Tube amplifiers are a popular throwback to the past. Most of the time people buy them as amplifiers for guitar playing. This is what a lot of tube amplifier brands are well-known for.
However, tube amps don’t just work for guitars. They help improve sound in general. This is why a lot of audiophiles have come to love the “old-school” sound that they produce. A lot of people are buying tube amps nowadays just to experience their crisp audio quality
With the increasing popularity of tube amps, the problem is that there are too many choices. With all of the products out there, it can be easy to buy the wrong product for you. If you want to buy your own tube amp nowadays, there’s certain criteria that you should follow so that you won’t end up regretting your purchase. Let’s discuss a few of the points that you should consider.
Know What You’re Buying it For
The first factor that you should think about when buying a tube amp is what you’ll be using it for. A guitar amp will have different features to an all-purpose sound amp. The difference comes down to the power amps and the preamps. They have different designs and connections depending on whether it is an instrument amplifier or sound system amplifier.
For instrument amplifiers, the amps give instrument players a lot more freedom to change their sound. The results are the various special audio effects that you often hear from modern electric guitars like reverbs or distortions. There are two types of instrument amps on the market right now. Combo amps come with their own speaker, while amp heads only provide the amp unit and need an external speaker.
Sound system amplifiers focus on delivering a clear sound component for a variety of devices They work with either TVs, radios, and even computers. These don’t have as many options as instrument amps. Don’t make the mistake of buying one of these as your guitar amp.
Another factor to consider when buying an amp is the wattage. The key thing to remember about amps is that they function best when they reach their limits. This means that a 100-watt guitar amp won’t show off its best performance when you always limit it to the lowest volume setting.
To determine the sort of wattage that you need, think about your sound requirements. Are you aiming to fill a small room with sound? Do you need to be careful so that the neighbors won’t complain? Do you need to be heard over a noisy crowd? Each of these factors can influence what sort of wattage you might need.
Take note that wattage is not all about volume. A difference of 50 watts only gives you an additional 3 decibels, so don’t go overboard. You might also want to be wary about the weight. High-wattage tube amps tend to be a lot heavier and larger than their counterparts. For more on this, check out “How Loud Is A 15-Watt Tube Amp?”
On the other end of the spectrum, check out our info on the best low watt tube amps.
There are different types of power tubes that come with tube amps. Each of them generates a distinctive sound. There are five types of power tubes that commonly choose from: EL84, 6V6, EL34, 6L6, and 6550.
The 6550s are the largest on the market right now and they specialize in providing a clear and interesting sound that has a lot of power in it. Introduced in the 1950s, they are a classic tube that bass players love to use.
On the other end is the 6L6. First made in the 1930s, these tubes are a favorite of rock and roll players and are a mainstay of Fender-brand amps. The 6V6 is a bit of an improvement to the 6L6, which allows for better distortions at lower sound levels.
The EL34 and EL84 are two favorites of those who like the British sound of the 60s. These tubes provide crisp and clear sounds, while also giving players a chance to play around with distortions. If you like to sound like Jimi Hendrix or the Beatles, these may be for you.
The brand of your tube amp can also influence your decision on what to buy. Most everyone knows the big names in the amp business: Fender, Marshall, Vox, and more. Buying from recognized brands is a good way to reduce the chance that you’d have any regrets.
However, established brands also tend to be very expensive. However, you can still get bargains for the quality you are getting. Marshall amps are at the top right now for being cost-effective. No matter what sort of music you play, it delivers the sound that you want. This British amp maker has an amp for every purpose and instrument so you’ll be sure to find what you’re looking for.
Another favorite on the market is the Fender brand. This is a classic brand that is still going strong even after decades. Musicians of all genres own Fender amps, especially their combo amps.
However, there’s no need to limit yourself to big-name brands. There are smaller amps’ makers out there that may have exactly what you’re looking for.
Finally, there’s the question of the budget. Amps cost money and good ones can set you back several hundreds of dollars. Depending on the brand that chose, you may have to settle for a budget model. Don’t worry, some amps can perform way beyond their price suggests.
However, you may want to look at the second-hand market. One of the great things about vacuum tube technology is that they were built to last. You may find a vintage tube amp that fits your need exactly. Do a bit of repairs and they can even sound brand-new.
No Buyer’s Remorse
Overall, tube amps are an essential part of any musician’s tool box. They can make music sound better or even help create special audio effects. Choosing the right one is important if you want to get the best audio results. Consider all of these factors starting from tube amplifier brands to wattage to ensure that you are making the right choice in what you buy. This way, you won’t regret your purchase later.