, I've decided to carry my cables in a 12 foot long case designed for one piece cane fly rods. This way, the electrons won't have to bend their way around crimps. Have to order them that way from the manufacturer to avoid getting a cable that has already been completely compromised before it has ever been sold.