Comparing solid state guitar amplifiers versus tube / valve guitar amplifiers


Use of amplifiers to enhance the sound produced by guitars has been a common practice from the early 1930s when the first guitar amps were developed. Guitar amplifiers were initially intended to produce a sound that was as clear and as audible as possible to crowds of varying sizes.

While tube amps which are also known as valve amps are designed to make use of vacuum tubes to effectively amplify the vibrations from the connected electrical guitar, the solid state amplifiers use transistors to get their desired results. Here are some common points of distinction between the solid state amps and the tube amps;

Use of transistors makes solid state amps comparatively easier to produce on a large scale than tube amps hence making them cheaper. However replacing tubes is much easier than replacing transistors making replacvalve guitar amplifiersement maintenance of tube amps easier than solid state amps.

Weight is an important consideration when choosing a good amp which will be carried around often. Valve amps are heavier than solid state amps since the tubes and transformers used are quite bulky and heavy. It is also necessary to note that tube amps consume a little more power as compared to solid state amps due to the tubes.

While the solid state amps can be said to be modern in appearance, it is common for the amps to begin clipping when they are distorted unlike the tube amps which does note clip but rather produces a warm and smooth sound when distorted. However, in order to achieve that distorted sound while using the tube amp, one has to turn the volume quite high which might necessitate the use of a power break. The sound produced by tube amps is also known to gradually and sonically change during performance as the tubes warm up.

Valve amps are known to be rigid and fragile and a lot of care needs to be taken while moving them since the glass tubes used is quite fragile. Replacing the tubes also has to be done by a professional since the sound produced can sometimes change when replacement is not done well.  Meanwhile the solid state amps are much lighter with the only maintenance needed being the change of a fuse which is basic maintenance.

With a solid state amp you are bound to get the same sound despite the duration of your performance. Solid state amps are very cool when running and also use power quite efficiently unlike the tube amps. However, people who have used tube amps too long can sometimes tell that the sound produced by solid state amps is too mechanical, has less warmth or even a little bit thinner.

Since both the solid state and the tube amps all have their pros and cons the best components from each amp can be combined into one unit to produce an instrument that has the best of the two types of amplifiers. The guitar amplifiers that are made from the combination of the two are known as modeling amps and hybrid amps.