I’ve been promising this info for my friend Rick since last weekend. This is some basic information about guitar amplifiers, as he’s starting to learn to play. (He’s picking it up quickly, too).
There are three basic types of amplifiers… Tube, Solid State, and Modeling. Yes, Modeling is a type of solid state, but it has some significant difference, which I’ll cover in a bit… Here’s a quick overview of each…
Tube amps are the original amplifiers, before solid state circuitry was available. Tube amps get their name from the vacuum tubes that are used to increase the volume. Tube guitar amplifiers produce a very pleasing sound to most guitar players, as the sound is smooth and round. Tubes distort very easily and produce a very pleasant sounding distortion.
Solid state amps use the same principles that the tube amps, just using solid state components instead of tubes. Unfortunately, early solid state amps produced very harsh sounds. Solid state amps do not distort like a tube amp, so designers had to tweek the distortion sounds until they were ‘close’. In the last 15 years, solid state amps have gotten a lot better, and players are using them more often.
Finally, modelling amps have popped up in the last 7-8 years. These typically are solid state amps married to a computer that ‘models’ different amp sounds. As computers have gotten faster, these amps have gotten better. The latest crops of modelling amps closely match tube amps not only in sound but in feel.
More to follow…