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Solid-State vs Tube amps

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Maybe this is the hottest topic on any music forum or site and I decided to write an unbiased article on the technology to assist guitarists buying their amp.

The main difference between the two is the "Clipping". The "scratchy and obnoxious" sound of the solid-state amp in clipping, compared with the much-more-mellow sound of the tube-amp clipping.

A second, more-subtle difference is that solid-state amps tend to have a fixed 50-percent duty cycle as they clip, whereas most class A tube amps clip with a duty cycle that varies as a function of the drive level.

Most of new solid-state amps include "amp modeling" technology. Modeling technology has come a long way in last couple of years and some of them are surprisingly almost 95-98% equal to a tube amp sound.

So in the end it comes to personal choice and your purchasing power. There are good and bad solid-state and tube amps available in the market. So its better to use your own preferences before buying any amp. " If you like it - Buy it! "

I would just write pros and cons of both solid-state and tube amps.


Tube Amps:

Pros: Warm tone, good harmonics, responsive ( compression, sustain, overdrive ) and more of "Fuzzy" sound.

Cons: Expensive to buy and maintain ( you need to replace tubes after some time ), Takes time to warm up, heavy-weight, more prone to failure during a gig.


Solid-State amps:

Pros: Cheap, Reliable, Light-weight, normally brighter sound and easy to repair.

Cons: Bright tone is more harsh and aggressive ( example: Pantera sound )


Remember all tube amps are not great, and all solid-state amps are not crap. Play and check their sound before you buy. Its always safe to buy what you like then to buy what you don't.


Steve Parker