Tube Amps VS Solid-State Amps

There is a ton of conflicting information about this debate. In fact, no matter which piece of equipment passes through your hands, a disagreement with opinions is bound to happen. But don’t worry, we are here to help sort things out. One of the biggest questions with this debate is, of course: Which one is better? And the answer depends entirely on the purpose you need your amp to fulfill. So it is all very individual and subjective. Apples and oranges, people!

Unless you are an avid gear collection with no intention of dabbling in music, you need to do two things if you want to make the best choice:

Learn what each type of amp can bring to the table
Figure out what works best for your arrangements (the result you want to accomplish)

What Types of Amplifiers Exist?

Basically, it all boils down to three categories, which may or may not add the digital component to spice up the amplifier’s sound manipulation properties.

Vacuum tube or valve technology
Solid-state or transistor technology
Combination of both or hybrid technology

Each type has its pros and cons but they all fulfill that ultimate noble purpose – creating music! Some amp manufacturers, however, tend to invent terms or christen their technology as “something completely new and never heard before” for marketing purposes but do not let that derail you. Remember, there are no more than three types of amps and the most important thing is to understand each function.

The Difference Between Tube and Solid State

Tubes may produce more natural, responsive, and appealing tones but there are music genres that can never achieve their signature sound with vacuum tubes. Adding high-gain and FX pedals to signal the chain between the instrument and amplifier also gives extra control to the player’s imagination so it is all a matter of perspective and play.

Think of amps as tools. Tools to achieve a certain sound that will complement the final production goal. It is like having a visual idea in your head and trying to reproduce it on a piece of paper. On one hand, a lot depends on your technique but on the other hand, it also depends on the tools you are using to achieve the desired effect. Just like a painter would use various brushes, paints, materials, and canvases so does an instrumentalist use various picks, strings, guitars, pedals, and amps.

" Learning to play with a big amplifier is like trying to control an elephant. "

Property differences

Tube amps give the player a more dynamic range of playing – the harder the player picks, the more the tone is influenced. Tube or valve amplifiers are subtle, giving better control over the signal and the sound that leaves the speakers and into our ears.

Additionally, tube amps can also pack a stronger punch compared to solid-state amps. They tend to be louder because of their “old-school” technology. In other words, if you buy a 50-watt tube amp and a 50-watt solid-state amp, they will not produce the same loudness. Tube saturation works on the principle that you have to push it hard, almost close to the max because that is when the amp produces its full-rounded sound, which everyone is craving for.

However, there is no point in having a 100-watt stack if you are going to use it in your room or practice studio. Unless you want to blow your brains out, it is recommended that you keep the tube amp watt range around 40-50.

The biggest downside of tube amps is the cost – and for a reason. They cost more to maintain and eat up more electricity but the tone you get is everything but artificial. On the other hand, solid state amps can give amp tubes a run for their money and still produce a decent tone that can blow the crowd away. So choose wisely!

If you are still uncertain of the differences or what amp decision you want to own, don’t worry. Being avid music and gear nerds that we are, we will cover everything there is to know about these roaring babies, right here at Classictubeamps.com! Stick around, more info is always coming.