Difference between types of guitar amps?
Ive ben playing guitar for a while now and id like to know excatly what the difference between amps like tube and valve and power and modelling amps are
- Anonymous1 decade agoFavorite Answer
Type 1 - Valve pre-amp and valve power-amp
This is the traditional guitar amplifier. Purists will say it's the only guitar amplifier worth having. Up until the late 90s, they were probably right.
A guitar amplifier with valves (also known as tubes) has a nice warm tone. They're heavy, need regular (but not too often) maintenance and more expensive than solid-state amps.
There are more differences, you could have a look at my other lens on Tube or Transistor Amplifiers
By the way 60W of tube power will seem a lot louder than 60W of transistors. Also different manufacturers measure the power rating at different points in the signal chain. So use the power ratings as a guide only and remember your ears are the best measuring instrument (at a comfortable and safe distance) for deciding how loud the amp will be when playing with others.
Type 2 - Solid-state pre-amp and solid-state power-amp
With the advent of electronics came the transistor and the transistor amplifier circuit. These opened up lots of opportunities for reducing the price of guitar amplifiers. The power requirements for transistor amplifiers (also known as solid-state amplifiers) are less than for tube amps so a lot of the other components (e.g. transformers) can also be reduced in scale. This means that the production costs can be lower and the the whole weight of the amp is less. Add printed circuit boards to the list of ingredients and the recipe for building an amp becomes a lot easier to replicate on a larger scale.
They tend to have cleaner sounds but don't have the warm overdrive that tube amps can provide.
Type 3 - Valve pre-amp and solid-state power-amp
I don't know which were the first brand to introduce this type of amplifier, but Marshall definitely captured the initial market with their AVT valvestate range of amplifiers.
These are hybrid amplifiers, in between pure tube and pure solid-state amplifiers. From a design perspective, they are a compromise, inheriting the advantages and disadvantages of both parent designs.
So you gain:
* lower price
* better tone than solid-state
* lower weight
You still have:
* no power amp saturation tone
* printed circuit boards, so these are more difficult to repair by your local amp tech
Type 4 - Solid-state pre-amp and valve power-amp
The opposite type of hybrid to Type 3 above. This uses a transistor/PCB-based preamp and a tube power amp. I always thought that the pre-amp was more integral to the tone, so you'd want the best components there, right? Makes sense to have a tube pre-amp then. However, then I played some of this type of hybrid and I actually prefer them to Type 3.
Vox are the main manufacturers of this type of amp and they bring in modelling aspects which we'll get to below.