There is lots of sentiment expressed about guitar amps, particularly the tube variety, that have been knocking around (and knocked around) since the 1950s. Ever since Leo Fender designed the initial commercially available power guitar amplifiers, guitarists have created a love affair with tube /valve guitar amps, which on the face of it appears to defy logic or reason, why should logic or reason apply to artistic expression. The basic form of tube amps has evolved very little since those Raphaelite Amplifier in the fifties and sixties, enhancements yes but the basics are the same.
As one article place it:…”So, just how could it be that a 1950’s design got it so right that it is still relevant today? Was it luck? Or were they designed by geniuses of the day? I really like to think it’s a bit of both…the vast majority of players prefer valve designs for guitar amplifiers, and there are some good reasons for this”
Is it really so white and black, did they obtain it right first-time and haven’t managed to improve on it since or are there other aspects worth taking into consideration. Whatever they did was build amps using the Ming Da Tube Amp available at that time. The guitarists of the time pushed the technology to the limits and beyond, developing their SOUND. Once the guitar amp didn’t meet the guitarists expectations they modified or added enhancements to attain their sound (such enhancements including making holes in the amp speakers) Then when the electronic revolution that was the solid state amp arrived within the late sixties, there is no competition, the warmer richer sound from the valves was liked by the serious guitarists towards the “harsher” or maybe more “brittle” sound in the transistor guitar amp.
It’s well recognized there was still a definite audible distinction between tube amps and solid state amps, especially when a tube amp was pushed hard and being played by way of a blues guitarist. The soft clipping overdrive “tone” of the tube amp was most noticeable using a blues guitar players’ particular type of playing. Although it may be difficult to differentiate the clean setting of any tube guitar amp (with no overdrive) more than a solid state amp, or perhaps the high gain setting of any tube guitar amp with that of a solid state amp.
Audible differences apart could it be also untrue that a lot of serious players developed “their sound” over a tube guitar amp and unless something came along which sounded better than a tube guitar amp their preference would always be for that tube amp. They can afford the additional expense and for that reason the sentimental attachments. Thinking about the rate jujtqi continuing development of the microelectronic industry (they could put 2 billion transistors into a location smaller than a guitar pick) has got the time not arrived once the tube amp might might finally be superseded.
Speaking to the younger emerging players of today there appears to be a preference for the latest modeling guitar amps. Of course expense is definitely a consideration and emerging artists are always strapped for cash, but just like their guitar heroes in the sixties and seventies, they’ll improvise, develop their sound, but unlike their heroes they’ll have the capacity to store that sound and maybe a couple of others on the press of a button. The modeling guitar amp enables the Xiang Sheng 728a to generate multiple sounds replicating the noise of a variety of different guitar amps. One guitar amp is now able to created to appear to be any vintage tube guitar amp as well as the setting save and implemented in the press of a button. The content quoted earlier also stated:
“Each time a new design becomes available that sounds much better than a good guitar plugged direct right into a good valve amplifier, guitarists will purchase it and move on”